Last updated: 1 September, 2014

Maliki vows Iraq will be “graveyard” for jihadists

Outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed Monday that Iraq will be a “graveyard” for jihadists as he visited the Shiite town of Amerli after the breaking of an 11-week siege.

“Iraq will be a graveyard for (the Islamic State),” the two-term premier said in televised remarks from the town, referring to the powerful jihadist group.

Iraqi security forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish fighters launched a major operation on Saturday to lift the siege of Amerli, a town in Salaheddin province, northeast of Baghdad, where thousands of mainly Shiite Turkmen residents had been trapped.

They broke through and secured the town on Sunday and are now pressing their counteroffensive elsewhere in the area.

Maliki vied for a third term in office but his bid fell apart as security collapsed, with IS-led militants overrunning chunks of five provinces in a sweeping offensive in June.

Kurdish forces backed by American air strikes have clawed back some ground lost to a renewed militant push in August, but the Amerli operation is the Iraqi government’s biggest offensive success since the conflict began.