Why is it that Iowa officials will deny little kids in Iowa free rides on Donald Trump's helicopter but say nothing about those same kids getting rides on Hillary Clinton's broomstick?
Asked by Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., “Why is (the Iran nuclear agreement) not considered a treaty?” — which would mean 67 senators would have to agree before the Iran deal would take effect — former Sen. Kerry’s startling and telling reply was:
“Well, congressman, I spent quite a few years trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate, and frankly it’s become physically impossible. That’s why. Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore. And it’s become impossible to, you know, schedule. It’s become impossible to pass.”
Calais' thin blue line: Helpless French police are over-run as hundreds more migrants storm Channel Tunnel declaring 'it's England or death' - so when will Cameron finally take action?
David Cameron was today accused of failing to get a grip on the Calais crisis and leaving it to the French as panicked Gendarmerie were again overwhelmed by hundreds of desperate migrants who laid siege to the Channel Tunnel for the third night running.
Around 4,000 people have stormed fences and desperately tried to clamber on trains bound for Kent in the past three days - a deadly gamble that has allowed at least 150 to get to Britain but also claimed the lives of nine people.
The deepening crisis has led to 120 French riot police being called up to help the 250 uniformed officers already there but critics say that this is nowhere near enough and believe David Cameron must now send British troops.
Migrants are still easily breaching the 15 mile fence surrounding the Channel Tunnel and jumping on to moving high speed trains or trying to get in or under lorries queuing to get on trains. Outside others will try to clamber on to vehicles heading to the nearby ferry port.
Senior MPs, backed by hauliers, have demanded the British Army should be sent in to restore order because the French authorities had 'lost control', David Cameron today blamed the crisis at Calais on the 'swarm of people' crossing the Mediterranean, and backed the French to deal with it.
But Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Prime Minister's attempts at diplomacy with the French government 'isn't working' and added: 'Still not enough is being done to stop a difficult situation becoming desperate'.
Speaking in Vietnam this morning the Prime Minister vowed to do 'everything we can' to stop people's holidays been disrupted by the chaos, adding: 'This is very testing, I accept that, because you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it's got a growing economy, it's an incredible place to live.
Minister vowed to do 'everything we can' to stop people's holidays been disrupted by the chaos, adding: 'This is very testing, I accept that, because you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it's got a growing economy, it's an incredible place to live.
:more at the link above:
Taliban advance in north Afghanistan seizing district, villages
KABUL: Taliban fighters have gained ground in two provinces in northern Afghanistan, overrunning a district centre in Sar-e-Pol and seizing villages in Kunduz, local officials there said on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, they made a successful push towards a strategic pass at the border with Pakistan, capturing a large police base in Badakhshan province in the northeastern corner of the mountainous country.
Most foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, leaving Afghan forces to fight the resilient insurgency with only limited coalition support.
The Taliban fought Afghan forces for two days in Sar-e-Pol province before capturing the district of Kohestanat district on Monday evening, the police chief said.
“We asked for air support but did not receive it, so our security forces quit,” Asif Jabarkhel said, adding that one policeman and two local fighters were killed in the battle. Police planned to retake the district, he said.
In Kunduz, the Taliban have seized around 70 villages in Khanabad district this week, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.
More than half the province is now under Taliban control, according to local officials. They captured two Kunduz districts in June, one of which was quickly retaken by Afghan forces but the other remains under insurgent control.
The militant group was ousted from power by an US-led coalition in 2001.
Most US forces left the country last year, but a small contingent of several thousand counter-terror troops remains engaged in combat operations. NATO also runs a separate two-year training mission that will continue through 2016.
ISIS infiltrates Egyptian special forces, joins with Hamas to occupy N. Sinai, liquidate Sisi
Islamic State affiliates in Sinai and Libya have banded together with the Palestinian Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip for the shared goals of capturing northern Sinai from the Egyptian army and staging an assassination coup against President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, debkafile’s exclusive military and intelligence sources report.
They are in the throes of four steps for promoting their objectives:
1. Monday, June 29, a rogue group of Egyptian Special Forces accessed the heavily-guarded upscale Cairo district of Heliopolis to plant a bomb car, which they remotely detonated as the convoy of their target, Egypt’s general prosecutor Hisham Barakat, went by. He was killed on the spot. The assassins were members of the Egyptian elite force which had defected to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Three weeks later, on July 16, notwithstanding reinforced security in Heliopolis, ISIS killers reached inside the neighborhood once again and planted a roadside bomb. It was detonated as an Interior Ministry special forces security patrol moved past.
Because of the tight official blackout on the event, there are no reliable accounts on casualties. The authorities in Cairo reported that one Egyptian soldier was injured, but this is no doubt only part of the picture.
The following day, July 17, a violent clash erupted In the Talibiya neighborhood of Giza near the pyramids between Egyptian Special Forces and Muslim Brotherhood’s underground cells. Five MB adherents were reported killed, but again no word on military losses.
2. On July 1, ISIS forces launched their most ambitious offensive to date against Egyptian military and police facilities in northern Sinai. Still ongoing three weeks later, the losses the Egyptian military have sustained to date are estimated at 120 dead and hundreds injured. Though fighting fiercely, Egyptian troops have not been able to repel the continuous Islamist assault or contain its advance through the northeastern section of the peninsula.
Tuesday, July 21, Hamas terrorists arrived at ISIS positions in northern Sinai for a joint assault on the base of the Multinational Observer Force at El Gorah, not far from the embattled town of Sheik Zuwaid. It was the first major attack on the US-led force that was installed in Sinai to monitor the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace accord – and is still going on..
Here, too, the MFO command and Cairo have combined to impose a blackout on the situation in the camp and the extent of casualties..
3. On July 17, the Islamic state of Sinai sank an Egyptian coast guard vessel with a sophisticated guided Kornet anti-tank missile. The ship was patrolling the Mediterranean shore of Rafah to prevent the smuggling of arms and fighters from Egypt proper and Libya into northern Sinai. This was a landmark incident in that it was the first time ISIS is known to have sunk an adversary’s vessel at sea.
Cairo reported at first that a fire broke out on the ship and there were no casualties.
4. On July 22, an audio message began making the rounds in Cairo and other Egyptian cities claiming to be the voice of Hisham al-Ashmawy, an Egyptian Special Forces officer who defected to ISIS. He said the country had been “overpowered by the new pharaoh” and called on all Egyptians “to come together to confront the enemy.” The message concluded with the words: “Do not fear them, but fear Allah if you are true believers.”
Western and Middle East counter-terror experts have concluded that it was Hisham al-Ashmawy who orchestrated the assassination of the general prosecutor last month. They tag him as the leader of the group of Egyptian officers and men who defected to ISIS. Egypt’s elite military units would appear therefore to be heavily penetrated by the Islamic State.
For Egyptian rulers this is a recurring menace. Thirty-years ago in October 1981, President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by a senior Egyptian intelligence officer who had secretly joined the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad, one of Al Qaeda’s two parent groups, and went AWOL a short time earlier.
Taliban take remote Afghan police base after mass surrender
KABUL: The Taliban took control of a large police base in a remote part of northeastern Afghanistan after some 100 police and border guards joined the insurgents following three days of fighting, security officials said on Sunday.
The loss of the Tirgaran base in Badakhshan province marked the largest mass surrender since US and Nato forces concluded their combat mission at the end of last year. It highlighted the challenges facing Afghan security forces, which have seen their casualties soar in the face of stepped-up insurgent attacks.
The police base, in the province's Wardoj district, had been cut off as heavy rains destroyed roads into the area, said Gen. Baba Jan, Badakhshan province's police chief. It wasn't clear why reinforcements hadn't been flown into the area, though the province's steep valleys often make aircraft landings difficult.
"No reinforcements were sent to help the police at the base for the past three days when they were under the attack and finally they had no option: They had to join the Taliban," said Abdullah Naji Nazari, the head of Badakhshan's provincial council.
Jan said the local police commander also joined the Taliban and handed over the base's weapons and ammunition.
The Taliban issued a statement saying they captured the base along with 110 police officers, their local commander and the head of the local border police. It did not say whether the captives joined their ranks.
Last month hundreds of insurgents attacked security checkpoints in the province's Yamgan district, forcing police to abandon them.
Report: Polish foreign minister calls U.S. ties worthless
WARSAW — A Polish magazine said Sunday that it has obtained recordings of a private conversation in which Radek Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, says the country’s strong alliance with the United States was worthless and “even harmful because it creates a false sense of security.”
A person identified as Radek Sikorski also allegedly criticized Poles as naive in a conversation with a former finance minister, according to a short transcript of the talk cited by Wprost — the latest revelation by the magazine to rattle Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government.
The Foreign Ministry declined to comment, but did not deny that Sikorski made the remarks. Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska, a government spokeswoman, said officials would comment only after the recording is published in full.
Wprost has only provided excerpts of the conversation, which it said was recorded in the spring. The magazine has said the sound files will be published Monday or Tuesday.
Using vulgar language and expletives, Sikorski argued that the Polish-U.S. alliance could alienate two key neighbors of Poland, Russia and Germany.
“The Polish-American alliance isn’t worth anything. It is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security for Poland,” the person said. “. . . The problem in Poland is that we have shallow pride and low self-esteem.”
Wprost last week set off a political storm with the release of a recording of a conversation between central bank head Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz. In the recording, the two discussed how the bank could help the governing party win reelection in 2015, an apparent violation of the bank’s independence.
Sikorski has strongly criticized Russian actions in neighboring Ukraine this year. In the past, he was a strong supporter of the United States.
But he has become more critical of Washington in recent years, especially after President Obama’s attempted “reset” of ties with Russia in 2009 and the subsequent scaling down of the U.S. missile defense plan for Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe. Amid the recent violence in Ukraine, Sikorski has been calling for a substantial U.S. troop presence on Polish soil.
He has also been widely mentioned as a possible successor to Catherine Ashton as the European Union’s foreign policy chief. Poland officially put him forward as a candidate last month.
Wprost has not revealed the source of the recordings, other than to say that they were obtained from a businessman who did not make them. In Poland, secretly recording a conversation is a crime.
US air strike kills top Al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan
BAGHDAD: A US air strike in Afghanistan killed a senior Al Qaeda commander in charge of suicide bombing and two other militants, the Pentagon said Friday.
The attack, which occurred in Paktika province on July 11, killed Abu Khalil al-Sudani, a "high-ranking Al-Qaeda operational commander", the Pentagon said in a statement released to reporters in Iraq who were travelling with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.
"Al-Sudani was one of three known violent extremists killed in the strike. The death of al-Sudani will further degrade Al Qaeda operations across the globe," the statement said.
The Pentagon described Sudani as a senior shura member and head of Al Qaeda's suicide and explosive operations, and said he was directly linked to plotting attacks against the United States.
"He also directed operations against Coalition, Afghan and Pakistani forces, and maintained a close association with Aymar al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's leader," the statement said.
In the statement, Carter said the killing of Sudani underscored the work done by General John Campbell, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, and his troops "to take the fight to Al Qaeda".
"We will continue to counter violent extremism in the region and the world," Carter said
Car bomb in Baghdad kills 14, wounds 30: Iraqi officials
BAGHDAD: An Iraqi police official in Baghdad says a car bomb detonated in front of a busy clothing store, killing 14 people and wounding 30.
The explosion happened in the predominantly Shiite district of New Baghdad late on Tuesday. A hospital official corroborated the casualties. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, however, the Islamic State group has been targeting Shiites across the country as it seeks to destabilize the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
Air strike kills Al Qaeda leader in Syria: Pentagon
WASHINGTON: A United States-led coalition air strike earlier this month killed the leader of an Al Qaeda offshoot in Syria that American officials accuse of plotting attacks against the US and its allies, the Pentagon said.
Muhsin al-Fadhli was killed in a “kinetic strike” on July 8 while travelling in a vehicle near the northwestern Syrian town of Sarmada, said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He did not confirm whether a drone or a manned aircraft had killed Fadhli, 34.
Fadhli was allegedly the leader of the Khorasan Group, a group of senior Al Qaeda members who have travelled from Central Asia and elsewhere in the Middle East to Syria to plot attacks.
The Kuwaiti-born militant was so trusted among late Al Qaeda supreme Osama bin Laden's inner circle that he was among the few who knew in advance about the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, according to US intelligence.
"His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of Al Qaeda against the United States and its allies and partners," said Davis.
Davis, who heads the Defence Department's press operations said Fadhli was also involved in October 2002 attacks against US Marines on Kuwait's Failaka Island and on the MV Limburg, a French oil tanker.
He was reported to have been previously targeted in a US air strike in September, but his death was not confirmed by US officials at the time.
Read more: Al Qaeda Pakistan chief killed in Lahore raid: Punjab home minister
Shadowy but lethal group
Officials say Khorasan is part of Al Qaeda's Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front, though experts and activists cast doubt on the distinction between the two groups.
In a September interview, US President Barack Obama listed Khorasan among "immediate threats to the United States," warning that "those folks could kill Americans."
The US State Department had posted a $7 million reward for information leading to Fadhli's death or detention. He was wanted by law enforcement authorities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United States for terrorist activities.
The fighter fought alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, according to the State Department.
The US National Counterterrorism Center has said he had become Al Qaeda's senior leader in Iran.
Fadhli was a major facilitator to late militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who once led Al Qaeda in Iraq, and other fighters against US and multinational forces.
He was designated by the US Treasury Department for providing financial and material support to Zarqawi's network and Al Qaeda.
The United Nations Security Council's Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee cited him in 2005 for his role in planning, facilitating and financing Al Qaeda attacks, which triggered a freeze on his assets and a travel ban.
Suicide bomber kills 30 in Turkey, attack blamed on ISIS
ANKARA: A suicide bomber attacked on Monday a cultural centre hosting anti-Islamic State activists in a Turkish town near the border with Syria, killing 30 people in an "act of terror" blamed on the jihadist group.
The blast ripped through the centre in Suruc, a town opposite the Syrian flashpoint of Kobane — which was itself later hit by a suicide car bombing.
Most of the dead were university students who had been planning a mission to help Kobane residents, according to a pro-Kurdish party official.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to northern Cyprus, condemned the attack as an "act of terror".
"On behalf of my people, I curse and condemn the perpetrators of this brutality," he said. "Terror must be condemned no matter where it comes from."
The force of the explosion blew out the windows of the building and set off a blaze, witnesses said.
Television footage showed several people lying on the ground covered in blood and ambulances rushing to the scene.
"The Turkish authorities have strong reason to believe that the terrorist attack was perpetrated by ISIS," a government official told AFP, using another name for IS.
If confirmed, it would be the first such attack by IS fighters against Turkey, a regional military power and NATO member.
The blast took place as an anti-IS group based at the cultural centre was preparing to announce a mission to Kobane.
Alp Altinors from the pro-Kurdish HDP party said the group from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations was made up of about 300 people, mainly university students from across Turkey.
"They were planning to build parks in Kobane, hand out toys for children and paint school walls," he told AFP.
"The town is in chaos. Almost all the shops are closed in Suruc," local resident Mehmet Celik told AFP.
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the "barbaric act" and said in a statement: "Fighting terrorism requires an active cooperation from the whole international community."
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a Twitter message: "Tragic consequences of Syrian conflict felt in a neighbouring country."
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is sending three ministers to the southeastern region following the bombing, his office announced.
"We are calling on everyone to show common sense in the face of this terrorist attack targeting our country's unity," the interior ministry said.
In Kobane, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a checkpoint, killing two members of Kurdish security forces, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Kobane has been a symbol of resistance against the jihadists since IS fighters were driven out by Syrian Kurdish forces in January.
Turkey's Kurds were frustrated at the time at Ankara's refusal to intervene to quash the IS insurgents, who have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq over the past year.
But in recent weeks, security forces have arrested dozens of ISIS militants and sympathizers in the most significant action by Ankara against the jihadists.
"It's now obvious that the Turkish government has upgraded the threat posed by ISIS to among the top ones it is facing," a Western diplomat told AFP last week.
Turkey has also boosted its border defences, stationing tanks and anti-aircraft missiles there as well as bolstering troop numbers.
The build-up has fed speculation that the government is planning to intervene in Syria to push IS jihadists back from the border and halt the advance of Kurdish forces who have made gains against the extremists.
Davutoglu has however ruled out any immediate action in Syria. Turkey has been accused of tolerating or even aiding ISIS in the early stages of its existence as a useful ally against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Erdogan wants ousted.
Officials fiercely dismiss the criticism that Ankara is not doing enough to halt the flow of militants across the 911-kilometre (566-mile) border and say Turkey has deported more than 1,500 IS suspects and banned nearly 15,000 people from 98 countries from entering.
Ankara has categorised IS as a terrorist group since October 2013. But Turkey has been a reluctant member of the anti-ISIS coalition led by the United States and refused to give its Nato ally the green-light for the use of Incirlik air base in the south for bombings against jihadist targets.
In January, Kurdish forces backed by rebel groups and US-led air strikes had pushed IS out of Kobane after four months of fierce fighting in a hugely symbolic defeat for the Islamists.
The Islamists made a surprise raid on Kobane last month but the fighters were driven back by Kurdish forces.
Suruc, once a centre of silk-making, is home to one of the biggest refugee camps in Turkey housing Syrians who have fled the bloody four-year conflict at home.
The camp shelters about 35,000 refugees out of a total of more than 1.8 million refugees taken in by Turkey since 2011.
No more Muhammad (PBUH) cartoons, says Charlie Hebdo editor
Six months after hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) and killed at least 16 people including staff members and two cops, the incumbent editor, Laurent Sourisseau, has said in an interview that more cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) will not be drawn, according to a report published on the Deutsche Welle website.
The editor told the Hamburg-based news magazine "Stern" that, "We have drawn Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to."
Sourisseau, who survived the massacre carried out by two Muslim brothers, said the magazine had done what it set out to do.
"We've done our job. We have defended the right to caricature," he said.
"We still believe that we have the right to criticise all religions," said the editor who owns 40 per cent of the company's shares.
In the interview, he also said that Islam is not the only religion the magazine was critical of. "The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions," the editor of the weekly satirical magazine further said.
Many people around the world had defended the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in the wake of the massacre by Islamic extremists at its Paris offices and subsequent attack on a kosher supermarket in which three gunmen killed 17 people earlier in January this year.
Both attackers of the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris were killed in a subsequent shootout with France's elite police personnel.
Charlie Hebdo initially gained notoriety in Feb 2006 when it reprinted sacrilegious cartoons that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. The cartoons set off a wave of violence in the Middle East which claimed 50 lives.
Its offices were fire-bombed in Nov 2011 when it published an objectionable sketch. Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial cartoons.
While the attack in Paris had sparked had global outrage, dozens of people in Afghanistan and Peshawar had also paid tribute to the brothers who carried out the murders.
Muslims believe all images of the prophet (PBUH) are blasphemous.
The Vatican and four prominent French imams had also issued a joint declaration that denounced the attacks but also urged the media to treat religions with respect.
In a statement issued after the attacks Pope Francis had said there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone's faith.
ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi BANS extremist group from releasing any more graphic execution videos to ‘spare the feelings of fellow Muslims and their children’
By FLORA DRURY FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 10:04 GMT, 18 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 GMT, 18 July 2015
ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has issued a decree banning the barbaric execution videos his militants have become famous for – because he’s worried about their image.
al-Baghdadi is said to have sent a letter to all of his media offices saying they were no longer allowed to show graphic, violent scenes in their carefully edited videos, which caught the attention of the wider world with the emergence of ‘Jihadi John’ in 2014.
He is said to have claimed the decision was based on not offending other Muslims, who might think the videos are scary for children.
But ARA News reports that the decision has created a divide in ISIS ranks.
Some agree the videos, which often show people being put to death in horrific ways, including being drowned in cages, thrown off buildings and blowing people up, are not good for the image of the so-called caliphate.
But then there are others who think the disgusting and barbaric clips, which they proudly share, are good for intimidating their opponents.
Syrian politician and lawyer Ferid Hisso has pointed out, however, that video or no video, it seems like there will be no let up in the cruel and inhuman acts in ISIS controlled territory.
'Instead of banning the release of such videos, Baghdadi should have rather banned the crimes behind the scenes.
'But he has already justified the barbarism of his followers, and his decision makes no sense,' Hisso told ARA News.
Anger in Iraq after suicide attack on marketplace kills 115
BAGHDAD: An attack by the Islamic State group on a crowded marketplace in Iraq's eastern Diyala province has killed 115 people, including women and children, in one of the deadliest single attacks in the country in the past decade.
The mostly-Shiite victims were gathered to mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ended Friday for Iraqi Shiites and a day earlier for Iraqi Sunni Muslims.
Police said a small truck detonated in a crowded marketplace in the town of Khan Beni Saad Friday night in what quickly turned celebrations into a scene of horror, with body parts scattered across the market. At least 170 people were injured in the attack, police officials said, speaking anonymously because they are not authorized to brief the media.
Men quickly emptied boxes of tomatoes to use them for carrying the bodies of small children, witnesses said, while adult victims lay scattered around the attack scene waiting for medical assistance.
``Khan Beni Saad has become a disaster area because of this huge explosion,'' Diyala resident Sayif Ali said. ``This is the first day of Eid, hundreds of people got killed, many injured, and we are still searching for more bodies.''
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on Twitter accounts associated with the militant group.
Iraq's speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, said Saturday that the attack has struck an ``ugly sectarian chord,'' and added that government is making ``attempts to regulate Daesh's terror from destabilizing Diyala security,'' referring to the militant group by its Arabic acronym. But anger is rife in the volatile province, where a number of towns were captured by the Islamic State group last year. Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters have since retaken those areas, but clashes between the militants and security forces continue.
``We went out to the market for shopping and preparations for the holiday Eid in order to receive holiday cheer,'' said another resident, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution. ``But this joy has turned to grief and we have lost family, friends and relatives, all because of this government's failure to provide us with security.''
Security forces were out in full force across Diyala on Saturday, with dozens of new checkpoints and security protocols immediately implemented in the wake of Friday's attack.
``This horrible carnage is truly outside all boundaries of civilized behavior,'' Jan Kubis, the special representative of the United Nations mission in Iraq, said Saturday.''
The Sunni militant group has been behind several similar large-scale attacks on civilians or military checkpoints as it seeks to expand its territory. The group currently controls about a third of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared caliphate.
In August last year, at least 64 people were killed in an attack on a Sunni mosque in Diyala in what locals believed was a retaliatory attack against Diyala tribes that refused to proclaim loyalty to the Islamic State group.
The United States has spent billions arming and training the Iraqi military, but it performed poorly last year when Islamic State militants swept across western and northern Iraq, routing four divisions. The U.S. and a coalition of nations have been conducting airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria since last year, but it has not stopped the group from making advances. The militants recently captured the city of Ramadi, in Iraq's western Anbar province, and the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.
Diyala, which borders Iran, is the only province in Iraq where Iranian jets are known to have conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State group earlier this year.
Elsewhere in Iraq, a roadside bomb on a commercial street in Baghdad's Dora district Saturday killed four people and wounded seven. North of Baghdad, a roadside bomb on a commercial street in al-Rashidiya killed three people and wounded 11.
Meanwhile, reports emerged Saturday that the Islamic State group used projectile-delivered poison gas against Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria on several occasions last month.
Joint, on-site investigations by two U.K.-based organizations _ Conflict Armament Research (CAR) and Sahan Research _ concluded that IS forces used chemical agents to attack Iraqi peshmerga forces and Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on June 21, 22 and 28.
In the Syria attacks, IS militants launched 17 artillery projectiles against YPG forces stationed to the south of the village of Tell Brak in Hassakeh province. The projectiles released a chemical agent which induced in some cases loss of consciousness and temporary, localized paralysis. Twelve YPG personnel were hospitalized. Another seven projectiles were also launched into civilian residential areas in Hassakeh.
In the Iraq attack, IS forces fired a projectile containing a liquid chemical agent at a peshmerga checkpoint near the Mosul Dam, triggering symptoms among the Iraqi forces that included headaches, nausea and light burns to the skin.
The findings on the attacks in Syria were confirmed by an YPG statement issued Saturday. The type of chemical used is not known. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported an apparent IS chemical attack on June 28.
There have been several allegations that the Islamic State group has used chlorine previously in both Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State group, which controls a third of Syria and Iraq in its self-declared caliphate, has not commented on the claims.
Riyadh thwarts IS plans of attacking Shia mosques, arrests 431 suspects
RIYADH: Saudi authorities announced on Saturday that they have broken up an organisation linked to the Islamic State group and have so far arrested 431 of its members, mostly Saudis.
Authorities have “managed over the past few weeks to destroy an organisation made of a cluster of cells, which is linked to the terrorist Daesh organisation,” the interior ministry said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Network members were engaged in a “plot managed from areas of unrest abroad, with the aim of sowing sectarian sedition and spreading chaos,” the ministry said.
The cells were involved in several attacks and plots, including the deadly suicide bombings that hit Shiite mosques in the kingdom's Eastern Province, it said.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The interior ministry has said Saudi Arabia would “hunt down anyone involved in this terrorist crime carried out by people seeking to undermine national unity".
Saudi police have made a string of arrests in recent months of extremists suspected of plotting attacks aimed at stirring sectarian unrest in the Eastern Province.
IS controls swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria, and has claimed widespread abuses including the beheading of foreign hostages.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours last year joined a US-led military coalition bombing IS in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation in the kingdom.
"Counterterrorism investigators are trying to figure out why a 24-year-old Kuwait-born man, who by accounts lived a typical life in suburban America, attacked two military facilities in a shooting rampage"
How did gunman go from typical suburban life to attack?
Counterterrorism investigators are trying to figure out why a 24-year-old Kuwait-born man, who by accounts lived a typical life in suburban America, attacked two military facilities in a shooting rampage that killed four Marines.
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee: Counter terrorism investigators are trying to figure out why a 24-year-old Kuwait-born man, who by accounts lived a typical life in suburban America, attacked two military facilities in a shooting rampage that killed four Marines.
Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez had not been on the radar of federal authorities until the bloodshed and authorities said they were still searching for a motive. Abdulazeez was killed by police.
Federal authorities were looking into the possibility it was an act of terrorism, but say there is no evidence yet that anyone else was involved.
For months, US counter terrorism authorities have been warning of the danger of attacks by individuals inspired but not necessarily directed by the Islamic State group. Officials have said they have disrupted several such lone-wolf plots.
A federal law enforcement official said Friday that authorities were continuing a search of his computer, but had not found an extensive online presence and had not uncovered evidence suggesting he was directly inspired by the Islamic State. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly since the investigation was still ongoing.
A federal law enforcement official said authorities were continuing a search of his computer but had not found an extensive online presence and had not uncovered any evidence he was directly influenced by the Islamic State. The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Residents in the quiet neighborhood where Abdulazeez was believed to have lived in a two-story home said they would see him walking along the wide streets or doing yard work. One neighbor recalled Abdulazeez giving him a ride home when he became stranded in a snowstorm.
"It's kind of a general consensus from people that interacted with him that he was just your average citizen there in the neighborhood. There was no reason to suspect anything otherwise," said Ken Smith, a city councilman who met with neighbors Thursday night.
Abdulazeez got an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012 and worked as an intern a few years ago at the Tennessee Valley Authority, the federally owned utility that operates power plants and dams across the South. For the last three months, he had been working at Superior Essex Inc., which designs and makes wire and cable products.
In April, he was arrested on a drunken driving charge, and a mugshot showed him with a bushy beard. In earlier photos, he was clean-shaven.
Hussnain Javid, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said Abdulazeez studied electrical engineering at the same college and they both graduated the same high school several years apart. Javid said Abdulazeez was on the high school's wrestling team and was a popular student.
Javid said he occasionally saw Abdulazeez at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, but the last time was roughly a year ago.
The official Kuwait News Agency on Friday quoted the Interior Ministry as saying that while Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait, he was of Jordanian origin. The report also said he traveled to Kuwait and Jordan in the spring of 2010.
The gunman on Thursday sprayed dozens of bullets at a military recruiting center at a strip mall in Chattanooga, then drove to a Navy-Marine training center a few miles away and shot up the installation. The bullets smashed through windows and sent service members scrambling for cover.
In addition to the Marines killed, three people were reported wounded, including a sailor who was seriously hurt.
They dead were identified Friday by the Marines as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist and Lance Cpl. Squire K. "Skip" Wells. Sullivan, Wyatt and Holmquist had served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both.
A US official said there was no indication Abdulazeez was on the radar of federal law enforcement before the shootings. The official was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Authorities would not say publicly how the gunman died, but the US official said investigators believe Chattanooga police fired the shot that killed him. At least one military commander at the scene also fired at the gunman with his personal weapon, but forensic investigators determined that police killed him, the official said.
FBI agent Ed Reinhold said Abdulazeez had "numerous weapons" but would not give details. He said investigators have "no idea" what motivated the shooter, but "we are looking at every possible avenue, whether it was terrorism, whether it's domestic, international, or whether it was a simple criminal act."
General Ray Odierno, the Army's top officer, said that security at military recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but that it's too early to say whether they should have security guards or other increased protection.
Odierno said there are legal issues involved in allowing recruiters to carry guns. And he said the centers need to be open and accessible to the public.
Brandon Elder, who works at the strip mall where the recruiting office is situated, said he heard what he thought was a jackhammer, and then someone shouted, "He's shooting!"
Elder said he looked out his window onto the parking lot and saw a man in a silver convertible Mustang, a gun propped out the window, spraying bullets into the storefronts.
"He was in front of the recruiting office, just riding up, reversing and driving back," he said. The barrage lasted maybe three or four minutes, and then the driver took off, he said: "It was crazy, surreal, like a movie. Is this really happening?"
Chad police: Anyone wearing face veils will be arrested
Chadian police have said anyone wearing a full-face veil will be arrested, a day after a Boko Haram suicide bombing - carried out by an attacker disguised as a women wearing one - left 15 dead.
Saturday's attack at a market in the capital, N'Djamena, also injured 80 others and spread panic across the city. The assailant detonated an explosives belt when he was stopped for security checks at the entrance to the city's main market.
"This attack just confirms that a ban on the full-face veil was justified," national police spokesman Paul Manga said, adding that "it now must be respected more than ever by the entire population".
"Anyone who does not obey the law will be automatically arrested and brought to justice," he warned.
Muslim-majority Chad banned the full-face veil, ramped up security measures and bombed Boko Haram positions in Nigeria last month after the first ever attack by the armed group in its capital.
Security was tightened across the capital on Sunday with police and soldiers deployed in all areas, including intersections, markets and mosques.
Read more: Deadly suicide blast rocks market in Chad capital
Nine of the dead were women traders, and fear still permeated the market on Sunday.
"What was happening elsewhere and what we heard about from media reports is now happening here," said Zenaba, a woman trader in her forties.
"I'm really scared for me and my children," she said.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Twitter for the suicide bombing, signing off as "Islamic State, West Africa province" - the fighters' self-styled moniker since pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group in March.
The conflict has killed at least 15,000 people since 2009 and left more than 1.5 million homeless.
A four-nation coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has reportedly pushed the armed group from captured towns and villages in an operation that began in February.
UK stunned by scale of child sex abuse: Judge
LONDON: A judge says Britain has been stunned by revelations about child sexual abuse, warning that the true scale of the crime has been underestimated and one in 20 children may have been a victim.
Justice Lowell Goddard opened a public inquiry into decades of abuse on Thursday, vowing that "no one, no matter how apparently powerful, will be allowed to obstruct our inquiries."
In the past few years, revelations of abuse have implicated taxi drivers, entertainers, clergy, senior politicians and others. There have been claims that police failed to investigate allegations of abuse for decades.
Goddard, a New Zealand judge, was appointed earlier this year to head an inquiry into how public agencies — including government bodies, police, hospitals, churches and the BBC — handled child-abuse allegations.
Iraqi police and militiamen clash in Baghdad
BAGHDAD: Iraqi paramilitaries exchanged fire with police in Baghdad on Thursday, the latest sign of tension between the government and the country’s Shia militias, security sources said.
An interior ministry officer said around 15 gunmen from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) force stormed an unfinished health ministry building in the Zayyounah neighbourhood overnight.
“The guards went to the police, which dispatched units of around 60 men equipped with armoured personnel carriers to expel the gunmen, who opened fire,” the officer said.
A police colonel said three policemen were wounded in the clashes, which resulted in the militiamen eventually leaving the building.
“The gunfire lasted for almost an hour,” said Wafa Mohammed, who lives nearby. “We were scared inside our home and had no idea what was happening on the street”. A shop owner from the same neighbourhood said some members of the security services negotiated with the gunmen when the exchange of fire stopped.
The Hashed al-Shaabi is made up of volunteers and several mostly Shia militias. They are theoretically under the prime minister’s command but largely escape his control.
The militias, several of which have close ties with Tehran, have done much of the heavy lifting in the fight against the self-styled Islamic State jihadist group that took over swathes of Iraq last year.
The interior ministry issued a statement that appeared to allude to the overnight clash in Zayyounah.
“In the wake of the latest incidents, the minister and ministry officials discussed the situation in Baghdad and the means to provide security and stability,” it said.
The statement said the minister had asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, his party and other political groups, “to support the ministry in its efforts to confront undisciplined groups”.
Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghaban himself is a member of the Badr organisation, the political wing of one of Iraq’s most prominent Shia militias.
The militias and federal forces have consistently jockeyed for supremacy in the battle against IS.
US drone strikes target militants on Afghan-Pakistan border
KABUL: US forces have carried out two drone strikes targeting militants in part of Afghanistan where the Taliban have clashed with purported supporters of the self-styled Islamic State group, officials said Tuesday.
The Islamic State (IS) group, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan but fears are growing that it is making inroads in the country.
The strikes on Monday took place in restive Achin district of Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, where local media have reported battles between Taliban insurgents and IS supporters in recent weeks.
A spokeswoman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan confirmed US forces carried out two “precision strikes... against individuals threatening the force” but did not give details of who was targeted.
Provincial spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai told AFP the strikes killed a total of 49 members of a “new group”.
A spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan spy agency, claimed the IS group's “number two” commander in Afghanistan was killed in an air strike in Achin, though he did not specify whether it was a drone strike.
However IS has not announced its presence or identified its commanders in Afghanistan and there was no confirmation of the NDS's claim.
Afghan officials say IS's presence in the country is so far limited to small groups and factions that have split from the Taliban. The extent of their links to the group's operations in Syria and Iraq, and the extent of the support they receive, is extremely unclear.
IS grabbed large areas of Syria and Iraq in a brutal campaign but last month the Pentagon said the group's presence in Afghanistan was still “in the initial exploratory phase”.
But the potential for IS to attract members has clearly not been lost on the Taliban, who last month warned the Middle East group's leader against waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan.
In February, a NATO drone strike killed Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a former Taliban commander and Guantanamo detainee with suspected links to IS, in the volatile southern province of Helmand.
"Shia militia launch offensive to retake Iraqi city of Ramadi"Okay, so why do I point out these two headlines - the first one is from The Telegraph and the second one is from The New York Times. Well, I think it's important to update you on the progress of Iraq and the Shia militias in retaking Ramadi back from ISIS because I made the statement long ago that it wouldn't happen.
"Iraqi Forces Plan Offensive to Retake Ramadi From ISIS"
"Iraqis Assemble Massive Force To Begin Offensive To Retake Ramadi"
Bombs at mosque, restaurant in central Nigerian city kill 44
JOS (Nigeria): An emergency agency official says 44 people were killed by two bombs that exploded at a crowded mosque and an elite Muslim restaurant in Nigeria's central city of Jos.
Abdussalam Mohammed of the National Emergency Management Agency says 67 other people were wounded and are being treated in hospitals.
Witnesses who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals say the explosion at Yantaya Mosque came as a leading cleric who preaches peaceful co-existence was addressing a crowd during the holy month of Ramadan.
Another bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant patronized by elite politicians.
Jos is located where Nigeria's majority Muslim north and mainly Christian south collide. The city has been targeted in the past by bomb blasts claimed by Boko Haram Islamic extremists that have killed hundreds of people. .
12 suspected militants, four soldiers killed in North Waziristan clash
DERA KHAN: At least 12 suspected militants and four security personnel were killed in an exchange of fire in Data Khel area of North Waziristan tribal region, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.
The statement added that the militants fled from the scene leaving behind the bodies of three of their colleagues.
The details could not be independently verified.
North Waziristan is one of the seven regions in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) governed by tribal laws which is situated along the Pak-Afghan border and is rife with Taliban militant activity.
The Pakistan Army launched Zarb-i-Azb, a comprehensive operation in North Waziristan tribal region last summer to drive out Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremist militants who launch attacks on government and civilian targets, a week after the brazen insurgent attack on the country's busiest airport in Karachi.
Read: Preliminary phase of Shawal operation successful: army
Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, visited troops on Friday and said the initial phase around the surrounding peaks of the Shawal Valley was successful and it was now time to begin a final push into the lower areas.
“We will not stop unless we achieve our end objective of a terror-free Pakistan,” he said.
The tribal region, which borders with Afghanistan, has been used as a base by militants over the years. According to the ISPR, troops have been deployed along its border with neighbouring agencies to block any movement of terrorists in and out of the region.
Many militants have fled to other parts of Pakistan, and some into Afghanistan, complicating the US-backed Kabul government's fight against its own Taliban insurgency.
Saudi-led air strike on Yemen rebel bastion kills 23
SANAA: A Saudi-led air strike on a Huthi Shia rebel stronghold in Yemen's northern mountains killed 23 people early Saturday, tribal sources said.
The strike targeted a munitions factory in Saqayn, near Saada, the sources said.
Coalition aircraft also bombed the rebel-held capital Sanaa, targeting an arms warehouse and the air defence headquarters, witnesses said.
The coalition launched air strikes against the rebels in March, after the Huthis seized control of much of the country prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to take refuge in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Drone kills 4 Qaeda suspects in Yemen: official
RIYADH: A Saudi and a Kuwaiti are among four suspected al Qaeda members killed in a US drone strike in southeastern Yemen, a local official said on Friday.
The dawn strike targeted their car as it left the base of the 27th Mechanised Brigade in the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla, the official told AFP.
Fighters from the Sunni extremist group seized the camp from forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in April, consolidating their grip on Mukalla.
They have exploited months of fighting between Hadi loyalists and Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels to consolidate their grip on Yemen's southeast.
The official identified the victims as Shuaib al-Maliki of Saudi Arabia and the Kuwaiti Abdul Aziz al-Otaibi, along with two Yemenis.
Their deaths bring to 13 the number of suspected al Qaeda militants killed by similar strikes in Yemen over the past 10 days, and follows the death of the second-in-command of al Qaeda's global network.
The group confirmed on June 16 the killing by an American drone strike of Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who headed al Qaeda's Yemen branch.
Washington regards that branch, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as its most dangerous and has kept up a drone war despite the pullout of US troops from Yemen in March as the country's war worsened.
The US still has drones and other aircraft at bases in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.
AQAP was behind several plots against Western targets and claimed the January massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Since the war in Yemen worsened in March and a Saudi-led coalition began bombing the Shia Houthi rebels, jihadists from the Islamic State Sunni extremist group have also taken advantage of the chaos.
They have claimed a series of attacks including a car bomb in Yemen's capital Sanaa which killed at least 28 people on Monday.