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UNHCR: 3,000 fleeing Iraqis seized by ISIL

Fleeing IraqisFighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have reportedly captured up to 3,000 fleeing villagers in northern Iraq, according to the UN refugee agency, or UNHCR.

In its daily report on events in Iraq, UNHCR said on Friday that 12 of the captives were thought to had been executed by ISIL, also known as ISIS.

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Five dead as Russian helicopter shot down in Syria

Russian helicopter downed in SyriaFive Russian military personnel died after their helicopter was shot down over Idlib province, Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.

"On August 1 a Russian transport helicopter Mi-8 was shot down with fire from the ground on the way to the Hmeymim air base, after delivering humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo. There were three crewmembers and two officers" aboard, the ministry statement said.

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Scathing report in Britain slams Tony Blair over Iraq War

Blair must face war crimes trialThe Iraq war was mounted on flawed intelligence, was executed with “wholly inadequate” planning, and ended “a long way from success,” according to a damning report released Wednesday by the head of Britain’s Iraq War inquiry.

Retired civil servant John Chilcot, who oversaw the seven-year inquiry, said “the U.K. chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

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Obama slows troop withdrawal in Afghanistan; 8,400 staying through 2016

Afghan troop cdrawdown to be postponedPresident Barack Obama on Wednesday announced a slowing in the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan as 8,400 U.S. troops will remain in the country through 2016.

There are 9,800 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan and the initial plan was to leave 5,500 there through the end of the year.

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U.S. Killed Up To 116 Civilians In Drone Strikes Outside War Zones, White House Says

Civilians killed by dronesPresident Barack Obama’s government said on Friday it inadvertently killed up to 116 civilians in strikes in countries where America is not at war, a major disclosure likely to inflame debate about targeted killings and use of drones.

Obama’s goal for the release of the numbers, which are higher than any previously acknowledged by his government but vastly below private estimates, is to create greater transparency about what the U.S. military and CIA are doing to fight militants plotting against the United States.

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Iraqi, U.S. airstrikes destroy 500 Islamic State vehicles fleeing Fallujah

Coalition aristrikesHundreds of Islamic State vehicles fleeing the city of Fallujah have been destroyed by airstrikes in recent days, killing an unknown number of militants.

On Sunday, Iraqi security forces said the city of Fallujah was "fully liberated" from IS control. On Monday, the Iraqi military, aided by the U.S.-coalition, began targeting militants fleeing Fallujah through the south of the city. CNN reported more than 500 vehicles have been destroyed in the operation that was still underway Thursday.

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What Donald Rumsfeld Knew We Didn’t Know About Iraq

RumsfeldOn September 9, 2002, as the George W. Bush administration was launching its campaign to invade Iraq, a classified report landed on the desk of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It came from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and it carried an ominous note.

“Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD,” Rumsfeld wrote to Air Force General Richard Myers. “It is big.”

The report was an inventory of what U.S. intelligence knew—or more importantly didn’t know—about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Its assessment was blunt: “We’ve struggled to estimate the unknowns. ... We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program.”

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