Several wells in Iraq’s Qayyara oilfield continue to burn six weeks after the US-backed Iraqi forces ousted ISIS militants from the town as part of their push on the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, the oil ministry said on Wednesday. The militants torched oil wells in the region to help conceal their positions before fleeing ahead of the government advance into Qayyara, sending black smoke into the sky and oil pouring into main thoroughfares. Government efforts to put out the remaining oil fires are being hampered by ISIS shelling, and around nine of 15 wells were still ablaze, oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said.
The fires “are creating pollution and presenting serious health risks,” the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in an update on the Mosul region. “Efforts to quell the flames have been impeded reportedly by several attempted attacks by armed groups, which also threaten the safety and sustainability of returns,” UNHCR said, referring to refugees trying to move back to homes from which they fled when ISIS overran the northern Iraqi region in 2014. Its two main oilfields, Qayyara and Najma, used to produce up to 30,000 barrels per day of heavy crude before it fell under control of the ultra-hardline jihadists.
ISIL expanded its attacks on Monday against the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces, trying to relieve pressure on its own defences around Mosul, the group’s last major urban stronghold in the country. About 80 villages and town held by ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS) were retaken in the first week of the offensive, bringing Iraqi and Kurdish forces closer to the edge of the city itself – where the battle will be hardest fought.
The Mosul campaign, which aims to crush the Iraqi portion of ISIL’s declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, may become the biggest battle yet in the 13 years of turmoil triggered by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some 1.5 million residents remain in the city, and worst-case forecasts see up to a million being uprooted, according to the United Nations. UN aid agencies say the fighting has so far forced about 7,400 people to flee their homes.
Imad ad-Din Zengi (c. 1085 – 14 September 1146) (alsoZangi, Zengui, Zenki, or Zanki / Turkish: İmadeddin Zengi / Arabic: عماد الدین زنكي / Persian: عمادالدین زنگی) was the atabeg of Mosul, Aleppo, Hama and Edessa and founder of the Zengid dynasty, to which he gave his name.
|English: Khusruwiyah Mosque in Aleppo, Syria Français : Mosquée Khosrowiyé à Alep en Syrie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Zengi’s father, Aq Sunqur al-Hajib, governor of Aleppounder Malik Shah I, was beheaded for treason in 1094, and Zengi was brought up by Kerbogha, the governor ofMosul.
Zengi against Damascus
Following the death in 1128 of Toghtekin, atabeg of Damascus, a power vacuum threatened to openSyria to renewed Crusader aggression.
Zengi became atabeg of Mosul in 1127, and of Aleppo in 1128, uniting the two cities under his personal rule, and was formally invested as their ruler by the Sultan Mahmud II of Great Seljuk. Zengi had supported the young sultan against his rival, the caliph Al-Mustarshid.
In 1130 he allied with Taj al-Mulk Buri of Damascus against the crusaders, but this was only a ruse to extend his power; he had Buri’s son taken prisoner and seized Hama from him. He also besiegedHoms, the governor of which was accompanying him at the time, but could not capture it, so he returned to Mosul, where Buri’s son and the other prisoners from Damascus were ransomed for 50,000dinars. In 1131 Zengi agreed to return the 50,000 dinars if Buri would deliver to him Dubays ibn Sadaqa, emir of al-Hilla in Iraq, who had fled to Damascus to escape al-Mustarshid. When an ambassador from the caliph arrived to bring Dubais back, Zengi attacked him and killed some of his retinue; the ambassador returned to Baghdad without Dubais.
In 1134 Zengi became involved in Artuqid affairs, allying with the emir Timurtash (son of Ilghazi) against Timurtash’s cousin Da’ud. Zengi’s real desires, however, lay to the south, in Damascus. In 1135 Zengi received an appeal for help from Ismail, who had succeeded his father Buri as emir of Damascus, and who was in fear for his life from his own citizenry who considered him a cruel tyrant. Ismail was willing to surrender the city to Zengi in order to restore peace. None of Ismail’s family or advisors wanted this, however, and Ismail was murdered by his own mother, Zumurrud, to prevent him from turning over the city to Zengi’s control. Ismail was succeeded by his brother Shihab ad-Din Mahmud.
Zengi was not discouraged by this turn of events and arrived at Damascus anyway, still intending to seize it. The siege lasted for some time with no success on Zengi’s part, so a truce was made and Shahib ad-Din’s brother Bahram-Shah was given as a hostage. At the same time, news of the siege had reached the caliph and Baghdad, and a messenger was sent with orders for Zengi to leave Damascus and take control of the governance of Iraq. The messenger was ignored but Zengi gave up the siege, as per the terms of the truce with Shahib ad-Din. On the way back to Aleppo, Zengi besieged Homs, whose governor had angered him, and Shahib ad-Din responded to the city’s call for help by sending Mu’in ad-Din Unur to govern it.
In 1137 Zengi besieged Homs again but Mu’in ad-Din successfully defended it; in response to Zengi’s renewed attack, Damascus allied with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalemagainst him. Zengi laid siege to the Crusader fortress of Baarin and quickly crushed the army of Jerusalem. King Fulk of Jerusalemagreed to surrender and was allowed to flee with his surviving troops. Zengi, realizing that this new expedition against Damascus was bound to fail, made peace with Shahib ad-Din, just in time to be confronted at Aleppo by an army sent by the Byzantine EmperorJohn II Comnenus. The Emperor had recently brought the Crusader Principality of Antiochunder Byzantine control, and allied himself with Joscelin II of Edessa and Raymond of Antioch. Facing a combined Byzantine/crusader threat, Zengi mobilized his forces and recruited assistance from other Muslim leaders. In April 1138 the armies of the Byzantine emperor and the crusader princes laidsiege to Shaizar, but were turned back by Zengi’s forces a month later.
In May 1138 Zengi came to an agreement with Damascus. He married Zumurrud, the same woman who had murdered her son Ismail, and received Homs as her dowry. In July 1139 Zumurrud’s surviving son, Shihab ad-Din, was assassinated and Zengi marched on Damascus to take possession of the city. The Damascenes, united under Mu’in ad-Din Unur, acting as regent for Shihab ad-Din’s successor Jamal ad-Din, once again allied with Jerusalem to repel Zengi. Zengi also besieged Jamal ad-Din’s former possession of Baalbek, and Mu’in ad-Din was in charge of its defenses as well. After Zengi abandoned his siege of Damascus, Jamal ad-Din died of a disease, and was succeeded by his son Mujir ad-Din, with Mu’in ad-Din remaining as regent.
Mu’in ad-Din signed a new peace treaty with Jerusalem for their mutual protection against Zengi. While Mu’in ad-Din and the crusaders joined together to besiege Banias, Zengi once more laid siege to Damascus, but quickly abandoned it again. There were no major engagements between the crusaders, Damascus, and Zengi for the next few years, but Zengi in the meantime campaigned in the north and captured Ashib and the Armenian fortress of Hizan.
In 1144 Zengi besieged the crusader County of Edessa (see Siege of Edessa). Edessa was the weakest and least Latinized crusader state, and Zengi captured it on December 24, 1144. This event led to the Second Crusade, and later Muslim chroniclers noted it as the start of the jihad against the Crusader states.
Though he continued his attempts to take Damascus in 1145, Zengi was assassinated by a Frankish slave named Yarankash in 1146.
He was the founder of the eponymous Zengid dynasty. In Mosul he was succeeded by his eldest sonSaif ad-Din Ghazi I and in Aleppo he was succeeded by his second son Nur ad-Din. The Muslim chronicler Ibn al-Qalanisi gives his full name and title as:
The emir, the general, the great, the just, the aid of God, the triumphant, the unique, the pillar of religion, the cornerstone of Islam, ornament of Islam, protector of God’s creatures, associate of the dynasty, auxiliary of doctrine, grandeur of the nation, honour of kings, supporter of sultans, victor over the infidels, rebels, and atheists, commander of the Muslim armies, the victorious king, the king of princes, the sun of the deserving, emir of the two Iraqs and Syria, conqueror of Iran, Bahlawan, Jihan Alp Inassaj Kotlogh Toghrulbeg atabeg Abu Sa’id Zangi Ibn Aq Sunqur, protector of the prince of the faithful.
According to Crusader legend, Zengi’s mother was Ida of Austria (mother of Leopold III of Austria), who had supposedly been captured during the Crusade of 1101 and placed in a harem. She was 46 in 1101, Zengi was born in 1085, and his father died in 1094 so this is not feasible.
Zengi was courageous, strong in leadership and a very skilled warrior according to all of the Islam chroniclers of his day. These same chroniclers however, also relate Zengi as being a very violent, cruel, and brutal man. Muslims, Byzantines, and Franks all suffered at his hands.
Unlike Saladin at Jerusalem in 1187, Zengi did not keep his word to protect his captives at Baalbek in 1139. According to Ibn al-‘Adim, “He (Zengi) had sworn to the people of the citadel with strong oaths and on the Qur’an and divorcing (his wives). When they came down from the citadel he betrayed them, flayed its governor and hanged the rest.”
According to Ibn ‘al-Adim:
The atebeg was violent, powerful, awe-inspiring and liable to attack suddenly… When he rode, the troops use to walk behind him as if they were between two threads, out of fear they would trample over crops, and nobody out of fear dared to trample on a single stem (of them) nor march his horse on them… If anyone transgressed, he was crucified. He (Zengi) used to say: “It does not happen that there is more than one tyrant (meaning himself) at one time.”