UN Says 180,000 Refugee Flee Iraqi Town of Hit

Mon Oct 13, 2014 17:58:38

Up to 180,000 people have been displaced by fighting in and around Hit in western Anbar province since the city fell to ISIS terrorists earlier this month, the United Nations said on Monday.

ISIS fighters overran a military base that the Iraqi army had abandoned about 8 kilometres west of Hit earlier on Monday, according to an army officer and three members of a government-backed Sunni militia.

The terrorists looted 3 armoured vehicles and at least 5 tanks and then set the camp ablaze, the officer and Sunni militia fighters said.

ISIS has been on the offensive in the desert province of Anbar, bordering Syria, in recent weeks, taking the town of Hit on Oct 2 and nearby Kubaisa on Oct 4.

As a result of the fighting and air strikes, carried out by the Iraqi government and U.S.-led military coalition, up to 30,000 families or 180,000 individuals have fled Hit, which lies 20 kilometres west of Ramadi, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA) said in a statement.

It said people fled east towards war-torn Ramadi and Khalidiya. ISIS controls from Qaim, which borders Syria, east along the Euphrates river until the Haditha dam, where tribes and security forces are battling the terrorrists.

The fall of Hit is seen as a step by ISIS to isolating the pro-government forces defending the Haditha dam, which controls the flow of the Euphrates to southern Iraq.

Before Hit fell to Islamic State, the town had been a relative oasis for families who had been displaced from their homes in Anbar province since the beginning of the year.

About 100,000 displaced people had been living in Hit, the UN said.

In late December the so-called Islamic State enter both Ramadi and its sister city Falluja. The ensuing war from January until the fall of Mosul in early June left more than 430,000 Anbar residents displaced, and allowed ISIS to take over Falluja and carve out strongholds in Ramadi. The war in Anbar and its conquest of Mosul have allowed terrorist group to expand its reach from eastern Syria across Sunni parts of Iraq with the goal of establishing a caliphate.

The Anbar police chief was killed on Sunday by a roadside bomb blast as he led forces battling ISIS fighters on the outskirts of provincial capital Ramadi.

Members of the Iraqi security forces look at a burnt-out vehicle following a motorcycle bomb attack targeting a police patrol east of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on October 13, 2014

On Monday a motorcycle packed with explosives detonated in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least 4 people and wounding 20 others, according to local police.

The blast, which targeted a police colonel, damaged numerous vehicles and shops.Kirkuk, located approximately 180 miles (290 kilometres) north of Baghdad, is under the control of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who claimed control of the oil-rich city just days after the ISIS militant group advanced across northern Iraq.

Iraqi Defense Ministry says Abu Ghraib safe, not threatened by IS

Abu Ghraib is safe and the district is still under the control of the Iraqi army, said Brigadier Qassim Attyia, spokesperson for the Baghdad Operation Commander with the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

The reports suggesting extremist group ISIS had exchanged fire with the army are false, Attyia added.

Brigadier Qassim Attyia

"Those were false reports. We are now at the center of Abu Ghraib. Markets, hospitals and other public institutions are all open. There are no safety issues now," said Attyia.

Reports on Saturday night suggested that some IS fighters had reached Abu Ghraib, which lie 8 miles from Baghdad international airport, and exchanged fire with local Shia militia.

string(843) "[{"id":"1635929","sort":"3268704","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/09/27/alalam_635474150158923982_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"US airstrike kills 7 civiliansin Iraq"} ,{"id":"1637061","sort":"3268705","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/10/01/alalam_635477521938401091_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"3,790 Killed Across Iraq in September"} ,{"id":"1637696","sort":"3268706","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/10/03/alalam_635479662025959535_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Sunnis and Shi'ite in Iraq Recaptures Town of Dhuluiya"} ,{"id":"1638743","sort":"3268707","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/10/08/alalam_635483558777463789_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"UN Warn on Worsening Iraq Humanitarian Crisis"} ,{"id":"1639913","sort":"3268708","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/10/12/alalam_635487259483978248_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"144 Killed and Injured in Iraq Triple Blasts"} ]"