TIME conflict

Saddam Deputy Killed Near Tikrit, Iraqi Officials Say

Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 1, 2002 Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri on April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit.
Jassim Mohammed—AP Iraqi Vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri salutes during a ceremony at the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 1, 2002 Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri on April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri remained a wanted fugitive since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials said Friday they believe that government forces killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former deputy of Saddam Hussein who for over a decade was the top fugitive from the ousted regime and became an underground figure involved in Sunni insurgencies, most recently allying with Islamic State militants.

It was not the first time Iraqi officials have claimed to have killed or captured al-Douri, who was the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help American troops identify key regime fugitives after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam. DNA tests were underway to confirm whether a body recovered from fighting around the city of Tikrit was al-Douri’s.

Reports of al-Douri’s death came as Iraqi forces are trying to push back Islamic State group fighters in Salahuddin province, where Tikrit is located. Government troops took back several towns near the country’s largest oil refinery at Beiji in the province, officials said.

Further north, a large car bomb exploded Friday afternoon next to the U.S. Consulate in the northern city of Irbil, a rare attack in the capital of the Kurdish autonomy zone. Iraqi police officials said three people were killed and five were wounded in the bombing. U.S. officials said there were no American casualties or casualties among consulate personnel or guards.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the powerful blast went off outside a cafe next to the building in Irbil’s Ankawa neighborhood, setting several nearby cars on fire. Shortly afterward, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Irbil attack, reported the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant websites.

According to the governor of Salahuddin province, Raed al-Jabouri, al-Douri was killed by Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen in an operation in the Talal Hamreen mountains east of Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, which was retaken from the Islamic State group earlier this month.

Troops opened fire at a convoy carrying al-Douri and nine bodyguards, killing all of them, Gen. Haider al-Basri, a senior Iraqi commander, told state TV.

The government issues several photos showing a body purported to be al-Douri. The body had a bright red beard, perhaps dyed, and a ginger-colored moustache. Al-Douri was a fair-skinned redhead with a ginger moustache, making him distinctive among Saddam’s inner circle.

DNA tests were underway to confirm the identity of the body, Iraqi intelligence officials told The AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. In 2013, the Iraqi government said it arrested al-Douri, circulating a photo of a bearded man who resembled the former Baathist. It later said it was a case of mistaken identity.

Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. has no information to corroborate the reported death of al-Douri.

Al-Douri was officially the No. 2 man in Iraq’s ruling hierarchy. He served as vice chairman of Saddam’s Revolutionary Command Council, was one of Saddam’s few longtime confidants and his daughter was married briefly to Saddam’s son, Odai, who was killed with his brother, Qusai, by U.S. troops in Mosul.

When Saddam’s Baathist regime collapsed as U.S. troops occupied Baghdad, al-Douri disappeared. He was No. 6 on the most-wanted list of 55 Iraqis after the invasion. When Saddam was killed months later and more regime figures were caught, al-Douri became the most prominent fugitive — and U.S. authorities soon linked him to the Sunni insurgencies that erupted against the American occupation and the Shiite-led government that replaced Saddam.

Early in the war, U.S. authorities linked al-Douri to Ansar al-Islam, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida, and he was accused of being a major financier of the insurgency. Sunni former officers from Saddam’s military and police were believed to have played large roles in the insurgency, whether with al-Qaida or other factions.

Al-Douri emerged as a leader of the shadowy Army of the Men of the Naqshabandi Order. The group depicts itself as a nationalist force defending Iraq’s Sunni minority from Shiite rule and as an alternative to the extremist version of Islam championed by al-Qaida. But last year, when the Islamic State group — the successor to al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq — launched a blitz across much of western and northern Iraq, al-Douri, the Naqshabandi Army and other former Saddam-era officers reportedly entered a shaky alliance with it.

When Tikrit was overrun by the Sunni militant group last June, witnesses said fighters raised posters of Saddam and al-Douri. Fighters loyal to his Naqshabandi Army as well as former members of Saddam’s Baath Party were the main militant force in Tikrit at the time of its capture, local residents told The AP at the time. Still, the Naqshabandi Army criticized IS atrocities, including the persecution of religious minorities and the burning of a Jordanian coalition pilot in Syria.

Iraqi security forces recaptured al-Douri’s hometown of Dawr in March as part of its large-scale offensive to retake Tikrit. Government forces seized control of Tikrit on April 1.

In Washington, Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said there were no U.S. casualties among consulate staff or local guard staff in the Irbil attack.

Also Friday, Iraqi security forces gained full control over a contested area south of the Beiji refinery as part of their push to secure the rest of Salahuddin province.

General Ayad al-Lahabi, a commander with the Salahuddin Command Center, said the military, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and Shiite and Sunni militias dubbed the Popular Mobilization Forces, gained control of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 militants with the Islamic State group.

Al-Lahabi said security forces are trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the Sunni militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week, hitting the refinery walls with explosive-laced Humvees.

Extremists from the Islamic State group seized much of Salahuddin province last summer during their advance across northern and western Iraq. The battle for Tikrit was seen as a key step toward eventually driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. In November, Iraqi security forces said they had recaptured the town of Beiji from the militant group. The refinery had never been captured by the militants but has been subjected to frequent attacks by the group.

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, after days of intense clashes with the Islamic State group left the city at risk. Sabah Nuaman, a special forces commander in Anbar, said the situation had improved early Friday after airstrikes hit key militant targets on the city’s fringes.

Sabah al-Karhout, head of Anbar’s provincial council, said there were no major attacks on the city Friday but that the militants still maintained control of three villages to the east of Ramadi, which they captured Wednesday, sending thousands of civilians fleeing for safety.

In Baghdad, a series of bombings ripped through the city on Friday, mainly targeting public places and killing at least 40 people, Iraqi officials said. No group claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, though the Islamic State has taken credit for similar attacks in the past, especially those targeting Shiites, as well as Iraqi security forces and government buildings.

TIME

Girls Who Escaped ISIS Describe Systematic Rape

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Bilgin Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on April 9, 2015.

Girls are forced into marriage and sold as gifts, aid group says

As they destroy antiquities and capture cities, ISIS fighters have also been engaged in a systematic campaign of rape and sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

According to the report, the widespread rape of girls and women from the Yezidi Christian minority group—is part of a organized system of abuse that includes slavery, forced marriage, and giving girls as “gifts” to different men. According to a recent U.N. report, about 3,000 people are currently in ISIS captivity, many of them Yezidi women. Last year, ISIS published an article that lays out its defense of sex slavery on religious grounds, despite the fact that sex slavery is condemned by the international community. “The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier this week.

One 20-year-old Yezidi woman told Human Rights Watch that ISIS held her and about 60 other women in a wedding hall in Syria, to be raped at will. They were told to “forget about your relatives, from now on you will marry us, bear our children, God will convert you to Islam and you will pray.” Here’s how she described the scene:

From 9:30 in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted. They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from 8 to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.

As horrific as these stories are, they’re not quite new. Human Rights Watch published a similar report detailing ISIS’s forced marriages and conversions of Yezidi people last year, which focused less on specifically sexual abuse and more on widespread devastation of Yezidi communities. Still, international outrage has done little to stop the violence. “People feel quite powerless in the face of a group like ISIS,” says Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch Executive Director for Women’s Rights. “Traditional tactics like naming and shaming just don’t work for them.”

ISIS is not the only Islamist militant group to use sexual violation as a tool of terrorism. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. Based on how Boko Haram has treated other female captives, many fear that the schoolgirls have been forced into marriage or sold into sex slavery. Shortly after the kidnapping, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted that he had taken the girls and planned to “sell them on the market.”

More: Boko Haram Has Fled But No One Know the Fate of the Chibok Girls

But despite the atrocities, there is a glimmer of hope in the latest report on ISIS and the Yezidi women. Yezidi religious leaders have issued statements welcoming abused Yezidi girls back into the community after they escape from their captors, a move that may ease the widespread social stigma against girls who have been victims of sexual assault. “That is unusual, and for me personally, that was a heartwarming part,” says Gerntholtz. “They need to be accepted back, they need to be supported. This was very important and very influential to make sure there were no honor killings or honor-related violence.”

TIME Iraq

ISIS Launches Offensive Against Iraqi City of Ramadi

Tribal fighters stand guard in central Ramadi, Iraq on April 15, 2015.
AP Tribal fighters stand guard in central Ramadi, Iraq on April 15, 2015.

Ramadi was once a major stronghold for al-Qaida insurgents during the U.S.-led occupation

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State extremist group launched an offensive Wednesday in Iraq’s western Anbar province, capturing three villages near the provincial capital of Ramadi in what was the most significant threat to the city by the Sunni militants to date.

The militants’ push comes after the Islamic State was dealt a major blow earlier this month, when Iraqi troops routed the group from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

Wednesday’s fighting could also further threaten Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad. Nearly a decade ago, Ramadi was one of the strongholds of the insurgency in the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It now is mostly held by Iraqi government forces, although militants control some parts of it, mainly on the outskirts.

In a dawn advance, IS extremists seized the villages of Sjariyah, Albu-Ghanim and Soufiya, which had also been under government control until now, and residents said they had to flee their homes. Fighting was also taking place on the eastern edges of Ramadi, about 2 kilometers (a mile) from a government building, they added.

In Soufiya, the militants bombed a police station and took over a power plant. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said airstrikes were trying to back up Iraqi troops. Iraqi security officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Around noon Wednesday, the militants opened another front with government troops on three other villages to the northeast of Ramadi, the residents added.

An Iraqi intelligence official said the militants were preparing to launch another offensive from the western side of the city, describing the situation as “critical.”

The IS was also trying to take control of the main highway that goes through Ramadi to cut off supplies, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim acknowledged that Islamic State militants “gained a foothold in some areas” in Anbar. But he said reinforcements were sent to the province and that airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition were supporting Iraqi forces.

“The situation is under control, and the standoff will be resolved in the coming hours,” Ibrahim told The Associated Press. He added, however, that most of the villagers in the area had fled from their homes amid the fighting.

Hundreds of U.S. and coalition forces have been training Iraqi troops at Anbar’s Ain Al-Asad air base, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of Ramadi, which came under IS attack in mid-February. The attack, which involved a suicide bomber, was repelled.

The Anbar fighting coincides with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to Washington where he met Tuesday with President Barack Obama and appealed for greater support from the coalition carrying out airstrikes against the IS militants, who have also captured large areas in neighboring Syria. While Obama has pledged another $200 million in humanitarian aid, he made no mention of any further military support.

In an interview with a group of U.S. reporters, al-Abadi made no mention of the events in Ramadi. He spoke optimistically of gaining Sunni tribal fighter participation in the government’s offensive, saying about 5,000 tribal fighters in Anbar had signed up and received light weapons. “There is a problem because they are asking for more advanced weapons, which to be honest with you we don’t possess,” he said.

Those Sunnis are working “hand-in-hand” with Iraqi security forces, al-Abadi said. As an example of this cooperation, he said he recently visited Habbaniya in Anbar province and walked among 1,500 armed Sunni tribal fighters.

“I felt safe,” he said. “That’s how much the situation has changed in the country. That says a lot about the situation in Anbar,” he said.

Ramadi and Fallujah were major strongholds for al-Qaida insurgents during the eight-year U.S.-led invasion, and fighting in Anbar was especially costly for Americans there. A lasting image of the war was the bodies of U.S. contractors hanging from a bridge in Fallujah in March 2004. The six-week fight in November 2004 to retake Fallujah was an iconic moment for the Marines — with nearly 100 Americans killed in battle and hundreds more injured.

Many of the insurgents were forced to flee Iraq or go into hiding in the latter years of the invasion.

In late 2013, however, militants of the Islamic State group used the Syrian civil war to their advantage and began to push back into Iraq through Anbar province. They capitalized on resentment toward the Shiite-led government in Baghdad to secure their position among predominantly Sunni residents. In January 2014, Fallujah was the first major Iraqi city seized by the militant group, and it has been making slow, but steady progress in the province ever since.

The seizure of about a third of Iraq by the Islamic State has pushed the country into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Al-Abadi said Iraqi forces will follow their victory in Tikrit with campaigns against Islamic State in the oil town of Beiji and western Anbar province. He said a counteroffensive against the northern town of Mosul would not come before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-June.

The U.S. Central Command said the international coalition carried out 23 airstrikes on militants in Iraq and Syria since Tuesday. Of those, 17 were in Iraq, including three near Ramadi on tactical units an armored personnel carrier, two near Fallujah, and nine near Beiji, it said.

In addition to the clashes in Anbar province, a series of militant attacks in and around Baghdad killed at least 43 people in the past two days.

TIME Yemen

The U.N. Envoy to Yemen Has Quit

YEMEN-POLITICS-UNREST-SOUTH-DIALOGUE
MOHAMMED HUWAIS—AFP/Getty Images Jamal Benomar, UN envoy to Yemen, speaks during a press conference conference in Sanaa December 24, 2013.

Moroccan diplomat Jamal Benomar had lost the support of the Gulf countries in his mission

The U.N. envoy to Yemen has resigned, citing “an interest in moving on to another assignment.”

Jamal Benomar, who has served as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to the Middle Eastern country since 2012, reportedly threw in the towel due to lack of support from Gulf countries for his peacekeeping endeavors, reports the AFP.

“A successor shall be named in due course,” read a statement from the U.N. “Until that time and beyond, the United Nations will continue to spare no efforts to relaunch the peace process in order to get the political transition back on track.”

Benomar had already mentioned the possibility of resigning in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, saying he had already expressed his desire to step down to the Secretary-General.

The conflict in Yemen is continuing to escalate as Shi‘ite Houthi rebels march on the country’s major port Aden after capturing the capital city of Sana‘a. The fighting has reportedly killed over 700 people and wounded more than 2,700 others.

The U.N. Security Council earlier this week adopted a resolution calling for the resumption of peace talks, even as coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia continued to carry out air strikes. The Saudi offensive has been criticized by other countries in the region, with Iran — whom it accuses of arming the Houthis — calling it “genocide.”

Iran’s neighbor Iraq also traded barbs with the Saudis on Wednesday, when Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said there was “no logic to the operation at all in the first place.” The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. later said there was “no logic” to al-Abadi’s remarks, and denied reports that Yemeni civilians had been killed in some of the air strikes.

Benomar’s successor, meanwhile, has been tipped as Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who currently leads the U.N. Ebola mission in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

TIME Iraq

Iraqi PM to Seek Billions for ISIS Fight at White House Visit

Haider al-Abadi
Khalid Mohammed—AP Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, holds a press conference before leaving to United States at Baghdad airport, April 13, 2015.

Haider al-Abadi is expected to request billions in financial aid in meeting with Obama

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will make his first official visit to the White House on Tuesday, where he is expected to request billions of dollars in financial and military aid from President Barack Obama for an ongoing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Abadi’s first state visit comes as falling oil prices have opened up a $22 billion budget deficit in Iraq, the New York Times reports. Abadi has argued that the budget shortfall has hampered the new government’s ability to mount military challenges to ISIS strongholds in northern Iraq and restore basic government services to those towns that have been reclaimed by Iraqi-led forces and Shi’ite militias.

While the White House meeting is expected to show Obama’s support for the new Iraqi prime minister, a marked improvement over the strained relations with Iraq’s previous prime minister, analysts have questioned whether he would meet the full range of Abadi’s demands, which could include a request for drones and other advanced weaponry, Reuters reports.

Abadi will also meet with the heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank during his first official to the U.S.

[NYT]

TIME Australia

Australia to Deploy 300 Additional Troops to Iraq

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the mission would be operational in May for two years, subject to reviews

(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — Australia’s government said Tuesday it had completed preparations to send about 300 additional troops to Iraq and would deploy them over the coming weeks.

The troops will work alongside about 100 New Zealand troops at the Taji base north of Baghdad. Australia’s government said the combined force isn’t being deployed in a combat role but rather to train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The troops are part of an international coalition effort to defeat the group, which is also known as ISIS and Daesh.

Australia already has 170 special forces troops in Baghdad advising and assisting Iraqi security forces. Another 400 Australian air force personnel are supporting air strikes against ISIS targets from a base outside Dubai.

New Zealand’s deployment will represent its first in the current conflict.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said in a statement the mission would be operational in May and was committed to two years with regular reviews.

“The mission of the Australian and New Zealand trainers will be to help the Iraqi government to prepare sufficient forces to maintain the momentum of the counter-attack against ISIS, or Daesh, and regain control of its territory,” Abbott and Andrews said.

The New Zealand Defence Force last week said about 120 of its troops had left for a three-day training camp in Australia prior to being deployed to Iraq.

New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said Tuesday that the mission was on track to be operational toward the end of May but he wouldn’t be providing further details of when troops would travel to Iraq for security reasons.

Brownlee said a total of 143 New Zealand military personnel would be deployed, including some who would be based at the coalition headquarters or other facilities in the region.

Australia said it would also be deploying an additional 20 military personnel to roles at the coalition headquarters.

“This marks the next phase of Australia’s contribution to the international coalition effort to assist the Iraqi government to disrupt, degrade and ultimately defeat the Daesh death cult,” said Abbott and Andrews.

TIME Iraq

Ex-Blackwater Guards Sentenced to Prison for 2007 Shooting in Iraq

Nicholas Slatten
Cliff Owen—AP Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Nicholas Slatten leaves federal court in Washington on June 11, 2014.

The carnage in Baghdad's Nisoor Square caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone

(WASHINGTON) — A federal judge sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison and three others to 30-year terms for their roles in a 2007 shooting that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 17 others.

The carnage in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Slatten, who witnesses said was the first to fire shots in the incident, to life on a charge of first-degree murder. The three other guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were each sentenced to 30 years and one day in prison for charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.

Lamberth announced the sentences after a daylong hearing at which defense lawyers had argued for leniency and presented character witnesses for their clients, and prosecutors asked that those sentences — the minimums mandatory under the law — be made even harsher. He rejected both requests.

“Based on the seriousness of the crimes, I find the penalty is not excessive,” Lamberth said.

All four were convicted in October for their involvement in the killings in the crowded traffic circle in downtown Baghdad. The legal fight over the killings has spanned years.

Prosecutors described the shooting as an unprovoked ambush of civilians and said the men haven’t shown remorse or taken responsibility. Defense lawyers countered that the men were targeted with gunfire and shot back in self-defense.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin urged the court to consider the gravity of the crime as well as the sheer number of dead and wounded and “count every victim.”

“These four men have refused to accept virtually any responsibility for their crimes and the blood they shed that day,” Martin said.

Video monitors in the courtroom showed photos of the dead and wounded, as well as images of cars that were riddled with bullets or blown up with grenade launchers fired by the Blackwater guards.

The defense argued for mercy, saying decades-long sentences would be unconstitutionally harsh for men who operated in a stressful, war-torn environment and who have proud military careers and close family ties. They also argued the guards were using weapons that had been issued by the U.S. State Department for their protection.

“The punishment should be within the limits of civilized standards,” defense attorney David Schertler said.

But Lamberth said he would not deviate from the mandatory minimum sentences, noting that similar stiff penalties have been applied to police officers who commit crimes while carrying automatic weapons as part of their jobs.

Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq spoke in halting English about the death of his 9-year-old son as a picture of the smiling boy, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, was shown on courtroom monitors. He demanded the court show Blackwater “what the law is” and claimed many American soldiers died “because of what Blackwater did.”

“What’s the difference between these criminals and terrorists?” Razzaq said.

Razzaq’s mother and two older brothers also spoke briefly about their loss.

The sentencing was unlikely to bring an end to the legal wrangling, which began even before the guards were first charged in 2008. A judge later dismissed the case before trial, but a federal appeals court revived it and the guards were indicted again in October 2013.

Even before the trial began, defense lawyers had identified multiple issues as likely forming the basis of an appeal, including whether there was proper legal jurisdiction to charge the defendants in the first place.

The law under which they were charged, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, covers the overseas crimes of Defense Department civilian employees, military contractors and others who are supporting the American war mission. But defense lawyers note that the Blackwater defendants worked as State Department contractors and were in Iraq to provide diplomatic, not military, services.

TIME On Our Radar

Photojournalist Moises Saman Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Photojournalist wins prestigious fellowship

Magnum photojournalist Moises Saman was about to step out to dinner in Barcelona last night when he heard some very pleasant news: he had just been awarded the prestigious 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Awarded annually since 1925 “to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions” the Guggenheim is one of the most prestigious awards of its kind.

Saman says he had long known of the Fellowship, but assumed it was geared towards topics such as “poetry and science,” he tells TIME. “I knew there’s a photography element but it tends to be fine art.”

Nevertheless, Moises submitted a photojournalism project on the Arab Spring—part of which is shown in this gallery. Shot from 2011 to the present day across Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Kurdistan, Saman says he “felt really strongly about this body of work and felt it was very relevant to the times.”

Saman plans to use the funds to continue the Arab Spring project. Next step? He’s going to Kurdistan in May.

Moises Saman is a Spanish-American member of Magnum Photos and winner of awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year and the Overseas Press Club.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME Syria

Canadian Jets Have Begun Bombing ISIS Targets in Syria

A Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Fighter jets arrive at the Canadian Air Task Force Flight Operations Area in Kuwait
Reuters Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 fighter jets arrive at the Canadian Air Task Force Flight Operations Area in Kuwait on October 28, 2014 .

They joined a coalition sortie attacking the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa

Two Canadian fighter jets conducted their nation’s first air strikes targeting ISIS forces in Syria on Wednesday, following the passage of a new mandate in Ottawa last week that expands Canada’s role in the ongoing war against the militant group.

“The [Canadian Armed Forces’s] first airstrike against ISIS in Syria has been successfully completed,” said General Tom Lawson, the country’s Chief of Defense Staff, in a statement. “Canadians can be proud of the work that their Canadian Armed Forces are doing, and the contribution they are making to coalition efforts.”

During Wednesday’s mission, two Canadian CF-18 Hornets joined eight other coalition jets in a sortie targeting an ISIS garrison near the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria. The Canadian aircrew and aircraft returned safely to base following the raid.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com