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Iraq

The State Department has ordered all "non-emergency" U.S. government employees to leave Iraq right away.

The travel advisory specifically orders the departure of employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Irbil (sometimes spelled Erbil), noting that "normal visa services will be temporarily suspended at both posts."

Technical Sergeant John L. Houghton, Jr., United States Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq--in what turned out to be a baseless search for hidden “weapons of mass destruction.” Fifteen years later, we are still dealing with the deadly fallout of the decision to go to war.

ICE returned 3,800 ancient artifacts, including cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, and clay bullae, to the Republic of Iraq. The artifacts were smuggled into the U.S. in violation of federal law and shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

When the Green family, the owners of the Oklahoma-based arts and craft store Hobby Lobby, purchased thousands of artifacts from dealers in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, it was believed many of the objects were looted from archaeological sites in Iraq. 

John Thomas

“The Wall,” Brexit… the world seems to be moving towards more impermeable boundaries. This hour, we talk about what it means to draw borders.

President Trump said he would let his generals manage the fight against the Islamic State. And so far, he's done that.

The U.S. and its coalition partners carried out more than 5,000 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq combined in August. That's the highest monthly figure since the air campaign began three years ago.

Nine months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from eastern Mosul, the east side's main street has come back to life. Wedding convoys decorated with ribbons and flowers honk their horns. Female drivers pull up in front of pastry shops and stalls piled high with fresh fruit.

Young men cruise by with car stereos tuned to upbeat music instead of ISIS radio and lectures on Islam. Signs advertise new pool halls and shisha lounges.

Iraq's military said ISIS destroyed the 12th century al-Nuri mosque in Mosul's Old City, where ISIS fighters remain, on Wednesday.

The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, a medieval mosque with the tall, leaning al-Hadba minaret, was the site where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance and, in July 2014, declared the group's "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria.

Jared Kushner "is on the ground" in Iraq, visiting the embattled nation along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, White House press secretary Sean Spicer says. Kushner is both a senior adviser to President Trump and his son-in-law.

Spicer confirmed Kushner's visit to NPR's Tamara Keith early Monday. According to Reuters, which has a reporter traveling with Kushner and Dunford, the U.S. group arrived on Monday, not over the weekend as some news outlets reported on Sunday.

A bomb exploded in Iraq's capital city on Thursday, killing at least 45 people.

It happened on a street filled with car dealerships and garages in southern Baghdad, according to Reuters. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility in a statement released on social media that said the group was targeting Shiites Muslims.

When we last heard from Philip, an Iraqi interpreter living in Minnesota, he was trying to bring his family to the U.S.

Philip came to the United States in 2013 and was living with Paul Braun, the sergeant of the company he was assigned to in Iraq. Braun and Philip spoke to StoryCorps in 2014.

"You scared me, dude," Philip says. "Your attitude in the beginning and with your Mohawk — "

ISIS fighters launched attacks on police Friday in the city of Kirkuk, as Iraqi security forces continued a massive military offensive to try to pry Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, from the militant group.

"The fighters struck [Kirkuk] before dawn, with suicide bombers hitting four police stations and gunmen killing police," NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Irbil, Iraq, though the number of casualties wasn't immediately clear. "A curfew is imposed in Kirkuk, but eyewitnesses say fighting continues."

The battle for the ISIS-held city of Mosul, now in its second day, is expected to drag on for weeks or months. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces approach the city, aid groups in the region are preparing for a humanitarian crisis.

Fighting has lulled in some areas, but is continuing in others, and airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition continue, NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Kalak, Iraq.

"The Iraqi army is fighting its way toward the city from the south: a spokesman said they are facing resistance but moving," Alice says.

After seven years, the British have released the findings of inquiry into the Iraq War.

NPR's Lauren Frayer says that the 6,000-page report, the result of an investigation led by retired civil servant John Chilcot, found that Britain rushed to war before all peaceful means were exhausted. Lauren filed this report for our Newscast unit:

Updated at 1 p.m. ET.

Three suicide bombings hit Baghdad on Wednesday, killing more than 85 people. The attacks — car bombings at an outdoor market and at a police checkpoint, and a checkpoint blast set off by someone on foot — have been claimed by the Islamic State, NPR's Alison Meuse reports.

In the morning's market blast alone, the death toll was at least 62, Alison says, citing Iraqi authorities.

Zaha Hadid, the Pritzker-winning architect whose designs — both realized and unrealized — profoundly influenced the world of architecture, has died in Miami after contracting bronchitis and experiencing a sudden heart attack, according to her architecture firm.

She was 65.

Iraq's military has launched an offensive to wrest control of the city of Ramadi from Islamic State militants.

NPR's Alison Meuse told our Newscast unit that the operation is backed by U.S.-led airstrikes. Here's more from Alison:

"A 72-hour government deadline for civilians to leave Ramadi is over. Now, U.S. airstrikes are targeting ISIS positions, and Iraqi troops are pushing into the city center from three sides. The troops are working alongside Sunni tribal fighters and militiamen — against the Sunni extremists of Islamic State.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Pentagon has announced it will send additional Special Operations forces to Iraq and Syria to help defeat the so-called Islamic State. The news shouldn't be a surprise according to Connecticut's U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, but he said it is concerning.

In the cinderblock Iraqi villages clustered around Mount Sinjar's rippling, craggy slopes, the mood is euphoric.

Fighters who retook the city late last week from ISIS — with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes — race along cratered roads, cheering children crammed in the back of their trucks, flags cartoon-bright in the pure, intense winter sunshine.

Victor Suwatcharapinun / CPBN

In the days leading up to Veterans Day, WNPR brings you stories from veterans and those in their communities.

Gulaid Ismail is a veteran of the Iraq War.

The U.S. Army / Creative Commons

A new memoir from British Middle East expert Emma Sky provides an insider’s take on the Iraq war. This hour, we talk to Sky about her book called The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is leaving for the Middle East to review operations against the Islamic State.

C-Span

Senator Chris Murphy is pushing for congressional action to ban the deployment of U.S. ground troops to Iraq and Syria. Murphy spoke about his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

The roar of a car bomb has been the prelude to Karim Wasfi's performances of late.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

The self-declared Islamic State claims its fighters have seized Ramadi in Iraq's western Anbar province, even as Iraqi officials disagreed on whether the city was lost and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered Shiite militias not to abandon their positions.

In a statement, the extremist group said it seized tanks and killed "dozens of apostates," referring to Iraqi security forces, according to Reuters. A spokesman for the governor of Anbar province also said the city had fallen to ISIS.

Three years after the U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq, 2,000 U.S. troops are back. They're restoring the old buildings they'd left behind and renewing contacts with Iraqi officers they knew before.

They're also taking incoming rocket fire at their bases.

This week began an ambitious training program to put 5,000 Iraqi soldiers through boot camp every six weeks.

U.S. Army

On Veteran's Day, Connecticut's U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called on the Department of Defense to explain why it covered up instances when Iraq War veterans were exposed to chemical weapons. The Senator is also asking for the DOD to assist these veterans in seeking benefit claims for their injuries.