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  1. Mattis, who has been nicknamed “Mad Dog” due to his preference for aggressive tactics, was also asked: “What keeps you awake at night?” “Nothing,” he said. “I keep other people awake at night.” Thanks Davis411 for the initial link. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Sunday the US had “accelerated” its tactics against the Islamic State, moving from a policy of “attrition” to one of “annihilation”. Related: Armed police carry out fresh raid in Manchester amid report of explosion The retired Marine Corps general also said “civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation”, adding: “We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.” His remarks came a day after he cited the suicide bombing in Manchester, which has been claimed by Isis, in a speech to graduating cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point. “Manchester’s tragic loss underscores the purpose of your years of study and training at this elite school,” Mattis said on Saturday. “We must never permit murderers to define our time or warp our sense of normal. This is not normal.” The bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena killed 22 people, the youngest an eight-year-old girl, and injured dozens more. Fourteen people have been arrested, with two subsequently released. The bomber, Salman Abedi, was Libyan but may have traveled to Syria. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Mattis said: “Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against Isis. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot. “We have already shifted from attrition tactics, where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.” Mattis also said efforts against Isis would be “a long fight” and “a fight about ideas”. “We’re going to shatter their sense of invincibility there in the physical caliphate,” he said. “That’s only one phase of this. Then we have the virtual caliphate, that they use the internet.” “We have got to dry up their recruiting,” he said. “We have got to dry up their fundraising. The way we intend to do it is to humiliate them, to divorce them from any nation giving them protection, and humiliating their message of hatred, of violence. Anyone who kills women and children is not devout. They … cannot dress themselves up in false religious garb and say that somehow this message has dignity.” Asked if he was concerned by the prospect of civilian casualties caused by such aggressive action, Mattis said: “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation. We do everything humanly possible consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties at all costs.” Heavy fighting against Isis militants continues in Mosul, Iraq, with local forces supported by a US-led air campaign. In March, a US airstrike in the city triggered a massive explosion, killing more than 100 people. Related: Mosul's children were shouting beneath the rubble. Nobody came “The American people and the American military will never get used to civilian casualties,” Mattis said. “And we will – we will fight against that every way we can possibly bring our intelligence and our tactics to bear. “People who have had tried to leave that city were not allowed to by Isis. We are the good guys. We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.” Regarding the civilian deaths in Mosul, Mattis said: “We believe we found residue that was not consistent with our bomb. So we believe that what happened there was that Isis had stored munitions in a residential location. Showing, once again, the callous disregard that has characterized every operation they have run.” Mattis, who has been nicknamed “Mad Dog” due to his preference for aggressive tactics, was also asked: “What keeps you awake at night?” “Nothing,” he said. “I keep other people awake at night.”
  2. 2-22-2017 Newshound Guru Enorrste Finally, as KAP noted, we see that, at least from this writer's point of view, the only thing now holding up the implementation of the float is the ISIS situation. It is anyone's guess what will be necessary to convince the government to move forward, but it is possible that recovery of Mosul might be sufficient. Only time will tell. ------------------------------------------------------------ ISIS needs to be completely VANQUISHED from Iraq, not just Mosul. I've always said this. Also, don't take too much stock in people in government "calling" for something to happen. They can "call" for it til they're blue in the face, it doesn't mean it's gonna happen right away, soon, or "in the coming days."
  3. Isis chief executioner Abu Sayyaf 'shot dead' in Mosul Kurdish media reported that the jihadi was killed by 'unknown gunmen' in northern Iraq stronghold By Ananya Roy January 30, 2017 08:02 GMT A notorious Islamic State (Isis) executioner named Abu Sayyaf has been shot dead in Iraq in West Mosul, Syrian Kurdish media has reported. Sayyaf is known as one of the jihadi group's main executioners and has appeared in many gruesome propaganda videos showing brutal IS killings. "Abu Sayyaf was one of the scariest executioners in Nineveh... He was a reflection of the brutality of this terrorist group," Muhammad Yawar, an Iraqi journalist, told ARA News. "He was known for his huge body and heavy arms. He was one of the notorious faces in the Isis propaganda videos." Local media activist Abdullah al-Mallah said a group of unknown assailants opened fire on Sayyaf's car, killing him. Another militant accompanying the executioner was also killed in the attack. "He was found dead in the Dawassah district west of Mosul city in Nineveh Governorate on Sunday evening. The Isis-led Hisba Police was unable to identify the perpetrators," al-Mallah added. His death comes soon after the killing of another prominent IS executioner in western Mosul under similar circumstances. Abu Abdel Rahman, a Saudi leader, was attacked by unknown gunmen in al-Askari region and killed on the spot. Western Mosul is currently the new battlefield for Iraqi government forces, who with the help of the US-led coalition force, succeeded in liberating east Mosul a week ago. IS fighters were reported to have redeployed in the western bank of the River Tigris to launch an assault on Iraqi troops advancing to liberate the city.
  4. The Iraqi army has come in control of Industrial and Mithaq neighborhoods of Mosul as troops push further into the city against ISIS in the second phase of the operation. Heavy clashes took place between Iraqi troops and ISIS militants in the two new neighborhoods on Tuesday as a Rudaw team embedded with the army filmed the scene. Civilians could be seen fleeing the fight. Some of them were caught in the cross fire and lost family members to ISIS car bombs. The Iraqi army launched an offensive on October 17 to retake the country’s second largest city from ISIS. LINK:
  5. ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— Heavily supported from the air, Iraq’s emboldened ground troops marched into the industrial neighborhood of Mosul in the early hours of Tuesday and advanced further towards the Tigris River in the eastern suburb of the city after gaining control of the nearby Misaq district.The army says it is now almost in full control of the eastern pockets of the embattled city with nearly 45 neighborhoods under its control. Tuesday’s clashes were preceded by heavy raids from Iraqi and coalitions airpower using so called Night Hunter helicopters among other gunships. The intense clashes which lasted for nearly 7 hours into the late afternoon led to retreat of ISIS gunmen from the so called industrial district of Mosul where they attacked army convoys with at least one car bomb in Misaq neighborhood. Rudaw’s embedded correspondent Ranja Jamal who is travelling with the Iraqi police units in Mosul said residents abandoned their homes for the safety of nearby districts already in army control as soon as ISIS left their neighborhoods “Although it’s difficult to verify if the entire Misaq district is in the hands of Iraqi forces, it seems that ISIS militants had left the area ahead of Tuesday’s offensive,” Jamal said. He added that the army has raised the Iraqi flags in several locations inside the Misaq neighborhood which Jamal could make out from distance in the nearby industrial district. The operation to retake Mosul from the ISIS militants which started on October 17 has entered its third month with unexpectedly slow pace of the army although both Kurdish and Iraqi leaders have publicly praised the relative professionalism of the joint ground troops. Much points to further delay of army’s mobilisation into central parts of the city which still appears to be in ISIS’ firm grip and where almost a million people are believed to reside. Iraqi leaders have said, to avoid civilian casualties, the army has chosen to move with patience. Both Hawija and Tal Afar also remain in militants’ control where ISIS is believed to enjoy robust protection provided by its many tunnels and ditches in addition to strong local support. On Thursday the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yidirim is expected to visit Baghdad where he will discuss the Mosul operation with his Iraqi counterpart Haidar Abadi, according to Turkish government sources. Turkey has a limited military presence in Bashiq camp near Mosul where Sunni fighters are being trained and funded and could play a decisive role as the operation evolves. LINK:
  6. ISIS’s second-in-command hid in Syria for months. The day he stepped out, the U.S. was waiting. By Joby Warrick November 28 at 6:01 PM This undated image posted online on Aug. 31 by supporters of the Islamic State shows Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the group’s spokesman and chief strategist, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike. (AP) For a man given to fiery rhetoric and long-winded sermons, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani became oddly quiet during his last summer as the chief spokesman for the Islamic State. The Syrian who exhorted thousands of young Muslims to don suicide belts appeared increasingly obsessed with his own safety, U.S. officials say. He banished cellphones, shunned large meetings and avoided going outdoors in the daytime. He began sleeping in crowded tenements in a northern Syrian town called al-Bab, betting on the presence of young children to shield him from the drones prowling the skies overhead. But in late August, when a string of military defeats suffered by the Islamic State compelled Adnani to briefly leave his hiding place, the Americans were waiting for him. A joint surveillance operation by the CIA and the Pentagon tracked the 39-year-old as he left his al-Bab sanctuary and climbed into a car with a companion. They were headed north on a rural highway a few miles from town when a Hellfire missile struck the vehicle, killing both of them. The Aug. 30 missile strike was the culmination of a months-long mission targeting one of the Islamic State’s most prominent — and, U.S. officials say, most dangerous — senior leaders. The Obama administration has said little publicly about the strike, other than to rebut Russia’s claims that one of its own warplanes dropped the bomb that ended Adnani’s life. But while key operational details of the Adnani strike remain secret, U.S. officials are speaking more openly about what they describe as an increasingly successful campaign to track and kill the Islamic State’s senior commanders, including Adnani, the No. 2 leader and the biggest prize so far. At least six high-level Islamic State officials have died in U.S. airstrikes in the past four months, along with dozens of deputies and brigadiers, all but erasing entire branches of the group’s leadership chart. Their deaths have left the group’s chieftain, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, increasingly isolated, deprived of his most capable lieutenants and limited in his ability to communicate with his embattled followers, U.S. officials say. Baghdadi has not made a public appearance in more than two years and released only a single audiotape — suggesting that the Islamic State’s figurehead is now in “deep, deep hiding,” said Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s special envoy to the global coalition seeking to destroy Baghdadi’s self-proclaimed caliphate. “He is in deep hiding because we have eliminated nearly all of his deputies,” McGurk said at a meeting of coalition partners in Berlin this month. “We had their network mapped. If you look at all of his deputies and who he was relying on, they’re all gone.” The loss of senior leaders does not mean that the Islamic State is about to collapse. U.S. officials and terrorism experts caution that the group’s decentralized structure and sprawling network of regional affiliates ensure that it would survive even the loss of Baghdadi himself. But they say the deaths point to the growing sophistication of a targeted killing campaign built by the CIA and the Defense Department over the past two years for the purpose of flushing out individual leaders who are working hard to stay hidden. The effort is being aided, U.S. officials say, by new technology as well as new allies, including deserters and defectors who are shedding light on how the terrorists travel and communicate. At the same time, territorial losses and military defeats are forcing the group’s remaining leaders to take greater risks, traveling by car and communicating by cellphones and computers instead of couriers, the officials and analysts said. “The bad guys have to communicate electronically because they have lost control of the roads,” said a veteran U.S. counterterrorism official who works closely with U.S. and Middle Eastern forces and who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations. “Meanwhile our penetration is better because ISIS’s situation is getting more desperate and they are no longer vetting recruits,” the official said, using a common acronym for the terrorist group. This image made from video posted on a militant website on July 5, 2014, shows the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. (AP) “We have a better picture inside ISIS now,” he said, “than we ever did against al-Qaeda in Iraq.” The caliphate’s cheerleader The first to go was “Abu Omar the Chechen.” The red-bearded Georgian Islamic militant, commonly known as Omar al-Shishani, fought in the Russia-Georgia war in 2008 and had been trained by U.S. Special Forces when he was in the Georgian military. He rose to become the Islamic State’s “minister of war” and was reported to have been killed on at least a half-dozen occasions since 2014, only to surface, apparently unharmed, to lead military campaigns in Iraq and Syria. Shishani’s luck ran out on July 10 when a U.S. missile struck a gathering of militant leaders near the Iraqi city of Mosul. It was the beginning of a string of successful operations targeting key leaders of the Islamic State’s military, propaganda and “external operations” divisions, U.S. officials said in interviews. On Sept. 6, a coalition airstrike killed Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, the Islamic State’s “minister of information,” near Raqqa, Syria. On Sept. 30, a U.S. attack killed deputy military commander Abu Jannat, the top officer in charge of Mosul’s defenses and one of 13 senior Islamic State officials in Mosul who were killed in advance of the U.S.-assisted offensive to retake the city. On Nov. 12, a U.S. missile targeted Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi, an Iraqi national described as the leader of the Islamic State’s Middle Eastern external-operations network, responsible for carrying out attacks against Western targets. But it was Adnani’s death that delivered the single biggest blow, U.S. analysts say. The Syrian-born Islamist militant was regarded by experts as more than a mere spokesman. A longtime member of the Islamic State’s inner circle, he was a gifted propagandist and strategic thinker who played a role in many of the organization’s greatest successes, from its commandeering of social media to its most spectacular terrorist attacks overseas, including in Paris and Brussels. His importance within the organization was also steadily rising. Last year, after the U.S.-led coalition began retaking cities across Iraq and Syria, it was Adnani who stepped into the role of cheerleader in chief, posting messages and sermons to boost morale while calling on sympathetic Muslims around the world to carry out terrorist attacks using any means available. “He was the voice of the caliphate when its caliph was largely silent,” said Will McCants, an expert on militant extremism at the Brookings Institution and author of “The ISIS Apocalypse,” a 2015 book on the Islamic State. “He was the one who called for a war on the West.” The CIA and the Pentagon declined to comment on their specific roles in the Adnani operation. But other officials familiar with the effort said the task of finding the Islamic State’s No. 2 leader became a priority nearly on par with the search for Baghdadi. But like his boss, Adnani, a survivor of earlier wars between U.S. forces and Sunni insurgents in Iraq, proved to be remarkably skilled at keeping himself out of the path of U.S. missiles. “His personal security was particularly good,” said the U.S. counterterrorism official involved in coordinating U.S. and Middle Eastern military efforts. “And as time went on, it got even better.” But the quality of the intelligence coming from the region was improving as well. A U.S. official familiar with the campaign described a two-stage learning process: In the early months, the bombing campaign focused on the most visible targets, such as weapons depots and oil refineries. But by the middle of last year, analysts were sorting through torrents of data on the movements of individual leaders. The information came from a growing network of human informants as well as from technological innovations, including improved surveillance drones and special manned aircraft equipped with the Pentagon’s Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, or EMARSS, designed to identify and track individual targets on the ground. “In the first year, the strikes were mostly against structures,” said a U.S. official familiar with the air campaign. “In the last year, they became much more targeted, leading to more successes.” Watching and waiting And yet, insights into the whereabouts of the top two leaders — Baghdadi and Adnani — remained sparse. After the Obama administration put a $5 million bounty on him, Adnani became increasingly cautious, U.S. officials say, avoiding not only cellphones but also buildings with satellite dishes. He used couriers to pass messages and stayed away from large gatherings. Eventually, his role shifted to coordinating the defense of a string of towns and villages near the Turkish border. One of these was Manbij, a Syrian hub and transit point for Islamic State fighters traveling to and from Turkey. Another was Dabiq, a small burg mentioned in Islam’s prophetic texts as the future site of the end-times battle between the forces of good and evil. Adnani picked for his headquarters the small town of al-Bab, about 30 miles northeast of Aleppo. There he hid in plain sight amid ordinary Syrians, conducting meetings in the same crowded apartment buildings where he slept. As was his custom, he used couriers to deliver messages — until suddenly it became nearly impossible to do so. On Aug. 12, a U.S.-backed army of Syrian rebels captured Manbij in the first of a series of crushing defeats for the Islamic State along the Turkish frontier. Thousands of troops began massing for assaults on the key border town of Jarabulus, as well as Dabiq, just over 20 miles from Adnani’s base. With many roads blocked by hostile forces, communication with front-line fighters became difficult. Adnani was compelled to venture from his sanctuary for meetings, and when he did so on Aug. 30, the CIA’s trackers finally had the clear shot they had been waiting for weeks to take. Records generated by commercially available aircraft-tracking radar show a small plane flying multiple loops that day over a country road just northwest of al-Bab. The plane gave no call sign, generally an indication that it is a military aircraft on a clandestine mission. The profile and flight pattern were similar to ones generated in the past for the Pentagon’s EMARSS-equipped MC-12 prop planes, used for surveillance of targets on the ground. The country road is the same one on which Adnani was traveling when a Hellfire missile hit his car, killing him and his companion. The death was announced the same day by the Islamic State, in a bulletin mourning the loss of a leader who was “martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo.” But in Washington, the impact of his death was muted by a two-week delay as U.S. officials sought proof that it was indeed Adnani’s body that was pulled from the wreckage of the car. The confirmation finally came Sept. 12 in a Pentagon statement asserting that a “U.S. precision airstrike” targeting Adnani had eliminated the terrorist group’s “chief propagandist, recruiter and architect of external terrorist operations.” The Russian claims have persisted, exasperating the American analysts who know how long and difficult the search had been. Meanwhile, the ultimate impact of Adnani’s death is still being assessed. Longtime terrorism experts argue that a diffuse, highly decentralized terrorist network such as the Islamic State tends to bounce back quickly from the loss of a leader, even one as prominent as Adnani. “Decapitation is one arm of a greater strategy, but it cannot defeat a terrorist group by itself,” said Bruce Hoffman, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies and an author of multiple books on terrorism. Noting that the Islamic State’s military prowess derives from the “more anonymous Saddamist military officers” who make up the group’s professional core, Hoffman said the loss of a chief propagandist was likely to be “only a temporary derailment.” Yet, as still more missiles find their targets, the Islamic State is inevitably losing its ability to command and inspire its embattled forces, other terrorism experts said. “The steady destruction of the leadership of the Islamic State, plus the loss of territory, is eroding the group’s appeal and potency,” said Bruce Riedel, a 30-year CIA veteran and a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution. “The Islamic State is facing a serious crisis.” Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed to this report. Video: Islamic State says leader killed in Syria <iframe width='480' height='290' scrolling='no' src='//' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Go RV!!!! / Dinar4Dinner
  7. Airstrike Kills ISIS Minister Responsible for Some Execution Videos, Pentagon Says Airstrike Kills ISIS Minister Responsible for Some Execution Videos, Pentagon Says (ABC News) More An airstrike has killed a senior ISIS leader who, as the group's minister of information, produced some of its gruesome execution videos, the Pentagon announced today. A U.S. official described "Dr. Wa'il" as one of ISIS's top leaders who had special access to ISIS's senior leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The confirmed death of "Dr. Wa'il" is the second strike in the last two weeks targeting a senior ISIS leader involved in ISIS's media operation. "On September 7, coalition forces conducted a precision strike near Raqqah, Syria, that targeted and killed 'Dr. Wa'il,' also known as Wa'il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, one of ISIL's most senior leaders," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement today. "He operated as the minister of information for the terror organization and was a prominent member of its Senior Shura Council -- ISIL's leadership group," he added. ISIS is also known as ISIL. "Wa'il oversaw ISIL's production of terrorist propaganda videos showing torture and executions," Cook said, and was "a close associate of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani." Al-Adnani was known as ISIS' top spokesman and responsible for the plotting of the group's overseas terror attacks, such as last November's attacks in Paris and the airport attacks in Brussels and Ankara, Turkey. A U.S. official described Wa'il as outranking al-Adnani as one of ISIS senior leaders, possibly number three in its hierarchy, who had special access to the group's top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Adnani was targeted by an airstrike on Aug. 30 as he rode in a vehicle near the Syrian town of al-Bab. Earlier this week, the Pentagon confirmed its initial assessment that al-Adnani had been killed in the airstrike. A U.S. official said it has been confirmed that Wa'il was killed in the airstrike, which another official said was carried out by a drone targeting his home in Raqqah, ISIS's de facto capital in Syria. "The removal of ISIL's senior leaders degrades its ability to retain territory, and its ability to plan, finance, and direct attacks inside and outside of the region," Cook said. "We will continue to work with our coalition partners to build momentum in the campaign to deal ISIL a lasting defeat." One U.S. official said it was unclear if Wa'il outranked al-Adnani in ISIS's hierarchy.
  8. If not just symbolically. Yes, this particular Bingo was in Syria, but applies IMHO to our journey towards regaining stability, then RV. What they give, they get back . . . in spades. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A sharpshooter killed a top ISIS executioner and three other jihadists with a single bullet from nearly a mile away — just seconds before the fiend was set to burn 12 hostages alive with a flamethrower, according to a new report. The British Special Air Service marksman turned one of the most hated terrorists in Syria into a fireball by using a Barett .50-caliber rifle to strike a fuel tank affixed to the jihadi’s back, the UK’s Daily Star reported Sunday. The pack exploded, killing the sadistic terrorist and three of his flunkies, who were supposed to film the execution, last month, the paper said. The ISIS butcher — who reportedly delighted in burning hostages alive — had been on a US “kill list” for several months, sources told the paper, which did not identify the sniper or the executioner. He and his band of wicked men had been traveling around ISIS-held compounds in Syria slaughtering civilians labeled as spies. Their prisoners were tied to stakes or thrown in cages before being torched by the executioner, according to the report. ISIS started using flamethrowers after the torture method was popularized in North Korea. The ISIS killer was so feared that his victims would beg to be shot rather than be set on fire. Just before the sniper rescue operation outside of Raqqa, Syria, “the SAS team moved into an overwatch position above a village where they were told the execution was going to take place,” a source told the Star. “Up to 12 civilians were going to be murdered — eight men and four women. “The executioner gave some sort of rambling speech . . . then when he finished, the SAS sniper opened fire,” the source said. The captives were then rescued by British and US special forces. The rescue comes just months after another SAS sniper killed two ISIS car bombers as they drove toward Libya. The sniper’s bullet went through the driver’s skull and into the passenger’s neck, taking both out. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  9. BAGHDAD — The Islamic State, pushed off more than half the Iraqi territory it seized in 2014, has suffered a near collapse in revenue from oil smuggling, officials say, forcing it to cut fighters' pay, levy new taxes, and raise fines for breaking its religious code. The jihadist group has lost control of a series of oil fields and is having to sell its remaining production at steep discounts to persuade truck drivers to collect it and run the gauntlet of US-led airstrikes. Alongside taxes, ransoms, and antiquities trading, oil has been a major fund-raiser for Islamic State operations. At one point it made millions of dollars a month in sales to neighboring Syria and Iran or to makeshift local refineries. But advances by Iraqi government and Kurdish forces plus Shi'ite Muslim militias have left the militant group, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, with partial access to just two of the five Iraqi oil fields it once controlled. This has cut smuggling by at least 90%, according to security and municipal officials. The Islamic State used to sell at least 50 tanker truckloads a day from the Qayara and Najma oil fields, south of the group's Mosul stronghold. This crude was mostly shipped to Syria to barter for automobile fuel, said Mosul provincial councilman Abdul Rahman al-Wagga, who moved to the Kurdish capital Erbil after the fall of Mosul. "Now with Iraqi forces getting closer and stepping up airstrikes, Daesh can hardly sell five small tankers," he said. Gasoline containers at a roadside shop in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq. Getty Images/Anadolu Agency Precise figures on how much Islamic State raises from oil are hard to come by. Luay Al-Khatteeb, the executive director of the Iraq Energy Institute who has done extensive research into the Islamic State's oil smuggling, said revenues fluctuated even during their peak in the second half of 2014 when "on its best days" the group made nearly $700,000 a day from Iraqi fields. In May the US estimated that its revenue had been roughly halved to $250 million a year from the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria. While the militants have suffered further losses since then in Iraq, they still control several oil fields in eastern Syria, where US-backed rebels have had less success in ejecting them. Luring local traders The Islamic State took the Iraqi oil fields, with a total capacity of nearly 60,000 barrels a day, when they swept through the north and west two years ago. This prompted the airstrikes from the US-led coalition that have targeted financial infrastructure as well as fighters and leaders. The group has been losing production for some time. Kurdish peshmerga forces took the Ain Zala oil field, northwest of Mosul, in late 2014. Khatteeb's estimates are at the conservative end of the range. Security officials and an oil ministry adviser say the Islamic State's revenue fell by $1 million a day in April 2015 alone when it lost the Ajil and Himreen oil fields near the city of Tikrit, which lies about 95 miles north of Baghdad. Reuters Now Iraqi forces pushing toward Mosul for a planned year-end offensive are close enough to Qayara and Najma fields, about 40 miles south of the city, to reduce their operations substantially, security and local officials said. The danger smugglers face from coalition airstrikes to collect the oil has forced the Islamic State to slash prices. "Daesh is luring local traders in Mosul to buy its crude from Qayara and Najma by cutting the price from $6,000 per tanker to just $2,000," Wagga said. An oil-ministry spokesman said the militants had been using primitive mechanisms such as water-irrigation pumps to extract oil from these fields. Most of Iraq's oil fields, which provide nearly all government revenues, are in the south, far from Islamic State areas of control. Combating smuggling Qayara and Najma were once operated by the Angolan state energy group Sonangol, which pulled out in 2013 because of rising development costs and security concerns. Qayara, with estimated reserves of 800 million barrels, had been producing 7,000 barrels a day of heavy crude before Islamic State seized the field and a nearby refinery with a 16,000-barrel-a-day capacity. The refinery and a smaller plant at Kasak, northwest of Mosul, stopped operating when employees fled the takeover. Najma, mainly a gas field, used to produce around 5,000 barrels a day. A member of Iraqi counterterrorism forces in Fallujah. Thomson Reuters Advances this month have helped Iraqi forces to control Qayara air base, which they will use for an assault on Mosul that could start within months. The gains include nearby areas adjacent to the Qayara and Najma fields. "We have destroyed almost all facilities and storage depots used by Daesh to smuggle oil in areas near Mosul," said Sabah al-Numan, the spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism service, which led the latest advances. "We obtained all the coordinates from the Oil Ministry, and airstrikes have pursued every single oil-smuggling truck," he said, estimating that the bombardment had helped to cut smuggling by 95%. Pay cuts, shaving fines The loss of oil revenues has forced the militants to cut salaries by a third, said Muthana Jbara, a senior security official in Salahuddin province, where Ajil and Himreen are located, citing sources in Islamic State-held areas. They have also imposed more taxes on farmers, truckers, and traders and increased fines for minor violations of religious bans on smoking and shaving beards, he said. Abu Abdulla, a Mosul-based shipper, said most traders stopped buying crude from the Islamic State after hundreds of trucks were destroyed by airstrikes over the past six months or so. "At least 100 drivers were killed trying to smuggle crude into Syria. Drivers are refusing to go because the smuggling route between Mosul and Syria has became a death trap," Abu Abdulla told Reuters in an internet call. Smoke rising after airstrikes from the US-led coalition against Islamic State militants in a village east of Mosul on May 29. Reuters/Azad Lashkari The US-led coalition intensified its targeting of tanker trucks in the past year after previously avoiding such strikes for fear of killing drivers who were not clearly militants. Abu Abdulla and four other traders and truck drivers said the trip back and forth to Syria became more difficult after Iraqi Kurdish forces retook Sinjar in November, forcing them to take a road south of Mosul to the Syrian border. Drivers tried to evade airstrikes by painting "drinking water" on the side of their tankers, but without success, Abu Abdulla said. "It's an open desert road that leaves us easily targeted by airstrikes," a driver who gave his name only as Muamar said. "I saw my brother get killed by an airstrike while sitting inside his truck. Other trucks were blown up like in a video game."
  10. From The New York Times: As ISIS Loosens Grip, U.S. and Iraq Prepare for Grinding Insurgency The Islamic State’s suicide attack in Baghdad this month, officials say, foreshadows the violence it will unleash as it reverts to its guerrilla roots.
  12. Enjoy! (You might want to turn the volume down just a little)
  13. (CNN)ISIS on Thursday purportedly released a video and audio statement threatening to attack Russia "very soon." In the nearly five-minute long video, a chant in Russian is heard over visual compilations of old ISIS propaganda and generic video of Russian cities and buildings. The video is entitled "Soon Very Soon the Blood Will Spill like an Ocean" and was posted two weeks after a Russian commercial jet crashed in Egypt, killing 224 people. An ISIS affiliate has claimed it brought down the plane. CNN has not independently verified the video is authentic, but it was posted on ISIS-affiliated social media accounts. Russian security services are working to verify the authenticity of the video, the country's state news agency Sputnik reports. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow: "I've read news about this video, but have not seen it myself. I don't know the authenticity of this video, and I don't know the authenticity of these sources. "But in any case I'm sure this material will be subject of scrutiny by our special services." Opinion: What Putin is doing in the Middle East Russian air power has backed the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's military in its fight against ISIS since October 1. While Russian officials have said their airstrikes target ISIS, U.S. officials have said some have not been in areas where the terror group is operating. Russia has no wish to see Syria become a radical Islamist state or a long-term safe haven for terror groups, with possible consequences for its own Muslim regions in the Caucasus. It is "also concerned about the possible return to Russia of the 2,000 or more Russian-speakers currently fighting against Assad's forces," Nikolay Kozhanov of the Carnegie Moscow Center said last month. ISIS has threatened Russia before, even prior to Moscow's military support in Syria.
  14. By Tim Lister and Nick Paton Walsh, A push to take back the Iraqi town of Sinjar from ISIS by Peshmerga forces has begun, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said Thursday. "Operation Free Sinjar will include up to 7,500 Peshmerga from three fronts to cordon off Sinjar city, take control of ISIL's strategic supply routes and establish a significant buffer zone to protect the city and its inhabitants from incoming artillery," the council statement said. Coalition warplanes will provide close air support to Peshmerga forces throughout the operation, it said. The world watched in horror last year as some 50,000 Yazidis scrambled up Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq to escape the ISIS onslaught. About 5,000 men and boys in Sinjar and nearby villages were massacred, according to U.N. estimates, while teenage girls and women were sold into slavery. Since then, Sinjar has become a chaotic jumble of demolished buildings whose only inhabitants are a few hundred ISIS fighters facing off against small detachments of Kurdish Peshmerga forces. But an operation to retake the town has been looming. Now, some 5,000 Yazidi fighters have been mobilized under the command of the Kurdish Peshmerga to take the battle to ISIS. Most are farmers; a very few have military experience. In Snuny, Iraq, a village that sits in the shadow of Mount Sinjar, Peshmerga forces have set up camp and Yazidi civilians have started to return home. Speaking to CNN last week, they vowed to take back Sinjar and exact revenge on ISIS. And this month, the tempo of airstrikes against ISIS positions in and around the town has picked up. Sinjar matters existentially to the Yazidis, but it's also important in the wider effort to defeat ISIS. The artery that passes through the town links Mosul -- ISIS' prized possession -- with cities it holds in Syria. Cutting this route is big one step toward dividing the "caliphate" that ISIS claims it is establishing. But the road also carries badly needed supplies to the 1.5 million people who still live in Mosul, where prices are rising and activists report hunger. Before the push to retake Sinjar began, Kurdish fighters said they knew it wouldn't be easy. Peshmerga commanders have estimated some 300 ISIS fighters are still inside Sinjar and likely plan to die there. They believe they will encounter hundreds of landmines and booby traps.
  15. By Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, CNN Updated 4:24 PM ET, Thu October 8, 2015 Washington (CNN)A number of cruise missiles launched from a Russian ship and aimed at targets in Syria have crashed in Iran, two U.S. officials told CNN Thursday. Monitoring by U.S. military and intelligence assets has concluded that at least four missiles crashed as they flew over Iran. The U.S. believes, based on intelligence reports of damage assessments, that some buildings were damaged and civilians may have been hurt. It's unclear where in Iran the missiles landed. The Russian ships have been positioned in the south Caspian Sea, meaning the likely flight path for missiles into Syria would cross over both Iran and Iraq. The Russians have been firing a relatively new cruise missile called "Kaliber," using it for the first time in combat. READ: U.S. aircraft diverted to avoid Russian fighter in Syria The Russian Defense Ministry, however, took strong issue with the CNN report in a posting on Facebook Thursday. "Unlike CNN, we don't report quoting anonymous sources, but we show launches of our missiles and the targets they hit in real-time mode," the statement reads, noting that Russian drones are operating in Syria around the clock, presumably monitoring operations. It continues, "No matter how unpleasant and unexpected it is for our colleagues in the Pentagon and Langley, our strike yesterday with precision-guided weapons at ISIS infrastructure in Syria hit its targets." In response, one U.S. official familiar with the intelligence reports told CNN, "These are the people who told us there were no little green men in Crimea." The official was referring to Moscow's denials that men wearing green fatigues and using Russian weapons to fight the Ukraine government -- often dubbed "little green men" -- were in fact Russian soldiers. Moscow later annexed Crimea. Iran's semi-official FARS news agency also said that Iranian authorities also haven't confirmed the U.S. officials' information at this point. On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin on Russian television that all 26 missiles launched from four missile ships struck their targets, with no civilian facilities hit. Putin then congratulated him on the performance of the weapons. It was not clear whether Shoigu was referring to the same missiles as the U.S. officials, as the latter may have been describing ones launched after the TV appearance. The assessment came as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned Thursday at NATO headquarters in Brussels that Russia would likely suffer casualties "within the coming days" as it deepens its military involvement in Syria. Carter also took rhetorical aim at Moscow Thursday, calling out Russia for "increasingly unprofessional behavior" after a Russian fighter jet violated Turkish airspace earlier this week and after Russia launched missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea "without warning." While Carter again pointed to the need for an agreement on "professional safety procedures" to avoid accidents in Syrian skies between Russian and U.S.-led sorties, which are taking aim at ISIS, he stressed that the U.S. would not cooperate militarily at a strategic level with Russia. "We have not and will not agree to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue this misguided strategy," he said earlier in the week. "It remains our hope that Russia will see that tethering itself to a sinking ship is a losing strategy because Russia has the opportunity to change course and do the right thing. I don't know if they will." In Rome earlier in his trip, Carter described to a "tragically flawed" Russian strategy in Syria, where Russian military actions appear increasingly aimed at bolstering the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad in his struggle against rebel forces and less at fighting ISIS. READ: Obama: Russia heading for 'quagmire' in Syria U.S. and Russian military officials have yet to establish a reliable communication channel to avoid potentially tragic accidents between Russian and U.S.-led forces operating in Syrian airspace. State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to confirm that the Russian missiles had landed in Iran when asked about them at the daily press briefing Thursday, but he did say that such an incident would point to the need for better coordination. "If something like that happened, again, I can't confirm it, but I think it points all the more towards the need to have proper de-confliction procedures in place," he said. The U.S. and Russia did hold a high-level phone call Thursday. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spokes for about half an hour about Syria and Ukraine, according to Kirby. Kerry reiterated U.S. concerns about the high number of non-ISIS targets that Russia has struck, he said. "They also talked about the importance of moving forward on tactical discussions and dialogue towards the goal of de-confliction, again to avoid mishaps and misunderstandings, particularly in the air." Kerry also emphasized the need for a political solution to the civil war in Syria, which he said required a transitional government to move away from Assad. Separately, a U.S. defense official told CNN that there have been at least two incidents in which Russian fighter jets flew in close proximity to U.S. drones. The first incident was not believed to be deliberate. However, the U.S. assessment is that the second encounter was a deliberate attempt to shadow the unmanned aircraft. Unlike the recent encounters with manned U.S. fighter jets, the drones did not turn away, since no pilots were at risk.
  16. Gives those cowardly soliders fleeing a bad name LOL. Also, my favorite quote from the article: The female fighters told MailOnline that " ISIS soldiers are scared of being killed by women because they they believe then they will not receive 'Jannah', paradise or heavenly rewards in the afterlife." 'This is revenge for the Yazidi girls': How three brave female fighters killed 10 ISIS jihadis a day on the frontline in IraqAll-female fighting unit is stemming the tide of ISIS' ethnic cleansing of Yazidis in Mount Sinjar, northern Iraq Women left behind lives in Turkey and smuggle themselves into Kurdistan to take revenge for Yazidi murders At the peak of the fighting, the AK47-wielding women were shooting dead up to 10 ISIS insurgents a day They said they find drugs on jihadis they have captured on killed that they have taken to pluck up courage to fight on battlefield They said Islamic extremists are frightened of being killed by a woman and denied 'Jannah' or paradise after death By OWEN HOLDAWAY IN MOUNT SINJAR FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 09:25 EST, 22 September 2015 | UPDATED: 22:56 EST, 22 September 2015 Three courageous women have told how they formed an armed all-female fighting unit and killed up to 10 ISIS jihadis a day to stop the Yazidi genocide on embattled Mount Sinjar. The women took the extraordinary decision to leave behind their lives in Turkey and travel to Kurdistan, northern Iraq, to end the bloodshed of Yazidis being slaughtered there. 'When we heard ISIS were coming to Sinjar and killing women, we came to stop the humanitarian crisis,' Roza, 22, the youngest of the group, told MailOnline. Brave: Pictured left to right: Raparin, Roza and Deijly make up an all female fighting unit who left left their lives in Turkey to help stem the tide of ethnic cleansing by ISIS against Yazidi people in Mount Sinjar, northern Iraq 'When ISIS came, we saw them take Yazidi females and enslave them,' Roza said. The ethnic cleansing of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar started in August last year when ISIS raided villages and plundered communities. They went into villages armed with guns and took men, women and children from their homes. Terrified, they were forced to stand in two separate lines, men on one side and women and children on the other. The men were forced to renounce Christianity and pledge their allegiance to Islam. Should they refuse, they were bundled into trucks and taken to killing fields on the edges of villages, forced to dig their own graves before being made to kneel and shot in the back of the head. The women and underage girls were often taken to cities such as Mosul and Raqqa and turned into sex slaves. Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Roza explained: 'They did this first of all to get rid of the Yazidis and convert them and second, to do bad things to their females.' The genocide of Yazidis led US President Barack Obama to order air strikes against ISIS on August 7. But the women said that by then it was already too late. Sat next to Roza is her experienced guerrilla 'commander', Deijly. Deijly explained that they had heard from other fighters operating in the caves in Sinjar that ISIS massacred Yazidis four days before the US airstrikes, on August 3. 'We smuggled ourselves there from Turkey on August 5,' Deijly, 29, said pointing in the direction they came from. She said that the Yazidis were left defenceless after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its troops, the Peshmerga, withdrew. 'We heard that the Peshmerga had withdrawn and we heard the children were dying on the mountain.' We were sometimes killing ten of them a day, in the beginning of the liberation of Sinjar Raparin, 24, PKK fighter As the Sinjar tragedy unfolded, an estimated 40,000 refugees were stranded on the mountain with little water or supplies. 'It was a difficult journey from Turkey. When we came the temperatures were scorching, but we were trained for that,' said Deijly, who is originally from Istanbul. The final member of their unit, Raparin, 26, who also 'smuggled' herself in from Turkey, told what happened when the women arrived on the battlefield. 'We were sometimes killing ten of them a day, in the beginning of the liberation of Sinjar,' she said from her vantage point overlooking the ISIS-controlled town of Bara on the western mountain slope in Sinjar. Helped by American-led air strikes and joined by more Kurdish forces, they manage to secure a corridor to allow many of the stranded Yazidis to cross into Syrian territory. 'We are 'one' with the Yazidis and will fight ISIS to take revenge for the what has happened to the women,' Deijly said. The women are all members of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, an organization that has been fighting the Turkish government for decades and is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, NATO and Turkey. It's for that reason that they will reveal few details of their lives back home. 'Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [Turkey President] has never wanted to make an agreement with us, and other countries support him, and think the PKK are terrorists,' said Raparin of her home country. Turkey has recently begun a bombing campaign against the PKK and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The PKK are also helping to create and train Sinjar Protection Units that are made up of both male and female volunteer Yazidi fighters. 'There is no difference between the female and male fighters. The training is the same,' they explained. The situation on Sinjar is still tense, but has 'calmed down' since the last ISIS attack with RPGS a fortnight ago, according to the women. They admit to seeing 'many of their friends die' during numerous bloody battles - but insist they will fight until their last breath to stop Islamic extremism. 'The beheadings are the worst thing in the world. Fighting is two forces against each other, but they are not doing this. I don't think this is in any religion,' Roza stated. Sometimes when we kill or capture them we see that they are drugged, or having been doping Deijly, 29, commander However, they believe that Islamic State's propaganda is more powerful than their military capability. 'Everyone is worried about ISIS. But they are not that strong and they cannot continue to fight against the PKK,' Raparin continued. The unit of three also claim that jihadists need to take drugs to pluck up the courage to fight them. 'Sometimes when we kill or capture them we see that they are drugged, or having been doping,' Deijly said. ISIS has been particularly brutal with captured Kurdish fighters, raping the women and beheading the men if they surrender. But, tapping the butt of her rifle, Raparin said: 'I don't believe they will be able to capture me. If they capture me I would rather kill myself.' Shrugging her shoulders, Deijly added: 'It is the same for all of us.' 'It happened to some of my friends who were surrounded, they killed themselves before Daesh [the name given to ISIS] could capture them. I have lost many friends,' she added. It is claimed that ISIS militants are scared of being killed by women, as they believe will not receive 'Jannah', paradise or heavenly rewards in the after death. 'When they know women are fighting, they run away,' Roza said with an ironic smile. Her commander added: 'I have killed many, but I am sure all of them will not find virgins in heaven.' The PKK, as well as being at the forefront of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, also promotes gender equality in the Middle East. The group claims its goals are to 'provide democracy and freedom for women', starting with the Kurdish people. 'We have to first provide this in Kurdistan, and then the rest of the world can learn. But in Kurdistan it is the only place where women's voices are rising,' Deijly said. Read more:
  17. Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:41 Sources: Rifts Widening among ISIL Ranks in Iraq's Baiji TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi security sources revealed that differences are growing among ISIL ranks and groups in the Northeastern town of Baiji, in Salahuddin province. "The Iraqi popular forces' intelligence leaders have been informed that after ISIL's numerous defeats in repeated offensives on the town of Baiji, serious gaps have surfaced among ISIL branches in that region," an Iraqi security source told FNA on Wednesday. The source said that among these groups mention can be made to al-Ansar. The Chechnian group has threatened to withdraw from regions near Baiji to return to Syria. The Iraqi forces started operations to purge Baiji of terrorists few months ago, and later took full control of the city, its refinery and its surrounding areas. But in early September reports said that the Takfiri terrorists took back some parts of Baiji after two weeks of heavy attacks on the region. In a relevant development on Tuesday, Iraqi security forces backed by volunteer troops thwarted an ISIL attack on the outskirts of Baiji. "The ISIL terrorists launched an offensive on al-Siniyah town of Baiji, but the Iraqi forces foiled the attack," a statement by the Iraqi volunteer forces said. Tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and a large number of their vehicle destroyed in the Iraqi forces' counterattack. Also, on Sunday, informed sources said that the Iraqi Army and popular forces of Hashed al-Shaabi had started fresh round of massive operations to re-seize control over Baiji. The sources said that the Iraqi forces and Hashed Al-Shaabi, launched their latest offensive to recapture their lost territory in Baiji and to weaken the terrorist group’s influence over the town of Al-Siniyah. Following the offensive’s announcement by the Iraqi defense minister, the Iraqi forces and popular committees stormed the Al-Tamim Neighborhood in Baiji, capturing it from the terrorist group after killing 19 militants.
  18. Been saying this for the last year and half, another manufactured crisis for profit. Competing Gas Pipelines Are Fueling The Syrian War & Migrant Crisis 09/10/2015 14:42 -0400 Afghanistan European Union France Greece headlines Iran Iraq Israel Kuwait Middle East Mohammad Natural Gas Reality Saudi Arabia Turkey United Kingdom Submitted by Mnar Muhawesh via, Don’t let anyone fool you: As we have detailed since 2013, sectarian strife in Syria has been engineered to provide cover for a war for access to oil and gas, and the power and money that come along with it. Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect recent Wikileaks revelations of US State Department leaks that show plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006. The leaks reveal that these plans were given to the US directly from the Israeli government and would be formalized through instigating civil strife and sectarianism through partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to break down the power structue in Syria to essentially to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. The leaks also reveal Israeli plans to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration and military expansion. * * * Images of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up dead on Mediterranean shores in his family’s attempt to flee war-torn Syria, have grabbed the attention of people around the world, sparking outrage about the true costs of war. The heart-wrenching refugee crisis unfolding across the Middle East and at European borders has ignited a much needed conversation on the ongoing strife and instability that’s driving people from their homes in countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq. It’s brought international attention to the inhumane treatment these refugees are receiving if — and it is a major “if” — they arrive at Europe’s door. In Syria, for example, foreign powers have sunk the nation into a nightmare combination of civil war, foreign invasion and terrorism. Syrians are in the impossible position of having to choose between living in a warzone, being targeted by groups like ISIS and the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, or faring dangerous waters with minimal safety equipment only to be denied food, water and safety by European governments if they reach shore. Other Syrians fleeing the chaos at home have turned to neighboring Arab Muslim countries. Jordan alone has absorbed over half a million Syrian refugees; Lebanon has accepted nearly 1.5 million; and Iraq and Egypt have taken in several hundred thousand. Although it’s not an Arab nation or even part of the Middle East, Iran sent 150 tons of humanitarian goods, including 3,000 tents and 10,000 blankets, to the Red Crescents of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon via land routes to be distributed among the Syrian refugees residing in the three countries last year. Turkey has taken in nearly 2 million refugees to date. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made international headlines for opening his nation’s arms to migrants, positioning himself as a kind of savior in the process. A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned when the boat he and his family members were in capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Nilüfer Demir/DHA) Meanwhile, Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have provided refuge to zero Syrian refugees. While there’s certainly a conversation taking place about refugees — who they are, where they’re going, who’s helping them, and who isn’t — what’s absent is a discussion on how to prevent these wars from starting in the first place. Media outlets and political talking heads have found many opportunities to point fingers in the blame game, but not one media organization has accurately broken down what’s driving the chaos: control over gas, oil and resources. Indeed, it’s worth asking: How did demonstrations held by “hundreds” of protesters demanding economic change in Syria four years ago devolve into a deadly sectarian civil war, fanning the flames of extremism haunting the world today and creating the world’s second largest refugee crisis? While the media points its finger to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and political analysts call for more airstrikes against ISIS and harsher sanctions against Syria, we’re four years into the crisis and most people have no idea how this war even got started. This “civil war” is not about religionCiting a lack of access on the ground, the United Nations stopped regularly updating its numbers of casualties in the Syrian civil war in January 2014. Estimates put the death toll between 140,200 and 330,380, with as many as 6 million Syrians displaced, according to the U.N. While there is no question that the Syrian government is responsible for many of the casualties resulting from its brutal crackdown, this is not just a Syrian problem. Foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted. Wikieaks released leaked US State Department cables from 2006 revealing US plans to overthrow the Syrian government through instigating civil strife, and receiving these very orders straight from Tel Aviv. The leaks reveal the United State’s partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to use sectarianism to divide Syria through the Sunni and Shiite divide to destabilize the nation to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. Israel is also revealed to attempt to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration. According to major media outlets like the BBC and the Associated Press, the demonstrations that supposedly swept Syria were comprised of only hundreds of people, but additional Wikileaks cables reveal CIA involvement on the ground in Syria to instigate these very demonstrations as early as March 2011. FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Syrians hold a large poster depicting Syria’s President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus, Syria. Some activists expressed regret that one year later their “revolution” against President Bashar Assad’s rule had become mired in violence. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman, File) Just a few months into the demonstrations which now consisted of hundreds of armed protesters with CIA ties, demonstrations grew larger, armed non-Syrian rebel groups swarmed into Syria, and a severe government crackdown swept through the country to deter this foreign meddling. It became evident that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would be jumping on the opportunity to organize, arm and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army as outlined in the State Department plans to destabilize Syria. (Just a few months ago, WikiLeaks confirmed this when it released Saudi intelligence that revealed Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been working hand in hand to arm and finance rebels to overthrow the Syrian government since 2012.) These foreign nations created a pact in 2012 called “The Group of Friends of the Syrian People,” a name that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their agenda was to divide and conquer in order to wreak havoc across Syria in view of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad. A Free Syrian Army soldier carries his weapon at the northern town of Sarmada, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo) The true agenda to hijack Syria’s revolt quickly became evident, with talking heads inserting Syria’s alliance with Iran as a threat to the security and interests of the United States and its allies in the region. It’s no secret that Syria’s government is a major arms, oil and gas, and weapons ally of Iran and Lebanon’s resistance political group Hezbollah. But it’s important to note the timing: This coalition and meddling in Syria came about immediately on the heels of discussions of an Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that was to be built between 2014 and 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria. With a possible extension to Lebanon, it would eventually reach Europe, the target export market. Perhaps the most accurate description of the current crisis over gas, oil and pipelines that is raging in Syria has been described by Dmitry Minin, writing for the Strategic Cultural Foundation in May 2013: “A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change. It’s the oil, gas and pipelines, stupid!Indeed, tensions were building between Russia, the U.S. and the European Union amid concerns that the European gas market would be held hostage to Russian gas giant Gazprom. The proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversifying Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia. Turkey is Gazprom’s second-largest customer. The entire Turkish energy security structure relies on gas from Russia and Iran. Plus, Turkey was harboring Ottoman-like ambitions of becoming a strategic crossroads for the export of Russian, Caspian-Central Asian, Iraqi and Iranian oil and even gas to Europe. The Guardian reported in August 2013: Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done. (Map: “Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar and Turkey that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was ‘to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.’” Knowing Syria was a critical piece in its energy strategy, Turkey attempted to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to reform this Iranian pipeline and to work with the proposed Qatar-Turkey pipeline, which would ultimately satisfy Turkey and the Gulf Arab nations’ quest for dominance over gas supplies. But after Assad refused Turkey’s proposal, Turkey and its allies became the major architects of Syria’s “civil war.” Much of the strategy currently at play was described back in a 2008 U.S. Army-funded RAND report, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War”: “The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized. … For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources. … The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.” In this context, the report identifies the divide and conquer strategy while exploiting the Sunni-Shiite divide to protect Gulf oil and gas supplies while maintaining a Gulf Arab state dominance over oil markets. “Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces. … the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace. … U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.” The report notes that another option would be “to take sides in the conflict, possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.” This framework crafted an interesting axis: Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S., Britain and France vs. Syria, Iran and Russia. Divide and conquer: A path to regime changeWith the U.S., France, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — aka, the new “Friends of Syria” coalition — publicly calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad between 2011 and 2012 after Assad’s refusal to sign onto the gas pipeline, the funds and arms flowing into Syria to feed the so-called “moderate” rebels were pushing Syria into a humanitarian crisis. Rebel groups were being organized left and right, many of which featured foreign fighters and many of which had allied with al-Qaida. Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the League of Arab States Ahmad al-Qattan, center, attends the Arab League summit in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March, 29, 2012. (AP Photo) The Syrian government responded with a heavy hand, targeting rebel held areas and killing civilians in the process. Since Syria is religiously diverse, the so-called “Friends of Syria” pushed sectarianism as their official “divide and conquer” strategy to oust Assad. Claiming that Alawites ruled over a majority Sunni nation, the call by the “moderate” U.S.-backed rebels became one about Sunni liberation. Although the war is being sold to the public as a Sunni-Shiite conflict, so-called Sunni groups like ISIS, the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front) and even the “moderate” Free Syrian Army have indiscriminately targeted Syria’s Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Jews. At the same time, these same foreign nations supported and even armed the Bahraini government, which claims to be Sunni, in its violent crackdown on the majority Shiite pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the nation. The Syrian government army itself is over 80 percent Sunni, which indicates that the true agenda has been politically — not religiously — motivated. In addition to this, the Assad family is Alawite, an Islamic sect that the media has clumped in with Shiites, though most Shiites would agree that the two are unrelated. Further, the Assad family is described as secular and running a secular nation. Counting Alawites as Shiites was simply another way to push a sectarian framework for the conflict: It allowed for the premise that the Syria-Iran alliance was based on religion, when, in fact, it was an economic relationship. This framework carefully crafted the Syrian conflict as a Sunni revolution to liberate itself from Shiite influence that Iran was supposedly spreading to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But the truth is, Syria’s Sunni community is divided, and many defected to join groups like the Free Syrian Army, ISIS and al-Qaida. And as mentioned earlier, over 80 percent of Assad’s military is Sunni. As early as 2012, additional rebels armed and financed by Arab Gulf nations and Turkey like al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, declared all-out war against Shiites. They even threatened to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s government after they had overthrown the Assad government. Soon after, the majority of the Muslim Brotherhood rebels became part of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. Together, they announced that they would destroy all shrines — not just those ones which hold particular importance to Shiites. Hezbollah entered the scene in 2012 and allied itself with the Syrian government to fight al-Nusra and ISIS, which were officially being armed and financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And all the arms were actively being sold to these nations by the United States. Thus, US arms were falling into the hands of the same terror group the US claims to be fighting in its broader War on Terror. Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa who was killed in an airstrike that killed six members of the Lebanese militant group and an Iranian general in Syria, during his funeral procession, in the southern village of Arab Salim, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Hezbollah has accused Israel of carrying out Sunday’s airstrike, which occurred on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Issa was the highest-ranking among the group, and was among the senior cadres who headed the group’s operations in Syria against the Sunni-led rebellion. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari) According to reports, Hezbollah was and has been been active in preventing rebel penetration from Syria to Lebanon, being one of the most active forces in the Syrian civil war spillover in Lebanon. Despite this, the U.S. sanctioned both the Syrian government and Hezbollah in 2012. Also that year, Russia and Iran sent military advisers to assist the Syrian government in quelling the terror groups, but Iranian troops were not on the ground fighting during this time. What was once a secular, diverse and peaceful nation, was looking more like it was on its way to becoming the next Afghanistan; its people living under Taliban-style rule as jihadists took over more land and conquered more cities. Effects of foreign meddling outweigh self-determinationIf you think that was hard to follow, you’re certainly not alone. Most sectarian civil wars are purposely crafted to pit sides against one another to allow for a “divide and conquer” approach that breaks larger concentrations of power into smaller factions that have more difficulty linking up. It’s a colonial doctrine that the British Empire famously used, and what we see taking place in Syria is no different. So, let’s get one thing straight: This is not about religion. It might be convenient to say that Arabs or Muslims kill each other, and it’s easy to frame these conflicts as sectarian to paint the region and its people as barbaric. But this Orientalist, overly simplistic view of conflict in the Middle East dehumanizes the victims of these wars to justify direct and indirect military action. If the truth was presented to the public from the perspective that these wars are about economic interests, most people would not support any covert funding and arming of rebels or direct intervention. In fact, the majority of the public would protest against war. But when something is presented to the public as a matter of good versus evil, we are naturally inclined to side with the “good” and justify war to fight off the supposed “evil.” The political rhetoric has been carefully crafted to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Ultimately, no matter the agendas, the alliances or instability brought on by foreign meddling, the calls for freedom, democracy and equality that erupted in 2011 were real then and they’re real today. And let’s not forget that the lack of freedom, democracy and equality have been brought on more by foreign meddling to prop up brutal dictators and arm terror groups than by self-determination. Refugee’s assist a fellow Refugee holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and refugees during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of refugees stuck on a no-man’s land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of refugees heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) The people in the Middle East once stood united and strong together against foreign meddling, exploitation and colonialism no matter their religious or cultural background. But today, the Middle East is being torn to shreds by manipulative plans to gain oil and gas access by pitting people against one another based on religion. The ensuing chaos provides ample cover to install a new regime that’s more amenable to opening up oil pipelines and ensuring favorable routes for the highest bidders. And in this push for energy, it’s the people who suffer most. In Syria, they are fleeing en masse. They’re waking up, putting sneakers on their little boys and girls, and hopping on boats without life jackets, hoping just to make it to another shore. They’re risking their lives, knowing full well that they may never reach that other shore, because the hope of somewhere else is better than the reality at home.
  19. They are protesting against the attack by ISIL that killed 32 people in the mainly Kurdish town of Suruc, but also against the government’s bombing of Kurdish militant positions. French Kurd Saleh Mustapha said: “Turkey is double-dealing. It’s trying to convince the international community that it’s fighting ISIS but in reality it’s targeting the Kurds.” Another French Kurd, Leon Edart, said: “We have seen people arrested but among the 600 people arrested, there were probably a hundred from ISIS and the rest were Kurds. In fact, we want the world to witness that.” Ankara denies claims by some Kurdish militants in Turkey that it has been covertly supporting ISIL against Syrian Kurds. Twitter posts related to the article at:
  20. Agreement allows U.S. to operate manned, unmanned planes from air base near Syrian border By DION NISSENBAUM in Washington, EMRE PEKER and AYLA ALBAYRAK in Istanbul Updated July 23, 2015 8:28 p.m. ET Turkey agreed to allow the U.S. to use air bases there to launch strikes against Islamic State forces in neighboring Syria, a major shift long sought by Washington and sealed... [need to subscribe to see full story at WSJ] Story from Fox News... The United States may now launch manned and unmanned military strikes against ISIS from inside Turkey, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Prior U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State have originated from aircraft carriers in the Gulf. Turkey agreed to allow the U.S. expanded use of its Incirlik Air Base, though Turkish military aircraft won’t be used in any operations against ISIS, according to Today’s Zaman, an English language daily based in Turkey. Incirlik is located near the Turkish-Syrian border. The U.S. currently has six Predator drones at the base, two of which will be armed with Hellfire missiles, according to Zaman. The news comes amid increasing violence along Turkey’s 560-mile long border with Syria. ISIS is believed to have been behind a suicide attack on Monday that killed 32 and injured 100 mostly Kurdish activists. Kurdish militants, many of whom blame Turkey for not doing more to stop ISIS, reportedly responded by killing two Turkish police officers. A border-area gunfight erupted Thursday between suspected-ISIS extremists and Turkish police, leaving at least one dead on each side. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the reported air base agreement during his Thursday briefing but he declined to discuss specifics. President Barack Obama spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday night in a conversation the White House said focused on Turkey’s border security.“The two leaders discussed efforts to deepen our cooperation in the fight against ISIL,” Earnest said.
  21. GREAT ARTICLE, LOTS OF INFO AND LINKS Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad 05/24/2015 15:20 -0400 inShare200 From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world's stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world's terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the "straight to beheading YouTube clip" purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one: use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria's president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe's dominant - and belligerent - source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war. The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year: But it's one thing to speculate; it's something entirely different to have hard proof. If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Clearly comprehending that Obama's new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that "such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa." And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this. That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the "leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people's heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to "modernize" and "replenish" the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq. According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.” But that the US military-industrial complex is a winner every time war breaks out anywhere in the world (usually with the assistance of the CIA) is clear to everyone by now. What wasn't clear is just how the US predetermined the current course of events in the middle east. Now, thanks to the following declassified report, we have a far better understanding of not only how current events in the middle east came to be, but what America's puppermaster role leading up to it all, was. From Nafeez Ahmed: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion', originally posted in Medium. Hypocrisy The revelations contradict the official line of Western government on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home. Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012. The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community. So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria. Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria. Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said: The West’s Islamists“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.” The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies. Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.” The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.” The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region. In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.” The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.” In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’). ‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entityIn a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.” Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”: “… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.” The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.” Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway. The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi. Such a quasi-state entity will provide: The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies. “… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.” In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said: The DIA did not respond to request for comment. “AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.” Strategic asset for regime-changeSecurity analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations: According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Battalion Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that: “Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.” “US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.” Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report — ?an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East?—?points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.” The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency?—?“there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that: The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely?—?but nevertheless strategically useful?—?blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.” “The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.” ComplicityCritics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria. The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported. However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency. Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq. As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion”?—?namely, the emergence of ISIS?—?“but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’” Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations: “This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.” She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.” This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were: “… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.” Divide and ruleSeveral US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS. US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS. But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates?—?that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers. The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report. The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.” The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance. The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.” The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.” The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria. The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers. In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims. Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.
  22. BY KATIE LAPOTIN (1 DAY AGO) | HEADLINES, WORLD Afghan intelligence agency NDS reported Friday that Hafiz Saeed (Khan), the leader of the Islamic State, or ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was recently killed via drone strike. The agency said, per CNN: “As a result of efforts made by the NDS, the location of ISIS fighters’ gathering was found and the information was shared with the coalition forces who then carried out an airstrike on them.” Saeed is believed to have perished along with about 30 other ISIS members in the strike on Achin in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. His death has yet to be independently confirmed. The Islamic State has yet to respond to the reports of Saeed’s death nor has the Afghan government confirmed the strike, per the BBC. He was previously rumored to have died while planting a bomb in April. He is not the same Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million bounty on his head for orchestrating the 2008 terror attacks on the city of Mumbai, India. Friday’s strike was carried out by American-led coalition forces in coordination with intelligence provided by the spy agency. A senior U.S. military official toldNBC News: “Were there some leaders among those killed? Probably, but we have no confirmation,” adding that there was no confirmation that Saeed was among the deceased. A similar strike conducted Tuesday reportedly killed Shahidullah Shahid, a former member of the Taliban who later defected to ISIS. Shahid’s death has also not been independently confirmed. Although the branch of ISIS in Afghanistan isn’t as big or successful as its Syrian or Iraqi counterparts, it has been tied to violence in recent months. A suicide bomber in April killed 33 people and injured more than 100 others in front of the Kabul Bank in Jalalabad.
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