Marines, US ships headed to Iraq as government loses control of another key city
By End the Lie
The U.S. has deployed Marines and warships to Iraq while the Iraqi government lost yet another key northern city to Islamist insurgents, raising new concerns about the government’s ability to stave off further losses.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Washington is “open to discussions” with Iran surrounding the ongoing attacks by Sunni extremists.
While Kerry said he would “not rule out” possible military cooperation with Iran, the Pentagon quite clearly said they have no plans to coordinate with Iran, according to the Associated Press.
The Islamic State of Iraq Syria (ISIS) also posted a series of disturbing images (warning: link contains graphic images, discretion highly advised) on Sunday apparently showing them executing dozens of Iraqi soldiers north of Baghdad in the Salahuddin province.
The apparent mass execution by ISIS was condemned by the United States, according to The Telegraph. The captions “make clear that the aim of the killings was sectarian and intended to bring fear to Shia soldiers in the army,” the British news outlet reports.
The takeover of the key northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar has raised significant concerns as well.
The defeat of Tal Afar meant the “defeat of one of Iraq’s top generals,” according to The Wall Street Journal, which yet again brought into question the capabilities of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The capture of Tal Afar by ISIS forces was accomplished even after Maliki dispatched Abul Waleed, one of the country’s best commanders.
ISIS began shelling Tal Afar Sunday and by Monday morning government forces lost control of the city. Waleed issued a statement on Iraqiya, an Iraqi TV channel, and pro-government websites saying he and his troops continued to fight for the city.
At the time of writing, the Iraqi defense ministry had not released details on Monday’s fighting or if a broad counterattack was being organized.
However, some raids on Tal Afar were carried out early Monday by the Iraqi Air Force, according to Iraqi officials.
An ex-member of Waleed’s Wolf Brigade said they were trying to rejoin their former commander in Tal Afar. The ex-member also said that Waleed was running out of ammunition, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The northern portion of the country is being fought for by Kurdish fighters, forces loyal to Maliki and soldiers from an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and two other ships from the northern Arabian Sea have arrived in the Persian Gulf on orders from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. USS Mesa Verde was also ordered into the Persian Gulf today according to ABC News. The Mesa Verde carries around 550 Marines and five Osprey planes.
Around 100 Marines and Army troops were also deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The State Department has already evacuated a significant number of U.S. employees in the Baghdad embassy to other American diplomatic facilities in Iraq.
The deployment of the aircraft carrier will give Obama more flexibility if he orders military action in Iraq according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.