Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα airstrikes. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα airstrikes. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 05, 2017

Δευτέρα, Φεβρουαρίου 23, 2015

Egypt Calls for Joint Arab Defense Force

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi told his countrymen, in a televised national address late Sunday, that Egypt is hoping to be part of a new Arab joint defense force, which is now under consideration by the Arab League.
Sissi insisted Egypt has always sought to defend itself “from inside its own borders,” without intentionally aggressing its neighbors. He defended his military action in neighboring Libya, saying 13 terrorist sites were attacked in retaliation for the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants.

He insists Egypt's army does not attack any country or invade its land. Recently, and until now, he says Egypt has defended its territory without leaving its borders.

The Egyptian leader also brought up the topic of putting together a joint Arab defense force, a subject that was discussed at last week's meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.

He says the need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day due to the challenges the region is facing. He added the region will be able to overcome such challenges when it unites.

Both the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have expressed support for Egypt during the recent conflict in Libya and the killings of its citizens. But Qatar criticized the Egyptian airstrikes in Libya and has been at loggerheads with Egypt's military-backed government since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Al Hayat newspaper recently noted a joint Arab defense pact already exists, dating back to 1950. A number of Arab states have fought alongside Egypt in its conflicts with Israel. Egypt also participated in the 1991 Gulf War to liberate Kuwait.

American University of Beirut political science Professor Hilal Khashan says all previous efforts of Arab states to form a joint military force since 1948, “on the eve of the Palestine War [which led to the creation of Israel] have failed.”

But Khashan points out Saudi Arabia's new King Salman has been pondering the formation of a “joint Sunni force,” including Egypt and its arch-rival Turkey.

“The new Saudi King Salman, in his bid to open up to the [Muslim] Brotherhood, has been applying pressure on [President] Sissi to resolve his conflicts with the Brotherhood so that relations between Turkey and Egypt can be improved. Salman wants to create a Sunni [Arab] force, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey,” said Khashan.

Given the current tensions between Egypt and Turkey, which is now home to a number of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the probability of forming such a force is questionable.

Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 07, 2014

Syria: Israeli jets bomb army facilities near Damascus airport. (no reports of casualties)

Syrian media reported on Sunday evening that Israeli jets had bombed targets near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, north of Damascus and near the border with Lebanon.
There were no reports of casualties in the reports, but the general command of the Syrian army said in a statement that several facilities had been hit, both at the Damascus International Airport and in the area of Dimas.

According to the reports, the Israeli air force flew at least 10 sorties over the Dimas area and attacked several military targets. Residents of Damascus reported hearing loud explosions on the outskirts of the city

  • Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied the reports and it is unclear how reliable they are.
  • "This aggression proves Israel's direct involvement in supporting terror in Syria, along with other Arab and regional countries," the Syrian military command said..

"The Israeli attack was designed to lift the morale of the terror groups, primarily Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State, after the blows they have received from the Syrian army."

  • Lebanese sources that the Israeli air force had been flying over southern Lebanon since Sunday morning. It was not specified whether the planes entered Syrian air space or fired from within Lebanese air space."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a planned live video broadcast on Sunday evening due to "events in Jerusalem." The premier made do with a short, pre-recorded speech to the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum, being held in Washington.

Earlier, during the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel "is following the Middle East and what is happening very closely, with wide open eyes and ears – and a lot is happening.

"We will continue to keep our fingers on the pulse and we will deal with these threats and these challenges, which never take time off. We will deal with them with the same responsibility that we have demonstrated until now." 


Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 08, 2014

Turkey: 18 killed in Kurdish protests

At least 18 people have been killed in pro-Kurdish protests in southeast Turkey, the Anadulo news agency reported on Wednesday.
The protesters were angry at Ankara’s lack of action to protect Kurdish population of the Syrian border town of Kobane from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Eight of the deaths came in Turkey’s main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir where the most intense rioting took place overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, a local security official told AFP.

The clashes with police caused extensive damage in the city with shop fronts burned-out and buses set on fire.

The other deaths were reported in violent protests in Mardin, Siirt, Batman and Mus, all cities in the southeast of Turkey.

In a measure unprecedented in the last years, the Turkish army has deployed in the streets of the cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van to impose a curfew.

Schools were closed in Diyarbakir and fights were cancelled, reports said. The protests had first broken out on Monday night but Tuesday’s clashes were more severe.

Police also used tear gas and water cannon to disperse angry pro-Kurdish protests in Istanbul and Ankara.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has so far not intervened militarily against ISIS militants fighting to seize majority-Kurdish border town of Kobane, to the fury of Turkey’s Kurds.

More than 160,000 have fled Kobane since the Islamist militants began their assault on the city three weeks ago.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the Kurdish protests supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “invite terror and chaos to Turkey,” the Anadulo news agency reported.
“Nobody has the right to disturb the peace and stability in Turkey using developments in a foreign territory as a pretext,” Kurtulmus added.
Turkey considers the PKK as a terrorist organization and refuses to support the PKK-offshoot fighting ISIS in the town of Kobane.
(With AFP)

Τρίτη, Οκτωβρίου 07, 2014

Turkey asks US to ramp up air strikes against Islamic State

Turkey has asked the United States to step up air strikes to keep Islamic State militants (ISIS/ISIL) from seizing a key Syrian Kurdish border town, a senior Turkish official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

"Our government and our related institutions have emphasized to US officials the necessity of immediately ramping up air bombardment in a more active and efficient way," Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said, according to comments published on the website of the television channel AHaber.

Islamic State fighters advancing into the southwest of Kobani has increased pressure on Ankara to intervene in the conflict. Criticism is moutning from Turkey's own Kurdish community, who accuse it of inaction.

NATO member Turkey has so far taken in more than 180,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees fleeing Kobani. But it has not joined a US-led coalition against Sunni insurgents, saying the campaign should aim to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad.


Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 29, 2014

US-led airstrikes fail to deter ISIS advance

US-led coalition air raids targeted areas in Syria controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group Monday, but the group continue to advance on the strategic town of Kobani.

Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the Islamic State extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition forces hit IS group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, facilities overnight in Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour provinces. It said there were casualties, including civilians, but did not have exact figures.

Meanwhile, IS group fighters closed in Monday to within only a few kilometres of a key Kurdish town on Syria’s border with Turkey, despite continued airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

The jihadists managed to advance within five kilometres (three miles) of the strategic Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane to the Kurds, the Observatory said.

The Britain-based monitoring group said it was the closest IS group militants had come to the town since they began advancing toward it nearly two weeks ago.

The jihadists fired at least 15 rockets at the town centre, killing at least one person, as they advanced, the Observatory said, adding that other rockets hit the Syrian-Turkish border.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s government said it would ask parliament to debate joining the coalition against the jihadists operating on the country’s doorstep from as early as Thursday.

Civilian casualties

One of the coalition strikes hit a grain silo in the extremist-held town of Manbij in Aleppo province, setting it ablaze. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said the strike on the grain silo killed civilians, but he didn’t have an exact number.

“They killed only civilians there, workers at the site. There was no ISIS inside,” he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group. The airstrikes “destroyed the food that was stored there.”

US military says it targeted IS vehicles adjacent to grain storage facility in Syria and that there was no evidence of civilian casualties.

Strikes touch Turkish border, Syria’s largest gas plant

In Deir el-Zour province, a strike overnight attributed to the coalition hit the entrance to the Conoco gas plant, Syria’s largest, according to the Observatory, although the facility itself was not damaged.

More raids Monday morning struck the town of Tel Abyad on the Syria-Turkey border, according to a resident on the Turkish side on the frontier.

Mehmet Ozer told The Associated Press by telephone that the raids had hit an abandoned military base and an empty school, sending pillars of smoke and dust into the air. He said Islamic State fighters cleared out of the military base about three or four months ago.

“They (the coalition) must not have fresh intelligence,” Ozer said.

Two shells from the fighting on the Syrian side of the border landed on Turkish soil in the town of Suruc, an AP journalist on the frontier said. Turkey’s military moved tanks away from the army post in the area, positioning them instead on a hill overlooking the border.

IS attacks continue despite mobilised international community

The IS group has seized control of a huge chunk of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, and has declared the establishment of a self-styled caliphate ruled by its strict interpretation of Shariah law.

Its brutal tactics, which include mass killings and beheadings, have helped galvanize the international community to react with military intervention.

The US-led campaign aims to roll back the extremists’ gains in Syria and Iraq, and ultimately to destroy the group.

The coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan. Several European countries also are contributing to US efforts to strike the IS in Iraq, including France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Britain.

However, despite the international efforts, Islamic State fighters have pressed ahead with their offensive against Syria’s Kurds in the city of Ayn Arab, also known as Kobani, on the Turkish border.

Ismet Sheikh Hassan, a senior official in the Kobani region for the Kurdish militia, said the extremists fired rockets and tank shells at the city from the southeast, while some 1,000 militants amassed to the west. He said a 50-year-old woman was killed by the shelling.

More than 100,000 people have fled across the border to Turkey to escape the onslaught, while the US-led coalition on Saturday targeted the attacking Islamic State fighters for the first time to try to stem their advance.

Civilian casualties in airstrikes

The purported civilian casualties in Manbij would add to the 19 civilians that the Observatory says have already been killed in the coalition airstrikes. The Observatory gathers its information from a network of activists across Syria.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch said that it had confirmed the deaths of at least seven civilians- two women and five children from apparent US missile strikes on Sept. 23 in the village of Kafr Derian in Idlib province. The New York-based group said two men were also killed in the strikes, but that they may have been militants.

It based its conclusions on conversations with three local residents.

“The United States and its allies in Syria should be taking all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The US government should investigate possible unlawful strikes that killed civilians, publicly report on them, and commit to appropriate redress measures in case of wrongdoing.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)



Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 23, 2014

Obama vows more strikes on ISIL in Syria. (the US is not fighting alone)

US President Barack Obama has said that the participation of five Arab nations in Syria airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters "makes it clear to the world this is not America's fight alone".
In a short statement on Tuesday, hours after the first US-led airstrikes hit the group's headquarters in eastern Syria, Obama vowed to continue the fight, which he said was vital to the security of the United States, the Middle East and the world.

"Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people," Obama said on Tuesday before leaving the White House for the United Nations in New York.
He said the joint fight against ISIL would take time, pledging to build more international support for the effort.
He added that the US was proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates in conducting the strikes.

'Lengthy campaign'
The US-led military coalition launched the airstrikes early on Tuesday, pounding strongholds of the ISIL fighters across northern and eastern Syria.
The opening salvo hit in what Obama warned to be a lengthy campaign aiming to defeat the group who have seized control of a huge swath of territory spanning the Syria-Iraq border.
The air campaign expanded to also hit al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, known as the al-Nusra Front, which has fought against ISIL. Washington considers it a terror group threatening the US.
Syria's Foreign Ministry said Washington told Damascus' envoy to the United Nations of the impending raids shortly before they began. It also said US Secretary of State John Kerry passed a message through Iraq's foreign minister to Syria's top diplomat to inform Damascus of the plans.
John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon, said on Tuesday that more than 160 munitions were fired on ISIL targets in Syria. He said that the US had no indication so far that any civilians were killed during the strikes, adding that assessments were under way.

Strikes on training compounds
The US and five Arab countries began their airstrikes on the group's targets in Syria around 3 am on Tuesday Syrian time. 
Bahrain and the UAE confirmed the Gulf role, saying their air forces struck "terrorist sites and positions."
A Jordanian government spokesman also confirmed his country's air forces took part, accusing the ISIL of trying to infiltrate its borders.
"We will not hesitate to take further actions to target and kill terrorists who are trying to attack our country," said Mohammad al-Momani, a government spokesman.
The strikes hit the group's training compounds and command centers, storage facilities and vehicles in its de facto capital Raqqa, in northeastern Syria, and the surrounding province as well as the stretch of territory controlled by the group in eastern Syria leading to the Iraqi border, including the areas of Deir el-Zour, Abu Kamal and Hasaka, according to US officials.

'Silently slaughtered'
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 70 ISIL fighters were killed and more than 300 wounded in Raqqa and the east. The Observatory has a network of activists around the country.
Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Observatory, said about 22 airstrikes hit Raqqa province in addition to 30 in Deir el-Zour province.
Among the targets was a military air base captured by the extremists in the town of Tabqa and the town of Tel Abyad on the border with Turkey, the Observatory and another media collective reported.
The collective, entitled "Raqqa is being silently slaughtered," said the strikes also hit the governorate headquarters in Raqqa and the Brigade 93 Syrian army base, both controlled by the Islamic State group.
Further west, the strikes hit the village of Kfar Derian, a al-Nusra Front stronghold.
Around a dozen al-Nusra Front fighters were killed as well as 10 civilians, according to two activists based in nearby Aleppo, Mohammed al-Dughaim and Abu Raed. One of the group's best snipers, known as Abu Youssef al-Turki, was among those killed, al-Dughaim said.
An amateur video posted online on Tuesday shows explosions said to be from airstrikes going off at night in an open area near Kfar Derian. Another video taken in daylight shows locals standing on a massive, dusty pile of shattered concrete blocks and twisted rebar. Some villagers can be seen standing on a rooftop next door gazing at the wreckage.

Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 16, 2014

US to strike ISIL 'sanctuaries' in Syria

US plans to carry out air strikes against Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in Syria and will target the group's sanctuaries, command centres and logistic networks, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel has told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"This plan includes targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria, including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure," Hagel told the Committee on Tuesday.
But the US military's top-ranking officer, General Martin Dempsey, told the same hearing that the bombing would not resemble the large-scale raids that accompanied the start of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Commanders at the time dubbed the campaign a bid to provoke "shock and awe" among ex-president Saddam Hussein's troops.
"This will not look like 'shock and awe' because that is not how ISIL is organised, but it will be persistent and sustainable," Dempsey said.
Military leaders warned of a further escalation in their battle against ISIL just as two branches of the rival al-Qaeda group called for a united front against the war coalition Washington is building.
  • US warplanes have been targeting the group's fighters in northern Iraq since August 8, and in recent days hit its fighters southwest of Baghdad for the first time, in a significant expansion of the campaign.
  • The US strikes against ISIL fighters in the Sadr al-Yusufiyah area, 25km from Baghdad, was the first in support of Iraqi forces near the capital.
They bring the number of US air strikes across Iraq to 162. The CIA estimates that the ISIL may be able to field as many as 31,500 fighters - many of them foreign volunteers.
Obama has vowed to expand American efforts and US diplomats are scrambling to put together an international coalition for a "relentless" campaign against ISIL.
The slow coming together of this alliance drew a fierce reaction from al-Qaeda's branches in Yemen and in North Africa, who said jihadist forces must also unite against the common threat.
In a joint statement, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) urged their "brothers" in Iraq and Syria to "stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all."

Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 26, 2014

US Aware of Egyptian, UAE Air Strikes in Libya

WASHINGTON. —The U.S. State Department on Tuesday acknowledged for the first time it was aware of air strikes in Libya by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in recent days.

Until now Washington would not talk about the involvement of Egypt and the UAE in the air strikes against militia in the capital Tripoli.

“We understand there were air strikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt” in Libya, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a daily briefing with reporters.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, speaking to reporters, declined to give details of why the Obama administration believed those two countries conducted the mysterious strikes.

Three years after rebels toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is sinking deeper into chaos as armed factions battle in various cities and two rival legislatures compete for power.
Reuters, voanews.com

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 18, 2014

Pope backs action to protect Iraq minorities if U.N. OKs

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis on Monday endorsed the use of force to stop Islamist militants from attacking religious minorities in Iraq but said the international community — and not just one country — should decide how to intervene.

Francis also said he and his advisers were considering whether he might go to northern Iraq himself to show solidarity with persecuted Christians. But he said he was holding off for now on a decision.
In other comments to journalists returning from South Korea, Francis confirmed he hoped to travel to the United States in September 2015 for a possible three-city tour: to attend a family rally in Philadelphia and to address Congress in Washington and the United Nations in New York. He said a Mexico stop on that trip was possible but not decided yet. He also said he might make one-day visit to Spain next year.

On Iraq, Francis was asked if he approved of the unilateral U.S. airstrikes on militants of the Islamic State who have captured swaths of northern and western Iraq and northeastern Syria and have forced minority Christians and others to either convert to Islam or flee their homes.

"In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor," Francis said. "I underscore the verb 'stop.' I'm not saying 'bomb' or 'make war,' just 'stop.' And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated."

But, he said, in history, such "excuses" to stop an unjust aggression have been used by world powers to justify a "war of conquest" in which an entire people have been taken over.

"One nation alone cannot judge how you stop this, how you stop an unjust aggressor," he said, apparently referring to the United States. "After World War II, the idea of the United Nations came about: It's there that you must discuss 'Is there an unjust aggression? It seems so. How should we stop it?' Just this. Nothing more."

His comments were significant because the Vatican has vehemently opposed any military intervention in recent years, with St. John Paul II actively trying to head off the Iraq war and Francis himself staging a global prayer and fast for peace when the U.S. was threatening airstrikes on Syria last year.

But the Vatican has been increasingly showing support for military intervention in Iraq, given that Christians are being directly targeted because of their faith and that Christian communities which have existed for 2,000 years have been emptied as a result of the extremists' onslaught.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes against Islamic State fighters on Aug. 8, allowing Kurdish forces to fend off an advance on their regional capital of Irbil and to help tens of thousands of religious minorities escape.

Church teaching allows for "just wars," when military force can be justified under certain circumstances. And in recent days, a few Vatican officials have edged increasingly toward acknowledging the Iraq situation fits the bill.

When the Vatican's ambassador to Iraq, Monsignor Giorgio Lingua, was asked about the U.S. airstrikes, he told Vatican Radio that it was unfortunate that the situation had gotten to this point "but it's good when you're able to at the very least remove weapons from these people who have no scruples."
  • The Vatican's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, went further, saying "Maybe military action is necessary at this moment."
Francis sent a personal envoy, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, to northern Iraq last week with an undisclosed amount of money to help people in flight and show the pope's solidarity with those forced to flee their homes..............................http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/08/18/pope-oks-protecting-iraq-minorities-wants-un-ok/14241193/18/8/14

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 09, 2014

Obama warns Iraq operation could take time

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday U.S. airstrikes have destroyed arms and equipment that Islamic State insurgents could have used to attack Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, but warned the current operation in Iraq could take some time.

“I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks. This is going to take some time,” Obama told reporters.
“This is going to be a long-term project,” he said during a brief news conference before leaving Washington for a two-week vacation in Massachusetts.

Obama said the United States would continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Baghdad government and Kurdish forces, but stressed repeatedly the importance of Iraq forming its own inclusive government.

“I think this a wake-up call for a lot of Iraqis inside of Baghdad recognizing that we’re going to have to rethink how we do business if we’re going to hold our country together,” Obama said.

Obama on Thursday authorized the U.S. military to make airdrops of humanitarian assistance to prevent what he called a potential “genocide” of the ancient Yazidi religious sect in Iraq and conduct targeted strikes on Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, a limited operation to protect American officials working in the country.

In Saturday’s remarks, Obama described next steps, including creating a safe corridor for the Yazidis to leave the mountain. He also said longer-term operations must include counter-terrorism.

Last Update: Saturday, 9 August 2014 KSA 19:08 - GMT 16:08 

Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 10, 2014

Egypt set to receive wounded Palestinians via border crossing (Rafah crossing point)

Egypt opened its Rafah crossing point bordering the Palestinian Gaza Strip on Thursday to receive wounded Palestinians by Israeli air strikes, a security official at the crossing told Xinhua.

More than 45 Egyptians who were stuck at the border after the Israeli air strike on Gaza along with the injured Palestinians were expected to arrive, but still no one showed up fearing the strike, added the official on condition of anonymity.

Arish hospitals in north Sinai have been placed on alert with all necessary equipment and blood donation to cure the Palestinians, Adel Adawi, Egyptian Health Minister said in a statement.

The minister added more than 30 ambulances are prepared at the border with emergency and intensive care teams to help the medical teams in north Sinai and providing the medical treatment in Arish and Sheikh Zuwid Hospitals.

Another four hospitals in Cairo were also ready to receive those in serious conditions, the minister added.

The crossing, the sole one for the Palestinian coastal enclave which has been under an Israeli blockade, is usually closed for security reasons as the restive Sinai Peninsula has been witnessing a surge of attacks by hard-line militants against the police and army institutions since the ouster of the Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi one year ago............http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/869900.shtml

  • Putin urges Netanyahu to stop armed standoff in southern Israel...

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that armed confrontation in southern Israel and in the Gaza Strip leading to numerous victims among civilians should be stopped as soon as possible. The Kremlin press-service reported this on Thursday.

Τρίτη, Ιουνίου 24, 2014

ISIS positions in Iraq bombed by unknown planes (a new reality and a new Iraq)

The positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL) in the northern Iraqi city of al-Qaim were bombed by unknown fighter planes on Tuesday.

The White House denied U.S. planes carried out the airstrikes after an Iraqi television station reported that U.S. jets were behind the bombings.

Tribal sources told Al Arabiya News that Syrian fighter planes carried out the raids.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s air force has bombed Baiji - about 200km north of Baghdad, where ISIS fighters seized an oil refinery, according to Al Arabiya's correspondent.

Also on Tuesday, Iraq’s ambassador to Tehran said that the Iraqi government has not asked Iran for help against Sunni militants, Agence France-Presse reported.

The remarks by Mohammad Madjid al-Sheikh came after Iranian leaders repeatedly said they were ready to assist Baghdad against the insurgency that has taken control of a large swathe of Iraqi territory.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held crisis talks with leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday urging them to stand with Baghdad in the face of the waves of insurgency gripping the country.

  • During his visit, Kerry was warned by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani that the rapid advances made by insurgents had already created “a new reality and a new Iraq,” signaling that the U.S. faces major difficulties in its efforts to promote unity among the country's divided factions, the Associated Press reported.
The U.N., meanwhile, said more than 1,000 people, most civilians, have been killed in Iraq so far this month, the highest death toll since the U.S. military withdrew from the country in December 2011.
Last Update: Tuesday, 24 June 2014 KSA 21:19 - GMT 18:19 


Τετάρτη, Μαΐου 07, 2014

Syrian opposition asks for anti-aircraft arms from US. -- Washington has consistently resisted previous requests

The head of the Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces called for the U.S. to supply anti-aircraft weapons to rebels who have been dealt serious blows by Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s air force.

“We do have a problem with the air forces, the air raids and the barrel bombs,” said Ahmad Jarba, the president of the Syrian National Coalition while speaking at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington Wednesday. “This is making our life a nightmare, so we want weapons that will be able to neutralize the air force.”

  • Washington has consistently resisted previous requests for anti-aircraft weaponry, however, fearing that militants could use them against civilian aircraft.

Jarba’s call comes as rebel forces withdrew from the highly symbolic city of Homs, known as the “capital of the revolution,” following two years of bloody clashes and blockades by the Syrian military. Homs was one of the first cities to participate in anti-government protests, which led to a strong handed clampdown by Syrian security forces eventually embroiling the entire country in civil war.

Still, the opposition leader has insisted that he does not want U.S. forces to enter the fray.

  • “We do not want from the West, from the United States, from the East, we do not want them to send their sons to our country, we do not want for Americans to die in Syria as they died in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Jarba. “We do want them to face terrorism.”

  • He thanked the U.S. for its political support.

Jarba is leading a week-long delegation of Syrian opposition leaders to Washington during which time he will meet with members of the U.S. Congress, the State Department and the National Security Council.

  • Earlier this week, the U.S. announced that it will grant the Syrian Opposition’s offices in Washington and New York foreign mission status, and provide the group with a further $27 million in nonlethal assistance.

Σάββατο, Οκτωβρίου 05, 2013

Afghans allege civilian deaths in NATO raid. -Officials say children among five killed in Nangarhar, but US-led coalition says initial reports show no civilians dead.

At least five civilians, including three children, have been killed in a NATO air attack in eastern Afghanistan, according to government officials.
The civilians, aged between 12 and 20, were killed overnight on Friday while they were out hunting birds in the area of Saracha, a few miles from Jalalabad city, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal, provincial police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.
However, the US-led coalition said that it targeted fighters and that its initial reports indicate no civilian casualties.

Lieutenant-Colonel Will Griffin, a spokesman for the coalition, told the Associated Press news agency that the attack near an airport used by NATO forces was a "precision coordinated strike".

But Mashreqiwal said: "Last night around 11 pm, five civilians aged between 12 and 20 carrying air guns wanted to go hunting birds some eight kilometres from the centre of the city of Jalalabad.
"They were targeted and killed by a foreign forces air strike."
Their bodies were brought to the central hospital, he said.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a Nangarhar spokesman, confirmed the incident.
Mohammad Atif Shinwari, spokesman for the Nangarhar education department, said: "Three of the civilians killed in the airstrike were school children, two were brothers."

Source of friction
Civilian casualties during NATO operations have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and US-led NATO troops, who are winding down operations as they prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.
Last month, a NATO air raid killed at least 16 civilians, including women and children, in neighbouring Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack hit a pickup vehicle and killed all on board, Afghan officials said. However, NATO denied that civilians died in the attack, saying the strike had killed fighters.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban launched their insurgency in 2001 after being ousted in a US-led invasion.
As NATO troops wind down operations and Afghan security forces take charge of security responsibility countrywide, violence has been on the increase.
More than 1,000 civilians were killed and around 2,000 others were injured in the first half of 2013, according to a UN report, a 23 percent increase from the same period last year.

Δευτέρα, Μαΐου 06, 2013

Contemplating Syria, Hezbollah retaliation ....

Move to deflect focus from the Syrian battle to the Israeli front could provide relief for the constant media and international attention that has been focused on the Syrian conflict.

The alleged attacks by Israel against Syria, supposedly targeting an arms facility and advanced Iranian surface-to-surface missiles believed to be headed for Hezbollah, raises pressure on the Syrian regime and the Lebanese terrorist organization to make a concrete attack against Israel.

With what could be reportedly ongoing Israeli bombardments of Syrian territory for the entire world to see, it is now hard to fathom that Syria and Hezbollah would allow for much more loss of face before responding.

In what is reported to be the third attack by Israel on Syria this year, and with more airstrikes possibly coming, the pressure is increasing for some sort of response. While it is possible that Hezbollah could resort to attacking soft Jewish or Israeli targets abroad, as it has done before, it also may respond directly against Israel.

The Shi’ite axis of Hezbollah and Iran have suffered tremendously in the eyes of the Sunni world for its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad. It seems shared animosity has, for now, trumped Israel’s alleged actions against Assad’s regime, which is viciously defending itself against a Sunni-led opposition.

Perhaps quietly, many of the Sunnis were cheering the attack, but publicly, the Arabs fell into line.

Assad and Hezbollah are now desperate for a new public relations program.

According to an article by Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a speech last week by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah shifted the group’s rhetoric to focus on its protection of Shi’ite shrines in Syria and its role in the resistance against Israel.

In this light, stated Badran, Nasrallah’s second trip to Iran in the past two weeks was perhaps a chance for Iran to offer its partner strategic guidance on refocusing on a winning slogan – resistance against Israel.

“Hezbollah’s effort to link its role in Syria with the struggle against [the Jewish state] explains [its] decision to send [a] drone over Israel last week,” Badran said.

This was also confirmed on Sunday by a report in the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, which stated that the Islamic Jihad, which is closely allied with Iran, said it would respond for the attacks on Syria.

“Syria has its hands full, but I’m surprised the regime hasn’t attacked Israel already as a way of deflecting attention to the common Israeli enemy,” Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow and director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, and the former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Department of the Treasury, told The Jerusalem Post.

“As for Iran and Hezbollah, they’re already at full tilt in a shadow war against Israel and the West,” he said.

A move to deflect the focus from the Syrian battle to the Israeli front could provide relief for the constant media and international attention that has been focused on the Syrian conflict.

At the same time, Hezbollah and Syria know they would pay severely for any direct attack on Israel, but how much longer can they absorb Israeli attacks without responding? 


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