Iraq president blames Kurdish poll for Kirkuk assault

Iraqi President Fuad Masum (L) meets with Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani at the house of late Iraqi president Jalal Talabani in Dokan, some 70 kilometres northwest of Sulaimaniyah. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2017
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Iraq president blames Kurdish poll for Kirkuk assault

BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Tuesday blamed a Kurdish independence referendum for triggering a military intervention by Iraqi forces to take control of the disputed province of Kirkuk.
“Holding a referendum on the Kurdistan region’s independence from Iraq stirred grave disagreements between the central government and the government of Kurdistan,” Masum, himself a Kurd, said in a televised address.
That “led to federal security forces retaking direct control of Kirkuk,” he said.
Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly on September 25 for independence from Baghdad.
Regional president Masoud Barzani had pushed ahead with the poll in defiance of Baghdad, Washington and Iraq’s neighboring states.
Masum, who belongs to a rival Kurdish party long at odds with Barzani, said the central government had made “strenuous efforts to reach a solution.”
But, he said, a “grave crisis... broke out between the federal government and the government of Iraqi Kurdistan because the latter insisted on unilaterally holding the referendum.”


Dozens of bodies found in Raqqa mass grave

Updated 22 April 2018
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Dozens of bodies found in Raqqa mass grave

  • Raqqa was the de facto “capital” of the Daesh group in northern Syria until the terror group was ousted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017
  • Daesh has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations

QAMISHLI, Syria: Dozens of bodies, including those of jihadists and civilians, have been found in a mass grave in the former Daesh group stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, a local official said on Saturday.
The former de facto “capital” of the group in northern Syria, Raqqa saw the jihadists ousted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017.
Nearly 50 bodies had already been recovered from the mass grave, which could contain up to 200 bodies, Abdallah Al-Eriane, a senior official with Raqqa Civil Council now running the city, said,
The mass grave was located under a football pitch, close to a hospital where the jihadists had dug in before being chased out of the city.
“It was apparently the only place available for burials, which were done in haste. The jihadists were holed up in the hospital,” the official said, adding that some bodies were marked with the nom de guerre of the jihadist while civilians just had first names.
In recent months, both Syria and Iraq have discovered mass graves in areas previously occupied by the jihadists.
Syrian troops uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of more than 30 people killed by Daesh in Raqqa province in February.
It followed two other similar finds by the Syrian army.
The Daesh group, which proclaimed a “caliphate” over swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, has now lost almost all the land it once controlled.
It has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations.