|Northern Iraq offensive (August 2014)|
|Part of the Iraqi insurgency (2011–present)|
Situation in Iraq, as of August 2014:
Republic of Iraq
|Islamic State (IS)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi|
|Free Iraqi Army: 2,500|
|Casualties and losses|
|894 Yazidis killed|
The August 2014 Northern Iraq offensive was part of an ongoing offensive military movement by the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] and officially the Islamic State [IS]) against Kurdish-held territory in northern Iraq. ISIL has proclaimed a caliphate—a government based on Islamic religious law—and has gained notoriety for its abduction (primarily of children) and executions (adults) of non-Muslims, which has led to a large exodus of the region's Yazidi and Christian population.
Early in the offensive, ISIL attacked the largely Yazidi city of Sinjar, which prompted tens of thousands of Yazidis to take refuge on Mount Sinjar, where they lacked basic necessities such as food and water. The large number of Yazidis executed in the attack and the threat of an even larger massacre—or death from starvation or dehydration—of those trapped on Mount Sinjar prompted intervention by the United States in the conflict on 8 August. U.S. airstrikes on ISIL militants has led to some of the ISIL-controlled territory being recaptured in subsequent weeks.
After a three-day battle that started on 1 August, ISIS captured the town of Zumar and its nearby oil field.
During this time, ISIS forces advanced into and captured the religiously mixed town of Sinjar. According to local officials, the latest advance nearly purged northwestern Iraq of its Christian population. UN officials said an estimated 200,000 new refugees, including Christians and Yazidi, fled to Kurdistan, with 130,000 fleeing to Dohuk or to Erbil. At least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect took refuge on Mount Sinjar. According to some reports as many as 500 Yazidis were massacred in the ISIS attack on Sinjar and its aftermath,
On 6 August, ISIS entered Tal Keif, some 10 miles north of Mosul in Nineveh province and took over Qara Qosh, Bartella, Karemlash, and Makhmour on the next day. ISIS also captured Mosul Dam, repelled Kurdish defenders, and reached 40 kilometers southwest of Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital.
Kurdish counter-attack and U.S. air strikes
On 8 August 2014, the United States conducted airstrikes, which were directed to stop the advancement of ISIL into Erbil. Two F-18 fighter jets dropped laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery units in Northern Iraq. Strikes continued in subsequent days both around Sinjar (west of Mosul) and near Erbil (east of Mosul). There was also humanitarian aid airdropped for the civilians trapped in the mountains by American and British planes. Britain provided surveillance and refuelling to assist the humanitarian mission. France also moved to provide humanitarian aid to Kurds.
On 10 August, Iraqi Kurds retook Makhmour and al-Gweir, some 27 miles from Erbil with the help of coordinated U.S. airstrikes.
On 11 August, Haider al-Abadi was nominated as Iraq's new Prime Minister and he called on Iraqis to unite against the "barbaric" campaign waged by Islamic State militants. At that point, the United States started arming Kurdish forces directly, and France's foreign minister also expressed interest in supporting the Kurds with arms.
On 12 August, an Iraqi military helicopter, piloted by Maj. Gen. Majid Ahmed Saadi, crashed in the mountains while delivering aid and rescuing stranded Yazidi refugees. The helicopter was also carrying Yazidi lawmakers, including Yazidi MP Vian Al Dakhil, and foreign journalists. The general was the only fatality in the crash, while almost all of the passengers were injured.
On 14 August, U.S airstrikes and Kurdish ground forces broke the ISIS siege of Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of Yazidi refugees to escape. The same day, Nouri al-Maliki gave up his attempt to remain Prime Minister of Iraq.
On 16 August, militants massacred 80 Yazidi men and kidnapped their wives and children in the village of Kocho. The killings reportedly came after ISIS forces surrounded the village for 12 days and during that time made unsuccessful attempts to convince the villagers to convert.
The same day, air strikes were conducted against insurgent positions at the Mosul dam. The next morning, Kurdish forces, supported by U.S. and Iraqi air strikes, attacked the dam. They quickly captured the eastern part of the dam, but fighting continued. By the evening, Kurdish and Iraqi forces had recaptured most of the facility, but were still in the process of removing mines and booby traps left by the insurgents. U.S. warplanes destroyed or damaged 19 insurgent vehicles and one checkpoint during the battle. On 18 August, Iraqi and Kurdish officials claimed their forces had fully secured the dam and its complex, however, fighters on the front reported they were still being slowed down by mines and a new round of air strikes hit near the area. However, ISIS leaders denied that government and Kurdish forces had retaken the dam.
Assault on Tikrit
On the morning of 19 August, Iraqi government troops and allied militiamen launched a major operation, to retake the city of Tikrit from Sunni militants. The military push started early in the morning from the south and southwest of the city, which lies around 160 kilometres north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. However, by the afternoon, the offensive had been repelled by the insurgents. Additionally, the military lost its positions in the southern area of the city it had captured a few weeks earlier.
A lot of protests and demonstrations where organized around the world to support Kurdish and Yazidi people, in particular in Paris.
- 2012–14 Iraqi protests
- Spillover of the Syrian Civil War
- Persecution of Yazidis by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
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- Sunni Extremists in Iraq Seize 3 Towns From Kurds and Threaten Major Dam
- Barack Obama Approves Airstrikes on Iraq, Airdrops Aid
- Iraq's largest Christian town abandoned as Isis advance continues
- 40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as Isis jihadists threaten death
- In Pictures: The Kurdish frontline in Iraq
- Islamist rebels repairing Mosul dam, Kurds in rush to arms
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- Militants’ Siege on Mountain in Iraq Is Over, Pentagon Says
- Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki agrees to step aside, Toronto Star
- Kurdish forces take parts of Mosul dam from Isis fighters
- Kurdish forces 'break IS hold on Mosul dam'
- Iraq Says It Has Retaken Mosul Dam
- Obama says Iraqi forces retake Mosul Dam, seized by Islamic militants earlier this month
- Iraqi Forces Launch Major Push to Retake Tikrit
- Isis fighters show strength as they repel Iraqi army's attempt to retake Tikrit
- Iraqis battle Islamic State in Tikrit; situation in Mosul stable
Channel 7 News Australia 27/08/2014
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