U.S. troops, DoD civilians in Mid East

 

westmosuljune17 - Edited

U.S. Soldier West Mosul June 2017

The Pentagon’s quarterly reports on personnel, published November 17, show the number of U.S. troops and Department of Defense civilians in each Middle Eastern country: Egypt, 455; Israel, 41; Lebanon, 110; Syria, 1,723; Turkey, 2,265; Jordan, 2,730; Iraq, 9,122; Kuwait, 16,592; Saudi Arabia, 850; Yemen, 14; Oman, 32; United Arab Emirates, 4,240; Qatar, 6,671; Bahrain, 9,335. Totalling 54,180 from 40,517 in the past four months, representing a 33 percent rise
Currently, there are roughly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The total number in Somalia is roughly 500.

 

[August 20 2015 US wants another Turkish base for helicopter support, Turkey on hold ]

A government offensive against terrorist groups and the collapse of a three-year truce with Kurdish militants followed parliamentary elections in June that failed to deliver a ruling majority to any one party. Talks to form a coalition government failed and Turkey may be headed for fresh elections within about three months.
[August 11

The HC-130J Combat King II is a personnel recovery aircraft developed for the US Air Force

The HC-130J Combat King II is a personnel recovery aircraft developed for the US Air Force

the Pentagon wants access to another base in addition to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve , to stage personnel recovery aircraft. The crew of the HC-130J includes a pilot, co-pilot, a combat systems officer and two enlisted load-masters.
The night vision goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit houses a fully integrated digital avionics suite incorporating head-up displays (HUD) and multifunctional displays (MFD) for flight control and navigation.
The HC-130J also incorporates inertial navigation system (INS), global positioning system (GPS), forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and satellite and data-burst communications.
The HC-130J Combat King II is equipped with refuelling pods on under-wing pylons and additional internal fuel tanks for conducting in-flight refuelling of helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It can be used for aerial refuelling of up to two rotorcraft simultaneously at night. The aircraft can also participate in forward area refuelling point (FARP) missions in support of joint and allied forces.
The aircraft is fitted with a universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation (UARRSI) for conducting in-flight refuelling with boom-equipped tanker aircraft.

The HC-130J Combat King II integrates modern threat detection and countermeasures equipment, such as a radar warning receiver, missile warning receiver and chaff and flare dispensing system.
The HC-130J Combat King II has a maximum speed of 316kt. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 33,000ft. The aircraft has a maximum range of 3,478 nautical miles.

[August 9 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano sends jets to Incirlik

Six F-16 jets and about 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. the “small detachment” is from the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

[Aug 5 Armed drone flown out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey strikes Islamic State]

U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator at Incirlik earlier

The United States has conducted its first drone strike into northern Syria from a base in Turkey, the Pentagon said on August 5. Manned and unmanned American planes are arriving particularly at Incirlik Air Base, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu .
İncirlik stands roughly 400 kilometers away from Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital in Syria. The anti-ISIL coalition has been relying on bases in the Gulf and flying nearly 2,000 kilometers a day to reach their targets against the jihadist group.

June 23 Benghazi: Ali Awni al-Harzi, of attack on u.s. diplomat, killed in airstrike in Mosul – from İncirlik?]

A US drone strike on Mosul, Iraq, killed Ali Awni al-Harzi, an Islamic State fighter linked to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, the Pentagon said on June 22. His full name is Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi, one of the first members of the IS. He was key fundraiser and recruiter for the group, specializing in finding suicide bombers. Australia’s most infamous terrorists, Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, have been killed by a drone strike in the past week in Mosul. Sharrouf and Elomar travelled to Syria and then Iraq in 2013, with Sharrouf using his brother’s passport to leave Australia. Photos were posted online of them holding the severed heads of pro-Syrian government soldiers.
Turkey is allowing Predator drones to take off from the U.S. airbase in Incirlik, near Adana. three drones were transferred in April and joined two other drones already deployed. The use of Turkey’s air bases in the Mosul offensive was discussed in March when U.S. Central Command Commander Lloyd Austin arrived in Turkey to hold talks on the regional turmoil. İncirlik is 434 miles from Mosul
February 5 Islamist Ansar al-Sharia pushed back towards port by Libyan Army forces]

Members of the Libyan army stand on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from the Benghazi's port in the background on Dec. 23, 2014

Members of the Libyan army stand on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from the Benghazi’s port in the background on Dec. 23, 2014

Libya has failed to build up a national army and efficient state institutions since the end of Gaddafi’s one-man rule, and the country is now effectively dominated by former rebel brigades who have carved out competing fiefs. Backed by forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, army special forces in mid-October launched an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi, expelling them from the airport area and from several camps the army had lost during the summer.
Army forces have since been trying to retake the port area and two other districts where pro-government forces say fighters from the militant Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group are holed up. The port, the main gateway for food imports into eastern Libya, has had to close.
On February 5, army vehicles advanced on the Corniche road toward the port gate and a nearby court building. Soldiers took over several government buildings such as a passport office, a state insurance and a state bank damaged in earlier fighting. Around 25 soldiers were wounded, army sources said. “The road to the port is under our control,” said Faraj al-Barassi, a military commander.

 

[December 25 2014 Storage tank in Libyan port for Benghazi on fire]

The al-Sidra and its adjacent Ras Lanuf terminal have been closed since a force allied to a rival government in Tripoli moved east trying to take them.

“A storage tank was hit but the damage is limited,” said an official from a security service allied to the internationally-recognized government, now operating from eastern Libya. He said there were heavy clashes in the Ben Jawad area west of Es Sider where he said some of the rival forces were based.
November 3

Heavy fighting broke out near the seaport of Libya’s eastern Benghazi city on November 3 as forces of Major General Khalifa Haftar, backed by the army, attacked Islamist groups. Located in Benghazi’s main commercial zone, the seaport used for crucial wheat and petrol imports is in the Assabri district. Dozens of residents were leaving the city, heeding a call by the army to evacuate the port area where Islamists were holed up and the army was deploying tanks and artillery. A Libyan navy ship docked at Benghazi port was reported hit.

[October 28 this country is running out of time]

Special UN Envoy Bernadino Leon started an initiative to bring together both sides for a dialogue and ceasefire. But fighting has worsened in the past two weeks in the eastern city of Benghazi as well as in western Libya
“I think this country is running out of time. The danger for the country is that in the past weeks we are getting very close to the point of no return,”

[October 18 Benghazi youths are pointing guns against each other]

heaviest clashes were taking place around Benghazi University

heaviest clashes were taking place around Benghazi University

Benghazi youths who once fought side by side against Gadhafi are pointing guns against each other in a struggle where neither side appears able to deal a decisive blow. All around the country, cities, towns, tribes and ethnic minorities are now choosing sides, raising the possibility of greater conflict.
At least 18 people were killed onOctober 18 in heavy fighting between the Libyan National Army led by Major General Khalifa Haftar and Islamist militant of Ansar al-Sharia group in the country’s eastern city of Benghazi.Combat was the fiercest since the start of the operation, with the two sides using weapons of all calibers in street fighting. The exact number of deaths could be much higher, however, as warring groups usually retrieve the bodies of their own. Forces of Major General Haftar, a coalition of pro-government forces and armed civilians, have been joined by Salafi fighters known as Sahwa – similar to the Iraqi Sunni militias that joined U.S. troops in the fight against al-Qaida at the height of that country’s insurgency in 2007 and 2008.
Some of the heaviest clashes were taking place around Benghazi University, where Islamist militants were reportedly holed up.The army has this time publicly thrown its weight behind Haftar, who launched a first, unsuccessful, campaign against the Islamists in Benghazi in May, dubbing it “Operation Dignity”.
“The Libyan army claims Operation Dignity ” as one of its own campaigns, spokesman Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari said October 16.
[September 24 Airstrikes on Tripoli and Benghazi: from U.A.E.?]

Saqer al-Jouroushi

Saqer al-Jouroushi

Tripoli, 24 September 2014: In the last 24 hours, The air strikes targeted several areas in Tripoli including the Yarmouk base and a militia transport pound in Salaheddin. An eye-witness to the overnight attacks told the Libya Herald that he first heard the sound of aircraft high overhead followed by anti-aircraft fire. Shortly afterwards there were explosions on the ground. He added that there had been the sound of detonations further away but he could not identify their location.

There has been no reliable report of the damage caused in these attacks. If they were launched by the UAE airforce then it will have been on the same night that other UAE warplanes joined in the first US-led multinational airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.

UAE F-16s have a combat range of around 550 kilometres, depending on the weapon-load carried. Even operating from Egyptian bases, as is being alleged, F-16s would probably need two inflight refuelling sessions for an attack on Tripoli from Egypt. The Mirage 2000-5s also flown by the UAE, have a slightly greater range. The UAE airforce operates a single Airbus refuelling tanker aircraft.

BENGHAZI Libya (Reuters) – A warplane attacked the non-oil port in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday, witnesses said. Forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar said they carried out the attack to stop a ship from docking and supplying Islamist fighters.

“We warned the port manager that we will not allow ships to dock to supply Majlis al-Shura with weapons,” said Saqer al-Jouroushi, Haftar’s air defense commander . He was referring to an umbrella group of Islamist fighters that Haftar has been fighting in Benghazi. “We are still controlling the airport,” Saqer al-Jouroushi, adding that his troops had four helicopters and four MiG fighter jets. On 18 August, Brig Gen Jarushi said that Su-24s were under his control, but provided by a foreign air force, had carried out airstrikes that he implied were in addition to the earlier ones. The attacks were from U.A.E. http://wp.me/p1kUZv-2F http://wp.me/p1kUZv-ls

September 2 Buatni has been the backdrop to the worst fighting in Benghazi and on the approach to Benina Airport.]

Benina Airport and a nearby Air Defence base are the last major positions held by Operation Dignity in Benghazi

Benina Airport and a nearby Air Defence base are the last major positions held by Operation Dignity in Benghazi

Benina Airport and a nearby Air Defence base are the last major positions held by Operation Dignity in Benghazi since its Special Forces partners were pushed from its headquarters in Buatni at the end of Ramadan. Buatni has been the backdrop to the worst fighting in Benghazi over the last month with most residents now displaced and sheltering in schools or with friends and relatives in other parts of the city.

[August 24 Benghazi: fighting taking place in Buatni and on the approach to Benina Airport.]

Benghazi posted August 23

Benghazi posted August 23

Fighting has been reported in Benghazi in the Islamist held districts of Sidi Faraj, Guwarsha and Hawari but with, as has become usual in recent weeks, the worst of the fighting taking place in Buatni and on the approach to Benina Airport.

Hassi said that, away from the fighting, Dignity forces were still the subject of assassinations. He said that today Saiqa Special Forces officer Misbah Al-Maghrebi had been shot and killed by unknown assailants in the city.

[August 5 Benghazi was quiet with no shooting]

Heavily armed interior ministry troops and the Libyan army protected the Tobruk hotel that was chosen to host the parliament

Heavily armed interior ministry troops and the Libyan army protected the Tobruk hotel that was chosen to host the parliament

There has certainly been little in the way of violence in the city between Ansar Al-Sharia and its allies on one side and Operation Dignity forces on the other in the past two days. Apart from some explosions on the Airport Road at around midnight last night, the city was quiet yesterday with no shooting, and is quiet again today.
Who would have thought the best hope for Libya might turn out to be Gaddafi’s former chief of staff? Yet if he survives, then Khalifa Haftar, the anti-Islamist general who is both trained by the Soviet Union and accused of being a CIA operative, starts to look like our son of a bitch.

[August 2 Reports that Libya’s Major General Khalifa Haftar has fled Libya denied.
Spokesman Mohamed al-Hegazi denied July 30 media reports that Libya’s Major General Khalifa Haftar had fled Libya.
“General Haftar has not left Libya and is currently preparing for a major military operation in Benghazi.” He, however, gave no details about the fresh offensive.

Elected in June, lawmakers met on August 2 for an emergency session in Tobruk, a coastal city east of Benghazi, where they are supposed to form a new government .
Heavily armed interior ministry troops and the Libyan army protected the Tobruk hotel that was chosen to host the parliament meeting after Tripoli and Benghazi were deemed too risky.
The meeting August 2 saw 152 lawmakers gather in Tobrouk. Abu Bakr Baiera, the anti-Islamist lawmaker who presided over August 2’s session, decided to postpone the official opening until more lawmakers arrive.

Benghazi was calmer on August 2, four days after an alliance of Islamist militants from the Ansar al-Sharia group and ex-rebels drove the armed forces out of a special forces base and overran a major police station.

[August 1 Benghazi police station hit again: Tripoli closes border, too many crossing

A man stands on the rubble of the main building of the security headquarters that was collapsed after an attack by Islamic hard-line militias in Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014.

A man stands on the rubble of the main building of the security headquarters that was collapsed after an attack by Islamic hard-line militias in Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014.

Libyan security forces and bystanders walk past a heavily damaged police station hit by a bomb blast April 27th in Benghazi

Libyan security forces and bystanders walk past a heavily damaged police station hit by a bomb blast April 27th in Benghazi

 

Benghazi, 19 June 2013:  A huge explosion totally flattened the police station in the Al-Hadayeq (the gardens) district of Benghazi early this morning, but miraculously there are no casualties being reported

Benghazi, 19 June 2013:

A huge explosion totally flattened the police station in the Al-Hadayeq (the gardens) district of Benghazi early this morning, but miraculously there are no casualties being reported
August 1. a powerful explosion ripped through the main police headquarters in Benghazi, nearly flattening it, witnesses said. The blast shook nearby houses and echoed across the eastern city.

The headquarters was empty because of earlier shelling by militiamen. The blast appeared to be from explosives planted inside the building, said witnesses at the site.

Tunisia closed its main border crossing with Libya on August 1 after thousands of stranded Egyptian and foreign nationals, fleeing militias’ fighting and violence in Libya, tried to break through the passage

[July 31 Gen. Haftar has left for Egypt to spend Eid with members of his family. Withdrawal of troops from Benghazi is tactical]

Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada, the commander of the country's special forces

” nowhere to be seen” Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada, the commander of the country’s special forces

Al-Sa’iqah commander Wanish Bukhammadah is nowhere to be seen after rebel sources said that they have taken him in. A well-informed source in Benghazi told Alhayat that Haftar left for Egypt in order to spend Eid with members of his family who live there.

A spokesman for the general, Muhammad Hijazi, described the withdrawal of troops from Benghazi as tactical. Yet, medical sources, including the Libyan Red Crescent, have said that they found no less than 75 bodies most of which belong to Haftar’s National Army faction whose authority has now been confined to the city of Tobruk and areas on the outskirts of Benghazi. His loyalists now appeared to only hold the airport on the city’s edges.

Circles close to Haftar attributed the defeat of his forces to the failure of the east Libyan tribes to stand by him as well as to having faith in an appeal for a ceasefire made by former Provisional Council Head Mustafa Abd Al-Jalil. The latter was asked by the provisional government to mediate in the conflict.

[July 29 Saiqa special forces flee after taking artillery fire, Islamists in possession]
“We have withdrawn from the Saiqa special forces base in Benghazi after heavy shelling,” Saiqa Special Forces officer Fadel Al-Hassi. Part of the area is Camp 36 in the Abu Attni district and the special forces school. Militant fighters overran it on July 29 after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city.A separate special forces spokesman confirmed the militants had taken over the camp after the troops pulled out.
Benghazi has been at the centre of fighting between special forces and ex-rebel fighters of the Benghazi Shura Council who have joined up with the Ansar al Sharia, a militant Islamist group. Ansar al Sharia, classified as a terrorist organisation by Washington, has been blamed by authorities for attacking the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 when the U.S. ambassador was killed.
Special forces and some regular air force units had recently joined forces with a renegade former army general, Khalifa Haftar, who had launched a self-declared campaign to clear the city of Islamist militants.

Libyan oil resources in 2011

Libyan oil resources in 2011

[July 28 Fighting in Tripoli seems fueled by the campaign of Gen. Hifter to rid the country of Islamist militias.]

Major General Khalifa Hifter has won support from Libyans who fear the growing assertiveness of extremists, especially in eastern Libya. But his campaign has also stirred new divisions, and violence, across the country. Militias from the coastal city of Misurata that oppose Maj. Gen. Hifter have been clashing for weeks around the Tripoli airport with fighters from the mountain city of Zintan, who support him.
The fighting in Tripoli seems at least partly fueled by the campaign of Gen. Hifter, who vowed in May to rid the country of Islamist militias. He and his national army have focused their fight in Benghazi, where daily battles with the militias have settled into a deadly stalemate.
The United States has sent mixed signals about Gen. Hifter’s efforts, warning about the violence while conceding that he was pursuing militiamen it considered terrorists.

The country is coming undone. Relentless factional fighting in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Benghazi has left dozens of people dead. Well-known political activists have been killed, diplomats have been kidnapped, and ordinary citizens fear bandits on the roads.

[July 27 Intense fighting throughout much of the day in Benghazi’s Buatni and Leithi districts July 26, 2014.

Black plumes of smoke is seen in the vicinity of Camp Thunderbolt, after clashes between militants, former rebel fighters and government forces in Benghazi July 26, 2014.

Black plumes of smoke is seen in the vicinity of Camp Thunderbolt, after clashes between militants, former rebel fighters and government forces in Benghazi July 26, 2014.

There has been intense fighting throughout much of the day in Benghazi’s Abu Attni and Leithi districts as militants attacked the Saiqa Special Forces’ headquarters with missiles and were attacked in turn by air and counter missile strikes. There were massive explosions and smoke rising into the sky.

Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC) report at least 10 bodies being brought in as well as 50 injured. The hospital also put out an appeal for blood, saying it was desperately short. Doctors and nurses at the hospital have been working round the clock to deal with the injured.

Because of the intensity of the fighting, residents in the Musakam area near Leithi have been fleeing their homes in fear.

“We tried to stay but a missile hit our building. We left instantly, but there was heavy street fighting nearby,” one resident told the Libya Herald.

Much of the city is also suffering from power cuts as a result of an electricity station being hit yesterday. It has affected the mobile phone service and the internet. Both are down.

The clashes in Benghazi have been almost non-stop over the past few days. The number of dead taken to the BMC today was much the same today as Wednesday, when it received nine bodies and 20 injured, again because of fighting in Buatni. Others have been taken to the hospital in Marj, the operational centre of the Hafter’s forces. It too has reported shortages not only of equipment and medications but also of doctors and other medical staff.

For its part, the 17 February Battalion, which is allied to Ansar Al-Sharia, said yesterday that six of its members had been killed.

[earlier]
At least 10 people were also killed and 50 more injured in clashes between Libyan special forces and Islamist militants who are entrenched in the eastern city of Benghazi, security and hospital sources said
At least five soldiers were killed on July 22 in a double suicide bombing on a special forces base under the command of Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada in the southeast of the city.

On July 21, an Islamist militia attacked a military barracks, leaving at least 16 dead.

Major General Khalifa Haftar, backed by Abu Khamada, has since May led an operation “to eradicate terrorism in Benghazi” by targeting Islamists.

Islamist groups such as Ansar Al-Sharia, classified as a terrorist organisation by Washington, have held sway in Benghazi since the fall of Kadhafi.

[June 9 Operation Dignity : court decision, which reinstates Abdullah al-Thinni]
Libya’s Supreme Court ruled on June 9 that parliament’s election of Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq a month ago was unconstitutional,. Maiteeq said he would accept the court decision, which reinstates Abdullah al-Thinni. Maiteeq comes from Misrata, a western coastal city where the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is strong but faces strong opposition in the east and in the western mountains.

[June 6]
Abdullah al-Thinni, who insists that he is still the rightful prime minister, has now decamped to the oil-rich eastern province of Cyrenaica with his cabinet and sections of that same congress.

Al-Thinni is now in talks with army officers allied to the renegade general Khalifa Haftar, in Cyrenaica’s capital, Benghazi, whose forces have for three weeks battled Islamist militias that he labels “terrorists”. “The support for Haftar is in essence support for institutions, not for individuals,” said Libyan journalist Mohamed Eljarh. “There is this movement in eastern Libya which has managed to bring lots of actors together.”

 powerful device, planted in a white pick-up

powerful device, planted in a white pick-up

Tripoli, 6 June 2014:Two car bombs exploded early this morning outside the Tripoli home of Hashim Bishr, the former head of the Supreme Security Committee (SSC). The blast damaged six properties, including his own, wrecked 13 vehicles but caused no casualties.

In the first explosion at around 4am, a neighbouring electricity sub-station was severely damaged, cutting power to the locality. Minutes later, a second, more powerful device, planted in a white pick-up, was detonated in front of Bishr’s Suq Al-Juma home.

 

 

 

 

[June 5]

General Adam Saqr Geroushi, who heads the air division

General Adam Saqr Geroushi, who heads the air division

Suicide bombers are a disturbing shift in tactics in Libya “A suicide bomber in a vehicle packed with explosives attacked a villa where we had gathered,” said, General Adam Saqr Geroushi, who heads the air division Haftar has deployed in his attacks.

“Three of our soldiers were killed,” Jerushi said, adding that he had been “lightly wounded”.

Suicide bomber are a disturbing shift in tactics among radical jihadists in Libya. Many of them have been carried out by foreigners drawn to the conflict from across the region, including Tunisians, and from Europe.

[June 2]

Colonel Saad al-Werfelli, who commands the Benghazi air force base, said the jihadists “bombarded base 21 early on Monday, killing and wounding soldiers (from the elite unit) who were trapped inside”.

The air force retaliated by launching strikes on the assailants, added Werfelli, who along with the elite forces backs Haftar’s campaign against Islamists accused of repeated violence in Benghazi.
helicopter gunships flown by pilots loyal to the general have been bombing the base of the February 17 militia, as well as positions of another militia, the militant Ansar al-Shariah group, on the city’s western outskirts.
[May 29]

Libyan Air Force jet

Libyan Air Force jet [ Aero L-39 Albatros?]

An air force official in Benghazi said two jets bombed a base belonging to the February 17th Brigade, hitting it with two missiles.
Libyan Air Force aircraft targeted a base in the eastern city of Benghazi of the February 17th Brigade, one of the main armed groups in the area.The brigade is a powerful force known for its close ties to the hardline Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Ansar al-Sharia’s commander Mohamed al-Zahawi described the military operations against his group and others in Benghazi as a “crusade”.

[May 27]

/

U.S. training local combatants in Africa

Islamists raided a U.S,training base outside Tripoli and stole hundreds of American-supplied weapons and vehicles. In Libya, the Pentagon has allotted just over $16 million from a train-and-equip fund to develop two companies of elite troops and their support elements “to counter terrorist and extremist threats in Libya,” according to budget documents. For the aborted training outside Tripoli, the Defense Department also tapped into a classified spending account called Section 1208, devised to aid foreign troops assisting American forces conducting counterterrorism missions.
In Tripoli, the most ambitious initial training ended ignominiously last August after a group of armed militia fighters overpowered a small Libyan guard force at a training base outside Tripoli and stole hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, vehicles and other equipment.
As a result, the training was halted and the American instructors were sent home. Libyan and American officials have been searching for a more secure training site in Libya to restart the program. But last summer’s debacle and the political upheaval in Libya since then have caused American officials to rethink how they select local personnel.
“You have to make sure of who you’re training,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, the commander of United States Army soldiers operating in Africa. “It can’t be the standard, ‘Has this guy been a terrorist or some sort of criminal?’ but also, ‘What are his allegiances? Is he true to the country, or is he still bound to his militia?’ ”
United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies.
The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.
[May 23]

 US Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones  not going to come out and condemn blanketly Haftar

US Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones not going to come out and condemn blanketly Haftar

Speaking at the Stimson Center in Washington, US Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones said that the Barack Obama administration did not support and had no advance knowledge of Hifter’s actions . But she added that “it’s very difficult to step up and condemn” Hifter given that his forces are “going after very specific groups … on our list of terrorists.” “I am not going to come out and condemn blanketly what he did,”
As time went by, Haftar, who played a key role in toppling Gaddafi, has gained more allies than the biggest party in parliament. He also obtained support from the country’s minister of culture, the air force chief and Libyan ambassador to the United Nations.
He is kind of a ‘fumpy’ guy,” said one of the former US officials. “They tend to underestimate him. He’s a pretty tough old guy and he could win, whatever winning in Libya means.”
Heftar, like Sisi, is said to have the enthusiastic backing of the fiercely anti-Islamist United Arab Emirates, as does his ally, the former prime minister Mahmoud Jibril. Heftar even created a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – the same name used by the Egyptian military.
But Libya’s armed forces is not as strong as the Egyptian counterparts. Heftar is leading just another militia.”
The US is not backing Heftar, his current offensive should be seen as an audition for future US backing. By showing that he can take on the Islamist militias and win, he establishes himself as somebody the west cannot ignore.
Several government ministers, speaking on live television, accused the GNC of ignoring a recent government initiative calling for a freeze of parliament until the next elections – to defuse a political crisis. The congress had ignored a proposal to hold parliamentary elections at the end of June.
[May 22]

 Rear Admiral John Kirby

Rear Admiral John Kirby

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said on May 20 that 250 Marines as well as Osprey and C-130 aircraft have been deployed to Sicily and are ready for any evacuations from Libya.
Support is growing for Haftar’s so-called “Operation Dignity” because the government isn’t integrating former fighters into the army, excluding many for having served under Qaddafi. Colonel Ali Nalouti, who heads the Qaqaa brigade, part of a Zintan-led group that dominates sections of Tripoli, said:
“We are witnessing the formation of new Libyan national army. The war against terrorism and terrorists will continue. We will never let Libya be a base for those militants; we made a pledge and there’s no way going back.”
Conflicts in Libya, where oil production has slid to less than a fifth of its capacity, helped drive up the price of Brent crude by as much as 18 percent to $117.45 a barrel between April and August last year.Brent for July settlement was 7 cents lower at $110.48 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 9:32 a.m. local time. It settled at $110.55 yesterday, the highest closing price since March 3.

[May 21]

Elite Libyan unit commander Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada (C) delivers a statement in Benghazi on May 19, 2014, saying his troops are joining paramilitaries of the National Army in Benghazi commanded by Major General Khalifa Haftar

The outgoing cabinet of Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on May 19 called on the caretaker government to recess and re-organize the controversial election of the Prime Minister. The move aimed to save Libya from plunging into civil war.
An elite Libyan unit has joined Major General Khalifa Haftar, who accuses the government of backing al-Qaeda-inspired fighters as rising lawlessness in the nation’s two largest cities edges it closer to civil war. Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada, the commander of the country’s special forces, An elite Libyan unit , announced on May 19 that his troops would join Major General Khalifa Haftar’s operation targeting armed groups in Benghazi, the country’s second city.

The announcement came a day after gunmen stormed the General National Congress (GNC), the country’s parliament, in southern Tripoli.

Gen Haftar hails from the city of Benghazi, where some residents have held demonstrations in support

Gen Haftar hails from the city of Benghazi, where some residents have held demonstrations in support

It is easy to see why some have compared Haftar to Egypt’s former military chief and favourite in next week’s presidential election, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Both have vowed to rid their countries of the Muslim Brotherhood, and both have shown that they will not shy away from the use of considerable force to achieve this goal.

[May 19]

Smoke rises over the parliament area after troops of Gen. Khalifa Hafter targeted Islamist lawmakers and officials at the parliament in Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, May 18, 2014

Smoke rises over the parliament area after troops of Gen. Khalifa Hafter targeted Islamist lawmakers and officials at the parliament in Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, May 18, 2014

General Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference at a sports club in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi. May 17, 2014.

General Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference at a sports club in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi. May 17, 2014.

A Libyan air force base in the eastern city of Tobruk on Monday joined the forces of a renegade general who had stormed the Libyan parliament to demand its suspension.
“The Torbuk air force base will join…the army under the command of General Khalifa Qassim Haftar,” a statement posted on social media said.
Staff at the air base confirmed its authenticity. Militias allied with a Major General Khalifa Haftar staged an attack on Libya’s parliament and declared it dissolved on May 19, in some of the worst fighting the capital has seen since the 2011 revolution. Haftar’s forces focused in particular on Ansar Sharia, an organisation designated by the US as a “terrorist” group. Former CIA Director David Petraeus is told House and Senate committees in 2012 that after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, it was suspected Ansar al Sharia was responsible.

Armed forces chief of staff Abdessalam Hadallah al-Salihin denied any army involvement in the Benghazi clashes, although he admitted that some officers and army units had defected to join Haftar.

The Tobruk air base development was significant as it was not clear how much backing Haftar’s men had within Libya’s nascent regular armed forces and the powerful brigades of former rebels who had toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated its diplomats on May 19 as the North African country slid further into violence, with the government losing control of a second military airbase. On May 18, armed Islamists attacked Benina air base in Benghazi but no one was hurt, base commander Colonel Saad al-Werfalli said.
Libyan officials believe members of the al-Qaaqaa and Sawaaq militias – the largest in Tripoli – backed Hifter, even though they operate under a government mandate
Mokhtar Farnana, speaking on a Libyan television channel on behalf of Hifter’s group, said it had assigned a 60-member assembly to take over for parliament. Farnana said Libya’s current government would act as an emergency cabinet, but gave no further details.
Farnana, who is in charge of prisons operated by the military police, said forces loyal to Hifter had carried out Sunday’s attack. He insisted it was not a coup, but a battle by “the people’s choice”.

“We announce to the world that the country can’t be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism,” said Farnana, who wore a military uniform and sat in front of Libya’s flag

Major General Khalifa Haftar, who lived in exile in the United States before returning home to lead ground forces after the Arab Spring swept eastwards from Tunisia in the 2011 in the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. On May 16 his paramilitary force, backed by warplanes and helicopters, pounded Islamist fighters in Libya’s second biggest city, in clashes that killed at least 36 people and injured another 138.

By the night of May 18, those forces announced that the elected General National Congress was being replaced by an existing constitutional drafting committee. It was far from certain that the order would be observed. But the power grab threatened to send Libya hurtling into a full-blown civil war.
Tripoli residents and journalists reported heavy fighting, including rocket attacks and gunfights, in several central neighborhoods. Dozens of vehicles mounted with antiaircraft guns could be seen speeding toward the center of the capital from a southeastern suburb. Plumes of black smoke rose over the city.
It was unclear whether ex-general Khalifa Haftar commanded sufficient force to prevail in the showdown in Tripoli — the latest chapter in a struggle for power, land and resources that has raged in this oil-rich country since the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The central government has struggled unsuccessfully to rein in scores of militias that emerged from the anti-Gaddafi uprising. In November 2011 about 150 officers from the former military gathered in the town of Baida to appoint Major General Khalifa Haftar as the new chief of staff in an attempt to pressure the NTC. The NTC was largely a composition of mysterious characters that had little presence within Libya’s national consciousness. Hifter found himself as the third man in the military ladder, which he accepted but apparently grudgingly so. more below.

earlier posts:

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Ahmed Maetig , Libyan prime minister

Ahmed Maetig , Libyan prime minister

Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) elected Ahmed Maetig as the country’s new prime minister to succeed Abdullah Al-Thinni. Maetig won 121 votes in the third round of voting on Sunday, which pitted him against Omar Al-Hassi, a university professor from Benghazi. In the first round of voting Maetig obtained 73 votes versus 43 for Al-Hassi. It was not until after some tough and bitter wrangling between the various blocs in the Libyan assembly that Maetig was able to garner the sufficient amount of votes, in a third round, to be named prime minister.

[April 13]

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni

The newly appointed Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni is stepping down after he and his family were attacked by a militia on the road to the airport in Tripoli. Mr al-Thinni was only confirmed as PM last week after Ali Zeidan was sacked for failing to improve security.

[April 3]

A government delegation is expected to visit the group's home base of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya within two days to hammer out the details

Ibrahim Jathran , A government delegation is expected to visit the group’s home base of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya within two days” to hammer out the details”

Crude has been weakening as progress appears to be made in Libya, which has had about 1.3 million barrels a day off the market. News reports that a rebel group agreed with the Libyan government to give up its seizure of ports led to optimism Libyan oil will come back on the market.
The leader of a rebel group in eastern Libya has agreed to end its seizure of several oil-exporting ports within days, raising hopes of ending an eight-month stalemate with the government in Tripoli, agrees deal with government after three of its fighters released,.

The group’s leader Ibrahim Jathran told a rebel television channel his group had reached a solution benefiting “all honourable Libyans” and the people of Cyrenaica, the east’s historic name.

“This agreement will upset all those who don’t want the good for Libya and its people but it will make happy all national thinking Libyans. That’s important for us. That’s what we strive for,” Jathran said.

Abb-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the rebel group, told the Reuters news agency: “The oil port issue will be solved within days. We agreed on all issues with the government in Tripoli.”

A government delegation is expected to visit the group’s home base of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya within two days to hammer out the details, al-Barassi said.

[February 17]

Khalifa Hiftar, the Libyan military commander who this morning called for the suspension of the interim parliament and the formation of a presidential committee to govern until new elections are held.

Khalifa Hiftar, the Libyan military commander who this morning called for the suspension of the interim parliament and the formation of a presidential committee to govern until new elections are held.

Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter was announced by a military spokesman as the rebels’ new commander, only for the announcement to be dismissed by the National Transitional Council as false. The NTC was largely a composition of mysterious characters that had little presence within Libya’s national consciousness. Hifter found himself as the third man in the military ladder, which he accepted but apparently grudgingly so.
Arab and western media speak of illegal shipments of weapons arriving into various Libyan airports. The militias are growing in size. The central government is growing irrelevant. Jailbreaks are reported regularly. And Libyans find safety in holding on tighter to their tribal and clan affiliations.

[February 15]
Libyan defense minister Abdulah al-Thani was reported by local media as saying that a military coup had been foiled.

Thani said the coup was an attempt to oust Libya’s government and parliament, which are struggling to create a ruling military council after the country is awash with heavily-armed former rebels and Islamist militants who helped oust the former regime.

Khalifa Hiftar, the Libyan military commander who this morning called for the suspension of the interim parliament and the formation of a presidential committee to govern until new elections are held.

. After Gadhafi’s ouster, he was appointed army chief again, with a mandate to rebuild the forces, but he was removed soon after. He has been little seen since and it is not known how much support he has within the fragmented military or among militia or tribal factions — so it is not known if he has any backing for the calls he made in his video. The central government has little authority, and has been in turmoil for months. Islamist-led factions in parliament have been trying to oust the Western-backed Zidan, gave him until February 21 as an ultimatum to leave and the country’s powerful militias are divided, some lining up behind the prime minister, others backing his opponents in parliament. Esam Mohamed,The Associated Press

[January 07, 2012]

General Yousef Mangouch

General Yousef Mangouch

The promotion to army chief of staff of Yousef al-Mangoush, whose family originally hails from Misrata but has strong ties with the eastern city of Benghazi, should help alleviate some regional concerns. The largest and most influential tribe in eastern Libya is the Misurata tribe, which takes its name from the Misurata district in northwestern Libya. The tribe has particularly strong influence in the cities of Benghazi and Darneh.

Mr. Mangoush quit his career as an officer in Gadhafi’s army years ago, and rose to become one of the most prominent rebel commanders on the eastern front of the rebellion in 2011. Mangush was arrested in the oil town of Brega in April by Gaddafi’s forces and freed in late August following the fall of Tripoli. A former colonel in Moamer Kadhafi’s military has been appointed as the new chief of staff of the Libyan army, The U.S. has offered advice and support on the process of establishing a central security force, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on January 3. The new Libya still has no real army and police force worthy of the name. Under public pressure, the Libyan government, began a process of dismantling armed groups; it is envisaged the integration of former rebels in the short term in the army forces and ex-combatants need safety services whose number is evaluated in tens of thousands. Observers all agree on the fact that it will take to the new Libyan authorities very hard to create a secure environment in the post Gaddafi Libya. In November about 150 officers from the former military gathered in the town of Baida to appoint Major General Khalifa Haftar as the new chief of staff in an attempt to pressure the NTC, but his appointment was never made official.

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Halmand: B-52 multiple 2,000 lb bombs “obliterating” facility

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B-52 raid in Northern Halmand

This screenshot of a video provided by US Forces-Afghanistan shows an airstrike on a Taliban drug-producing facility in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In this strike, a B-52 dropped multiple 2,000-pound bombs “obliterating” the facility, USFOR-A Commander Gen. John Nicholson said The B-52 strike was the largest of the weekend, with more than 50 barrels of opium “cooking” at the time it was hit, Nicholson said. The B-52 dropped “several” 2,000-pound bombs, which “completely obliterated the facility,” he said.

B-52s have been flying regularly “over the horizon” from their base at Al Udeid AB, Qatar, to conduct strikes inside Afghanistan. US officials reported in Kabul earlier this year that the bombers would fly about once per week for strikes, sometimes carrying 30 or more bombs, and that this pace was likely to increase.

[April 9 2016 B-52s in the counter-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria ]

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U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Saturday April 9 joining Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led campaign against the Islamic State group.

The deployment marks the first time the Air Force will use the Cold War-era warplanes — from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana — in the counter-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria. The service did not disclose the exact number of bombers it deployed.

“The B-52 will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,” Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command and Combined Forces Air Component, said in a release.B-52 bombers have been deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar came as the U.S. military stepped up the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Karns said the bombers would enable U.S. forces to drop one or two munitions in an area, rather than use carpet bombing. “Accuracy is critically important in this war,” he said. “Carpet-bombing would not be effective for the operation we’re in because Daesh doesn’t mass as large groups. Often, they blend into population centers. We always look to minimize civilian casualties.

[2015] A B-1 LAUNCH IS ALWAYS AN IMPRESSIVE SIGHT. The following footage shows B-1 Lancer bombers with the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron launch from Al Udeid airbase, in Qatar, to pound ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The “Bones” (as the B-1s are nicknamed within the pilots community), have taken part in the air strikes on IS positions since the beginning of the air campaign. The heavy bombers have been involved in carpet bombings not seen since the 2003 war in Iraq: according to a recent story published by the AFP news agency, the B-1s had flown 18 percent of all the strike missions against the Islamic State and accounted for 43 percent of the total tonnage of munitions dropped in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan over the last 6-month period. B-1s were frequently spotted over Kobane, where they spent several hours dropping bombs on the extremists who were on the verge of seizing the strategic town in the north of Syria. According to the pilots of the 9th Bomb Squadron who took part in the missions over Kobane and have recently returned to the U.S. after their deployment in Qatar, it was not uncommon for the B-1s to “go Winchester” (a radio codeword which means that the aircraft has dropped all the weapons on board) during air strikes over the Syrian border town.
A single B-1 can drop as many bombs on Syrian and Iraqi targets as 40 attack jets flying off an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, noted retired Air Force general Deptula, making the bomber’s importance to the air campaign obvious.

 

[February 17 2015 B-1s over Kobani “It didn’t feel like 2015 or 2014” now to hit Syria ]

For four months, the B-1B bombers of the U.S. Air Force’s 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron relentlessly hit Islamic State fighters in eastern Kobani from the air, slowly watching the line of control in that city swing back to Washington’s Kurdish allies. The air tactics developed over Kobani, senior U.S. officials said, will hopefully prove to be a model of what close communication between an allied force on the ground and American aircraft in the skies can do. The lesson of Kobani, officials said, will be tried again when moderate Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. enter the fight against the Islamic State militants inside other parts of Syria.For the B-1 crews, the fight over Kobani was a combination of the tactics they had honed striking insurgents in Afghanistan and a more traditional, conventional battle, with opposing forces fighting over a defined front.“It didn’t feel like 2015 or 2014,” Capt. Saksa said. “It felt like two armies going at it over a set line.”

[November 22 2014 Domino effect: rise of IS in Iraq yields extension of U.S. role in Afghanistan]

The rapid advance of jihadist Islamic State militants in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that Obama pulled troops out without a fully prepared Iraqi military in place, has caused an extension of U.S. role in Afghanistan..
American airstrikes “under certain circumstances” will be authorized to support Afghan military operations. The order also allows for ground troops to “occasionally accompany” Afghan troops on operations against the Taliban.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s openness to a U.S. military presence in the country for at least another year.also contributed to the shift.

 

 

[September 24  Afghanistan –  pre-war, pre-industrial natural state to return?]

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction

left, John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, apparently is the only official in Washington who dares speak truth to power. In a Sept. 12 speech at Georgetown University, he said that Afghanistan “remains under assault by insurgents and is short of domestic revenue, plagued by corruption, afflicted by criminal elements involved in opium and smuggling, and struggling to execute basic functions of government.” His comments were largely ignored by the American media, and there was no immediate reaction from the Obama administration.
“What reconstruction has done is create a Zombie economy in Afghanistan – a vast percentage of GNP, never mind corruption and customs money, and some employment – that survives only as long as “food” is available. That food of course is the billions spent by the US on failed projects. Once cut off, the economy will simply stumble back to its pre-war, pre-industrial natural state,” noted Peter Van Buren.

[June 10 Afghanistan friendly fire incident – B-1B bomber from Qatar?]

A B-1B Lancer deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota sits on the flight line, May 4 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The multi-mission B-1 is the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force. [Posted 5/8/2014 , 379th Air Expeditionary Wing]

Five U.S. Special Operations fighters were killed in Afghanistan when an American bomber inadvertently attacked their position, officials said June 10.
The B-1 bomber’s errant strike in Zabul Province marked one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents since the start of the war.

[February 21 2012]
Spectre reconnaissance U-28A Aircraft from Afghanistan down at Djibouti

U-28A

U-28A

Capt Ryan P. Hall from the 319th Special Operations Squadron, Capt Nicholas S. Whitlock and 1st Lt Justin J. Wilkens from the 34th Special Operations Squadron and Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten from the 25th Intelligence Squadron died Feb. 18 when their U-28A was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa. No other personnel were on board the aircraft. The U-28 was returning from Afghanistan in support of OPERATION Enduring Freedom.
Ryan P. Hal
Captain Hall, 30, was a U-28A pilot on his seventh deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2004, receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp at The Citadel. He had been assigned to the 319th SOS at Hurlburt Field since 2007 and had more than 1,300 combat flight hours.

Nicholas Whitlock
Captain Whitlock, 29, was also a U-28A pilot and was on his fifth deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2006, receiving his commission through the Officer Training School. He had been assigned to the 319th SOS and then to the 34th SOS at Hurlburt Field since 2008 and had more than 800 combat flight hours.

Justin Wilkens/
Lieutenant Wilkens, 26, was a combat systems officer on his third deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2009, receiving his commission through the Air Force Academy. He had been assigned to the 34th SOS at Hurlburt Field since April 2011 and had more than 400 combat hours.

Julian Scholten
Airman Scholten, 26, was a mission systems operator assigned to the 25th IS at Hurlburt Field since 2009. He enlisted in the Air Force in 2007. He had more than 600 combat hours in six different airframes and was on his third deployment.

“A new squadron was created to fly single-engine U-28As in support of Special Forces such as the Army’s Green Berets and Navy’s SEALs. The 319th Special Operations Squadron, with six U-28As and about 45 airmen to fly and maintain the planes, is stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida, which is the headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command. There are no other PC-12s in the Air Force inventory.”

The U-28A is the United States Air Force variant of the PC-12 for intra-theater support of special operations forces. The 319th Special Operations Squadron is stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida at the headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The 34th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) was activated on 9 April 2010 as the second U-28A unit at Hurlburt. Both squadrons operate as part of the 1st Special Operations Wing/ 1st Special Operations Group (SOG) at Hurlburt. The U-28A / Pilatus PC-12 is also operated by the 318th Special Operations Squadron as part of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

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Islamic State: Trump to declare victory and go home?

rawa

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated his forces on retaking Rawah. Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook on November 17 the last town in the country that was held by the Islamic State group, more than three years after the militants stormed nearly a third of Iraqi territory,

Senator George Aiken once famously… offered a solution to America’s Vietnam quagmire: “Declare victory and go home.”

Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.
Nov. 16, 2017

“we’re actually coming to the endgame there, and we’ve still got some hard times ahead of us, but I think we’re going to have a successful resolution to that in the next few weeks or months… There’s still ISIS in Syria and we’re still in a fight to beat them.”

 

[February 19 2011 Jordan: violence at Amman protest ]

us-secretary-of-defense-chuck-hagel-walks-with-jordanian-chairman-d6w6c7

Chuck Hagel and Gen. al-Zaben

The Jordanian protest started out peCacefully outside the King Hussein mosque in downtown Amman, according to participants, with the demonstrators calling for an end to corruption and constitutional monarchy and for the lowering of prices.

“Then,” recounted Firas Mahadin, 30, a movie director who took part in the protest, “more than a hundred young thugs surrounded us from in front and behind and started attacking us.”
“Few consider either the Jordanian monarchy or the country at imminent risk of serious turmoil, not least because the population is divided between groups with differing grievances and interests. Jordan is a country of six million, more than half of them Palestinian, and 40 percent members of tribes, also known as East Bankers.

The demonstrations in Jordan have represented the first serious challenge to the decade-old rule of King Abdullah II, a critical American ally in the region. The king enjoys absolute powers, and appoints the prime minister and the cabinet. But he is contending with the country’s worst economic crisis in years.

King Abdullah has already taken some measures to try to calm the atmosphere. Responding to the protesters’ demands, he dismissed the prime minister, Samir Rifai, on Feb. 1 and replaced him with Marouf al-Bakhit, a former general who has served before in the post and is widely viewed as clean of corruption. The royal palace said in a statement that Mr. Bakhit was asked to take “practical, swift and tangible steps” toward comprehensive political change.

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Syria: Trump to deal “It’s going to save tremendous numbers of lives.”

trumpsyria.png

“It’s going to save tremendous numbers of lives.”

Trump and Putin had agreed on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that a political solution was needed on Syria.

Joint Statement by the President of the United States and the President of the Russian Federation

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Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 11, 2017

President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. They expressed their satisfaction with successful U.S.-Russia enhanced de-confliction efforts between U.S. and Russian military professionals that have dramatically accelerated ISIS’s losses on the battlefield in recent months.

The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both U.S. and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved.

The Presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. They confirmed that the ultimate political solution to the conflict must be forged through the Geneva process pursuant to UNSCR 2254. They also took note of President Asad’s recent commitment to the Geneva process and constitutional reform and elections as called for under UNSCR 2254.

The two Presidents affirmed that these steps must include full implementation of UNSCR 2254, including constitutional reform and free and fair elections under UN supervision, held to the highest international standards of transparency, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate. The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, and urged all Syrian parties to participate actively in the Geneva political process and to support efforts to ensure its success.

Finally President Trump and President Putin confirmed the importance of de-escalation areas as an interim step to reduce violence in Syria, enforce ceasefire agreements, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and set the conditions for the ultimate political solution to the conflict. They reviewed progress on the ceasefire in southwest Syria that was finalized the last time the two Presidents met in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017.

The two presidents, today, welcomed the Memorandum of Principles concluded in Amman, Jordan, on November 8, 2017, between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. This Memorandum reinforces the success of the ceasefire initiative, to include the reduction, and ultimate elimination, of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the area to ensure a more sustainable peace. Monitoring this ceasefire arrangement will continue to take place through the Amman Monitoring Center, with participation by expert teams from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

The two Presidents discussed the ongoing need to reduce human suffering in Syria and called on all UN member states to increase their contributions to address these humanitarian needs over the coming months.

In addition, President Trump noted that he had a good meeting with President Putin. He further noted that the successful implementation of the agreements announced today will save thousands of lives‎.

[November 6 Russians threatened by al-Tanf ]

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Rising tensions between U.S.-backed Syrian forces and the Russian-backed Syrian army — both of which are battling IS — race for control of oil and gas-rich areas of eastern Syria is engendering Russian military accusations.

The claim is that the U.S, is turning a blind eye and effectively providing cover to the Islamic State group’s operations in an area in eastern Syria that is under U.S. control.

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said on October 6 that IS militants have used the area around the town of Tanf near Syria’s border with Jordan — where U.S. military instructors are also stationed — to launch attacks against the Syrian army.

He says the area has become a “black hole,” posing a threat to Syrian army’s offensive against the IS in eastern Der el-Zour province.

[June 20 F-15E downs Shaheed-129 UAV ]

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Iranian-made drone shot down

 

The Shaheed-129 drone was armed and displayed hostile intent when it was intercepted by an F-15E Strike Eagle around 12:30 a.m. local time near the Syrian city of Tanf, according to U.S. Central Command. It was observed heading toward coalition forces, who were outside the outpost, officials said.   Squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagles are routinely deployed to al Udeid Base in Qatar.

 

[June 30 2016 Al Bukimal drive withdraws with Western special forces ]

thalab

Thalab patrol vehicle near al-Tanf

 

The U.S.-backed New Syrian Army said it was forced to withdraw its forces to its base at Tanf near the Jordanian border after launching what appears to have been a poorly conceived offensive aimed at capturing the strategically important eastern Syrian town of Abu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

 

[June 29 2016]

An operation aiming to capture the eastern Syrian town of Al-Bukamal, has began on June 28, adding to the pressure facing Islamic State as it faces a separate, U.S.-backed offensive in northern Syria aimed at driving it away from the Turkish border.

Syrian rebel sources say the rebel force has received military training in U.S.-run camps in Jordan, but most of their training was now being conducted in a main base at al-Tanf, a Syrian town southwest of Al-Bukamal at the border with Iraq.

The New Syria Army’s base in al-Tanf was hit twice earlier this month by Russian air strikes, even after the U.S. military used emergency channels to ask Moscow to stop after the first strike, U.S. officials say.

The rebel commander and the Observatory said the rebels had also captured an air base from Islamic State militants near Al-Bukamal. Heavy clashes were underway, with militants dug in at the Hamadan air base, 5 km (3 miles) northwest of Al-Bukamal.

“The clashes are inside the (town) and matters are not yet settled,” said the rebel commander of the Asala wa-al-Tanmiya Front, one of the Marin elements of the New Syria Army. The rebel forces entered the town at dawn, he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the offensive was being mounted with backing of Western special forces and U.S.-led air strikes. A DIFFERENT THALAB PATROL VEHICLE NEAR AL-TANF BORDER CROSSING, SYRIA IN EARLY MARCH. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE VEHICLE IS OPERATED BY FOREIGN SPECIAL FORCES.

Tthe Jordanian Thalab Long Range Patrol Vehicle has been spotted with the New Syrian Army on two separate occasions. The Thalab LRPV is used by Jordanian Special Forces and is designed for long multi-day patrols in harsh terrain. A Thalab is rather expensive compared to the cheap Toyota Hilux pick-ups supplied to the New Syrian Army by the US. It’s possible that foreign special forces are operating this vehicle, the lack of footage of the Thalab in official New Syrian Army videos further supports this theory.

[January 16 2014 U.S. Special Forces to select moderate Syrian recruits for six-to-eight week training.
American military forces, particularly Special Forces, have decades of experience screening foreign military forces for training, Pentagon officials said.But identifying rebel fighters who don’t have ties to Jabhat al-Nusra, the main al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is extremely difficult for a Pentagon with limited resources on the ground. “We also know the Syrian opposition better now than we did two years ago through the programs we’ve had providing non-lethal assistance,” said Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson. The Pentagon, the State Department and other nations are using a number of sources to screen moderate Syrian recruits, and it will be an ongoing process,
A training program could begin as early as March in the three countries that have agreed to host the training: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. At least four training sites in those countries are being identified and the plan is to split the approximately 400 U.S. trainers and their accompanying support forces evenly across those sites for what is expected to be a six- to eight-week training cycle

8 March 2013 : The planning cell, which was housed at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in the north of the capital, Amman is now in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region, and has since been expanded to co-ordinate a more ambitious training programme, with recent US reports saying it was being led by the CIA. A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: “It’s the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we’re not talking about a huge operation.”

06/17/2014: Syrian rebels who would later join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

[June 23 2012 No excuse to do nothing about Syria]

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari

No country is immune from this spillover because of the composition of the societies, the extensions, the connections, the sectarian, ethnic dimensions,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said June 23 in Baghdad. “This is not an excuse to do nothing about Syria, no. But there will be an impact.”

Hoshyar Zebari is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq. A Kurd originally from Aqrah, a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Zebari holds a masters degree in sociology from the University of Essex, England and studied political science in Jordan.

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SDF in Raqqah release 86 former ISIS fighters

raqqa nov8

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

[October 12 400 militants left near Raqqa ]

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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Saudi regime strengthened by sweeping anti-corruption purge

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The sweeping anti-corruption purge would not affect businesses, including those with ties to arrested suspects, as authorities appeared to widen the crackdown, the Saudi information ministry repeated.

[August 7 2015 Saudi SWAT team hit by IS suicide bomb ]

saudi sef

Saudi Special Emergency Force

A suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Saudi Arabiaon August 6 has left 15 people dead, and wounded nine. The Islamic State (IS) group says it carried out the attack which has left 15 people dead. Most of those killed were members of a Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) unit. The mosque was used by a Swat team tasked with domestic security, Special Emergency Force, Last month Saudi authorities arrested 431 suspected members of IS, accusing them of plotting suicide attacks on security forces and mosques in various parts of the country.

[June 11 Private Saudi donors to ISIL would be unlikely without government consent]

7 Jul 2014 Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute , Sir Richard Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004,does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

[November 14 2014 5 Shia shot dead in al-Dalwah Suadi]

Saudi authorities arrested six people on November 4 in connection with a shooting in the east of the kingdom the previous night that left five people dead and was apparently aimed at the country’s Shiite minority.

The attack happened late November 3 in the village of al-Dalwah, which is located in the country’s eastern al-Ahsa region, a major oil-producing area that is also one of the main centers of the minority Shiite community in this Sunni-ruled OPEC giant, along with the district of Qatif. The attackers shot the victims with pistols and machine guns, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

[October 14 NorthrupGrumman contractors in Saudi shot, One dead\

Vinnell Arabia,  over 1,250 highly experienced employees Kingdom-wide, over half of whom are Saudi nationals

Vinnell Arabia, over 1,250 highly experienced employees Kingdom-wide, over half of whom are Saudi nationals

Two U.S. citizen employees from Vinnell Arabia, a U.S. defense contractor supporting Saudi National Guard military programs in Riyadh, were shot at a local gas station/store approximately 0.5 miles from the Vinnell Arabia base in Riyadh, which is located approximately 20 miles from the U.S. Embassy. One died. A third U.S. national in a different vehicle had witnessed the attack Saudi officials have said this year they are concerned about a rise in domestic Islamist militancy due to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The government has decreed tough penalties for terrorist crimes.
Vinnell Arabia is the market leader in U.S. military doctrine-based training, logistics, and support services inside Saudi Arabia. We provide unparalleled training and simulation services for defense, national security as well as fire and emergency medical response.
With over 1,250 highly experienced employees Kingdom-wide, over half of whom are Saudi nationals, we provide a unique knowledge-base of experience and talent. Vinnell Arabia staff completes all organizational requirements relating to training, simulation and support services.

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Idlib Syria: Iraq’s Haider al-Abadi orders cease-fire

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

 

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Prime Minister on Friday October 27 issued a 24-hour suspension of the movement of troops who are deployed in Iraq’s north to bring territory held by Kurdish forces back under federal control.

The order was given to “prevent clashes and bloodshed between the sons of one nation,” Haider al-Abadi said in a written statement.

[October 15 Turks and HTS against SFA and YPG plus FSA ]

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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