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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Third attack on US vessels off Yemen in a week

Barack Obama's campaign of American wussiness continues as any 2 bit pirates off Yemen get to beat on American ships.  And Obama laughs it all off like he laughs off you fools for putting him in the chair.

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Third attack on US vessels off Yemen in a week

A top US admiral says a US warship has for the third time in a week, come under fire in the Red Sea from multiple cruise missiles fired off the coast of Yemen.

The website quoted Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson as saying that the guided missile destroyer USS Mason has deployed electronic countermeasures to foil the attack and was not hit in Saturday’s incident --the third such attack on US naval vessels in the area in the past week.

The incidents, along with an Oct. 1 strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates and the Oct. 12 failed strike on a US Navy destroyer, add to questions about safety of passage for military ships around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The Houthi militia appeared to use small skiffs as spotters to help direct the missile attack on the warship. The United States is also investigating the possibility that a radar station under Houthi control in Yemen might have also “painted” the USS Mason, something that would have helped the Houthi militants pass along coordinates for a strike, the officials have said.

The Houthis, who are allied to Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, have the support of many army units and control most of the north including the capital Sanaa.

On Thursday, Iran deployed two warships to the Red Sea, but insisted the move was aimed at preventing piracy in the vital shipping lanes.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Rout Continues: Putin 26 Obama 0

Once again, Russia's leader inks a deal with another world leader while America's President lines up another putt.

The story comes from DAWN.

India, Russia agree missile sales, joint venture for helicopters

India and Russia on Saturday announced plans to set up a joint venture to build helicopters in India, which will also buy surface-to-air missile systems from its former Cold War ally, as the two tighten their military relationship.

The pacts were signed after summit talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India's western resort state of Goa, where leaders from the BRICS group of emerging nations are meeting.

Indian military officials have said the plan is for the joint venture to build at least 200 Kamov helicopters required by the country's defence forces, and is part of Modi's drive to build a defence industrial base in the south Asian nation.

The S-400 surface-to-air missiles are meant to strengthen India's defences along its borders with China and Pakistan, Indian military officials have said.

Other heads of the BRICS club of leading emerging nations -- Brazil, China and South Africa -- were also gathering for this weekend's summit that is expected to focus on trade and counter-terrorism.

Putin is seeking to seal deals with India in an attempt to help revive Russia's recession-hit economy, following sliding oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Among the agreements expected are Moscow's delivery of its most advanced anti-aircraft defence system to India, a deal that has been in the pipeline for several years.

India, the world's top defence importer, is undergoing a $100-billion upgrade of its Soviet-era military hardware, as it looks to protect its borders from arch-rival Pakistan and an increasingly assertive China.

Modi and Putin will also focus on strengthening energy ties to meet India's growing thirst for fuel and electricity for its fast-growing economy.

Russia's biggest oil company Rosneft is expected to acquire India's Essar Oil in a multi-billion-dollar deal, according to local media reports, quoting officials involved in the agreement.

“The menu is vast,” India's ambassador to Russia, Pankaj Saran said at a briefing on the talks, without detailing the deals to be signed.

“It is more than a relationship, it is a partnership and very justifiably it has been described by the two leaders as both special and privileged, as well as of course strategic,” he said.

“It is very deep and very intense and it is poised to grow even further.”

Saran said he also expected them to discuss India's tensions with neighbour Pakistan, which spiked after last month's attack on the Uri army base that killed 19 soldiers.

Modi has sought to isolate Pakistan internationally since the attack that India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Subsequently, India claimed to have conducted "surgical strikes" against militants over the border in Pakistan. All such claims were rubbished by civil and military leadership in Pakistan.

“We have conveyed our views to the Russian side. We are confident that Russia will reflect upon our concerns,” Saran said.

But Putin is seen as unlikely to weigh into the dispute between the rivals, as Moscow also eyes closer defence ties with Islamabad. Russia and Pakistan carried out their first joint military exercise last month
China's Xi meets Modi.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed during talks late Saturday to work to resolve recent frustrations between the regional rivals, an official said.

Meeting on the eve of a BRICS summit of leading emerging nations, Modi and Xi agreed to further cooperate to combat “terrorism” and to work to reduce India's gaping trade deficit with China.

But Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said there was no resolution on China's decision to block India's entry to a nuclear trade group.

India wants to become a member of the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to get better access to low-cost, clean energy which it says is important for its economic growth.

But China has so far declined to back India's request, saying it wants to wait until a consensus emerges at the group.

“Our broad concerns in the current state of the relationship were conveyed to the Chinese side,” Swarup said after the meeting -- their third this year -- in the Indian beach state of Goa.

“The intention was that both sides would narrow down the areas of difference since the commonalities far outweigh (the differences),” he said.

“Our expectation and hope is that China will see the logic of what we are saying.” There was no immediate comment from China's side.

New Delhi was also frustrated earlier this year when Beijing blocked its request to add a Pakistani militant group chief to a UN sanctions blacklist.

India accuses the Jaish-e-Mohammad rebel group of involvement in a deadly attack on an Indian airbase in January and more recently a raid on a army base that killed 19 soldiers.

Islamabad denies any involvement in either.

China enjoys close relations with India's archrival Pakistan and is pursuing a slew of infrastructure projects there.

Modi is keen to secure Chinese funding to fulfill his election pledge to overhaul India's crumbling railways and other infrastructure.

But the world's two most populous nations are jockeying for influence in Asia and their relationship is coloured by territorial disputes at both ends of the Himalayas.

They fought a border war in 1962 over the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which Beijing claims as South Tibet.

Modi will also host a dinner for the BRICS leaders, ahead of the summit talks starting on Sunday at a plush beachside resort.

BRICS was formed in 2011 with the aim of using its growing economic and political influence to challenge Western hegemony.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Taliban threatens 5 provincial capitals in Afghanistan

Tick Tock.



The story comes from The Long War Journal.

Taliban threatens 5 provincial capitals in Afghanistan

The Taliban is now threatening five of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals in Afghanistan. The Taliban has not confined its operations to one area of the country, but is active in all. The Taliban threaten two capitals in the north (Kunduz City and Pul-i-Khumri), two in the south (Tarin Kot and Lashkar Gah), and one in the west (Farah City).

In order to threaten these capitals, the Taliban has focused its operations in the rural districts of Afghanistan. These districts are vital to the Taliban’s insurgency. The areas are used to recruit and train fighters, raise funds, resupply, and launch attacks into the population centers. This strategy was explained by Mullah Aminullah Yousuf, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Uruzgan, in April 2016. Despite the success the Taliban has had employing this strategy, General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan and the Resolute Support mission, has downplayed the Taliban’s control of rural areas.

Provincial capitals under Taliban threat:

Kunduz: The Taliban entered the city of Kunduz on Oct. 3 and occupied large areas of the city for nine days before being pushed back by Afghan forces. Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, insisted Kunduz was under Afghan control one day after the Taliban entered the city despite reports to the contrary. The Taliban remain on the outskirts of Kunduz City; all seven districts in the province are at best contested.

Baghlan: Pul-i-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province which borders Kunduz, has been under Taliban pressure since May 2016. Pul-i-Khumri district and three more of Baghlan’s 13 districts are contested by the Taliban. The Taliban routinely shuts down the highway that links Kunduz City and Pul-i-Khumri.

Lashkar Gah: The capital of Helmand province has been under Taliban threat for well over year. In October 2015, The Taliban advanced to within miles of Lashkar Gah, which has been besieged ever since. Earlier this week, the Taliban ambushed and killed scores of Afghan security personnel after 300 of them attempted to flee an area near the city that was surrounded. US advisers have been deployed to Lashkar Gah and other districts in Helmand to help Afghan forces battle the Taliban, but have struggled to contain the threat. Of Helmand’s 14 districts, six are known to be controlled by the Taliban and another seven, including the provincial capital, are heavily contested.

Tarin Kot: The capital of Uruzgan province has been under direct threat since the beginning of September, when Taliban forces entered the city and battled Afghan security personnel who were backed by US advisers. The Taliban has since been driven to the outskirts of the city, where they remain to this day. Of the province’s six districts, one is under Taliban control and the remaining five are heavily contested.

Farah: In the beginning of October, the Taliban cut off the roads to Farah City and attacked from the north. Afghan military commanders feared the city would “collapse.” NATO forces have deployed to the city and are launching airstrikes on the Taliban, which is said to be pushed to the outskirts. A Taliban spokesman claimed on Oct. 13 that it “launched on enemy positions in Baghi Pul area of Farah capital” and “Mujahidin closing in on city from E & N.” Four of Farah’s 11 districts are controlled or contested by the Taliban.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hezbollah vows at mass Beirut rally to keep up 'jihad' in Syria

From YNET News.

Hezbollah vows at mass Beirut rally to keep up 'jihad' in Syria

Thousands of black-clad supporters in Beirut respond to speech by terror organization leader urging to continue the fighting in the neighboring war-torn country, saying 'We answer your call, o Nasrallah!'

The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah vowed to maintain its "jihad" in neighboring Syria at a huge rally in Beirut on Wednesday, a day after its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the war was in a phase of escalation.

Addressing thousands marking Shi'ite Islam's annual Ashura religious commemoration in a heavily secured square in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold, Nasrallah said the war in Syria was being fought in defense of the whole region.

"We will continue to bear our great responsibilities of jihad there. Your sons are there, and your men, your brothers, your husbands. They are defending their existence, dignity and the resistance," he said.

In a speech on Tuesday, Nasrallah asserted the Middle East was in a phase of escalating tension and there appeared to be no prospect of a political solution to the war in Syria.

"The regional scene is currently one of tension and escalation, and it does not appear that there are paths for negotiations or solutions," he said in a rare live televised speech before thousands of supporters in Beirut, adding that "the theater (in Syria) was open to more tension, escalation and confrontation."


Three young men wearing T-shirts showing the image of their brother who had died in Syria stood by the road as organized groups of Hezbollah supporters in the guise of religious penitents marched past in black clothes and bare feet.

Alaa Nayef Amhaz from Baalbek was 22 when he was killed last year fighting for Hezbollah in the Syrian town of Zabadani, where the army and its Shi'ite allies besieged rebels after months of intense battles.

"The importance of being in Syria is to defend Islam and religion and the nation of the Prophet Mohammed," Amhaz's younger brother Emad, 20, a green scarf over his head and a tattoo circling his wrist, said between puffs on a cigarette.

The most emotive date in the Shi'ite calendar, the death of Hussein at Kerbala is seen as providing an exemplar for how the sect should always stand up against tyranny and social injustice, offering up their lives if necessary.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

US Navy ship targeted again off Yemen

Anybody else sick and damn tired of the U.S. navy being the punching bag of the damn Islamic world?  'Bout time we light up some fucking minarets in the sand.

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

US Navy ship targeted again off Yemen

A US Navy destroyer was targeted on Wednesday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi militia, the second such incident in the past four days, US officials told Reuters.

The USS Mason, which was accompanied by the USS Ponce - an amphibious transport dock - fired defensive salvos in response to the missiles, neither of which hit the ship or caused any damage as it operated north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The renewed attempt to target the US Navy destroyer will add pressure on the US military to retaliate, a move that would represent the first direct US military action against Houthis in Yemen’s conflict. The Pentagon hinted about possible retaliatory strikes on Tuesday.

The incidents, along with an Oct. 1 strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates, add to questions about safety of passage for military ships around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The Houthis, who are battling the internationally-recognized government of Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, denied any involvement in the previous attempt to strike the USS Mason or the nearby USS Ponce on Sunday.

But US officials have told Reuters there is growing indications that Houthi militia, despite those denials, were responsible for Sunday’s incident.

The rebels appeared to use small skiffs as spotters to help direct the missile attack on the warship. The United States is also investigating the possibility that a radar station under Houthi control in Yemen might have also “painted” the USS Mason, something that would have helped the Houthi fighters pass along coordinates for a strike, the officials have said.

The Houthis, who are allied to Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, have the support of many army units and control most of the north including the capital Sanaa.

Reuters has learned that the coastal defense cruise missiles used against the USS Mason on Sunday had considerable range, adding to concerns about the kind of heavy weaponry that the Houthis appear willing to employ and some of which US officials believe is supplied by Iran.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016