Iraq update: Iranian pilot killed in fighting, ISIS leader appears in video
By End the Lie
The crisis in Iraq continued this week with the reported killing of an Iranian pilot in Iraq on Saturday and the first video appearance of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The death of the pilot is thought to be the first military casualty in Iraq that has been officially acknowledged by the Iranian government.
The Iranian state news agency IRNA said on Saturday that Shoja’at Alamdari Mourjani was killed while “defending” Shia Muslim holy sites in Samarra, north of Baghdad, according to Al Jazeera.
Jihadists in Iraq destroyed multiple shrines and mosques in recent days, while also tearing down crosses and replacing them with the black flag of ISIS.
Al Jazeera reporter Imran Khan said there were no reports of a plane being shot down, so the pilot likely died in ground fighting. IRNA would not say if the pilot died in the air or on the ground.
Still, the Iranian government gas insisted that the assistance they would provide Iraq would be in the form of weapons and equipment if requested, but not troops.
The Iranian Fars news agency published photos of a funeral service for the pilot in his home town. The news outlet hinted that the pilot was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to Reuters.
Samarra, where Mourjani died, has been a significant point of conflict in the ongoing sectarian violence in the country.
The city is home to the Shiite Al-Askari shrine, which Al-Qaeda bombed in February 2006. That bombing set off a Sunni-Shia sectarian war “that killed tens of thousands,” according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, ISIS released video of a sermon delivered by their leader, the first such video publicly released.
The video was recorded on Friday in the Great Mosque in Mosul. Baghdadi urged listeners to fast during Ramadan and join in jihad.
“Do jihad in the cause of Allah, incite the believers and be patient in the face of this hardship,” he said. “If you knew about the reward and dignity in this world and the hereafter through jihad, then none of you would delay in doing it.”
The translation was provided by the SITE Intelligence Group to the New York Times and other media outlets.
Saad Maan of the Iraqi Interior Ministry told Reuters that the Iraqi government believes the video is fake.
SITE, however, says the video appears to be authentic. An Iraqi employee of the New York Times interviewed some who were at the sermon who said they believed it was Baghdadi who appeared in the mosque.
However, the unidentified sources said they had never seen him before so they were speaking based on how the ISIS fighters treated the man.
Baghdadi maintained that he is the caliph, or spiritual leader, of the Muslim faithful, according to the New York Times.
On June 29, ISIS declared the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria to be a caliphate, or Islamic state.
Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, continues to be held by ISIS jihadists. The militants originally took over the city on June 10, when the Iraqi army fled, leaving their weapons behind.