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US speeds up military deliveries to Iraq

The United States is fast-tracking deliveries of military hardware, including drones and missiles, to Iraq, a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement.

Armed tribesmen deployed on the streets take control of the city of Ramadi. Credit: Reuters/Ali al-Mashhadani

The US promise comes after al Qaeda-linked militants took over parts of Ramadi and Falluja, strategic cities on the Euphrates River.

The US ruled out sending American troops to Iraq, two years after Washington ended nearly a decade of occupation.

Read: Battle lines redrawn in Falluja as al-Qaeda takes over

Ex Pentagon Chief: Obama’s opposition to Iraq ‘political’

Former Pentagon Chief and a long-time CIA officer Robert Gates has harshly criticised the Obama administration for its approach to foreign policy, claiming the President’s opposition to increasing the number of American troops in Iraq in 2007 was “political.”

In his upcoming book Mr Gates describes an exchange between him, President Obama and the then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton:

Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary...

The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.

– Robert Gates, former Defence Secretary

Long-time Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward, said the book was "highly emotional, antagonistic portrait of sitting president."

Mr Gates's book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” will be published next week.

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Iraqi government forces battle al Qaeda offensive

Iraqi government forces battling an al Qaeda offensive near the Syrian border launched an air strike on Ramadi city on Sunday killing 25 Islamist militants, according to local officials.

Government officials in western Anbar province met tribal leaders to urge them to help repel al Qaeda-linked militants who have taken over parts of Ramadi and Falluja, strategic Iraqi cities on the Euphrates River.

Al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been steadily tightening its grip in the vast Anbar province in recent months in a bid to create a Sunni Muslim state straddling the frontier with Syria.

Read: Iraqi troops battle al Qaeda fighters in Falluja

Sunni insurgents territory seizure first in years

Falluja has been held since Monday by Sunni Muslim militants linked to al Qaeda and tribal fighters united in their opposition to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in a serious challenge to the authority of his Shi'ite-led government in Anbar province.

Al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been steadily tightening its grip in the Sunni-dominated desert province bordering Syria in recent months in a bid to create a Sunni Muslim state straddling the frontier.

But this week's seizure of territory in Ramadi and Falluja was the first time in years that Sunni insurgents had taken control of the region's most important cities and held their positions. In Ramadi, tribesmen and the army have been working together to counter the al Qaeda insurgents.

Iraqi troops battle al Qaeda fighters in Falluja

Iraqi troops trying to retake Anbar province from a mixture of Islamist and tribal foes battled al Qaeda fighters in Ramadi after shelling the western region's other main city, Falluja, overnight, tribal leaders and officials said.

Armed tribesmen deployed on the streets take control of the city of Ramadi. Credit: Reuters/Ali al-Mashhadani

At least eight people were killed and 30 were wounded in Falluja, and residents of both cities said the fighting had limited their access to food, and that they were running low on generator fuel.

Shops were sending food to mosques, and people were being asked through loudspeakers to go to collect it.

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Iraqi city of Fallujah 'falls to al-Qaeda fighters'

The centre of the Iraqi city of Fallujah has fallen to al-Qaeda-linked fighters, according to the head of police in the country's Anbar province.

Hadi Razeij told the al-Arabiya news channel: "The walla of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and Levant]."

The Reuters news agency also reported that Iraqi troops lost control of the strategic city of after intense fighting with al-Qaeda militants and local Sunni tribesmen in recent days.

Iraq inquiry 'will reinforce more MP involvement in war'

The Chilcot inquiry report into the Iraq War may make it easier for all MPs to have a say in British involvement in international conflicts, a Whitehall source told the Guardian.

While MPs voted in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Government does not have to ask Parliament if the country should go to war.

The report will reinforce MPs who are demanding an even greater say of the legislature over the executive.

They will want to have this set in concrete. They will be saying among other things - and it will be more difficult for the government to defend - confirmation hearings for chief of the defence staff, for senior ambassadors, the ability to summon the national security council here.

– Whitehall source

Iraq War inquiry 'to be published in new year'

The beleaguered inquiry into Tony Blair's handling of the Iraq War is due to be published in the new year, according to the Guardian.

A compromise over the publication of letters between then-US President George W Bush and Mr Blair has been reached, allowing the Chilcot inquiry to be made public.

Sir John Chilcot
Former leading civil servant Sir John Chilcot began the inquiry in 2009. Credit: PA Wire

A senior Whitehall source was quoted as saying, "In the new year it seems the Chilcot inquiry is going to be published. Everyone will be assuming: bad hair day for Tony Blair and Jack Straw".

Sir John Chilcot began the inquiry in November 2009 and will publish an edited version of "sensitive correspondence".

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