ISIS Terror Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Was Released By Obama From Camp Bucca In 2009 – Gateway Pundit
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has transformed a few terror cells on the verge of extinction into the most dangerous militant group in the world.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Abu Dua was once held by the US in Camp Bucca Iraq.
But the Obama administration shut down the Bucca prison camp and released its prisoners, including Abu Dua in 2009.
The Telegraph reported:
The FBI “most wanted” mugshot shows a tough, swarthy figure, his hair in a jailbird crew-cut. The $10 million price on his head, meanwhile, suggests that whoever released him from US custody four years ago may now be regretting it…
…Well-organised and utterly ruthless, the ex-preacher is the driving force behind al-Qaeda’s resurgence throughout Syria and Iraq, putting it at the forefront of the war to topple President Bashar al-Assad and starting a fresh campaign of mayhem against the Western-backed government in Baghdad.
On Tuesday, his forces achieved their biggest coup in Iraq to date, seizing control of government buildings in Mosul, the country’s third biggest city. Coming on top of similar operations in January that planted the black jihadi flag in the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, it gives al-Qaeda control of large swathes of the north and west of the country, and poses the biggest security crisis since the US pull-out two years ago…
…“This guy was a Salafi (a follower of a fundamentalist brand of Islam), and Saddam’s regime would have kept a close eye on him,” said Dr Michael Knights, an Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“He was also in Camp Bucca for several years, which suggests he was already considered a serious threat when he went in there.”
That theory seems backed by US intelligence reports from 2005, which describe him as al-Qaeda’s point man in Qaim, a fly-blown town in Iraq’s western desert.
“Abu Duaa was connected to the intimidation, torture and murder of local civilians in Qaim”, says a Pentagon document. “He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them.”
Why such a ferocious individual was deemed fit for release in 2009 is not known. One possible explanation is that he was one of thousands of suspected insurgents granted amnesty as the US began its draw down in Iraq. Another, though, is that rather like Keyser Söze, the enigmatic crimelord in the film The Usual Suspects, he may actually be several different people.
Al-Qaeda ISIS members from ISIS celebrate in Diyala Province, Iraq.
Democracy Now added this on the closing of Camp Bucca in 2009.
The US meanwhile has closed Camp Bucca, once its largest prison in Iraq. The Pentagon says it’s transferred Bucca’s remaining 180 prisoners to two jails near Baghdad. US Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth King said the prison’s closure comes as part of the US-Iraq security deal.
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth King: “As a show of progress for the security agreement and moving forward the government of Iraq, we’re going to put the theater internment facility as a piece of history. And we’re going to – it will be history, and we’ll move forward from here and progress.”
Camp Bucca once hosted thousands of prisoners without charge, with many allegations of torture and abuse by US guards.
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ISIS Butchers Leave ‘Roads Lined With Decapitated Police And Soldiers': Battle For Baghdad Looms As Thousands Answer Iraqi Government’s Call To Arms And Jihadists Bear Down On Capital – Daily Mail
The full horror of the jihadists’ savage victories in Iraq emerged yesterday as witnesses told of streets lined with decapitated soldiers and policemen.
Blood-soaked bodies and blazing vehicles were left in the wake of the Al Qaeda-inspired ISIS fanatics as they pushed the frontline towards Baghdad.
They boasted about their triumphs in a propaganda video depicting appalling scenes including a businessman being dragged from his car and executed at the roadside with a pistol to the back of his head. The extent of the carnage came as:
Images from captured cities such as Mosul and Tikrit showed deserted streets, burnt out vehicles and discarded uniforms left by government troops fleeing the brutal fanatics;
ISIS leaders urged their bloodthirsty followers to continue their march and warned that battle would rage in Baghdad and in the holy city of Karbala;
Thousands of residents in the capital answered a call to arms to repel the invaders amid fears the government’s own troops were not up to the job;
Aid groups warned of a new refugee crisis after half a million terrified Iraqis left their homes to escape the jihadists.
In the swathe of captured territory across northern Iraq, ISIS declared hardline Sharia law, publishing rules ordering women not to go outside ‘unless strictly necessary’, banning alcohol and smoking, and forcing all residents to attend mosques five times a day. BBC correspondent Paul Wood said one woman from Mosul, Iraq’s second city, had spoken of seeing a ‘row of decapitated soldiers and policemen’.
The refugee woman told how the victims’ heads were placed in rows – a trademark, trophy-style execution favoured by ISIS militants.
The fanatics captured Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, by overrunning an army base and rounding up hundreds of soldiers and police. Dozens of members of a police special forces battalion were paraded on the back of a truck in the city.
As the balaclava-clad militants took Mosul and Tikrit, thousands of Baghdad’s residents young and old queued at recruiting stations to form a ‘Dad’s army’ to defend the capital.
Trucks carrying volunteers in uniform rumbled towards the frontlines to defend the city, with many chanting slogans against the ISIS militants.
Meanwhile the Iraqi air force carried out at least four bombing raids on insurgent positions in and around Mosul. State television showed targets exploding in black clouds.
Britons working in Baghdad’s Green Zone where most of the foreign embassies are based were on high alert. The lightning advance of ISIS has caused alarm in London, Washington and across the Middle East.
Despite vastly outnumbering the jihadists, government troops have melted away in the face of the insurgents, allowing them to capture two helicopters, 15 tanks, weapons and several armoured cars that used belonging to the American military. They also seized £350million-worth of dinars by robbing a bank in Mosul.
According to bitter Iraqi footsoldiers, their commanders slipped away in the night rather than mount a defence of the city.
One said: ‘Our leaders betrayed us. The commanders left the military behind. When we woke up, all the leaders had left.’
Last night Barack Obama said America would help with ‘short-term immediate actions… militarily’ to push back the insurgents, but ruled out sending troops.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would not get involved militarily because Iraq was now a democracy.
Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed: ‘We are not going to allow this to carry on, regardless of the price. We are getting ready. We are organising.’
As the situation spiralled out of control, even Iran was said to have deployed two battalions from its Revolutionary Guard to help the Iraqi government retake Tikrit.
The development was likely to enrage Washington, which has been steadfast in its determination for Baghdad not to cosy up to Tehran.
It also emerged that members of Saddam’s old guard were joining the insurrection. Fighters loyal to his disbanded Baath Party were said to be actively supporting the rebels. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham but has also been referenced as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Its insurgency is the biggest threat to Iraq since US troops withdrew in 2011.
ISIS commanders issued chilling warnings to any police officers or soldiers to ‘repent or be killed’.
In a sinister video, the extremists urged followers to ‘march to Baghdad – we have a score to settle’. They also pledged to take the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
‘Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging,’ a voice said to be that of ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says. ‘It will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. So be ready for it. Put on your belts and get ready.’
But taking Baghdad would be much tougher for ISIS than the towns where they have triumphed so far. The United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors last night to discuss the crisis.
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, speaking in London, insisted the government had halted the rebel advance and even claimed insurgents were ‘on the run’.
But at Baiji, near Kirkuk, insurgents surrounded Iraq’s largest refinery. And the fighters have reached Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad.
About a quarter of Mosul’s two million residents have fled. The flood of terrified families escaping the fighting there was described as ‘one of the largest and swiftest mass movements of people in the world in recent memory’. Many have headed east into the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Aid groups fear a new refugee crisis. Neighbouring countries already struggling to look after 2.8million refugees from the Syrian civil war now face the prospect of a new influx of displaced people desperately seeking a safe haven.
Meanwhile Iraqi Kurds seized control of the major northern oil city of Kirkuk today after the central government’s army abandoned its posts.The Kurds – a semi-autonomous ethnic group based in the north – have their own 250,000-strong military, but have not used them to engage ISIS.
Footage emerged yesterday evening from TIkrit, which appears to show a long line of captured men and boys, being forcibly marched down a highway in the city.
The minute-long video, uploaded to YouTube, showed a snaking column of men stretching the entire visible length of the stretch of road. A voice captured by the recording describes a great Islamic ‘family’ and later an ‘army’, suggesting a possible intention to recruit the captives.
Most of the men and boys have both hands on their heads, while others – some wearing head coverings and some bare-faced – move up and down the column encouraging the march.
The startling developments raise the spectre of Iraq being carved up and divided into several states. Respected commentators have raised the prospect that, with Kurdish forces holding the north, the Sunni ISIS militants taking parts of the north and west, leaving the central and south-eastern to the Shiite population who currently run the government and military.
Yesterday the Iraqi Ambassador to Washington warned the ‘integrity of Iraq is in question’, while Dr Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister of Iraq, added that a break-up was ‘not impossible’.
The governor of Mosul, who escaped the city and is now in Erbil in the Kurdish north, said that Iraq must be divided as centralisation had ‘failed’.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Atheel al-Nujaifi said prime minister Nouri al-Maliki ‘didn’t devolve authority to us before, but now we must do it. Now we are saying his centralisation policies have failed,’ Mr Nujaifi said.
Repercussions from the conflict are also being felt in global oil markets, where prices shot to a three-month high. The RAC said disruption could add more than 2p to the price of a litre of petrol.
The price of Brent crude rose $2 to a three-month high of more than $112 on fears about supply from the second-biggest producer in the Opec oil cartel.
The RAC said: ‘The worsening situation in Iraq is causing a knee-jerk reaction in the global fuel market with wholesale prices going up one pence over Wednesday and Thursday.’
This was likely to push the pump price of both petrol and diesel up by 2p per litre in the short term, the RAC said, ‘and this could well go much further’.
Iraq has insisted sectarian violence will not spread to the south, from which the vast majority of oil output comes.
After the capture of Mosul, the Islamic State issued a triumphalist statement declaring that it would implement its strict version of Shariah law in Mosul and other regions it had overrun.
Its laws state that women should stay in their homes for modesty reasons, command residents to attend prayers five times a day, and warned thieves that they would have their hands cut off.
It came as Kurdish forces took full control of Iraq’s oil-rich city of Kirkuk after the federal army abandoned its bases there.
Peshmerga fighters, the security forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north, swept into Kirkuk after the army abandoned its posts there, a peshmerga spokesman said.
‘The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga. No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk now’, said Jabbar Yawar.
Kurds have long dreamed of controlling Kirkuk, a city with huge oil reserves just outside their autonomous region, which they regard as their historical capital.
The swift move by their highly organised security forces demonstrates how this week’s sudden advance by ISIS fighters has redrawn Iraq’s map.
Insurgents surrounded Iraq’s largest refinery in the northern town of Baiji this afternoon – they first moved in late on Tuesday, closing in on the refinery, but later withdrew to the surrounding villages after reaching a deal with local tribal chiefs.
A White House spokesman this evening said that they believed the Iraqi government were in control of the facility, but had no further details.
In the midst of the crisis, Iraq’s parliament failed to declare a nationwide state of emergency after not enough MPs turned up for a vote.
Opposition politicians representing Sunni and Kurdish populations boycotted parliament because the oppose a motion to give extraordinary powers to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Turkey is negotiating for the release of 80 nationals held by ISIS in Mosul and cannot confirm reports that some of them have been freed, government officials said today.
The pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported that the hostages, who include diplomatic staff, children and special forces soldiers, had been released to the Iraqi governor of Mosul and would be brought to Turkey tonight.
The capture of Mosul – along with the fall of Tikrit and the militants’ earlier seizure of the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province – has undone hard-fought gains against insurgents in the years following the invasion by U.S.-led forces.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the abductions and the seizure of Iraqi territory by the militants, urging ‘the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge.’
‘Terrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path towards democracy in Iraq,’ he added.
Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, and the neighboring Sunni-dominated province of Anbar share a long and porous border with Syria, where the Islamic State is also active.
Without assigning direct blame, al-Maliki said a ‘conspiracy’ led to the massive security failure that allowed militants to capture Mosul, and said members of the security forces who fled rather than stand up to the militants should be punished.
‘We are working to solve the situation,’ al-Maliki said. ‘We are regrouping the armed forces that are in charge of clearing Ninevah from those terrorists.’
Iranian airlines cancelled all flights between Tehran and Baghdad due to security concerns, and the Islamic Republic has intensified security measures along its borders, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
Shiite Iran, a major regional power, has strong ties with Iraq’s government. Some 17,000 Iranian pilgrims are in Iraq at any given time, according to IRNA, which cited the director of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization.
Tikrit residents said the militant group overran several police stations in the Sunni-dominated city.
Two Iraqi security officials confirmed that the city, 80 miles north of Baghdad and the capital of Salahuddin province, was under ISIS’s control and that the provincial governor was missing.
The major oil refinery in Baiji, located between Mosul and Tikrit, remained in government control, the officials said. There were clashes and gunmen tried to take the town but were repelled in a rare success for Iraqi government forces protecting an important facility, the officials said.
The International Organisation for Migration estimated that 500,000 people fled the Mosul area, with some seeking safety in the Ninevah countryside or the nearby semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Getting into the latter has become more difficult, however, with migrants without family members already in the enclave needing to secure permission from Kurdish authorities, according to the IOM.
The Islamist militia is so ruthless and extreme that even al-Qaeda has cut ties and distances itself from them.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Isis), used to be part of the international terror network, but was cast out in February this year in light of its violent behaviour towards rival jihadist groups.
It is famed – and feared – for spreading hardline Islamic law to the areas it subdues. Transgressors are sentenced to death and swiftly executed in public, their bodies left to decay in the streets.
This treatment has even been doled out against other jihadist leaders, who have been assassinated in a brutal struggle over strategy in the Middle East. Young jihadists are increasingly drawn to Isis over less extreme groups – particularly in the light of their rapid military progress through Iraq.
In the past days the group has overrun the northern city of Mosul, and today also took Tikrit, the hometown of executed Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.
In February, the leader of al-Qaeda issued a statement dissociating itself from Isis, which it accused of ‘forbidden bloodshed’ directed at fellow fighters.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s chief, cut ties after Isis attempted to bolster its strength by merging with other rebels in Syria.
He said: ‘We weren’t informed about its creation, nor counselled. Nor are we satisfied with it: rather we ordered it to stop… Nor is al–Qaeda responsible for its actions and behaviour.’
The organisation is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has a U.S. bounty of $10million on his head, second only to al-Zawahiri.
The ISIS leader, who was born in 1971 in Baghdad, is touted as a battlefield commander and tactician.
Baghdadi, who has a degree in Islamic studies, apparently joined the insurgency that erupted in Iraq soon after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
He was taken as a prisoner of the Americans in Camp Bucca between 2005 and 2007 – it was here that one of the only two photos know to be in existence was taken of him.
He is known as ‘The Ghost’ to members of the pro-Assad Lebanese Shi-ite militia Hizballah.
The secretive Baghdadi talks with a scarf covering his face even when dealing with close allies, according to militants who worked with him in Iraq.
He addresses his ISIS followers through audio recordings posted to the internet, rather than in public places.
Military sources have reported his death on numerous occasions in the past years, but the fighter always seems to reappear. This has led to speculation that al-Baghdadi is in fact a name used jointly by several commanders.
Some estimates claim Isis group has in excess of 10,000 fighting men in its ranks. Many of its fighters are thought to be radicalised Western Muslims who have poured in from Europe and North American to join the fighting in Syria and elsewhere.
The group, which controls large areas of land in Syria, is thought to be pouring resources and money from those areas into its burgeoning Iraqi campaign, which has seen it tear through the northern regions on the country.
Its military progress, largely unhindered by Iraq’s own security forces, have given it control over several highly valuable oil fields, which leaders will hope to exploit to strengthen their hand.
The situation has alarmed officials in Turkey, who called an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors after 80 of its citizens were taken hostage by Isis.
‘Turkey briefed the other allies on the situation in (the Iraqi city of) Mosul and the hostage-taking of Turkish citizens, including the consul general,’ a NATO official said.
He said the meeting was held for informational purposes and not under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which permits a member of the 28-nation alliance to ask for consultations with other allies when it feels its security is threatened.
Turks seized included 48 from the consulate in Mosul – including the consul-general and three children. Separately, 28 truck drivers who were delivering diesel to a power plant were captured on Monday.
Meanwhile, Baghdad residents were stockpiling food, fuel and weaponry in anticipation of an attack on the capital in the coming days.
Prime Minister Maliki has previously encouraged ordinary Iraqis to take up arms against the advancing soldiers of Isis, especially in light of claims that members of the police and military are intentionally defecting.
Senior sources in the Iraqi government have said that they have a plan to take back Mosul, but were unclear on the details.
Isis is pushing to expand its territory, which currently straddles the border between Syria and Iraq, and includes land extremely close to the Turkish border.
The group’s centre of power is Raqqa, a city in northern Syria, which is being run under the regime’s oppressive and violent code.
Raqqa was heavily contested throughout the Syrian conflict, and was held by several rebel groups until Isis threw out all other contenders in 2013.
Recently Isis leaders imposed punitive rules on the city’s Christian population, demanding that they pay a levy of gold for ‘protection’ else face being killed on the streets for their faith.
Horrifying images have also emerged from the cities of crucifixions being used to punish men who attacked Isis fighters.
Seven men were sentenced to death after a grenade was thrown at a soldier near a roundabout in Raqqa. The men, who were riding motorbikes, were then hunted down by Isis forces, according to a statement from the group. Two of the men were sentenced to die by crucifixion.
One of the two was wrapped in a banner, which said: ‘This man fought against Muslims and threw a grenade in this place.’
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Obama To Release Osama Bin Laden’s Bodyguards – Conservative Tribune
Apparently President Obama’s new favorite hobby is seeing how quickly he can release the world’s most dangerous terrorists from Gitmo.
Hot on the heels of releasing five detainees in an illegal deal to obtain Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a possible deserter and defector, the President has made another wrong decision involving high ranking al-Qaeda prisoners.
One would think that after catching so much flack from the public and members of Congress, including a new investigation to add to the list of the ones that are already on-going, Obama would think twice before pulling another stunt that endangers American lives.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the president is about to do.
According to new reports, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have approved the release of one of Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguards. Yes, you read that correctly.
Via Daily Caller:
President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have approved one of Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguards for release or transfer from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to another country, according to prison records released by WikiLeaks and a recently published list of approved-transfer detainees from the Justice Department.
Idris Ahmad Abdu Qadir Idris is the second name on Holder’s Justice Department list of 55 Gitmo detainees approved for release or transfer. This detainee, according to a Jan. 26, 2008, Defense Department document published by WikiLeaks, provided security for bin Laden both before and after the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
“Detainee is assessed to be a member of al-Qaida and was identified as a bodyguard for Usama Bin Laden (UBL) beginning shortly before the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Detainee is also assessed to be an al-Qaida recruiter associated with a Salafist network in Yemen,” the document reads. “Detainee transited through multiple extremist support guesthouses, received militant training at the al-Qaida al-Faruq Training Camp in Afghanistan (AF), and is assessed to have received advanced training.”
Spokespeople for the Justice Department and for the White House haven’t responded to requests for comment on why they want to release or transfer one of Bin Laden’s bodyguards from U.S. custody, even as reports surface suggesting the recent anti-American attacks in Libya were organized by a released Gitmo detainee.
Unbelievable. President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, one of the top U.S. officials tasked with ensuring America’s safety, continues to release terrorists back into the wild, who will no doubt be back on the battlefield fighting against the U.S.
This man is either trying to destroy America, or he is the most intellectually inept president this nation has ever had in office. Obama needs to be impeached right now before he does any further damage to our civil liberties and our national security.
Please share this article if you agree President Obama is putting the nation in danger and needs to be impeached immediately.
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Alarmed By Iraq, Iran Open To Shared Role With U.S. – Reuters
Shi’te Muslim Iran is so alarmed by Sunni insurgent gains in Iraq that it may be willing to cooperate with Washington in helping Baghdad fight back, a senior Iranian official told Reuters.
The idea is being discussed internally among the Islamic Republic’s leadership, the senior Iranian official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official had no word on whether the idea had been raised with any other party.
Officials say Iran will send its neighbor advisers and weaponry, although probably not troops, to help its ally Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki check what Tehran sees as a profound threat to regional stability, officials and analysts say.
Islamist militants have captured swathes of territory including the country’s second biggest city Mosul.
Tehran is open to the possibility of working with the United States to support Baghdad, the senior official said.
“We can work with Americans to end the insurgency in the Middle East,” the official said, referring to events in Iraq.
“We are very influential in Iraq, Syria and many other countries.”
For many years, Iran has been aggrieved by what it sees as U.S. efforts to marginalize it. Tehran wants to be recognized as a significant player in regional security.
Relations between Iran and Washington have improved modestly since the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, who promised “constructive engagement” with the world.
And while Tehran and the United States pursue talks to resolve the Islamic state’s decade-old nuclear standoff with the West, they also acknowledge some common threats, including the rise of al Qaeda-style militancy across the Middle East.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama said the United States was not ruling out air strikes to help Baghdad fight the insurgents, in what would be the first U.S. armed intervention in Iraq since the end of the U.S.-led war.
Rouhani on Thursday strongly condemned what he called violent acts by insurgent groups in the Middle East.
“Today, in our region, unfortunately, we are witnessing violence, killing, terror and displacement,” Rouhani said.
“Iran will not tolerate the terror and violence… we will fight against terrorism, factionalism and violence.”
Asked on Thursday about Iranian comments, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Clearly, we’ve encouraged them in many cases to play a constructive role. But I don’t have any other readouts or views from our end to portray here today.”
Fearing Iraq’s war could spill into Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the international community to back Maliki’s administration “in its fight against terrorism”.
Brigadier-General Mohammad Hejazi said Iran was ready to supply Iraq with “military equipment or consultations,” the Tasnim news agency reported. “I do not think the deployment of Iranian troops would be necessary,” he was quoted as adding.
The senior Iranian official said Iran was extremely worried about the advance of ISIL, also a major force in the war against Iran’s close ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, carving out a swathe of Syria territory along the Iraqi border.
“The danger of extremist Sunni terrorist in Iraq and the region is increasing… There have been several high-ranking security meetings since yesterday in Tehran,” the official said.
“We are on alert and we also follow the developments in Iraq very closely.”
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Militants ‘Ready For New Assault On Iraq’s Samarra’ – Yahoo News
Militants were gathering Friday for a new attempt to take the Iraqi city of Samarra, home to a revered Shiite shrine whose 2006 bombing sparked a sectarian war, witnesses said.
A major offensive launched by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its allies late Monday has overrun second city Mosul and a swathe of northern and north-central Iraq.
Witnesses in the Dur area, between militant-held Tikrit and Samarra, said they saw “countless” vehicles carrying militants south during the night.
And witnesses in Samarra, just 110 kilometres (70 miles) north of Baghdad, said gunmen were gathering to the north, east and southeast of the city.
A tribal leader said that militants had approached the security forces in the city, asking them to leave peacefully and promising not to harm the Al-Askari shrine.
They also proposed that tribal leaders form a force to protect the shrine and the city’s residents, but security forces refused to withdraw, he said.
Militants already mounted two assaults on Samarra, one on Wednesday and one late last week, which were thwarted only after heavy fighting.
The Al-Askari shrine was bombed by militants in February 2006, sparking sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority that left tens of thousands dead.
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