Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Battle for Mosul: ISIS mines bridges over Tigris

 US-backed Iraqi forces fought their way inside two villages on Monday as they crept closer to Mosul. (AFP)

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Battle for Mosul: ISIS mines bridges over Tigris

ISIS militants have placed several mines over bridges and main roads in the eastern part of Mosul and have called for reinforcements from Raqqa, several media reports have suggested.

US-backed Iraqi forces fought their way inside two villages on Monday as they crept closer to Mosul a week into an offensive to retake the ISIS-held city, but they also faced questions over a suspected airstrike on a mosque that killed 13 people.

Until now, most of the fighting has been in largely uninhabited towns and villages, but Iraqi special forces found more than 70 civilians sheltering in Tob Zawa.

They will encounter many more civilians as they get closer to Mosul, still home to more than one million people.

ISIS has suffered a series of setbacks in the past year, and Mosul is its last major urban bastion in Iraq.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Egyptian Air Force reportedly kills 70 ISIS-SP terrorists

Some might call this "effective retaliation".....

The story comes from YNET News

Egyptian Air Force reportedly kills 70 ISIS-SP terrorists

In aerial strikes less than a day after a senior Egyptian general was killed, the Arab Republic's injures the same number of terrorists that it take out in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Dozens of terrorists were killed overnight Saturday in Egyptian military air strikes on the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zwede in the Sinai Peninsula, according to the Arabic-language version of Sky News.

The attacks were aimed at targets of the ISIS-Sinai Province branch of the international terrorist organization in the peninsula. Despite travel warnings, many Israelis were holidaying in the Sinai last week.

Security sources said that the attacks were focused on the city of Balaa west of Rafah and that some 70 terrorists were killed and another 70 injured. According to the Sky News Arabia report, the attack also destroyed vehicles used by ISIS-SP. Further, Egyptian Army forces reportedly thwarted an attempt to carry out a terrorist attack with four explosives in the northern Sinai.

The air strikes came several hours after Brigadier General Adel Rajaaie, an armored division commander who had served in the region, was shot dead outside his home on the outskirts of Cairo. A newly-emerged militant group calling itself Louwaa el Thawra, or the Revolution Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack on a Twitter account that was suspended shortly after the claim.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hillary's War: "US has launched more than 300 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Sirte, Libya"

The story comes from The Long War Journal.

US has launched more than 300 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Sirte, Libya

The US has launched 330 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Sirte, Libya since Aug. 1, according to data released by US Africa Command. Nearly half of the bombings, 150 in total, were carried out during the first 18 days of October.

Operation Odyssey Lightning, which aims to liberate Sirte from the jihadists, began in May. Since then, militiamen fighting as part of the “Solid Structure” operations room have made significant progress, clearing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists from much of the city. But the Islamic State continues to maintain a foothold in Sirte several months into the offensive.

The so-called caliphate has trumpeted its continued presence in the city, even as its safe haven has shrunk. The 50th edition of the group’s weekly Al Naba newsletter, which was released online on Oct. 13, contained an article bragging that the jihadists continue to fight on. Al Naba’s editors reported that three of their enemies’ vehicles were destroyed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the road from Sirte to Misrata, another coastal city. Many of the men fighting as part of “Solid Structure,” which is allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), come from Misrata.

Al Naba’s editors added that the GNA, which is supported “by Crusader-American warplanes,” has been trying to take control of Sirte for several months but “has failed.” Al Naba also claimed that Solid Structure has incurred “thousands” of casualties during the battle. The Islamic State is not exaggerating. Independent accounts support this figure. For example, Agence France Presse reported earlier this month that “550 GNA fighters have been killed and 3,000 wounded in the assault.” There have been additional casualties since then. It is not clear how many fighters the Islamic State has lost.

The intense fighting in Sirte is reflected in US Africa Command’s data on the number of airstrikes inside the city.

The US began the air campaign on Aug. 1. As of Oct. 18, according to US Africa Command, there have been a total of 330 airstrikes. Almost half of these bombings, 150 (or 45 percent), were carried out between Oct. 1 and Oct. 18. The remaining 180 were launched in the previous two months. Therefore, the US air campaign has not slowed. If anything, it has accelerated in its third month.

In many instances, the US airstrikes have targeted more than one “enemy fighting position.” For example, US Africa Command’s press releases indicate that 422 “enemy fighting positions” have been struck thus far in October. On average, therefore, each bombing hits between two and three such positions.

In addition, the bombings have targeted command and control facilities, vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), and the locations where VBIEDs are built. Five VBIEDs and two VBIED facilities were hit in October, according to US Africa Command’s reporting.

As The Long War Journal previously reported, the Islamic State claimed only one suicide attack in all of Libya between January and April. And that bombing purportedly took place in Benghazi. But the group claimed 26 “martyrdom operations” in and around Sirte between May and the end of August. Some of these may have failed to reach their target. Regardless, the Islamic State was clearly forced to deploy its “martyrs” as its grip on Sirte began to slip.

Amaq News Agency, an Islamic State propaganda arm, has reported far fewer suicide attacks in the city in recent weeks. However, Amaq continues to issue occasional updates on the fighting. On Oct. 20, for instance, Amaq claimed that GNA “fighters sustain[ed] deaths and injuries during clashes.”

The “Solid Structure” operations room continues to provide reports from Sirte as well. The group has posted a series of images on its social media pages this week. Some of the photos depict a city ravaged by war.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mosul scenarios: Where can Baghdadi run to?

 A combo of two handout pictures released by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (L) and by Iraqi Ministry of Interior shows photographs of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)

At the Holger Awakens blog, I feel it is important to pay attention to the Islamic Caliphate. 

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Mosul scenarios: Where can Baghdadi run to?

After the battle to restore Mosul started on Monday, questions and speculations surfaced regarding the whereabouts of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who made his first appearance in Mosul when the organization took over the city in 2014.

A photograph of him emerged in September when he was stepping out of his caches with three of his companions, amid the heavy bombing in the city of Mosul.

Will Baghdadi stay in Mosul along with his fighters, or is he considering the possibility of escaping with other leaders of ISIS, leaving his belligerent behind fighting the joint Iraqi-American forces along with the Popular Mobilization Forces?

Al attempted to decipher the possible escape routes Baghdadi might take based on maps, political accounts as well as areas controlled by ISIS in the Syrian and Iraqi borders. It narrows it down to the Syrian-Iraqi shared northern borders since the eastern, western and southern borderlines are strongly monitored.
Three possible routes

According to speculations, Baghdadi has three probabilities to flee the Iraqi soil through Al Ba’aj District, Hadar district or Taal Afer District. The shortest path to the Syrian city of Raqqa is a six and a half hour drive by vehicles.

A second potential plan would be departing Mosul through the district of Taal Afar, which is heavily influenced by the organization passing through Al-Qahtaniyah, al-Hasakah Governorate, then crossing the Syrian borders, all the way to the city of Al-Raqua, a strong ally to ISIS, travelling an approximate 506 km with a time period of seven hours and eight minutes.

Another option would be crossing the district of Hatra, which is a rough hour and 38 minute drive, coming close to 117 km, completing his way north towards Taal Afar then Al Raqua with a distance of 537 km, and 7 hours on the road.
Escaping through southern fronteirs

The maps also show that Baghdadi can take another Southern route through the district of Al Hadar, which starts with the district of Biji , passing by Al-Haditha , followed by Al Qa’im , Al-Mayadin , Deir ez-Zor leading to Al-Raqua , with a total of 702 km , and 9 hours 50 minutes on the road.

The third road is through the district of Al-Ba'aj which is a direct way to the district of Al Ha’dar and at the same time connected to al Qa’im. The Euphrates River separates between the Syrian City of Al Bukamel and Al Qa’im.

Escaping through the al-Ba'aj District leaves Baghdadi with two options, to go north towards Sinjar , making it into Syrian territory precisely the city of Al-Raqua with a time line of 6 hours and 36 minutes , or go south to the city of Al Ba’aj all the way to Al-Qa'im , Al-Bukamel , Deir ez-Zor , to finally reach the city of Al-Raqqa , with 605 km , and of 8 hours and 43 minutes by vehicle.

Baghdadi’s options in Syria are not limited to the province of Al Raqua.Indeed, he can also get away through Al-Hasakah Governorate and Deir ez-Zor since both are strong allies to the organization.
In this case, Baghdadi will opt for a route that links the city of Mosul to Al Hasakah Governorate, with 276 km and no longer than 3 hours’ drive.

Some ISIS leaders could also drive from al Hasakah to al Raqqa, in a 2 hour 51 minute drive, and a distance of 218 km.

It is important to highlight that the districts of Al-Ba’aj, Hatra and Tal Afaar, are three administrative units under the sovereignty of Iraq, linked directly to the Syrian borders, and can be crossed by land from northern Iraq to Al-Qa’im. The northern borders of Syria are wide, stretching up to 450 km, constituted mostly by desert areas that are hard to control.

Sources in Nineveh Governorate confirmed to that ISIS was able to dig up multiple 7 km tunnels between Iraqi and Syrian cities that are used by fighters for shelter and camp.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

One American Troop, One American Civilian Shot Dead at Afghan Base

Barack Obama can chalk up another two dead in his efforts to lose everything gained in Afghanistan.

The story comes from DAWN.

Gunman kills two Americans near Kabul base, Nato says

Two Americans including a civilian were killed when a gunman opened fire near a Nato base in Kabul on Wednesday, with Afghan officials calling it an “insider attack”.

“One US service member and one US civilian died as a result of wounds sustained in Kabul today,”said Nato in a statement, adding that three other Americans were wounded in the incident.

“The two individuals were killed during an attack near a coalition base by an unknown assailant, who was later killed,” the statement added.

The shootout occurred at a military ammunition supply point near Camp Morehead, a base used for Afghan commando training," said an American official.

No insurgent group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which highlights growing insecurity in Afghanistan as the Taliban step up their nationwide insurgency.

Defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri earlier indicated it was a so-called insider attack, saying one Nato soldier had been killed and five others were wounded by a gunman wearing military uniform.

Nato said the Americans were conducting duties as part of their mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces when they came under attack, adding that an investigation had been launched into the incident.

“Anytime we lose a member of our team, it is deeply painful,” said top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson.

“Our sympathies go out to the families, loved ones, and the units of those involved in this incident. To those who continue to target coalition forces. We will continue to pursue our mission to help our partners create a better Afghanistan,” he added.

So-called “green-on-blue” attacks ─ when Afghan soldiers or police turn their guns on international troops ─ have been a major problem during Nato's long years fighting alongside Afghan forces.

Gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms shot dead two Romanian soldiers in the southern province of Kandahar in May.

In a similar attack in August last year, a man wearing an Afghan military uniform shot dead two American soldiers in the southern opium-rich province of Helmand.

And in April last year an American soldier was killed in a firefight between US and Afghan troops in eastern Afghanistan.

Western officials say most such attacks stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than insurgent plots.

The killings have bred fierce mistrust between local and foreign forces even as the rate of such incidents has dropped in recent years.

Nato troops have adopted special security measures in recent years to try to counter the threat. Insider attacks have also plagued Afghan troops, depleting morale and causing mistrust within security ranks.

In September, two Afghan soldiers with suspected Taliban links killed at least 12 of their comrades as they slept in the volatile northern province of Kunduz.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Human Shields and Booby Traps of Mosul

 Smoke rises from ISIS positions after an airstrike by coalition forces in Mosul. (AP)

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Battle to retake Mosul from ISIS ‘will be difficult’

Pace of operations slowed on Tuesday as Iraqi forces began pushing toward larger villages and encountering civilian populations during the end of the second day of a massive operation to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS.

Reports of explosives and booby traps slowed down allied troops as the spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIS Col. John Dorrian warned the ongoing battle to restore the city “will be difficult”.

More than 25,000 troops have mobilized for the Mosul fight, a massive operation that's expected to take weeks, if not months.

To compound the operations, ISIS were reportedly barring civilians from leaving Mosul and using them as human shields.

“We know they are being used as human shields, absolutely,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters.

Up to five months leading up to the operations, sources told Al Arabiya News Channel that nearly 100,000 civilians were able to escape Mosul.

Reports suggest nearly 1.5 million people are still trapped under an ISIS siege.

“Right now, cities nearby are expected to host 60,000 refugees as temporary tents and shelters are being set up,” Norwegian Refugee Council consultant Sarah Kilani told Al Arabiya News Channel.

“For humanitarian aid there are two top priorities right now. First, to guarantee safe exit routes for civilians. Second, we have to focus on guaranteeing enough funding so adequate humanitarian aid can be given to refugees,” she added.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Do Yourself a Favor

Yep, people.  Do yourself a favor and listen to this epic rant against Hillary Clinton, the media and Barack Obama.  30 minutes of Truth.

You can thank me later.

Listen to "Get That Phucking Dog Away From Me" on Spreaker.