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Iraq NEWS

NFE/5.0en-USnews-webmaster@google.com2019 Google Inc.Fri, 15 Feb 2019 18:01:42 GMTGoogle News
Air India Restores Direct Flights To Iraq After 30-Year Gap  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Air India has resumed *service* to Iraq for the first time in 30 years, with the initial flight carrying Shi'ite pilgrims landing on February 14 in the shrine city of Najaf.

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Undefeated, ISIS Is Back in Iraq | by Aziz Ahmad | NYR Daily  The New York Review of Books

Erbil, Iraq—Inside a prison in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, vanquished Islamic State fighters who once swept through much of the country now mill about sullenly ...

The New York Review of Books
Iraq's Oil Minister reshuffles upstream, gas posts in ministry  CNBC

BEIRUT, Feb 15- Several months after promising reform at his ministry, Iraq Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadhban reshuffled several key deputies. Ghadhban, who ...

CNBC
La. National Guard unit out of Hammond deploying to Iraq, Kuwait  WAFB

HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana National Guard's 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment is set to deploy to Iraq and Kuwait.

WAFB
Israel threatens to attack Iran bases in Iraq  Middle East Monitor

Israel's military intelligence has said that “Iran may use Iraq as a launching pad to target Israel, which would call for a response from Tel Aviv”. “Israeli airstrikes ...

Middle East Monitor
Walter B. Jones, 76, Dies; Republican Turned Against Iraq War  The New York Times

Walter B. Jones Jr., a Republican congressman from North Carolina whose district included Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, was a staunch supporter of the ...

The New York Times
The struggle to save Iraq archaeological sites after ISIL battles  Aljazeera.com

Many of Iraq's most important archeological sites lie in ruins after the battle against ISIL.

Aljazeera.com
PM says Iraq to repatriate Iraqi IS fighters held in Syria  Fox News

Iraq's prime minister says Baghdad will repatriate Iraqi members of the Islamic State group held by U.S.-backed fighters in Syria.

Fox News
Kurds in Iraq say US withdrawal from Syria a mistake  Al Jazeera English

Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga leaders say ISIL still a threat and US should not withdraw from Syria.

Al Jazeera English
Independence and the Iraqi Kurds | Iraq  Aljazeera.com

Who are the Kurds and how did their bid for independence in Iraq appear to fail after such a resounding 'yes' vote?

Aljazeera.com
Bomb blast kills eight Shiite militiamen in Iraq  Daily Mail

Eight members of a militia linked to Iraq's powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were killed Thursday in a bomb blast north of Baghdad, security sources...

Daily Mail
Votel: "Tens of thousands" of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq  CNN

Traveling with Votel (CNN) The top US commander in the war against ISIS aligned himself Sunday with the US intelligence community assessment that there are ...

CNN
The role of Iraq’s influential Shiite clerics is changing. Here’s how.  The Washington Post

In a recent interview, an influential Iraqi Shiite cleric and militia leader warned the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq. The leader, Qais al-Khazali, ...

The Washington Post
Kurdistan halts oil exports to Iran  Iraq Oil Report

Hundreds of tankers wait to cross into Iran in one of several lots near the Parwezkhan border crossing in Diyala province, Nov 6, 2013. (PATRICK OSGOOD/Iraq ...

Iraq Oil Report
I’m Prepared to Talk About the Things I Did in Iraq. Are People Ready to Listen?  The New York Times

I'm ready for the questions about the things I did when I went to war. But the truth might prove to be more than people want to hear.

The New York Times
140 Fort Bragg soldiers return home from Iraq  WTVD-TV

One hundred forty soldiers returned home Sunday morning after being away in Iraq for nine months for Operation Inherent Resolve.

WTVD-TV
Correction: Iraq-Christian Town story  Associated Press

BARTELLA, Iraq (AP) — In a story Feb. 11 about Christians in the northern Iraqi town of Bartella, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Ammar ...

Associated Press
Passing law to end US troops' stay in Iraq 'difficult:' senior Iraqi lawmaker  Kurdistan24

Pointing to the “worrying” security situation in Iraq, the senior lawmaker warned the Iraqi Parliament against “rushing” to pass such a law, but reassured that it ...

Kurdistan24
Will Iraq’s Old Divisions Undermine Its New Prime Minister?  Foreign Policy

BAGHDAD—When he was sworn in as Iraq's new prime minister in late October 2018, Adel Abdul Mahdi vowed to fight corruption, address electricity and water ...

Foreign Policy
In Iraq, political wrangling spawns debate over US troops  Economic Times

BAGHDAD: From the halls of parliament to the lightning-fast rumour mills of social media, pro-Iran factions are demanding US troops withdraw from Iraq in a ...

Economic Times
Caught in Syria, foreign jihadist suspects may face trial in Iraq  EWN

The American military - which spearheads an international coalition fighting IS - has in the past shown itself willing to hand those captured in Syria to the ...

EWN
GE and Siemens energy deals with Iraq falter  Financial Times

Electricity minister's comments alert foreign groups hoping for lucrative contracts.

Financial Times
Iraq's fight against terror to take time before completion  The Nation

The fight against terrorist groups in Iraq, such as the Islamic State (IS, banned in Russia), will take "some time" to be completed, Haidar Hadi, the ambassador of ...

The Nation
UN security council holds session Wednesday on Iraq situation  Iraqi News

The United Nations Security Council will hold on Wednesday a session on the situation in Iraq at 6:00 p.m. (Baghdad time).

Iraqi News
Can Iraq beat the drought and become the breadbasket of the Middle East again?  Middle East Eye

Despite an environmental crisis, award-winning expert Azzam Alwash believes that Iraq can revive its agriculture.

Middle East Eye
Ghadhban reshuffles Oil Ministry leadership team  Iraq Oil Report

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban speaks at a press conference in Basra, accompanied by representatives from the Oil Ministry, Basra Oil Company, South Gas ...

Iraq Oil Report
Iraq's massive 2019 budget still fails to address reform needs, experts say  CNBC

At $111.8 billion, the 2019 budget is a nearly 45 percent increase on the previous year's, featuring the highest deficit and second-highest spending volume in ...

CNBC
IRAQ After ISIS, Nineveh's Christians now face new threat from Shabak Shiite militias  AsiaNews

Iraqi priest: "Bartella is the epicenter”, but threats also involve Karamles and Qaraqosh. A "demographic distortion" plan is underway, orchestrated by Shiite ...

AsiaNews
Army's long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars  ArmyTimes.com

A two-volume Army study of the Iraq war is a deep examination of the mistakes and success of the war effort that also takes aim at critics who would slough off ...

ArmyTimes.com
Trump's Iraq gaffe is a real problem  Washington Examiner

When you are president of the United States, your words matter. And President Trump's poor choice of words in relation to Iraq last Sunday are now a major ...

Washington Examiner
US Army says Iran won the Iraq war  Quartz

The US Army has concluded that Iran was the only victor of the eight-year US campaign to remove Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and replace him with a ...

Quartz
Honor flight planned for Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan vets  KMAland

(Omaha) -- Another honor flight is set for KMAland veterans--this one paying tribute to those who served in Middle Eastern conflicts.

KMAland
Why Trade Sanctions Against Iran Are Increasingly Hard For Iraq To Comply With  NPR

After Secretary of State Pompeo went to Iraq to encourage the country to stop trading with Iran, an Iranian delegation arrived for a trade conference.

NPR
Live: United Nations Security Council holds briefing on Iraq  KOMO News

WASHINGTON (SBG) — The United Nations Security council holds a briefing on the ongoing situation in Iraq. Note: This live event is expected to begin at 10 ...

KOMO News
Turkish troops shoot, wound three civilians in northern Iraq  CNN

Turkish troops shot and wounded three Iraqi civilians after hundreds of protesters attacked a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Saturday, according to a ...

CNN
Imam gets legal advice on children in Iraq  Trinidad News

NAZIM MOHAMMED, of Rio Claro, whose child and grandchildren are in Iraq, has sought legal advice on how his family could be brought back home.

Trinidad News
Army Releases a Critical History of the War in Iraq  The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The Army on Thursday published a long-awaited study of the U.S. war in Iraq that criticizes decisions of some of the *service's* most senior ...

The Wall Street Journal
Militia Convoy Attacked; 17 Killed in Iraq  Antiwar.com

A bombing left over a dozen casualties in northern Iraq. - Margaret Griffis for Antiwar.com Original.

Antiwar.com
WHO helps Iraq improve food safety; prepares for high level event in Ethiopia  Food Safety News

World Health Organization (WHO) experts visited Iraq in recent days to conduct field visits and a workshop on food safety and quality assurance. The intern.

Food Safety News
What Happened in Iraq: ‘Seven Months of Blood and Fire and Broken Glass’  The New York Times

In this week's At War newsletter: Many veterans know something that the politicians who speak for military action often do not: for those who do the fighting, war ...

The New York Times
At Baghdad workshop, the search for Iraq's looted artifacts gets serious  Reuters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Before Islamic State militants were dislodged from Iraq in 2017, they stole thousands of ancient artifacts. Most are still missing, and an ...

Reuters
Iraq's football struggle: Lack of funding hindering progress  Aljazeera.com

Years of fighting and the recent battles against ISIL have destroyed a lot of Iraq's public spaces including sports grounds.

Aljazeera.com
Acting US Defense Secretary Visits Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan  Voice of America

Less than two months after being named acting U.S. defense secretary, Pat Shanahan made his first overseas trip this week, focusing on the conflicts in Iraq and ...

Voice of America
Iraq’s war heroes feel forgotten after war with ISIS  PBS NewsHour

An estimated 30000 Iraqis who joined security forces when Islamic State militants attacked their country in 2014 were injured in the war that persisted through ...

PBS NewsHour
‘Collateral damage’: The Amiriyah shelter bombing in Iraq should not be forgotten  RT

On this day in 1991, over 400 people lost their lives when the US dropped two 2000-pound smart bombs on a Baghdad air-raid shelter. But because it was the ...

RT
US: Time to expand the international coalition against IS  Washington Post

MUNICH, Germany — The top Pentagon official said Friday he foresees a “bigger and stronger” American-led international coalition combatting the Islamic State ...

Washington Post
Saudi crown prince offers full support for Iraq's security: Iraq PM's office  Reuters

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Thursday offered his full support for Iraq's continued security in a phone call to ...

Reuters
Iraq Iraq's 2019 budget busts IMF deal  Al-Monitor

The Iraqi parliament randomly amended the government's 2019 draft budget to include provisions that increase spending, a move that contravenes an ...

Al-Monitor
How Trump's remarks on Iran strain U.S.'s welcome in Iraq  PBS NewsHour

Over the weekend, President Trump told CBS News that the U.S. mission in Iraq should expand to include watching Iran -- a change that would exceed what Iraq ...

PBS NewsHour
Iraq: UN demining agency rejects desecration accusations, involving historic Mosul churches  UN News

The United Nations Mine Action *Service* (UNMAS) in Iraq issued a statement on Thursday rejecting allegations made earlier this week by a non-profit ...

UN News
At Baghdad Workshop, Search for Iraq's Looted Artifacts Gets Serious  VOA News

Before Islamic State militants were dislodged from Iraq in 2017, they stole thousands of ancient artifacts. Most are still missing, and an international team of ...

VOA News
Iranian-backed militias threaten US forces in Iraq  The Jerusalem Post

Members of Hashd al-Shaabi, the Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias in Iraq, can be seen warning US troops near Mosul against “provocations,” in a video posted ...

The Jerusalem Post
UK to give Iraq more than £30m to rebuild hospitals, schools and power plants destroyed in Isis fight  The Independent

The UK will give more than £30m to Iraq to rebuild hospitals, schools and power plants destroyed in the fight against the Isis, the Middle East minister has said, ...

The Independent
Iran-backed groups corner Iraq scrap market | Business , Regional  The Daily Star

The wrecks of vehicles used by Daesh (ISIS) militants as car bombs and other metal debris left by the war in Iraq are now helping fund their Iran-backed enemies ...

The Daily Star
Washington's encouragement of warlordism in Iraq  American Enterprise Institute

View related *content*: Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East. In recent weeks, a parade of American officials visited Iraq, ostensibly to meet with the Iraqi ...

American Enterprise Institute
Tajik Women Get Life Sentences In Iraq For Belonging To IS  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Five Tajik women have been sentenced to life in prison in Iraq after being found guilty of belonging to the extremist group Islamic State.

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Disagreement over KRG share prevents Iraq from voting on budget  Rudaw

Kurdistan Region MPs stand firm on Iraq budget bill with disagreements on oil, Peshmerga funding.

Rudaw
A Brief History of Border Walls – From Ancient Iraq to Trump's Mexico  BBC History Magazine

The world's first border wall was probably built in today's southern Iraq in around 2000 BC. Why were border walls built and who built them? BBC History ...

BBC History Magazine
'Iraq on steroids': senator in Syria warning as Trump receives remains  The Guardian

Lindsey Graham urges slowing of US withdrawal as bodies of four Americans killed in Manbij to be repatriated.

The Guardian
Trump was warned in Iraq that ISIS was not defeated in Syria  CNN

Military commanders warned President Donald Trump on December 26 during his surprise visit to Iraq that -- despite his claims to the contrary -- ISIS was not ...

CNN
Border Highway to Connect Iran to Syria via Iraq  Financial Tribune

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in the presence of Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami last week to launch the construction of the ...

Financial Tribune
A reporter's memory from Iraq: Rittner's 'goofy kid exterior belied a hardened Marine'  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Jones wrote about Officer Matthew Rittner when he served in Iraq in 2008.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
How is the reconstruction of Iraq going? | World News  Sky News

In July 2017, the last Islamic State fighters left in the city of Mosul attempted to flee by swimming across the mighty Tigris River that runs through Iraq's second ...

Sky News
Report: U.S. will not intervene if IDF attacks Shi'ite militias in Iraq  The Jerusalem Post - Israel News

Iraq's Prime Minister expressed his fear about the possible move and told Secretary Mike Pompeo that if this were to happen, it will have dire and dangerous ...

The Jerusalem Post - Israel News
Iraq and Jordan reopen border crossing, boosting relations  The State

Iraq and Jordan have inaugurated a joint industrial area on the border between the neighboring countries.

The State
Exclusive: American web giant does business with terrorists who killed hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq  9news.com.au

The inflammatory website of a violent terrorist group responsible for killing hundreds of US and coalition soldiers in Iraq is currently being hosted by one of ...

9news.com.au
Iraq's first biker group aims to unite nation - More than show off  Economic Times

Roaring along Baghdad's highways, the "Iraq Bikers" are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their ...

Economic Times
Iraq's prime minister visits St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad  Episcopal News Service

[Anglican Communion News *Service*] Iraq Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has paid a visit St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad. The prime minister was ...

Episcopal News Service
Iraq agrees to allocate IQD 68 billion to Defense Ministry budget for Peshmerga: MP  Kurdistan24

Iraqi senior military commanders were reportedly present at the meeting in which “participants agreed to add IQD 68 billion to Iraqi Defense Ministry's budget to ...

Kurdistan24
Is Iran Donald Trump's Iraq?  Big News Network

US Vice President Mike Pence has opened up about Iran at the Middle East summit in Warsaw.

Big News Network
Anger in Iraq at revelation of British shoot-to-kill policy against civilians  Middle East Eye

Iraqis attack 'cheap and low' policy of shooting unarmed civilians by British occupation forces made public by MEE earlier this week.

Middle East Eye
Residents of Christian towns in Iraq face another displacement  Kurdistan24

Speaking to Kurdistan 24 on Saturday, the governors of two Assyrian towns in the Nineveh Plains said their people are again moving to other parts of the country ...

Kurdistan24
New medal awarded to recognise the changing character of warfare  GOV.UK

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced details of the eligible personnel who will receive a new medal to mark the campaign to defeat Daesh in ...

GOV.UK
Like Brexit and Iraq, Suez divided Britain bitterly  The Guardian

Letter: John Coad recalls the divisions in parliament and among the public in 1956.

The Guardian
Pope in UAE: Reject wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya  Aljazeera.com

In first-ever Arabian Peninsula visit, Pope Francis said, 'No violence can be justified in the name of religion.'

Aljazeera.com
'Always grateful, always regretful': 10th anniversary of soldiers lost in Iraq draws dozens  The Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD — Stronger than the frigid air Saturday on post was the memory of a tragedy overseas one decade ago shared among dozens.

The Killeen Daily Herald
Petrofac executive admits bribery to secure Iraq, Saudi contracts  The National

A former executive at oil services company Petrofac has pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with payments to secure contracts worth more than $4 billion in ...

The National
Draining Upstream, Chaos Downstream: The Eco-Political Disaster of Iraq’s Waterways  Al-Bawaba

By Ty Joplin “The water's just bad. It's so salty, it's not like it was before,” Amjad Mohamed, an Iraqi who used to live in Iraq's famed marshes says. ”I prefer not.

Al-Bawaba
Iraq's archaeological sites face looting, urbanisation threats | Karen Dabrowska  The Arab Weekly

Anarchic development and looting in war-torn Iraq are the greatest threats to its treasure trove of archaeological heritage, warned Iraqi archaeologist Lamia ...

The Arab Weekly
Congress Poised to Help Veterans Exposed to ‘Burn Pits’ Over Decades of War  The New York Times

One of the least understood ailments endured by the newest generation of veterans is related to exposure to toxic substances in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially ...

The New York Times
Hero who won Military Cross for bravery in Iraq then years later was smeared as a war criminal  Daily Mail

BRIAN WOOD: They are lying in wait, ready to ambush me, just like the militia I faced in the Iraqi desert. They've compared our behaviour to the Japanese in ...

Daily Mail
Lt. Col. David Moss welcomed home from Iraq  Maryville Daily Times

With yellow ribbons and banners lining the neighborhood street where he once learned to ride a bike, Lt. Col. David Moss received a hero's welcome Monday ...

Maryville Daily Times
Ex-Danish FM 'Regrets' Mistakes That Led to Iraq Invasion  Sputnik International

Having previously denied the idea that the Danish government had misled the parliament about the US-led Iraq invasion, former Danish Foreign Minister Per ...

Sputnik International
Iraq's parliament approves $112bn budget after months of wrangling  Middle East Eye

Budget projected oil exports of 3.88m barrels per day at $56 per barrel, which will help pay Peshmerga fighters.

Middle East Eye
 

Iraq Videos

Geography Now! IRAQ
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Geography Now! IRAQ
What ISIS Left Behind In Iraq | VICE News Tonight (HBO)
21:30:30
What ISIS Left Behind In Iraq | VICE News Tonight (HBO)
इराक सबसे अनोखा देश // Iraq Amazing Facts in Hindi
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इराक सबसे अनोखा देश // Iraq Amazing Facts in Hindi
তেলের দেশ ইরাক | Amazing Facts about Iraq in Bangla
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তেলের দেশ ইরাক | Amazing Facts about Iraq in Bangla
इराक के चौंकाने वाले तथ्य Amazing Facts About Iraq In Hindi 2018
07:00:01
इराक के चौंकाने वाले तथ्य Amazing Facts About Iraq In Hindi 2018
ये सिर्फ इराक में होता है |Amazing Facts of IraQ Country Hotel & Tourism
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ये सिर्फ इराक में होता है |Amazing Facts of IraQ Country Hotel & Tourism
After losing most of its control in Iraq, ISIS is starting to reemerge
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After losing most of its control in Iraq, ISIS is starting to reemerge
Rare Combat Footage - US Soldiers in Iraq | Clashes and Firefights
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Rare Combat Footage - US Soldiers in Iraq | Clashes and Firefights
Iraq Amazing And Shocking Facts About Iraq In Urdu/Hindi . History Of Iraq .
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Iraq Amazing And Shocking Facts About Iraq In Urdu/Hindi . History Of Iraq .
12 Things NOT To Do in Iraq
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12 Things NOT To Do in Iraq
 

Iraq Images

Brandon L Teeters - Iraq War Heroes, Our War Heroes - www ...
Brandon L Teeters - Iraq War Heroes, Our War Heroes - www ...
Brian's pictures from Iraq (#26)
Brian's pictures from Iraq (#26)
Iraqi chemical attacks against Iran - Wikipedia
Iraqi chemical attacks against Iran - Wikipedia
At a tomb in Cairo where Hazrat Imam Hussain's head is bel ...
At a tomb in Cairo where Hazrat Imam Hussain's head is bel ...
Wall #1 | Barjeel Art Foundation
Wall #1 | Barjeel Art Foundation
Christmas at KBR mess hall, Baghdad Iraq
Christmas at KBR mess hall, Baghdad Iraq
Prepare For War | What: March on the Pentagon Anti-War ...
Prepare For War | What: March on the Pentagon Anti-War ...
Battle of Baqubah - Wikipedia
Battle of Baqubah - Wikipedia
Syria | A Game Old Dame
Syria | A Game Old Dame
نصب الشهيد في بغداد | بغداد | haider1990 | Flickr
نصب الشهيد في بغداد | بغداد | haider1990 | Flickr
 

Iraq WebSites

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Iraq Wiki

Iraq (, (listen) or ; Arabic: العراق‎ al-'Irāq; Kurdish: عێراق‎ Eraq), officially known as the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: جُمُهورية العِراق‎ Jumhūrīyyat al-'Irāq; Kurdish: کۆماری عێراق‎ Komari Eraq), is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.Iraq has a coastline measuring 58 km (36 miles) on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is often referred to as the cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which "Iraq" is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. Iraq was the centre of the Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid and Ottoman empires.The country today known as Iraq was a region of the Ottoman Empire until the partition of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century. It was made up of three provinces, called vilayets in the Ottoman language: Mosul Vilayet, Baghdad Vilayet, and Basra Vilayet. In April 1920 the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed monarchy joining these vilayets into one Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of Iraq. The Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power, and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The US presence in Iraq ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. Out of the insurgency came a highly destructive group calling itself ISIL, which took large parts of the north and west. It has since been largely defeated. Disputes over the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan continue. A referendum about the full sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017. On 9 December 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIL after the group lost its territory in Iraq.Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 19 governorates (provinces) and one autonomous region (Iraqi Kurdistan). The country's official religion is Islam. Culturally, Iraq has a very rich heritage and celebrates the achievements of its past in both pre-Islamic as well as post-Islamic times and is known for its poets. Its painters and sculptors are among the best in the Arab world, some of them being world-class as well as producing fine handicrafts, including rugs and carpets. Iraq is a founding member of the UN as well as of the Arab League, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF.