ISIS Dormant Cells Pave Way for Open US Presence in Iraq

A US soldier in Iraq. (AFP)
A US soldier in Iraq. (AFP)
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ISIS Dormant Cells Pave Way for Open US Presence in Iraq

A US soldier in Iraq. (AFP)
A US soldier in Iraq. (AFP)

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari hinted on Monday about the possibility of keeping American troops in Iraq for the long term due to dormant ISIS cells.

“The military intervention of the international coalition in Iraq and the support it offered to the Iraqi government in its war against ISIS were based on conditions that do not violate the country’s sovereignty,” al-Jaafari said.

The US-led international coalition was launched in 2016 to retake ISIS-held regions in Iraq.

The foreign minister said that the presence of this coalition “will continue until dormant ISIS cells currently present in the country are dealt with.”

Fears concerning the security situation in Iraq emerged after the appearance of men from the “White Flags” group in certain Iraqi areas close to Kurdish-majority zones, also driving concerns that the group could become a new version of ISIS, whose military defeat in Iraq was declared last week.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Monday that the focus in the next phase would be directed towards intelligence efforts, a strategy already kicked off by security and military apparatuses.

In Baghdad's district of Bataween, Iraqi security forces arrested around 256 suspects, including some accused of belonging to terrorist cells, according to a statement issued by Iraqi Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Iraqi prime minister said there “is no presence of any US military bases in Iraq, despite the existence of contrary statements concerning this issue.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday, Ihsan Al Shameri, the head of the Political Thought Center in Baghdad said that “the presence of US and international coalition advisers was limited in Iraqi military bases, which operate under Iraqi orders.”

In that context, Hisham al-Hashemi, a defense analyst in Baghdad, asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat there were no purely US military bases in Iraq, except those already present in Irbil.

“The US forces in other Iraqi areas operate in joint bases with the Iraqi side, including the international coalition forces, which are responsible for training and supporting the mission of Iraqi forces,” he said.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.