Iraqi government forces say they have driven back an ISIS advance on the country's largest oil refinery, killing several insurgents. The Baiji refinery (Salaheddin [Salah ad Din] governorate) has been the site of several battles between government forces and militants over the past months. (BBC News) A 2,000-strong militia has been raised to relieve the 18,000 Turkmen at the ISIS-besieged village of Amerli, also in Salaheddin. The force is commanded by Transport Minister Hadi al-Ameri, a former commander of the Badr militia. (Azzaman) A group of PKK-affiliated HPG-YJA STAR fighters has reached the Duhok (also rendered Dahouk) area and taken up positions in the mountains around the city to defend it from an ISIS advance. (ANF)
Syria: regime and rebels both defend Aleppo
In Syria, ISIS has launched an offensive on the Tabqa military base, the last redoubt east of Aleppo still held by the Damascus regime. The battle has cost hundreds of lives. (The Guardian, Al Jazeera) Syria rebels are meanwhile massing troops to recapture villages and towns seized by ISIS in the countryside north of Aleppo. The number of ISIS fighters has passed 50,000 in Syria, including 20,000 non-Syrians, according to the director of Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdelrahman. (Syrian Observer)
The Syrian Islamic Council has issued a fatwa against ISIS. Procialming, "Let there be no aggression except against the tyrants," it praises the "jihad in Syria" for its "purity and sincerity," but accuses ISIS of "sedition." It reads: "This organization has imposed upon Syrian society trials, evils, and violations against the Sharia. Based on the conditions and attributes of this group, it was inevitable that the Syrian people uphold their duty to oppose it. This organization has committed gross violations against the Sharia as well clear criminal actions…" The statement refers to ISIS as the "State of Iraq & Syria," leaving the word "Islamic" out of its name. (Free Halab)
US: Assyrian, Yazidi diaspora responds
The Assyrian American National Federation on Aug. 8 held a rally in Chicago's Daley Plaza to call for intervention against a threatened "genocide" of Christians. Margaret Khamoo, president of the Chicago chapter of the Assyrian Aid Society of America, said through her megaphone: "We don't just want airstrikes. We need a plan for the future." One sign read: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our Western friends."
Later that day, an anti-war rally was held in Daley Plaza, joined by members of the Gay Liberation Network, Northwest Indiana Veterans for Peace and Antiwar Committee Chicago. Jay Becker of World Can't Wait said the bombardment of Iraq was only an excuse for the United States to reassert its power in the region. (Chicago Tribune, Aug. 8)
Lincoln, Neb., has the largest concentration of Yazidis in the United States. After the fall of Sinjar, Yazidis staged a rally at the Nebraska Capitol building and petitioned Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who along with four other congressmen sent a letter to Obama calling for immediate humanitarian assistance. They also sent five vans of people to Washington to appeal to the State Department, seeking protection for their kin in Iraq. (AP, Aug. 13)