- Iraqi Kurds join fight in Kobani
- Kurds hope artillery will tip balance of battle
- US military stages more air strikes
- Daesh kills tribesmen at will in Iraq
Beirut, Mursitpinar: Daesh militants have killed 322 members of an Iraqi tribe in a province northwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi government said on November 2, and more than 50 bodies were dumped in a water well.
Some of the dead from the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe are women and children, Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said in a statement.
The massacre is one of the worst committed by the Sunni extremist group in the Anbar province, where government forces and tribal fighters are struggling to repel its drive to expand the territory under its control. The United Nations Security Council, responding to initial reports, condemned the kidnapping and killing of Albu Nimr members on October 31.
Shaikh Ghazi al-Gaoud, a lawmaker and one of the Albu Nimr’s leaders, said the killing was a “barbaric revenge” extracted by Daesh for the tribe’s role in fighting the al Qaida breakaway group. He said Albu Nimr’s leaders have called repeatedly on Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi for help.
The group declared an Islamic caliphate in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria after routing Iraqi forces in June to capture Mosul, the country’s biggest northern city.
“The state doesn’t have the weapons or the equipment to confront the brutality of Da’esh,” al-Gaoud said by phone, using the Arabic acronym of the group. He said the death toll was at least 400.
Iraq’s Defense Ministry said its forces have successfully airdropped food and humanitarian supplies to families of the Albu Nimr tribe who fled from the town of Hit in Anbar.
Iraqi Kurds join fight against Daesh in Kobani
Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdish fighters have joined the fight against Daesh militants in Kobani, hoping their support for fellow Kurds backed by US-led air strikes will keep the ultra-hardline group from seizing the Syrian border town.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the civil war, said heavy clashes erupted in Kobani and that both sides had suffered casualties, while the U.S. military said it had launched more air raids on Daesh over the weekend.
Idriss Nassan, deputy minister for foreign affairs in Kobani district, said Iraqi Kurds using long-range artillery had joined the battle on Saturday night against Daesh, which holds parts of Syria and Iraq as part of an ambition to redraw the map of the Middle East.
"The peshmerga joined the battle late yesterday and it made a big difference with their artillery. It is proper artillery," he told Reuters.
"We didn't have artillery we were using mortars and other locally made weapons. So this is a good thing." Nassan did not elaborate and it was not immediately possible to verify that progress against Daesh had been made.
The arrival of the 150 Iraqi fighters -- known as peshmerga or "those who confront death" -- marks the first time Turkey has allowed troops from outside Syria to reinforce Syrian Kurds, who have been defending Kobani for more than 40 days.
All eyes on Kobani
"They are supporting the YPG. They have a range of semi-heavy weapons," said Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the peshmerga ministry in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, referring to the main Syrian Kurdish armed group.
Eyewitnesses in the Mursitpinar area on the Turkish side of the border from Kobani said two rockets were fired on Saturday night.
A Reuters witness said fighting on Sunday was heavier than in the last two days, noting a strike in the late morning and the sound of three explosions.
Attention has focused on Kobani, seen as key test of the effectiveness of American air strikes, and of whether combined Kurdish forces can fend off Daesh, an al Qaeda offshoot made up of Arabs and foreign fighters.
Air strikes have helped to foil several attempts by Daesh, notorious for its beheading of hostages and opponents, to take over Kobani.
But they have done little to stop its advances, in particular in Sunni areas of western Iraq, where it has been executing hundreds of members of a tribe that resisted its territorial gains.
In their latest air strikes, U.S. military forces staged seven attacks on Daesh targets in Syria on Saturday and Sunday and were joined by allies in two more attacks in Iraq, the U.S. Central Command said.
In the Kobani area, five strikes hit five small Daesh units, while two strikes near Dayr Az Zawr 150 miles (240 km) to the southeast in Syria destroyed an Daesh tank and vehicle shelters.
U.S. and partner nations hit small Daesh units near the Iraqi cities of Baiji, north of Baghdad, and Falluja, in Anbar province to the west of the capital.
The ultra-hardline Daesh regards Iraq's majoriy Shi'ites as infidels who deserve to be killed.
The group is expected to try and deploy suicide bombers to inflict mass casualties as Shi'ites prepare for and take part in the religious festival of Ashura, an event that has been marred by sectarian bloodshed in the past.
A series of bomb attacks killed 37 Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad on Sunday, police and medical sources said.
The worst attack took place when a bomb exploded near a tent in the Sadr City area of the capital.
Shi'ite militias and Kurdish peshmerga fighters stepped in to try and fill a security vacuum after U.S,-funded Iraqi military forces crumbled in the face of an Daesh onslaught in the north in June.
Daesh inflicted humiliating defeats on the Kurds.
While the Kurds have retaken some territory with the support of U.S. air strikes in the north, Daesh faces limited resistance in Iraq's western Anbar province, where its militants last week executed over 300 hundred members of the Albu Nimr tribe because it had defied the group for weeks.
In the first official confirmation of the scale of the massacre, the Iraqi government said Daesh had killed 322 members of the tribe, including dozens of women and children whose bodies were dumped in a well.
The systematic killings, which one tribal leader said were continuing on Sunday, marked some of the worst bloodshed in Iraq since the Sunni militants swept through the north in June.
The Albu Nimr, also Sunni, had put up fierce resistance against Daesh for weeks but finally ran low on ammunition, food and fuel last week as Daesh fighters closed in on their village at Zauiyat Albu Nimr.
Since Daesh declared a "caliphate" in large areas of Syria and Iraq in June, the militants have lost hundreds if not thousands of fighters in battles against other Sunni rebels, Islamist groups, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and in U.S.-led air strikes.
Fighters inside the group say that it receives hundreds of volunteers every month, which helps it carry our more attacks.
It also received pledges of allegiances from Islamist groups in places such as Pakistan, Africa and some Arab states.