Drones on ISIS summary

droneusage

 

Drones have launched more than 70% of 495 airstrikes against the militants, helping local Libyan militia fighters retake Surt by December, according to the Air Force.

Danger-close drone missions also played a role in the nine-month offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul, which finally fell to coalition-backed Iraqi forces July 10.
Targeting and guidance systems have steadily improved, adding a greater degree of precision than in the past.

“If you have three-story buildings on either side, I can shoot down an alleyway,” said a Reaper pilot and operations commander who wasn’t authorized to give his name. “If there’s a sniper in one of the windows, I can hit that.”

[July 25 Syria: Russia pressure on US forces to leave ]

 

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General Raymond Thomas, Commander of the U.S. Special Forces Command, at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, July 21: “ the Russians might ask the US forces to leave Syria, after ISIS is done.

“Here is the conundrum, we are operating in the sovereign country of Syria, the Russians they are stalwart, their back stoppers, already uninvited the Turks from Syria, we are bad days away from Russians saying why are you still in Syria,” he said.

“And its has come up with comes close calls there, but it will be hard, I refer to the lawyers in the crowd and others, in terms of international law, on basis for us staying there other than our CT writ, we went there for all the righteous reasons, but if Russians play that card, we might want to stay, but have no ability to do it. They could play it out,” he said about the possibility of Russia pressuring US forces to leave.

[July 7 U.S agrees Russian military police will monitor new truce in Syria ]

United States and Russia struck an agreement July 7 on a cease-fire in southwest Syria.   The deal could help the Trump administration retain more of a say over who fills the power vacuum left behind as the Islamic State is routed from additional territory in Syria.   Syrian government forces and its allies will stay on one side of an agreed demarcation line, and rebel fighters will stick to the other side. The goal is also to enable aid to reach this area of Syria,. All sides will try to ensure aid deliveries to the area,   Russian military police will monitor the new truce

[June 24 CIA talked to Syria: Pompeo-Mamlouk call ]

bw_zyd

General Ali Mamlouk

Mike Pompeo reportedly conducted secret telephone conversations with Syrian General Intelligence Director (GID) General Ali Mamlouk in February.   The Pompeo-Mamlouk call would represent the highest-level communication between the two governments in years. It also is surprising given the widespread allegations of Mamlouk’s culpability in human rights atrocities in Syria’s civil war. Mamlouk has been subject to U.S. sanctions since 2011.

The CIA declined to comment.

The visit of General Ali Mamluk, head of Syria’s National Security Bureau, to Saudi Arabia late July 2015 was reportedly engineered by Russia, and the Syrian intelligence chief flew in a Russian jet for talks with Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and defense minister.   By a royal decree, Saudi Arabia has relieved Muhammad bin Nayef as crown prince, replacing him with Mohammad bin Salman June 18 2017.
more
[April 7 2017 Cruise missile target status of forces ]

Shu`ayrat

Shayrat AB Shayrat
7 Squadron MiG-25
675 Squadron MiG-23
677 Squadron Su-22
685 Squadron Su-22

[January 19 2016 Turkey allowing U.S. Airstrikes from Incirlik

F-15 fighter jet glides in for a landing in front of Adana’s main mosque March 7, 2003 at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey.

Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. planes to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants from the U.S. air base at Incirlik, close to the Syrian border, U.S. defense officials said on July 24.

[ January 19 Iranian Guard Gen Allah-Dadi killed in Syria, Al-Nusra Front claims hit, Israeli helicopter strike suspected]

Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of a Hezbollah military chief assassinated in 2008, was also among those killed

Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of a Hezbollah military chief assassinated in 2008, was also among those killed

Abu Azzam Al-Idlibi, a member of Al-Nusra Front, said: “The killing of Jihad Imad Mughniyeh in an ambush at Jaroud, Syria, will be the end of the Persian project, God willing.”

Al-Idlibi challenged Hezbollah to release the pictures of its fighters and officers, tweeting: “From now and within the next two days, if the corpses of the Hezbollah leaders are released, then we can say they were targeted by the Israelis. Yet, if these pictures are not released, then this proves that they were killed by the mujahideen.”

[September 24 Assad uses poison gas as Coalition bombs Syria]

Assad forces in the Adra industrial zone published September 25

Assad forces in the Adra industrial zone published September 25

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad wrested back a rebel-held industrial area near Damascus after months of clashes, the Adra industrial zone, after opposition forces accused them of using chemical explosives on September 24. Footage of the wounded from the incident, in which six people were killed, showed men jerking uncontrollably and struggling to breathe before their bodies went limp. The footage, posted on social networks, appeared genuine and consistent with The Associated Press reporting of the event depicted. The town – Adra al-Omalia – is about 30km from central Damascus but far from parts of Syria where the United States has launched air strikes against fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

[April 28 Not in America’s interest to tamp down violence in Syria?]

The president could be seeking to intentionally prolong the war because it is bad for Iran and Russia.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is described as the administration official whose views on Syria were most closely aligned with the president’s. , McDonough reportedly “questioned how much it was in America’s interest to tamp down the violence in Syria.” He later suggested that “a fight in Syria between Hezbollah and al Qaeda would work to America’s advantage.”

President Obama’s answer to a question on Syria during a recent interview provides further insight into his calculus:

“I’m always darkly amused by this notion that somehow Iran has won in Syria. I mean, you hear sometimes people saying, ‘They’re winning in Syria.’ And you say, ‘This was their one friend in the Arab world, a member of the Arab League, and it is now in rubble.’ It’s bleeding them because they’re having to send in billions of dollars. Their key proxy, Hezbollah, which had a very comfortable and powerful perch in Lebanon, now finds itself attacked by Sunni extremists. This isn’t good for Iran. They’re losing as much as anybody. The Russians find their one friend in the region in rubble and delegitimized.”

[January 26]

Anas Al-Abdah is  Chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria.

Anas Al-Abdah is Chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria.

The Syrian opposition has agreed to a government request for a list of detainees held by armed rebel groups. Syrian government delegates, at peace talks in Geneva, have agreed to allow women and children to immediately leave a besieged district in the central city of Homs.

Top Syrian government officials say that an aid convoy is ready to enter the city of Homs after rival delegations meeting in Geneva agreed on the need for humanitarian access to conflict areas.

Bouthaina Shabaan, President Bashar al-Assad’s media and political adviser, made the remarks on January 26, the third day of peace talks in the Swiss city.

Anas Al-Abdah is Chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria. He was born in Damascus in 1967 and grew up there before leaving for Jordan in 1980 to study for a BSC in Geology at Yarmouk University. He moved to the UK in 1989 to continue a post-graduate degree in Geo-physics at Newcastle University.
Wikileaks cables have revealed US State Department funding of Barada TV. There may be a closeness of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria, Barada TV and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights by virtue of the high level administrative & family links at the level of the al-Abdeh brothers.

[November 1 2013]

Alleged Air Force base attacked

Alleged Air Force base attacked

November 1, 2013, 7:58 am. Turkey was behind the October 30 attack in Latakia, Syria, which targeted “missiles and related equipment” meant for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. The Lebanese report cited Israeli officials who allegedly claimed the attack came in response to the June 2012 interception of a Turkish jet, which Syrian forces shot down. The pilots were subsequently killed. The report could not be independently confirmed.

July 16, 2013 11:13, Israel used a Turkish military base to launch one of its recent airstrikes against Syria from the sea, a reliable source told RT. Israel has been under scrutiny since last week, when it was reported to be responsible for a July 5 depot attack in Latakia. Turkish armed forces have begun to establish a new base on the top of Kel Mountain, adjacent to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia.

[September 30]

BD-700 in which Tony BlaIr travels, here at Adirondack Regional Airport in August 2013

BD-700 in which Tony BlaIr travels, here at Adirondack Regional Airport in August 2013

Tony Blair:

People see the terrible things that President Assad (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) has done with the use of artillery and, as we’ve seen, with the use of chemical weapons.

But they also know now there are, I’m afraid, elements within the Syrian opposition that are extreme — linked to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups — and who are also committing atrocities. So, this situation has become more complicated.
[September 26]

Haji Qassem Suleimani

Haji Qassem Suleimani

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tries to engage the West, he will have to contend with the hard-liners, including Suleimani and his comrades. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”

In the chaotic days after the attacks of September 11th, Ryan Crocker, then a senior State Department official, flew discreetly to Geneva to meet a group of Iranian diplomats. “I’d fly out on a Friday and then back on Sunday, so nobody in the office knew where I’d been,” Crocker told me. “We’d stay up all night in those meetings.” It seemed clear to Crocker that the Iranians were answering to Suleimani, whom they referred to as “Haji Qassem,” and that they were eager to help the United States destroy their mutual enemy, the Taliban. Although the United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 1980, after American diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage, Crocker wasn’t surprised to find that Suleimani was flexible. “You don’t live through eight years of brutal war without being pretty pragmatic,” he said. Sometimes Suleimani passed messages to Crocker, but he avoided putting anything in writing.
The good will didn’t last. In January, 2002, Crocker, who was by then the deputy chief of the American Embassy in Kabul, was awakened one night by aides, who told him that President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union Address, had named Iran as part of an “Axis of Evil.” Like many senior diplomats, Crocker was caught off guard. He saw the negotiator the next day at the U.N. compound in Kabul, and he was furious. “You completely damaged me,” Crocker recalled him saying. “Suleimani is in a tearing rage. He feels compromised.” The negotiator told Crocker that, at great political risk, Suleimani had been contemplating a complete reëvaluation of the United States, saying, “Maybe it’s time to rethink our relationship with the Americans.” The Axis of Evil speech brought the meetings to an end. Reformers inside the government, who had advocated a rapprochement with the United States, were put on the defensive. Recalling that time, Crocker shook his head. “We were just that close,” he said. “One word in one speech changed history.”

[August 31]

four destroyers with Tomahawk Missiles within range now

four destroyers with Tomahawk Missiles within range now

USS San Antonio GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 18, 2013)

USS San Antonio GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 18, 2013)

July 11, 2013. As political unrest continues in post-coup Egypt, USS San Antonio, amphibious assault ship, has moved to the coast there.

August 31, 2013 The USS San Antonio, an amphibious ship with several hundred US Marines on board, was positioned near five US destroyers armed with cruise missiles.
San Antonio’s passage into the Mediterranean was long-planned, but officials thought it prudent to keep the ship in the eastern Mediterranean near the destroyers given the current situation.
“It’s been kept there as a precaution,” one said.

[August 30]
What are the options? First, to recognize that the situation could be made much worse. Major western military intervention would do that.

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/containing-fire-syria
[earlier]
The League of
the Arab world on August 27 blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people last week, but declined to back a retaliatory military strike, leaving President Obama without the broad regional support he had for his last military intervention in the Middle East, in Libya in 2011.

[earlier]
Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.

Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca on Monday told the Guardian that they had seen C-130 transport planes from their cockpit windows as well as small formations of fighter jets on their radar screens, which they believe had flown from Europe.

Residents near the British airfield, a sovereign base since 1960, also say activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.
[Earlier]
Meeting in Amman Jordan today, The summit will be led by General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, and his Jordanian counterpart. It will take place little more than 100 miles from Damascus, where an apparent chemical weapons attack killed hundreds of civilians last week.
Top generals from Germany, Canada, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also expected to attend a meeting which will coincide with UN weapons experts visiting the site of the attack in an attempt to determine what happened and who was behind it.
The key players in any possible strike against Syria, widely considered to be the US, Britain and France, already have substantial military muscle in the area.
[August 27]
Kuwait’s permanent delegate at the Arab League Ambassador Jamal Al- Ghunaim welcomed the League call to hold an emergency session at level of permanent delegates, on August 27, to discuss prospective steps at the international level to deal with the dangerous developments in Syria.
5:45 pm edt 8/26/13: An official from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said NATO allies were closely monitoring developments in Syria and the wider region and “will keep the situation under constant review, as appropriate.”
[August 26]
The French foreign minister says there will be a “proportionate response” to the alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb that he blamed on Syria’s government.

“It will be negotiated in coming days,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Monday. Fabius acknowledged that the lack of a U.N. blessing was problematic. “All the options are open. The only option that I can’t imagine would be to do nothing.”

“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.”
Kosovo is an obvious precedent for Mr. Obama because, as in Syria, civilians were killed and Russia had longstanding ties to the government authorities accused of the abuses. In 1999, President Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the rationale of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes.

A senior administration official said the Kosovo precedent was one of many subjects discussed in continuing White House meetings on the crisis in Syria. Officials are also debating whether a military strike would have unintended consequences, destabilize neighbors like Lebanon, or lead to even greater flows of refugees into Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.

In the Mediterranean, the Navy’s regional commander postponed a scheduled port call in Naples, Italy, for a destroyer so that the ship would remain with a second destroyer in striking distance of Syria during the crisis. Pentagon officials said the decision did not reflect any specific orders from Washington, but both destroyers had on board Tomahawk cruise missiles, long-range weapons that probably would be among the first launched against targets in Syria should the president decide to take military action.

[August 23]
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “The only possible explanation of what we have been able to see is that it was a chemical attack and clearly many, many hundreds of people have been killed, some of the estimates are well over 1,000.

“There is no other plausible explanation for casualties so intense in such a small area on this scale.

“I know some people in the world would like to say this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria – I think the chances of that are vanishingly small. He noted that subsequent air attacks by the Syrian Air Force might have destroyed evidence of the perpetrator, likely the Syrian army.

Rocket/gas attack victims in Damascus suburbs

Rocket/gas attack victims in Damascus suburbs

Syria’s moderate opposition earlier pointed out that if the rebels had had access to chemical weapons they would have been tempted to use them much earlier against Assad’s military bases.The Syrian army unit in the thick of the campaign for the suburbs is the 4th Armoured Division of the Republican Guards, led by Mr Assad’s brother, Maher. Chemical weapons were said to have been issued to that unit in 2012.
[August 21]
Rockets with chemical agents hit the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar during fierce pre-dawn bombardment.

150 bodies were counted in Hammouriya, 100 in Kfar Batna, 67 in Saqba, 61 in Douma, 76 in Mouadamiya and 40 in Irbib, all suburbs of Damascus.

Minority groups — primarily Alawites who traditionally supported the government of President Bashar al-Assad, himself an Alawite. But other groups, including the Kurds, Druze and Christians, who together with the Alawites make up a quarter of Syria’s 22.5 million people, are also seen as supportive of the secular government and therefore viewed as enemies. This week, some 30,000 Syrian Kurds fled into Iraq’s Kurdistan region saying they were being killed by jihadists targeting the minority.

What appears to be a deliberate campaign against these groups poses serious dilemmas for the Obama administration and European nations such as Britain and France, which have planned to support the pro-democracy forces by providing advanced weaponry. They are already grappling with the problem of how to ensure that those arms will not end up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra — the al-Qaida-affiliated group that emerged as the most effective and capable of the rebel forces — and the increasing attacks on minorities by insurgents creates an additional quandary.

Although many members of Syria’s ethnic and sectarian groups are in fact secular, approximately three-quarters of the population is nominally comprised of Sunni Muslims. Alawites make up about 11 percent, Christians of various denominations — including Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic — another 10 percent, and the Druze and Shiite contribute 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, to the total.

At the start of Syria’s troubles in March 2011 many members of the minorities, including Alawites, supported the calls for reform and more political freedoms. But as the conflict intensified, opposition ranks became more and more dominated by radicalized members of Syria’s Sunni majority and jihadist fighters who started joining the rebellion in large numbers.

Today, the conflict has morphed into a full-fledged civil war in which more than 100,000 people have perished. The most capable units on the rebel side — those spearheading the fight against the secular government — are composed of Islamist militants, many of whom fought U.S. forces in Iraq. The militants now accuse Christians of being supporters of Assad’s regime.

“They have threatened to cut our throats,” said Bahri, a Roman Catholic. “I love my country, but if it means having the terrorists slaughter me, my wife and our two boys, I’d rather escape to Lebanon.”

[March 28]

M60 recoilless rifle manufactured in Yugoslavia from Croatian stock

M60 recoilless rifle manufactured in Yugoslavia from Croatian stock


Mideast powers opposed to President Bashar Assad have dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels in coordination with the U.S. in preparation for a push on the capital of Damascus,
Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are headed by Sunni Muslim governments seeking the fall of Assad’s regime, which is dominated by Syria’s Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Arab powers in particular are hoping Assad’s departure would break the influence in the region of predominantly Shiite Iran and its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. Croatian arms began appearing only recently in Syria. They include M60 recoilless guns, M79 Osa rocket launchers, and RBG-6 grenade launchers, which all are powerful anti-tank weapons. Griffiths said the Croatian arms are a “major game changer.” He said they are “portable, but pack a much bigger explosive punch.”

[March 25]

Ilyushin 76 aircraft owned by Jordan International Air Cargo have been spotted in Croatia -company owned by Air Force

Ilyushin 76 aircraft owned by Jordan International Air Cargo have been spotted in Croatia -company owned by Air Force

An official in Washington said the possibility of the transfers from the Balkans was broached in the summer of 2012, when a senior Croatian official visited Washington and suggested to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.
At the time, the rebels were advancing slowly in parts of the country, but were struggling to maintain momentum amid weapons and ammunition shortages.
Washington was not interested then, the official said, though at the same time, there were already signs of limited Arab and other foreign military assistance. The Saudis appear to have stepped up.
[February 13]

Yak-130

Yak-130

Anatoly Isaikin, the director of Rosoboronexport, said Russia sees no need to stop its arms trade with Syria as the trade isn’t prohibited by the United Nations. Isaikin said his company has a contract with Syria to deliver Yak-130 combat jets but so far has not shipped any. He didn’t explain why no deliveries have been made, but the reason could be the aircraft’s long production cycle.
Russian media reported last year that the contract was for 36 Yak-130s worth $550 million. The Yak-130 is a combat training jet that can also carry modern weapons for ground attack missions.
Isaikin didn’t mention any other weapons systems which his company has delivered to Syria or is planning to ship in the future.
But the Russian media said they included Pantsyr-S1 and Buk-M2 air defense systems and Bastion anti-ship missile system. The latter is armed with supersonic Yakhont cruise missiles that have a range of up to 300 kilometres and provide a strong deterrent against an attack from the sea.

[January 11]

Thaer al-Waqqas, northern commander of al-Farouq Brigades, one of Syria’s largest rebel groups, was shot dead at a rebel-held position in the town of Sermin, a few kilometres from Turkey, early on Wednesday morning.

Al-Waqqas had been suspected of involvement in the killing four months ago of Firas al-Absi, a main jihadist leader in al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, which Washington dubbed a terrorist organization in December.

[December 23]
Alawi State?

If Assad fled to Tartus, he could seek protection from the Russian naval base there, or flee aboard a Russian vessel. Russia announced that it was sending a small flotilla toward Tartus, possibly to evacuate its citizens who live in Syria.
But Tartus residents said that the Russian families from the naval base had already left. The officers do not leave the base, which is little more than an enclosure near the civilian port.
There is a precedent for a rump state. France, the colonial power in the region in the early 20th century, fostered an Alawite state from 1920 to 1936, but it eventually merged with what became an independent Syria.
Opposition military commanders vow to block any such attempt.

[November 30]

https://i1.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/maps_and_graphs/2012/7/18/1342611528357/Screengrab---Damascus-fig-001.jpg

After months of skirmishes with the army on the capital’s outskirts, rebel groups said they were attempting to storm strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including security buildings from where the regime side of the civil war has been run and the presidential palace.

[November 29]

PAC-3 Patriot Missiles

PAC-3 Patriot Missiles

Turkey has asked NATO to deploy 18 to 20 Patriot missiles along its border with Syria, but the Alliance only offered about eight to 10 missiles,

NATO countries that have advanced PAC-3 model Patriot missiles, namely Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. The decision is likely to come in early December on whether NATO should deploy surface-to-air missiles in Turkey, ostensibly to protect that country from Syrian missiles that could carry chemical weapons. Patriot missile system would not be “for use beyond the Turkish border.”

But some strategists and administration officials believe that Syrian Air Force pilots might fear how else the missile batteries could be used. If so, they could be intimidated from bombing the northern Syrian border towns where the rebels control considerable territory. A NATO survey team is in Turkey, examining possible sites for the batteries. The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power

While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering several alternatives, including directly providing arms to some opposition fighters.

[November 7]

Damascus Presidential Palace

Damascus Presidential Palace

Mazzeh Jabal 86

Mazzeh Jabal 86

Mortar shells fired by anti-government rebels targeted but missed the presidential palace, which sits on a hill overlooking the capital and fell November 7 in a Damascus district that is home to many members of President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect. Mazzeh Jabal 86 is home to many officers in the Syrian military and security services, which are dominated by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, considered an offshoot of the Shiite branch of Islam. Syria’s Alawite minority is largely supportive of Assad in the face of the Sunni-led uprising against his family’s more than 40 years of autocratic rule.

[October 11]

Smoke rises from Damascus military headquarters hit by two explosions

Smoke rises from Damascus military headquarters hit by two explosions

Far left, Maher al-Assad

Far left, Maher al-Assad

Islamist groups Ahfad al-Rasoul and Ansar al-Islam said in a joint statement they planted bombs in a compound belonging to State Security in the area.

Syrian state television said a “terrorist explosion” had injured two people. Witnesses said soldiers in full combat gear were deployed in the area and all roads leading to Umayyad Square were cut.

[October 7]a car bomb has exploded near police headquarters in central Damascus.

Residents reported hearing a huge explosion that rattled the Syrian capital just after sundown October 7.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, told The Associated Press the blast was caused by a car bomb that blew up in the Fahameh district near police headquarters.

[Sept.28[Two loud explosions struck the General Staff Command Building (Hay’at al Arkan) in the Umayad Square in central Damascus.

[August 28]An administration official speaking on condition of anonymitysaid that the White House is still resisting any move that would see U.S. military assets used inside Syria, such as through a no-fly zone, but opponents of intervention are slowly losing ground.

“It’s a Donilon call at the end of the day,” the official said, referring to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who is leading a complicated interagency policy process on the Syria crisis. “There’s not enthusiasm but there are differences of opinion about a no-fly zone,” the official said. “There is no rush to do it.”

[August 16]Reuters says:”We heard that he (Maher al-Assad) lost one of his legs during the explosion, but don’t know any more,”

A Gulf source confirmed the report: “He lost one of his legs. The news is true.”

A Saudi daily insisted August 15 it had held an interview with Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, following denials from Moscow that he had ever spoken to the newspaper. A recording was posted on the al-Watan website. Further explosions in Damascus on the 15th.

Al-Watan posted online a recording which it said proved the interview, in which Bogdanov purportedly said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s influential brother Maher lost both his legs in a bomb attack, had indeed taken place.

[August 14]

Al Jazeera Arabic reported on July 18 a number of explosions at 4th Brigade headquarters which protects the presidential palace which is headed by Maher al-Assad, the brother of Bashar al-Assad. [see below].

On August 14, the Saudi newspaper al Watan that Maher had lost both legs in such an explosion and was in critical condition, according to a telephone interview with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. more

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the British Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present, as of late 2002.

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the British Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present, as of late 2002.

[August 11]

U.S. State Department and Turkey’s Foreign Ministry have set up a working group to respond to the crisis in Syria as conditions there deteriorate. They said the group will coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the potential fallout in the case of a chemical attack, which would result in medical emergencies and a likely rise in the number of refugees fleeing Syria.

[August 2]Under provisions of a presidential finding, the United States is collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.

Along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad’s opponents.

This “nerve center” is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence. Incirlik Air Base (Turkish: İncirlik Hava Üssü) (ICAO: LTAG) is a United States Air Force installation, located near İncirlik, Turkey. Incirlik Air Base is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of Adana, Turkey, the fifth largest city in the country, and is 56 kilometers (35 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The United States Air Force and the Turkish Air Force are the primary users of the air base, although it is also used by the British Royal Air Force.

Incirlik Air Base is the home of the 10th Air Wing (Ana Jet Üs or AJÜ) of the 2nd Air Force Command (Hava Kuvvet Komutanlığı) of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri). Other wings of this command are located in Merzifon (LTAP), Malatya/Erhaç (LTAT) and Diyarbakır (LTCC).

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the British Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present, as of late 2002. The primary unit stationed at Incirlik Air Base is the 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW) of the U.S. Air Force. Incirlik Air Base has one 3,048 m (10,000 ft)-long main runway[1] and one 2,740 m (8,990 ft)-long secondary runway, both located among about 57 Hardened Aircraft Shelters.

A Turkish newspaper claims that the U.S. deployed four Predator drones at the Incirlik Air Base in late October, Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined. Bradley Strawser, assistant professor of philosophy at Monterey’s Naval Postgraduate School, argues the US is not only entitled but morally obliged to use drones.

“It’s all upside. There’s no downside. Both ethically and normatively, there’s a tremendous value,” he says. “You’re not risking the pilot. The pilot is safe. And all the empirical evidence shows that drones tend to be more accurate. We need to shift the burden of the argument to the other side. Why not do this? The positive reasons are overwhelming at this point. This is the future of all air warfare. At least for the US.”

[July 31]”I think it’s important when Assad leaves – and he will leave – to try to preserve stability in that country. And the best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military, the police, as you can, along with the security forces, and hope that they will transition to a democratic form of government. That’s a key,”

more

Syrian intelligence

[July 28]

security council head, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk

security council head, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk

Assad promoted the Sunni chief of his general intelligence directorate to security council head, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk. The head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Qudsiyeh, was made the security council’s deputy head. A senior military intelligence general was elevated to take his place. The head of another of the four intelligence agencies, the Political Security Department — Maj. Gen. Deeb Zeitoun, also a Sunni — was moved over to lead the General Intelligence Directorate, replacing Mamlouk.

To fill in Zeitoun’s now empty position, Assad brought in loyalist Maj. Gen. Rostom Ghazali from his job as security chief for the Damascus suburbs, which has been a battleground with rebels for months. Previously, as Syria’s intelligence chief in Lebanon, Ghazali was a key enforcer of Syria’s then-direct domination over its smaller neighbor, which lasted for 29 years until 2005.

The head of the fourth intelligence agency, air force intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Jamil Hassan, apparently remained in his post.

[July 25]

Alawite shown as Shia

Alawite shown as Shia

The Assads have spent more than four decades safeguarding the building blocks of political authoritarianism and co-opting a broad coalition of social, political, sectarian and ethnic communities. The Alawis, a minority sect within Islam, are the spearhead and power base, but other interest groups play a critical legitimising role, such as Christians, Druzes, and an important segment of the Sunni merchant class and the new bourgeoisie, all of whom benefited from Assad’s neoliberal economic policies. The durability of the Assad rule has depended not only on coercion and hegemony but also on co-option and the balancing of various interest and communal groups.

Alawite flight has led to speculation that Assad himself and his inner circle might fall back on their ancestral mountain fortress if they felt power was slipping from them. That speculation was heightened when opposition sources said he had moved to the coastal city of Latakia last week after the stunning bomb attack which killed four of his top officials.

The reports were not confirmed and Israel later said Assad, who has launched a sustained counter-offensive against rebel fighters in Damascus, was still in the capital with his family.

But many suspect it remains Assad’s option of last resort.

“It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some contingency plans – a safe house, fortifying the presidential palace in Latakia, moving artillery to the mountains,” said Shashank Joshi of the RUSI defense think tank in London.

[July 20]A day after a bombing killed his brother-in-law and two other key military figures, Assad was in the coastal city of Latakia, opposition sources and a Western diplomat told Reuters.

“Our information is that he is at his palace in Latakia and that he may have been there for days,” said a senior opposition figure, who declined to be named, according to Reuters.

Latakia province is home to several towns inhabited by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

Reuters Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:04pm EDT The bomber, said by a security source to be a bodyguard assigned to Assad’s inner circle, struck a meeting in central Damascus attended by ministers and senior security officials as battles raged within sight of the nearby presidential palace.

Syrian General Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister and senior military official, died of wounds sustained in a bomb attack in Damascus, Hezbollah’s al-Manar television and a security source said. Hafez Makhlouf, head of the investigations at the Syrian Intelligence Agency died in the Damascus explosion, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian sources.

Al Jazeera Arabic reports that a number of explosions at 4th Brigade headquarters which protects the presidential palace which is headed by Maher al-Assad, the brother of Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha

Syrian Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha

Al-Shaarm

Al-Shaarm

HassanTurkmani

Hassan Turkmani

Hafez Makhlouf

Hafez Makhlouf

Gen Rajiha has been defence minister for less than a year, serving previously as chief of staff, and is on a US blacklist for his role in the suppression of dissent. Syrian Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha has been killed in bomb explosion inside the national security headquarters in the capital Damascus. Opposition sources say bombers got away.

The deputy head of the armed forces, President Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, and Hisham Ikhtiar, the head of general security have died. Mohammad Shaar held a number of security positions, including Chief of the military police in Aleppo and was the Director of Sednaya prison. He was commander of the military police prior to being appointed Minister of the Interior.

Other senior officials meeting inside at the time are said to be critically hurt.

He is believed to be an Orthodox Christian – a rarity in the Alawite-dominated Syrian military and government.

[July 4]

Parking Lot

Parking Lot

al-Marjeh

al-Marjeh

Two magnetic bombs exploded in two judges’ cars in the open-air car park, while a third was in the process of being defused in car park of the Palace of Justice in the al-Marjeh district of Damascus on June 28,.

[June 27]

 attack on Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus

attack on Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus

Gunmen have attacked a Syrian pro-government TV channel, killing seven people, state media say.

Journalists and security guards died in the attack on Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus.

[May 10]

In background: Al-Qazzaz Intelligence Compound

In background: Al-Qazzaz Intelligence Compound

The district targeted is said to house a military intelligence complex, including the headquarters, 10 floors high, of the counter-terrorism operation for the military security in Syria, involved in President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on the ongoing pro-democracy protests.

Next to it was another military security intelligence building which was also destroyed in the attack.

The building is part of a broader military compound the Palestine Branch, one of the most feared among the more than 20 secret police organisations in the country, correspondents say.

It was originally set up in the 1950s to interrogate suspected Israeli spies, and then to deal with the 500,000 Palestinian refugees in the country, which it still does. But over the past decade, it has evolved into the country’s counter-terrorism unit, and is infamous for interrogations and torture,

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Libya: Egypt & Libya after Macron

 

 

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Army Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy met with Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in Cairo on August 6 to discuss the latest developments in Libya, including the results of a recent Paris meeting between Libyan factions.

 

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Factions

[July 22 Macron to see Haftar and Seraj ]

 

 

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Haftar

LIBYA – 21 July 2017:Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in the east of Libya, and Fayez Seraj, head of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on July 25. The meeting comes at a time when Haftar has gained ground militarily with Egyptian and United Arab Emirates support, and Western states say Haftar must be part of any solution to the conflict in the oil-producing North African state.

The two held talks in Abu Dhabi in May, their first in more than a year and a half, about a U.N.-mediated deal that Western powers hope will end the factional fighting that has dominated Libya since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi. The meeting will be a diplomatic win for the United Arab Emirates, the United Nations and neighbouring Egypt.

Macron said on July 13 there would be concrete diplomatic initiatives on resolving the conflict soon.

[June 6 LNA gains Jufra ]

220px-jufra_in_libya-svg

Jufra

Lieutenant General فريق Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has gained ground in central and southern Libya since last year, taking control of oil facilities and military bases. Most recently they have advanced near oasis towns in the Jufra and Sabha regions.

Regional powers have sided with opposing camps that have vied for power in Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran strongman leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Egypt and the UAE are considered key supporters of Haftar, who has built his position battling Islamist militants and other opponents in eastern Libya. East Libyan authorities accuse Qatar of backing rival, Islamist-leaning factions in western Libya.
Libya’s eastern-based government has followed regional allies in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, its foreign minister, Mohamed Dayri, said on June 5.

The government, which sits in the eastern city of Bayda, has little authority within Libya. It is appointed by a parliament that also sits in the east and is aligned with powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar. They have spurned a U.N.-backed, internationally recognised government in the capital, Tripoli.

The eastern-based government’s announcement came after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Dayri gave no immediate explanation for the Libyan move.

[May 20 Third Force massacre ]

20052017_libya

Members of the Libyan National Army (LNA), also known as the forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, patrol on January 28, 2017 the area of Qanfudah, on the outskirts of Benghazi, after retaking it from IS fighters

An attack on Brak al-Shati airbase in south Libya has killed 141 people, mostly soldiers loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar The attack breached an informal truce between the rival forces that was reached earlier this month when the LNA’s commander, General Khalifa Haftar, met the UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

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Tripoli had decided to suspend its defence minister, al-Mahdi al-Barghati, and Jamal Al-Treki, the head of the Third Force from their duties until those responsible were identified.   The Tripoli government has set up an investigative committee to present its findings to the prime minister within 15 days.

 

[March 3 Khalifa Haftar: Trump to support Haftar’s Eastern forces ?]

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Khalifa Haftar in Russia in November for arms talks

Egypt is being sidelined in the talks between Moscow and Haftar on a range of issues.

“Haftar promised to provide Russia a naval base on the Mediterranean, probably in Barca, in return for increased Russian military support to Haftar in order to allow him to increase the land under his territorial control. [This would also entail] a promise by Russia to secure American and European approval to guarantee a role for Haftar in any future political arrangements in Libya,” he says.

Haftar visited Moscow twice in the last year and boarded the Russian aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov in January, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the ship to anchor off Libyan shores as it made its way back from a mission to support Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. On board, Haftar held a video conference call with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, in what is the most publicly visible sign of Russia’s increasing support for Haftar.

Trump enters the fray
Any frustration felt toward Haftar did not prevent Egypt from attempting to secure support from the United States for him, as US and Libyan sources revealed last week that there had been “undeclared efforts exerted by Egypt to establish direct relations bY and contacts between Haftar and the new US administration led by President Donald Trump, which is reconsidering how to deal with Haftar as the strongman in Libya.”

The Egyptian official news agency prominently highlighted the remarks that Trump’s Middle East campaign advisor Walid Phares gave to the local “Libya Al-Hadath” television channel earlier this week, reporting that Phares said, “The Trump administration will deal with the national Libyan military institution led by General Haftar. This army is the one officially acknowledged by the administration, despite international political disagreements and suggestions to build another army.”

Phares’s comments represent a potential change in the US position on Haftar, as the previous US administration had offered military support to militias supporting Sarraj in their battle against the Islamic State in Sirte last year

http://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/02/25/feature/politics/haftar-and-sarraj-in-cairo-the-details-of-egypts-partially-successful-libyan-summit/

[December 9 2016]

Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan House of Representatives MP Jaballah Al-Shibani has asserted that someone in Trump’s campaign team had promised him and other MPs that the Libyan crisis would be ‘one of the Trump administration’s priorities, emphasising that they will support the Libyan Army with the needed military equipment because they are looking for who can bring back stability and security in Libya.’
Al-Shibani also declared, ‘Trump believes in strong and powerful men and he has good relations with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the Egyptian President Abdelfattah El-Sisi, which will pave the way for good relations with Libya as well.’
Other than in relation to the presence of the Islamic State group, however, Libya is unlikely to be a top policy priority for the president-elect. Nevertheless, many easterners believe that the Trump presidency will help to alter the balance of power inside Libya in Haftar’s favour. Khalifa Haftar’s position has obviously been bolstered significantly of late as a result of his September takeover of the oil export terminals. This has enabled the field marshal to extend his control more firmly across the east.   Foreign support for eastern forces loyal to Haftar — includes U.S. ­allies France and Egypt.

August 10 escalation of conflicts between Haftar and Siraj UN-proposed government ]

http://www.thearabweekly.com/article/5641/Libyas%20Haftar%20seeks%20Russian%20support

Cairo- The army loyal to the government based in the east Libya announced breaking off relations with commander of 204 tanks brigade and the defense minister-designate of the UN-proposed government Colonel Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi.

The commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar issued a resolution that stipulates changing the name of 204 tanks brigade to 298 tanks brigade and appointing Abd Al-Karim Barghouti as a leader of the tanks brigade.

Latest updates indicate termination of official relations between Minister of Defense in Siraj government and the military institution in eastern Libya; they also signal an escalation of conflicts between Haftar and Siraj.

[May 12 American forces in Libya snub Hifter

Two teams totaling fewer than 25 troops are operating from around the cities of Misurata and Benghazi to identify potential ­allies among local armed factions and gather intelligence on threats, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive mission overseas. The activities of the American “contact teams,” as they are known, take place in parallel to those of elite allied forces from France and other European nations in the same areas, U.S. and Libyan officials said.

Some officials privately complain that foreign support for eastern forces loyal to Hifter — including from U.S. ­allies France and Egypt — makes consolidation of the unity government’s power more difficult. The Misuratan forces recognize the unity government in Tripoli; those loyal to Hifter do not. “Our priority in Libya is full support to the government and not support to a particular force,” a French diplomatic official said.

[October  9 2015 Khalifa Haftar on de facto partition of Libya ]

In spite of being threatened with sanctions, Gen. Khalifa Haftar has the support of Egypt, the UAE and the Arab League. He recently signed a military deal with Jordan.
Haftar’s Plan would confer all powers on a temporary president or declare a state of emergency with a military council governing the country and himself as head of the council, and thus de facto partition of the country. Haftar believes he can defeat the GNC and retake the rest of the country.

[March 11 Lieutenant General فريق Khalifa Haftar, army commander of Libyan Army]

 commander of Libyan armed forces

commander of Libyan armed forces

On March 2, 2015,Khalifa Haftar was appointed commander of the armed forces loyal to the elected, internationally backed government, the Council of Deputies. Haftar has been promoted to lieutenant general. His appointment as army commander, which was announced on March 2, is apparent confirmation of official support for the Dignity campaign, which has battled extremist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi.

[February 25 2015 Tobruk Libya: Aguila Salah Issa to name an army chief]

parliament speaker Aguila Salah Issa

parliament speaker Aguila Salah Issa

“The chamber (of deputies) adopted today a law regarding the general leadership of the Libyan army,” calling on parliament speaker Aguila Salah Issa to name a chief, MP Issa al-Aribi said. Another MP said the law was adopted to “legitimise” General Khalifa Haftar, chief of the Libyan National Army, and that he would be formally named in the “coming hours.

[June 19 2014 Ahmed Abu Khattala taken into custody in a secret US raid. As the raid took place, Operation Dignity attacked Islamic militant camps]

The lifeless body of the American ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

The lifeless body of the American ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

buzz:Despite official denials, June 15’s capture of Khattala was conducted in a joint effort with “Operation Dignity.” General Haftar’s airstrikes and raids in Benghazi then may very well have been the “Fix” portion of JSOC’s “Find, Fix, Finish” strategy. By launching simultaneous attacks in Benghazi, Khattala would have been forced to bunker down inside his compound, the military action serving to deny him freedom of movement. How many Islamists were killed during this round of strikes and operations ranges from a dozen all the way up to 60 depending on which sources you believe.

[June 18]
As the U.S. raid took place on Sunday,June 15, forces loyal to Operation Dignity attacked Islamic militant camps in Benghazi as part of a new assault against the groups. Airstrikes targeted the camps on behalf of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who was a top military official under dictator Moammar Gadhafi but later defected and lived for years in the U.S.

It isn’t clear what the strikes targeted. The general later said the clashes killed five of his fighters.

Ahmed Abu Khattala was taken into custody in a secret US military raid in Libya on 15 June.
For days, Army Delta Force commandos, the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies lay in wait for one of the alleged masterminds behind the deadly September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Then, they lured Abu Khatallah to a point south of the city and nabbed him.

Khalifa Haftar’s troops, backed by tanks and rocket launchers, attacked several suspected camps of Islamists in western areas of Benghazi on Sunday, June 15. http://wp.me/p1kUZv-3e

[April 6, 2011]

 Chris Stevens, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli

Chris Stevens, former deputy chief of mission in Tripoli

A U.S. envoy has arrived in Benghazi to get to know Libya’s opposition and discuss how the United States might help it meet its financial needs, a U.S. official said on April 6.

The visit by Chris Stevens, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, reflects a U.S. effort effort to deepen its contacts with the rebels, who are fighting a civil war against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. here

Fathi Baja, a political science professor who heads political committee

Fathi Baja, a political science professor who heads political committee

Fathi Baja, the rebels’ head of international affairs. Washington Post but see

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Nissour Square Massacre: Nicholas Slatten gets new trial

Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard

Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard

 

A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater security contractor, ordering a new trial for the man prosecutors say fired the first shots in the 2007 slayings of 14 Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic circle in Baghdad. In a split opinion, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit ruled a lower court erred by not allowing Nicholas Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants in 2014. The 33-year-old contractor from Tennessee is serving a life sentence for his role in the killings, which strained international relations and drew intense scrutiny of the role of American contractors in the Iraq War.

[ April 20 2015 life for one, 30 years for three ]

Nicholas A. Slatten, 31, of Sparta, Tenn., received a life sentence after being convicted of murder in October for firing what prosecutors said were the first shots in the civilian massacre. The three others — Paul A. Slough, 35, of Keller, Tex.; Evan S. Liberty, 32, of Rochester, N.H.; and Dustin L. Heard, 33, of Maryville, Tenn. — were sentenced to 30 years plus one day after being convicted of multiple counts of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.

[October 22 2014 Nissour Square Massacre verdict guilty stunned the defense]
Four former Blackwater security guards were found guilty Wednesday in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad, and a federal judge ordered them immediately to jail.

In an overwhelming victory for prosecutors, a jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder. The three other guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges.

The four men had been charged with a combined 33 counts in the shootings and the jury was able to reach a verdict on all of them, with the exception of three charges against Heard. The prosecution agreed to drop those charges.

The outcome after a summerlong trial and weeks of jury deliberation stunned the defense.

Jurors in the trial of four Blackwater security guards may have reached agreement on some criminal charges while raising the possibility they may become deadlocked on others. In a note from the jury of asking the judge for instructions, asking whether they could return a partial verdict on the charges where they had reached a unanimous decision and what would happen if they were in deadlock on others.
They also asked in two consecutive notes on Monday and Tuesday detailed questions about separate weapons charges that seem to indicate they are leaning towards sticking with voluntary manslaughter charges, rather than reducing them to involuntary manslaughter as had previously been suspected. , the judge instructed them that the government was only suggesting the grenade launchers may count as destructive devices, but need only prove that any weapon was used to make the charge stick.

[October 2 jury hints involuntary manslaughter]
Jurors in the long-running murder and manslaughter case against four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards hinted to a D.C. federal judge on October 1 that they may convict at least one of the defendants of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a 2007 incident in Baghdad.

On day 17 of deliberations, jurors asked U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth whether the weapons charge against Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard must be predicated on a voluntary manslaughter conviction or if the charge also applies to involuntary manslaughter, suggesting involuntary manslaughter.

[September 19 Nisour Square massacre: jury back on Monday]

[August 29 2014 Blackwater Trial Comes to a Close]

 Paul Slough, 34; Nicholas Slatten, 29; Evan Liberty, 31; and Dustin Heard, 32. another charges dropped

Paul Slough, 34; Nicholas Slatten, 29; Evan Liberty, 31; and Dustin Heard, 32.

In closing arguments, assistant US attorney Anthony Asuncion claimed three of the four defendants were guilty of manslaughter and a fourth of murder for showing extreme disregard for human life in retaliating against what they mistakenly believed was a car bomb attack on their convoy.

But the defence summed up its case with a blistering attack on the government for ignoring evidence of alleged incoming machine gun fire at the convoy, which it also accused Iraqi police of helping to cover upJurors are expected to begin deliberating September 2.

[June 20 Nisour Square massacre: Opening arguments in trial of four former Blackwater Worldwide guards]
WASHINGTON— Opening arguments were heard on June 17 in the trial of four former private security guards charged in the 2007 killings of 14 Iraqis in Baghdad.
Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Patrick Martin said mayhem ensued when Nicholas Slatten, a Blackwater sniper riding in a convoy of armored vehicles assigned to provide security for a U.S. diplomat, shot the driver of a white Kia sedan in the head for no reason other than a hatred of Iraqis.
Six of his fellow guards would soon join in the shooting, Mr. Martin said, gunning down 13 more innocent Iraqis in and around busy Nisour Square, even though they posed no threat.
Mr. Slatten “lit the match and the other defendants fanned the flames of destruction that day,” Mr. Martin told jurors.
Mr. Slatten alone faces a murder charge for the alleged killing of the Kia driver, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y.
Three other defendants— Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard—face charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and illegal use of weapons for the shooting that allegedly occurred after Mr. Al Rubia’y’s death.
All four have pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal district court in Washington, D.C. The reputation of the guards’ employer, Blackwater USA was severely tarnished . The company has since been sold and is now called Academi LLC.

[May 21]
Four former Blackwater Worldwide guards go on trial together scheduled to begin on June 11 in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the injuring of at least 18 others in Baghdad.
Prosecutors, obtained a first-degree murder indictment last week against one of the guards, Nicholas Slatten.U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed a manslaughter indictment against Slatten on April 23 after an appeals court said the statute of limitations had lapsed. There is no time limit on bringing a first-degree murder charge. Slatten fired the first shots at Nisur Square. Another former Blackwater guard, Jeremy Ridgeway, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Blackwater Worldwide is now known as Academi and is based in McLean, Virginia. At the time of the shooting, the guards were escorting a State Department convoy through the streets of the Iraqi capital.

[December 5 2013]
Four ex-Blackwater guards are pleading not guilty to multiple manslaughter charges stemming from a deadly 2007 shooting on the streets of Baghdad.
[October 17]

A new indictment was returned by a grand jury in Washington against four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards for a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that prosecutors said killed 14 unarmed civilians. The charges 33 counts, including voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and using a firearm in a crime of violence.

The guards had pleaded not guilty to the nearly identical charges brought five years ago. They are Paul Slough, 34; Nicholas Slatten, 29; Evan Liberty, 31; and Dustin Heard, 32.
Blackwater is now named Academi and is based in McLean, Virginia.

[June 6 2012]

Blackwater/Academi

Ted Wright, CEO Academi, The company formerly known as Blackwater

Supreme court has declined to review ruling that guards would be criminally charged for role in shooting that killed 17 civilians
The so-called Nisour Square massacre was the single bloodiest incident involving American private security contractors during the Iraq conflict. It outraged Iraqis, put severe strain on relations between Baghdad and Washington, and served as a watershed moment in the debate surrounding private fighters in foreign war zones.

The shooting took place on September 16, 2007 at the congested Nisour Square intersection, after a convoy of four armoured vehicles manned by Blackwater guards had departed from Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.

In a span of 15 minutes, heavy gunfire erupted and by the time it was over, more than three dozen Iraqi civilians had been shot, at least 17 fatally. Among the dead was nine-year-old Ali Kinani, who was shot in the head as he rode in a car with his father, Mohammed Kinnani.

The guards maintain that they opened fire in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The state department had ordered the guards – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Donald Ball – to explain to investigators what happened under the threat of losing their jobs.The contractors’ attorney, claimed his clients’ constitutional right against self-incrimination was violated when these statements were used to charge the men.

On December 31, 2009, federal judge Ricardo Urbina agreed with the guards’ claims and threw out the cases, citing “reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights”. After the ruling, Blackwater reportedly paid the some of the victims’ families about $100,000 for each death and issued a statement that it was “pleased” with the outcome.

But in April last year a US federal appeals court reinstated the charges after months of closed-door testimony.

On June 1, former Blackwater executives asked the judge in a firearms case to dismiss the charges related to the gun gift and others in the indictment.

Federal prosecutors in 2010 accused former Blackwater Worldwide president Gary Jackson and four past colleagues of various federal firearms violations. A group of charges related to five guns given to King Abdullah II of Jordan. Prosecutors said the guns were part of a bid for Blackwater to land a lucrative overseas contract, but allege that records tracking the guns were later falsified to claim the weapons were sold to individuals.

Defense attorneys filed declarations from two retired CIA officials who say they are familiar with gifts presented during the king’s 2005 visit to Blackwater’s Moyok, N.C., headquarters. John Macguire, who described himself as a CIA officer for 23 years ending in 2005, and Charles Seidel, who said he was CIA station chief in the Jordanian capital of Amman in 2005, said they would be willing to testify about their knowledge of government involvement if the spy agency allows it.

“I have information related to the transfer of firearms to the King of Jordan described in numerous counts of the indictment and how the U.S. government’s authorization for the transfer of those weapons took place,” Maguire said in a statement filed in federal court in Raleigh, where the case is pending.

A group of investors bought Blackwater in December 2010 from founder Erik Prince. It is now called Academi.

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Bilawal Bhutto on Nawaz Sharif: no comment

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Leader of the centre-left Pakistan Peoples Party.“ I am neither a lawyer nor a judge that’s why I am not commenting it whether PM Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by SC on strong or weak ground” he added.

He further added that rule of law is supreme concern of his party and we will continue our struggle in this regard for the ensuring the law in the country. Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office on July 28 over undeclared assets, plunging the nuclear-armed South Asian nation into political turmoil after a period of relative stability.

Sharif swiftly resigned, his party is planning to bring in an interim prime minister for a few weeks before electing Nawaz’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif to the post.

 

 

The military establishment has alternatively used constitutional manipulation and direct takeovers to keep the civilian leaders in line. In this, it has invariably been supported by the top judiciary.
During this period, the military has developed a huge business and industrial empire which it runs from within, with little or no interference from the state authority.
Many believe this empire can only last as long as the military is able to control some crucial domestic and foreign policy areas, such as relations with India, Afghanistan and the West, or the political narrative and propagation of a particular type of patriotism at home.
For this, they say, the military has often raised and protected politicians who agree with its world view.
But politics has its own dynamics. Once leaders have entered the mainstream, they feel more compelled to increase economic and other opportunities for their voters. This has often forced successive Pakistani leaders to try to normalise relations with India and other neighbours in the region.

 

 

[January 30 Bilawal will contest parliamentary by-election ]

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PPP Co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto will contest a by-election for a parliamentary seat from Larkana, the hometown of the Bhutto family in Sindh province.

“Bhutto will be the leader of the opposition and I will assist him as his adviser while his father will also guide him on parliamentary politics,” Khursheed Shah, 64, told journalists in Sukkur, Sindh province January 26.

Bilawal is the son of former President Asif Ali Zardari and the slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and the grandson of late prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

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Updated: Jan 25, 2017,:Pakistan’s former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Zaheerul Islam today claimed that there is no proof of Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that led to the killings of over 150 people
Appointed on the recommendation of then President Asif Ali Zardari in March 2012, Islam became the 18th director general of the ISI. He has remained mostly out of the spotlight and yet, he manages to cast a shadow over many major events in the last few years
Islam has a strong military background; his father, brothers and brother-in-law had also served in the army. His uncle, Shah Nawaz, was a major general in the Indian National Army, led by Subhas Chandra Bose, and was captured and detained by the British briefly in the early 1940s.

August 10 2015 Bilawal convoy visits Sukkur Barrage ]

ISLAMABAD: The dictatorship of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was better than the democracy of Nawaz Sharif, said PTI Chairman Imran Khan,
Imran khan chairman pti speech in pti azadi march Islamabad 11 september 2014.

[September 9 Hearing adjourned to October 13

Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Aftab’s elder brother, Hayat Khan Sherpao, was one of the founding members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a close lieutenant of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Hayat Khan was killed in 1975 in a bomb blast in University of Peshawar.   After the 2008 elections, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao decided to break away from his PPP legacy and formed the Qaumi Watan Party by merging his party with disgruntled leftists and Pakhtun nationalists.

Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao
, Aftab’s elder brother, Hayat Khan Sherpao, was one of the founding members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a close lieutenant of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Hayat Khan was killed in 1975 in a bomb blast in University of Peshawar. After the 2008 elections, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao decided to break away from his PPP legacy and formed the Qaumi Watan Party by merging his party with disgruntled leftists and Pakhtun nationalists.

Pervez Musharraf on September 8 did not appear before an anti-terrorism court in a case relating to the 2006 murder of elderly Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, citing poor health.
Gen. Musharraf’s lawyer told reporters that his client was not keeping good health and could not travel to Quetta for the hearing.While Gen. Musharraf did not appear for the hearing, two of his guarantors — former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and former Home Minister Balochistan Shoaib Nowsherwani — did.

Judge of ATC-1 Nazeer Ahmed Langove adjourned the hearing for October 13.

September 9 viewing the volatility of the situation in the federal capital, Court postponed hearing ]

Pakistani Protesters Ransack State Television Headquarters.

Pakistani Protesters Ransack State Television Headquarters.

The hearing of high treason case against former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf was adjourned on September 2 until September 9.

It should be mentioned here that the judges, viewing the volatility of the situation in the federal capital, postponed the hearing without being solicited to do so.

According to sources, the prosecution and Musharraf’s counsels were formally informed about the decision.

[July 21 Military leadership as a whole not hostile to legal action against Musharraf?]

 Special Assistant to prime minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui

Special Assistant to prime minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui

Special Assistant to prime minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui has said that the military leadership as a whole was not hostile to legal action against Musharraf. “Only few people, who are close associates of Musharraf, want to give him a safe passage,” he said, adding that countries cannot be run on the personal whims of a few individuals.

[June 29 Sindh High Court: General Pervez Musharraf on the Exit Control List struck down but order stayed]

Special Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) Islamabad June 27 directed the defense counsel to submit medical report of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf before the court on July 11 in judges’ detention case.

[june 12]

Presiding judge Muhammad Ali Mazhar of the Sindh High Court in Karachi said the ban ‘placing the name of retired General Pervez Musharraf on the Exit Control List is struck down’. A two-member high court bench comprising Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Shahnawaz announced the decision on Musharraf’s plea.
“The operation of the judgement is suspended for 15 days so that the respondent (the government) may file appeal before the Supreme Court.”
Musharraf has said he wants the travel ban lifted so that he can visit his sick mother in Dubai, but many in Pakistan see it as a ruse to flee the country and avoid the litany of criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.

[June 10]

The Islamabad police have completed the challan in the murder of Allama Abdul Rashid Ghazi, Naib Khateeb (deputy cleric) Lal Mosque, and his mother, and submitted it in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Wajid Ali. . It was written in the challan that there was no direct evidence of Musharraf’s involvement in Lal Masjid operation. “On a point of principle one would support the trial of Gen Musharraf for acting extra-constitutionally (but definitely not for his action against militants who had taken over the capital’s Lal Masjid).”Dawn

[April 13]
Since Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq made some hard-hitting comments about Mr Musharraf, their colleagues in the cabinet have been clarifying that they had not uttered “a word against the army”.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid also dismissed the reports about any differences between the Nawaz government and the army. As the All Pakistan Muslim League demanded resignation of Khawaja Asif for his diatribe against Mr Musharraf, the information minister said there was no demand from the army to send the defence minister packing.

PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has called for action under the Constitution against the PML-N ministers for what he called defaming the army.

March 31]

In

In the southern port city of Karachi, the financial capital of Pakistan, many among the educated and liberal are nostalgic about Musharraf’s rule.

cabinet have been clarifying that they had not uttered “a word against the army”.Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistani president and Chief of the Army Staff was charged with issuing an unconstitutional and unlawful order on November, 3, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, called the “Proclamation of Emergency Order, 2007” which held the Constitution in abeyance. He subverted the Constitution and committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973. Musharraf has also been charged with issuing the Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 2007 which empowered the President to amend the Constitution from time to time, apart from suspending Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution. On the same day he issued an Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 whereby an oath was introduced in the Schedule which required a judge to abide by the provisions of the Proclamation of Emergency dated November 3, 2007 and the Provisional Constitutional Order of the same date. This order resulted in the removal of numerous judges of the superior courts including the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Musharraf is also being charged for amending the Constitution and some of its provisions and subverting it.
The general became a target of ire for Islamist groups when he allied with the US in its “war on terror” and invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 – but he has loyal supporters in Pakistan, as well. They say that during Musharraf’s time in power, Pakistan’s economy prospered and enjoyed better security. In the southern port city of Karachi, which is also the “financial capital” of Pakistan, many among the educated and liberal are nostalgic about Musharraf’s rule.
The indictment on treason charges is historic for Pakistan, marking the first time that a military ruler of the country has been investigated or indicted on such charges. The special court has held several hearings since being constituted in November 2013, and its investigations have now culminated in Monday’s indictment. Pervez Musharraf will face the death penalty if found guilty.

In the court room in Islamabad on Monday, Musharraf was read the indictment by the three-member bench, led by Justice Faisal Arab. The special court has been hearing arguments pertaining to the dismissal of judges and suspension of the constitution by Musharraf on November 3, 2007. Musharraf has denied all the charges, alleging that the case is politically motivated.

His lawyers asked the court to authorise travel to the United Arab Emirates so he could visit his mother and travel to the US for medical treatment. The court dismissed the request, saying it was up to the government to decide whether Musharraf could leave the country. Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

[March 24]

Akram Sheikh, the chief prosecutor in a high treason case against General (retd) Pervez Musharraf maintains the court would have to frame charges against Musharraf in his presence and then he might be exempted from appearance. Musharraf said he would not appear on March 31 and the court would frame charges against the accused in his absence. After finally getting Musharraf in court 18 February 2014, the judge refused demands by the prosecutor Akram Sheikh for an immediate indictment. Instead the court will rule whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case. That means Musharraf will have to return to court, potentially creating another period of uncertainty about whether he will turn up.

Many legal experts believe Musharraf will struggle to defend himself and is hoping the case will become mired in controversy, forcing the government to either drop the charges or agree to some face-saving deal that will allow him to return to a life in exile abroad.

[January 5]
Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, in his press conference January 3, said: “At one time, it appeared that an important breakthrough was in sight.” After a meeting in New Delhi in 2005, India and Pakistan, in a joint statement, had said that the peace process between the two countries was “irreversible”.

“Events in Pakistan, for example, the fact that General Musharraf had to make way for a different set-up, I think that led to the process not moving further.”
“The prime minister said there was almost an agreement on Kashmir. When Pervez Musharraf said this, we did not believe him… but now the prime minister has said so.”

Musharraf’s wife yesterday filed a request before the government, asking his name to be removed from the Exit Control List that will enable him to travel abroad for treatment even as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made it clear that his fate will be decided by the Court.

The reports of the medical tests of Musharraf have been sent to the experts for further examination in the UK. There is intense speculation that Musharraf is likely to be flown out of the country for treatment. His detractors say the military is supporting him though there has not been any public support by the armed forces.
[January 4]
`Now the ball is in the court of the doctors.If they allowed him then Musharraf will appear before the court on Jan 6, otherwise their medical certificate will be presented,` he said.

According to AFP, Mr Kasuri said: `No one can challenge the doctors` report -if the doctors advise to take him abroad for medical treatment then the doctors` opinion will be carried out.
[January 3]
Doctors will decide whether Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf must go abroad for treatment after suffering a heart problem on the way to his treason trial,

on December 2 one newspaper reported that the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia was arriving to discuss this issue with the government.

The government did not help quell the rumours. While its representatives kept insisting that it had not given Musharraf the permission to travel abroad (hisname is still placed on the exit control list), some of them also pointed out that the former dictator was in the custody of the courts and not the government.

`The ball is in the adalat`s court,` said a cabinet member in a primetime talk show.

[July 10]

Authorities said initial investigations showed it was a suicide attack.

Security forces cordoned off the area in the Guru Mandir neighbourhood in central Karachi, following Wednesday’s bombing.

A police escort was accompanying Mr Sheikh’s white armoured car when the attack took place.

Officials said the bomber was thought to have followed the vehicles and detonated the explosives when the security chief stopped to get out of his car.

“It seems that the suicide attacker walked up to Sheikh’s vehicle and blew himself up outside the front passenger seat of the vehicle where Sheikh was seated,” police officer Raja Umar Khattab said.

[May 31]

Shahzada Iftikharuddin, present MNA Chitral, son of Shahzada Muhiuddin, great-grand son of Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk.

Shahzada Iftikharuddin, present MNA Chitral, son of Shahzada Muhiuddin, great-grand son of Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk.

APML candidate Ghulam Mohammad won the PK-90 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly seat.

APML candidate Ghulam Mohammad won the PK-90 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly seat.

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), managed to win one seat each – its first since it was formed – in the National Assembly and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly.

Despite the party announcing a boycott of the elections, APML candidate Shehzada Iftikhar-ud-Din the party’s candidates from Chitral decided to stay in the fray and won the NA-32 Chitral seat by around 20,000 votes,. APML candidate Ghulam Mohammad won the PK-90 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly seat.

Shot dead from a motorbike, multiple gunshots

APML Shehzada Iftikhar-ud-Din from Chitral

All Party Muslim League , the party of former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, on May 3 announced it will boycott next week’s historic election. “We think that under the present election commission, conduct of free and fair election is not possible, so we have decided to boycott it,” a spokesperson said, adding that 170 party candidates had withdrawn.

Pervez Musharraf detained at his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad

Pervez Musharraf detained at his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad

Mustard growing in Chak Shahzad farm, similar to ones advertised for usd $2,235,000

Mustard growing in Chak Shahzad farm, similar to ones advertised for usd $2,235,000

A lawyer leading the effort to prosecute Pakistan’s former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, over the murder of Benazir Bhutto has been shot dead in Islamabad as he was driving to court.

Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, a state prosecutor for the Federal Investigation Agency, died in a hail of bullets on Friday when his car was attacked by unidentified gunmen riding on motorbikes as he was travelling through a busy street in the Pakistani capital, police said.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries.

Ali had been acting as a state prosecutor in one of the cases against Musharraf, the former coup leader who returned to Pakistan in March for what has been a disastrous bid to contest seats in the country’s general elections.

Ali argued in court that Musharraf, who is under house arrest, should not be allowed bail in a case where he is accused of conspiring to murder Bhutto, the former two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in a gun and suicide attack at an election rally in 2007.

Musharraf, it is claimed, failed to use his powers as president at the time to provide sufficient security for Bhutto.

Ali was due to appear at the anti-terrorism court in the nearby city of Rawalpindi on Friday in connection with the case.
[April 22]
Musharraf’s lawyer Qamar Afzal argued that his client should be kept in judicial custody as there were serious threats to his life.
Sources told PTI that authorities had asked for Musharraf to be placed in judicial custody as this would allow the administration of Islamabad to declare his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad a ‘sub-jail’ and detain him there.
Authorities have been focussing on this measure as officials are not keen on holding Musharraf at a jail due to threats to his life.

[March 24]

ISI Chief Zaheer ul Islam

ISI Chief Zaheer ul Islam

Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Pervez Musharraf

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has arrived back in Pakistan, ending four years of self-imposed exile and defying death threats.

A protection detail of heavily armed commandos met him after his plane from Dubai touched down in Karachi airport. A mass rally in the city was cancelled.
[March 23]
Pervez Musharraf plans to fly on a commercial airline into Karachi on March 24, then attend a rally that will include Pakistani expatriates from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, he has said in a statement. He plans to lead his political party into Pakistan’s general elections slated for May.

Tehrik-i-Taliban will send out a “death squad” to kill him, a spokesman for the terrorist group said March 23. In 1999, the then-chief of Pakistan’s army became its president in a bloodless military coup. He remained in power until resigning in 2008 — a period that included the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.
Lieutenant-General Zaheer ul-Islam (Urdu: ﻇﻬﻴﺮ ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻡ‎)HI(M) is the current Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI); he was appointed to the position on 9 March 2012. Islam took over the position from his predecessor Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who left on 18 March
[January 24 2012]
Pakistan’s ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha held a secret meeting with former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in Dubai and advised him not to return to the country, according to a media report.
“Gen Pasha… held a meeting with (Musharraf) in Dubai and advised him not to return to the country as the situation is not conducive for his return,”
The channel quoted its sour­ces as saying that Pasha “strictly advised” Musharraf not to return to Pakistan from self-exile. The report said it was not clear whether the meeting was held on the directions of the Pakistan People’s Party-led government or if it was a private meeting.

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Clashes in Al-Shaddadi

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed up by the US-led coalition, is storming the neighborhoods of Nezlit Shehada and Al-Shaddadi in Raqqah city. According to pro-SDF sources, over 27 ISIS members were killed in the recent clashes and an IED plant was captured. According to ISIS, 8 SDF members were killed recently.

* [July 24]Near Al Shadaddi, seven strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units and destroyed two staging areas, two command and control nodes, an IED storage area, an observation post and a fighting position.

[July 14 ISIS attacking near Hasakah Syria ]

 

CENTCOM– Near Al Hasakah, July 13,seven airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and five ISIL tactical units destroying seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL armored personnel carrier.
Al Hasakah
a military source in the Kurdish-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), said most of the work on a runway in the oil town of Rmeilan in Hasaka was complete. The Rmeilan airstrip was being used by U.S. military helicopters for logistics and deliveries.[Reuters March 6 2016]

 

[March 26 Tabka:500 troops were airlifted behind enemy lines.]

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GPS steerable parachutes

U.S.-backed local forces fighting Islamic State in Syria said on March 26 they had taken full control of a former Syrian army airport near the city of Tabqa along the Euphrates River. Tabqa is located 25 miles west of Raqqa, ISIS’ self-declared capital,

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a U.S.-led international coalition, said in a statement they had seized the air base.

Earlier, SDF spokesperson Talal Silo said its fighters had seized “60 to 70 percent” of the airport but were still engaged in intense clashes with the ultra-hardline militants inside the air base and on its outskirts.
March 22, Washington (CNN)Fighters in Syria have begun a major ground offensive, backed up by US forces, to retake Tabka dam near Raqqa, Syria,
The attack also included an unprecedented air assault involving US helicopters landing behind enemy lines — flying about 500 local US allies and coalition military advisers across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad so they could attack the ISIS-controlled dam and neighboring town and airfield from the South.

“We have conducted an air movement, air assault, with the Syrian Arab Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces,” Col. Joseph Scrocca,
Scrocca would not say how many troops were involved, but a military source said about 500 troops were airlifted behind enemy lines. The attack was backed by US Marines firing M777 howitzers and close air support, including airstrikes carried out by Apache helicopters.

[January 18 Syria airdrops in December]

The Air Force conducted 16 airdrop missions in Syria last year, including six in December. Flights could depart from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus or the Incirlik air base in Turkey.
The U.S.-led coalition is directly providing supplies only to the Arab contingent within the Syrian Democratic Forces, partly to avoid antagonizing Turkey, a key ally.
Initially, Kurds made up the bulk of the coalition-backed forces fighting the Islamic State in northern Syria. But U.S. advisers have made an effort to recruit more Arabs. Today, about one third of the 45,000 troops in the Syrian Democratic Forces are Arabs.
The bundles are guided onto landing zones using GPS technology and steerable parachutes. “We’ll get it within 10 or 15 meters of the mark,” Everhart said. The supplies range from small arms ammunition to vehicles.The Air Force can drop supplies at night and vary where they are dropped to ensure militants are not able to seize U.S. equipment.

[January 7 Tabka Dam  one of last defense lines before Raqqa city ]

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January 06, 2017 5:34 PM The Pentagon said that SDF forces are only seven kilometers away from the dam, also known as the Baath Dam.

“Liberating the dam will allow us to control the town of Tabqa as well,” said Nasir Hajj Mansur, an SDF commander who is involved in the ongoing offensive. “It will also break the back of (IS) as it is one of the last defense lines before Raqqa city.”

The dam, which IS has controlled since 2014, is a hydropower facility that is one of the main sources of electricity in the country. It has also been vital for the irrigation of farms in the fertile region around Raqqa.

 

 

[December 24 2016 Syrian Arab Coalition,  supported by Coalition advisers and air strikes before Raqqah ]stephen-townsend

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, left, XVIII Airborne Corps commanding general, during a visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., July 27, 2016. Now serving as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve, he spoke with The Fayetteville Observer from Baghdad on Tuesday and described some of the ongoing efforts. In Syria, he said Fort Bragg troops are supporting special operations forces and the Syrian partners with logistical, medical and artillery support. That includes teams from the 18th Field Artillery Brigade deployed into the country with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

December 10 The Syrian Democratic Forces announced the start of the next phase of their operation to isolate ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah, Dec. 10. The SDF, made up in part by local Arabs and its Coalition trained and equipped Arab component, the Syrian Arab Coalition, and supported by Coalition advisers and air strikes began the operation to isolate Raqqah on Nov. 5. In their march toward Raqqah, the SDF has already liberated dozens of villages and more than 700 square miles of ISIL-held terrain. Local Arab fighters continue to join the SDF and fight to liberate their own land. During the initial phase of isolation efforts, our Syrian partners have proven their ability in battle, pushing ISIL back and destroying ISIL heavy weapons, vehicles, fortifications, IED facilities, VBIEDs, armored vehicles, technical vehicles, bridges, decoys, and caches. The Coalition supports the SDF through training, advise and assist operations, airstrikes and material support to the SAC. Since the start of the operation the Coalition conducted more than 300 strikes delivering more than 850 munitions in support of its partners on the ground to enable the isolation of Raqqah and defeat of ISIL in Syria.

December 20 Near Raqqa, three strikes destroyed an oil tanker truck and damaged an ISIL supply route.

December 21 Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Syria: — Near Raqqah, 11 strikes engaged four ISIL tactical units; destroyed three oil storage tanks, two oil wellheads, two oil tanker trucks, two fighting positions, two tactical vehicles, a financial storage facility, an artillery system and a vehicle bomb; and damaged a supply route.

December 22 Near Raqqah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL mortar system and suppressed a tactical unit.

December 23 Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Syria: — Near Raqqah, eight strikes engaged three ISIL tactical units; destroyed six oil storage tanks, two vehicle bombs and a technical vehicle; and damaged a supply route, a fighting position and a truck.

December 24 — U.S. and coalition military forces Strikes in Syria Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Syria: — Near Raqqah, 13 strikes engaged 10 ISIL tactical units, destroyed seven fighting positions, three vehicles, a car bomb and damaged a supply route

 

[September 8 Turks taking on SDF ]

sub-buzz-1484-1473272514-2_zpsnlconcus

Turkey now wants to push the SDF out of Manbij, to the south of Jarabulus, back east across the Euphrates, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-IS Kurdish-Arab alliance dominated by Kurdish fighters.. To the west, Turkey appears set to try to seize control of Dabiq, a small town and scene of a 16th-century battle that figures prominently in ISIS’s eschatological vision. “ISIS sees Dabiq as a kind of mystical place,” said Can Acun, an international relations expert specializing in Syria at SETA, Turkey’s government-supported think tank. “They believe in the future there will be a big fight there. They will try to defend it against Turkey.” Experts say Turkey is also contemplating taking control of al-Bab, an agricultural hub northeast of the major city of Aleppo, from ISIS, a move that would give Ankara and its FSA allies control over a significant crossroads to Aleppo.
“Turkey’s aim is Manbij and al-Bab, but our goal goes beyond that,” said Ahmad Othman, commander of the Sultan Murad brigade, a major FSA unit allied with Turkey.

[May 30   HIMARS for Syria delayed by Turkey   ]

HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System)

The deployment of US HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) missiles on Turkey’s southern frontier to battle Islamic State has been held up until August without offering an explanation. The deployment was originally expected in May to help counter cross-border bombardments that have killed 21 people since Jan. 18, as the two governments tussle over the makeup of the assault force

However, the battlefield successes of the Syrian Kurdish PYD group in the course of their country’s civil war has haunted Turkey, which fears their territorial gains will embolden the separatist aspirations of Turkey’s own Kurdish minority. “The aim of those who are using the PYD terrorist organization to surround Turkey’s southern borders is clearly to cut Turkey’s ties with the Middle East and North Africa,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said may 29 at a ceremony marking the 1453 conquest of Constantinople, today’s Istanbul

[May 28 Special ops in Syria take off girls patch ]

a US special forces soldier wearing the patch of the YPJ

U.S. Special Forces troops in Syria have been ordered to stop wearing the arm patches of YPG a Kurdish rebel group regarded as an offshoot of a terrorist organization by Turkey, , the YPG [ and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) ] dominates in the umbrella group SDF, which also includes Arab and Christian fighters, and has notched victories against ISIS in northeastern Syria.
“Wearing those patches was unauthorized and inappropriate and corrective action has been taken. We have communicated as much” to NATO ally Turkey, said Army Col. Steve Warren. Although the U.S. has backed the YPG/YPJ force with airstrikes and supplies, and its fighters have proven to be among the most effective in Syria’s multi-sided civil war, Turkey has branded the group as the military wing of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK. Both Turkey and the U.S. have labeled the PKK as a terrorist organization.
The images appear to show a US special forces soldier wearing the patch of the YPJ (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Jin‎, YPJ, pronounced Yuh-Pah-Juh) – a Kurdish female militia group. A Pentagon spokesman said troops often blended in with partners for safety. The series of images, by an AFP photographer, show the US soldiers operating alongside members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-IS Kurdish-Arab alliance dominated by Kurdish fighters.

patch of the YPJ

An effort to rebrand the YPG as a coalition with Arab rebels called the Syrian Democratic Forces has brought only a small number of Arabs into the force so far.    A requirement that applicants sign a document pledging to fight only the Islamic State and not the government of President Bashar al-Assad deterred many from signing up at all.

 

[May 3 Mission Creep: “Special-operation forces exploitation operations. They pick up computers, cellphones. “ ]

The coalition couldn’t move faster than its partners on the ground—both Iraqi security forces as well as Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria.“Special-operation forces are especially adept at exploitation operations. They pick up computers, cellphones. ” said Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work in Brussels, April 29.

Attack, ground-attack and fighter aircraft conducted seven strikes in Syria:— Near Hawl, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position. — Near Shadaddi, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL staging areas and two ISIL vehicles. — Near Raqqah, a strike destroyed an ISIL crane. — Near Mara, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions.

ypgfighter

el-Hawl area Kurdish fighter November 2015

 

 

[April 30 Green Berets on the front lines during the assault on Shaddadi ]

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…have appearance of Green Berets?

 

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FDS forces before Shaddadi

 

A group of Special Forces soldiers on the front lines during the assault on Shaddadi, French, American and British advisors with the SDF forces. The soldiers in question have the appearance of American Green Berets and are clearly in combat.
April 25: The additional 250 U.S. forces will work with Kurdish militiamen and others as they seek to isolate Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria. The plan to move toward Raqqa follows last year’s successful northern Syria offensive that was led primarily by Kurdish forces, aided by U.S. airstrikes, with some support from a group of Sunni opposition fighters the United States has been struggling to support. Raqqa, farther to the south, is a Sunni city that Kurdish forces are not eager to move toward and where they would not be welcome.

[March 21 U.S. and its partners have supported capable and motivated local forces in Syria ]

The U.S. and its partners have supported capable and motivated local forces in Syria to retake the eastern Syrian town of Shaddadi, Carter said. That is the last major northern artery between Raqqa and Mosul — between ISIL in Iraq and ISIL in Syria, he pointed out.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the fiscal year 2017 defense budget request. US Department of Defense -March 21, 2016

[March 14 work being done both east and west of Shaddadi]

“We are increasing the number of folks that we are supporting on the ground — in this case the Syrian-Arab Coalition,” he said. “Right now we don’t have a timeline for the operation for when we will take Raqqa. It’s going to be conditions-based — based on the size of the force we have, based on enemy dispositions, and of course, there is some other work being done both east and west of Shaddadi to consolidate the operation so far.”
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.

The campaign in eastern Syria is directed by about 50 U.S. Special Operations Forces now on the ground there, joined by about 20 French and perhaps a dozen British commandos. They’re working with about 40,000 Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters dubbed the Syrian Democratic Forces; all but about 7,000 are from the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the YPG. The methodical campaign in eastern Syria contrasts with the messy battlefield to the west, where Syrian regime troops backed by Russia confront rebels supported by the CIA, Turkey and Saudi Arabia — all facing jihadists from the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra. U.S. officials describe this confusing layering of forces as “marbling,” and it’s the reason the current cease-fire is so fragile.

 

[February 24 Shaddadi front using U.S. Javelin ]

First documented use of a FGM-148 Javelin in the war against the Islamic State

Raytheon-Lockheed Martin FGM-148 Javelin replaced the Cold War-era M47 Dragon portable anti-tank missile launcher.

[February 5 FSA’s Northern Division kill  a Russian officer with  TOW ]

On February 3, the FSA’s Northern Division, one of the 39 anti-Assad militias backed by the CIA, uploaded a video showing one of its soldiers firing a TOW missile at half a dozen or so unidentified uniformed men gathered on a rooftop of a building. The video, uploaded at 5:57 GMT, named the targets as Russian officers but gave no details about the exact location of the attack apart from noting that it was somewhere near Syria’s coast—the region of the country where Russia has recently constructed forward operating bases and airfields. There was little doubt that whoever was on that roof didn’t survive the resulting blast.
About an hour later, Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported that a Russian officer who had been advising the Assad’s army had indeed been killed in Syria—not by U.S.-backed rebels but by ISIS, which allegedly hit a military garrison with mortars. No location for this attack was given.

[October 29 Division 13 and Suqour al-Ghab fire Raytheon missiles at Syrian Army ]

Insurgent groups have also posted more than two dozen videos in the past few days showing them firing American-made TOW antitank missiles, deepening the impression that a proxy war between the United States and Russia is joining the list of interlocking conflicts in Syria

Insurgent groups have also posted more than two dozen videos in the past few days showing them firing American-made TOW antitank missiles, deepening the impression that a proxy war between the United States and Russia is joining the list of interlocking conflicts in Syria

Optically tracked, Raytheon wire-guided BGM-71 TOW missiles

Optically tracked, Raytheon wire-guided BGM-71 TOW missiles

Russia has focused its earliest operations on the insurgent coalition known as the Army of Conquest, or Jaish al-Fatah, rather than on the Islamic State, according to the official from the pro-government alliance, because it is the Army of Conquest’s positions that most urgently threaten the crucial government-held coastal province of Latakia, while Islamic State forces are farther to the east and can later be isolated and hit. Latakia is Mr. Assad’s family’s ancestral home and the heartland of his fellow Alawites, who provide a critical bloc of support. The Army of Conquest is an Islamist coalition that includes the Nusra Front. Often fighting alongside it are more secular groups calling themselves the Free Syrian Army, including some that have received American aid.

[October 7 Mission Creep: 4 Russian warships launch 26 cruise missiles at 11 targets]

anti-ship missile Klub. PKR 3K14 Kaliber

anti-ship missile Klub. PKR 3K14 Kaliber

The Russian cruise missiles are known as “Kaliber” missiles and are similar to the American Tomahawk missile. This is thought to be the first time they were used operationally, U.S. officials said. Four Russian cruise missiles aimed at antiregime forces in Syria during an aerial assault Wednesday instead landed inadvertently in Iran, U.S. officials said.
[earlier]A Russian flotilla of four warships in the Caspian Sea had struck 11 targets in Syria. The use of 26 sea-based cruise missiles marked one of the first known uses in combat of Russian missiles with this range The Russian minister of defense, Sergei K. Shoigu, told President Vladimir V. Putin in a televised .No civilians were harmed in the strike, he said. It is not clear yet why these particular weapons were chosen in preference to air strikes – but the missiles would have had to fly a considerable distance over Iraq and then Iran to reach Syria.
August 17, 2015 ISTANBUL — Washington would withdraw its Patriot missile batteries from the country in October after bolstering Ankara’s air defenses against threats from Syria’s civil war.
The NATO mandate for the two-year mission will run out in October and will not be renewed, but the US is prepared to return Patriot assets and personnel to Turkey within one week if needed, a joint Turkish-US statement said.

SEPTEMBER 24 2015 About 4,000 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Kuwait later this year, the Army announced September 24, with some expected to serve in Iraq.

The soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, are deploying to backfill soldiers from 3rd BCT, 4th Infantry Division, who have been in country since February. As the brigade prepares to deploy to Kuwait, right across the border to the U.S. military’s ongoing efforts against the Islamic State terror group the soldiers are ready for the job

Oct 5, 2015 Members of the 682nd Engineering Battalion based in Willmar will be leaving later this month for a nine-month deployment to Kuwait. The units will be deployed to Kuwait and will be joined by subordinate companies from other parts of the country to form a large engineering battalion, said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon of Motley. He is the battalion commander and will be on his fourth deployment.

While based in Kuwait, “we will support U.S. soldiers wherever they are deployed in the Middle East,” he said. The deployment includes companies for “horizontal” and “vertical” engineering, “so we can build roads and buildings,” he said. “The busier we are, the faster it will go.”

There were 15,000 troops stationed at Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Buehring, in Kuwait in June 1012.

[October 5 Komoyedov says Russian paid volunteers for Syria]

Adana-Incirlik Air Force Base

Adana-Incirlik Air Force Base

Vladimir Komoyedov, the former commander of the Black Sea fleet, told the Interfax news agency that Russians who had previously fought alongside rebels in eastern Ukraine “can’t be stopped” from going to fight for the Assad regime.

“A unit of Russian volunteers, conflict veterans, will probably appear in the ranks of the Syrian army,” Komoyedov said. “What brings volunteers there besides the cause? Of course, it’s probably money.”

[June 5, 2015 Mississippi, Kentucky, and Minnesota National Guard now in Kuwait]

HASTINGS, Minn.- Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard’s Hastings-based B Company and C Company, 834th Aviation Support Battalion, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, will deploy for a seven-month mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

“The deploying Soldiers of the 834th Aviation Support Battalion are eagerly anticipating their upcoming deployment to Kuwait. With a 40-personnel manning requirement, the deploying unit received more volunteers for this deployment than we had slots available,” said Capt. Caleb Seelhoff, company commander.

“The task force has the mission to augment the 185th Theater Aviation Brigade from the Mississippi National Guard, and the 351st Aviation Support Battalion from the Kentucky National Guard, who are already stationed in Kuwait. Our Minnesota troops will be providing communication systems support and helicopter maintenance support,” said Seelhoff.

MRAP and Humvee vehicles in Kuwait

more U.S.Kuwait

[June 5 ISIL convoy coming into Iraq from Syrian territory at the al-Qa’im border crossing]

[March 16 Training at Camp Taji: “We’ll be ready for the real fight.”]
Coalition warplanes have today launched massive air strikes against an ISIL convoy coming into Iraq from Syrian territory at the al-Qa’im border crossing. The convoy included more than 40 armored vehicles and some mobile military equipment.

Iraqi Army troops move along the frontline April 14, 2015 near Al-Karmah, in Anbar Province, Iraq

Iraqi Army troops move along the frontline April 14, 2015 near Al-Karmah, in Anbar Province, Iraq

[April 14 ]

May 28, 2010 Taji-Bucks est. 2007. In December 2004 and until October 2010, Camp Taji reportedly boasted the largest PX facilities in Iraq, with Subway, Burger King and Pizza Hut franchises. Of some 106 bases used by the United States in Iraq, Camp Taji is considered one of 14 “enduring” bases.

The 300 American soldiers here, with a smaller number of United States Marines at Al Asad air base in Anbar Province, are the only American soldiers deployed outside Baghdad.
Sgt. Ali Mesin Hamid, the Iraqi squad leader, was clearly appreciative. “We’ve never had training this good,” he said after his men went through the exercise, exulting at having hit all the targets. “We’ll be ready for the real fight.” With the Taji training site running at maximum capacity, as it is now, that means the program will reach at most about 30,000 Iraqi soldiers by the end of this year, probably far less. The Marines at Al Asad train smaller numbers of regular soldiers.
Colonel Schwemmer said he was stunned at the state in which he found the Iraqi soldiers when he arrived here. “It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “I was kind of surprised. What training did they have after we left?” Apparently, not much. The current, woeful state of the Iraqi military raises the question not so much of whether the Americans left too soon, but whether a new round of deployments for training will have any more effect than the last.

Camp Taji [East of Nahiyat al Karmah]

Camp Taji [East of Nahiyat al Karmah]

<a id=”brigade”>Kuwait</a>

 

 

 

 

 

[March 12 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, arrived at Camp Buehring, Kuwait]

 Southwest Asia – “Pacesetters” of 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, download an M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, March 9, 2015. Army Soldiers partnered with Air Force Airmen to safely transport the M109A6 Paladin.

Southwest Asia – “Pacesetters” of 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, download an M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, March 9, 2015. Army Soldiers partnered with Air Force Airmen to safely transport the M109A6 Paladin.

March 4, 2015. The transfer of authority ceremony, held on Camp Buehring, Kuwait, officially signified the passing of mission from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team “Devil” brigade, 1st Infantry Division, to 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Iron” brigade, 4th Infantry Division beginning the next chapter in the U.S. and regional partnership mission in the region.March 6, 2015 CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — The “Iron Knights” of 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, arrived at Camp Buehring, Kuwait over the last several weeks.
more 3rd Brigade

[March 10 Anbar police chief Maj. Gen. Kadhem Mohamed Fares Abu Kaf claims IS leader killed]

“The ISIL military commander in al-Baghdadi, Sheikh Awwad al-Satouri, and four bodyguards have been killed in a joint military operation carried out by the Iraqi forces in western Anbar,” said Anbar police chief Maj. Gen. Kadhem Mohamed Fares Abu Kaf.
March 6 “precise and effective airstrikes on enemy positions in and around Al Baghdadi” help clear towns]

Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters from the Anbar region successfully cleared Al Baghdadi of ISIL

Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters from the Anbar region successfully cleared Al Baghdadi of ISIL

Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said in a news release that it had delivered “precise and effective airstrikes on enemy positions in and around Al Baghdadi, in support of the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL.” According to CJTF-OIR, Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters from the Anbar region successfully cleared Al Baghdadi of ISIL, retaking both the town’s police station and three Euphrates River bridges, which had been held by the terror group since September. Additionally, CJTF-OIR said Iraqi security forces, with coalition support, succeeded in pushing ISIL from seven villages northwest of Al Baghdadi on the road to Hadithah.

[February 25 Families displaced from Al Baghdadi District, Anbar province]
Combined Joint Task Force [CJTF] – Operation Inherent Resolve News Release February 24, 2015 Iraq
* Near Al Asad, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL IED location. The following strikes took place between 8a.m., Feb. 22, and 8 a.m., Feb. 23, local time. These airstrikes were inadvertently omitted from yesterday’s release. * Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

[February 23 al-Baghdadi in Anbar province: Iraqi security forces begin a military operation]

Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) in al-Baghdadi, western Anbar uploaded 2:08 ET February 23 2015

Iraqi special operations forces (ISOF) in al-Baghdadi, western Anbar uploaded 2:08 ET February 23 2015

“I believe a major victory will be achieved in the next few hours if our forces maintain a steady advance,”

Iraq’s Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said Iraqi security forces began a military operation on Sunday ,February 22,to drive Islamic State fighters out of the western town of al-Baghdadi in Anbar province. “I believe a major victory will be achieved in the next few hours if our forces maintain a steady advance,” he said. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi noted that international support to Iraq had increased in recent days, his office said, without giving details. He also pointed to progress “mobilizing and recruiting people in Nineveh, Anbar and Salahuddin to liberate them from terrorist gangs” referring to the main areas of Islamic State control.

[February 22 Ayn al-Asad base, about 1,000 U.S. troops arrived February 21, reported]

Guests, service members and journalists came to see one of the last convoys of service members cross the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Dec. 18 [2011] . The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was the last unit out of Iraq. The soldiers were welcomed into Kuwait by soldiers from the 1st Theater Sustainment Command and 3rd Army.

Guests, service members and journalists came to see one of the last convoys of service members cross the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Dec. 18 [2011] . The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was the last unit out of Iraq. The soldiers were welcomed into Kuwait by soldiers from the 1st Theater Sustainment Command and 3rd Army.

[

[February 22] There are reports that a broad military operation will be launched within the next few hours, accompanied by about 1,000 U.S. troops who arrived at the base yesterday evening.

[February 20] Supplies and weaponry have been arriving February 19 and will be deployed soon to take part in the military effort at al Baghdadi.
{February 15] an armored brigade has reached the Ayn al-Asad base to take part in the military operations in and around Baghdadi. Which, Whose

primary hub

[February 15 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division back to Kuwait, the primary hub for troops moving in and out of Iraq]

3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, will serve as U.S. Central Command’s Reserve force in the Middle East. The Army has kept a brigade in Kuwait since the end of the Iraq war in 2011. Those soldiers, including two units from Fort Carson, have worked to train local troops from throughout the Middle East. In its most recent deployment to Kuwait, Fort Carson’s 2nd Brigade Combat team conducted training missions with allies including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, which have joined the coalition against Islamic State fighters. For years, Kuwait has been the primary hub for troops moving in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and most of the troops there were merely transiting through on their way to war or back home. December 29th, 2014: U.S. has stockpiled over 3000 military vehicles, mostly mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), in a depot in Kuwait.

MRAP and Humvee vehicles in Kuwait

[February 12 Not a combat mission: resolution to Congress asking to authorize the use of force against ISIL]


Commander in Chief Barack Obama sent a draft resolution to Congress asking to authorize the use of force against ISIL.

[November 26 In Hit, Anbar: Senan Meteeb, the so-called ISIS “emir” of the western Anbar province, reportedly killed]

Senan Meteeb, the so-called ISIS “emir” of the western Anbar province

Senan Meteeb, the so-called ISIS “emir” of the western Anbar province

An air strike in west Iraq reportedly killed on Wednesday a senior figure in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al Arabiya’s correspondent reported.

Senan Meteeb, the so-called ISIS “emir” of the western Anbar province, was reportedly killed by a coalition air raid in the Anbar city of Hit. Twenty-four other ISIS fighters were also reportedly killed.
November 25: Baghdadi and the Ayn Al-Asad Base are now the only places where preparations are being made for the campaign to liberate the rest of Anbar.

[November 24 U.S. armed Sunni Tribesmen to attack HIt – FOB Eden- Hagel resigns]

Reports from within Hit indicate that large numbers of ISIL gunmen have been fleeing the town following the announcement of the impending operation to liberate the town.
“Tactically, the guerrilla army would avoid any confrontation with large units of enemy troops, but seek and eliminate small groups of soldiers to minimize losses and exhaust the opposing force. ”
In the areas around Hit today, Iraqi aircraft dropped large quantities of leaflets, calling on the civilian population to leave the town immediately in preparation for a major military operation in the town. Eyewitnesses are reporting that hundreds of families have been leaving since this morning, making their way to Baghdadi, Haditha, and also toward the capital, Baghdad, and other parts of Iraq.
Also today, security forces have airlifted military equiment to the Ayn Al-Asad military base in Baghdadi, describing the equipment as being sufficient for implementing a military operation to liberate Hit from ISIL forces. The areas around the Fedayee Hit have also been brought under security forces control.

The Vietnam and Algerian wars have demonstrated that the overwhelming conventional military superiority of major powers is no guarantee against their defeat in wars against small nations. For external powers such wars are necessarily “limited,” which constrains escalation above certain levels. With no direct survival interest at stake, fighting the war does not take automatic priority over the pursuit of other social, political, and economic objectives. Prosecuting the war consumes resources—economic, human, and political—which are thus not available for the pursuit of these other objectives. In the absence of a quick victory this creates the potential for those political divisions which historically have shifted the balance of forces in the metropolis in favor of withdrawal. For the insurgents, the fact of invasion and occupation generates cohesion, minimizes constraints on mobilization, and maximizes the willingness to incur costs. Precisely the opposite effects tend to characterize the war effort of the external power. A conceptual framework for the analysis of the evolution and outcome of such conflicts is presented and its applications and limitations discussed.
Andrew Mack – World Politics / Volume 27 / Issue 02 / January 1975, pp 175 – 200
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure from President Barack Obama’s Cabinet,. He has battled behind the scenes with Rice , about the National Security Council’s micromanagement of national security and the growing centralization of decision-making by the White House, even sending her a memo sharply critical of the administration’s strategy for Syria.
Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey have sought to preserve maneuvering room for U.S. commanders to send troops to Iraq to help Iraqis in their battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
http://www.c-span.org/video/?193594-1/book-discussion-soldiers-promise

[November 24 Turkey bombs P.K.K. from former U.S. bases, U.S. airstrikes support P.K.K. in Kobani]

Pirinçlik Air Base, U.S. closed 1997, Diyarbakır, r

Pirinçlik Air Base, U.S. closed 1997, Diyarbakır, r

Kürecik Air Base, U.S. closed 2010, in Malatya, Malatya, which the U.S. now wants to use for support,r

Kürecik Air Base, U.S. closed 2010, in Malatya, Malatya, which the U.S. now wants to use for support

“Today there were American air strikes throughout the day, which is a first. And sometimes we saw one plane carrying out two strikes, dropping two bombs at a time, the strikes are still continuing. In the afternoon, Islamic State intensified its shelling of the town The fact that they’re not conducting face-to-face, close distance fight but instead shelling the town from afar is evidence that they have been pushed back a bit.”

Turkish warplanes struck positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the P.K.K., in southeastern Turkey late October 13.
“Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes which took off from (bases in the southeastern provinces of) Diyarbakir and Malatya.
The dynamic of twisted allegiances has been on display in the fight for Kobani. While Turkey took military action against the P.K.K., the United States ramped up its bombing runs over Kobani in support of the P.K.K.’s Syrian splinter group, the Democratic Union Party, or P.Y.D. — even though the United States and its European allies have listed the P.K.K. as a terrorist group.

[October 14 Militants occupy Hit military camp, with all its equipment and very large quantities of munitions, Forward Operations Base Eden 2003]

ISIL gunmen today took control of the Hit military camp, with all its equipment and very large quantities of munitions. The seizure followed fierce clashes and bombardment exchanges that continued for about 8 hours between last night and this morning.
Also today, gunmen have seized Al-Doulab village in the Baghdadi township. Along with the military camp, these are considered ‘sensitive’ strategic centers lying between the eastern and western regions of Anbar Province.

Forward Operations Base Eden, Hit, former presidential palace site
On 05 May 2003 Company B/54 (-) moved to FOB Eden, 94th Military Police Brigade-Reserve unit out of Saco , Maine assigned to F.O.B. Eden have been some of the chief players in getting the local police force up and running. They have worked with 3d squadron to enforce the Coalition mandated curfew and worked with groups like PSYOP and Civil Affairs to ensure the local police get the support of the community. They have also provided escorts for U.S. and Coalition convoys in their area.

[October 13 Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib has been infiltrated, airport threatened ]

Abu Ghraib, only 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Baghdad

Abu Ghraib, eight miles from the city’s airport

Islamic State fighter wielding what appeared to be MANPADS - Man Portable Air Defense System- it has the characteristics of an SA-18 and other Soviet MANPADS.

Islamic State fighter wielding what appeared to be MANPADS – Man Portable Air Defense System- it has the characteristics of an SA-18 and other Soviet MANPADS.

 Baghdad Central Correctional Facility or BCCF at Abu Ghraib 2007

Baghdad Central Correctional Facility or BCCF at Abu Ghraib 2007

When ISIS fighters were within 20 to 25 kilometers of the strategically important Baghdad airport, Apache helicopters were called in to assist Iraqi forces. The strikes, were launched Ocxtober 4-6 amid heavy fighting in the western approaches to Baghdad, around both Fallujah and Hit. AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were deployed to Baghdad International Airport in June to provide protection for U.S. military and diplomatic facilities.
An outer suburb of Baghdad located only eight miles from the city’s airport has now been breached. The suburb of Abu Ghraib has been infiltrated by ISIS militants who are currently engaging in hit-and-run style attacks on local Iraqi security forces. According to the Institute for the Study of War, ISIS controlled most of the territory from Qaim on the Syrian border to the city of Abu Ghraib, only 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Baghdad, as of October 7.

[October 12 Dutch and U.S. planes strike near Tal Afar and Hit in Anbar ]

The U.S. military is conducting air strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State, two-thirds of them, the majority, are from bases. The U.S. military will not disclose where the warplanes being deployed over Iraq are based, citing political sensitivities. The Pentagon has relied on several large air bases it has built up in the region

The U.S. military is conducting air strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State, two-thirds of them, the majority, are from bases. The U.S. military will not disclose where the warplanes being deployed over Iraq are based, citing political sensitivities. The Pentagon has relied on several large air bases it has built up in the region

Ali Al Salem Air Base (ICAO: OKAS) is a military airbase situated in Kuwait, approximately 23 miles from the Iraqi border

Ali Al Salem Air Base (ICAO: OKAS) is a military airbase situated in Kuwait, approximately 23 miles from the Iraqi border

U.S. and Dutch militaries also carried out three airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq near Tal Afar and Hit on October 10-11. The air strike north of Tal Afar struck a small Islamic State unit and destroyed an armed vehicle, while two small units of the group were targeted in two strikes northwest of Hit.

The actions of the fighter aircraft are coordinated from the Joint Forces Air Component Command in Kuwait. Dutch officers are among the staff working at this joint command post. The Netherlands is contributing:
• 6 F-16s (plus 2 reserve aircraft);
250 military personnel (flight personnel and personnel for maintenance, weapon and communication systems, mission planning and logistics)

[October 11 Sunni Militants advancing from Hit towards Ramadi, shades of 2006]

Euphrates River in Ramadi, Iraq, taken April 23, 2008 from a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1N Huey Helicopter flown by Marines of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Euphrates River in Ramadi, Iraq, taken April 23, 2008 from a U.S. Marine Corps UH-1N Huey Helicopter flown by Marines of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

ISIL gunmen have launched an assault on Hit, in an attempt to seize control of the southern and southwestern sectors which they have not been able to seize since their first attack on the town. Clashes and bombardment targeted a number of the town’s districts. 3 civilians have been killed and 7 wounded.

Most of the areas lying between Hit and Ramadi are not controlled by either the security forces or the gunmen, and there have been clashes there, with both sides trying to establish control.

 2006 Feb 6, In Iraq 3 US Marines were killed by a bomb blast in Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad. Toby Keith while visiting Hit, Iraq. June 04, 2007


2006 Feb 6, In Iraq 3 US Marines were killed by a bomb blast in Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad. Toby Keith while visiting Hit, Iraq. June 04, 2007

US troops take cover from small arms fire while investigating a car bomb explosion in Tameem, Ramadi, August 10, 2006

US troops take cover from small arms fire while investigating a car bomb explosion in Tameem, Ramadi, August 10, 2006

[October 7 U.S. Apache helicopters attacking Sunni Militants west of Baghdad, as in 2007

 AH-64D Apache flying over Baghdad, Iraq in 2007


AH-64D Apache flying over Baghdad, Iraq in 2007

WASHINGTON—Four “strikes northeast of Falluja struck two mortar teams, a large ISIL unit and two small ISIL units,” because Iraqi forces were close to ISIS forces, the Apaches were used because they fly low and can strike with precision. Apache AH-64 helicopters come equipped with a wider array of sensors and targeting devices than other aircraft used in the military. [October 6] The triangle formed by Fallujah, Garma, and Samarra is now (as of noon today) in ISIL hands following the withdrawal of the army units from that area.
In Ramadi, there is astonishment over the decision to withdraw of army units from the residential districts of Anbar’s cities and towns; the Anbar Council has once again called for the replacement of the Anbar Operations commander, Gen. Rashid Flayyih; it has also warned that the coming few hours will be disastrous unless positive steps are taken to spare the governorate a further expansion by ISIL forces. Only three areas –
Baghdadi which is the location of the Ayn al-Asad military base, Sufiya, and Habbaniya – are still controlled by security forces. Al Asad Airbase (ICAO: ORAA) was the second largest US military airbase in Iraq and is located in the largely Sunni western Province of Iraq Al Anbar.

President George W. Bush, center, stands over a map as he is briefed at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2007

President George W. Bush, center, stands over a map as he is briefed at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2007

[October 6 RAF planes bomb Ramadi…heard this song before?]

Ramadi, Anbar, what a victory, twice... three times?

Ramadi, Anbar, what a victory, twice… three times?

Paveway smart bomb adaptation

Paveway smart bomb adaptation, cost £13698 plus bomb

Two RAF Tornado jets used Paveway guided bombs to attack militants who were firing on Iraqi troops from a building near Ramadi, west of Baghdad.General Lord Richards says “It isn’t actually a counter-terrorist operation, this is a conventional enemy.”

After Cyprus won independence in 1960, it opposed the 250 square kilometres of land Britain retained as “sovereign” territory for two miliary bases being used in offensive action against neighbouring Arab states. But Cyprus sees ISIL’s staggering brutality as a threat.
President Nicos Anastasiades, a conservative elected last year, has swiftly reoriented Cyprus’s foreign policy, bringing it closer to the West after five years of rule by a communist-led government that leaned more towards Russia. Some Gulf Arab states, where recession-hit Cyprus is trying to drum up investment, are part of the coalition against ISIL and involved in the US-led bombing of the terrorist organisation in Iraq and Syria.

Brimstone missile (UK)

Brimstone missile (UK)

RAF planes bomb Islamic State targets in Iraq for the first time. In the course of an armed reconnaissance mission , based in Cyprus, from RAF Akrotiri, two Tornados were tasked to assist Kurdish troops in north-west Iraq who were under attack from Isil (Isis) terrorists”,The Tornado patrol subsequently identified an Isis armed pick-up truck in the same area and conducted an attack on the vehicle using a Brimstone missile. [cost: £175,000 inc development, weight, 48.5 kg. A Toyota Tacoma weighs about 1247 kg.]

[September 29 And so it goes: somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.]

U.S. Iraq casualties since 2003

House Speaker John Boehner:
“At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”
“American?” Stephanopoulos asked…somebody’s boots have to be there.”
“If no one else will step up, would you recommend putting American boots on the ground?”
“We have no choice,”

[August 12 Save the Yazidis: American forces in direct confrontation with Sunni fighters]

The U.S. is weighing a military mission in Iraq that risks putting American forces in direct confrontation with Sunni fighters for the Islamic State.

The US has sent another 130 US military personnel to Iraq on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to lay the groundwork for a rescue of thousands of displaced Yazidis trapped on Sinjar Mountain.

Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary announced the deployment saying that “this is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation”.

Another defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the extra troops were Marines and special operations forces whose mission was to assess the situation in the Sinjar area and to develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond current US efforts there.

The 130 troops, who are in addition to 250 US military advisers already in Baghdad and Erbil, arrived on Tuesday in the city of Erbil, well east of Sinjar.

Even in Europe the process of creating national identities accepted by the masses was long and difficult and in some ways and places is not complete. Indeed one could ask if that process is is complete in the US.

W. Patrick Lang

[August 11 Biden called Iraqi President Fouad Massoum and Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Ibadi to express U.S. support]

Fouad Massoum, Iraq’s new president, on August 11 nominated Haider al-Ibadi, the deputy parliament speaker to form the new government, in a televised address.

Al-Ibadi, was nominated for the post by the Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition of Shia parties that al-Maliki’s State of Law is part of, but has turned against. The White House says Biden called Iraqi President Fouad Massoum and Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Ibadi August 11 to express U.S. support

[August 10Pro-Maliki Shi’ite militias station a tank at the entrance to Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government buildings.]
Special forces loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki were deployed in strategic areas of Baghdad on August 10 after he delivered a tough speech indicating he would not cave in to pressure to drop a bid for a third term, police sources said. After al-Maliki’s speech, Brett McGurk, a deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, expressed support for Massoum. Note he tweeted after Maliki and before Massoum

Pro-Maliki Shi’ite militias stepped up patrols in the capital, police said. An eyewitness said a tank was stationed at the entrance to Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government buildings.

In a speech on state television, Maliki accused Iraq’s Kurdish President Fouad Masoum of violating the constitution by missing a deadline for him to ask the biggest political bloc to nominate a prime minister and form a governmen

[August 8 Recep Erdogan wins Turkey’s first presidential election]

Recep Erdogan is predicted to win Turkey’s first presidential election.
To claim victory and become president after the first round on Sunday, Erdogan must secure an absolute majority of the popular vote. If he fails, he will have to go to a runoff against the candidate with the second highest percentage – widely expected to be Ihsanoglu – on 24 August.

Analysts point out that a failure to claim first round victory would be a catastrophe for Erdogan and the AKP.

“Going into a second round would be a major defeat for the AKP and would represent a detrimental blow to the legitimacy of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president,” said Gencer Özcan, professor for international relations at Bilgi University in Istanbul. “It would put in question his project to change the constitution and transform Turkey’s government into a presidential system.”

[August 7 Save Qaraqosh? Administration is considering US air strikes and air drops in Iraq]

The Obama administration is considering US air strikes and humanitarian air drops to help besieged religious minorities chased up a mountain by militants in Iraq.
The move comes as Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian city, was all but abandoned as the jihadist group Islamic State (Isis) advanced through minority communities in the country’s north-west and towards the Kurdish stronghold of Irbil.
Over the past several weeks, hundreds of American “advisers” – mostly elite military forces – have established joint operations centres in Baghdad and in the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil. Those operations centres host US forces capable of spotting for potential air strikes.
One option for US air missions is to launch from Incirlik air base, which the Americans share with the Turks and Britain’s RAF, just outside the city of Adana on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coastline.
In the absence of central government authority, Shia militias are taking dominant roles, amplifying sectarian enmity between Islam’s two most dominant sects.
Without any protection, Yazidis, Christians and Turkmen are being uprooted from communities they have lived in for millennia and the geo-social fabric of Iraq is being rapidly shredded.
The past 11 years of war and insurrection since the US invasion have led to most of Iraq’s Christians fleeing. Numbers have plummeted starkly from an estimated one million before 2003 to around 150,000 now. A large number of those who remain are now displaced.
The capital of the Kurdish north is already home to a new Chaldean Christian community, which fled Baghdad in the wake of an Isis-led massacre inside a cathedral in October 2010. Many fleeing Christians have headed for the Ainkawa neighbourhood, which is home to Baghdad’s Christian exiles. Incirlik in Syria civil war

[November 14 2011 [Predators from Iraq moving to Turkey]

Adana-Incirlik Air Force Base

Adana-Incirlik Air Force Base

Four Predator drones are flying out of Incirlik Air Base, a joint U.S.-Turkish military installation as part of a joint Turkish-American counterterrorism operation in northern Iraq, with U.S. troops scheduled to leave Iraq by year’s end.
U.S. forces have been flying the drones from Iraqi bases since 2007.

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Base 201 – Sub-Saharan Africa: widening U.S. military cooperation

niger3

 

csbiggers-20may2016-agadez-annotations

This site is believed to be a part of Aérienne 201.

Air Base 201, just outside Agadez which will be used for the deployment of drones, in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. The United States has a drone base in Djibouti, at the southern tip of the Red Sea — on the opposite side of the continent from Mali. “Djibouti is a long way from Bamako, and there’s certainly a growing need for intelligence-gathering,”

CJTF-HOA Soldiers hold 242nd Army Birthday Ball

CAMP LEMMONIER, Djibouti – Approximately 300 deployed U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, DoD civilians, as well as partner nations attended the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) 242nd Army Ball here June 17.

[May 6 2016]

“beltway”

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Michael Franken, a deputy commander of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, told a Washington forum last week that there now are 6,200 U.S. troops – most of them Special Operations Forces – operating from 26 locations on the continent. The widening U.S. military cooperation is a political victory for Buhari, who took office last year pledging to crack down on the rampant corruption that has undermined the armed forces in Africa’s most populous country.
The U.S. administration is seeking to approve a sale of as many as 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria to aid its battle against the extremist group Boko Haram, U.S. officials say, in a vote of confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to reform the country’s corruption-tainted military. Washington also is dedicating more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the campaign against the Islamist militants in the region and plans to provide additional training to Nigerian infantry forces, the officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s plans. “Boko Haram has morphed back in to what it had earlier been, not a holder of large amounts of territory, but rather a generator of asymmetric attacks,” the second official said.

Western Accord 2016

[March 16 2015 Nigeria hires mercenaries ]

“MiG 23 of Executive Outcomes” 25 Juil 2013, 18:28

The latest reports from South African media and the Reuters news agency suggest that the use of mercenaries is far more extensive than previously known. Several hundred mercenaries – including pilots of helicopters and fighter jets – are believed to be involved in the battle against the Boko Haram insurgents. At least one has already been killed.

Leon Lotz, a former South African soldier who became a private security contractor, was killed on March 9 in a friendly fire incident when a Nigerian tank opened fire on his convoy near Boko Haram territory, mistakenly believing it was a rebel convoy,

March 15 Nigeria hires mercenaries]

Feb 14 2015 - 9:47am A South African mercenary: Nigeria hires 100 of them

Feb 14 2015 – 9:47am A South African mercenary: Nigeria hires 100 of them

Hired men from South Africa and the former Soviet Union are deployed in the Nigerian theatre of war and some are armed. Some have been helping train the Nigerian troops on how to use the recently acquired military equipment including helicopter gunships, tanks and armoured vehicles. But the South African authorities suspect this is cover for illegal mercenary work.
For the Nigerian government, the issue of mercenaries is a sensitive one and adds to the already difficult job of explaining why it ever became necessary for the neighbouring armies of Chad, Niger and Cameroon to deploy inside Nigeria. It is against the law for South Africans to fight overseas for private gain. No serving members of South Africa’s armed forces were in Nigeria.
more Boko Haram

[February 6 RAF flies strikes against ISIL around Bayji]

 Paveway IV precision guided bombs

Paveway IV precision guided bombs

On the afternoon of Wednesday 4 February, a pair of Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol to assist the Iraqi armed forces in their offensive operations against ISIL around Bayji. Two ISIL armoured vehicles were identified in a building and were attacked with two Paveway IV precision guided bombs, scoring direct hits. more RAF

[December 19 2014 82nd Airborne Division back in Iraq – Remember Fallujah 2004?]

Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's Company B, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, conduct a dismounted patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, in January 2004.

Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, conduct a dismounted patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, in January 2004.

Up to 1,300 more U.S. troops, including approximately 1,000 soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, will begin to deploy to Iraq in late January, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
“Their mission will be to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces,” Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. “This deployment is part of the additional 1,500 troops that the president authorized in November.”

[December 18 “a minimum of three years” to defeat IS]

2007: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni Arab extremist group that claims to have an affiliation with Osama bin Laden’s network, though the precise relationship is unknown.

2007: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni Arab extremist group that claims to have an affiliation with Osama bin Laden’s network, though the precise relationship is unknown.

It will take “a minimum of three years” before the ISF and Kurdish peshmerga are capable of defeating the Islamic State group. Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, commander, Combined Joint Task Force – Our pace needs to be such that we… [aren’t] getting too far out in front of the ISF  [Iraqi security forces ] and making this our fight” instead of an Iraqi fight. A large contingent of American trainers will begin deploying to Iraq in the coming weeks,

[2007] Officials say that Mr. Gates has been quietly pressing for a pullback that could roughly halve the number of combat brigades now patrolling the most violent sections of Baghdad and surrounding provinces by early next year. The remaining combat units would then take up a far more limited mission of training, protecting Iraq’s borders and preventing the use of Iraq as a sanctuary by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni Arab extremist group that claims to have an affiliation with Osama bin Laden’s network, though the precise relationship is unknown.

[November 19 6,000 analysts at Langley and at other sites find targets for IS airstrikes]

They sit in a sprawling, dark complex filled with nests of plasma screens with feeds from Predator drones, U-2 spy planes and lines of chat conversations with pilots

They sit in a sprawling, dark complex filled with nests of plasma screens with feeds from Predator drones, U-2 spy planes and lines of chat conversations with pilots

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. Airmen based here at the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing pore over video taken from drones and other data, such as intercepted cell phone conversations and radar images, to help develop a picture of ISIS activity that can be used to target their fighters, according to Col. Timothy Haugh, the wing’s commander.

Most of the 6,000 analysts here and at other sites around the world are young — in their 20s — and work 12-hour shifts for three or four consecutive days. They sit in a sprawling, dark complex filled with nests of plasma screens with feeds from Predator drones, U-2 spy planes and lines of chat conversations with pilots.

The analysts at Langley, none of whom would be identified by full name for publication for fear of retaliation, deal with issues largely unique to their profession. Watching traumatic events, such as ISIS massacres, unfold on their computer screens has led to rates of post-traumatic stress that are slightly higher than average, said Lt. Col. Cameron Thurman, the wing’s surgeon.

To help keep the airmen calm, a therapy dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Lily, walks the floor.

Monitoring video feeds from a Predator drone for a single person to move means hours of sitting in the same position, Thurman said. That has led to chronic lower-back problems among analysts and the need to work on core strength.

[August 17 RAF flying surveillance for Kurds]

  Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint system

Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint system

RAF has been flying Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint system to provide real time on scene intelligence, surveillance and analysis to forces in the air and on the ground over northern Iraq during the humanitarian crisis there.
The Rivet Joint intelligence gathering aircraft has been deployed to boost a team of Tornado jets gathering intelligence as Kurdish forces battle against Islamist militants in the region.
Information picked up by British forces is being fed back to the Iraqi government, Kurdish fighters and US forces in the region as they try to stem the tide of the Islamic State (IS) advance.
RAF Tornado jets have been flying missions over vast areas in northern Iraq, aided by larger Voyager planes that help them refuel at 300mph.

[May 23 Nigeria: Boko Haram militants; US has deployed a Predator team to Chad]

The Aerostar unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) acquired by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in 2006 have reportedly been grounded due to a lack of maintenance, limiting surveillance operations against Boko Haram militants. The nine Aerostar UAVs were acquired in 2006 and 2007 from Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS), a company based in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv in a contract which also included the supply of unmanned patrol boats to the Nigerian Navy, bringing the net value of the contract to $260 million.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted ADS marketing officer Tsur Dvir and military and diplomatic sources as saying that the Nigerian UAVs became inoperable five year ago due to poor maintenance.

“To the best of our knowledge, these systems aren’t operational. We did receive an inquiry from them (Nigerian Air Force) about spare parts, but it never turned into a deal. I wish it had but now the drones are probably parked in a yard somewhere,” Dvir said. Meanwhile the US has deployed a Predator team to Chad to search for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

[May 18]

May 17, 2014: U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, left, looks on as French President Francois Hollande, right, talks during the round table photo session at the “Paris’ Security in Nigeria summit”, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris

Signs are growing that some Nigerian troops are near mutiny, complaining they are overwhelmed and outgunned by Boko Haram. Soldiers in the ranks actually fight alongside the group. Last year, Jonathan said he suspected that Boko Haram members and sympathizers had infiltrated every level of his government and military, including the Cabinet.

That complicates attempts to share intelligence. The U.S., France and Britain have all sent experts to help find the girls, but French and American officials have expressed concerns about how any information might be used.
Boko Haram

[May 17]

Imagery from U.S. surveillance drones and satellites May 12-17 has shown suspected bands of Boko Haram militants setting up temporary camps and moving through isolated villages and along dirt tracks in northeastern Nigeria.
The Obama administration has shared the imagery with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s government in Abuja. But Nigeria’s security forces are hampered by poor equipment and training and have failed to respond quickly,
U.S. options are limited. A 1997 law prohibits American forces from working with foreign military units that have been accused of chronic human rights violations. The law has prevented U.S. officials from dealing with a Nigerian counter-terrorism unit that has experience tracking Boko Haram, officials said.
Boko Haram’s brutal insurgency has created widespread fear in northeast Nigeria, but the military’s harsh operations have left many villagers distrustful of authorities and unwilling to pass on tips,

[May 15]
The US Department of Defense (DoD) is deploying a team of ten US Africa Command (AFRICOM) personnel to assist the Nigerian Government in the search of the schoolgirls abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram. American military personnel are there to advise and assist with communications, logistics, and intelligence.
Foreign internal defense (FID) is a term used by a number of Western militaries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to describe an approach to combating actual or threatened insurgency in a foreign state called the Host Nation (HN). Especially when the HN government, the insurgency, and the FID force come from different cultures, careful thought needs to be given both to the way the parties perceive the rules, and the ways the communicate their agreement to one another.Especially when the HN government, the insurgency, and the FID force come from different cultures, careful thought needs to be given both to the way the parties perceive the rules, and the ways the communicate their agreement to one another.

A manned twin-engine turboprop aircraft — the MC-12W Liberty — has begun flying surveillance missions over Nigeria. The arrival of the intelligence assets in Nigeria comes as the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, released a video of at least some of the captured schoolgirls.
The MC-12W Liberty aircraft is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft of the United States Air Force (USAF). An asset owned by the Joint Forces Air Component Commander, the aircraft’s key mission is to provide ISR services to the ground forces.
A medium-altitude manned vehicle, the MC-12W is based on the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 and King Air 350ER models, which are variants of the C-12 series. The aircraft is an augmentation of the two King Air models to include ISR capabilities.

[March 25]

Local troops asked for transport: cv-22

Local troops asked for transport: cv-22

President Barack Obama ordered about 150 troops and at least four CV-22 aircraft to Uganda on March 23, marking the first time the U.S. has sent military planes to find Kony and his fighters.

The search is focused on the jungles straddling the borders of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Pentagon said the U.S. troops are tasked with providing information and assistance, and are armed only for self-defense.

[January 14]

U.S. Marines in South Sudan

U.S. Marines in South Sudan

The US has established a military co-ordination cell in Somalia to provide planning and advisory support to the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] and Somali security forces to increase their capabilities and promote peace and security,” said US Africa Command spokesman, Colonel Tom Davis.

The team was launched in October and became fully operational in December. It is based at Mogadishu airport.

A big step forward to normalisation of relations with Somalia.

A US defence official told Al Jazeera that the team numbers “fewer than five” troops but was a “big step forward to normalisation of relations with Somalia”.

Since the 2011 withdrawal, the number of U.S. military advisers in Iraq has steadily risen to as many as 200.

In response to the fatal attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, the Pentagon created a 150-member rapid response force in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and sent 500 Marines to a base in Spain, positioning troops, aircraft and military equipment closer to potential conflicts. a team of 45 soldiers from the larger force in Djibouti was sent to Juba, the South Sudanese capital, on Dec. 18 to reinforce the seven Marines and State Department officers providing security at the embassy.

[January 9]
“Early this morning,” he said, “the Department of Defense sent two KC-130 aircraft (pre-positioned in Entebbe, Uganda, and) assigned to the Special-Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response, also called the SPMAGTF-CR, … to Juba to evacuate approximately 20 personnel.”

Soldiers from the East Africa Response Force, assigned to U.S. Africa Command and under the command and control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, will continue to provide security reinforcement to the U.S. Embassy in Juba, according to an AFRICOM statement.

RAF Sentinel aircraft used in Mali

RAF Sentinel aircraft used in Mali

RAF Sentinel aircraft, one of five heavily modified Bombardier Global Express long-range business jets assigned to the Royal Air Force’s 5 Sqn, is in Dakar, Senegal to provide a unique intelligence capability in support of French operations within Mali. The asset will provide reconnaissance information by using its dual-mode sensor payload, which comprises a synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication capability.

Images released by the RAF identify the deployed aircraft as ZJ694. This is the youngest of the service’s Sentinel fleet, with Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database showing it was delivered in 2004. While the RAF has not disclosed its current location, media reports suggest the aircraft was flown to Dakar in Senegal.

Sentinel aircraft have supported the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan and also took part in the NATO-led campaign over Libya in 2011. The type is home-based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

[January 23]

French soldiers leave a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in Bamako, Mali, Jan. 23, 2013.

French soldiers leave a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in Bamako, Mali, Jan. 23, 2013.

“Less than 10” U.S. Air Force personnel were sent to Bamako last week to handle the flights that began arriving over the weekend, a Pentagon official said. George Little, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, stressed that the small Air Force contingent was not a precursor to U.S. combat involvement.
“Boots on the ground is a different question,” Little said in repeating the assertions of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that the U.S. supported France in the drive against the rebels but would not send combat troops.
Little said the airmen were limited to the relatively safe environs of the Bamako airport.
“We are confident that security can be maintained at this airfield,” Little said.
The French military has little airlift capacity and France has been hard-pressed to maintain air support for the 2,500 French troops now on the ground in Mali.
Britain and Canada began aiding the French with their own C-17 flights earlier this month but the U.S. C-17 flights started only after what reportedly was the heated rejection by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of U.S. requests that France reimburse the U.S. for the help.
Little said that the U.S. for now would not ask for payment.
“We’ve made the decision at this time not to seek compensation or re-imbursement,” Little said, adding that there were no initial estimates on the costs of the airlift.
The French also need U.S. help for aerial refueling of their Rafale and Mirage attack aircraft that have been making long-haul flights from France and bases in Chad to bomb rebel positions. Little said no decisions have been made on whether to commit aerial tankers from the U.S. European Command to the effort.
Little would not confirm whether U.S. drones were also aiding the French with reconnaissance missions over Mali.
“We are sharing intelligence with the French,” Little said, but he would not provide specifics.

[January 22]
“We have started air lifting French army personnel and equipment to Bamako from Istres,” said Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Another Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. flights were helping to carry a French mechanized infantry unit to Mali. Little said the United States had been providing France with intelligence since the outset of the operation, and was reviewing a request for aerial refueling tankers.

[January 21]

The total hostage death toll now stands at up to 48 with more bodies to process. Hundreds set free.
The Algerian government said that 32 militants were killed in the hostage recovery mission, with at least 11 executed during the ‘final assault’ on Al Qaeda-linked gunmen.
The fact that the target of the attack was a gas plant operated in part by foreign companies may have made Algeria particularly keen to tackle the problem on its own terms.

The idea that the Algerian elite and their foreign allies might be the main beneficiaries of large oil and gas profits is a common complaint among Algerians.

“It’s important for [the authorities] to show to a domestic audience that they’re not beholden to the international community, that they actually control their own hydrocarbon resources – that they’re not just a puppet government,” said Mr Parks.
[14:41 est]
UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the crisis was over and that lives had been lost. At a joint news conference with his US counterpart Leon Panetta, Mr Hammond said the loss of life was “appalling and unacceptable and we must be clear that it is the terrorists who bear sole responsibility for it”.
UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the crisis was over and that lives had been lost. At a joint news conference with his US counterpart Leon Panetta, Mr Hammond said the loss of life was “appalling and unacceptable and we must be clear that it is the terrorists who bear sole responsibility for it”.
[10:41 est]
Latest rumour:On the morning of Saturday, the terrorists have lost all hope to leave with the last seven hostages began to run some of them, pushing ANP special forces to intervene. In fact, the terrorists were preparing for a mass suicide attempt. The involvement of elements of the ANP has neutralization. Unfortunately the hostages were already executed.

A press conference will be held incessement to explain the circumstances of the assault elements of the ANP.
The United States will not seek a deal with hostage-takers at the In Amenas facility, a state department spokeswoman said in a daily briefing.

The U.S. State Department says one American, Frederick Buttaccio, had died but gave no further details.
It became clear the Algerian forces had retaken only the living quarters. Hostages and their kidnappers remained ensconced in the refinery.
[January 18]
“The United States does not negotiate with terrorists,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Mauritania’s ANI news service earlier reported that militants at the gas facility had offered an exchange of American hostages for inmates held in US prisons.

Meanwhile the Associated Press reports that the State Department has confirmed that American hostages are still being held at the facility.

French Mirage F1 fighter jets at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013

French Mirage F1 fighter jets at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013

Foreign Minister Espen Eide follows the situation together with prime minister Jens Stoltenberg

Foreign Minister Espen Eide follows the situation together with prime minister Jens Stoltenberg

The British government is flying a team of consular staff and intelligence analysts from MI6 and MI5 to Algiers to help secure the release of the Britons involved in the ongoing hostage crisis.

The entourage is understood not to include members of the special forces, though the UK has continued to offer technical and logistical support, as well as experts in hostage negotiation.
Two Britons and two Filipinos were killed. Two others, a Briton and an Algerian, died on Wednesday when the militants ambushed a bus that was taking foreign workers at the facility to the local airport.

[January 17]
Five American hostages had survived and had left the country, US officials said The events at the plant brought back memories of the North African nation’s bloody civil war against Islamist extremists in the 1990s. The war had begun in 1991 when the Algerian army canceled parliamentary elections after it looked like an Islamist party, the Islamic Salvation Front, was about to gain a majority.
Algeria’s Communications Minister Mohamed Said stated combat operations had “ended,” but he said efforts to free some hostages were continuing.
This attack may show that Algerians can’t protect their hydrocarbon facilities as had assumed. This wasn’t some isolated pumping station. It was a big project that had been getting bigger, and this is going to be seen as an extreme embarrassment for the government.”
15 foreigners, including two French citizens, had escaped the besieged BP/Statoil gas compression plant deep in the Sahara desert.
[January 16]
The U.S. has information indicating Americans are among the captives.
“I hope you understand that in order to protect their safety, I’m not going to get into numbers. I am not going to get into names. I am not going to get into any further details as we continue to work on this issue with the Algerian authorities and also with their employers.” [Norway – Prime Minister Jens Stoltenbergl] – “I can confirm that 13 Norwegians are involved,. “Two of the 17 employees at the Statoil plant have come to harm.”

[earlier]
British Petroleum said a group of “unidentified armed people” attacked and occupied the facility at 5 a.m. and, as of late afternoon, were still occupying the site. The company said it had not confirmed the “identity or intention of the people occupying the site.”

“We do not yet have confirmed information on the status of the personnel at the site but believe some are being held by the occupiers,” the company said in a statement issued in London.

In 2003, Statoil acquired 50% of BP`s initial interest in the In Amenas project.

One of the Norwegians who witnessed the attack at close range said the Islamics first attacked a bus carrying employees who were on their way to the airport.

– We were just two hundred meters from the camp when they came out of the darkness and shot at us at around 5:50 local time.

The man said that the guards at the plant hit attack back quickly, so that they could run on. He is now in a military camp and says he feels safe there.

Algeria has allowed France to use its air space during its military intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali, although officials have yet to make a link between Wednesday’s attack and the conflict in Algeria’s southern neighbor

In Amenas is a wet gas field operated through a joint venture between Sonatrach, BP and Statoil.

Statoil’s emergency response organisation is now mobilised, and is now working to get an overview of the situation. “Our main focus is the safety of the employees at the facility.”
[January 15]
The U.S. believes AQIM members are fighting in Mali alongside rebels whose affiliations and intentions are less clear-cut. Some of these less-radical factions may be open to negotiations, the officials said.
In Libya, the U.S. decided to act against a clear-cut enemy, the Gadhafi regime; in Syria, the U.S. has been reluctant to deliver aid to a multifaceted rebel coalition that officials worry could have links to al Qaeda.
The U.S. response to the situation in Mali also reflects the growing U.S. reluctance to get involved in conflicts unless there is evidence of U.S. interests at risk, said Seth Jones, an al Qaeda specialist at Rand Corp. “The U.S. will be deeply reluctant to get into the fight directly,” he said.
Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa command, said in an interview January 15 that the French campaign “may prove to be decisive,” but that it wouldn’t end after a few days of airstrikes.
“My sense is that the French are committed and understand this will not be a short-term campaign,” Gen. Ham said.

Jan.13, 2013 photo provided by the French Army Monday Jan.14, 2013 shows a French Rafale jetfighter landing after a mission to Mali in N'Djamena, Chad. French fighter jets bombed rebel targets.


Jan.13, 2013 photo provided by the French Army Monday Jan.14, 2013 shows a French Rafale jetfighter landing after a mission to Mali in N’Djamena, Chad. French fighter jets bombed rebel targets.

Overnight, January 15, a regiment of 150 French soldiers drove overland from neighboring Ivory Coast, bringing in a convoy of 40 armored vehicles, including the ERC-90, a tank-like car, mounted with a 90 mm cannon. Britain’s Ministry of Defense confirmed January 15 that their RAF C17 aircraft carrying French military personnel and supplies had arrived in the capital, Bamako. Four Rafale fighter jets were quickly moved January 13 from their base in Saint-Dizier France to Mali, where they began bombing operations.
A Danish Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane will head to Mali to assist the country’s embattled government and their French allies in their battle against Islamic rebels. The plane is scheduled to be deployed to Mali for three months and will cost the state about 11 million kroner.

The French fixed-wing aircraft are performing long-range strike missions after flying from N’Djamena air base in Chad. helicopters coming in from bases in Burkina Faso, and special forces and Legionnaires from Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Burkina, and France.
The French are using Mirage jets stationed in Chad, which are able to carry 250-kilogram (550-pound) bombs. Four Mirage 2000D fighter jets, based in Chad, and supported by two C135 refueling tankers. In total, France has two Mirage F1 CR reconnaissance jets, six Mirage 2000D, 3 C135s, one C130, 1 Transall C160 stationed in Chad as part of its Operation Epervier.

Algeria, Niger, Mali

Algeria, Niger, Mali

french colonial mali

French colonial Mali

The first of the two C17s left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on January 13 and was loaded with French armoured vehicles and other equipment at the Evreux airbase in Normandy overnight.

It was due to fly to Mali’s capital, Bamako, on January 14morning, but has been delayed due to a “minor technical fault”, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

The problem is thought to be a short-term one and the plane is expected to be ready to depart later.

A second C17 is due to leave the UK at 14.00 GMT.

“We have the impression that Tunisia is becoming a corridor for Libyan weapons to these regions,” said a Tunisian spokeman, whose country borders Libya but not Mali.

He was referring to arms from the arsenal of former Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi that he said are reaching Insurgents in northern Mali via Tunisia and Algeria, the latter of which shares borders with Mali.
[January 13]

special ops

A U.S. official confirmed that America will be sending drones to aid Mali against rebels. The United States is providing communications and transport help, while Britain is sending C17 aircrafts to help Mali’s allies transport troops to the frontlines. None of this involves U.S. boots on the ground. Refueling will be for flights coming down from France. Intel will consist of long range reconnaissance, although it is still unclear whether that will be provided by drones or not. The Insurgents, including three separate rebel groups, are armed with weapons stolen from the abandoned arsenal of ex-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. “They obtained from Libya modern, sophisticated equipment, much stronger and more efficient than we had imagined,” he said.
Algeria has authorised the overflight of its territory, for which I thank them,” Fabius said, according to AFP. He adding that France was hopeful Algeria would provide further help to the campaign by denying Islamist radicals an escape route from the north of Mali.

“We are working with the Algerians and our discussions are ongoing. What we have in mind is that if African troops move into the north of the country the Algerians will have to close their border.”

Algeria had been the most reticent of Mali’s neighbors about the prospect of foreign troops being sent in to reclaim control of the north of the country, which the Islamists have occupied for some nine months.
[June 24, 2012]A “mystery airstrike” targeted a convoy of the “Yahya About al Hammam Brigade,” a unit of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operating in northern Mali, and killed seven fighters. US intelligence would neither confirm nor deny the reported strike.
If confirmed, this would be the first known drone strike in Mali by the US since Ansar Dine, an AQIM-allied group, and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad took control of Northern Mali. The two groups announced their merger and the formation of a breakaway state in late May, but reports of discord between the groups over the imposition of sharia law have surfaced since that time.
The US has used drones elsewhere in Africa, including in Somalia against Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia/East Africa, and in Libya during the NATO intervention. Militants in Timbuktu from “Ansar Dine and al Qaeda groups” are becoming concerned about the increasing presence of surveillance aircraft in the area, and have begun using heavy weapons against them, but so far without success.

[July 9’12]

Pilatus PC-12

Pilatus PC-12

Gary Gregg, director of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville said the official account of the crash didn’t make sense. “It seems really dubious that six people died in a single-car accident. It’s just very fishy,”
The three soldiers riding through Bamako Mali in April had rented their 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser from a local agency, according to written statements by the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.

Bast was in the driver’s seat and was headed south across the Martyrs Bridge. Preliminary investigative results determined that he lost control of the Land Cruiser, which broke through the bridge’s guard rail and landed in the river below.

Also in the vehicle were three Moroccan women, according to the Army’s statement. Contributing factors in the accident, the Army said, were limited visibility and “a probable evasive maneuver on the part of the vehicle’s driver to avoid impacting with slower moving traffic.” Officials from the Africa Command also said that they did not know who the women were, but they added in a statement: “From what we know now, we have no reason to believe these women were engaged in acts of prostitution.” An Army spokesman described Bast as a “communications expert” and said he was posthumously given the Meritorious Service Medal but declined to say why. Master Sgt. Trevor J. Bast, 39, a communications technician with the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir.

The Intelligence and Security Command is a little-known and secretive branch of the Army that specializes in communications intercepts. Its personnel often work closely with the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees missions to capture or kill terrorism suspects overseas.

During his two decades of service, Bast revealed little about the nature of his work to his family. “He did not tell us a lot about his life, and we respected that for security purposes,” his mother, Thelma Bast of Gaylord, Mich., said in a brief interview. “We never asked questions, and that’s the honest truth.”

Under a classified program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors were deployed to West Africa to conduct surveillance missions over the country with single-engine aircraft designed to look like civilian passenger planes.
A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou (WAH-gah-DOO-goo), the flat, sunbaked capital of Burkina Faso, one of the most impoverished countries in Africa.

Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport.

The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, In addition to Burkina Faso, U.S. surveillance planes have operated periodically out of nearby Mauritania. In Central Africa, the main hub is in Uganda, though there are plans to open a base in South Sudan. In East Africa, U.S. aircraft fly out of bases in Ethi­o­pia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles. The bulk of the U.S. surveillance fleet is composed of single-engine Pilatus PC-12s, small passenger and cargo utility planes manufactured in Switzerland. The aircraft are not equipped with weapons. They often do not bear military markings or government insignia. The Pentagon began acquiring the planes in 2005 to fly commandos into territory where the military wanted to maintain a clandestine presence. The Air Force variant of the aircraft is known as the U-28A. The Air Force Special Operations Command has about 21 of the planes in its inventory.

In April 2010, one American, in particular, drew attention. A U.S. contractor who had been assigned to support the surveillance missions in Ouagadougou was flying home from Africa on leave when he announced that he had been “in Ouaga illegally” and was carrying dynamite in his boots and laptop.

As the contractor, Derek Stansberry, mumbled other incoherent stories about allegedly top-secret operations, he was grabbed by U.S. air marshals aboard the
Paris-to-Atlanta flight. No explosives were found, but the incident drew international attention.

Stansberry, who did not respond to a request for comment, was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity; he said he was overstressed and had overdosed on the sleep aid Ambien.

Pilatus PC-12

Pilatus PC-12

Search for Kony

Search for Kony

Fatih Ozmen

Fatih Ozmen

To scour the terrain for Joseph Kony, the messianic and brutal leader of a Ugandan rebel group The Lord’s resisitance Army, the aircraft used are Pilatus PC-12s, turboprops favored by the U.S. Special Operations forces for stealth missions precisely because of their nondescript appearance. There is no hint that they are carrying high-tech sensors and cameras that can film man-size targets from 10 miles away. The contractors supply the aircraft as well as the pilots, mechanics and other personnel to help process electronic intelligence collected from the airspace over Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The U.S. military has taken another unusual step: It has largely outsourced the spying operation to private contractors. The contractors supply the aircraft as well as the pilots, mechanics and other personnel to help process electronic intelligence collected from the airspace over Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.Late last month, however, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a measure authorizing $50 million for the Defense Department to “enhance and expand” surveillance operations to help Ugandan and other regional militaries search for Kony.

A congressional staff member said the legislators’ priority was to increase and improve the surveillance operations as quickly as possible, adding that Congress was not necessarily opposed to using private companies for the Kony manhunt.

“It’s a concern, but when you’re short on resources, it’s what you have to do,” said the staffer, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations. “It’s a permissive environment. Nobody’s getting shot at, and we’re just collecting intelligence.”

Tucked into the legislative language was a rare unclassified reference to the key role played by contractors against the Lord’s Resistance Army. The committee stated that it was “concerned” that the reliance on private firms to collect intelligence for the manhunt was “unnecessarily costly and is not meeting the needs of the supporting forces.”

The Senate panel directed the Pentagon to study “alternative contracting arrangements,” emphasizing the need for aircraft that can “loiter over areas of interest for extended periods of time.”

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Before assuming office, Trump suggested he could end support for FSA. He has.

 

beret202_0

Evidence in shooting of U.S. training personnel

 

In comments which appeared to take the CIA — which declined to comment — by surprise, “At least from what I know about that program and the decision to end it, absolutely not a sop to the Russians,” U.S. Special Operations Commander Tony Thomas said.

[July 19 ]

President Trump canceled the CIA’s secret program to arm and train Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, phasing out the covert program as a way to improve relations with Russia and President Vladimir Putin, who strongly opposed the effort.
The support funneled to vetted FSA factions has included contributions from Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – states that have opposed Assad. It is one of several foreign aid channels to rebels. Others still function.

Before assuming office, Trump suggested he could end support for FSA groups and give priority to the fight against Islamic State (IS), whose well-armed jihadists hold large tracts of eastern and central Syria. The president now made the call after an Oval Office sitdown with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster ahead of Trump’s meeting with Putin at the G20 in Germany on July 7.   Some said it simply reflected the reality of the situation on the ground, where Assad, backed by the Russians, appeared to be gaining the upper hand.

“It’s probably a nod to reality,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

 

 

[January 17 Gen. Joseph Votel, U.S. Special Operations, to command CENTCOM? ]

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, talks to Iraqi police and army commanders during a patrol with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Muqdadiyah

General David Petraeus in Muqdadyah July 26 2008

baghdad_ethnic_2003_sm

The White House will nominate a veteran Special Operations commander to lead U.S. Central Command,Senior officials approved Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who has headed U.S. Special Operations Command since Aug. 2014, as the White House nominee to command CENTCOM,Votel’s nomination, must be approved by the Senate.   The elevation of Votel to lead Central Command leaves Gen. John Campbell as the odd man out for the moment. Campbell, the top commander in Afghanistan, was a critical voice last fall in convincing Obama to abandon his pledge to withdraw American forces from the country by the end of his presidency.

[April 7 2016 King of  Clubs al Douri: he is back  –with Saudis ]

Izzat Ibrahim al Douri has appeared in footage on al-Hadath TV wearing the green military uniform of Saddam’s Baath Party. The comments he made about the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been leading a military intervention since March 2015 against the Iranian-backed Houthis, provided a rough time-frame. “In Yemen, there are two ways to expel the Persians (Iranians) and liberate it: the first way … is to force Iran and its agents to comply with the (U.N.) Security Council resolutions,” Douri said in the video. “The second course is to escalate the pursuit of Iranian agents to end all their abilities and potential.”
Iraq said in April 2015 that Douri had been killed in a military operation and Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, later said it had conducted DNA tests to prove Douri’s death. Photographs of a man bearing some resemblance to him were circulated at the time, though Baghdad had previously announced Douri’s death several times in error.
His video may signal a new positioning. With his support for Saudi Arabia, which is also technically part of the US-led anti-Isil coalition, he may be indicating that he no longer supports the jihadists. Instead, he expresses support for the battle against Iranian-backed Shia rebels in Yemen – a battle also currently being led by Saudi Arabia
his alleged death

[September 8 2015 Central Command on key Daesh command base airstrike ]

[August 26 Central Command ‘reworked’ assessments of success against IS]

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

At least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.
Fuller details of the claims were not available, including when the assessments were said to have been altered and who at Central Command, or Centcom, the analyst said was responsible.
more happy talk

[June 1 Deficiencies of the Iraqi army reflect the realities of the society]

Islamic State fighters always have ammunition, they have backpacks of food and water, they maneuver to contact, seemingly aware of the maxim that the best way to stop someone from shooting at you is to shoot at them, and they integrate heavy, medium and light weapons together in a way that close resembles the American military’s combined arms doctrine, with the role of air support played by armored Humvees loaded with explosives and driven by suicide bombers.

The problems of the Iraqi Army reflect the problems of Iraq where Shiites and Sunnis don’t agree on what it means to be Iraqi and where the Kurds unanimously don’t want to be Iraqi at all. The deficiencies of the army cannot be corrected because they reflect the realities of the society.

[May 26 Ramadi:Al Asad Air Base, north-west of city blocked from Baghdad]

The fall of Ramadi meant that 3,000 American troops situated at Al Asad Air Base, north-west of the city, were now effectively cut off from the rest of Anbar province. it was highly unlikely the terrorist group’s fighters would move to seize Camp Taji training base. The Iraqi military is massing around Habbaniyah base, “Defence planning includes detailed threat and risk assessments that are designed to ensure that [MNF] personnel are as well protected as possible.”

another time

[May 24 ] the Iraqi Army repositioning was because of a sandstorm, you understand]

Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, center
The Iraqi forces in Ramadi believed that because the weather was what it was, that they would not be able to receive air power support, ‘Weather did not impact our ability to conduct air strikes, but we are coming to the understanding that the commander on the ground believed otherwise and that was one of the factors that contributed to his decision to reposition’

[May 3 House bill arming Sunni insurgents angers Moqtada el-Sadr]
One of the best-known Sahwa leaders in Anbar, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, was killed in a bomb attack near his home in September 2007, days after he met visiting US President George W Bush. One of the best-known Sahwa leaders in Anbar, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, was killed in a bomb attack near his home in September 2007, days after he met visiting US President George W Bush.

On April 29 , influential Shiite cleric Moqtada el-Sadr threatened to attack U.S. interests if the provision in the $715 million defense bill to train the Iraqi army passed. The measure has also been loudly condemned by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
Back in 2007, the military success of the famous “surge” in Iraq was due largely to the fact that many Sunni tribal leaders finally turned against al-Qaeda and began cooperating with the American army. This so-called Sunni Awakening was a key part of the tenuous peace achieved a year later.
It was a fragile peace, however, and eventually it broke down thanks to the lack of a serious political effort to include Sunnis in the central government.
Monday 11 June 2007 20.40 EDT The US military has embarked on a strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.
The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops.
The US military in Baghdad is trying to portray the move as arming disenchanted Sunnis who are rising up in their neighbourhoods against their former allies, al-Qaida and its foreign fighters.
[April 23 Anbar Sunni tribes of Albu Fahd, Albu Anwan, Albu Daib, Abu Risha fighting in Ramadi]

Apr 23, 2015 Members of Anbar provincial Council stated on April 22, that Ramadi clans are fighting alongside the security forces, urging the Defense and Interior ministries to supply tribal fighters with arms and ammunition to continue to fight.
, “the clans and fighters from sons of Ramadi are backing the security forces in the military operations to liberate and restore all the areas controlled by the ISIS group, the tribes of Albu Fahd, Albu Anwan, Albu Daib, Abu Risha and other tribes did not come out of Ramadi and remained so as to fight in defense of the city of Ramadi against terrorist and criminal groups.”

U.S. and coalition Fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
— Near Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL command and control facility.
— Near Fallujah, five airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL building.
— Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL sniper position, an ISIL house rigged with explosives, and an ISIL vehicle.

more king of clubs

[April 21 King of Clubs found dead on battleground, body displayed]

The body of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who spent 24 years as Saddam’s deputy on the Revolutionary Command Council, was discovered on a battlefield after he was killed by Iraqi soldiers and allied Shia militiamen. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former top deputy to Saddam Hussein and more recently a key figure in Sunni extremist groups battling the Iraqi government, Al-Douri was killed in an operation by Iraqi security forces and Shia militia members in the Hamrin Mountains between Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq,, Al-Douri was the highest-ranking member of Hussein’s regime to evade capture — the “King of Clubs” in a deck of playing cards used by American troops read more

[March 13 Iraqi army attempting to keep rockets out of range of Baghdad]

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

Stuart E. Jones, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, greets U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives in Baghdad, Nov. 15, 2014.

APRIL 13, 2015. The US ambassador to Iraq, Stuart E. Jones, met with Anbar tribal leaders and provincial officials April 11 and expressed his dissatisfaction that Shi’ite militiamen were in the thick of a local offensive against extremists of the Islamic State near the provincial capital, according to two participants in the meeting. Unless they withdrew the militias, the ambassador warned, the United States would not be able to launch airstrikes to support the Iraqi forces there. “The American ambassador told us that the Americans will not carry out airstrikes if the popular mobilization stays in Anbar, and we understood him,” said Sabah Karhot, head of the Anbar Provincial Council and one of those at the meeting. He said that all of the popular mobilization forces, as the largely Shi’ite militias are formally known, were taken out of the fighting around Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital, beginning April 10.
U.S. and coalition military forces Airstrikes reported April 11
— Near Hit, an airstrike struck a checkpoint.
— Near Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and a fighting position.
— Near Huwayjah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

Smoke billows from what is believed to be an oil field which was set alight by Islamic State (IS) group militants in the Mkeishifa area, south of the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, as government forces, supported by Popular Mobilization units, try to retake the area from Islamist rebels on April 9, 2015

Smoke billows from what is believed to be an oil field which was set alight by Islamic State (IS) group militants in the Mkeishifa area, south of the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, as government forces, supported by Popular Mobilization units, try to retake the area from Islamist rebels on April 9, 2015

[March 18

A masked insurgent prepares a rocket to be launched at a U.S. base in Ramadi, Iraq, Tuesday Sept. 28, 2004. On his mask is written “there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet”. Anbar accounted for more than 40 percent of all American combat deaths in Iraq between 2004 and 2006.

“There used to be one or two rocket attacks every week, four or five rockets at a time,” in attacks on the Baghdad suburbs.”Iraqi army’s 6th Division, is attacking IS gunmen, some from Anbar Sunni tribes, in Karmah, Iraq, near the western edge of Baghdad to push beyond the range where they could fire Grad rockets into two Shiite neighborhoods of the capital . So far, they have succeeded in this modest-sized city less than 10 miles from the Islamic State stronghold of Fallujah in Anbar province, much of which is under extremist control. “We took this area five days ago, and are preparing to push further.”
Anbar province — which comprises nearly a third of Iraq’s land mass and extends from the western edge of Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — could present an even bigger challenge than the north. Much of the province has fallen to the Islamic State, including Fallujah, which the insurgents have held since January 2014.
More than 90 percent of Anbar’s estimated 2 million people are marginalized Sunnis, many of whom oppose the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. Other Sunni tribesmen there have turned against the Islamic State.

[March 15 Ayn Al-Assad base receives supplies by air from Jordan, not Baghdad say locals]

An Anbar leader of the Jaghaifa tribe said the US Ayn Al-Assad base receives military aid and supplies, as well as other logistics, by air from Jordan, not Baghdad. This is because of geographical proximity, and because the route is safer than flying over six towns controlled by the Islamic State group (IS), including al-Karma, Fallujah and Hayt.
The small seven square kilometre US base includes one of the three fighter jets runways in Ain al-Assad, one of which is out of service. It is equipped with rooms, halls and houses for around 400 US military personnel , that are surrounded by barbed wire fences. “The base has three US army helicopters; one is Chinook for transporting troops and two are Apache combat helicopters,” They do not leave their base except to train Iraqi troops or for workouts and other activities.

[ February 14 U.S. Apache Helicopters combat IS at al-Baghdadi]

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

UPDATED: 06:17 EST, 14 February 2015.: U.S. has retaliated by bringing in helicopter gunships to support Iraqi ground forces battling ISIS militants in al-Baghdadi, drawing them closer to combat with the terrorist organization.
more helo

An enormous installation, spread out across the desert of restive Anbar Province, covers about as much territory as Boulder, Colorado. The strike on the Ain al-Asad base, which is currently being plummeted with rocket fire, came after insurgents from the Islamic State took Al-Baghdadi, a neighboring town only nine miles away from the base
Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, told CNN.’The Iraqi army is not up to the task. And without the United States Air Force and the military on the ground, a lot of these … bases would be overrun.’ No American troops were injured during the ISIS attack early February 13.

another time

[February 13 Fighting in al-Baghdadi, reaching Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town]

reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base

reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base

‘They were immediately engaged by members of the Iraqi army, the 7th Infantry of the Iraqi Army, and all were killed,’ said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby of the ISIS militants.
Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Commander Elissa Smith confirmed the fighting in al-Baghdadi. She said there had been no direct attack on the air base, Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town,adding: “There were reports of ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base.”
Militants from the jihadist group had attacked the Ain al-Asad base February 13. A U.S. defense official said the Iraqi forces had stopped the attack and re-secured the facility. “Coalition forces were several kilometers from the attack and at no stage were they under direct threat from this action,” the official said.

About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortar fire on at least one previous occasion since December. Iraq’s Defense Ministry said on its website the Iraqi army killed eight assailants near the base, which is about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi.
Sheikh Omar Alwani, a tribal leader based in Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi, said his fighters in al-Baghdadi had reported that the Islamic State reached within two miles of Ayn al-Asad before being pushed back by Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters backed by coalition airstrikes.

The attack began with a double suicide bombing at the town’s police station at 5 a.m., he said. Sulaiman al-Kubbaisi, a spokesman for Anbar’s provincial council, said security forces managed to retake some ground in the town by nightfall, with Islamic State fighters still holding the town’s council building. Coalition airstrikes had assisted in pushing back the militants, he said.
more

[January 22 Raghad Saddam Hussein: These are victories of my father’s fighters and my uncle Izzat Al-Douri]

Raghad Saddam Hussein,  46-year-old, daughter of Saddam Hussein, now in Jordan where she has lived as a 'guest' of the royal family since leaving Iraq - and is being funded by her hosts,   Baathists have even been helping ISIS take control of towns in northern Iraq. She expressed delight after militants captured Tikrit, her father’s hometown, last year, telling Jordanian newspaper Al-Quds: 'These are victories of my father’s fighters and my uncle Izzat Al-Douri.'

Raghad Saddam Hussein, 46-year-old, daughter of Saddam Hussein, now in Jordan where she has lived as a ‘guest’ of the royal family since leaving Iraq – and is being funded by her hosts, Baathists have even been helping ISIS take control of towns in northern Iraq.
She expressed delight after militants captured Tikrit, her father’s hometown, last year, telling Jordanian newspaper Al-Quds: ‘These are victories of my father’s fighters and my uncle Izzat Al-Douri.’

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the king of spades

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the King of clubs

helo

[December 24 2014 Ayn al-Asad gets Apache helicopters]

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off from Camp Victory, BIAP, Baghdad Province, Iraq in 2008.

Sky News Arabic cited an anonymous security source on December 23 as saying that 300 soldiers and advisors and three Apache helicopters were dispatched to the base in Baghdadi. A number of U.S. military advisors are stationed in the Ayn al-Asad facility.

The news of the reinforcements comes after reports of attempts by Islamic State (IS) militants to assault and overrun the Ayn al-Asad base.

[December 18 First clash between U.S. trainers and IS]

An American force has fought its actual first battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “ISIS” organization during a counter-attack that was carried out by tribal forces

and other force of the Iraqi army near Ein al-Asad base, west of Anbar, in an attempt to remove them from the base of which includes about 100 US adviser in it.

A field commander of the Iraqi Army in Anbar province, said that “the US force equipped with light and medium weapons, supported by fighter force model” F-18 “, was able to inflict casualties against fighters of ISIS organization, and forced them to retreat from the al-Dolab area, which lies 10 kilometers from Ain al-Assad base .

US troops have entered with its Iraqi partner, according to Colonel  Salam Nazim, in line against ISIS elements and clashed with them for more than two hours, to succeed in removing them from al-Dolab area, and causing losses in their ranks, at a time American fighter jets directed several strikes focused on ISIS gatherings that silenced their heavy sources of fire. “He points out that the clashes took place between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Sunday night [December 14].

Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader in the region, said that “US forces intervened because of ISIS started to come near the base , which they are stationed in so out of self-defense , they responded , welcoming the US intervention, which I hope will “not be the last.”

[December 11 U.S. Forces-trained sunni tribesmen, Army attack in big Hit/Anbar offensive; Two high ranking Iraqi officers were killed and ten people, including eight officers, were wounded]

Iraqi Armed forces launched a military operation against ISIL earlier in the morning which aimed to free the city of Hit from ISIL control, . Colonel Haitham Al-Deleemi and Brigadier General Abbas Ayid Amir, both from the same Iraqi army brigade, were killed in the clashes,” . Two high ranking Iraqi officers were killed and ten people, including eight officers, were wounded in the clashes,
ISIL retook control of the Al-Dolab region in the western province of Anbar in Iraq on December 11, forcing Iraqi soldiers to retreat. Al-Dolab is located seven miles west of Hit city in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. “ISIL surprised the Iraqi forces with a large group of tanks and armored vehicles which moved west from Hit city to the Al-Dolab area in a counter-attack. The maneuver forced the Iraqi forces to retreat towards Baghdadi, a town located 13 miles west of Hit city,”

 Brigadier Haytham Al-Juburi

Brigadier Haytham Al-Juburi

8:22 PM . In this first attempt to penetrate into Hit, the joint forces were unable to advance into the town. The commander of a special forces regiment of the 7th Brigade, Brigadier Haytham Al-Juburi was killed in the fighting.

[December 11 earlier ISIL militants evacuated armored vehicles and tanks from Hit city ; Col. Al-Deleemi killed]

Sunni tribesmen

Sunni tribesmen

BAGHDAD Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:45am EST The army, backed by Sunni tribal fighters and security forces attacked Islamic State fighters in the Euphrates River town of Hit, also in Anbar, but witnesses said the militants repelled them, seizing vehicles and shooting down a drone.
11 December 2014 14:11 (Last updated 11 December 2014 14:13)
“Colonel Haitham Al-Deleemi, a military commander, was killed during the operation,” Malullah Al-Abeedy, a government official, told The Anadolu Agency.
Iraqi armed forces started a military operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the western province of Anbar on Thursday. The operation aims to retake the city of Hit controlled by ISIL. Pro-government tribal fighters and police forces are supporting Iraqi army forces, a local government official said.

11 December 2014 16:43 (Last updated 11 December 2014 16:47) “ISIL militants moved with a group of armored vehicles and tanks from Hit city while taking Al-Jazeera road and managed to trap 450 fighters after controlling the Mahbubiya and Gurna areas,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Anadolu Agency. ISIL launched a counter-attack on Thursday, resulting in it controlling two areas in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. The areas are close to Baghdadi town, located around 13 miles west of Hit city in Anbar governorate. ISIL besieged around 450 Sunni tribal fighters in the region, a security source said.

[December 5 A major military campaign against Daesh in Hit, Anbar province]
In Hit, there are now massive troop concentrations around the town’s perimeter, and reports indicate that the major military campaign is on the verge of being launched. Sabah Karhut, chairman of the Anbar Provincial Council likened the Sunni tribal force to Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga army, which has been fighting ISIS since early August. Shiite militias have also been formed by the Baghdad government to fight the militants in the Iraqi capital and other Shiite-dominated areas. Most Arabic-speaking people have always referred to ISIS as Daesh.”Daesh” is the pronunciation of the acronym for ISIS in Arabic (Dawlat Al Islam fi Iraq Wa al-Sham)

[December 3 Back to Muqdadiya, shades of U.S. forces 2008 – Iranian jets join in.]

Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet, over Diyala Province November 30

Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet, over Diyala Province November 30

Four Iranian jets attacked Islamic State positions during an offensive in Iraq last month to retake two towns, Saadiya and Jalawla, less than 20 miles from the Iranian border in the eastern province of Diyala, Kurdish commanders have acknowledged receiving weapons and other aid from Iran in the battle to take back the two towns. Kurdish officials said there were no U.S. airstrikes during the offensive.
Fighting alongside Iraqi army units was the Badr Organization, a powerful Shiite militia in Iraq that is backed by Iran. The militia’s chief, Hadi Amiri, who is also transportation minister in the current Baghdad government, led the militiamen into battle, the Badr Organization said.
{December 1]
Diyala Province December 1 – The security forces have surrounded a number of villages north of al- Muqdadiya  and preparing to enter these villages and eliminate all the ISIL terrorists there.

An Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jet has struck Islamic State targets in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala.  At least one F-4 is seen conducting a bombing run against ground targets , in footage shot by regional media which erroneously identified the aircraft as an Iraqi fighter

During the Persian Gulf War, most Iraqi pilots and aircraft (of French & Soviet origin) fled to Iran to escape the bombing campaign because no other country would allow them sanctuary. The Iranians impounded these aircraft after the war and returned seven Su-25s in 2014. Iraq has also taken delivery of five Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft from Russia and Belarus.

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, talks to Iraqi police and army commanders during a patrol with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Muqdadiyah, in the Diyala province July 26, 2008. Sunni Islamist al Qaeda has sought to stoke tensions in Iraq's ethnically and religiously mixed northern cities, such as Diyala

The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, talks to Iraqi police and army commanders during a patrol with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Muqdadiyah, in the Diyala province July 26, 2008. Sunni Islamist al Qaeda has sought to stoke tensions in Iraq’s ethnically and religiously mixed northern cities, such as Diyala

A U.S. soldier from the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment holds his weapon next to a villager during a joint operation with Iraqi police near Muqtadiyah in Diyala province July 24, 2008.

A U.S. soldier from the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment holds his weapon next to a villager during a joint operation with Iraqi police near Muqtadiyah in Diyala province July 24, 2008.

[October 26 Nineveh militia aims for twelve thousand troop strength]

Atheel Nujaifi,  governor of Nineveh province


Atheel Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh province: Liberation of Iraq sought in talks to expand the strength of the National Guard and support the liberation of Mosul

According to MP Khalid al-Obeidi, before he assumed the office of the Ministry of Defense, who visited the camp after it opened, and said at the time, that it is expected to reach a troop strength of twelve thousand fighters in the first stage, with military and logistical support from the federal government and the international coalition, while the next step will be to open the door to volunteers from the people of Nineveh province to participate in the re-occupation of Mosul after being trained in the new camp.

[September 29 39-member council competes with Atheel Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh province, but no militia yet]

Nineveh Province police

Nineveh Province police

“It is clear that we, the people and leaders of Mosul, must take a lead role in liberating our city,” says Bashar Mahmoud, an ethnic Kurd who heads the provincial council. “We must have military officers and experts who know and understand our people.”

The formation of such a militia would dovetail with efforts by an international coalition that includes the US, the UAE, the Iraqi government, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders and other Arab countries to defeat ISIL

There are already deep divisions between the Mosul politicians over their contribution to the coalition effort. The 39-member council has been at odds with Atheel Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital. He has been promoting his vision for forming his own local militia to remove ISIL from Mosul in Arab and foreign media.

Members of the council have threatened to exclude Mr Nujaifi from the planning efforts, accusing him of attempting to wrest control of the decision-making process.

[September 24 Sunni tribes rejecting the expansion of ISIS’s authority; Iraqi Shiite Army reordered after Saqlawiya/Riviera camp lost]

Lieutenant Gen. Bob Cone, USF-I deputy commanding general for operations and III Corps commanding general, meets with Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, Iraqi Ground Forces commander,

Lieutenant Gen. Bob Cone, USF-I deputy commanding general for operations and III Corps commanding general, meets with Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, Iraqi Ground Forces commander,

Last week in Fallujah, fighting that led to the death of around 12 people from both sides after Sunni tribes rejected the expansion of ISIS’s authority within the city and their interference in people’s social life. Sunni tribal rebels represent the majority in the city, nevertheless ISIS seems to be in control and the rise of foreign jihadists in Fallujah began to provoke “tribal and social tensions.”
Iraqi Prime Minster Haider abolished the Office of Commander-in-Chief and ordered the retirement of Gen. Abboud Qanbar, acting secretary-general of Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, and Gen. Ali Ghaidan, former commander of Iraq’s land forces and ordered the arrest of two military officers in command of Saqlawiyah military base in Anbar, which took heavy casualties in an ISIS attack on September 21, “officials have confirmed 300 troops killed and about 500 unaccounted for”.

[September 23 Saqlawiya camp near Fallujah surrounded, stormed, few escape -FOB Riviera for 2007 U.S. Marines]

Soldiers, officials and tribal sources gave differing accounts of what happened on September 21 when the militants stormed the camp at Saqlawiya that they had been besieging.

Soldiers, officials and tribal sources gave differing accounts of what happened on September 21 when the militants stormed the camp at Saqlawiya that they had been besieging.

Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment conduct a foot patrol to assess the damage after a car bombing near Forward Operating Base Riviera in April 2007 -

Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment conduct a foot patrol to assess the damage after a car bombing near Forward Operating Base Riviera in April 2007 -” forward operating base. FOB Riviera was ten klicks west of Fallujah, nestled into a small town named Saqlawiyah, near a sharp bend in the Euphrates River.”

Sunni fighters inflicted heavy losses in a chaotic raid on Saqlawiya camp just an hour’s drive from Baghdad,. The insurgents sent a Humvee vehicle rigged with explosives into the camp. Guards mistakenly assumed that an army driver was at the wheel. An estimated 1,000 soldiers in Saqlawiya, only about 200 had managed to flee. Islamic State insurgents had gained control of Sijir, near Falluja, a week ago, allowing them to surround the Saqlawiya base. An army convoy sent in to break the siege on September 21 was ambushed by Sunni fighters. Many soldiers were killed, others were taken prisoners and a few managed to flee.

A remote camera screen grab provided by the French Army shows two Rafale jet fighters flying over Iraq on September 19. French President Francois Hollande announced that the fighters had carried out their first airstrikes in northern Iraq.

A remote camera screen grab provided by the French Army shows two Rafale jet fighters flying over Iraq on Friday. French President Francois Hollande announced that the fighters had carried out their first airstrikes in northern Iraq.

07:25 EST, 19 September 2014
An Iraq military spokesman said four French airstrikes hit the town of Zumar, killing dozens of extremist fighters. Four French airstrikes have killed dozens of fighters from the Islamic State after targeting a logistics depot in northern Iraq.
President Francois Hollande said Rafale fighters ‘entirely destroyed’ the complex.
Zumar and surrounding towns have remained heavily contested by Islamic State fighters, even though Iraqi and Kurdish security forces have managed to make headway in nearby regions with the support of US airstrikes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014: A Kurdish commander said some 50 members of the Islamic State (IS) have been killed in the US[French?] jets’ bombings on the jihadist group around Zomar in Iraqi northern province of Mosul.
Speaking with Xendan website Rashid Saber said two large group from the militants arrived from western Mosul and sheltered in two buildings that were bombed by US planes and according to reports 50 IS militants have been killed and dozens of others have been injured.

[September 18 Allied support against ISIL: one reconnaissance, one ECM and lots of promises]

An active electronically scanned array (AESA), also known as active phased array radar (APAR), is a type of phased array radar whose transmitter and receiver functions are composed of numerous small solid-state transmit/receive modules (TRMs).

An active electronically scanned array (AESA), also known as active phased array radar (APAR), is a type of phased array radar whose transmitter and receiver functions are composed of numerous small solid-state transmit/receive modules (TRMs).

No.2 Squadron personnel prepare the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle for operational deployment.

No.2 Squadron personnel prepare the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle for operational deployment.

Australia: On Sunday, the Australian government responded to a request by the United States and said it is preparing to deploy to the United Arab Emirates up to eight Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 combat aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft and a KC-30A multirole tanker and transport aircraft. Australia will also help to stem the humanitarian crisis. Australia will send military advisers to Iraq.
Australian combat troops will not participate in ground fighting.
Great Britain: United Kingdom would help arm Kurdish forces, support the Iraqi government, keep supplying humanitarian help and coordinate with the United Nations to battle ISIS.
“This is not about British combat troops on the ground,it is about working with others to extinguish this terrorist threat.”

The AREOS Reco NG pod, an integral part of the F3 standard for Rafale fighters,

The AREOS Reco NG pod, an integral part of the F3 standard for Rafale fighters,

France: France has begun reconnaissance flights over Iraq. Two Rafale air force planes took off from an air base in the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said.
France has contributed 18,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition. France’s air force was also part of a recent operation in the Iraqi town of Amerli that pushed back ISIS fighters and, along with Australia and Great Britain, has performed humanitarian aid drops in Iraq.
Germany has also said it was sending military assistance to the Kurdish region to fight ISIS. German paratroopers are offering training in the overall effort to fight ISIS.
Canada: more than 50 Canadian special operations troops are being deployed to Iraq as part of an adviser mission but that there would be no direct military intervention by the country, according to CTV.
On Sunday, State Department officials also called out Italy, Poland, Denmark, Albania and Croatia for providing equipment and ammunition in the fight against ISIS. New Zealand, Romania and South Korea were also named for providing humanitarian assistance, with specifics on South Korea giving some $1.2 million.
Turkey: U.S. officials say Turkey has taken steps to cut the flow of money to ISIS and denied entry to or deported several thousand foreign fighters heading to Syria.
Jordan’s key role would be providing intelligence to the WestJordan’s intelligence on ISIS is “second to none.”
Saudi Arabia:Saudi Arabia has offered to train rebels on its soilSaudi Arabia has “always taken initiatives with regard to a firm position towards terrorists and against them. So there is no limit to what the Kingdom can provide in this regard.”
The United States also wants Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt to use Arab television networks to spread anti-ISIS messages and encourage more clerics to speak out against the group.
Saudi Arabia has also put $500 million into the coffers of the U.N. humanitarian aid agencies in Iraq, a senior State Department official said Sunday.
Egypt: Egypt’s grand mufti condemned the terror group, saying that its actions are not in line with Islam.
Qatar: Qatar has flown a number of humanitarian flights, State Department officials said.
Iraqi Kurdistan: Leaders of the semiautonomous region of Iraq are willing to send their Peshmerga forces to fight beyond their borders if there’s a comprehensive international strategy put in place.
A senior U.S. military official “more than one Arab nation” has offered to carry out what the official described as “kinetic” actions, such as airstrikes against ISIS.
They are “indigenous” forces; that is, Syrian and Iraqi troops, including trained Syrian rebels, Iraqi forces, Kurdish forces and Sunni tribes, the officials said.
stop IS

[September 16 Dempsey confident can stop the Islamic State]

 Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Kristol


Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Kristol

[September 16 2014]Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on September 16 that he would recommend deploying United States combat forces against Islamic extremists in specific operations if the current strategy of airstrikes was not successful, raising the possibility of the kind of escalation that President Obama has flatly ruled out. The ground forces would likely be Special Operations commands who could call in airstrikes from the ground. He was confident in the ability of the coalition of American, European and Middle Eastern governments to stop the Islamic State.

Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, September 28, 2006 But in recent days, senior U.S. military commanders have suggested that if the Maliki government fails to take action soon, they may have to step in and pressure the government to go after militias holed up in neighborhoods around Baghdad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 Posted: 2:12 AM EDT (0612 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush dismissed what he called “revisionist history” about the war in Iraq. The president is still confident a Pentagon-led search will find Iraq’s suspected weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein “is no longer a threat to the free world,” he said

July 11th, 2002 Richard Perle [ chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory group, and a former assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan.]: Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder. Now, it isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either. And if I had to guess I would guess that a strategy that combines effective collaboration with the opposition and a readiness to send in Americans if necessary is where we’ll wind up.

Deputy Secretary for Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 2002: “It is entirely possible that in Iraq, you have the most pro-American population that can be found anywhere in the Arab world.”

[September 8 IS militants withdraw to areas southwest of Zumar]

A private Peshmerga unit went deeply into Zumar to chase the remaining IS members, while another army unit continued surrounding the region.

Local sources confirmed that IS militants withdrew to areas southwest of Zumar.

More than 100 IS members were captured while some of them surrendered to the Peshmerga.

[August 20 Peshmerga troops have entered Zumar Iraq without US air strikes]

Zumar in distance

Zumar in distance

ZUMAR, Iraq — Peshmerga troops have entered Zumar northwest of Mosul and are engaged in fierce battles with Islamist militants for control of the district,. The operations in Nineveh province over the past week were carried out without the support of US air strikes.

[August 27 Kurdish forces have advanced to the outskirts of Zumar]
Kurdish forces have advanced overnight to the outskirts of Zumar, about 15 km west of the Mosul Dam as part of a push to retake the Syrian border crossing of Rabia.

Peshmerga special forces who retook the Mosul dam last week have been fighting Islamic State group fighters in the vicinity of the dam, and have pushed through two other towns held by the fighters to reach Zumar.

“If the Kurds manage to take Zumar they will disrupt a main IS supply line and route from the group’s base in Mosul.”
by Ted.Regencia August 25 at 4:00 AM

[August 23 Kurdistan forces move past the Mosul dam towards Zumar]

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed who commanded the Mosul Dam, seen on August 1

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed who commanded the Mosul Dam, seen on August 1

Brig. Hussein Hado,  Peshmerga commander said on August 22 that his forces had expelled IS militants from the villages of Sufya and Khan Sufya near Zumar and Rabia.   Control of Sahrij cuts off Islamist militants in Zumar from Mosul.   After the control of the Mosul road and a number of villages in the area, the IS fighters “are demoralized tremendously” and that the Kurdish forces have advanced 10km towards the town of Zumar.

[August 20 Kurdistan region special forces  recapture the Mosul dam  with 200 from Iraqi special forces, then scuffle

A Kurdish fighter, in camouflage, scuffles with an Iraqi special forces soldier near Mosul Dam on August 19 a day after a U.S.-backed victory.

A Kurdish fighter, in camouflage, scuffles with an Iraqi special forces soldier near Mosul Dam on August 19, a day after a U.S.-backed victory.

Gen. Mansour Barzani, the Kurdistan region special forces commander who led the operation to recapture the Mosul dam, said he had asked the most prominent Iraqi special forces unit, the Golden Division, to help his troops with the offensive.

“But if they say ‘we controlled this here by ourselves,’ this is a big lie,” he said, speaking from the main bridge over the dam. Asked about the incident at the checkpoint, Gen. Barzani said only: “Some Peshmerga are sensitive about the Iraqi flag. Some 200 men from the most prominent Iraqi special forces unit, the Golden Division, were critical in the final hours of battle at the dam, said Gen. Barzani. Alongside the Peshmerga, the elite Iraqi fighters battled insurgents in fierce and close clashes at the eastern side of the dam for hours on August 18 afternoon.

[August 3 Sunni capture of the Mosul Dam after offensive of barely 24 hours – strong Kurdish resistance only in town of Zumar.]

Mosul Dam

Mosul Dam

Capture of the Mosul Dam after an offensive of barely 24 hours could give the Sunni militants the ability to flood major Iraqi cities, sharply raising the stakes in their bid to topple Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government. Sunni forces seized the Ain Zalah oil field, adding to four others already under their control, and three towns.
They faced strong Kurdish resistance only at the start of their latest offensive when taking the town of Zumar. A Peshmerga official said that the IS militants had broken through the barriers of the Kaske military base near Mosul at 4:00 am on August 3, but that “they were able to hold the base for only a few minutes before a Peshmerga counterattack expelled them.” Kaske was an Iraqi military base that was abandoned by the army in June and Kurdish forces took over the base.

[August 2 Sunni fighters in pickup trucks mounted with weapons attacked Kurd town of Zumar from three directions early]

 Kurdish troops fought off a Sunni attack on an oil facility and a dam

Kurdish troops fought off a Sunni attack on an oil facility and a dam

A Kurdish police official in Zumar Iraq said Sunni fighters in pickup trucks mounted with weapons attacked the town from three directions early on August 2. Kurdish peshmerga reinforcements’ were on the way.’

ARBIL: Kurdish troops fought off a Sunni attack on an oil facility and a dam but lost 14 of their number in intense combat, Kurdish sources said August 2.

Sunnis attacked a peshmerga post in Zumar (August 1) and a fierce battle erupted,” an official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said. 14 peshmerga fighters were killed, a toll confirmed by a senior officer in the Kurdish force.

Control of Zumar by Sunni fighters would give them access to the small Ain Zalah oil field and a nearby refinery. The insurgents have already seized four oil fields, which help fund their operations.

Shi’ite militias and Kurdish fighters now rival the U.S.-trained and funded Iraqi army in their ability to challenge the insurgents.
The Sunni insurgents have stalled their advance towards Baghdad just before the town of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of the capital.

[July 27 Inability to recapture Fallujah from Sunnis underlines Shi’ite problem]

Smoke rises from buildings in May after shelling on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is currently held by anti-government fighters.

Smoke rises from buildings in May after shelling on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is currently held by anti-government fighters.

Residents of Fallujah and the nearby town of Garma said helicopters fired artillery and dropped three barrel bombs on the former and two on the latter. A mid-level security officer in Anbar province has confirmed that barrel bombs have been dropped on Fallujah
The government’s inability throughout the first half of 2014 to recapture the Sunni city of Falluja, just 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, underlines how ill equipped it is to reverse far greater militant gains since then which have displaced more than a million people.
In Samarra, 110 km (70 miles) from Baghdad and one of the most northerly cities under government control, a Reuters photographer saw Shi’ite militiamen on patrol rather than army troops.
“We are better than the army because we are fighting for our beliefs,” said lawmaker Hakim Zamili, who supervised deployment of the Mahdi Army’s “Peace Brigades” militia around Samarra.
A U.S. military official who served in Iraq predicted four “warring statelets” could emerge, based around Shi’ite power south of Samarra, Kurdish control in the northeast, and separate Sunni power centers on the Tigris and Euphrates.

[July 21 Iraq Army attacking to clear Karma, one of the closest districts to the capital Baghdad]

Fallujah, 40 miles from Baghdad

Fallujah, 40 miles from Baghdad

 July 11, 2014 photo, an ISIL terrorist speaks to people at a mosque in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq.


July 11, 2014 photo, an ISIL terrorist speaks to people at a mosque in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq.

Iraqi military sources say the government troops conducted the massive military attack on the al-Karma district near Fallujah city to clear the area of ISIL terrorists.

Karma is one of the closest districts to the capital Baghdad that had fallen into the hands of militants.
Baghdad lost control of portions of its territory, most notably the city of Fallujah, months ago.Extremist militants have controlled the cities of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Iraq’s mainly Sunni western Anbar province since early January, and last month ISIL terrorists overran vast tracts of Iraq’s north. The takeovers in Anbar province were the first time anti-government forces have exercised such open control in major cities since the bloody fighting that followed the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

[July 19 “We believe that they will fight to defend Baghdad”Iraqi security forces stiffen themselves to defend the capital]

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2014 Iraq is again a dangerous, “contested” place,Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said. “There are still innocent Iraqis suffering as a result of ISIL and their activities inside Iraq,” he said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant still poses a legitimate threat to Baghdad and its environs, the admiral said. “We continue to see Iraqi security forces prepare themselves and stiffen themselves to defend the capital,” he said. “We believe that they will fight to defend Baghdad. We also have seen Iraqi security forces go on the offensive in places like Tikrit, which they are still fighting for right now.” [But see below]

[July 16]
Iraqi forces have withdrawn from the militant-held city of Tikrit after their new offensive met heavy resistance, in a blow to the government effort to push back Sunni insurgents controlling large parts of the country.

[July 1]
The insurgents appeared to have repelled the military’s initial push for Tikrit and remained in control of the city Sunday, but clashes were taking place in the northern neighborhood of Qadisiyah. The US has counseled Iraq against rushing to retake cities, for fear that its army would become bogged down in urban warfare as the US military was during its occupation of Iraq. But the alternative may be to let the insurgents secure their territory and plan an offensive against Baghdad itself.
The United States has deployed 300 more troops to Baghdad in the last two days, with some of them assigned to secure Baghdad’s international airport. Troops were moved to Baghdad after American officials determined that Islamist fighters had consolidated their grip on the western outskirts of the capital in recent days. The movement “convinced us this would be prudent”. Baghdad’s airport would be critical to any evacuation of Americans from the capital, where hundreds remain assigned to the U.S. Embassy, the largest American diplomatic mission in the world.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/baghdad_navigator/

http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/iraq.shtml

Green – Shiite majority Red – Sunni majority  2003 Baghdad Ethnic Blue – Christian majority Yellow – Mixed Sunni

Green – Shiite majority
Red – Sunni majority
Blue – Christian majority
Yellow – Mixed Sunni

Majority Sunni areas were Hurriya in the north, Washash, Mansur, and Karkh in the central region, Sadiya in the south, and Adhamiya on the eastern bank of the Tigris River. The majority of the capital however was mixed Sunni-Shiite, especially in the central, southern, and northeastern regions.
Sunnis were reduced to 12% of Iraq’s population because of the fighting. Many became refugees in Syria and Jordan. While the exact percentage Sunnis made up of Iraq and Baghdad are disputed, a general number used in sources such as the CIA Factbook is around 30%. How much they made up of Baghdad before the U.S. invasion is an even harder figure to calculate. In the December 2005 national elections however, the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front and Iraqi National Dialogue Front pulled 22.9% of the vote in the capital, while the Iraqi National List, even though led by a Shiite, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, also draws strongly from Sunnis, got 13.4%. That’s roughly 30% of Baghdad as well. If Izady is to be believed than just over half of the Sunnis fled the country.

[June 27]
de-Baathification: Baathist “return” cocooned within a nationalist uprising?

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the king of spades

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the King of clubs

A handful of U.S. intelligence officers predicted a subterranean Baathist “return” cocooned within a nationalist uprising. Failing a unified response by Iraq’s political factions, JRTN may also represent the best chance of stopping ISIS from forming an Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Douri has a patronage network ,the Men of the Naqshbandi.
The Naqshbandi is a Sufi Islamic religious order associated with dervish mystics capable of entering deep trances. A strand of Iraq’s Naqshbandis had uses the movement as a political and business fellowship—somewhat similar to freemasonry—to advance their joint interests. The order cultivated Douri as their sponsor, and he was rushed through the process of confirmation as a Naqshbandi sheikh, officially connecting his spiritual lineage directly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Douri initiated numerous military families into the Naqshbandi order from the 1980s onward. Douri and the Naqshbandi kept a low profile after Hussein’s fall, until he was hung by Shia militiamen on December 30, 2006. Thereafter Douri took full command, publicly announcing the activation of JRTN as a militant group.

[June 21]
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was the King of clubs in decks of playing cards distributed to U.S. soldiers during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Among the more noteworthy of the parties aligned with ISIS is the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. The Naqshbandis, located primarily in Mosul, were formed in 2007 by former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party. al-Douri , Saddam’s former deputy and the head of the Baath party following Saddam’s execution in 2007, is in charge of the group.
On June 15, Isis jihadists, backed by local Baathist remnants from Saddam’s old regime, overran Tal Afar, causing the exodus of most of the city’s Shia community.
It is Baathists from Tal Afar who enabled Isis to take over the town. They have a strong presence and are very well organised. This is the return of Saddam’s men.
ISIS is at least to some degree a creature of Al-Douri or both of them are united by a common backer, likely to be found in Qatar. Tony Blair described “the oil conspiracy theory” as “the most absurd”[2011]. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don’t exist. – [Wolfowitz 2003] Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said June 11 that the seizing of northern city Mosul, was a “trick and conspiracy”.

[June 6 2011]

Musa Kusa

Musa Kusa

“No de-Baathification!” William Hague said, before adding, “They now need to publicize that more effectively, to be able to convince members of the current regime that that is something that would work.” Mr. Hague said, the rebels should learn from Iraq’s experience, in which a mass purge of former Saddam Hussein loyalists occurred under the American-backed program of “de-Baathification,” and shun any similar undertaking. The reference was to a policy that many analysts believe helped to propel years of insurgency in Iraq by stripping tens of thousands of officials of jobs. British officials lead the Stabilisation Response Team, a multinational unit assessing what the international community will have to do to ensure order if Gaddafi departs and leaves a power vacuum.
Around 40 diplomats and development specialists are in Benghazi assisting the Transitional National Council.

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