Tuesday, June 17, 2014 5:24 pm
An Iraqi cameraman has been killed north of Baghdad and a correspondent for the same television channel wounded, while covering a militant offensive, their employer on Tuesday.
Khaled Ali died and Moatez Jamil suffered injuries in Khales, north of Diyala provincial capital Baquba, Al-Ahad TV said on its website.
A police colonel and a doctor confirmed the casualties to AFP on Tuesday, as the crisis escalates and militants battle Iraqi security forces for control of a strategic northern town, prompting half the area’s population to flee.
Between 2013 and now, at least thirteen journalists have been reported killed, according to a report published online by the The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent nonprofit organization, based in New York City, which promotes Press Freedom and defends the rights of journalists.
CPJ says 164 journalists have been confirmed dead following the war in Iraq since 1992. http://cpj.org/killed/mideast/iraq/
Washington on Monday, weighed drone strikes against jihadist fighters as The United States and Iran briefly discussed the week-long crisis on the sidelines of nuclear talks in Vienna, the arch-foes mulling their “shared interest” in preventing Sunni insurgents from gaining a foothold in Iraq.
Jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are said to have killed scores of Iraqi soldiers as they pushed an advance on the capital, including in a “horrifying” massacre that has drawn international condemnation.
In the latest fighting on Monday, Sunni Arab militants took control of several neighbourhoods of Tal Afar, a mainly Shiite Turkmen town between the rebel-held second city of Mosul and the Syrian border, officials and residents said.
Local official Abdulal Abbas said Tal Afar was dealing with “martyrs, wounded, chaos and refugees”, and that around 200,000 people — nearly half the area’s population — had fled.
The town, which forms a Shiite enclave in otherwise Sunni Arab and Kurdish-dominated Nineveh province, had initially held off the offensive that saw fighters led by ISIL seize Mosul — a city of two million people — and then a vast swathe of territory north of Baghdad in a matter of days.
– Drones an option –
As Washington weighed its next move in the crisis, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that drone strikes could be used, after President Barack Obama said he was considering “all options” on how to support the Iraqi government.
Drones might not be the “whole answer,” Washington’s top diplomat told Yahoo News, “but they may well be one of the options that are important to be able to stem the tide and stop the movement of people who are moving around in open convoys and trucks and terrorising people”.
About 275 US military personnel were being deployed to Iraq to help American personnel and protect the embassy in Baghdad, Obama said.
Washington has already deployed an aircraft carrier to the Gulf, but Obama has ruled out a return to Iraq for US soldiers, who left the country at the end of 2011 after a bloody and costly intervention launched in 2003.
While the US has ruled out co-operating militarily with Tehran, the two nations — which have been bitter foes for more than 30 years — held “brief discussions” on the crisis in Vienna.
It is yet to be determined “if we want to keep talking to Iran about Iraq”, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN, acknowledging that Tehran and Washington had a shared interest in ensuring militants do not get “a foothold any more in Iraq”.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urged Iran to act “in a non-sectarian way” as it engages in Iraq. Usually, Washington demands that Tehran not intervene at all.
The sweeping unrest has prompted Australia, France and the United States to pull out some diplomatic staff. The United Nations has also moved dozens of its international staff out of Baghdad.
– Government claims progress –
The Iraqi government has insisted it is making progress in retaking territory from the militants, who currently hold most or parts of four provinces north of Baghdad.
Break over, Obama returns to Iraq nightmare