Iraq starts fighting back against militants

Iraq starts fighting back against militants

A man holds up an Iraqi army jacket near burnt vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces at a checkpoint in east Mosul, a day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014. REUTERS A man holds up an Iraqi army jacket near burnt vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces at a checkpoint in east Mosul, a day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014. REUTERS
CBS/AP  June 12, 2014

BAGHDAD (CBS/AP) -- An al Qaeda splinter group has vowed to march on to Baghdad after seizing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq, as the nation's military claimed to have launched its first airstrikes against the militants in one of the locations.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports from the city of Irbil that Iraq's government said it is carrying out military airstrikes against militant strongholds. The government released video Thursday showing an airstrike.

A Pentagon official told CBS News correspondent David Martin that no decision has been made to provide additional assistance or what it would look like. Air strikes are being looked at as an option, but "we are no closer (to air strikes) today than yesterday," said the official, who added it was unclear how effective the strikes would be.

The assessment is that Baghdad is "in jeopardy," the official said.

A spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said the group had old scores to settle with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
The spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, also threatened that ISIS (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL) fighters would take the southern Iraqi Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, which hold two of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims.

The statement, which could not be independently verified, came in an audio posting Thursday on militant websites commonly used by the group.
ISIS seized effective control Wednesday of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, expanding their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes with the insurgents. A day earlier, the militants -- possibly aided by regional tribal militias -- took control of much of Mosul.

There were reports in Arab and Iraqi media Thursday morning that Iraqi aircraft were bombarding ISIS positions around Tikrit and may have begun an anticipated ground offensive against the militants in regions bordering Baghdad to the north, but the reports could not be independently confirmed.
Iraq has few, if any, fighter jets, but its military does have relatively new American-made attack helicopters.

A short video posted late Wednesday night to the Iraqi military's YouTube channel showed what was purportedly an Iraqi air force helicopter bombing ISIS positions in Tikrit, but there was no way to independently verify when the 10 second clip -- which gave no visual clues as to where it might have been shot -- was actually filmed.

The stunning assault by the al Qaeda splinter group, which started on Sunday night, saw black banner-waving insurgents raid government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles and helicopters as thousands fled for their lives from Tikrit.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer said the only sign of Iraq's military or police in the seized cities on Wednesday, were the uniforms and weapons they abandoned as they fled. Iraqi officials said Wednesday -- prior to the fall of Tikrit -- that they had a "plan" to oust the militants from Mosul, but they didn't share any details.

In response to reports suggesting Iraq was "open" to U.S. drone or jet strikes on ISIS positions, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan released a statement saying the Obama administration was "not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions," but added that the U.S. had "expedited shipments of military equipment since the beginning of the year, ramped up training of Iraqi

Security Forces, and worked intensively to help Iraq implement a holistic approach to counter this terrorist threat. Our assistance has been comprehensive, is continuing, and will increase."

An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city and a vital economic hub.

Palmer explained that ISIS has lofty ambitions -- hoping to establish a fundamentalist Muslim state spanning from Iraq right across the border through neighboring Syria, where the group has fought for months against President Bashar Assad's regime, claiming significant swathes of territory in the country's north.

"Their own map, and their own vision of the territory actually doesn't include the border between Syria and Iraq," explained CBS News security analyst Juan Zarate. "ISIS is a brutal group -- so much so that they're now in conflict with al Qaeda -- but, not mistake about this, these are bad guys. These are the extreme of the extreme, and they are now routing the Iraqis, so much so that you now have a real question of whether or not the Iraqi state can even control their advance."

"This is now the worst case scenario that you can imagine from a counter-terrorism standpoint; bad guys controlling major cities in Iraq," said Zarate.
The Sunni militants also gained entry Wednesday to the Turkish consulate in Mosul and held captive 48 people, including diplomats, police, consulate employees and three children, according to an official in the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Residents reached by telephone in Sunni-dominated Tikrit said the Sunni militant group had taken over several police stations. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of their safety.

Two Iraqi security officials confirmed Tikrit was under the control of the ISIS, and said the provincial governor was missing. The officials insisted their names not be used because they weren't authorized to release the information. Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin province, is 80 miles north of Baghdad.

As night fell, several hundred gunmen were in Tikrit, with clashes still taking place between the insurgents and military units on its outskirts, said Mizhar Fleih, the deputy head of the municipal council of nearby Samarra.

The Iraqi military was already working to dislodge the ISIS from Fallujah, which they overran in January.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Got Solar? Utility looking to place solar panels on a home near you

    Got Solar? Utility looking to place solar panels on a home near you

    Arizona's top utility company is looking to place solar panels on 3,000 homes; at no cost to the homeownerArizona Public Service announced that they plan on placing these panels on residents homes and in turn for the usage of their roofs the utility company will give them a $30 discount on their monthly bill for the next 20 years. If approved by regulators APS will spend anywhere from 50 to 70 million in project costs. This new initiative will help the utility giant meets it's mandatory alter...More >>
    Arizona's top utility company is looking to place solar panels on 3,000 homes; at no cost to the homeownerArizona Public Service announced that they plan on placing these panels on residents homes and in turn for the usage of their roofs the utility company will give them a $30 discount on their monthly bill for the next 20 years. If approved by regulators APS will spend anywhere from 50 to 70 million in project costs. This new initiative will help the utility giant meets it's mandatory alter...More >>
  • Facebook Recovering After Brief Outage

    Facebook Recovering After Brief Outage

    If you experienced issues logging ontoFacebooktoday, you're not alone. The site went down for most users around 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Users began to regain access to the site about 30 minutes later, according to various tweets.Mashablehas been able to access the site, although response time has been slower than usual. For the duration of the outage, visitors to Facebook.com were greeted with the following message: Facebook'sdeveloper webpagewent down with the site during the initial outage, b...More >>
    If you experienced issues logging ontoFacebooktoday, you're not alone. The site went down for most users around 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Users began to regain access to the site about 30 minutes later, according to various tweets.Mashablehas been able to access the site, although response time has been slower than usual. For the duration of the outage, visitors to Facebook.com were greeted with the following message: Facebook'sdeveloper webpagewent down with the site during the initial outage, b...More >>
  • Body found along trail; death called suspicious

    Body found along trail; death called suspicious

    The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says a 43-year-old Peoria man's body has been found along a forest trail and his death is being called suspicious.More >>
    The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says a 43-year-old Peoria man's body has been found along a forest trail and his death is being called suspicious.More >>
  • Yuma

    Transit director responds to bus rider concerns

    Transit director responds to bus rider concerns

    YUMA, AZ (13 On Your Side) - Yesterday, 13 On Your Side spoke with 72-year-old Robert Perez, who uses public transportation and isn't happy with the service he's getting. He says, "you have to wait inMore >>
    Yesterday, 13 On Your Side spoke with 72-year-old Robert Perez, who uses public transportation and isn't happy with the service he's getting.More >>
  • Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Agrees to Accept up to $100 Million Additional Financing from Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC for San Luis, Arizona Tower

    Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Agrees to Accept up to $100 Million Additional Financing from Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC for San Luis, Arizona Tower

    ANNAPOLIS, MD / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2014 / Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the “Company”), the inventor of large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structures capable of producing abundant,...More >>
    ANNAPOLIS, MD / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2014 / Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the “Company”), the inventor of large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structures capable of producing abundant, inexpensive...More >>
  • Father time reared his head

    Father time reared his head

    As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Officials have long known that hundreds of miles of city water lines have deteriorated and need replacement, with many past the century mark. But in recent years, L.A.'s elected leaders have been unwilling to hike water rates enough to fix th...More >>
    As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Officials have long known that hundreds of miles of city water lines have deteriorated and need replacement, with many past the century mark. But in recent years, L.A.'s elected leaders have been unwilling to hike water rates enough to fix th...More >>
  • Trial exposes CEO's calls, texts to Va. first lady

    Trial exposes CEO's calls, texts to Va. first lady

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:26:38 GMT
    The key witness in the corruption trial of Virginia's former governor and his wife said his association with the couple was fraught with bad decisions - but an affair with the first lady was not one of them.More >>
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's wife exchanged 1,200 text messages and phone calls with the CEO of a dietary supplement company in less than two years, including 52 in one day, according to evidence presented...More >>