Iraq Fires Senior Officers Over Islamist Rebellion
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Tuesday fired senior officers for failing to halt a sweeping advance by Sunni Islamist rebels, the BBC reports.
Four army commanders were dismissed because they did not perform "their national duty", a government statement said, according to the network.
The Iraqi officers fired on Tuesday include the top commander for Nineveh, the first province where fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) made major gains.
Another senior officer would be court-martial led in absentia for deserting his position and fleeing a battle, the government said, according to the BBC.
Iraqi forces have been engaged in heavy clashes with the rebels who have seized several key cities in the past week.
Advancing toward Baghdad, large-scale clashes have erupted in Samarra; on the eastern front, Kurdish forces took Kirkuk to fend off the Islamist advance on Thursday.
On Tuesday it was reported that ISIS had conquered parts of the city of Baquba, located just 60 km (37 miles) from Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the United States has sent in over 500 marines, dozens of helicopters, and the aircraft carrier George HW Bush into the Persian Gulf.
According to the Guardian, around 170 of those forces have already arrived in Iraq, and another 100 soldiers will be on standby until needed. In addition, officials told Reuters Tuesday that the White House was considering sending a contingent of special forces to train and advise Iraqi troops, many of whom have fled their posts.
The move puzzled both the public and political analysts, after Obama stated just days earlier that the U.S. would not be sending troops to Iraq.
"We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," Obama stated on the White House lawn Friday. "This is not solely, or even primarily, a military challenge."
On Thursday, Obama declared that short-term military actions will have to be taken in Iraq and said he is looking at "all options", but his spokesman later clarified the president did not intend to send ground troops to Iraq.