In 1986, the Iraqis Wrecked Their Own Attempt to Get an Iranian F-14
Part two of a two-part story. Read part one here. In September 1986, the Iran-Iraq War – a bloody war of attrition that involved millions of combatants and left deep scars on both sides of the front line – was about to reach its sixth anniversary. The war began... Read more
Iraqi Kurds Stockpiled Captured Islamic State Explosives
In August 2017, two explosions rocked Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Bomb attacks in the Kurdish capital are a rarity. In both these instances officials in the region assured the city’s residents that the explosions resulted from unstable weaponry the Kurdish Peshmerga had captured from Islamic... Read more
Iraq, Not Afghanistan, Is America’s Longest War
There’s no question the United States’ war in Afghanistan — now entering its 16th year — ranks high on the list of America’s longest wars. But does it deserve the unenviable moniker of “America’s longest war?” Hardly. In fact, that title belongs to a conflict most Americans view not... Read more
Underequipped and Unpaid, Mosul’s Civil Defenders Reunite the Dead With the Living
A month passed since Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi declared victory in the battle to clear Islamic State from Mosul. A hesitant calm has descended over the city as neighborhoods that residents abandoned during the fighting are gradually repopulating. The task of Mosul’s liberators has shifted to reconstruction.... Read more
Is Blackwater Back in Iraq?
Members of Iraq’s parliament have some questions about security contractors arriving in Iraq. They’re worried that notorious mercenary firm Blackwater has, more or less, made its way back to Iraq. “So far, the government has not briefed us on the arrival of private security firms for securing the highway... Read more
Islamic State Is Digging Trenches and Preparing For Battle
Islamic State fighters have reportedly begun digging trenches in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar ahead of a planned offensive by Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi military is fresh from a hard-won battle for the city of Mosul, which both Iraqi troops and supporting U.S.-led coalition spent years trying... Read more
Here Are the Leaflets the United States Dropped on Islamic State
This story originally appeared on Jan. 22, 2016. On Nov. 15, 2015, U.S. Air Force A-10 ground-attack planes and AC-130 gunships blew up a truck park near Abu Kamal, Iraq. The American pilots destroyed more than 100 tankers carrying oil that could fund the Islamic State. The Pentagon followed this... Read more
An Independent Kurdistan Would Begin With a Clash
Iraqi Kurdistan’s upcoming independence referendum on Sept. 25, 2017 will determine, among other things, the borders of an emerging Kurdish state in that region. With this determination would likely come border conflicts for an independent state squeezed between several volatile flashpoints. Presently, the borders of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region are... Read more
Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh
You remember. It was supposed to be 21st-century war, American-style — precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science. Everything... Read more
We Watched Kurdish Soldiers Rip Apart IEDs
A Peshmerga fighter slowly worked his around the concrete shell of a half-constructed home in northern Iraq when something in the rubble alerted his attention. After flagging the spot and alerting the other soldiers with him, another Peshmerga fighter specialized in handling improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, arrived on... Read more
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