Category Archives: iraq news

Putin wins 2018 presidential election with landslide victory


Incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to secure a landslide victory in the 2018 Russian presidential election. A preliminary result released by the Russian Central Electoral Commission shows that Putin is now leading with over 76.66 percent of the vote. It is well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off. As of 6:36 Moscow Time (3:36 GMT),99.63 percent of ballots had been processed.

An unexpected higher turnout 

The Presidential Election this year has seen a relatively higher turnout than this time in 2012. The turnout is currently at 67 percent with 99.63 percent of votes counted, slightly higher than the 65 percent turnout in 2012.

Participation in Russian presidential elections has been declining slowly since they were first held in 1991, when it was well above 74 percent. In 2002, when Putin ran for president, it fell to under 69 percent. Russian experts have explained this trend by saying that ordinary people showed less political activity when their life was stable and secure.

“It is nonsense and absurd to claim that Russia would do anything like that before the elections and the World Cup,” Putin said as he denied that Russia was behind the poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Shortly after the preliminary result was announced, Putin talked to reporters at his election campaign HQ about important issues.

Putin explained, “There is no such substances in Russia. we destroyed all our chemical weapons as monitored by international inspectors. We did this first, unlike some of our partners who did not fulfill their promise. We are ready for cooperation.”

It is the first time that he has touched on the issue. But the UK spy poisoning scandal did add a fresh layer to this year’s election.

Moscow said it is open to working with London to investigate the poisoning if the UK is willing. Putin said Russia is ready to cooperate, discuss and overcome any difficulties with London.


The president has promised to boost living standards for ordinary Russians. Personal incomes have been stagnant, although inflation has remained relatively low. The country’s economy is slowly returning to growth after a two-year recession. However, far-reaching reforms in problem areas such as pensions and healthcare are not expected.

Relations overseas, particularly in the West, are tense in the wake of allegations of election-meddling in Europe and the US, cyber-attacks, involvement in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the recent accusation relating to the poisoning of Skripal. Western sanctions remain in place, and the US and UK have added new measures over the past week.

Russia, Iran, Turkey to Discuss Syria in Astana

ERBIL — The Kazakh Presidential spokesperson Aidos Ukibi said in a written statement that the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey plan to meet in the Kazakh capital of Astana, to discuss Syria and its civil war.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to talk the Astana process on Syria on March 16, it revealed.

Iraqi Military Reportedly Finds US Army Rations in Cave Used by Daesh (PHOTOS)

The cave may have been used as a staging area from which the jihadists could rest and eat.

Directorate 4, a Telegram channel monitoring the security situation in Iraq and Syria, reported the find, saying that US MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) individual field rations packaging was found in the terrorists’ cave.

“Daesh shelter found by Iraqi forces in southern Mosul.”

The channel explained that in addition to caches of weapons and ammunition, the Iraqi military has also been finding these kinds of Daesh (ISIS)* underground shelters where the jihadists could get a bit of rest and relaxation. Directorate 4 added that it can be assumed that some of these secret facilities continue to be used.

A view shows damaged buildings in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 19, 2014

The Syrian and Iraqi militaries have been finding large stocks of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies in territories once controlled by Daesh. On Monday, Syrian Army units discovered a massive pile of US and European-made weapons inside Daesh hideouts near the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor.Daesh declared a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq in 2014, capturing Mosul, the city’s second-largest city, and expanding west into Syria. With the combined efforts of the Iraqi military and the Kurdish militias and the support of the US-led coalition, the terrorist group was driven out of Iraq; the Syrian Army and its Russian and Iranian allies have fought to liberate the Daesh-controlled areas of Syria, with Kurdish forces doing their part in northern Syria. As of late February 2018, the terrorists’ holdings have been reduced to a few isolated pockets of territory in eastern Syria.

*Terrorist group banned in Russia.

Hashd al-Shaabi Deploys More Forces to Kirkuk: Official

ERBIL – Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias have deployed two more squads to Kirkuk province to prevent the Kurds raise the Kurdish flag in the city during the upcoming Kurdish traditional events in March , said an official.

“The militiamen of Hashd al-Shaabi usually harass and mistreat the Kurdish citizens overnight, they sometimes arrest them,” KDP’s spokesperson to Kirkuk Adnan Karkuki told BasNews.

“The Iranian-backed militiamen of Hashd al-Shaabi have mobilized more forces to Kirkuk in order to prevent the Kurdish flag to be used in the Kurdish new year Nawroz day,” he added.

In October last year, the Iraqi army in coordination with the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi invaded the disputed areas in the Kurdistan Region. As a result, hundreds of civilians were killed and 200,000 were displaced.

Hundreds of Civilians Flee Afrin as Turkish Army Advances: Monitor

Parsons Green suspect ‘told teacher it was his duty to hate Britain’

Ahmed Hassan’s former teacher says she alerted Prevent after she saw a WhatsApp message on his phone confirming an IS donation.

The Iraqi teenager on trial over the Parsons Green bomb said it was his “duty to hate Britain” and that he blamed the US for his parents’ deaths, a court has heard.

Ahmed Hassan is charged with attempted murder for allegedly planting a bomb on a District Line tube train, which injured 30 people when it partially exploded in September last year.

The Old Bailey was told Hassan had raised alarm bells at college.

The bomb contained 400g of explosives and shrapnel on the floor
Image:The bomb contained 400g of explosives

After arriving in the UK in 2015, Hassan attended Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey, and moved in with a foster family in Sunbury.

Jurors were told his teacher and mentor Katie Cable became concerned about his behaviour despite him being named student of the year in June last year.

She told the court she alerted Prevent after she saw a WhatsApp message on the 18-year-old’s phone in August 2016, saying: “IS (Islamic State) has accepted your donation.”

parsons green

Video:Moment of Parsons Green blast

Ms Cable said Hassan blamed America for the deaths of his parents in Iraq and said: “It’s my duty to hate Britain.”

She said he was “incredibly conflicted, frightened, confused, plagued by boredom” and added that he would snap pens and walk out of the classroom when he first started school in April 2016.

“I believe Ahmed said his father was blown up and his mother had been shot,” Ms Cable said.

She said he talked about Tony Blair and expressed his “anger” at the situation in Iraq.

“I believe the anger was very clear,” she said. “He referred to being angry several times.”

The court heard he told her “the British” were responsible for his parents’ deaths.

Ms Cable said that by September 2017, she had become “really concerned about his mental state”.

The day before the bombing, she said Hassan came to see her with presents for her children, which she says she found “strange”.

Under cross-examination, Ms Cable said she had believed Hassan was not a supporter of IS. When asked by Tim Moloney QC if it appeared that “he desperately wanted to stay in this country”, she said that “it seemed so”.

A bucket on fire on a tube train at Parsons Green station in west London amid reports of an explosion. Pic: Sylvain Pennec
Image:The remains of the device on the Underground train

Barnardo’s workers also gave evidence to the court on Monday.

Youseff Habibi, from the charity, who met Hassan when he was living in a children’s home in Surrey, told jurors the defendant told him his father was a taxi driver who had gone to work one morning when “a bomb fell on him and he died”.

He said Hassan’s mother had died when he was much younger and that he blamed America for her death, too.

The court heard how another Barnardo’s worker, Zoe Spencer, had accompanied Hassan to an immigration interview in January 2016.

She said when he was asked if he had been involved with terrorist groups such as IS, he said: “Yes, I was recruited by ISIS for three months.”

Ms Spencer said she stopped the interview as she felt Hassan did not understand the question. During a second interview with an interpreter, Hassan said he was “forced” to go with IS and denied being sent to Europe to work for them.

She also told the court she saw the teenager looking at a picture of people in balaclavas with guns and the black IS flag about a week later.

Iraq’s Sadr allies with communist party in upcoming elections

Iraq’s renowned Shia cleric and leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada Al-Sadr, has formed an alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party to run in the upcoming legislative elections scheduled for May.

Sadrist movement leader, Ibrahim Al-Jabri, said the alliance is the first in Iraq’s history.

“It is a revolution by Iraqis who want reform both secularists, like the communists, and moderate Islamists.”

Al-Jabri told a crowd of anti-government protesters in Baghdad that “the alliance is no surprise because we have been fighting together for two years”.

In 2015, the Sadrist movement supported civil society activists in protests demanding reforms and fighting corruption.

Secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party, Raed Fahmi, said the demands do not have a sectarian character, but aim to achieve social justice.

“The important thing is that it allowed people from Islamic and secular movements to work together,” he said.

“Cooperation was born between people who initially did not have any common ideology and then developed into a political alliance,” said Fahmi.

The new alliance dubbed Marching Towards Reform includes a total of six blocs.

Women Linked to Opposition Groups in Syria Face Daily Abuse: Official

ERBIL – Executive director of Women Now For Development (WND) revealed that women in Syria face abuses at checkpoint, government offices and even prisons for links with those affiliated to opposition groups.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Maria Al Abdeh, executive director of WND said that the Syrian regime commits sexual violations against women related to opposition groups.

“When they enter a new area where the opposition groups used to be, they are trying to rape the women in the city,” she added.

Since 2011, Syria has been suffering from a civil war between the Syrian government, opposition groups, and other terrorist extremist organizations, resulting in the killing of approximately 400,000 people and fleeing of five million others.

UN: 700,000 Iraqis need urgent assistance

Some 700,000 Iraqis are in need for urgent assistance across the country, the UN’s  International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement yesterday.

“The number of internally displaced Iraqis is currently more than 2.3 million, and those who have returned to their place of origin over 3.5 million,” the organisation said.

The IOM appealed for $26.7 million to provide for the “urgent needs of more than 700,000 Iraqis across the country – returnees, host community members and internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially those remaining in camps or informal settings, and those who may experience secondary displacement.”

According to IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, “an estimated 2,317,698 people continue to be displaced, and 3,511,602 people have returned since the beginning of the conflict in January 2014.”

The press release also said: “Returns of displaced people to their area of origin currently exceed 100,000 per month.”

“Of the 2.3 million displaced, more than 631,000 live in camps, and nearly 260,000 live in critical shelter arrangements, such as informal settlements, unfinished buildings, religious and school buildings.”

Across the country, Iraqis continue to be affected by the impact of the recent conflict, and require immediate support

said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

He added: “The requested funding is essential to provide continued humanitarian assistance for the displaced, and to support returnees to restore social, health, housing and community infrastructure so they are able to restart their lives.”

Read: Iraq, UN launch joint plan to return 1 million displaced persons to their homes in 2018

Iran Calls on US to Return Humanitarian Info of Saddam-Era War

TEHRAN (FNA)- General Mohammad Bagherzadeh, who heads the army’s Committee for the Search of the Missing in Action, called on the US to return information and documents related to the Iranian soldiers who have been secretly martyred in Iraq’s prisons during the Iraqi-imposed war (1980-1988).

“The humanitarian information of war between Iran and Iraq which were transferred by the Americans from Iraq to the Pentagon should be given back so that the fate of the group of martyrs who were secretly martyred in the jails and were buried in unknown places will become clear as soon as possible,” General Bagherzadeh said in a meeting with President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer in Tehran on Sunday.

He also underlined Iran’s preparedness to share its experiences with other countries in operations to search for bodies of those who have been killed in action.

The Iran–Iraq war was an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq, beginning on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and ending on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire.

Although Iraq hoped to take advantage of Iran’s post-revolutionary chaos, it made limited progress and was quickly repelled; Iran regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982.

An estimated 500,000 Iraqi and Iranian soldiers died, in addition to a similar number of civilians. The end of the war resulted in neither reparations nor border changes.