Iraq | KUOW News and Information

Iraq

The recess bell rings at the Akha elementary school in Mosul and children come thundering out of the classroom. It's the first day of school.

An ordinary scene, except it hasn't happened for three years in this city. Iraqi forces drove ISIS fighters out of Mosul earlier this year in a battle that destroyed huge parts of the northern city, including hundreds of schools.

"None of us went to school when ISIS was here — we stayed at home," says Ali, who is in sixth grade. "It feels good to be back."

Three years ago, the Islamic State overran large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and soon declared a caliphate that straddled the border between the two countries. Today, the group's physical caliphate is declining — and the group is preparing its base of fighters for a future under siege.

One of the ways it is doing that is through its musical propaganda.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Bill Radke talks with KUOW immigration reporter Liz Jones about the potential impact of President Trump's new executive order on immigration. It temporarily bars citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries from being issued new visas to enter the United States. The revised order eliminates Iraq from the list of banned countries, and it no longer requires an indefinite ban on Syrians.

In April 1991, I met a young U.S. Army captain in the moonscape of southern Iraq. He was frustrated.

Just weeks earlier, the officer and his troops had been part of the wave of U.S. forces that drove Saddam Hussein's Iraqi military out of Kuwait. The Americans kept advancing, pushing some 150 miles into southern Iraq — but then they received orders to halt in place.

From left, Haider Kadhem, Sarmd Hady, Wafaa Fakhri and Mustafa Kadhem. Fakhri had gone to visit her sister, who is ill, in Iraq. She worried she wouldn't be allowed back in to the U.S., even though she is a green card holder.
KUOW Photo/Kate Walters

Nervous families gathered at Sea-Tac airport on Monday morning, three days after the president's executive order banning travelers from seven majority Muslim countries.

Surprise and a desire for retaliation are some of the reactions to President Trump's temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

As Iraqi security forces advance toward the ISIS-held city of Mosul, ISIS militants are said to be rounding up civilians from surrounding areas and bringing them to the city to use as human shields.

The man from Mosul is neat and tidy, in his mid-30s. He uses careful English and tries to stop his voice from trembling as he speaks about the Iraqi city he lived in all his life.

"My mind is full with memories," he says. "Friends. Home. You know — my home. I was born there."

ISIS has occupied Mosul for more than two years. Residents describe a regime of strict rules and savagely violent punishments for breaking them. The man is too afraid of ISIS to give his name or occupation, but he is a professional. He brought up a family in Mosul.

The Islamic State forced the world to take notice when the extremist group overran Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, in June 2014.

Just months earlier, President Obama had described ISIS as "the JV team." But by August 2014, the U.S. was bombing ISIS in Iraq, and early Monday, the U.S. teamed up with the Iraqi army and other allies in a major offensive to recapture the northern Iraqi city.

After seven years, the British have released the findings of inquiry into the Iraq War.

NPR's Lauren Frayer says that the 6,000-page report, the result of an investigation led by retired civil servant John Chilcot, found that Britain rushed to war before all peaceful means were exhausted. Lauren filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Ahmed Saad/Reuters

Baghdad is no stranger to violence, but a bombing on Sunday stunned the Iraqi capital.

“They’re still digging out the bodies,” says reporter Jane Arraf. “They don’t know exactly who died or how many died.”

The death toll is officially at least 150, but many people are still unaccounted for. Most are women and children.

“This was different,” says Arraf, “because of the scale; because of the fact that they struck during the holy month of Ramadan, and because of the victims. The victims included entire families.”

Updated 4:30 a.m. ET with new death toll

A bomb struck a busy street in Iraq's capital Baghdad, killing at least 142 people.

Btoo Allami (left) and Nayyef Hrebid (right) met in 2004, during the seige of Ramadi. Hrebid was a translator with the U.S. Marines, and Allami was an Iraqi soldier. "I saw him," says Hrebid, 'and I was like, oh my God, he is so handsome. He is perfect.'
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

This is a story about love and war; love lost and love found again.

In 2004, Nayyef Hrebid was an interpreter for the U.S. Marines in Iraq, and Btoo Allami was a soldier with the Iraqi Army.

Ramadi General Hospital had been taken over by insurgents, and Hrebid and Allami were part of a mission to reclaim the hospital. It was a dangerous mission, in a dangerous city, at a dangerous time in the war. 

In Kurdistan today, every fighter knows the name Qasim Shesho. He's been fighting with the Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq since the 1970s.

Shesho is a Yazidi — an ethnic and religious minority in Iraq — and the protagonist in a tale that could have come from literature, or Hollywood, or the Bible. It is a universal story, about a vastly outnumbered group of men defending sacred ground against an onslaught.

Barzan is a young Yazidi man, with sad blue eyes. His mother, five of his sisters and his niece are being held by the so-called Islamic State, taken when the extremist group swept through the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in August.

They are seven of some 5,000 Yazidis still being held by the extremist Sunni group. The Iraqi women are enslaved and sold for sex.

His sixth sister is home with him now. She is just 15 and she was raped. To protect her identity we're only using Barzan's first name.

In June, KUOW Speakers Forum featured an event titled, “Exposing the Truth of U.S. Torture,” during which Brigadier General David R. Irvine lambasted U.S. torture practices abroad.

“If these kinds of practices were used by another nation on American serviceman, who were captives, who were prisoners of war, we as a nation would not tolerate it,” he said.

When the Islamic State took over large parts of northern Iraq this summer, including the areas where the minority Yazidi community lives, the U.S. carried out air strikes and halted the advance of the extremists.

Still, thousands of Yazidi women and girls have gone missing over the past few months and there are now reports they are being sold by the Islamic State as sex slaves.

Flickr Photo/Valerie (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about shrinking polar bears, Canadian troops being sent to the Middle East, and muskrat love.

Wikipedia Photo/Larry D. Moore

Ross Reynolds speaks with George Packer, reporter for The New Yorker perhaps best known for his 2005 book on the Iraq war, "The Assassins Gate." Packer talks about why the Iraqi army crumpled before ISIS and the dangers facing Iraqis who have aided the U.S. Despite their perilous situation, the U.S. government has been slow in issuing visas allowing them to come to the U.S.  

Flickr Photo/The White House (Pete Souza) (CC)

Marcie Sillman speaks with U.S. Representatives Jim McDermott and Denny Heck about their response to President Obama's strategy in Iraq and Syria against the terrorist group ISIS.

Flickr Photo/The Prime Minister's Office (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's efforts to convince skeptical politicians to help fight against the terrorist organization Islamic State.

In addition, they touch on Scottish independence and what it might mean for Quebec.

Flickr Photo/Miller Center (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, about President Obama's remarks on Iraq Thursday morning.

Marcie Sillman talks with Majid al-Bahadli, a Seattleite who fled Iraq after the first Gulf War. He is among a group of Iraqi-Americans who organized a rally Monday to protest the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's escalation of violence.

President Obama has informed Congress that 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel will go to Iraq to provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, as a militant Sunni group continues its offensive in the country, seizing control of the northern town of Tal Afar.

AP Photo/STR

Marcie Sillman talks to Dan Murphy, national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, about the worsening situation in Iraq. Then, David Hyde talks to Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., a ranking member on the House Armed Service Committee, about the U.S. response to the violence.

The militant group Islamic State In Iraq and Al-Sham has been seizing cities in northern Iraq. Mosul, one of the largest city in northern Iraq, was seized Tuesday. Members of Congress are weighing in on the situation. Some Republicans have called for immediate military intervention there, but Smith thinks a military solution might not be the answer right now.

Iraqis are voting for Parliament Wednesday for the first time since American soldiers withdrew more than two years ago. Without their support, and amid intense violence, the poll will test Iraq's fragile democracy to its limits.

The election is for the 328-seat Parliament and offers more than 9,000 candidates on party lists. It will probably end up with no party winning a majority and lead to weeks or months of coalition haggling to form a new government.

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Washington, D.C.'s Facebook page.

Marcie Sillman talks with Ambassador Lukman Faily about his visit to Boeing and his goals and challenges as the Iraqi ambassador to the United States.

AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

March 20 marks the 11th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Marcie Sillman talks with Ned Parker, Baghdad Bureau Chief for Reuters, about the state of the country today.

Flickr Photo/James Gordon

Marcie Sillman discusses the rise of violence in Iraq with Dan Murphy, Middle East correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.

UW Study Sheds New Light On Iraq War Death Toll

Oct 17, 2013
Flickr Photo/The U.S. Army

Between 2003 and 2011, 461,000 people were killed as a result of the Iraq War according to a new study from four universities, including the University of Washington.

The estimate includes deaths that resulted directly from violence, as well as non-violent deaths that were war-related. The study does not include death totals for US soldiers.

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