Ambush in Niger: French Mirage jets 104 miles from Green Berets

droneniamey

A drone sits at a French army base in Niamey, Niger. 104 miles from Tongo Tongo. September 1, 2014

In Niger, France is said to operate four Mirage 2000 fighter jets and five Reaper drones for gathering intelligence.   France currently has five unarmed Reaper reconnaissance drones positioned in Niger’s capital Niamey.

 

dh berry

A US private aviation contractor may have conducted evacuations of US and Nigerien troops after they were ambushed. Berry Aviation is presently fulfilling the terms of a three month bridge contract through the end of October 2017 that requires the firm to have one fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter situated in Niamey ready to go within three hours for operations throughout North and West Africa. US officials previously said that French military Super Puma helicopters evacuated the wounded Americans along with those killed in action while also providing covering fire. The wounded were first flown to the capital Niamey and later to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

A 12-man Green Beret-led team had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to their unarmored pick-up trucks when the unexpected ambush resulted in a firefight that lasted 30 minutes until French Mirage jets arrived overhead to fly low passes in an attempt to disperse the attackers, but did not have permission to drop bombs. The team was in two separate locations when the attack began. Some were walking back from a meeting with local villagers. Others were waiting outside, guarding the vehicles that the US troops were using.”Had we anticipated this sort of attack we would have absolutely devoted more resources to it to reduce the risk and that’s something we are looking at right now,” US Africa Command spokesman added.

[October 6 Multiple Green Berets in unarmored pick-up trucks ]

special-forces-toyota

US military launched a urgent search and rescue mission after electronic signals were monitored indicating the possibility that one of the US service members was still alive in the field.

A large scale search and rescue operation involving US, French and Nigerien troops was launched soon after US officials realized one of the US service members was unaccounted for.
Elite US Special Operations Forces troops were flown in from the continental US to aid in the recovery effort.
US Navy SEALs were deployed to a US military base in Sigonella, Sicily in anticipation of a possible rescue attempt but never went into Niger. The US military initially issued a statement December 5 saying the attack left three US service members dead and two wounded.

The body of a US service member who went missing following a deadly ambush September 4 in southwest Niger has been recovered..

The discovery of the missing US service member in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerien troops comes nearly 48 hours after he was first discovered to be missing in the wake of the attack.
The recovery of the missing US service member raised the number of US troops killed in Wednesday’s attack to four.
The American service member, who has been identified by US military personnel, went missing after a group of US soldiers near the Niger-Mali border were attacked by up to 50 fighters that are thought to be likely affiliated with ISIS, a US official said.
The 12-member US team was leaving a meeting in unarmored pick-up trucks when they began taking fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, according to a US defense official. Non-standard Tactical Vehicles (NSTV or NTV), also known as Non-standard Commercial Vehicles (NSCV) are civilian 4×4 vehicles adapted for use by special operations forces.

With window glass exploding all around them, the US soldiers, including multiple Green Berets, exited the vehicles, ran for cover, and began returning fire.
It is unclear how the missing service member became separated during the firefight from the rest of the advisory team he was accompanying. None of the other soldiers involved in the engagement witnessed him being captured or taken away by enemy forces.
The US military does not believe the missing service member was ever in enemy hands.

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In missions run out of a base in the northern Niger town of Arlit and others like the one that led to the ambush of U.S. troops, sources say they have helped local troops and intelligence agents make several arrests.

[September 5 Strategy to shift from Libya towards the Sahel band? ]

tongoniger

Tongo Tongo Niger from U.S. base 201

A joint Nigerien-American patrol was ambushed near the village of Tongo Tongo, approximately 17 miles from the border with Mali.

“U.S. Forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” said U.S. Navy. “One aspect of that is training, advising and assisting the Nigeriens in order to increase their ability to bring stability and security to their people.”

A senior military official described it as a “partner training mission.”

A relatively new militant group called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has claimed some of the attacks.

In a letter to Congress in June, President Trump confirmed there were 645 military personnel deployed to Niger to support counterterrorism missions there.The strategic emphasis will now shift from Libya towards the Sahel band, stretching eastwards from Senegal to Chad.

 

[July 24 Base 201 – Sub-Saharan Africa: widening U.S. military cooperation ]

niger3

 

csbiggers-20may2016-agadez-annotations

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

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

CJTF-HOA Soldiers hold 242nd Army Birthday Ball

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

[May 6 2016]

“beltway”

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

Western Accord 2016

[March 16 2015 Nigeria hires mercenaries ]

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

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

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

March 15 Nigeria hires mercenaries]

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

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

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

[February 6 RAF flies strikes against ISIL around Bayji]

 Paveway IV precision guided bombs

Paveway IV precision guided bombs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[August 17 RAF flying surveillance for Kurds]

  Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint system

Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint system

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

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

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

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

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

[May 18]

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

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

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

[May 17]

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

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

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

[March 25]

Local troops asked for transport: cv-22

Local troops asked for transport: cv-22

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

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

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

[January 14]

U.S. Marines in South Sudan

U.S. Marines in South Sudan

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

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

A big step forward to normalisation of relations with Somalia.

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

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

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

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

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

RAF Sentinel aircraft used in Mali

RAF Sentinel aircraft used in Mali

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

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

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

[January 23]

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

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

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

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

[January 21]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Algeria, Niger, Mali

Algeria, Niger, Mali

french colonial mali

French colonial Mali

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

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

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

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

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

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

special ops

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

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

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

[July 9’12]

Pilatus PC-12

Pilatus PC-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pilatus PC-12

Pilatus PC-12

Search for Kony

Search for Kony

Fatih Ozmen

Fatih Ozmen

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

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

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

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

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

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Yemen strike by U.S. Forces, Yakla and al-Abl in southern al-Bayda province 

hh-60_pave_hawk_camp_lemonnier_400x300

HH-60 Pave Hawk Camp_Lemonnier, Djibouti

New Yakla raid, which included helicopter gunships and armed Reaper drones, targeted al-Qaeda leaders.    U.S. forces killed dozens of ISIS members in a strike on two Islamic State of Iraq and Syria training camps today in Yemen’s al Bayda governorate.    Reports indicated that about 50 “Islamic State (IS) fighters were killed in two airstrikes, both manned and unmanned.    Unmanned U.S. drones launched around 12 missiles at militant positions in Yakla and al-Abl in southern al-Bayda province.

drone base saudi

drone location  ‘way, way out in the Rub al Khali,

[January 31 Trump’s first strike in south central Yemen against AQAP ]

4b4fada305ff48ceaa817472550793a4_18

The US military said it killed 14 members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on January 30 in a dawn raid in the province of al-Bayda Yemen that involved missiles and helicopter machine guns.

In a statement, the Pentagon did not refer to any civilian casualties, although a US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they could not be ruled out.

The official also said that one US Navy Seal died, three others were wounded and that military forces did not take any prisoners from the site, and the strike was not one that was originally ordered by former President Obama.   It involved ‘boots on the ground’ at an al Qaeda Camp near al Bayda in south central Yemen. An eight-year-old died two hours after being shot, Nora, the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American al Qaeda leader, born in New Mexico, who was killed in a US strike ordered by President Obama five years ago. Al-Awlaki, who was born while his father was a graduate student in the United States, moved to Yemen and became a prodigious propagandist The girl’s grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, Yemen’s former agriculture minister identified his granddaughter as the dead girl from a photo taken at the scene of the raid but based his description on what happened at the camp on conversations with what he characterized as Yemeni sources.

“My granddaughter was staying for a while with her mother, so when the attack came, they were sitting in the house, and a bullet struck her in her neck at 2:30 past midnight. Other children in the same house were killed,” al-Awlaki said. He said the girl died two hours after being shot. The child’s mother, Anwar al-Awlaki’s widow, survived the raid with a minor woun., Anwar al-Awlaki’s brother-in-law was killed in the raid. The raid, said the official, was directed from a U.S. base in Djibouti, across the Gulf of Aden from the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula and the western edge of Yemen. United States was searching for “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.” Nawar’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone on Sept. 30, 2011, not far from Sunday’s raid. The U.S. Justice Department had approved killing him in a memorandum that was disclosed in 2014. The memo concluded, “We do not believe that al-Awlaki’s U.S. citizenship imposes constitutional limitations that would preclude the contemplated lethal action” by the U.S. military or the CIA.

[October 30 2016 October 2016: CIA drone strikes targetting ]

croughton_zpsps6z0itd

GCHQ listening hub Cheltenham

Target information for middle eastern drone strikes may be acquired in Britain.

Around a third of all US military communications in Europe already pass through Croughton, which has a direct cable link to GCHQ, the intelligence services’ giant listening hub at Cheltenham. A high-speed fibre-optic line connects the base to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, from where the US flies drones that target terrorist groups in Somalia.

The Ministry of Defence insists that the US does not operate drones from the UK. A senior MoD source said: “Despite the continuing conspiracy theories and associated hype in the media, the reality is that there are no US Remotely Piloted Air System support facilities operating anywhere in the UK.”

read more

[October 16 2015 CIA v. Military: Drones, baseball cards and the kill list ]

The military’s portrayal of an overworked, underfunded drone program needed to be taken with a grain of salt. It was part of a well-documented military turf war with the CIA, which has its own, supposedly more careful drone program.

The “baseball cards” are detailed profiles of each potential target. It took on average 58 days for President Barack Obama to sign off on striking a target, giving 60 days for the strike to be carried out. it takes an average of six years to determine whether someone in Somalia is a target but just a little over eight months to kill that person after President Barack Obama had added the name to the kill list.

Since the Obama administration largely shut down the CIA’s rendition programme, choosing instead to dispose of its enemies in drone attacks, those individuals who are being nominated for killing have been discussed at a weekly counter-terrorism meeting at the White House situation room that has become known as Terror Tuesday. Barack Obama, in the chair and wishing to be seen as a restraining influence, agrees the final schedule of names. Once details of these meetings began to emerge it was not long before the media began talking of “kill lists”.

[April 11 Yemen: In the soup: Iranian Quds Force officers caught in Yemen, maybe]

Southern People's Resistance militants gather at the Al-Anad air base in Lahej, March 22 2015.   President Hadi: Backed by military and police loyalists, and by militia known as Popular Resistance Committees, he is trying to fight back against the rebels

Southern People’s Resistance militants gather at the Al-Anad air base in Lahej, March 22 2015. President Hadi: Backed by military and police loyalists, and by militia known as Popular Resistance Committees, he is trying to fight back against the rebels

A colonel and a captain, from an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards , were seized in two different districts rocked by heavy gun battles. “They are from the Quds Force and are working as advisors to the Houthi militia,” one of the militia sources said. Three sources in the southern Yemeni city of Aden’s anti-Houthi local militias confirmed.
The Quds Force (also spelled Ghods or Qods) (Persian: نیروی قدس‎ Nīrū-ye Qods or سپاه قدس Sepâh-e Qods), in English: the Jerusalem Force, is a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is responsible for their extraterritorial operations. The situation in Aden in particular is “catastrophic”, a descent into urban warfare, with control of the air and seaports shifting daily between rival groups.10 April 2015.

April 5 Joint Arab Force pan-Arab effort

CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT – Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, March 31, 2015

CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT – Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, March 31, 2015

The joint Arab force provides a formula for broadening the Egyptian-Saudi relationship, now essential for both countries, into an Arab arrangement. The Saudi vision is for using the Arab force in the growing chaos in Yemen, while the Egyptian vision is for using it in the growing chaos in Libya. For most others outside the Gulf Cooperation Council, the pan-Arab effort is about reaping economic and political rewards. That may be enough to make it work.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has something to lose: If he sends troops to a futile war in Yemen, a comparison to Egypt’s former popular leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, which Sisi has sought to cultivate, could come back to haunt him. For Nasser’s 1960s intervention in Yemen was a failure. Riyadh’s biggest worry is Iran’s expanding political influence in Arab lands, especially in its neighborhood.
That competition is, at its core, not sectarian. The Saudis do worry about the rise of Iranian-backed Shi’ite Arabs. But what they have discovered is that sectarianism can also nurture the type of Sunnis who want the Riyadh regime’s demise even more than some of the Shi’ites do.
Sun Apr 5, 2015 U.S. and allied forces conducted 15 air strikes in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State militants during the past 24 hours, the combined joint task. Three of the strikes, part of a continuing operation against Islamic State, targeted militants in Syria. Twelve strikes were aimed at targets in Iraq, including five near the city of Mosul, the joint task force said in a statement.

[April 1 U.S. restores military aid to Egypt — 1963 Yemen Egyptian intervention]

the royalists lost, sort of

The royalists lost, sort of

British Hussars in Aden 1967

British Hussars in Aden 1967

President Barack Obama will resume military shipments and aid to Egypt in an effort to improve relations since imposing an arms freeze in October 2013.
The United States will supply Egypt with 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 Harpoon missiles and up a to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits. The delivery of the military equipment was suspended after a military-backed coup ousted former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi on March 31. Obama told a-Sisi that he will continue the request of an annual $1.3 billion in military assistance to Egypt. The warplanes are part of a deal the United States and Egypt reached in 2009 for the delivery of 20 F-16 C/D fighters during 2013. The first batch of aircraft were delivered.

January 26th, 1963: With a sharp increase of Russian and Soviet bloc personnel, An Egyptian expeditionary force–put at between 12,000 and 15,000–fought a savage guerrilla war in north and east Yemen against tribes loyal to the Imamate who will not accept the republican couip d’etat by which Sallal overthrew the royalist government. These Egyptian forces–Nasser’s crack combat units–were trained for desert not for mountain warfare. Their expensive equipment, their Soviet-built tanks, armored personnel carriers and Ilyushin jet bombers, are not ideally suited for operations in the crazy maze of narrow defiles and boulder-strewn mountains of northern Yemen.
British mercenaries fighting with the royalists were “a private enterprise.” Withdrawal of U.A.R military forces began as of 23 November 1965 and be completed by 23 September 1966. The result was a shattering military and diplomatic setback to the U.A.R. The Yemen civil war officially ended with the Compromise of 1970, a political agreement between the republican and royalist factions. A republican government was formed in Yemen, incorporating members from the royalist faction but not the royal family.

[March 29 four months to organize ground attack]

“The Arab leaders have decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force,” at a Sharm el-Sheikh summit, said hosting Egyptian President Abdel Sisi . The summit final communique called for “coordination, efforts and steps to establish an unified Arab force” to intervene in countries such as Yemen. The Egyptian leader said a high-level panel will work out the structure and mechanism of the future force. The work is expected to take four months.

[March 26 Saudi ‘Decisive Storm’ waged to save Yemen]

Pakistan and Egypt announced their participation in the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen Houthi-allied forces with air and naval forces, The UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan have also deployed fighter jets to join the Saudi air force in the ongoing air campaign.
“President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.

/// In the soup experiencing a difficult situation Saudis’ Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen a ‘dangerous step,’ Iran warns

[March 23 Brits follow U.S out]

Al-Anad base located in Lahj province in southern Yemen. The drone operation was led by American experts either inside the now abandoned U.S. Embassy in Sanaa or in the Yemeni military base housing U.S. experts in Lahj province, al-Anad, now evacuated,

Al-Anad base located in Lahj province in southern Yemen. The drone operation was led by American experts either inside the now abandoned U.S. Embassy in Sanaa or in the Yemeni military base housing U.S. experts in Lahj province, al-Anad, now evacuated,

Britain reportedly has withdrawn its remaining special forces from Yemen, days after a similar U.S. move, in response to the worsening security that the U.N. envoy for Yemen described as the “edge of civil war.”

[March 21 Drone operation shifts to Camp Lemonnier Djibouti]
A group of U.S. military forces, including Special Forces commandos, have evacuated an air base after al-Qaida seized the southern city of al-Houta.nearby .There are about 100 American troops and Special Forces commandos believed to be at al-Annad air base. The base is where American and European military advisers help Yemen battle the country’s local al-Qaida branch through drone strikes and logistical support. Intelligence gathering has not been curtailed or has been shifted to other countries.
The flight distance from Hodeidah International Airport (HOD)to Djibouti-Ambouli Airport (JIB) is 222 miles (358 kilometers, 193 nautical miles). Estimated flight time is 0 h 55 min. According to a press report in October 2012, “Camp Lemonnier[situated at Djibouti’s Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport] is the centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen U.S. drone and surveillance bases..”.

[September 30 2014 Yemen: U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen is a model]

Drone searching for terrorist crashes

A drone crashed in the mountains of Al-Saha village,Baihan district, Shabwa, southeast of Sana’a. The drone had been hovering over the village on and off for the preceding ten days.
Shortly after the incident, two other drones could be seen hovering over the same area.
The White House insisted September 29 that the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen is a model for the fight against the Islamic State. But in light of violence against the Yemeni government, the United States is “stepping up efforts” to pursue sanctions against the perpetrators.
A deal calls for the formation of a new government within a month. But the Hawthis and their rivals have thus far failed to agree on a new prime minister. The new agreement would grant the Hawthis some executive power as it stipulates that the president name two advisers, one from the Hawthis and one from the southern separatist movement.

[September 24 Separists win, another country fails]
Under the UN-brokered deal, a new government will be formed and the Houthis and southern separatists will nominate a new prime minister. Takeover of key parts of the capital, Sanaa, termed a “successful revolution”.
The Houthis belong to the minority Zaidi Shia community. They have staged periodic uprisings since 2004 to win greater autonomy for their northern heartland of Saada province.
[September 19 Riots in capital kill 120]

Hawthi Shiite rebels chant slogans during a demonstration demanding the government to step down in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country’s main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen.

The Shiite rebels known as the Hawthis have become one of the country’s most powerful players. They have surged from their stronghold in the north, taking a string of cities and have fought their way to the capital, Sanaa. The are allied with Shiite-led Iran .

Their main opponents have been Sunni Muslim hardliners – militias and army units allied with the Islah party, which is the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Yemen, or tribal fighters sympathetic with the Brotherhood or al-Qaida.

The government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, an ally of the United States, appears largely caught in the middle between the two forces.

[May 11 Both were shot by the American waiting outside the barber shop – CIA officer and lieutenant colonel with Special Ops target of kidnappers]

 a stone’s throw from the US Embassy grounds, near the intersection of the Ring Road on what locals call Sheraton Street.

a stone’s throw from the US Embassy grounds, near the intersection of the Ring Road on what locals call Sheraton Street.

Concrete barriers are seen at the entrance to the Sheraton Hotel where U.S. diplomats and members of the embassy are residing in Sanaa .

Concrete barriers are seen at the entrance to the Sheraton Hotel where U.S. diplomats and members of the embassy are residing in Sanaa

U.S. Marines on the roof of the Sheraton Sana'a Hotel where U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers stay in Sana'a

U.S. Marines on the roof of the Sheraton Sana’a Hotel where U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers stay in Sana’a

 Concrete barriers block the entrance of Sheraton Hotel, which houses the U.S. Mission, in Sanaa


Concrete barriers block the entrance of Sheraton Hotel, which houses the U.S. Mission, in Sanaa

Two officers at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen shot and killed a pair of armed Yemeni civilians during an attempted abduction of the Americans at a Sanaa barber shop on April 24. A CIA officer and a lieutenant colonel with the elite Joint Special Operations Command were simply getting a haircut in an upscale district in Yemen’s capital. “Yemeni attackers approached the barbershop while one of the Americans was inside. A second armed American was a couple of metres away in the vehicle. Both Yemenis were shot by the American waiting outside the shop.”. A ministry spokesman had said the two Yemenis killed were linked to Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has increased kidnappings to finance their operations. Both Americans have left Yemen.
.
The Sanaa Sheraton is officially part of an expanded US Embassy estate that some are calling Yemen’s “Green Zone,” the plush, heavily guarded civilian headquarters for revised twenty-first-century “rules of engagement” in the Yemeni “theater.”
Behind the Sheraton’s Disneyesque two-story front gate, security cage and walls lie 15 acres with verdant irrigated gardens, an outdoor swimming pool and cabanas, a gymnasium, tennis courts, restaurants serving flown-in Chinese and Mediterranean cuisine, well-stocked liquor cabinets, 255 guest rooms, additional premier suites, cleaning services, meeting facilities, a business center, 30 in-house cable television channels available 24/7, high-speed Internet, vehicle repair garages, security cameras, stations and personnel, and temperamental water supply and heating/cooling systems. As of January 1, 2013, all of this is under new management: the US Department of State.
Starwood Hotels, a worldwide chain that manages Sheraton, Westin and other five-star properties, discontinued operations in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, at the end of 2012. The listed owner, the Kuwaiti Investment Authority, leased it to the State Department so that State could provide secure, comfortable lodging just a stone’s throw from the US Embassy grounds, near the intersection of the Ring Road on what locals call Sheraton Street.
“It’s a dump. It screams 1959.” The embassy took over the hotel last year as demonstrations to unseat the then- president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, turned violent. Diplomats are now shuttled from the hotel to the embassy, which is nearby, and otherwise don’t get out much unless they’re on official business.
Two days after gunmen shot dead a French security guard working with the European Union mission in the capital Sanaa (May 8) , “we have temporarily suspended operations of our Embassy in Sana’a to the public. We continue to evaluate the security situation every day, and we will reopen the embassy to the public once it is deemed appropriate,”

[August 14 2013]

Roadway in Shabwa

Roadway in Shabwa

In a drone missile strike in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province late on August 12,
“The car was completely obliterated and the two men inside it were killed.”

[August 11]
lahijclick to view
Two militants have been killed in a suspected US drone strike in southern Yemen, officials and witnesses say.

Two other militants were reportedly wounded when the vehicle in which they were travelling was destroyed near al-Askariya in Lahij province.

Three suspected al Qaeda militants were killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen’s southern province of Lahj, two local security officials told CNN on Saturday.
Two others were injured in the Askariayah district strike, one of whom was critically injured, the officials said.
A second vehicle in the same area carrying suspected militants escaped undamaged after a strike missed its target.

Sana’a, Aug 11: At least five suspected al-Qaida militants were killed Saturday evening when US drone strikes hit their vehicles in Yemen’s Lahj province, an official said.

The suspected terrorists were killed when an air raid targeted their convoy of two pick-up trucks in the eastern suburbs of Lahj province, Xinhua reported citing a security official.

saut.

[August 10]

  al-Qaida leaders  include Nasser al-Wahishi, a onetime aide to Osama bin Laden; Qassem al-Raimi, believed to be the military commander; and Ibrahim al-Asiri.

al-Qaida leaders include Nasser al-Wahishi, a onetime aide to Osama bin Laden; Qassem al-Raimi, believed to be the military commander; and Ibrahim al-Asiri.

hadramoutclick to enlarge
Five suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in an air strike in eastern Yemen on July 9, a U.S. drone fired the missiles.

The men were attacked while they were travelling in a vehicle in the province of Hadramout in an area called Ghail Bawazeer, 45 km (28 miles) from the provincial capital Mukalla.
Aug. 9, 2013 at 7:07 AM. At least 14 suspected al-Qaida militants in Yemen were killed in three drone attacks. A drone attack killed four suspected militants in Wadi al-Jadd in the southern province of Hadramout.

In two other attacks in Marib and Hadramout provinces, 10 suspected militants were killed, Seven people died in a drone attack July 7.
First reported drone attack on August 9 hit a car carrying suspected militants in the district of Wadi Ubaidah, about 175 kilometers (109 miles) east of Sanaa, and killed six, a security official said.

Badly burned bodies lay beside their vehicle. Five of the dead were Yemenis, while the sixth was believed to be of another Arab nationality.

The second drone attack killed three alleged militants in the al-Ayoon area of Hadramawt province in the south. The third, also in Hadramawt province, killed three more suspected militants in the al-Qutn area. al-Qaida leaders include Nasser al-Wahishi, a onetime aide to Osama bin Laden; Qassem al-Raimi, believed to be the military commander; and Ibrahim al-Asiri. al-Wahishi is believed to be trying to recruit informants in the mountainous areas of Marib in central Yemen, especially in the Wadi Ubaidah valley, where tribal allies of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh are concentrated.

Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi became president in 2012 after a year of mass protests demanding Saleh’s ouster. Since then, Hadi has accused Saleh’s men, who are still in key positions in security agencies and municipalities, of trying to hinder his reforms.

Marib is one of the few places known to be al-Qaida strongholds, and the Yemeni military has not tried to carry out a large offensive there because of the strong presence of anti-government tribes.

The official said al-Raimi is believed to be moving in southern Yemen, while al-Asiri is believed to be in the north, close to the border with Saudi Arabia, his home.
[August 8]
The CIA resumed drone strikes in Yemen 11 days ago to disrupt al-Qaida’s terrorism plot. The CIA has mounted four drone strikes in Yemen over the past 10 days.

U.S. officials said the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, which operate parallel drone campaigns in Yemen, have refrained from launching missiles for several months in part because of more restrictive targeting guidelines imposed by President Obama this year. Those new rules, however, allow for strikes to resume in response to an elevated threat.

A few dozen U.S. Special Operations forces have been stationed in Yemen since last year to train Yemeni counterterrorism forces and to help pinpoint targets for airstrikes against al-Qaeda targets in the country. The U.S. military carries out drone strikes in Yemen from its base in Djibouti, while the CIA flies armed drones from a separate base in Saudi Arabia.

The CIA and the U.S. military have carried out 16 drone strikes in Yemen this year. Last year, a record 54 strikes occurred.

[August 7]

Some of Yemen 25

Some of Yemen 25

Hazim Mohammed Naji al-Qulasy from Yemen was born in 1995

Hazim Mohammed Naji al-Qulasy from Yemen was born in 1995

Salehal-Hadial-Tays Waeli

Saleh al-Hadi al-Tays Waeli

It was a five-missile drone strike had killed four alleged al Qaeda members in Yemen’s central Marib province. The hit targeted a vehicle, turning it into “a ball of fire”, Saleh al Tays al Waeli. among them.

Nasser al-Wuhayshi, The head of al-Qa’ida in Yemen, comes from a wealthy family and once served as Bin Laden’s personal secretary in Afghanistan. He was one of 23 prisoners who tunnelled their way out of a maximum-security prison in Sanaa, in 2006. Yemeni military officials claimed to have killed him in August 2011, a claim denied by Aqap.

The wanted list confirmed by the editor of Yemen Post, Hakim Alma Mari.

1) Mohammed Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish

2) Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri

3) Mishal Mohammed Rashid al-Shadukhi

4) Jalal Mohsen Mansour Baleid

5) Yahya Mohamed Nasir Sanhoub

6) Hussein Abdullah Hussein Quob

7) Ali Ahmed Shawki al-Badani

8) Saleh al-Hadi al-Tays Waeli

9) Hafiz Jaafar al-Nasir Masoud Waledi

10) Ahmed Mohammed al-Atteq Radei al-Azani

11) Hazim Mohammed Naji al-Qulasy

12) Mohamed Ahmed Ali al-Asadi

13) Eman Ahmed Shas

14) Muslih Abdul Allah Ahmed al-Hulaysi

15) Abdulelah Ali Qasem al-Musbahi

16) Abdullah Ghaleb al-Zeyadi

17) Wajeeh Fadhl Mohammed Uthman al-Amoudi

18) Anas Khaled al-Marfadi

19) Majed Hameed Mohammed al-Zubayri

20) Ahmed Ali al-Wahashi

21) Mujahid Jayer Saleh al-Shabwani

22) Abdulkhaleq Mohammed Mohammed al-Kibsi

23) Zia Mohammed Mohammed al-Hanaq

24) Jamal Ali Abdu Barèges

25) Hamzah Ahmed Zaid Qutaish

[August 6]

location of drone base, they say

location of drone base, they say

Marib Province, Yemen

Marib Province, Yemen

A drone strike in Yemen on August 6 struck a vehicle, killing four suspected Al-Qaeda militants. The U.S. military carries out drone strikes in Yemen from its base in Djibouti, while the CIA flies armed drones from a separate base in Saudi Arabia.

One of the four was on a list released by Yemeni authorities of 25 Al Qaeda operatives suspected of plotting attacks to coincide with the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan later this week. a suspected U.S. drone targeted a moving car in the impoverished nation’s Marib province, killing four alleged al-Qaeda militants.

It was the fourth drone attack targeting leaders of the group in less than two weeks. One of the dead is believed to be Saleh Jouti, a senior al-Qaeda member.

The United States, along with Britain and France, closed diplomatic missions amidst concerns of possible terrorist attacks. Yemen’s government sharply criticized the evacuation, suggesting it was unwarranted and rewarded extremists. “Yemen has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of foreign missions in the capital Sanaa,” said a statement issuedAugust 6 by the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. “While the government of Yemen appreciates foreign governments’ concern for the safety of their citizens, the evacuation of embassy staff serves the interests of the extremists and undermines the exceptional cooperation between Yemen and the international alliance against terrorism. Yemen remains strongly committed to the global effort to counter the threats of al-Qaeda and its affiliates.”

[February 9]

Commentary: the willingness of leading US media organisations not to reveal the location of a CIA drone base for two years raises serious questions about media cooperation with officialdom on national security issues.
Would the hunt for him have been adversely affected if the existence of the base in Saudi had been revealed?
It is hard to argue that a remote, heavily guarded air base would have been at serious risk of compromise or terror attack. Nor would the Saudi state have been jeopardised.
The argument presented to the Washington Post and others seems mainly designed to save the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from embarrassment, rather than save American lives. Any military cooperation by the royal family with the US rankles influential conservative clerics.

Telegraph

[February 8]

location of drone base, they say

location of drone base, they say

Looks like a new drone base in Saudi Arabia's south

Looks like a new drone base in Saudi Arabia’s south

The other officer described the location as ‘way, way out in the Rub al Khali,

[February 6]
In June 2010, the C.I.A. began building a drone base in Saudi Arabia to carry out strikes in Yemen. American officials said that the first time the C.I.A. used the Saudi base was to kill Mr. Awlaki in September 2011.
Yemen’s military is fighting its own counterinsurgency battle against Islamic militants, who gained and then lost control over large swaths of the country last year. Often, American military strikes in Yemen are masked as Yemeni government operations. more

[October 28, 2011]

Arba Minch Airport HAAM Eithiopia

Arba Minch Airport HAAM Eithiopia

Arba Minch University, Ethiopia

Arba Minch University, Ethiopia

The Air Force has been secretly flying armed Reaper drones [General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (originally the Predator B)] on counterterrorism missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethi­o­pia as part of a rapidly expanding U.S.-led proxy war against an al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, U.S. military officials said.

The Air Force has invested millions of dollars to upgrade an airfield in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia, where it has built a small annex to house a fleet of drones that can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. The Reapers began flying missions earlier this year over neighboring Somalia, where the United States and its allies in the region have been targeting al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group connected to al-Qaeda.It is the home of Arba Minch University and the Southwest Synod of the Mekane Yesus Church. The town also is served by an airport, (ICAO code HAAM, IATA AMH).

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Idlib Syria: Turks and HTS against SFA and YPG plus FSA

rts14ihp-2

Kurdish YPG fighters stand near US military vehicles in the town of Darbasiya near the Turkish border, in Syria on 29 April 2017

The Turkish army is expanding its deployment in northwest Syria with the goal of encircling a Kurdish enclave and reining in Russian strikes in the Idlib border province under a deal to reduce clashes, rebels and witnesses said on October 15.

A convoy of Turkish army troops entered Syria near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing on October 12 in the first such deployment since last year when Ankara launched a major ground and air offensive to clear Islamic State militants from its last stretch of border with Turkey.

At least four convoys carrying scores of armoured vehicles and equipment have been stationed in several locations in the first phase of a deployment that is expected to deepen inside rebel-held Idlib, opposition sources said.

“Nearly 200 troops are now stationed in areas that separate territory under control of Kurdish groups and opposition groups[HTS],” said Ibrahim al Idlibi, a military adviser in the opposition’s Free Syrian Army (FSA). FSA and HTS oppose the Assad regime, but are also battling each another for control of the province.The YPG is one of the most influential militant in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of groups that also includes Arabs and Christian units.
The SDF offensive to retake Raqqa started in June with the help of US-led airstrikes and several hundred US special forces.

 

Witnesses said Turkish bulldozers were working around the clock, digging fortifications and setting up observation posts.

A new deployment of Turkish armoured vehicles and personnel arrived along the Syrian border on October 14, positioned on the Turkish side, witnesses said.

Turkey was expanding its presence in an area where it hopes to act as a barrier to Kurdish ambitions of uniting the isolated Afrin region, north of Idlib, with the rest of a self-declared autonomous Kurdish zone in the country’s north.

Turkish positions near Samaan castle in the Sheikh Barakat mountains of the fertile, olive-growing province put them just a few kilometres from Kurdish militia forces based in Jendaris.

“Turkish forces are still in a state of advancing and expanding,” said Mustafa al Sejari, a Free Syrian Army official.

Turkey says its operations there, along with the Syrian rebel groups it backs[HTS], is part of a deal it reached last month with Russia and Iran in Kazakhstan to reduce fighting between insurgents and the Syrian government. Syria on October 14 denounced the Turkish incursion saying it was a flagrant violation of its sovereignty and demanded Ankara pull its troops.

The Turkish incursion into the province dominated by HTS [the jihadist group Tahrir al Sham, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and abbreviated HTS] has run smoothly.

Rebel sources familiar with the deployment said the operation was preceded by weeks of coordination between HTS with Turkish intelligence officers to ensure no clashes happened.

Free Syrian Army rebel groups said the goal of the campaign was to push deeper into the province, with the expansion of supply lines and observation posts. The jihadists would be retreating further south in a phased withdrawal.

“The Turks will be taking up positions 40 km deep inside Idlib as agreed,” Idlibi said.

The goal was ultimately to create a contiguous stretch that goes from Bab al-Hawa all the way to Jarablus city, west of Euphrates River and as far south as the city of Bab, widening a pocket of the northern border under the control of Turkey-backed rebels.

Many residents in the towns of Idlib province, where more than two million people live, have welcomed the arrival of Turkish troops.

They are seen as a bulwark against heavy Russian and Syrian army bombardment to crush the rebel province that would cause massive devastation and high civilian casualties.

“The Turks presented the factions of the FSA the military and logistical support so that Idlib escapes the fate of Deir Zor or Raqqa,” said Colonel Abdul Jabar Akaidi, a senior commander in the FSA in the north.

Heavily populated Idlib has been the target of hundreds of strikes by the Russia and Syrian air forces in the past year that has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed hospitals and civil defence centres.

Six months of relative peace under a Turkish-Russian understanding that gave a temporary reprieve to thousands of people was shattered when Russia resumed an intensive bombing campaign last month when jihadists launched an offensive against Syrian army positions.

On October 14 in southern Idlib, jets believed to be Russian killed at least three civilians and injured scores when bombs struck the outskirts of Maarat al Numan.

The air raids also targeted a camp run by Failaq al Sham, a Turkey-backed FSA group in Kafr Ruma village where a strike last month killed dozens of its fighters.

 

 

[October 13  Turks surround U.S.-backed YPG ]

turkintoidlib - Edited

A Turkish military convoy drives by a village on the Turkish-Syrian border line in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey October 11, 2017.

Turkey said on October 7 it was carrying out a military operation in Idlib and surrounding areas as part of a deal it reached with Russia and Iran last month to enforce a “de-escalation” zone in northwest Syria. Turkey’s decision to launch the Euphrates Shield campaign a year ago was aimed partly at pushing Islamic State from its border, but also at stopping the Kurdish YPG from gaining more sway.

Backed by the United States in its battle against Islamic State, the YPG has seized much of northeastern Syria and was trying to link that territory up with its canton in Afrin.

Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that it is fighting at home, and by gaining a presence in Sheikh Barakat, its forces would surround Afrin on three sides.

13/10/2017 Turkish scouting forces are continuing to enter the Syrian territory for the fourth consecutive day, with vehicles carrying Turkish scouting forces entering the Syrian territory through the Atmah border crossing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a new tirade against the US, criticizing its support for Kurdish fighters in Syria on October 12.
He slammed Washington for giving “weapons for free to a terror organization,” a reference to the Kurdish YPG, a key US ally in the fight against ISIS in Syria.
He claimed the US had sent 3,500 trucks of weapons in to Syria, including heavy arms, saying they were being used by the YPG “to encircle us from the south.”
The US has long supported the YPG and began openly supplying arms to it this year. The YPG is the backbone of a larger coalition of rebels that the US is backing to drive ISIS from Syria

 

[October 4 Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) commanders hit by Russian air ]

idlibair

HTS-linked news outlet Iba reported on October 3 that Russian air strikes had targeted an airport and courthouse around Abu al-Duhur in eastern Idlib, killing three people and wounding several others. Su-34 and Su-35 aircraft critically injured the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance and 12 of his field commanders. Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani lost limbs in the attack.
The strike came after Russia’s military learnt where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) commanders were due to meet.

[December 4 2011 Syrian Intelligence agents defect in coordinated operation ]

Adlib, Syria Air Force Intelligence

Adlib, Syria Air Force Intelligence

Adlib Syria AFB

Idlib Syria AFB

Syrian secret police defected from an intelligence compound in a restive province near Turkey, the first major defection reported within the security apparatus leading the crackdown on protesters, at least a dozen.
A gunfight broke out overnight after the defectors fled the Airforce Intelligence complex in the centre of Idlib city, 280 kms (175 miles) northwest of Damascus, and ten people on both sides were killed or wounded, they said.
Army defectors based in the nearby Jabal al-Zawiya region were seen near the compound and helped the deserters escape in what appeared to be a coordinated operation.

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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 ]

tabqa-dam

 

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

575968-bigthumbnail

SU-22

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.

95060669_syria_turkey_kurds_v15_624map_9_3_2017

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

1-us-troops-in-syria

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

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-09/turkey-kurd-tension-in-syria-war-a-train-wreck-mccain-warns

“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.

hqdefault

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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Centcom donates Tucanos to Lebanon

[March 24 2015 Lebanese University Tripoli urged to replace Christian director ]

 

 

Students at the Lebanese University's Economics and Business Faculty protest at the Tripoli campus in north Lebanon, Monday, March 23, 2015.

Students at the Lebanese University’s Economics and Business Faculty protest at the Tripoli campus in north Lebanon, Monday, March 23, 2015.

Exams have been postponed at LU’s Economics and Business Faculty in Tripoli, Lebanon following demonstrations against the appointment of a Christian director. Around 1,300 students have their classes there. Students have erected protest tents at the entrance to the campus March 23 to keep up pressure for their demand to replace Jamila Yammin with a Sunni director. All branches of Lebanese University will have one month to re-examine the appointments of faculty directors in a manner which respected the National Pact of confessional power-sharing. “Currently, there are 29 Muslims and 20 Christian directors in branches across Lebanon … but we will not dictate a formula,” Students claim a tradition of maintaining an equal number of Sunni and Shiite LU directors, a norm which has prevailed in previous years.

[August 4 2014 The other Tripoli – Lebanon – catches the ISIL bug]

Isil comes to Lebanon

Isil comes to Lebanon

Islamists’ arrival in Lebanon offers the prospect of a mini-civil war around Arsal – and perhaps as far as Tripoli –
For more than a year, the Lebanese army has tried vainly to close the frontier east of Arsal, and a Syrian army victory over rebels in Yabroud on the other side of the border earlier this year suggested that Sunni insurgents might leave Arsal lest they be cut off. But their resurgence shows that the Syrians have nothing like the control they have been claiming in the frontier lands.

 

[February 13 2012 Syria is quickly approaching an intolerable state]

IRGC General Shateri

IRGC General Shateri

A senior commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hassan Shateri, was assassinated on February 12, when a rebel group ambushed his vehicle while he was returning to Lebanon from Syria.

On February 14 Iran held a funeral ceremony for Shateri in Tehran that was attended by the foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, and the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari. Ghasem Suleimani, the man who heads the external arm of the Revolutionary Guards, known as the Quds force, members of which usually shun public ceremonies, also attended the funeral.

In May 2012, a senior Quds force commander conceded for the first time that Iranian forces were operating in Syria in support of the Assad regime. Perhaps IRGC’s Iranian personnel have been directly involved in fighting against Syrian rebels. Tehran denies any involvement. However, there is evidence that some of Shateri’s Lebanese men have died fighting for Assad in Syria. Anti-Assad forces claim that Iran and Hezbollah are both involved
more

[January 10, 2012]

General Rajha Dawoud, Syrian Defense Minister

General Rajha Dawoud, Syrian Defense Minister

The situation in Syria is quickly approaching an intolerable state. It could very well be that the Western war dance against Iran is also a warning to the Islamic Republic to stay out of anything involving Syria. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close Iranian ally, is teetering on the brink as a civil war in the country escalates. Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha on January 8 visited Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov which docked a day earlier at Russia’s naval supply facility in Syria’s port city of Tartous, Some media reports said the visit of the Russian warships was a signal of Russia’s support for Assad’s regime but the Russian military denied any connections of the visit with the political situation in the country.
“The naval task force has completed its visit to the Syrian port of Tartus with the aim of replenishing [food and water] provisions. The warships left the Syrian territorial waters on Tuesday afternoon and continued on their route in accordance with their schedule,” the statement said.

There is a widespread perception that the crises with both Iran and Syria are nearing a climax. There is a massive Western naval presence off the coasts of both countries, Israel and the United States are preparing to hold their “largest-ever” joint missile defense drill, code-named “Austere Challenge 12”. It should be noted that this exercise comes on the heels of several other large Israeli war games. Thousands of American soldiers and sophisticated anti-missile systems will land in Israel, and according to a few reports, some of the force and equipment will stay there for months.

Their presence will likely have a double effect of helping Israel shoot down the thousands of missiles aimed at it in the event of a regional conflagration and adding pressure on the Jewish state not to embark on any adventure alone.

In general, sources report an increased rate of transfer of military equipment to American bases around the Middle East in the last few weeks and months. These are very clear preparations for war; yet they need not mean that a strike on Iran is imminent. Such an operation is a complicated endeavor, even for the US.

Just as Iran would need a certain period of time (known as breakout time) from the moment it leaves the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to the moment it builds a bomb, so would the United States need a period of time from when it decides to strike to when it does. It could take weeks if not months to transfer the necessary military personnel, airplanes and (especially) supplies to bases in the region. more
Dennis Ross, who served two years on Obama’s National Security Council and a year as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser on Iran, said in an interview January 9.
“There are consequences if you act militarily, and there’s big consequences if you don’t act,”

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Syria: engagements against ISIS terrorists in Abu Kamal

 

SOUTHWEST ASIA – On Oct. 9, Coalition military forces conducted 11 strikes consisting of 15 engagements against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

 

In Syria, Coalition military forces •Near Abu Kamal, three strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed a vehicle and a weapons storage facility.

[ October 16 2012 EU New sanctions list ]

A Suleiman Maarouf

A Suleiman Maarouf

The EU has announced sanctions against a further 28 individuals and two companies connected with the Syrian regime. Most of the individuals are government ministers, though two of them are not.

One is Raza Othman, wife of the prominent businessman Rami Makhlouf. The official notice says:

She has close personal and financial relations with Rami Makhlouf, cousin of president Bashar Al-Assad and principal financer of the regime … as such, associated with the Syrian regime, and benefiting from it.

The other is Suleiman Maarouf, who holds a British passport. He is described in the official notice:

Businessman close to President al-Assad’s family. Owns shares in the listed TV station Dounya TV. Close to Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, who has been desig­nated. Supports the Syrian regime.

Rami Makhlouf’s wife is called Razan, not Raza.

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

1.

Dr. Qadri Jameel

Vice Prime Minister for Economic
Affairs, Minister of Domestic
Trade and Consumer’s Protection.
As Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

2.

Waleed Al
Mo’allem

Vice Prime Minister, Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Expatriates. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

3.

Major general Fahd
Jassem Al Freij

Minister of Defence and military
commander. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

4.

Dr. Mohammad
Abdul Sattar
Al Sayed

Minister of Religious Endowments.
As Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

5.

Eng. Hala
Mohammad
Al Nasser

Minister of Tourism. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

6.

Eng. Bassam Hanna

Minister of Water Resources. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

7.

Eng. Subhi Ahmad
Al Abdallah

Minister of Agriculture and
Agrarian Reform. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

8.

Dr. Mohammad
Yahiya Mo’alla

Minister of Higher Education. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

EN L 282/10 Official Journal of the European Union 16.10.2012

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

9.

Dr. Hazwan Al
Wez

Minister of Education. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

10.

Dr. Mohamad
Zafer Mohabak

Minister of Economy and Foreign
Trade. As Government Minister,
shares responsibility for the
regime’s violent repression against
the civilian population.

16.10.2012

11.

Dr. Mahmud
Ibraheem Sa’iid

Minister of Transport. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

12.

Dr. Safwan
Al Assaf

Minister of Housing and Urban
Development. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

13.

Eng. Yasser
Al Siba’ii

Minister of Public Works. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

14.

Eng Sa’iid Ma’thi
Hneidi

Minister of Oil and Mineral
Resources. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

15.

Dr. Lubana
Mushaweh

Minister of Culture. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

16.

Dr. Jassem
Mohammad
Zakaria

Minister of Labour and Social
Affairs. As Government Minister,
shares responsibility for the
regime’s violent repression against
the civilian population.

16.10.2012

17.

Omran Ahed
Al Zu’bi

Minister of Information. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

18.

Dr. Adnan Abdo
Al Sikhny

Minister of Industry. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

EN 16.10.2012 Official Journal of the European Union L 282/11

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

19.

Najm Hamad
Al Ahmad

Minister of Justice. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

20.

Dr. Abdul Salam
Al Nayef

Minister of Health. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

21.

Dr. Ali Heidar

State Minister for National
Reconciliation Affairs. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

16.10.2012

22.

Dr. Nazeera Farah
Sarkees

State Minister for Environmental
Affairs. As Government Minister,
shares responsibility for the
regime’s violent repression against
the civilian population.

16.10.2012

23.

Mohammad Turki
Al Sayed

State Minister. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

24.

Najm-eddin Khreit

State Minister. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

25.

Abdullah Khaleel
Hussein

State Minister. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

26.

Jamal Sha’ban
Shaheen

State Minister. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

16.10.2012

27.

Suleiman Maarouf
(a.k.a. Sulayman
Mahmud Ma’ruf,
Sleiman Maarouf,
Mahmoud
Soleiman Maarouf)

Passport: in possession of a UK
passport

Businessman close to President Al-
Assad’s family. Owns shares in the
listed TV station Dounya TV.
Close to Muhammad Nasif
Khayrbik, who has been designated.
Supports the Syrian regime.

16.10.2012

28.

Raza Othman

Wife of Rami Makhlouf

She has close personal and
financial relations with Rami
Makhlouf, cousin of president
Bashar Al-Assad and principal
financer of the regime, who has
been designated. As such,
associated with the Syrian regime,
and benefiting from it.

16.10.2012

EN L 282/12 Official Journal of the European Union 16.10.2012

B. Entities

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

1.

Megatrade

Address:
Aleppo Street
P.O. Box 5966
Damascus, Syria
Fax: 963114471081

Acts as a proxy for the Scientific
Military research Institute (SSRC),
which is listed. Involved in trade
in dual use goods prohibited by
EU sanctions for the Syrian
government.

16.10.2012

2.

Expert Partners

Address:
Rukn Addin
Saladin Street, Building 5
PO Box: 7006
Damascus, Syria

Acts as a proxy for the Scientific
Military research Institute (SSRC),
which is listed. Involved in trade
in dual use goods prohibited by
EU sanctions for the Syrian
government.

16.10.2012

II. The entries for the persons and entities set out in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 listed below shall be
replaced by the entries below.

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

1.

Dr Wael Nader
Al-Halqi

Born 1964 in the Daraa
Province

Prime Minister and former
Minister for Health. As Prime
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

27.2.2012

2.

Muhammad
Ibrahim Al-Sha’ar
(aka Mohammad
Ibrahim Al-Chaar)

Born 1956 in Aleppo

Minister for the Interior. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

1.12.2011

3.

Dr Mohammad
Al-Jleilati

Born 1945 in Damascus

Minister for Finance. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

1.12.2011

4.

Imad Mohammad
Deeb Khamis
(aka Imad
Mohammad Dib
Khamees)

Born 1 August 1961 near
Damascus

Minister for Electricity. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

23.3.2012

5.

Omar Ibrahim
Ghalawanji

Born 1954 in Tartus

Vice-Prime Minister for Services
Affairs, Minister for Local Administration.
As Government Minister,
shares responsibility for the
regime’s violent repression against
the civilian population.

23.3.2012

6.

Joseph Suwaid
(aka Joseph Jergi
Sweid)

Born 1958 in Damascus

Minister of State. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

23.3.2012

EN 16.10.2012 Official Journal of the European Union L 282/13

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

7.

Eng Hussein
Mahmoud Farzat
(aka Hussein
Mahmud Farzat)

Born 1957 in Hama

Minister of State. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

23.3.2012

8.

Mansour Fadlallah
Azzam
(aka Mansur Fadl
Allah Azzam)

Born 1960 in the Sweida
Province

Minister for Presidency Affairs. As
Government Minister, shares
responsibility for the regime’s
violent repression against the
civilian population.

27.2.2012

9.

Dr Emad
Abdul-Ghani
Sabouni
(aka Imad Abdul
Ghani Al Sabuni)

Born 1964 in Damascus

Minister for Telecommunications
and Technology. As Government
Minister, shares responsibility for
the regime’s violent repression
against the civilian population.

27.2.2012

10.

General Ali Habib
Mahmoud

Born 1939 in Tartous

Former Minister for Defence.
Associated with the Syrian regime
and the Syrian military, and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

1.8.2011

11.

Tayseer Qala
Awwad

Born 1943 in Damascus

Former Minister for Justice.
Associated with the Syrian regime
and its violent repression against
the civilian population.

23.9.2011

12.

Dr Adnan Hassan
Mahmoud

Born 1966 in Tartous

Former Minister for Information.
Associated with the Syrian regime
and its violent repression against
the civilian population.

23.9.2011

13.

Dr Mohammad
Nidal Al-Shaar

Born 1956 in Aleppo

Former Minister for Economy and
Trade. Associated with the Syrian
regime and its violent repression
against the civilian population.

1.12.2011

14.

Sufian Allaw

Born 1944 in al-Bukamal, Deir
Ezzor

Former Minister for Oil and
Mineral Resources. Associated
with the regime and its violent
repression against the civilian
population.

27.2.2012

15.

Dr Adnan Slakho

Born 1955 in Damascus

Former Minister for Industry.
Associated with the regime and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

27.2.2012

16.

Dr Saleh Al-Rashed

Born 1964 in Aleppo Province

Former Minister for Education.
Associated with the regime and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

27.2.2012

17.

Dr Fayssal Abbas

Born 1955 in Hama Province

Former Minister for Transport.
Associated with the regime and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

27.2.2012

EN L 282/14 Official Journal of the European Union 16.10.2012

Name

Identifying information

Reasons

Date of listing

18.

Ghiath Jeraatli

Born 1950 in Salamiya

Former Minister of State.
Associated with the regime and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

23.3.2012

19.

Yousef Suleiman
Al-Ahmad

Born 1956 in Hasaka

Former Minister of State.
Associated with the regime and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

23.3.2012

20.

Hassan Al-Sari

Born 1953 in Hama

Former Minister of State.
Associated with the regime and its
violent repression against the
civilian population.

23.3.2012

III. The persons and entity listed below shall be removed from the list of natural or legal persons, entities or bodies set
out in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 36/2012:

1. Salim Altoun

2. Youssef Klizli

3. Altoun Group

EN 16.10.2012 Official Journal of the European Union L 282/15

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Iraqis capture Sunni town of Hawijah

 

 at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province November 15, 2014 Tribal fighters take part in a military training to prepare for fighting against Islamic State militants.

at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province November 15, 2014 Sunni Tribal fighters take part in a military training to prepare for fighting against Islamic State militants.

 

“The Coalition congratulates the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces on their swift and decisive victory against ISIS in Hawijah Oct. 5″ said Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, Commanding General of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. All the mainly Sunni Arab towns that have long been bastions of insurgency were bypassed by government forces in their push north on Mosul last year. Before the offensive, ISIS had controlled roughly half of the 200 oil fields of Allas and Ajil in the eastern part of Iraq’s northern central province of Salahudi.

[November 21 2016 Sunni Turkmen in Tel Afar ]

 

MOSUL, Iraq, Nov. 17 (UPI) — The Hashd al Shaabi Shiite-led militia said it took control of a strategic airport from the Islamic State in the city of Tal Afar, west of Mosul..   What happens next in Tal Afar has international implications because Turkey has threatened military intervention in defence of the Sunni Turkmen if the Shia paramilitaries enter the city. A Turkish mechanised brigade has been moved to the Turkish Iraqi border to give substance to the threat.

Last month [March 2006], in a speech in Cleveland, President Bush hailed the achievement in Tal Afar as evidence that Iraq is progressing toward a stable future. “Tal Afar shows that when Iraqis can count on a basic level of safety and security, they can live together peacefully,” he said. “The people of Tal Afar have shown why spreading liberty and democracy is at the heart of our strategy to defeat the terrorists.”

[November 12 Qayyarah Airfield West Delivery
161021-f-bf577-013

A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron sits on the ramp at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia prior to a mission to Qayyarrah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 21, 2016. The 737th EAS flew the first coalition mission into the airfield since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron flew two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft into Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 21, the first coalition aircraft to land on the airfield since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve. The aircraft landed mere hours after repairs to the runway were completed, a project that’s been underway since Iraqi security forces retook the airfield from Da’esh in July of this year. “It’s taken several months to plan this mission,” said Lt. Col. John Poole, 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron commander. “A big part of it was since before the airfield was taken, we knew that it had been damaged significantly by [Da’esh] as they were either holding the field or then evacuating the area as the Iraqi security forces liberated the field. It’s taken several months to repair that damage.” The airfield, known colloquially as Q-West.

[November 3 FOB Q-West reoccupied ]

“President Bush meets with a Marine combat patrol unit at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 3, 2007.

Hundreds of US troops have arrived at Qayyarah air base 40 miles south of Mosul to support Iraq’s efforts to liberate that city, and to rebuild to allow US and coalition aircraft to operate there, . Qayyarah air base was recaptured from ISIS by Iraqi soldiers backed by US airstrikes in July and the American forces operating there will mainly provide logistics, supplies and support for the Iraqi offensive on Mosul.

FOB Endurance is located at Qayyarah Airfield West, itself approximately 60 miles south of Mosul. It is another name for FOB Q-West.

[May 26 Anbar: U.S. kinetic events support assaults against ISIL

Fallujah

Outside Fallujah

* Near Fallujah, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL tunnels, four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL artillery piece, an ISIL weapons cache, and three ISIL fighting positions.

* Near Habbaniyah, one strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL bunkers, and an ISIL heavy machine gun. * Near Haditha, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).

* Near Hit, one strike destroyed two ISIL vehicles. * Near Mosul, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, five ISIL headquarters, an ISIL media center, and an ISIL communication headquarters and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL weapons cache, and an ISIL supply cache.

* Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck two ISIL rocket production facilities and an ISIL headquarters and destroyed an ISIL rocket position. * Near Sinjar, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position. * Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes suppressed two ISIL mortar positions.

* Near Tal Afar, eight strikes struck eight ISIL-used bridges and an ISIL-used culvert and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

Strike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely. A strike, as defined in the CJTF releases, means one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect for that location. So having a single aircraft deliver a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of buildings and vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making that facility (or facilities) harder or impossible to use. Accordingly, 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.

Ground-based artillery fired in counter-fire or in fire support to maneuver roles are not classified as a strike as defined by CJTF-OIR.
[May 23 US prefers that Baghdad first pursue an advance on Mosul, then Fallujah
Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. was advising the Iraqis at operation centers in Baghdad and Taqaddum. Iranian-backed Shiite militias — whose forces were located on the outskirts of town — reportedly tried to play a role in the Fallujah operation, but Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. military would not support those forces. “We are not going to drop bombs in support of the Shiite militias,” he told Fox News by phone.
[VOA May 22 2016]The U.S. military, which has hundreds of advisers and trainers in Iraq to assist Iraqi forces, preferred that Baghdad first pursue an advance on Mosul, in the northern part of Iraq. But powerful Iraqi militias have deployed to the Fallujah area in preparation for an attack.
[April 2015]American officials say it makes the most sense to push further north toward Islamic State’s de facto capital of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
“It’s what makes tactical and operational sense,” said a U.S. military official. “You secure 50% of Iraq and the majority of populated Iraq, then you push west. You push the enemy back into Syria.”

[December 22 2015 250 to 350 enemy fighters in Ramadi ]

Iraqi soldiers in northern Ramadi, Iraq, on December 21. Credit Associated Press

Iraqi soldiers in northern Ramadi, Iraq, on December 21. Credit Associated Press

Army Col. Steve Warren, the top spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition, told reporters:

At the peak of the Islamic State’s control over Ramadi, there were up to about 1,000 enemy fighters in the city, Warren estimated. That number plummeted in recent days to between 250 and 350 as Iraqi troops closed in on the city over the weekend. Other fighters likely fled to east of the city in an area along the Euphrates River known as the “Shark’s Fin.” That area — shown in the map below surrounded by green areas now controlled by the Iraqi government — will likely be a focus of the military coalition in coming days.

[December 22

BAGHDAD — Iraqi make their way toward the city center despite heavy resistance. The operation was undertaken by a mixture of soldiers, police officers and Sunni tribal fighters trained and equipped by the United States, Sunni tribesmen opposed to the Islamic State, with close air support from the United States. On December 21, Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said that he had agreed to the deployment of 200 American ground forces in Iraq to help with the operations against the Islamic State.

[November 10 They can never liberate Ramadi without the locals

82 airborne

Camp Taji redux

[September 7]

Most of the remaining Ramadi police officers left the force a month ago. Some hope to lead a regiment of tribal fighters, but a law that will formalize them as a “National Guard” has not been presented to parliament amid fierce opposition. “They can never liberate Ramadi without the locals,” said Lt. Col. Issa Alwani, a police officer who is leaving the force.

“What is making it slow is that there are not enough airstrikes from the coalition to clear targets on the ground,” said Maj. Gen. Qasim al-Mohammadi, the head of Anbar Operations Command. “The coalition isn’t available all the time for Ramadi. They are busy [elsewhere in Iraq] and in Syria, so there’s a lack of strikes.” “The coalition is there, and if there was a battle, they’d assist, but there’s no operation for them to assist with,” said another. The operation to retake Ramadi is being led by U.S.-backed forces, with Iraq’s Shiite militias largely excluded amid concerns about stoking sectarian tension in the Sunni majority province of Anbar. As for air support, Marine Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea said U.S. forces were providing the Iraqis with “what they need.” “I have visuals on how much air support we’ve been given on a daily basis. . . . Just in the last week alone, we’ve done 16 or 17 strikes in the Ramadi area alone,” he said.

[August 27 ISIL humvee IED, kills Iraqi Staff Major General Abdulrahman Abu Raghif (L) and 10th Division commander Staff Brigadier General Safin Abdulmajid]

An attack on August 27 killed Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman Abu Ragheef, the deputy head of the Anbar Operations Command — who was in charge because the head of the command was wounded a few days ago — and Brig. Gen. Safeen Abdulmajid, the head of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Division. American officials, in early July, laid out the contours of a battle plan to retake Ramadi and predicted that a major offensive would begin within weeks.

[August 28 Ramadi Anbar status September 6]
Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported September 6, 2015– Near Fallujah, five airstrikes struck three ISIL staging areas and destroyed an ISIL building and an ISIL bunker. August 27 — Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings, two ISIL weapons caches and an ISIL vehicle…August 24, 2015 Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle. August 18. Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck two ISIL large tactical units and destroyed six ISIL buildings, two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL recoilless rifle. Fighting is continuing along the city’s southern front and in the northern areas across the Euphrates from Ramadi City. Iraqi and Coalition air strikes have targeted ISIL positions within the city and along its perimeter The government has claimed once again it is preparing to retake the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi. ISIS seized Ramadi on May 17 in what is considered one of the jihadists’ most important victories and most of Anbar, the largest province in Iraq, fell to ISIS fighters.

[June 21 Taqaddum Air Base: “Advise and assist” is the new “training.”]

 Al Taqaddum air boss shop. 2008

Al Taqaddum air boss shop. 2008

Baghdad has not sent any new recruits to the U.S. training facility at Ain al-Asad, in Sunni territory, for about six weeks; the United States will instead engage directly with Sunni recruits at Taqaddum. Obama’s new plan will also bring U.S. arms for the Sunnis straight into the new base, bypassing Baghdad’s control.
Of course, like Taqaddum, these lily pads will require hundreds more American military advisers to serve. “Advise and assist” is the new “training.” While careful to say Americans would not engage in combat per se, signals suggest advice and assistance will be dispensed quite close to the front. It is clear the United States no longer believes the Iraqi Army exists. What is left of it is largely a politically correct distribution tool for American weapons, and a fiction for the media. America will instead work directly with three sectarian militias in their separate de facto states (current bases in America’s Iraqi archipelago include one in Sunni Anbar, another in Kurdish territory and three in Shi’ite-controlled areas). The hope is that the militias will divert their attention from one another long enough to focus on Islamic State. It is, of course, impossible; everyone in Iraq — except the Americans — knows Islamic State is a symptom of a broader civil war, not a stand-alone threat to anyone’s homeland.

[June 18 you must remember this]

The deployment of 450 U.S. troops to a Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, could lead to the establishment of more bases to sites Iraqi troops fighting the Islamic State, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said. “Our campaign is built on establishing these ‘lily pads’ that allow us to encourage the Iraqi security forces forward,” Dempsey said. “As they go forward, they may exceed the reach of the particular lily pad. We’re looking all the time to see if additional sites might be necessary.”
The deployment of 450 more troops to a new site in Anbar province that could serve as the prototype for other bases northward towards Mosul should not be seen as “mission creep” in Iraq, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno. The U.S. currently has four “BPC” sites – for Building Partner Capacity – at al-Asad further west in Anbar province, Besmaya south of Baghdad, Taji north of Baghdad, and at Irbil, capital of the northern Kurdish sector. The BPC sites essentially provide basic training for Iraqi recruits in six-week courses.

Ryder confirmed that the BPC site at al-Asad, where about 300 Marines are based, has not been conducting training for the past several weeks for lack of recruits being sent to the base by the Iraqis.

you must remember this

[June 7 Iraqi Army a collection of local militias and palace guards?]

Having claimed to build an Iraqi Army, which seems not to exist, and which one doubts ever really existed, the U.S. military is now trying to build another one, from the ground up. Why will things turn out better this time? Public sources reported some fourteen divisions in the Iraqi Army in 2014. Between three and five were destroyed in Mosul, leaving nine. At most one was defending Ramadi. Where were the rest? Indeed, where are they now? How is it that Shiite militias must be called upon to liberate Ramadi? Has the Iraqi Army has evaporated, or perhaps more accurately deteriorated into a collection of local militias and palace guards?

[June 3 Ramadi Barrage gates closed, cuts water supplies to Camp Habbaniyah, Iraqi base to the east]

Ramadi_Barrage_South.

Ramadi Barrage South

Islamic State jihadis have closed the gates of a dam in the Iraqi city of Ramadi that they seized last month, posing a humanitarian and security threat, officials have said.

Isis fighters have repeatedly sought to control dams in Iraq, in some cases reducing the flow of water to areas under government control or flooding swathes of land to impede military operations.

The Anbar provincial council chief, Sabah Karhout, said Isis “closed all the gates” at a dam in Ramadi, which is the capital of Iraq’s largest province.

The move lowered the level of the Euphrates river and cut water supplies to the areas of Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah to the east, which are some of the last held by pro-government forces in Anbar.

[December 13 2014 Tribesmen supplied and trained to fight in Anbar]
Were the Sunni fighters that were repulsed at Hit recently trained by U.S, or Iraqi Army?

[November 23 U.S. advisers training Sunni tribesmen, asks Congress for arms]

 at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province November 15, 2014 Tribal fighters take part in a military training to prepare for fighting against Islamic State militants.

at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province November 15, 2014 Tribal fighters take part in a military training to prepare for fighting against Islamic State militants.

Pentagon places importance on the Sunni tribesmen to its overall strategy to diminish Islamic State, and cautioned Congress about the consequences of failing to assist them. The United States plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds to help bolster the battle against Islamic State militants in Anbar province,

[November 16

A tribal fighter takes up a position during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Haditha November 14, 2014.

A tribal fighter takes up a position during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Haditha November 14, 2014.

battle of haditha 2--7

2007

U.S. troops, who numbered just under 50,had already established themselves at Ain al-Asad air base.
The goal is to create a bridging force of thousands of Sunni tribesmen before Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government creates a “National Guard”, decentralizing power from Baghdad. The official said the U.S. training operation at al-Asad was expected to get underway this year.

[November 14 U.S.: Anbar must be key ground for the fight against Islamic State]


progress made in Anbar Province, Iraq in 2008

“In Anbar, you’re seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure,” Bush told U.S. troops during a visit to al-Asad Air Base in 2007.

It is the only Sunni-majority region in Iraq and it forms a significant chunk of the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” the vague denomination of central Iraq that analysts have argued formed the core of the support for Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
It’s estimated that 1,332 U.S. troops died in the province after the invasion, nearly one in three of all U.S. fatalities during that time period. It is the only Sunni-majority region in Iraq and it forms a significant chunk of the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” the vague denomination of central Iraq that analysts have argued formed the core of the support for Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/11/12/why-it-matters-that-u-s-troops-are-in-iraqs-troubled-anbar-province-again/

[November 13 Anbar: US military experts arrive at Ein al-Asad Air Base]

 US military experts arrived at Ein al-Asad Air Base in west Iraq's Anbar Province on Nov.10 to help train and support Iraqi forces

US military experts arrived at Ein al-Asad Air Base in west Iraq’s Anbar Province on Nov.10 to help train and support Iraqi forces

EIN AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Nov. 12, 2014: Iraqi soldiers walk in front of a hangar at an air base in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, on Nov.11, 2014

EIN AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Nov. 12, 2014: Iraqi soldiers walk in front of a hangar at an air base in Anbar Province on Nov.11, 2014

[November 8 The deployment of up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq not mission creep]

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough rejected the notion that additional troops reflected “mission creep,” saying the mission remains the same. “We are keeping the limiting factor on the mission,” the official said, referencing the no-combat provisions. “We are adding personnel to better carry out the mission.” Anbar Operations Command has announced that more than 3,000 volunteers from all the Anbar tribes arrived today at the Ayn Al-Asad military base. U.S. expert advisers are at the military base and also at the Habbaniya base. The men are from the Ramadi tribes and from areas around Haditha, Anah, Rawa, and Al-Qa’im.
More than 1,500 fighters made their way from Haditha township to the base, bringing the total number of volunteers to 5,000 men. They were provided today with weapons and ammunition, and their training will continue for 10-15 days, after which the broad security campaign will be launched, with the participation of Iraqi air support.
A coalition of 40 tribes from all over Anbar has now been formed, in order to combat ISIL. The coalition will operate within a cooperation framework with security forces, police forces, and the Anbar Operations Command. The aim is to arm the tribesmen so that they can play their part in liberating the areas that have been taken over by the ISIL gunmen. The military operation that will specifically target Hit.
Roughly 1,400 American troops are currently in Iraq training and advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as protecting American diplomatic facilities in the country. The deployment of up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq is now authorized, previously authorised were up to 1,600 troops, this will now raise the maximum troop footprint to 3,100. Some of the advisors will be deployed to western Anbar province. Some of the additional troops will begin to arrive in Iraq in the next several weeks.

[November 5 No U.S. advisers? force protection considerations in the calculus]

“President Bush meets with a Marine combat patrol unit at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 3, 2007.

U.S. Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and John Warner of Virginia in Al Taqaddum [ at Habbaniyah] 2007

U.S. Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and John Warner of Virginia in Al Taqaddum [  at Habbaniyah] 2007

Col. Paul E. Funk, Iraq, 2007/10/29

Col. Paul E. Funk, Iraq, 2007/10/29

December 2007

December 2007

November 4: Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II will run a subordinate headquarters in Baghdad that will supervise the American advisers and trainers.
The United States currently does not plan to advise Iraqi forces below the level of a brigade, which in the Iraqi Army usually has some 2,000 troops. Nor is it clear under what circumstances American advisers might accompany Iraqi units on the battlefield or call in airstrikes. There were 1,414 troops in Iraq as of October 31, about 600 in advisory roles from joint operations centers in Baghdad and Irbil, and at division and higher headquarters. Stars and Stripes | Nov 04, 2014

According to reports, there were U.S, advisers in Anbar Province on November 4, although there were none on October 20.
Then, there were no U.S. advisers with any Iraqi units in Anbar province, where Islamic State militants were advancing in early October and had seized control of several Sunni towns and cities.
One limiting factor for the U.S. advise-and-assists mission is force protection. The Islamic State has overrun many Iraqi army units during the past several months, and U.S. military commanders want to avoid any risk of U.S advisers getting trapped with a collapsing Iraqi unit and requiring a dangerous rescue mission.
“Part of this is a security issue,” said one defense official. “Our teams are taking force protection considerations into their calculus. We are being very deliberate about the location of those advisers.”
Officials also point out that the advising mission requires a lot of planning. “This is not something like you just flip a light switch and suddenly these teams are in place. Everyone has to do a lot of ground work and figure out where you’re going to do the most good,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as limited as much as the beginning stages of a sustained effort that we’ve said all along is going to take some time,” Ryder said.
you must remember this

On October 15, the Provincial Council of Al-Anbar announced that 100 US military advisors have arrived in the province and will be training Iraqi soldiers and volunteers of the tribal force to fight ISIS.
The head of the council Sabah Karhoot said, “100 US military advisors arrived today in Al-Jabbana base in eastern Ramadi and Ain al-Asad base in western Ramadi.”
Camp Habbaniyah
After 2003, the former British airfield was used by both the United States Armed Forces and the New Iraqi Army as a forward operating base, and is now known as Camp Habbaniyah. From this outpost, combat operations are run from the outskirts of Fallujah to the outskirts of Ramadi. Since 2006 Camp Habbaniyah has grown into a Regional Training and Regional Support Center as well as the headquarters for the Iraqi Army 1st Division. On going Coalition and Iraqi construction projects have revitalized much of the base.
In December 2008, the U.S. Army and all civilian contractors departed Camp Habbaniyah. U.S. Marines had stayed behind to provide the Iraqi Army with additional perimeter security until a time TBD.
In 1952 a second airfield was built on the plateau to cope with the long range and jet aircraft using the base (this subsequently became the Iraqi Air Force Al Taqaddum airbase). [2009] Drawdown operations are in full swing at Camp Al Taqaddum, a base located about 50 miles west of Baghdad in western Al Anbar province. Before the base was in the hands of American military commanders, it was used as an Iraqi Air Force base during former president Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Today it is a vastly developed base that occupies approximately 12 miles of desert land.
Lately forklifts, flatbed trucks and tow vehicles have been the main source of traffic aboard the base as units continuously send equipment and gear to Afghanistan or back to the states.

[October 16 U.S. Military Advisers reported at Al-Jabbana base, 2003 U.S. Camp Habbaniyah, 1936 RAF Station Habbaniya]

May 2007 view of the RAF Habbaniyah Olympic pool by U.S. troops

May 2007 view of the RAF Habbaniyah Olympic pool by U.S. troops

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