Islamic State militants attacked the outskirts of Iraq's northern oil refinery town of Baiji overnight with car bombs and clashed with the army and Shi'ite militias in the town's western districts, the local mayor and security sources said on Friday. The town of Baiji and its refinery - Iraq's largest - have been a battlefront for more than a year.
The hardline Islamists seized the town in June 2014 as they swept through much of northern Iraq towards the capital Baghdad. Control of Baiji neighbourhoods has changed hands many times during the conflict. Authorities said last month they had recaptured most of the town, but the radical jihadist group attacked central neighbourhoods days later, forcing pro-government forces to pull back.
At least three militia fighters were killed on Friday when Islamic State launched car bomb attacks against a makeshift headquarters in al-Rayash, about 18 km (5 miles) south of Baiji, a militia leader and a source in the Salahuddin Operations Command said.
A Note to the Granddaughters
I remember my mom talking about one of her favorite cousins when I was growing up. That particular cousin had married a car salesman and had moved to Kansas City. There was something about Kansas City that attracted my mother; I have no idea what it was. But it was an important city for her.
While reading Stephen Fried's Appetite for America I may have stumbled on to a bit of background that might explain some of the attraction.
By 1905, Kansas City, the former "City of Kansas," was starting to fulfill its dreams of being thenext Chicago -- the second city's second city....Kansas City was now one of the twenty-five largest cities in America. It had a population of over 165,000, and it was growing rapidly.That was back in 1905. My mother wasn't born until until twenty years later, but I'm sure Kansas City continued to grow during that time -- in fact, it became the major transit city for soldiers during WWI -- more on that later -- and by the time she was a teenager, she probably heard her folks talk often of Kansas City.
But now it makes even more sense. When the US entered WWI, all US railroads were taken over -- "federalized" -- by the government, under an executive order by President Wilson.
The Kansas City Union Station became the primary crossroad for troops, who spent their layovers getting assistance from the famous Red Cross station in the main concourse, and enjoying discounted meals at the Harvey lunchroom across the way.
My grandfather -- your great grandfather Ekke ("Ike") was sent to France in WWI. He was sent "too late" to see any fighting, and I can't recall if he came down with the 1917 pandemic flu, but I believe he did (I will check on that later). Regardless, it is most likely he, too, transited through Kansas City and that's probably the nostalgic connection my mom -- your grandmother -- had with Kansas City.
With her memory loss she probably does not remember, and years ago when she would have remembered, she was too private a person to talk about anything in her past. So, we'll never know.