Pick off Bakr al-Baghdadi’s mid-level and senior commanders


From left to right Spc. Josh Shewell, human resource specialist, Command Sgt. Maj. George Elsaesser, 1-6 Inf. Command sergeant major, Lt. Col. Jason Kniffen, 1-6 Inf. commander and Staff Sgt. Adriana M. Diaz-Brown, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team public affairs noncommissioned officer take a photo during their flight to Al Asad Iraq Nov. 27.

2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team public affairs during flight to Al Asad Iraq Nov. 27 2017

“And I’ll also tell you this. With — you know, as far as al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, and his henchmen, you know, his senior commanders to facilitate what’s going on, I look at it out here like a game of chess, all right?” he said. “And so if al-Baghdadi is the king of his so-called caliphate, and, you know, then we don’t need to go directly after him. All we need to do is systematically pick off his knights, and his rooks and bishops. His mid-level and senior commanders, until none of them are left to protect him. And then eventually we’ll bring him to justice.” Speaking to Pentagon reporters via video link from Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, Col. Seth Folsom, commander of Task Force Lion, March 21, 2018.

[ December 22 2017 Bakr al-Baghdadi in Tharthar basin desert? ]

04 metu Buhayrat 300 2.jpg

Lake Tharthar

Screenshot 2018-01-15 at 7.01.15 PM - Edited

over Lake Tharthar

Regional officials say Bakr al-Baghdadi has returned to a tract of land between the Tharthar basin and the desert, nearer to where it all began for the now diminished leader and his downsized terror group, next to the Sunni Anbar and Salahuddin provinces.

February 7: Security troops carried out a campaign at refugee camps in the al-Habbaniya region, east of Ramadi, after intelligence authorities gathered information that some militants sneaked into the camps. Three militants were arrested during the campaign. They were able to infiltrate into the camps after counterfeiting their identity cards.

[December 22 Syria: Abu Faysal and his deputy Abu Qudamah al-Iraqi killed in air strike ]


WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2017 — The Syrian Democratic Forces continue their momentum to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria out of Syria in their advance against the enemy in the Khabur River area of the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Army Col. Ryan S. Dillon, spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters today.

Dec. 19, 2017 SOUTHWEST ASIA – Coalition airstrikes killed three senior Daesh leaders in Iraq and Syria in the past three weeks. The removal of these key terrorists disrupts Daesh’s leadership and information dissemination activities, reducing the terrorist group’s ability to plan and conduct terrorist attacks both within Syria and Iraq, and abroad.

* Abu Faysal, a senior Daesh leader, and his deputy Abu Qudamah al-Iraqi, were killed in a Coalition strike on Dec. 1 in the middle Euphrates River valley region of Syria.

* Mustafa Kamal Jasim Muhammad al-Zawi, a Daesh senior leader courier, was killed in an operation on Nov. 28 near al-Sharqat, Iraq.


[December 17 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi captured in Iraq, now on U.S. base in Syria?]

US forces have captured ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and he’s now held at one of the US bases in Syria.    According to the report, al-Baghdadi was captured in Iraq, then transferred to the US base in Syria’s Ras al-Ayn and then to the US base in Rmeilan. Additionally, US forces allegedly captured and transferred 7 high-profile members of ISIS.

[September 1 Baghdadi’s death? No? ]


There have been several previous reports of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death. But on August 31, Gen Townsend said there were “indicators in intelligence channels that he’s still alive”.
“We’re looking for him every day. I don’t think he’s dead,” he told reporters, repeating that he had “no clue” as to where the IS leader was.
“The last stand of Isis will be in the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” he added, using an alternative name for IS. “When we find him, I think we’ll just try to kill him first. It’s probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him.”

[July 25 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.]


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 ]


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 ]


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.


el-Hawl area Kurdish fighter November 2015



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


…have appearance of Green Berets?



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.

[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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Manbij Syria: cannot allow ISIS to gain momentum


March 6 2017

Army Col. Robert Manning III said, referring to advances into Syria by Turkish forces.   The United States is not involved in the movement of forces of either side, he said, but U.S. officials are very concerned about the effect that fighting there has had on its defeat-ISIS efforts. The United States would like to see an end to the hostilities before ISIS has the opportunity to regroup in eastern Syria, Manning said.   “We cannot allow ISIS to gain momentum at this critical point,” he stressed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin: “Pompeo is not informed on the issues, so it will cost us 1-2 weeks, but we will continue working on this.”


[March 17 State – we’re not done talking ]

QUESTION: — working group meetings between Turkish and U.S. officials, and yesterday, I believe, Turkish foreign minister stated that Turkey and U.S. agreed on Manbij, that the Syrian Kurdish fighters, YPG, are going to leave the city. Is that your understanding?

MS NAUERT: It is not our understanding. We have a lot of conversations that we’re having with the Turkish Government at this point. We had a day and a half or a day worth of meetings last week with Turkish Government officials. We’re still working to reach an agreement with Turkey at this point and we’re not done talking with them.
Heather Nauert, , Spokesperson, State Department Press Briefing, Washington, DC,March 15, 2018

[March 2 U.S.ashamed to abandon Kurds? ]

Vast territories to the east of the Euphrates have been captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) with US air support from Isis since 2015. 30 per cent of Syria is now held by the Kurds.
Probably, the US will stick with the Kurds because it would be ashamed, at least in the short term, to abandon them. Doing so too swiftly would also deter other potential US allies in the Middle East who might fear a similar fate.

[February 23 Manbij Syria:Pentagon has designated funding for the SDF separately]

“The reason for us to base soldiers in Manbij is to ensure that the town remains under the control of our partners,” said Rex Tillerson
The United States considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) a partner. Playing a large role in the SDF is the YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist-affiliated group.
The Pentagon has designated funding for the SDF separately from money for the so-called Syrian “border force” in its 2019 budget.


[February 7 Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk in Manbij, “We’re here…my job is to fight.” ]


Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk February 7 during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij., Syria

MANBIJ, SYRIA –   “We’re here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area,” Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said February 7 during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij.
Funk told reporters in Manbij that the U.S. would continue to support the Syrian fighters despite tensions with Turkey and that a continued U.S. presence in Syria’s north is aimed at deescalating tensions.
“I don’t worry,” Funk said when asked about recent Turkish threats, “It’s not in my job description to worry, my job is to fight.”

On February 6, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Manbij and renewed a threat to expand Ankara’s military offensive in Syria to this town.

“Why are you staying there (in Manbij)? Leave,” Erdogan said, referring to American troops.

[January 24 Syrian airspace under Russian control west of Euphrates ]


The Turkish campaign only became possible when Russia agreed not to oppose it and, above all, allowed Turkish jets to operate in Syrian airspace. This is under Russian control west of the Euphrates.   Is control east of Euphrates American…over Manbij?

Screenshot 2018-01-24 at 10.02.39 AMCombined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve precision strikes killed an estimated 145-150 ISIS terrorists near As Shafah, Syria which is north of Abu Kamal, Jan. 20.

The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparation to confirm an ISIS headquarters and command and control center in an exclusively ISIS-occupied location in the contested Middle Euphrates River Valley.   The United States has around 2,000 special forces troops in Syria, officially as part of an international U.S.-led coalition, assisting the Kurds in battle against Islamic State. A U.S. official said the administration is unlikely to commit more troops or covert operators to Syria, even if Turkey makes a move from Afrin to Manbij.

[January 23 Manbij: entire U.S. strategy rests on the Kurds ]

Gonul Tol, director of the Middle East Institute think tank’s Turkey program, said persuading Erdogan not to move against Manbij could prove extremely difficult.

The Trump administration’s Syria strategy – crushing the remnants of Islamic State and reviving the U.N.-led Geneva talks on ending the Syrian civil war – almost entirely depends on preserving the 30,000-strong YPG as a fighting force.

“The entire U.S. strategy rests on the Kurds. Even if Turkey doesn’t attack Manbij, the fall of Afrin will weaken the Kurds, and that will weaken the U.S. influence with the Kurds, Tol said. “The only leverage the U.S. has (in Syria) is through the Kurds.

“If Manbij falls, Raqqa is going to be threatened and that is key for the U.S.,” Tol continued, referring to the Syrian city that Islamic State declared as its capital and from which it was driven out last year. “The U.S. will do everything to ease the tensions with Turkey. But I don’t know what they will come up (with). They have to be very creative.”

[ November 9 2017 SDF in Raqqah release 86 former ISIS fighters ]

raqqa nov8

On November 8, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that it released 86 former ISIS fighters who were captured or surrendered during the battle for Raqqa. The SDF said that the former ISIS fighters who were released went through a strict investigation and stressed that none of them committed crimes during their service with ISIS.

[October 12 400 militants left near Raqqa ]

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces inspect weapons and munitions recovered at the former positions of the Islamic State militants inside a building at the frontline in Raqqa

KOBANI, Syria (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters in the Syrian city of Raqqa are expected to fight to the death, but some local militants have surrendered recently as U.S.-backed forces close in on their last strongholds, a U.S. coalition spokesman said on October 11.
Colonel Ryan Dillon said officials in the Raqqa Civil Council, which is to govern the city after IS has been driven out, were working to negotiate the safe passage of thousands of civilians being held hostage.
But the coalition would not support any negotiated withdrawal of fighters, he said.
“The coalition would not be party to a negotiated settlement. (But) we’re jumping ahead of anything that’s being discussed right now … as (the council) try to get civilians out,” he told Reuters by phone.
Up to 400 militants are believed to remain in a small part of Raqqa surrounded by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, he said.
“The foreign fighters (in IS), we fully expect them to fight till the end – there’s a hardcore of (foreign) fighters.
“But we have seen a rate of four to five ISIS fighters surrendering a week, including emirs – local leaders within Raqqa – over the past month,” Dillon said, using another acronym for Islamic State.
On Oct. 11, Coalition military forces: Near Ar Raqqah, 24 strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units, damaged nine fighting positions, destroyed 11 fighting positions, 12 vehicles, two communication nodes and one ISIS supply route

June 19 Warning after Bush F/A-18E shoots down Syrian SU-22 near Raqqah ]


Russia announces it will target any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria after the US military shot down a Syrian air force SU-22.   The U.S.-led coalition conducts missions in areas west of the Euphrates River near Manbij and Al Bab, two towns retaken from ISIS by U.S.-backed rebel forces.   

[June 18



US Central Command said the SU-22 dropped bombs near the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are being supported by the US-led coalition as they advance on the terrorist stronghold of Raqqa.  “In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces, it was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” a statement said.

[March 17 1000 more U.S. to Syria

usrangers2014 Rangers training

The Pentagon has considered increasing the U.S. military presence in Syria by up to 1,000 troops as the international battle to oust the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, from their de facto capital of Raqqa heats up.

The U.S. has already deployed about 500 U.S. Special Operations forces, 250 Rangers and 200 Marines to Syria.

.[March 15 U.S. Rangers near Raqqa]

The U.S. is looking for options to ease the tensions with Turkey over the plan to use U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds in the fight to oust Islamic State fighters from Raqqa but has offered no details on what those options could be.

The U.S. is considering arming the Syrian Kurdish forces, which the Pentagon considers the most effective fighters against IS militants in northern and eastern Syria. But Turkey, a key NATO ally, considers the Syrian force, known as the YPG, a terrorist organization. Turkey wants to work with other Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.

Paentagon leaders sent a new plan to defeat IS to the White House late last month that included a variety of options for the ongoing fight in Iraq and Syria.


Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters walk with their weapons during an offensive against Islamic State militants in northern Raqqa province

SDF Forces in Rakkah February 2017


3rd Ranger Battalion March 8

MARCH 6, a separate force of elite US army Rangers was deployed near a town north-west of Raqqa in heavily armoured vehicles, in an attempt to end clashes between SDF fighters and a Turkish-backed rebel force.   http://bigstory.ap.org/article/former-trump-security-adviser-flynn-admits-turkey-lobbying


“Just days ago, fighting broke out between the Manbij Military Council (SDF), who had Green Berets embedded within their ranks, and Turkish-backed forces in the Manbij area. The movement of more US troops in the area will signify to our allies that they have our support, and show the Turkish forces and pro-Assad fighters that they’re messing with the wrong dudes.”

]February 16 Trump not insisting on Kurds in Raqqah Assault]

U. S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the Kurdish YPG, has caused tensions with NATO ally Turkey, which views the Kurdish militia as an extension of militants fighting on its own soil.

“If we want the Raqqa operation to be successful, then it should be carried out with Arab forces in the region and not the YPG,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told reporters in Brussels.

“The new U.S. administration has a different approach to the issue. They are not insisting anymore that the operation should definitely be carried out with the YPG. They haven’t yet made up their minds,” he said in comments broadcast live.

The SDF alliance, which includes Arab and other groups in Syria’s north as well as the YPG, has taken territory along the Syria-Turkey border as they push back Islamic State.

With air strikes and special ground forces from the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF is in the middle of a multi-phased operation to encircle Raqqa, Islamic State’s base of operations in Syria.

A key decision for the Trump administration will be whether to provide weapons to the YPG despite Turkish objections. The U.S. says weapons provided to the SDF are so far limited to its Arab elements.

“We are working with the U.S. on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij by the time the al-Bab operation is completed,” Isik said, referring to a town currently under SDF control.


Mahmud al-Isawi, a Syrian-based ISIL leader and facilitator, was struck and killed by a Coalition precision airstrike Dec. 31, 2016, in Raqqah, Syria.   CJTF-OIR does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.  Coalition nations which have conducted strikes in Syria include Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

[July 3 2015 U.S. kills IS leader in airstrike in  al-Hasakah area of Syria]

Tariq Bin al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State leader, in Syria was killed June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria. He was the subject of a $3 million reward offered by the U.S. State Department.
The military reported conducting two airstrikes in the al-Hasakah area of Syria, which includes the town of al-Shaddadi, on June 16. It said at the time that those strikes hit an Islamic State tactical unit, two antenna arrays and a vehicle, but made no mention of enemy casualties.
Al-Harzi’s death came one day after that of his brother, Ali Awni al-Harzi, a key suspect in the 2012 Benghazi U.S. Consulate attack and also a member of IS. He was killed June 15 in a U.S. drone strike in Mosul, Iraq.

June 11 2011 Syria: Rifaat Assad Redux?]

Rifaat Assad

Assad Dynasty

Rifaat Assad

Rifaat Assad

In 1983, Hafez’ younger brother Rifaat, who drew a significant amount of support from the military, attempted a coup against Hafez Assad
In 1992 he returned to Syria following the death of his mother. However, in 1998, as Bashar Assad was being groomed for the presidency, Rifaat was denied the title of vice-president and left the country one again.

For years he has been deemed a potential threat to Bashar’s inheritance of his father’s regime, but when Hafez Assad died in June 2000, Rifaat refrained from taking any major steps to prevent Bashar from assuming power.
Rifaat is considered close, by some observers, to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah is married to a sister of Rifaat’s wife, and Rifaat has on occasions—even after his public estrangement from the rulers in Syria—been invited to Saudi Arabia, with pictures of him and the royal family displayed in the state-controlled press.
After the Iraq war, there were press reports that he had started talks with US government representatives on helping to form a coalition with other anti-Assad groups to provide an alternative Syrian leadership, on the model of the Iraqi National Congress. Rifaat has held a meeting with the former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Yossef Bodansky, the director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has stated that Rifaat enjoys support from both America and Saudi Arabia; he has been featured in the Saudi press as visiting the royal family in 2007. The Bashar regime remains wary of his intentions and carefully monitors his activities.

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Erik Prince met Russian oligarch before Trump’s inauguration

Erik Prince

Erik Prince leaves hearing

EXCLUSIVE – Erik Prince tells Fox News that there was no perjury, no collusion and no attempt to set up a back channel to the Kremlin when he met with a Russian oligarch weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“The public reports that George Nader may be cooperating with special counsel and has presented a different version of events, in the sense that this Seychelles meeting was part of an effort to establish a back channel to Russia, that the meeting that Erik Prince had with the Russian banker was not happenstances, is obviously at odds with the testimony we’ve heard in front of the House Intelligence Committee.”


[ May 16 2011 UAE: American-led foreign soldiers could be used to subdue local political unrest? ]

The establishment of the R2 force raises the question of whether American-led foreign soldiers could be used to subdue local political unrest, such as the pro-democracy movements in neighbouring Bahrain. Mr Karasik said that, while the force was located in Abu Dhabi, it would probably serve all of the seven emirates that form the UAE. FT New Yorker
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is launching an investigation into Prince’s work in the UAE. “The man who brought us Blackwater, a company whose name has become synonymous with the worst of contractor abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been hired to put together a mercenary army that could be used to suppress a revolt or attack pro-democracy protesters,” Schakowsky said. ”

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British targeting for Saudi Arabia – in Yemen


Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman said: “Britain has not only increased arms supplies to Saudi Arabia dramatically since the start of the war, not only supports the war, as Theresa May said in the chamber just now, but British military personnel advise the Saudi air force and military on targeting – and so there is a direct involvement in the conduct of the war.

British military advisers are in control rooms assisting the Saudi-led coalition staging bombing raids across Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians, the Saudi foreign minister and the Ministry of Defence have confirmed.

[February 18 2011 U.S. ties to disengage? ]

A strategic divorce is unlikely to occur soon, U.S. officials say that the United States has no plans to leave the Middle East or retreat into isolationism, does not mean to disengage from the Middle East. Ties with Saudi Arabia, long nurtured by oil commerce, have been jolted by diplomatic disagreements over Iran, Syria and Egypt, and could fray further.

Allies for decades, Washington and Riyadh find their interests now diverging on such key issues as how to support the rebels in Syria’s civil war, the intensifying U.S. diplomacy with Iran and the military coup in Egypt.

Saudis have serious problems with our policies. They can’t abide the fact that, as a result of our doing, a Shiite prime minister rules in Baghdad; they loathe our policy on acquiescing to Mubarak’s ouster; they resent our interest in reform in Bahrain; and they can’t stand our refusal to get tough with Israel on the Palestinians.
The United States is less reliant each month on Middle East energy, thanks to increasing production of both oil and natural gas from technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which allows extraction of oil and gas from shale deposits.

Could it be that, in coming years, we’re going draw back even more from the place? Perhaps.

[February 18 2011]


General Prince Mitaub bin Abdullah, left

Field Marshall Saleh Al-Muhaya CGS


Saudi Arabia has been besieged by bloody riots in neighboring Bahrain and a growing anti-government protest south of its border in Yemen.
King Abdullah, the world’s Arab monarch, is a pragmatist and a modest reformist, who has had to balance the demands of the conservative Wahabi Muslim establishment in the desert kingdom, with the aspirations of ordinary Saudi men and woman hoping for a bigger slice of the oil-based economy.

“Abdullah has been much more forthcoming than his predecessors in making some social, political, and professional space for women. He has publicly curtailed the arbitrary power and the capricious behavior of the so-called religious police, the mutaween, who are actually behavior police,” but the reforms, which do not amount to any kind of popular democracy, are “top down” rather than arising from popular unrest.
Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, a half brother of the king, said it was not too late for the Saudi government to take steps to avoid protests – and that the king is the only person who can bring about major changes.

“The only person who could really maintain things and do major things and change is King Abdullah,” the prince told BBC Arabic in an interview. “Because he is not merely liked, but he is loved by the people. But if he doesn’t do it, it would be very dangerous in our country.”

Talal is an outspoken prince who has called for reform before. He holds no government posts and is considered something of an outsider within the royal family.

He was forced briefly into exile in the 1960s amid reports at the time that he planned a revolt.

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Syria: Russians there “for various reasons” casualties – foreign ministry

Relations between the Russian mercenaries in Syria — it is thought there are more than 2,000 of them — and the government in Moscow have been tense for some time. The fighters claim they are being used as cannon fodder, are being kept quiet and are poorly paid. For them to now accuse the Kremlin of trying to cover up the fact that Russians were killed — by the Americans, of all people — hits President Vladimir Putin’s government in a weak spot: its credibility.

[February 20]

The Russian foreign ministry described the Russian casualties as “Russian citizens who went to Syria of their own accord for various reasons”. Some were also from other ex-Soviet republics.
The statement did not specify the numbers of dead or wounded, but spoke of “several dozen” casualties, and said the wounded were being treated now in hospitals in Russia.
Independent media have found evidence of Russian mercenaries fighting for the Syrian government side.
Russia’s official military role mainly takes the form of air strikes, helping President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
The US military said US air strikes were launched on 7 February against an attacking force of about 500 fighters, about 100 of whom were killed.

[February 14 U.S. kills Russians – who pays Russians? ]

A US jet operating in Syria destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank near Al Tabiyeh, Syria on February 10, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed. in the three-hour battle, during which the United States called on Apache helicopters, AC-130 gunships and F-15 fighter jets to repel the assailants, U.S. military officials said.   More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured. It’s not clear who was paying the Russian contingent, whether it was Russia directly, Syria, Iran or a third party. Reports in Russian media have said Wagner — a shadowy organization known as Russia’s answer to Blackwater, now called Academi — was hired by Assad or his allies to guard Syrian energy assets in exchange for oil concessions.

According to documents seen by the AP and Fontaka, Evro Polis has signed a contract with Syria’s state-owned General Petroleum Corp. for 25 percent of the proceeds from all the oil and natural-gas fields it captures from ISIS. Evro Polis is reportedly Wagner’s commercial front in Syria. It is owned by Putin’s “favorite chef” Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose companies have extensive contracts to provide food for everyone from the Russian defense ministry to most of Moscow’s public schools. Most famously, Prigozhin set up a “Kremlin troll factory” in St. Petersburg to influence public opinion in the West by peddling conspiracy theories and disinformation on social-media platforms.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis insisted that despite the media reports he did not have information that “Russian contractors” were among the casualties,
“I can’t give you anything on that, we have not received that word at Central Command or the Pentagon,” he said.


[March 212 2012   Damascus fighting near homes of powerful figures, Mezzeh, Harasta and Irbin ]

Damascus, Syria suburbs March 21,2012 fighting resumes

Syrian government forces used tanks and helicopters against insurgents in several suburbs of Damascus Wednesday, anti-government activists said. Helicopters flew above as artillery and gunfire was heard in the suburbs of Harasta and Irbin.

[March 19, 2012]Residents and activists in the heart of a heavily guarded and wealthy district of Damascus said it was extraordinary to see such clashes in a well-defended area of Damascus so close to crucial security installations and the homes of powerful figures.

“It’s the first time something happened so close and so loud,” said a businesswoman, reached by telephone, who lives a short drive from the center of the fighting and who declined to give her name. “We stayed awake and couldn’t sleep till around 5 a.m.”

The fighting started around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. with several explosions, activists and residents said, followed by automatic-weapons fire and helicopters circling with searchlights, in a wealthy area of the city’s Mezzeh district that is home to business people, United Nations offices and diplomatic residences. Smoke was seen rising near an upscale supermarket and the high-rise Tala Tower. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group based in London, said its informants reported that at least 18 members of the security forces were killed in the clashes.

Mezzeh is a sprawling area on the western edge of Damascus, one of the first city panoramas that greets visitors arriving on the Damascus-Beirut highway named for Hafez al-Assad, the president’s father who ruled for 30 years.

The West Villas section of Mezzeh, where the nighttime fighting took place, is a neighborhood of stand-alone houses across the highway from a military airport. It is home to wealthy Syrians of a mix of ethnic backgrounds and political persuasions, many of whom live cosmopolitan lives and have a foothold abroad, in the form of business or dual citizenship.

To its north is Mezzeh 86, a less wealthy area home to many Alawites, members of the security forces, and, some residents say, the shabiha, a term for pro-government gangs that have been unleashed against the government’s opponents. Activists with the Local Coordinating Committees, a coalition of Syria-based groups, reported that large numbers of security vehicles and shabiha were deployed there by midday on Monday.

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Pakistan:not decisive action positive indicators, Votel


Shehbaz Sharif elected acting president of PML-N

The U.S. military is seeing some “positive indicators” from Pakistan showing it is becoming more responsive to U.S. concerns about militant safehavens in the country but Islamabad has yet to make a strategic shift.

“It does not yet equal the decisive action that we would like to see them take in terms of a strategic shift, but they are positive indicators,” U.S. House of Representatives. Tuesday 27 February 2018. US Army General Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command, testifief during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.



[February 12  Khalid Mehsud killed in North Waziristan by drone ]


Khalid Mehsud, has been killed in a US drone attack.
Mehsud was deputy leader of the banned Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main faction of the hardline Islamist Pakistani Taliban.
He was killed in a drone strike on February 8 in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan, the militant group said in a statement.   According to an official of the political administration, two missiles were fired at the compound in the Gorwek area across the border near Zero Point

February 12, 2018
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistani (TTP) spokesperson has confirmed the death of TTP commander Khan Said Sajna in a recent US drone strike.

Azam Tariq Mehsud said Commander Sajna was killed in February 8’s strike in a village along the Pak-Afghan border. He said another commander, Mufti Noor Wali, has now been appointed in Sajna’s place.

Tariq says Wali enjoys the backing of Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the TTP who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan.

By Owen Bennett-Jones
BBC News, North Waziristan
8 March 2017

Virtually the whole of North Waziristan is in Pakistani army hands.

The army believes the defeat of the militants was one of the most successful anti-jihadist campaigns the world has yet seen. In two years of fighting the army lost 872 men and believes it killed over 2,000 militants.

“Before 2014 North Waziristan was a hub of terrorist activities,” said General Hassan Azhar Hayat, who commands 30,000 men in North Waziristan. After the army moved in “those who resisted were fought in these areas… the complete agency was cleared”.


[January 27 Haqqani Commander Ehsan alias Khawari killed by a drone attack ]

drone target

Liaqat Ali alias Ehsanullah Ehsan

Liaqat Ali alias Ehsanullah Ehsan

The Pakistani official claim about Afghan refugee camps in Fata is particularly puzzling since it is widely known the camps that did exist in the region were closed a number of years ago. Dawn, January 27th, 2018



January 26, 2018 6:20

Haqqani Network Commander Ehsan alias Khawari and two of his associates were reportedly killed by a drone attack at Kurram Agency which falls under Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Northwest Pakistan.

Two missiles were reportedly fired from the drone at the house where the commander stayed in Biland Khel village in Speen Thall area – on the confluence of borders between Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Orakzai agency.
The drone strike took place after a militant attack January 20 on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in which 22 people were killed, 14 of which were foreign nationals and there were even some U.S. citizens among those killed and wounded, the State Department reported on January 24.
The Taliban took responsibility for sending five suicide bombers to administer the deadly attack. But Afghan authorities accused the Taliban-allied Haqqani network of planning the violent operation. According to the Urdu news channel, Dawn-

[January 25 U.S. denies refugee camps where drone strike in Pakistan ]

Kurram-Agency hangu

Kurram Hangu

“The claim in an MFA statement yesterday that U.S. forces struck an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency yesterday is false,” said spokesperson Richard Snelsire in a statement.

Snelsire did not offer any further details and preferred not to confirm the drone attack on a home in the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan.
The denial January 25 came a day after missiles fired from an unmanned aircraft struck a militant hideout located between Pakistan’s semiautonomous Kurram region and the Hango district, both in the country’s northwest. The pre-dawn Wednesday attack killed a commander of the Haqqani militant network and his two aides. A spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency told VOA there are no refugee camps in the area where the drone strike occurred. He did not, however, rule out the presence of undocumented Afghans there.

[ January 2  U.S. drones in Pakistan/Trump tweet ]









[December 26 2017 Drone kills militant Jamiuddin near Kurram Pakistan ]


In the mountainous border region separating Pakistan’s Kurram Agency from Afghanistan, a drone attack targeted the vehicle of a militant commander named Jamiuddin, and also killed an associate of the commander. Rehmanullah, a resident of the area who uses only one name, said he saw the strike near the Mata Sanghar area of Kurram agency, across from the Afghan province of Paktia.

“I saw two missiles hit the vehicle and the people inside were killed,” he told Reuters by telephone.

[May 26 2016 Mullah Mansour’s death accepted by Pakistan ]

nyt op-ed

NYT cartoon on Mullah Mansour’s death hits a little too close to home…nyt op-ed

All indicators confirm that the person killed in the drone strike was Mansour who was travelling on a fake identity when targeted in a drone strike near Noshki district in Balochistan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said during a press briefing.

Aziz, however, said DNA reports of Wali Muhammad, the man suspected to be the Taliban leader, will further confirm the killing of Mansour. “His body will be handed over to his family after DNA tests,” the premier’s senior aide said.

“The death of Mullah Akhter Mansour in a drone strike on 21 May has added to the complexity of the Afghan conflict,” Aziz said while adding that the drone strike was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty as well as breach of principles of the United Nations Charter governing the conduct of states.

“We have conveyed our serious concern to the United States on this issue, PM’s adviser on foreign affairs said.51dbzhbyryl-_ac_us240_fmwebp_ql65_

[May 13 2015 Seymour Hersh against legend: CIA played a key role in shaping. “Zero Dark Thirty”

Hersh says high-level Pakistani officials consented to allow the US to conduct its “raid” on the compound – a de facto assassination – after the US found out about Bin Laden’s whereabouts through a source in Pakistani intelligence (and not, as reported, after interrogation of al-Qaeda detainees and extensive investigation into a Bin Laden courier).

The CIA played a key role in shaping. “Zero Dark Thirty” ‘s narrative, corresponding with the filmmakers to negotiate favorable access to a movie that one CIA official described as “get[ting] behind the winning horse” of the “first and biggest” movie about the Bin Laden raid, according to internal CIA emails obtained by Judicial Watch. The White House gave its blessing as well, calling it the most “high profile” project to date, and suggesting it get more “visibility,” as one White House official wrote.

The government’s efforts paid off handsomely. “Zero Dark Thirty” proved to be a propaganda coup beyond anything the CIA could have imagined, right down to its debunked assertion that torture helped the U.S. locate bin Laden. Director Kathryn Bigelow used her considerable skills to create a visceral, hyperkinetic thriller that leaves its audience with little doubt of the CIA’s ultimate heroism. Any moral depravity is presented as a lamentable but understandable byproduct of the good fight. The bucketload of money ”Zero Dark Thirty” made put the icing on the cake. more about movie

January 1 American Sniper compared to German WWII film]

That movie in the Tarantino film was a Nazi propaganda film called Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride) that showed a German sniper killing Allied soldiers from a clock tower.
the movie

[December 4 2012 Zero Dark Thirty best film 2012 NYCC]

Continue reading

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Israel’s Broadest attack on Syria since 1982 Lebanon offensive


On February 9, Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway officially announced that the US supports the Israeli attack that targeted twelve positions of the Syrian Air Defense Forces and the Iranian forces in Syria. The Pentagon spokesman told reporters that the US fully supports “Israel’s right to defend itself”. Syrian anti-aircraft fire downed the F-16 as it returned from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria early on Saturday. The Iran-backed forces are supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s near seven-year civil war.

Israel then launched a second and more intensive air raid, hitting what it said were 12 Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, including Syrian air defense systems.
Israel said it had destroyed three Syrian anti-aircraft batteries and four targets “that are part of Iran’s military establishment” in Syria during Saturday’s raids.

“This is the broadest attack on Syria’s defense systems since (Operation) Peace for the Galilee,” air force Brigadier-General Amnon Ein Dar told Army Radio, referring to Israel’s 1982 Lebanon offensive, in which it battled Syrian forces.

It was also the first downing of an Israeli warplane by enemy fire since that conflict.

[ August 19 2015 An “interagency review” of U.S., Task Force Sinai in danger from Islamic State or other militants ]


Dano and his handler bound  for Sinai

The Obama administration is quietly reviewing the future of America’s three-decade deployment to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,
Armed primarily with light weapons, armored personnel carriers and similarly limited materiel, the forces lack the capacity to take on Islamic State or other militants across the sparsely populated, desert territory. As a result, officials said, the Obama administration has been conducting an “interagency review” of the U.S. posture in the Sinai. . Some 700 members of an Army battalion and logistics support unit are currently there. They mainly monitor and verify compliance, and have little offensive capability. Several other countries also provide personnel. Camp David Accords, which led to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, legally mandate the presence of the two American military units, the U.S. can remove them — at least temporarily — if they’re in imminent danger. The agreed basis for a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors is United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, 17 September 1978,

[July 02 Egyptian militants have ambitions to seize Shiekh Zuwayid]

APTOPIX Mideast Israel Egypt

Smoke rises following an explosion in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, as seen from the Israel-Egypt border, near Kerem Shalom town, southern Israel, Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

Islamic militants on July 1 unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks, including suicide car bombings, on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing tens of soldiers, security and military officials said. Airstrikes by the Egyptian Air Force were centered on the northern Sinai town of Shiekh Zuwayid, an Apache helicopter gunship destroyed one of the armored carriers captured by the militants.
The territory, characterized by hardscrabble towns, desert and mountainous areas suitable for guerrilla operations, has long been neglected by the government. Local Bedouin tribesmen have grown to resent Cairo, turning to smuggling, organized crime and, in some cases, radical Islam.

The sustained attack — the first of its kind — suggested the militants have ambitions to seize an entire city.

[July 1 Barakat dead on second anniversary of Morsi riots]

Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat died of injuries sustained in an apparent remote-controlled bombing. Barakat had suffered multiple shrapnel wounds to the shoulder, chest and liver on the eve of the second anniversary of the massive demonstrations against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood that paved the way, days later, for the military coup to oust the president and ultimately install Sissi as Egypt’s leader.

[June 8 2014 el-Sissi wins the May 26-27 election]

He said the Brotherhood’s ideology was based on “arrogance in religion”

Egypt’s retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi unequivocally rejected any political reconciliation with the Brotherhood, which was Egypt’s most powerful political force until el-Sissi removed President Mohammed Morsi in the 2013 summer.

Asked whether the group will no longer exist under his presidency, el-Sissi replied, “Yes. Just like that.”

“It’s not me that finished it, the Egyptians have. The problem is not with me,” he said.

He said the Brotherhood’s ideology was based on “arrogance in religion” — and the presence of that strain of thought had destabilized Egyptian society for decades.

“The thought structure of these groups says that we are not true Muslims, and they believed conflict was inevitable because we are non-believers,” he said. “It will not work for there to be such thinking again.”

[March 11 2012]


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday, March 3, 2013.


Secretary of State John Kerry is wrapping up a visit to Egypt with an appeal for unity and reform to the country’s president and military chief.

[February 23]

In December when the political crisis deepened over Mursi’s November 22 decree rejected by the opposition, the army invited all political factions, including the president, to lunch in a military building with the aim of defusing tensions.

Mursi initially agreed, seeing the invitation as a way out of the dilemma while mass protests were held outside the presidential palace denouncing his measures. The opposition said it would attend. Suddenly the invitation was cancelled. the Brotherhood concluded that all political factions would show up for the function sponsored by the army while most of these factions rejected a call for dialogue made by the president. Military sources said the president was behind the cancellation.
The Egyptian army is now engaged in a political redeployment, a key feature of which is keeping a distance from the presidency. At the same time, the military establishment is projecting itself in a new light as being above all sides to the current political struggle. The army is likely to emerge as a guardian of the state, who monitors the political players’ performances.

[February 17]
“In essence, the military will not allow national stability or its own institutional privileges to come under threat from a breakdown in Egypt’s social fabric or a broad-based civil strife,” said Michael W. Hanna, an Egypt expert from the New York-based Century Foundation.
“This is not an ideological army or one that seeks to destabilize civilian governance. … But it is also not an army that will sit by while the country reaches the tipping point on the path to civil strife.”
The latest friction began when a rumor circulated that Morsi planned to replace Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, his defense minister and the army chief, because of his resistance to bringing the military under the sway of the Brotherhood-dominated government.
El-Sissi may have angered Morsi last month when he signaled the military’s readiness to step in, warning that the state would collapse if no solution was found to the political crisis. Pointedly, he also spoke of how the military faces a dilemma in marrying the task of protecting state installations in restive locations with its resolve not to harm peaceful protesters.
In another provocative comment earlier this month, el-Sissi was quoted as saying he would never allow the armed forces to be dominated by the Brotherhood, or any other group, stressing the military’s national identity.

The rumor about el-Sissi’s dismissal was widely suspected to be a trial balloon floated by the Muslim Brotherhood to gauge military and public reaction.
The military did not officially respond. But widely published comments attributed to an anonymous military source threatened that any attempt to remove the military’s top commanders would be “suicide” for the government and spoke of widespread anger within the armed forces.
The source was quoted as saying the public will not accept any meddling in the military and will close ranks to counter any pressures or challenges.
The military distanced itself from the comments on a statement posted on its official Facebook page. But the situation was deemed serious enough for Morsi’s office to issue a statement late Monday that appeared aimed at calming the military.
It reassured commanders of the administration’s appreciation of the armed forces and said the president had confidence in el-Sissi.

“The two sides may be publicly dismissing reports of tension, but the army is making it very clear to the presidency that any attempt to dismiss el-Sissi would backfire,” said military analyst and retired army Gen. Mohammed Qadri Said.
“They claim mutual love and respect, but what is happening is not indicative of this.”
The military also handed Morsi a public humiliation when army commanders chose not to enforce a night curfew he imposed on three restive Suez Canal cities in riots last month.
[February 17]
Major General Sedki Sobhi, the chief of staff, said the Ary will avoid politics.
Diplomats and analysts suggest the army, fearful of further damaging a reputation that took a beating during a messy transition period when it was in charge, would only act if Egypt faced unrest on the scale of the revolt that toppled Mubarak. Protests and violence now are nowhere near that stage.

Sean F. McMahon is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo.
He writes: On 29 January 2013, the Egyptian military, now headed by General al-Sisi, said: “[t]he continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations.” a warning to the military’s junior partner in governing that it risks replacement lest it arrest the instability threatening the military’s extensive material interests in the Egyptian political economy. the military, as the most powerful force in the country, displaced its junior partner, the monopoly capital class represented by Gamal Mubarak, when the partner became an untenable liability. Then, the military secured the Muslim Brotherhood, representative of the competitive capital class, as its junior partner. This replacement of one junior partner with another amounted to a restoration of the prevailing political order in the sense that another sector of capital had consented to govern with the military while Egypt’s subordinate and supportive position in the global order, and the rents the military derives from maintaining that position, were perpetuated.
[December 9 2012]
Following El-Sisi’s appointment, accusations originally propagated by controversial anti-revolutionary talk show host Tawfik Okasha in June that he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or “their man in SCAF” were again leveled at the general. Rumours have also spread that his wife wears the niqab (full face veil).

Mutaz Abdul Fattah, a professor at Cairo University, also said Gen Sisi did not belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, writing on Twitter: “He is not a member of the Brotherhood; he is just a religious man.”

The newspaper, al-Tahrir, also reported that Gen Sisi had “strong ties with US officials on both diplomatic and military levels”.

He had studied in Washington, attended several military conferences there, and engaged in “joint co-operation with regard to war games and intelligence operations in recent years”, it said.
[December 6]


Army separates rival protests in Cairo in front of Palace


The relatively small show of force by Egypt’s military — seven tanks, 10 armored trucks and a few dozen soldiers who set out coils of barbed wire — followed a meeting that included Morsi; his newly appointed, young and openly Islamist defense minister, Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi; Gen. Hamid Zaki, the newly appointed head of the Republican Guard, considered a Morsi loyalist; and other officials.

Although the move by the Republican Guard by no means indicates that Morsi has deep or widespread support in the military, which is as divided and complex as Egypt itself, it suggested that the army remains the ultimate arbiter of power in post-revolutionary Egypt, just as it has been for decades.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the new head of the Egyptian military and 44th defense minister in the history of the modern Egyptian army since its formation more than 200 years ago. In his mid-50s, he is one of the youngest members of the military council that was previously headed by Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi.

Sisi was appointed to his new position amid major changes made by President Mohamed Morsy in which the older ranks of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, including Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, were sent to retirement.

Colonel General Abdul Fatah Saeed Hussein Khalil Al-Sisi (Arabic: عبد الفتاح سعيد حسين خليل السيسي‎, IPA: [ʕæbdel.fætˈtæːħ sæˈʕiːd ħeˈseːn xæˈliːl esˈsiːsi]; born 19 November 1954) is an Egyptian Colonel General. He is the Commander-In-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces since 12 August 2012. He also serves in Hesham Kandil’s government as Minister of Defense and Military Production since 12 August 2012 and as Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
Robert Springborg, “both sides are looking to the military to decide the future of the country where they are unable as civilians to work it out between themselves.” an expert on the Egyptian military at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Behind all the accusations and the seemingly minor procedural objections lies something more basic: Egyptians simply may not agree on the fundamental attributes of the modern nation state. Should the state be ideologically neutral, or should it be an enforcer of morality, intent on creating virtuous families and virtuous individuals? Egyptians, and most of the Arab world for that matter, haven’t really had this conversation until now.
[May 22]

opinion poll published by the independent Al Shorouk newspaper

opinion poll published by the independent Al Shorouk newspaper

A poll conducted this month by the University of Maryland found that Dr. Aboul Fotouh was leading, with 32 percent of respondents saying they favored him, while Mr. Moussa came in second with 28 percent. Mr. Shafiq garnered 14 percent and Mr. Morsi 8 percent.
[May 15]An opinion poll published by the independent Al Shorouk newspaper earlier this month, showed Abul-Fotouh in the lead with 20.8 per cent support, followed by Moussa with 16 per cent and Shafiq with 15.2 per cent.
“It’s a poker game,” said Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptians party, describing the talks he attended on May 2 between political party leaders and military ruler Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who is also defense minister. The army has been hosting the cross-party talks to resolve a row over the make-up of an assembly that was to write the new constitution. Liberals walked out of the assembly picked by parliament, saying it had too many Islamists. The revolt that gripped the world and inspired Arabs has stumbled under the transition managed by the generals who took charge when Mubarak, a former air force commander, was forced out.

Sporadic street protests still flare, but change is now being dictated by a tortuous tug-of-war between the civilian politicians and the army, a pillar of Mubarak’s rule which is set to remain a major power broker long after it formally hands over to a new president by July 1. The army kept its distance from politics, confident the president was guarding its interests. In the meantime, the military gained privileges and built up sprawling business interests ranging from a military industrial complex to factories bottling water, operating almost as a parallel state. One way the army will keep a grip will be through a proposed National Security Council, widely endorsed by candidates. This would include senior ministers, speakers of parliament and army commanders. Officers privately say it would give them a broad say on issues ranging from waging war to bread shortages.

The army also wants to keep its budget protected from deep public scrutiny in parliament.

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