Fighters take more territory on the road to Iraq’s capital as the government puts in place a new plan to defend the city.
10:18am UK, Friday 13 June 2014
Iraq has implemented a new plan to defend Baghdad as Islamist insurgents edge closer to the country’s capital, according to an interior ministry spokesman.
“The plan consists of intensifying the deployment of forces, and increasing intelligence efforts and the use of technology such as (observation) balloons and cameras and other equipment,” Brigadier General Saad Maan told the AFP news agency.
Security forces are gathering at a base just 20 miles outside Baghdad, ready to protect the city from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters who have vowed to march on the city.
Iraq’s Shiite-led government says a fight-back is under way after the Sunni insurgents took control of the northern cities Mosul and Tikrit, having already taken control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi.
But the militants moved into the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla in the eastern province of Diyala after security forces abandoned their positions.
A spokesman for the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said she is “extremely concerned” by summary executions, extrajudicial killings and the displacement of more than 500,000 people.
Rupert Colville said the number of people killed after the militants overran Mosul may run into the hundreds.
He said his office had reports the killings included the execution of 18 civilians working for the police.
Four women had killed themselves after being raped, while 16 Jordanians had been kidnapped, Mr Colville added.
The Iraqi army fired artillery at Saadiyah and Jalawla from Muqdadiya, 50 miles from the Baghdad city limits, sending dozens of families fleeing towards the Iranian border, security sources said.
The Iraqi air force also launched airstrikes on militant fighters’ positions around Mosul and Tikrit.
According to witnesses, the fighters are preparing a third assault on Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, following two failed attempts to take the city.
Sky’s Middle East Correspondent Sherine Tadros, in Irbil, northern Iraq, said: “The army right now is extremely demoralised, it feels like it’s lacking in leadership and it’s splintering under this pressure.
“Meanwhile, the militants certainly seem like they have the upper hand and all the momentum.”
The US has confirmed ground troops will not be sent into Iraq, but President Barack Obama says his administration is looking into “all options” to help.