On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel demolished the homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel 15 minutes from Tel Aviv

Tamer Nafar

Tamer Nafar, from the rap group DAM, shows solidarity with his son standing on the ruins of one of the houses of the unrecognized Palestinian village of Dahmash, located between the cities of Lod and Ramle in Israel

I’m simply sick and tired of the self-righteous internal Jewish-Israeli discourse with the racist slurs this one makes against that one, and that one against this one, while in the end it seems a Jew only argues with a Jew so that they can make up later that evening and go demolish an Arab home together.

Dahmash

 

Yesterday, Israel demolished demolish 3 houses in the unrecognized Palestinian village of Dahmash. They didn’t destroy the whole village but this is their intention.

It doesn’t really make any difference if we use an “identity discourse” or a “universal discourse,” a “Mizrahi discourse” or a “class discourse” to describe the injustices in our provinces, because at the end of the day every discourse has to be subjugated to the song of the Jewish hegemony. In fact, it is through the splits within Israeli society that the society preserves itself as a whole subject that imposes terror on the Palestinian object. The split is always true and false at the same time. There’s always some total war going on in the Israeli society — religious/secular, Judah/Israel, Settlers/Peace Now, kibbutzim/development towns, periphery/center, homosexuals/homophobes and Mizrahis/Ashkenazis. It’s clear that each split is true and important in itself, but what we don’t see is that at the same time the oblique line that divides the whole also unites its two parts under the name “Jew”. And this is the inclusive name with which it separates itself from the Arab. This is how the transparent ideological mechanism of the State of the Jews operates, subordinating emancipatory systems of thought and action to its own needs each time anew. One could say that through their internal struggles, the Israeli always unites under the common name Jew, while casting the Palestinian out of history.

Internal Jewish quarrels no longer interest me as long as Palestinian refugees are being murdered in Yarmouk, and as long as Palestinians who are Israeli citizens for many years now can’t reach out to their own people in the Diaspora who are being massacred in Sabra, Shatila, and Gaza, and so long as Palestinian homes are being demolished 15 minutes from Tel Aviv.

I will no longer join any internal Jewish struggle that does not in advance declare itself as loyal to the general Palestinian struggle for justice and equality, because in the Israeli identity discourse the name “Palestine” is the name that functions as The Struggle that contains all struggles.

It itself is not enough, but without it every internal Jewish-Israeli struggle (Mizrahi, feminist, class, LGBT, etc.), however just it may be, will turn into a corrupt and corrupting force. As long as it doesn’t declare its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and equality, at the end of the day, it will be exploited by the Jewish regime to oppress the Palestinian.

Vernietiging van huizen

(Source / 16.04.2015)

Death toll from Syria conflict exceeds 220,000: Report

People walk past debris next to the Sa’ad Ansari school (background) in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 12, 2015. © AFP

People walk past debris next to the Sa’ad Ansari school (background) in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 12, 2015

The death toll from the five-year-long foreign-backed militancy in Syria has surpassed 220,000, a UK-based monitoring group says.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Thursday that the organization had so far counted 222,271 deaths since the start of the crisis in March 2011.

More than 67,000 of the dead were civilians, including more than 11,000 children, he said.

Nearly 68,000 foreign-backed militants have been killed in the conflict while nearly 47,000 Syrian army troopers and pro-government fighters have lost their lives in the conflict, Abdel Rahman said.

The group noted that the actual toll is likely much higher than the deaths it has been able to count.

The toll does not include some 20,000 people listed as missing.

Over 3.8 million Syrians have left their country since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011. More than 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

(Source / 16.04.2015)

HRW: Palestinian children pass out, vomit, from farming with illegal pesticides on Israeli settlements

Palestinian workers farm onions in the Israeli agricultural settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, January 2015. (Photo: Oded Balilty/AP)

Bad pay, hard labor, nasty skin rashes, and poor sleep in constructions sites are just the tip of work conditions found in Israeli agricultural settlements, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released Monday. The 74-page “Israel: Settlement Agriculture Harms Palestinian Children” is a devastating look into underage Palestinian laborers farming for Israeli companies. Minors as young as 11 are interviewed about their work as farm hands in the Jordan Valley, a bread basket in the West Bank—rather a “date basket” as dates are the top export from the region, and Israel is the highest supplier of dates in the international market.

Children working on these farms are exposed to toxins that cause serious illness. “They handle pesticides that cause nausea, dizziness and skin rashes, and over the long-term, are associated with cancer, neurological problems, and infertility,” said the report. While no Israeli child would be given a backpack full of neurotoxins in order to spray a damp layer over produce, Palestinian children are. HRW noted Israel ruled back in 1992 these chemicals are illegal for minors to handle.

https://youtu.be/DlIexEA3I6Q

A 15-year old named Saleh who left school to work on an agricultural farm described the job:

My shoulders are numb from carrying the backpack that I spray the pesticides with – it’s a 15-liter tank. I spray for half an hour each time, then I refill the tank. I need to do this 15 times before I’m done, on the days I’m spraying. I don’t do it every day – the older guys spray every day.

HRW also found three teenagers who claimed to have vomited after spraying pesticides, among other ailments. “I have had rashes on my hands, sore eyes, and I’ve thrown up after spraying it. The boss tells us to go home until we get better,” said a 16-year old who worked in the settlement of Tomer.

During the summer months when schools are out of secession, more children are employed on the farms. One 16-year old who said he dropped out at age 14 described being fired from pepper picking and pesticide spraying after passing out five days in a row. At the time he was working in a greenhouse. “I took myself home when it happened the next day. On the third day, I took myself home, then to the hospital in Jericho, where they gave me headache pills and said it was heatstroke,” said the child.

The extreme heat inside these produce facilities can reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Incidentally, Israeli law forbids minors from working in temperatures above 104 degrees.

The labor force in the Jordan Valley settlements are almost entirely sourced from a black market enterprise. Palestinian middlemen, subcontractors who–for a price–assemble lots of workers for hire on settlements, are notorious for turning a blind eye to underage workers. They do not get their laborers binding employment contracts, and therefore Palestinians do not receive the benefits that are guaranteed to them by Israeli law.

By comparison Palestinians who are employed in settlement factories generally have work contracts. Often industrial zones are located inside of a settlement’s guarded gates. Workers must present documentation in order to enter. Because these workers are on the books, they have the ability to access certain labor protections enshrined under Israeli law. Israel allows workers to sue their settler employers for lost wages if they fall ill, or seek medical care inside of Israel free of charge for work related injuries. However, the farmers must pay for their own treatment in a lesser quality Palestinian hospital and do not get back-pay for sickness or injury, because they are undocumented workers.

Another testimony from a second Palestinian child aged 15 detailed employer pressures to not take breaks, including bathroom breaks. The young worker claimed if he did not keep up with the arduous pace outlined through daily quotas, he feared “black listing,” a practice where middlemen refuse to hire a worker, or the worker’s family in the future:

If you sit down while you’re working with peppers or grapes the supervisor will come and tell you to stand up and not take a break. We don’t get bathrooms – we get permission from the supervisor to go out in the fields. They are always yelling at us, not insulting us but saying, ‘Work faster, you’re too slow.’ There’s no respect for me there. The middleman will fire people in the morning, without giving them their pay for the day, like if they damage the fruit for example. You can’t switch middlemen, they would talk to each other and force you to go back to the first one you tried to quit on.

Amongst Palestinians, settlement jobs are plentiful and coveted—even with the labor abuses and transport fees. While Palestinian child date farmers on settlements earn almost half of what Israeli minimum wage dictates, the pay is still higher than the average salary in a Palestinian owned farm. For an eight-hour shift, HRW said, underage Palestinians are given an average of $19 per day. Many workers said their take-home pay was much lower, as Palestinian workers pay for their own travel to and from the farms. They often must ride in expensive taxis from their villages to the Israeli controlled areas.

Responding to the publication of the report, David Elhayani from the Jordan Valley Regional Council and previously a settler farmer told AFP, “They’ve made up lies. The entire goal of this organization [HRW] is to sully Israel’s image.” While Elhayani dismissed the overall findings, he did suggest that oversight is lacking when it comes to farms hiring Palestinians through middlemen. “If some child infiltrates [works on a farm through a contractor], I have no way of knowing,” he said, again to AFP.

As HRW noted, Israel has consistently said it is the Palestinian Authority that must investigate labor abuses experienced by Palestinians, including child workers. Yet the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction over settler agricultural tracts in the West Bank.

Research groups and governments do not document the exact number of minors working as farm hands, because most of the labor is unregulated. HRW estimates a few hundred to one-thousand are employed during high season. It’s worth mentioning HRW is not the first group to investigate Palestinian minors in Israeli settlements, or the health hazards they are exposed to. Ma’an Development Center has published extensively on the topic. HRW is, however, the first international non-government organization to conduct a lengthy, four-year inquiry.

Read the full report here.

(Source / 16.04.2015)

Syrian Coalition Calls For The Release Of Mazen Darwish & His Colleagues

A verdict in the case of the head of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) Mazen Darwish and three of his colleagues has been postponed, their lawyer said on Monday.

“The head of the terrorism court set a verdict date for the cases of Mazen Darwish and his colleagues Hani Zaitani and Hussein Ghreir for April 28, after it was delayed a number of times,” Michel Shammas told reporters.

The three media activists have been held by the Assad regime since 2012 on charges of “promoting terrorist acts.”

The United Nations has urged the Assad regime to release all political prisoners, and has made a special plea for the release of the three activists.

Spokesman for the Syrian Coalition Salem al-Meslet calls on the UN Security Council to put pressure on the Assad regime to implement the Un resolution 2139 urging the release of all detainees in Syria. He also calls on as the International Red Cross’s mission to organize visits to detention centers to check on the safety of detainees and report on their status.

Meslet stresses that the file of detainees in Assad’s secret jails is a top priority for the Syrian Coalition, adding that “we constantly raise the issue of the detainees in all our meetings with Arab, international and UN officials and call upon them to exercise pressure on the Assad regime to release the detainees and alleviate their suffering. “No-one must forget the role of activists who have been detained by Assad’s security forces, and that almost every Syrian has a brother, a friend or relative who is waiting a bleak fate in Assad’s secret jails.”

The designated date for the verdict is scheduled days before Darwish’s receipt of Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, award to him by UNESCO. The organization announced that it would deliver the prize to Darwish or his representative during the upcoming celebration of World Press Freedom Day, which will be hosted by Latvia on May 3rd.

(Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies / 16.04.2015)

Palestinian Shot In The Eye In Jerusalem

A young Palestinian man was shot in the eye by an Israeli rubber-coated metal bullet, on Wednesday evening, and three others shot in the legs, in the el-‘Eesawiyya town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Rubberen metaal

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that Suleiman Mahmoud at-Tarbi, 20, was walking in the town when the soldiers invaded it, and clashed with local youths.

Member of the Follow-up Committee in Silwan, Mohammad Abu Al-Hummus, said at-Tarbi left his home heading to a local shop, and had no idea the soldiers were invaded the town.

He added that at-Tarbi came face to face with the soldiers before one of them pointed his rifle at him and fired; the rubber-coated metal bullet struck the Palestinian in the eye, before the soldiers assaulted him.

The young man was later moved the Hadassah Ein Karem Israeli hospital in Jerusalem for treatment, while Israeli army is still claiming he was participating in the clashes.

Three young men were injured in their legs after the soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets at them. The soldiers also fired at Palestinian cars shattering the front shields of three vehicles.

Earlier on Wednesday, soldiers invaded the Shu’fat refugee camp in Jerusalem, and clashed with dozens of local youths.

The soldiers invaded the camp just as schoolchildren were leaving school, and fired gas bombs, causing dozens of suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

The soldiers also invaded an under construction residential building, and searched it; the building is close to the military roadblock installed by the soldiers on the entrance of the camp.

On March 31, a Palestinian child identified as Zakariyya al-Joulani, 13 years of age, lost his left eye after being shot by an Israeli rubber-coated metal bullet while walking back home from school in Silwan.

His father said that Israeli soldiers occupied the rooftop of a multi-story under construction residential building and opened fire at schoolchildren walking back home.

Eyewitnesses confirmed to Silwanic that the shooting was not as a result of clashes as the situation was calm when it took place.

Zakariyya al-Joulani, 13 - Silwanic

Zakariyya al-Joulani, 13 – Silwanic

Image By Wadi Hilweh Information Center - Silwan

(Source / 16.04.2015)

KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 77 – LATEST KURDISH OFFENSIVE SEES 20 VILLAGES LIBERATED AND MORE THAN 60 ISLAMIC STATE FIGHTERS KILLED

By Peter Clifford           ©                     (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

The YPG have confirmed that they have successfully completed an operation on their southern and south-eastern front on Tuesday which began on April 8th to drive back the Islamic State (IS).

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

YPG Preparing for Battle Once More

During that period the YPG/YPJ, with support from Free Syrian Army (FSA) units, have captured as many as 9 villages, the Lafarge Cement Plant (scroll down – see below) and 2 quarries near Celebi.

The villages captured included Bocak, Xirab Hişk and Derfilît.

IS have continued an attack on the village of Gocekmetê, which the YPG had captured earlier, and attempted to penetrate the Kurdish defences with a suicide car bomb.

The YPG managed to detonate the car while it was still surrounded by Islamic State fighters.

Two other suicide bomb attacks were also repelled and 31 x IS Jihadists killed during this operation at a cost of 3 Kurdish fighters.

20 x AK-47s, a 120 mm mortar and 24 rounds, 8 Katyusha rockets, a military vehicle, 1 scope and 2 radios were also recovered.

Since these reports came in, latest information suggests that a combined YPG/FSA force has liberated another 6 villages including Hamdoun, with claims that as many as 60 x IS fighters have been killed in the Hamdoun area. This video footage shows parts of the battle at Hamdoun and (caution) a large number of bloody IS corpses at the end, HERE:

Along with Hamdoun, Khan-Mamed, Xorxori, Girek, Dafiye and Xwedan, all 40 – 50 kilometres from Kobane city, were freed by the YPG/FSA force late on Tuesday or earlier today.

Between Sunday am and Monday morning, US Central Command (Centcom) reports 6 airstrikes in Kobane Canton, which destroyed 12 x IS fighting positions and 2 x IS vehicles as well as hitting an IS tactical unit.

From Monday morning through to Tuesday am, 3 more airstrikes by the Coalition destroyed 4 x IS fighting positions and 1 x IS vehicle, as well as hitting 2 x IS tactical units.

This video declassified by Centcom shows a Coalition strike on an IS fighting position on April 6th (not even time to say prayers), here:

https://youtu.be/dY-JHpXMPdo

To the east in the Kurdish Canton of Cizire, numerous battles with the Islamic State continue along its western edge, with a YPG operation near Tel Xenzir destroying an IS vehicle and all its occupants.

A joint Kurdish/Arab fighting force is being trained to defend the Canton and recently went into action after passing out, (sub-titles) HERE:

Cizire Canton Situation Map courtesy of @MarkMonmonier , here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Cizire Canton Situation Map 14.04.15

OPPOSITION FIGHT IN ALEPPO HOTS UP AND MODERATE FIGHTERS IN THE SOUTH REJECT COOPERATION WITH THE AL NUSRA FRONT:

In the north-western district of Aleppo city this week, Opposition fighters did a thorough job of finally demolishing the regional headquarters of Assad’s Air Intelligence, where hundreds, if not thousands have been tortured and/or imprisoned.

At the weekend the Opposition completed mining a tunnel under the Air Intelligence building, HERE:  followed by the grand finale, here:

https://youtu.be/dY-JHpXMPdo

The result caused widespread celebrations in Opposition held parts of the city, HERE:

Since destroying Assad’s security building, Opposition fighters have gone on to take over the Al-Basheer Mosque nearby and an orphanage and have moved into the Al-Zahraa district below it, attacking regime-held positions,HERE:  and using their homemade “Hell-Fire” cannon to good effect, HERE:

Rumours have circulated that some senior Assad officers and their families have left Aleppo in the face of the renewed Opposition offensive, but this has been denied by the Syrian Government’s Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi – though this probably does not mean a lot as he is frequently seen as Assad’s chief “Minister of Propaganda”.

The Opposition’s current strength in Aleppo has certainly persuaded Syria’s Grand Mufti, Ahmad Hassoun, to apparently issue a Fatwa allowing Assad to barrel-bomb Opposition-held areas of the city out of existence.

Assad’s murderous regime has been quick to follow through with shell, rocket and barrel-bomb bombardments, with more than 100 killed in Aleppo province in air attacks in the last few days.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has already recorded 1709 airstrikes by Assad’s forces all around Syria in April 2015 alone, including 984 barrel-bombs. 260 civilians have been killed in the first half of this month by these attacks, including 81 children and 51 women, and an estimated 1500 wounded.

Assad airstrikes in Idlib province yesterday, Tuesday, killed 11 in Idlib city and another 12 in Saraqeb, HERE:

Situation Map for Aleppo courtesy of @PetoLucem, here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Aleppo Situation Map 14.04.15

In Damascus, barrel-bomb attacks and clashes between warring sides have also continued in the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp, though latest reports from local people suggest that the bulk of the Islamic State fighters have withdrawn to their stronghold in nearby Hajar al Aswad.

Some IS fighters remain in the south-west of the camp, while Palestinian factions – both pro and anti-Assad – are controlling most of the eastern and northern sections of the camp.

This leaves the largest fighting group inside the camp as the Al-Nusra Front (ANF), who allowed the Islamic State to enter the Camp in the first place. Both of the extremist groups loath the Palestinian Opposition force, who were until recently running the camp, Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Palestinians Have Suffered Chronic Food Shortages for 2 Years in Yarmouk

Hopefully, ANF will allow in more aid, so desperately needed by those trapped inside, some of whom demonstrated yesterday to bring their plight to world attention, HERE:

Al-Qaeda aligned ANF have fared less well in southern Deraa province, where the “Southern Front”, an alliance of FSA and more moderate Islamic Groups, has pushed them away from the border crossing at Nassib to Jordan and now attacked a number of their HQs.

The Southern Front issued a strong statement rejecting ANF’s ideology, refused any cooperation with it, and declaring themselves the “sole military force representing the Syrian revolution” in the south.

“We can’t go from the rule of Assad to Zawahri and Nusra,” said a spokesman referring to the Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

He then went on to invites ANF members to defect and join their more moderate ranks.

4 Hamas affiliates kidnapped by PA forces in West Bank raid

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Four Hamas affiliates were apprehended by the Palestinian Authority (PA) apparatuses overnight Wednesday and at dawn Thursday in a mass-arbitrary abduction campaign launched across the West Bank.

Hamas slammed, in a statement issued on early Thursday morning, the PA General Intelligence in the northern West Bank city of Tubas for capturing the ex-detainee Ashraf Daraghma from his workplace late Wednesday evening.

Sources based in al-Khalil said the PA forces further apprehended Ahmad Mohamed al-Haroub and his brother Dheib along with the youngster Ali Mahmoud al-Haroub after having stormed Deir Samit town in a flock of 30 military jeeps.

The PA forces reportedly assaulted a number of Palestinian homes and confiscated a set of laptops and mobile phones in the process.

In Tulkarem city, the captive Ahmad Mohamed Hamdan has gone on an open-ended hunger strike in protest at being arbitrarily apprehended by the PA intelligence services on Wednesday.

(Source / 16.04.2015)

Tribesmen take control of major airport in Yemen, say officials

The former al-Qaeda militants also take over a large southern oil terminal

A Yemeni tribal gunman of the Popular Resistance Committees loyal to president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi monitors a street  on Thursday as al-Qaeda militants seized a  airport in Yemen. Photograph: Taha Salehtaha Saleh/AFP/Getty Images

A Yemeni tribal gunman of the Popular Resistance Committees loyal to president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi monitors a street on Thursday as al-Qaeda militants seized a airport in Yemen

Yemeni tribal forces took control of a major southern oil terminal and airport after military forces protecting it withdrew from the site, local officials and residents have said.

The tribal group known as al-Majles al-Ahli made up of former al-Qaeda militants and other tribal groups took over the terminal in the city of Al-Shihr in Hadramawt province, according to local officials and residents in the region.

They said there were no clashes between the soldiers and the tribal forces.

The terminal is one of the major hubs for Hadramout region exporting an average of 120,000 to 140,000 barrel per day (bpd) of crude from fields in the area.

The tribal groups also took over a military air base in the area and Al-Rayyan International Airport, local officials said.

The Houthis, who have formed an alliance of convenience with army units loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized the capital Sanaa in September and then advanced towards the southern port city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia is leading a campaign to drive back the Houthis.

Nearby shipping lanes, including the narrow Bab el-Mandeb passage through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily en route to the Red Sea and Suez Canal, could also be at risk from the conflict.

(Source / 16.04.2015)

Isis in Mexico: Right-wing watchdog claims ‘Islamic State’ fighters have established a base ‘eight miles from the US border’

But are such seemingly unfounded reports actually playing into Isis’ hands?

American law enforcement agencies have been forced to deny reports that the Isis militant group has set up a base in northern Mexico just eight miles from the US border.

First reported by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, the claims were attributed to unnamed “Mexican authorities” and circulated by a host of right-wing media outlets.

Judicial Watch said Isis militants were working with the infamous Juarez Cartel in Anapra, Chihuahua, with a view to passing through “the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas”.

In a bid to investigate the reports, El Paso-based ABC-7 Newscontacted a number of federal agencies linked to border security and was told “the report is unverified, and it is unlikely that Isis is in Anapra or Juarez, Mexico”.

But beyond the fact that they are simply implausible, experts warned that such claims might prove “very harmful” as they were “exactly the kind of thing Isis wants people to report”.

Charlie Winter, a researcher with the counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam, said there had been no indication from jihadist social media channels that Isis has ever “had their sights set on Mexico”.

He said: “Right now the main concern for Isis is consolidation and a war effort where its resources are dwindling and its financial strength is being tested.

“Overseas cells are very costly, and to divert resources to the other side of the world would be very high risk and not very pragmatic,” Mr Winter said, adding: “We know from the past that Isis acts pragmatically.”

Mr Winter said that while there had always been “scare stories” about the terror groups of the Middle East setting up bases closer to home for the US, it was “very important to think about how reporting on Isis reflects the group”.

“This is exactly the kind of coverage Isis wants, for others to project and exaggerate its menace for it.

Mr Winter said that after a series of strategic setbacks in Iraq, people were starting to see Isis less and less as “invincible”. He said: “I think it’s very important that we dismantle the menace of Isis rather than add to it.”

(Source / 16.04.2015)

Islamic State militants clash with security forces inside Iraq’s largest refinery

(Reuters) – Islamic State militants clashed with security forces inside Iraq’s largest refinery on Thursday and held on to recent gains in the west of the country, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the extremist group remained “very, very dangerous”.

The insurgents suffered a major defeat this month when Iraqi troops and Shi’ite paramilitaries routed them from the city of Tikrit, but are now striking back at Baiji refinery and in the western province of Anbar.

Baiji was attacked several days ago by the militants, who blasted their way through the perimeter and took control of several installations, including a distribution point and storage tanks. They have managed to hold those parts of Baiji.

A source in the military operations command for Salahuddin province where Baiji is located said an Iraqi army battalion had arrived to help defend the refinery on Thursday, and the militants had not been able to take any major infrastructure.

Islamic State sympathizers circulated photographs on social media late on Thursday appearing to show the militants inside the refinery with the caption: “the soldiers of the (Islamic) State advance to cleanse what is left of Baiji refinery”.

The images could not be independently verified.

Speaking at the Center for International and Strategic Studies think tank in Washington, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the militants wanted to send a message after losing Tikrit.

“I think it’s timed to (coincide with) my visit to the U.S. – I think they want to show that despite the support that Iraq is receiving, they are there to cause damage.”

During his visit, Abadi outlined plans to prioritize the battles in both Baiji and Anbar, where Islamic State overran an area at the eastern edge of the provincial capital Ramadi on Wednesday.

The government last week announced a new offensive to recapture Anbar, seeking to build on the recent victory in Tikrit, but have since lost ground in the vast desert terrain.

Anbar governor Sohaib al-Rawi speaking on Iraq state TV said “all sons of Iraq” were welcome to participate in liberating the province from Islamic State, indicating no objection to the involvement of Shi’ite paramilitaries.

Shi’ite militia have played a leading role in driving back the insurgents after the army disintegrated last summer, but some tribes in Anbar, a Sunni province, have expressed reservations about the involvement of paramilitaries there.

A police source in Anbar said Shi’ite militias had arrived in Ramadi to take part in trying to push back Islamic State.

(Source / 16.04.2015)