Follow by Email

Monday, November 28, 2016

Daesh Criminals Dress as Women to Escape Justice



Iraqi special forces battling to clear Islamic State from eastern Mosul have killed nearly 1,000 militants but fighting has slowed as troops face a mobile enemy hidden among thousands of civilians in the city, a top commander said.

Six weeks into a major offensive, Iraqi forces have captured nearly half of eastern Mosul, moving from district to district against jihadist snipers, suicide attackers and car bombs.

Elite Iraqi troops, known as the "Golden Division", are the only brigades to have entered Mosul from the east, with Iraqi army, federal police and Kurdish Peshmerga units surrounding the city to the north and south. Shi'ite militias are trying to complete the encirclement from the west.

The U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service unit breached Islamic State's defenses at the end of October, but has been slowed by the militants' mobile tactics and concern over civilian casualties preventing the use of tanks and heavy armor.

Major General Abdul Ghani al-Asadi, one of the commanders of the special forces, said troops had adapted their tactics, surrounding one district at a time to cut off the militants' supplies and protect civilians.

"Progress was faster at the start. The reason is we were operating before in areas without residents," Asadi told Reuters in Bartella, on Mosul's outskirts.

"We have arrived in populated districts. So how do we protect civilians? We have sealed off district after district."

He said around 990 militants had been killed in fighting in the east so far. He would not say how many casualties there were among government special forces.

"We have made changes to plans, partly due to the changing nature of the enemy ... Daesh (Islamic State) is not based in one location, but moving from here to there," he said.

"Tanks don't work here, artillery is not effective. Planes from the coalition force and the air force are restricted because of the civilians."

THOUSANDS DISPLACED

The Iraqi government has asked civilians in Mosul to stay at home during the offensive, as humanitarian organizations say they cannot cope with an influx of hundred of thousands of people displaced from the city.

More than one million people are believed to remain in the city, the largest in northern Iraq.

Defeating Islamic State in Mosul, Islamic State's last major bastion in Iraq, is seen as vital to destroying the "caliphate" declared by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, from the pulpit of Mosul's Grand Mosque in July 2014.

But commanders have said the battle could take months. Dozens of districts must be taken in the east before attacking forces reach the Tigris River which splits Mosul into east and west. U.S. air strikes have taken out four of the five river bridges used by the militants.

RELATED COVERAGE

Iraqi special forces screen Mosul men in hunt for suicide bombers
Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, one of the army's top commanders, told Reuters that the western part of the city could be the more dangerous.

To the south, Iraqi army brigades are now advancing slowly on the remaining Islamic State-held villages before reaching the city limits. To the west, the mostly Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias known as Popular Mobilisation have cut off the highway to Syria, but they have yet to close in on the city.

"The force left in front of us is small, unable to stop our advance. Their spirit is broken," Asadi said.

"We have killed more than 992 fighters on our front plus more wounded ... Their supplies and communications to the outside world are cut. They stage fewer suicide bombings."

Iraqi military estimates initially put the number of insurgents in Mosul at 5,000 to 6,000, facing a 100,000-strong coalition force. But Asadi said the figure for the Islamic State presence may have been too high.

Iraqi authorities have not released estimates of civilian casualties but the United Nations says growing numbers of injured, both civilians and military, are overwhelming aid groups.

By Patrick Markey and Ulf Laessing | BARTELLA, IRAQ

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trump will “review” the Iran nuclear agreement, but will stop short of ripping up the pact.

Women in the Iranian Dictatorship risk Imprisonment and worse to defy conservative demands that women submit
A senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said the new US leader will “review” the Iran nuclear agreement, but will stop short of ripping up the landmark international pact. Walid Phares, one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers, also signaled that Trump might not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem immediately and indicated he would make negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a priority right off the bat. The comments appeared to represent a break with some comments made by other Trump advisers and the president-elect himself, and highlighted persisting confusion over what the contours of a Trump administration’s foreign policy may look like. Speaking to BBC Radio on Thursday, Phares said the nuclear deal, which Trump has railed against and vowed to dismantle, would instead be renegotiated with Tehran. “Ripping up is maybe a too strong of word, he’s gonna take that agreement, it’s been done before in international context, and then review it,” he said, according to a CNN recording of the interview. “He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion,” Phares added. “It could be a tense discussion but the agreement as is right now — $750 billion to the Iranian regime without receiving much in return and increasing intervention in four countries — that is not going to be accepted by the Trump administration.” During the election campaign, Trump described the nuclear deal as “disastrous” and said it would be his “number one priority” to dismantle it. Yet he also sowed confusion when he said he would demand greater oversight over the deal and enforce it, at a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC in March. In that same speech, he also said he would dismantle the deal. “We must enforce the terms of the previous deal to hold Iran totally accountable. And we will enforce it like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me,” he said then. On Thursday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner warned that nothing was stopping Trump from tearing up the agreement, rebuffing comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the pact was enshrined by the United Nations Security Council and could therefore not be canceled by one party. The agreement, reached in July 2014 to thwart suspected work toward an atomic weapon, requires Iran to curb its nuclear enrichment activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Israel was and remains the world’s leading critic of the deal, calling it a “historic mistake” and arguing that it falls woefully short of preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Toner said if Trump pulls out of the agreement, it could fall apart and lead to Iran restarting work toward a bomb. It’s not clear if Iran, which remains deeply distrustful of the United States and has complained of receiving a raw deal under the nuclear pact, would be open to renegotiating the agreement, the hard-fought result of years of intensive diplomatic activity. Will move embassy ‘under consensus’ Phares also told the BBC that while Trump was committed to moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as other presidential candidates have vowed, he would not do so unilaterally. “Many presidents of the United States have committed to do that, and he said as well that he will do that, but he will do it under consensus,” Phares said. Phares did not elaborate on what consensus would be sought for such a move, which would break with decades of precedent and put Washington at odds with nearly all United Nations member states. A number of Israeli politicians, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, have seized on Trump’s victory by asking him to make good on his promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and move the embassy there, breaking with long-standing US policy to await a final status agreement on the city. During the campaign, Trump called Jerusalem “the eternal capital” of Israel and said he was “100 percent for” moving the embassy there. Earlier Thursday, Trump Israel adviser Jason Dov Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio that the president-elect would make good on his promise. “I think if he said it, he’s going to do it,” Greenblatt said. “He is different for Israel than any recent president there has been, and I think he’s a man who keeps his word. He recognizes the historical significance of the Jewish people to Jerusalem, unlike, say, UNESCO.” The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: CC-BY Krokodyl, Wikimedia Commons) The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. (CC-BY Krokodyl, Wikimedia Commons) Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver, citing the national security interests of the United States, despite repeated campaign promises. Phares also indicated efforts for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would be a top agenda item for Trump, casting doubt on a claim by Greenblatt that Trump would not necessarily prioritize trying to push the Israelis and Palestinians into peace negotiations. “He is ready and he will immediately move to try and solve the problem between Palestinian and Israelis,” Phares said. “He told me personally that, as the author of ‘The Art of the Deal,’ it’s not going to be impossible for him to broker a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. At least he’s going to go in that direction and not waste eight years — four years for now — not doing something for the Palestinians and Israelis.” Jason Dov Greenblatt, Donald Trump's top real estate lawyer and an Orthodox Jew, is one of three members on the Republican nominee's Israel Advisory Committee. (JTA/Uriel Heilman) Jason Dov Greenblatt, Donald Trump’s top real estate lawyer and an Orthodox Jew, is one of three members on the Republican nominee’s Israel Advisory Committee. (JTA/Uriel Heilman) On Wednesday, Greenblatt told The Times of Israel that Trump would only prioritize solving the conflict if that’s what the sides wanted him to do. “He will make it a priority if the Israelis and Palestinians want to make it a priority,” Greenblatt said. “He’s not going to force peace upon them, it will have to come from them.” The gap in signals coming out of Trump’s camp is consistent with frustration some have pointed to in trying to demystify what Trump’s foreign policy will be. In comments published in German weekly Der Spiegel Thursday, Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was urgent for the incoming US administration to set out its positions quickly since “very many questions are open” on its foreign policy. Steinmeier said he had spoken several times with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about what President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policies might look like. But Steinmeier said even Kissinger had no insights to offer. “Many have already tried to read a foreign policy doctrine, or at least clear and coherent positions, out of Donald Trump’s comments. Without much success,” Steinmeier said. In Israel, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Thursday that Israeli officials were viewing Trump as “a puzzle,” without a clear sense of whether he will match his words with actions or how he will manage ties with Jerusalem. Others close to the Israeli government, though, said the new US president will fall closer in line with their views than the current administration. Tzachi Hanegbi, a minister-without-portfolio who is a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Thursday that the Iran nuclear deal and construction over the Green Line — the two most contentious topics between the Obama administration and Netanyahu — will no longer be a source of tension between Israel and the United States under a Trump presidency. “On both of these issues, our view was much different than Obama’s, while it is likely much more similar to that of Trump,” Hanegbi told Army Radio. The Associated Press contributed to this report

Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel

Never Again!


website page counter