ISIS Militants Seize Another Iraqi City, Amid A Possible Mass Execution Of Iraqi Soldiers
Militants led by terrorist group ISIS captured the Iraqi city Tal Afar Sunday night as gunfire continues throughout the northwestern Iraq region. Tal Afar, known as a "buffer" city between militant-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria, is located north of Baghdad and west of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city that was seized by ISIS militants last week. According to CNN, many Tal Afar residents fled further north as the insurgents continue to push back the Iraqi military and press on toward Baghdad. Iraqi security officials told the news source that at least seven people have been killed in the attack, while 33 were wounded.
As the ISIS leaders gain ground in the northwest region of Iraq, there are growing reports of mass executions of Iraqi forces and citizens. An ISIS-controlled Twitter feed release a batch of graphic images depicting these executions on Saturday. The Twitter feed added that 1,7000 Iraqi soldiers have been killed. However, The New York Times stated that the executions have not been independently confirmed.
According to Buzzfeed, Twitter has suspended at least six ISIS-affiliated accounts, including the one that posted the graphic photos. The militant group has also used other social media platforms, such as YouTube, to post photos and videos of their attacks.
With the advance of ISIS, U.S. officials are heightening security around the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Some embassy workers will be removed from the facility as a safety precaution, but the embassy will remain open, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Sunday in a statement. She encouraged U.S. travelers to travel with caution throughout the central Iraq region.
Although the U.S. government supports Iraq's democratic leaders, President Obama is still deciding on military action. As a preemptive move, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sent the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier to the Arabian Gulf on Saturday, the Pentagon said. Two guided-missile cruisers accompanied the aircraft carrier.
“American naval presence in the Arabian Gulf continues to support our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.