Iraqi forces take control of Kurdish-held areas in Mosul’s Niveveh’s province

Iraqi soldiers gesture on top of a vehicle as they enter the city of Kirkuk on October 17, 2017. Kurdish peshmerga forces withdrew without a fight after federal government troops and militia entered the city and seized the provincial governor’s office and key military bases. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Iraqi forces take control of Kurdish-held areas in Mosul’s Niveveh’s province

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces have taken control of areas previously held by Kurdish forces in Mosul’s Nineveh province in northern Iraq, a military statement said on Wednesday.
The areas were evacuated by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters before the arrival of the Iraqi forces on Tuesday, the statement said. The Peshmerga had taken them over the past three years as part of the war against Daesh militants.
The Mosul Dam, northwest of the city, is among the positions retaken from the Peshmerga, the military statement said.
Responding to a Kurdish referendum on independence held last month, Iraqi government forces backed by Iranian-trained paramilitary groups captured the Kurdish-held oil region of Kirkuk on Monday, transforming the country’s balance of power.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi ordered the retaking of Kirkuk on Monday, as well as all disputed areas claimed by both the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government and the central authorities in Baghdad.


Iran arrests groups planning attacks on pilgrims

Updated 15 min 28 sec ago
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Iran arrests groups planning attacks on pilgrims

  • Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi did not specify when and where the arrests had taken place
  • The militant groups were allegedly planning to attack during the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen
LONDON: Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested 15 militants planning attacks on Shiite Muslims making an annual pilgrimage to Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Kerbala each year for the ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein.
Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, visiting the Iran-Iraq border area, was quoted by state television as saying that “three terrorist groups that wanted to target Arbaeen mourners were arrested.”
Tasnim news agency quoted Alavi as saying the arrests took place in southwestern Khuzestan province in recent days, and 15 people were arrested.
“The detainees confessed that they wanted to carry out suicide attacks to kill the pilgrims,” Alavi said.
He gave no indication when the attacks were due to take place, but the culmination of the pilgrimage this year falls at the end of October.
Shiites are considered apostates by hard-line Sunni Islamist insurgents in Iraq. Armed Sunni groups in Iran have also increased attacks on military and civilian targets in recent months.
Iran stepped up security in border areas after five gunmen killed 25 people at a military parade in the city of Ahvaz, in Khuzestan province, in September.
Daesh militants and an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement claimed responsibility for the attack, but neither claim provided convincing evidence.
At least 10 Iranian security personnel including Revolutionary Guards were kidnapped on the border with Pakistan last week. A Sunni separatist group said it had seized them as revenge for the oppression of Sunni Muslims.