Iraqi finance minister’s guards arrested for ‘terrorism’

Updated 21 December 2012
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Iraqi finance minister’s guards arrested for ‘terrorism’

BAGHDAD: Nine of the Iraqi finance minister’s guards are being held on terrorism charges, a judicial spokesman said yesterday, after the minister demanded the premier’s resignation following their arrest.
The arrests and Finance Minister Rafa Al-Essawi’s response threaten to reignite a long-running feud between the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, of which he is a member, and Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.
Higher Judicial Council spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar told AFP that nine of Essawi’s guards were detained under Iraq’s anti-terrorism law, and that all necessary arrest warrants had been obtained. And he told Iraqiya state television that the commander of the guards had confessed to carrying out “terrorist acts,” which he said meant “bombings and assassinations.”
The Interior Ministry said on its website that its forces carried out the arrests around Essawi’s house, put the number of detained guards at 10, and published what it said were copies of the arrest warrants.
Essawi meanwhile said on Thursday that a “militia force” — an apparent reference to a security forces unit — raided the ministry and his home “in an illegal act, without a judicial order,” detaining 150 guards. “I call on the prime minister to resign, because he did not behave like a man of state,” Essawi told a news conference alongside Parliament Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlak, also Iraqiya members.
Iraqiya and other members of Maliki’s unstable national unity government have accused him in the past year of concentrating power in his hands and moving toward dictatorship.
Opposition to Maliki escalated into calls for him to be removed, but his opponents lacked the parliamentary votes to do so. Essawi also called on Thursday for the no-confidence proceedings to be reopened.
The arrest of Essawi’s guards come almost exactly a year after Sunni Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi’s guards were arrested and accused of terrorism.


Iraqi military air strikes against Daesh targets in Syria kill 45

Updated 42 min 56 sec ago
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Iraqi military air strikes against Daesh targets in Syria kill 45

  • Iraq has conducted an air strike on three houses in the Syrian town of Hajin where Daesh leaders were meeting.
  • 45 members of the militant group were killed in the strikes.

BAGHDAD: Iraq has conducted an air strike on three houses in the Syrian town of Hajin where Daesh leaders were meeting, killing 45 members of the militant group, its military said on Saturday.
"Iraqi F-16 jets carried out a successful air strike that targeted a meeting of Daesh leaders ... in the Hajin area within Syrian territory. The operation resulted in the complete destruction of the targets, and the killing of around 45 terrorists," the military's joint operations command said.
Iraqi jets hit three houses connected by a trench, the military said, adding that those killed included the group's "deputy war minister", one of its "media emirs", its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's personal courier and its chief of police.