The Living Force
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WASHINGTON — Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Keating IV died Tuesday in an Iraq village as he helped rescue fellow U.S. servicemembers under attack from Islamic State fighters, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Navy SEAL killed in Iraq was part of force sent to rescue advisers (Video)

“He is an American hero,” Col. Steve Warren said of Keating, the third U.S. combat death in Iraq since U.S. forces returned there in 2014 to help Iraq fight the Islamic State group.

The 31-year-old Navy SEAL was part of a quick reaction force called to help U.S. advisers beat back the early-morning surprise attack by the terrorist group, said Warren, the Baghdad-based spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.

It “was a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently,” Warren said Wednesday as he described the battle to reporters. “There were bullets everywhere.”

It started about 7:30 a.m.

About 12 U.S. advisers arrived in the village of Teleskof on Tuesday for a meeting with peshmerga fighters to help them with training and equipment, Warren said.

Unknown to the advisers, and undetected by U.S. surveillance, the Islamic State group had assembled about 125 fighters and 20 vehicles to the south and were about to breach the peshmerga defenses — a series of guarded outposts and checkpoints, he said.

“The enemy was able to very covertly assemble enough force, which included several truck bombs, some bulldozers and, of course, their infantry,” Warren said. “They were able to punch through the Kurdish line there … and really sprint towards Teleskof, which was their objective.”

The Pentagon has repeatedly lauded its visibility and control of the battlespace in Iraq over the last several months, noting increased airstrikes and gains by Iraqi forces have made it nearly impossible for Islamic State fighters to move in large groups. On Wednesday, Warren said, this time, the forces were able to mass undetected, possibly by assembling in smaller groups in nearby areas.

At about 7:50 a.m., the Islamic State fighters reached the U.S. advisers and an intense battle ensued, he said. The advisers, typically culled from Army special forces units, fought back.

But they “could not get away,” Warren said. Keating’s quick reaction force was called to help.

U.S. airpower responded too. The air assault included A-10 ground attack aircraft, F-16 and F-15 fighter jets and the B-52 heavy bomber. Eleven aircraft launched 31 strikes against Islamic State militants as they fought with the U.S. and peshmerga forces. U.S. aircraft destroyed two additional Islamic State truck bombs. About half of the 125 Islamic State fighters in the battle Tuesday were killed.

At about 9:25 a.m., the Islamic State fighters detonated a truck bomb near the U.S. position. Minutes later, Keating was hit by gunfire.

Black Hawk medevac helicopters responded and transported Keating at about 10:19 a.m. The helicopters, damaged by gunfire, were still able to get Keating to a U.S. military field hospital in Irbil, Warren said. But Keating did not make it.

“His wound was not survivable,” Warren said.

Keating was lauded and mourned Tuesday in his home state of Arizona where Gov. Doug Ducey ordered the flags lowered to half-staff until he is brought home and buried.

ISIS forces attacked and overran the northern Iraqi town of Tel Asqof, near the major ISIS city of Mosul, with a number of suicide vehicle bombers forcing their way in through Kurdish forces, and fighting heavily. Among the slain in what officials are confirming is “direct combat” was a US Navy SEAL, Charles Keating IV.
As Obama Promised No Boots On The Ground In Iraq, US Navy Seal Killed In ISIS Attack

This is the third US soldier killed in fighting on the ground in Iraq since the latest war began in 2014, despite repeated assurances from the Obama Administration that there would be “no boots on the ground” in Iraq whatsoever.

Despite those repeated pledges, some 5,000 US troops are presently in Iraq, and a growing number of them are on the front lines. They may not officially be labeled “combat troops,” but the reality of their situation is unmistakable, and Pentagon officials have repeatedly confirmed that many are in fact routinely engaging in combat.

In addition to the SEAL, Kurdish officials claim at least 10 of their Peshmerga fighters were killed, along with an estimated 80 ISIS fighters. The town was taken for much of the morning, but Kurdish officials say they’ve since recovered much of it. As always, such gains last only until the other side decides to send enough troops to overrun it again.

An Army captain sued President Barack Obama on Wednesday, alleging that he doesn't have the proper congressional authority to wage war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Army captain sues Obama; says he lacks authority to fight Islamic State

Capt. Nathan Michael Smith filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington as the president is deploying more special operations forces to the region - and a day after a Navy SEAL was killed in combat in Iraq, the third since a U.S.-led coalition launched its campaign against the Islamic State in the summer of 2014.

Smith supports the war on military and moral grounds and considers the Islamic State an "army of butchers." ." But he wants the court to tell Obama that he needs to ask Congress for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

The White House did not comment on the lawsuit.

To fight IS, Obama has been relying on congressional authorizations given to President George W. Bush for the war on al-Qaida and the invasion of Iraq. Critics say the White House's use of post-9/11 congressional authorizations is a legal stretch at best.

The White House has claimed it has all the authority it needs to wage the war against IS, but says if an authorization tailored specifically for IS passed Congress with bipartisan support, it would send a clear signal of unity to U.S. troops and those groups they are fighting.

Several lawmakers have pushed for a new authorization and the White House sent its own version to Capitol Hill. But many lawmakers have no interest in casting a war vote, leaving the issue languishing in Congress.

Smith is asking the court to find that the war against IS violates the War Powers Resolution because Congress has not declared war or given the president specific authorization to fight it.

This lawlessness has made it impossible for Capt. Smith to determine whether his present mission is inconsistent with his oath to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,' thus requiring him to seek an independent determination of this matter from the court," the suit said.

Members of the military are obligated to refuse to follow an order that is illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If they follow unlawful ones, they risk punishment.

Ramadi, the provincial capital of Iraq’s Sunni heartland, was declared “fully liberated” early this year. But the cost of victory may have been the city itself, with widespread destruction from strikes, artillery and the militants' scorched earth tactic of destroying buildings and infrastructure as they fled.
Iraq routed IS from Ramadi at a high cost: A city destroyed

May 05, 2016 - A building that housed a pool hall and ice cream shops — reduced to rubble. A row of money changers and motorcycle repair garages — obliterated, a giant bomb crater in its place. The square's Haji Ziad Restaurant, beloved for years by Ramadi residents for its grilled meats — flattened. The restaurant was so popular its owner built a larger, fancier branch across the street three years ago. That, too, is now a pile of concrete and twisted iron rods.

The destruction extends to nearly every part of Ramadi, once home to 1 million people and now virtually empty. A giant highway cloverleaf at the main entrance to the city is partially toppled. Apartment block after apartment block has been crushed. Along a residential street, the walls of homes have been shredded away, exposing furniture and bedding. Graffiti on the few homes still standing warn of explosives inside.

When Iraqi government forces backed by U.S.-led warplanes wrested this city from Islamic State militants after eight months of IS control, it was heralded as a major victory. But the cost of winning Ramadi has been the city itself.

The scope of the damage is beyond any of the other Iraqi cities recaptured so far from the jihadi group. Photographs provided to The Associated Press by satellite imagery and analytics company DigitalGlobe show more than 3,000 buildings and nearly 400 roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed between May 2015, when Ramadi fell to IS, and Jan. 22, after most of the fighting had ended. Over roughly the same period, nearly 800 civilians were killed in clashes, airstrikes and executions.

Now the few signs of life are the soldiers manning checkpoints, newly painted and decorated with brightly colored plastic flowers. Vehicles pick their way around craters blocking roads as the dust from thousands of crushed buildings drifts over the landscape. Along one street, the only sign that houses ever existed there is a line of garden gates and clusters of fruit trees.

The wreckage was caused by IS-laid explosives and hundreds of airstrikes by the Iraqi military and the U.S.-led coalition. Besides the fighting itself, the Islamic State group is increasingly using a scorched earth strategy as it loses ground in Iraq. When IS fighters withdraw, they leave an empty prize, blowing up buildings and wiring thousands of others with explosives. The bombs are so costly and time-consuming to defuse that much of recently liberated Iraq is now unlivable.

"All they leave is rubble," said Maj. Mohammed Hussein, whose counterterrorism battalion was one of the first to move into Ramadi. "You can't do anything with rubble." As a result, U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi officials are rethinking their tactics as they battle IS to regain territory. The coalition is scaling back its airstrikes in besieged urban areas. Efforts are underway to increase training of explosive disposal teams.

The new approach is particularly key as Iraq and the coalition build up to the daunting task of retaking Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city, held by IS for nearly two years. "They know they can't just turn Mosul into a parking lot," said a Western diplomat in Baghdad who has been present for a number of meetings with coalition and Iraqi defense officials regarding the Mosul operation. The diplomat commented on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

In January, after IS was pushed out of Ramadi, thousands of families returned to their homes. But residents have since been barred from coming back because dozens of civilians died from IS booby traps. Officials estimate IS planted thousands of IEDs, improvised explosive devices, across the city. Janus Global Operations, an American firm, began working to remove them last month and said it has so far cleared more than 1,000 square meters — a fraction of a city block.

The vast majority of the city's population remains displaced. Ramadi lies on the Euphrates River west of Baghdad and is the capital of Iraq's Sunni heartland, Anbar province. Even as IS swept over most of the province and northern Iraq in 2014, Ramadi had held out under tenuous government control. After months of fighting, in May 2015, Islamic State fighters captured it by unleashing a barrage of truck and suicide bombs that overwhelmed government forces.

They raised their flag above Anbar Operations Command center, the former provincial police and military headquarters that was once a U.S. military base, then proceeded to largely level the complex with explosives. Over the following days, they methodically destroyed government buildings.

Militants took over homes, converting living rooms into command centers and bedrooms into barracks. They dug tunnels under the streets to evade air strikes, shut down schools, looted and destroyed the homes of people associated with the local government. They set up a headquarters in the campus of Anbar University, on the city's western edge.

Over the course of the eight-month campaign to push IS out of Ramadi, coalition aircraft dropped more than 600 bombs on the city. The strikes targeted IS fighters, but also destroyed bridges, buildings and roads, the Pentagon has acknowledged. Government forces seized districts on the outskirts and in December launched their final assault.

As Iraqi ground forces moved into Ramadi, IS methodically laid explosives and blew up swaths of the city's infrastructure. The electrical grid was almost completely destroyed and the city's water network was also heavily damaged. The jihadis bombed the city's remaining bridges and two dams. Though most of the population had already left, IS fighters tightened checkpoints along main roads out of the city to prevent civilians from fleeing. They later used families as human shields as they made their escape.

"ISIS made a concerted effort to ensure the city would be unlivable," said Patrick Martin, an Iraq researcher at the Institute for the Study of War. As his convoy of troops approached Ramadi, Maj. Hussein said he watched IS fighters set fires in Anbar University to destroy sensitive documents. The fires burned for days.

The complex is now largely destroyed. A gymnasium used by IS to store documents has been torched. Charred sports equipment — a boxing glove, cleats, pieces of a track suit — line the hallways. Iraqi artillery fire punched thick holes into the university's library. Only the two main reading rooms are safe to visit; the rest of the four-story building is believed to be booby-trapped.

Trying to uproot dug-in fighters, coalition aircraft and Iraqi artillery unleashed devastation. Haji Ziad Square, for example, is a strategic intersection with lines of sight down major thoroughfares by which troops had to approach. So IS fighters deployed heavily there. The new multistory Haji Ziad Restaurant made a prime sniper post. Iraqi troops called in intense coalition strikes on the square to help clear the militants.

Similarly, a complex of around 40 large residential towers stood across from Anbar University on a key route for Iraqi forces entering the city. Before-and-after imagery shows at least a dozen of them were levelled. Multiple bomb craters are evident, including at least two that measure more than 45 feet across.

In a district along the western edge of downtown Ramadi, a dense strip of buildings, homes and bustling shops, not a single building escaped unscathed from the IS occupation and the coalition airstrikes. Key streets throughout the city are blocked by craters as each side tried to hamper the other's movement.

Tens of thousands of Ramadi's residents live in camps or with extended family in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands are in other nearby villages. Thousands more live in a small resort town on Habbaniyah Lake south of Ramadi that has become a sprawling camp.

According to the United Nations' satellite mapping agency, UNITAR, an estimated 5,700 buildings out of the city's total of around 55,000 were seriously damaged or destroyed. With an eye to reducing destruction in the fight against IS moving forward, coalition planes are using fewer airstrikes and smaller, more targeted munitions.

IT'S ONE of the essential tenets of the new age of humanitarian war that war is not as bad as it used to be, or at least that it’s not so bad that the costs outweigh the gains.
Why a million Iraqis killed in the US-UK war on Iraq are not worth mentioning

War, or western war at least, is no longer the grim rider on the pale horse, bringing chaos, death and random destruction.

High-tech precision weapons, precision targeting enabled by lawyers, new ethical norms, population-centric counterinsurgency – all this has made it possible to vaporize the bad guys only, neatly severing the infrastructural linkages that hold rogue states and dictatorships together, so that the whole business is over before anyone even realizes it.

Once this is accepted then it becomes natural for powerful countries equipped with this weaponry to think of war as a first choice rather than a last resort, and also to convince their populations that war will not only be cost-free for them, but that its effects on the countries on the receiving end of it will also be minimal and ultimately beneficial.

This is what we have been told ever since the US invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War and throughout the last fourteen years of the ‘war on terror,’ whenever the US and its allies are considering who next to bomb.

One of the ways in which these governments have attempted to ensure popular acceptance is by ignoring or downplaying any evidence that contradicts this new mythology of war.

Last month a joint report Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror’ produced by the medical-political peace organization Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that 1.3 million people have died as a direct or indirect of wars fought in three main theatres of war in Iraq (1 million), Afghanistan (220,000) and Pakistan (80,000). These figures do not include the death toll in other countries where western military operations have taken place in Yemen, Somalia and Libya. They are nevertheless way higher than any calculations made by the US or any of its allies, or the much lower figures from ‘passive’ reporting of casualties based solely on reported combat deaths in the media of the type that Iraq Body Count (IBC) has specialized in.

The report also claims that 1.3 million is a ‘conservative estimate’ and that the real figure globally may be as high as 2 million. These statistics not only include victims of violence perpetrated by the different state and non-state protagonists involved in these conflicts; they also consider those who have died as a result of the indirect consequences of these wars, such as hunger or malnutrition, lack of clean water, medicine and access to hospitals, a deterioration in living conditions, diseases caused or intensified by the destruction of infrastructure, and weaponry containing toxic materials.

I am not an epidemiologist or a statistician, so I am not in a position to pass a verdict on the quality of the methodology involved in this research, but if respected and internationally-recognized medical organizations and professionals reach conclusions like this, then I am certainly going to take them seriously unless I have a very good reason not to do so.

One might also expect, in democratic societies, that governments, political parties and journalists would also want to consider and evaluate these findings too, because if they are accurate then they call the whole notion of a ‘humanitarian’ war against ‘terror’ into question. They might also be a starting point for a wider debate about the justifications and rationalizations for the great swathe of global violence unleashed in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Yet the response to the Body Count report has been almost total silence. No US or British government official has commented on the report or referred to it. The mainstream media has not mentioned it either. The report has only been picked up by the usual suspects (RT, Telesur, Press tv), and various leftist or antiwar Internet sources. This silence is not entirely surprising.

As the report notes:

‘A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization caused by decades of outside military intervention. As such, underreporting of the human toll attributable to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate, or through self-censorship, has been key to removing the “fingerprints” of responsibility.’

This is absolutely right. Because for our governments, there can be no such fingerprints. Our wars are good, clean wars, and any brutality, violence and death that occurs in them or as a result of them is always the responsibility of the alien Other.

And when our governments are presented with evidence that contradicts these assumptions, they may attribute it to ‘bad apples’, or ‘collateral damage’ or they may try and undermine the organizations that produce such evidence, as the Bush and Blair administrations did with the Lancet Report.

And at other times, they will simply ignore such evidence completely, in the knowledge that if they do, the ‘fourth estate’ will dutifully do the same, and then the public will never know it ever existed.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Who are the Sadrists and what do they want?

Riots Last Saturday, riots engulfed the previously quiet Green Zone of Baghdad - an island of the Blessed in a Sea of violence and poverty, which is contemporary Iraq. Anti-government protesters stormed Baghdad parliament and haunted politicians. They blamed them for the political system's inefficiency and proposed radical changes: to reconstruct the post-war political system of Iraq and build across sectarian lines, which in fact turned out to be a source of nepotism, clannish behavior, and corruption.

Then suddenly the protests stopped, and the angry people went home because this was the will of one person - Muqtada al-Sadr. They also had to prepare to commemorate, on the 3rd May, the martyrdom anniversary of the 7th Shia Imam, Imam Musa ibn Jafar al-Kazim, whose shrine is located in Kadhimiya in Northern Bagdad. He is believed to be a direct ancestor of the Sadr family. Thus, this is why his commemoration is very important for Sadrist movement.

The majority of protestors were members of the Sadrist Movement, which literally hijacked the protest initiated by secular activists last summer. Sadrists managed to became the main revolutionary force in post-war Iraq, merging ideas of social justice with religious and even eschatological ideas. Contrary to the obvious Western misperception, these Islamic Revolutionaries have nothing in common with primitive Wahhabis, who oppose every inner dimension of human life. The Sadrist movement is enrooted in specific philosophical tradition, which shows its relevance still today.

Sadrism: inception and ideology The Sadrist Movement was initiated by the father of Muqtada al-Sadr - Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr - who was one of the major leaders of the Shia resistance against Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq. He appeared to be more radical than the current Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Sistine, who was at the time was Sadr's main ideological opponent in the frame of the Shia community. Sadr created a net of autonomous Shia cells across the country, including de-facto independence from Baath rule in Sadr city in southern Bagdad. The main social basis of his support was the impoverished Shiites who were suppressed and segregated in Iraq ruled by Sunnites. In 1999 in Najaf, the place of burial of Imam Aly, Sadr was killed alongside his two sons.

Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr as well as a majority of representatives of Iraqi political Shiitism was influenced by another representative of the Sadr family - Baqir al-Sadr. He supported the Iranian revolution in 1979 (this was one of the reasons for his execution in 1980) as it called to restore the Islamic State based on the Shia doctrine, but opposed the Wilayat Faqih doctrine (rule of the wise - Islamic scholars) of post-revolutionary Iran. He was inclined to the more egalitarian version of the government - Wilayat Al-Umma. According to Sadr, while the two functions of khilafah (governance) and shahada (martyrism; supervision) were united during the times of the Prophets, the two diverged during the occultation so that khilafa returned to the people (umma) and shahada to the scholars. So Islamic Scholars may have only supervisory functions, and not political ones.

Socially, Baqir al-Sadr opposed usury in the banking system and proposed to transform banks from instruments for the growth of capital into tools for enriching the community, continually bringing prices of labor and commodities near to their genuine exchange value by combating monopoly in every area of economic life. In the social sphere he defended mostly socialist goals: "equalize or narrow differences in standards of living by providing a reasonable minimum of material comfort for all and preventing waste, extravagance and the concentration of capital by the few; devote one fifth of the country's oil income to social security and the construction of houses for the citizenry; and provide free education and free health services for all."

The receipt of success The movement founded by Grand Ayatollah proposed social justice and defense for the poor, however, contrary to secular versions of Arab socialism, it did not reject religion. It was based on and deeply enrooted in the religion and Shia-version of Islam. Contrary to Wahhabis, Sadrists also insist on the importance of local customs and tribal laws praising diversity of Iraqi society and not willing to homogenize it. From the very beginning it tried to show its independence from Iranian and Iraqi identity. Using the methods of missionary activism, Sadr and disciples came to the southern marshlands that were notoriously hard to control, and were often at odds with the Shia clerical establishment in Najaf.

The Sadist movement became a significant force in the Shia branch of political Islam, and started to provide social services for the poor and mobilizing the resources of local communities to fulfill their daily needs. Thus, they managed to create a state in a state and appeared to be the most prepared for the dramatic post-war changes in modern Iraq, where state institutions and political movements collapsed. After the fall of the Saddam regime, their positions strengthened because only they could provide the people the necessary minimum to survive. Their structures of mutual cooperation worked. It is why Sadrists with their experience also became most influential force in newly founded structure of governmental social services in Iraq. In a country torn by war it is an immense source of power.

Hierarchy of martyrs Another reason for the strength of the Sadr movement is its fleur of martyrdom. The founder Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr and his sons died as martyrs, and Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr's father in law and prominent Islamic philosopher and theologian, also died as martyr, executed during Saddam reign. Despite the majority of Iraqi Shia leaders that came to the country from exile after the Western invasion in 2003, the Sadr Movement was presented in Iraq in this dark time Shiites. Contrary to them it was not merely political, but first and foremost social, and could not be eradicated so fast. It survived and was presided by Iraqis who were native for them. It's why Sadr Jr became the focal point of radical Shia elements and founded the famous Mahdi Army, which started to fight against occupants. Thus, Shia eschatology in Iraq ascended its culmination.

The third source of Muqtada al-Sadr's rise was his support from the young. He impersonalized the hierarchy parallel to the traditional Shia system with Ayatollas and Marjas, but was based also on the traditional system for Shias - hierarchy of martyrs and the blood ties of the martyrs. His father, brothers and father in law died as martyrs. All Shia Imams were martyrs who defended the conception of the Imamat's light, the specific right to rule the Ummah, which belongs to the descendants of imam Aly. Shia Islam is hierarchical, but Shias always keep in mind the connection between hierarchy and martyrdom - the hierarchy and membership of a particular race marked by this sign of martyrdom.

Sadr and the current political crisis After some time Sadr changed, and now he has some deep contradictions with other Shia leaders and does not support the growing Iranian influence in Iraq. In 2014, he declared that he will withdraw from politics, but his structures are alive as recent Bagdad events shows. Now it is the most dynamic political and social force in Iraq, most leaders are relatively young and are chosen because of their competence and loyalty. Thus, the party absorbed many western educated professionals, who made the party's political behavior sophisticated. Muqtada al-Sadr tries to reach out to secular, Sunni and, Kurdish forces.

Today, Sadrists have become the leading force of a new political crisis providing both support and a challenge for Prime Minister Abadi. Not one clan in Iraq wants their radical reform and technocratic government instead of one based on the balance of sectarian interests, but Sadr proposes to return his supporters on the streets next Friday - the crisis will deepen.

Sadr's strive to be more moderate and promote unity among Iraqis is understandable, but it has no future. Real changes are impossible without foreign support and this support can only come from Iran and the broader Shia world. The doctrinal basis of the movement is pure Shia and its mission is impossible to fulfill in the state organized quota system, and it will be permanently unstable as Lebanon has been for decades. The future of Iraq as artificial country is doomed. Sadr urges to end the quota system for different sectarian groups. It fact, it will turn into the rule of Shiites, because they are most numerous religious group in Iraq and they have elaborated political doctrines and structures like the Sadrist movement. The only alternative to ISIS' dominance is Shia dominance with respect to Sunnites, of course. If it is the real aim of the Sadr movement, it should be praised.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
4,609 Killed in Iraq During April

The United Nations issued its casualty report for April. The organization found that 741 Iraqis were killed and 1,374 were wounded last month. Of those fatalities, 410 belonged to civilians, while 331 of the dead were security personnel. Another 973 civilians and 401 security personnel were wounded. The U.N. does not tally casualties in Anbar due to the security situation; however, the Health Directorate in Anbar reported 27 civilians killed and 225 injured. These figures should be considered very conservative. The actual numbers of killed and injured are likely to be much higher.

During April, found that 744 civilians and security personnel were killed, while 982 were wounded. Of these, 477 civilians and 297 security personnel were killed. Another 566 civilians and 416 security personnel were wounded. Militants lost 3,801 personnel, while 398 were wounded. Reports of militant casualties come mostly from the Iraqi government.

Combining the highest figures, we have 4,609 dead and 1,772 injured. In March, 4,193 people were killed, and 1,966 were wounded.

Although protesters withdrew from Green Zone after Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked them to, Sadr also issued a list of demands to the government. The influential cleric said he asked the protesters to leave out of respect for a Shi’ite religious holiday, but the demonstrations will resume on Friday, after the pilgrimage ends, should no attempt be made to address his concerns.
Iraqi protesters end Green Zone sit-in for now after issuing demands

Protesters camped out in Baghdad's Green Zone for 24 hours left the heavily fortified government district on Sunday after issuing demands for political reform but they pledged to return by the end of the week to keep up the pressure.

Iraq has endured months of wrangling prompted by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's attempt to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive. A divided parliament has failed to approve the proposal amid scuffles and protests.

Deep frustration over the deadlock culminated in a dramatic breach on Saturday of the Green Zone by supporters of powerful Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Sadr wants to see Abadi's proposed technocrat government approved, ending a quota system blamed for rampant corruption. Powerful parties have resisted, fearing the dismantling of patronage networks that sustain their wealth and influence.

Abadi has warned continued turmoil could hamper the war against Islamic State, which controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

The Green Zone protesters issued an escalating set of demands, including a parliamentary vote on a technocrat government, the resignation of the president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker and new elections.

If none of the demands are met, a spokeswoman for the protesters said in a televised speech that they would resort to "all legitimate means" including civil disobedience.

Hundreds of protesters peacefully exited the Green Zone moments later.

The peaceful defusing of the crisis came after Abadi convened a high-level meeting with Iraq's president, parliament speaker and political bloc leaders who called the breach of the Green Zone "a dangerous infringement of the state's prestige and a blatant constitutional violation that must be prosecuted".

They said the high-level meetings would continue in coming days "to ensure radical reforms of the political process".

A politician who attended the talks said Abadi had faced accusations of mishandling the crisis. Another said the conflict had become an intra-Shi'ite battle over who will run Iraq.

Two suicide car bombs claimed by Islamic State killed at least 32 people and wounded 75 others on Sunday in the center of the southern city of Samawa, police and medics said.

GREEN ZONE: "EVEN THE PLANTS ARE DIFFERENT" The Green Zone, a 10-square-kilometre district on the banks of the Tigris River which also houses many foreign embassies, has been off-limits to most Iraqis since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In an unprecedented breach on Sunday, hundreds of people pulled down and stormed over concrete blast walls, celebrating inside parliament and attacking several deputies.

Many protesters, including some women and children, had spent Sunday in the square, taking refuge inside event halls from 37 degree Celsius heat, while others lay on the grass or cooled off in a large fountain topped with a military statue.

A demonstrator named Humam said he was shocked by the contrast between the poverty in which most Iraqis like him live and the comparative luxury inside the central district, which he had never entered before.

"There is electricity and street lighting, there is more water here than I expected. Even the plants are different," he said. "It is the people's right to enter this area because (the politicians) are living in conditions that don't even exist in Iraq. I didn't imagine this existed in Iraq."

Another protester who referred to parliament as "the council of traitors" said he wanted to see top officials removed.

"They have done nothing good for Iraq, only destruction, sectarian wars, hunger and no services."

Two suicide car bombs claimed by Islamic State killed at least 32 people and wounded 75 others in the center of the southern Iraqi city of Samawa on Sunday, police and medics said.
Islamic State suicide attacks kill 32 in southern Iraq

The first blast was near a local government building and the second one about 60 meters (65 yards) away at a bus station, police sources said. The death toll was expected to keep rising.

Unverified online photographs showed a large plume of smoke rising above the buildings as well as burnt out cars and bodies on the ground at the site of one of the blasts, including several children. Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms.

Islamic State said it had attacked a gathering of special forces in Samawa, 230 km (140 miles) south of the capital, with one car bomb and then blew up the second when security forces responded to the site.

Islamic State holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country's north and west, far from the mainly Shi'ite southern provinces where Samawa is located. Such attacks are relatively rare.

The rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents has exacerbated Iraq's sectarian conflict, mostly between Shi'ites and Sunnis, which emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The quota-based governing system put in place by the United States at the time is being challenged by hundreds of protesters who camped out overnight in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone after storming the parliament building.

A source in the Ministry of Peshmerga announced a rise in cases of suffocation and poisoning among the elements of the Peshmerga as a result of mortar shells laden with toxic chlorine fired by Daash north of Mosul.
Poisoning And Suffocation Cases Among Peshmerga Up To 80 Due To Shelling Gassed by Daash Eastern Mosul

The source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that "elements of Daash bombed Peshmerga with about 50 mortar shells carrying toxic gases, which led to the occurrence of cases of suffocation and poisoning at the center of Khazar 45 km east of Mosul."

The source noted that "about 80 elements of the Peshmerga have been subjected to suffocation noting that" hospitals in Arbil have received dozens of serious cases of the Peshmerga forces as a result of this bombing.

17 military commander for Daash, including Arabs and foreigners, were killed due to bombing a secret camp by the international coalition aircraft in Anba village 20 km south of Mosul, according to sources from Nineveh.
17 Military Commanders Of Daash Killed In Mosul

The sources told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that "the international coalition aircraft carried out an air strike targeted a secret camp for Daash in Anba village south of Mosul," noting that" the camp contains weapons and missiles,( Katyusha rockets), as well as dozens of mortars, which were all blown inside the camp ".

Yemen Just over a year since the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen began, an estimated 3,000 civilians have been killed, and 82% of the population needs some form of humanitarian assistance.
Media Silent as US and UK Train Saudi Forces Responsible for War Crimes in Yemen

Water shortages and a fuel blockade — combined with air strikes and sniper attacks — have transformed the region into a humanitarian crisis. Twenty-two of Yemen’s governorates teeter on the edge of famine. Since the assault began, over 31,000 war wounded have been treated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who claim ordinary people are bearing the brunt of an increasingly brutal conflict. There are no journalists in sight. There is no corporate media attention.

While the Syrian conflict is plastered on the pages of most mainstream news outlets, Yemen has been met with indifference and, until recently, a virtual media blackout. Writing for Stop The War, Nawal Al-Maghafi sums up the reason for the silence of the Western media on the devastation:

“Unlike in Syria, the U.K. and U.S. are two of the primary causes of the problem in Yemen. Put simply, a coalition of the wealthiest Arab states have joined forces to bomb and starve one of the poorest, with the assistance of two of the world’s richest and most powerful powers, ” she wrote.

But thanks to campaign groups and humanitarian agencies, some details of the catastrophe began to trickle out towards the end of last year. Here in the U.K., we quickly discovered Britain has licensed £2.8m of arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the war began. In addition — and despite years of ministerial denials — a six-month long Vice investigation recently uncovered British involvement in the covert U.S. programme in Yemen, including secret drone strikes.

The destruction of clinics and hospitals and the growing need for medicine, food, and water have sparked international outcry, especially over civilian casualties — yet further evidence of Britain’s collusion with the Saudi killing machine came to light this week. Despite overwhelming evidence that Saudi forces have broken international humanitarian law, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by human rights organisation, Reprieve, has uncovered more of Britain’s covert role in the conflict. The latest eye-opening discovery of U.K. complicity and collusion in Yemen has revealed that senior British military officers have been training Saudi forces.

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has consistently maintained their personnel are not involved in “directing strikes, selecting targets or conducting operations” in Yemen, but the latest revelations demonstrate how close the cooperation has really been.

The Guardian reports that over the last year, a variety of courses have been provided for Saudi pilots and soldiers, including three courses in “international targeting” for members of the Royal Saudi air force. In addition, a seven-strong army artillery detachment from Britain visited Saudi Arabia to advise land forces on targeting and the use of weapons-locating radar.

Omran Belhadi, a case worker at Reprieve, said the claims by ministers that Britain is helping the Saudi government to abide by the law are disingenuous.

“Extensive British ‘targeting training’ has done nothing to prevent the bombing of schools, hospitals and weddings, and the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians. The U.K. claims its support to the Saudi-led campaign is necessary to combat terrorism – but killing innocents doesn’t make us safer. Ministers must urgently reconsider the U.K.’s support for these abuses,” Belhadi said.


FOTCM Member
angelburst29 said:
4,609 Killed in Iraq During April

The United Nations issued its casualty report for April. The organization found that 741 Iraqis were killed and 1,374 were wounded last month. Of those fatalities, 410 belonged to civilians, while 331 of the dead were security personnel. Another 973 civilians and 401 security personnel were wounded. The U.N. does not tally casualties in Anbar due to the security situation; however, the Health Directorate in Anbar reported 27 civilians killed and 225 injured. These figures should be considered very conservative. The actual numbers of killed and injured are likely to be much higher.
Very sad. As usual we don't hear much about this in Western media... unless Russia 'can' be blamed for it.

angelburst29 said:
Iraqi protesters end Green Zone sit-in for now after issuing demands

The Green Zone protesters issued an escalating set of demands, including a parliamentary vote on a technocrat government, the resignation of the president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker and new elections.

If none of the demands are met, a spokeswoman for the protesters said in a televised speech that they would resort to "all legitimate means" including civil disobedience. [...]
That's good, I hope that puts a lot of pressure on them.

angelburst29 said:
GREEN ZONE: "EVEN THE PLANTS ARE DIFFERENT" The Green Zone, a 10-square-kilometre district on the banks of the Tigris River which also houses many foreign embassies, has been off-limits to most Iraqis since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In an unprecedented breach on Sunday, hundreds of people pulled down and stormed over concrete blast walls, celebrating inside parliament and attacking several deputies.

Many protesters, including some women and children, had spent Sunday in the square, taking refuge inside event halls from 37 degree Celsius heat, while others lay on the grass or cooled off in a large fountain topped with a military statue.

A demonstrator named Humam said he was shocked by the contrast between the poverty in which most Iraqis like him live and the comparative luxury inside the central district, which he had never entered before.

"There is electricity and street lighting, there is more water here than I expected. Even the plants are different," he said. "It is the people's right to enter this area because (the politicians) are living in conditions that don't even exist in Iraq. I didn't imagine this existed in Iraq."

Another protester who referred to parliament as "the council of traitors" said he wanted to see top officials removed.

"They have done nothing good for Iraq, only destruction, sectarian wars, hunger and no services."
I didn't know this, but I'm not surprised. Those people enjoying electricity, street lighting etc..., responsible to make sure the Iraqi population will have basic necessities, have not been doing much. What you posted is just more evidence to me that Iraq is in a worse shape after the US invasion.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Iraqi security forces ramped up their presence across Baghdad on Friday, blocking most major roads and bridges to keep followers of Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr from reaching the government district they stormed a week earlier.

Security forces shut down Baghdad to prevent Green Zone protests

A Sadr representative meanwhile called on supporters to rally outside local mosques following afternoon prayers, rather than gathering near the heavily fortified Green Zone, a move which could reduce the risk of clashes.

The demonstrations are aimed at pressuring Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to follow through on months-old promises to replace party-affiliated ministers with independent technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive.

Iraq has endured months of wrangling over the proposal, with a divided parliament withholding approval amid scuffles and protests. Deep frustration among Iraqis over the deadlock culminated on Sunday in the unprecedented breach of the Green Zone, which houses parliament, government offices and many foreign embassies.

United Nations envoy to Iraq Jan Kubis told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the situation remains unpredictable and could unfold in many different directions.

"A business-as-usual approach simply will not be enough for the people. They want genuine change that will improve their lives," Kubis told the Security Council.

In his prepared remarks, seen by Reuters, Kubis also said that solutions being discussed to end the political crisis would not meet the demands of the people and therefore demonstrations were likely to continue.

Security officials said on Friday three regiments from an elite police division that has battled Islamic State militants were deployed in and around the Green Zone.

On one bridge stretching over the Tigris River, dozens of counter-terrorism forces manned Humvees mounted with machine guns. They stood behind two consecutive barriers made of 12-foot (3.6 meter) blast walls spanning the bridge.

The head of Sadr's political office said large-scale demonstrations had been postponed until Tuesday, when tens of thousands of protesters would be mobilized to rally outside an expected parliament session.

At least four soldiers were killed and seven others wounded on Friday when a suicide car bomber attacked an army checkpoint in the western part of the capital, police sources said. Two bombs in nearby Abu Ghraib killed three people and wounded 13. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.

The Pentagon is providing military support, intelligence, ships and special operations forces to help in the ongoing operations against al-Qaida militants in Yemen, U.S. officials said Thursday.
US military supporting Yemen in fight against al-Qaida

The U.S. military is helping Yemeni, Emirati and Arab Coalition forces that are battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and were recently able to retake the port city of Mukalla from AQAP control.

A senior U.S. official said that American special operations forces are advising the Yemeni and Emirati forces in the region, and that they are working at the headquarters level and are not near the conflict. The official was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. is providing “limited support” to the Arab Coalition and Yemeni operations in and around Mukalla. He said that includes planning, airborne surveillance, intelligence gathering, medical support, refueling and maritime interdiction.

Davis declined to discuss whether or not special operations forces were in the country. But he said the U.S. has sent a number of ships to the region including the USS Boxer amphibious ready group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is embarked with the group. The USS Gravely and USS Gonzalez, both Navy destroyers, are also in the area.

“Trained and supported by an Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Yemeni government forces and resistance fighters have retaken Mukalla and continue their offensive against AQAP in eastern Yemen,” said Davis. “AQAP remains a significant security threat to the United States and to our regional partners and we welcome this effort to specifically remove AQAP from Mukalla and to degrade, disrupt and destroy AQAP in Yemen.”

Late last month forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized government drove AQAP militants from Mukalla, a year after they captured it. Mukalla had been their stronghold.

Al-Qaida had gained ground amid the chaos that has reigned in Yemen since 2014 with Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels fighting the internationally backed government and its allies with the Saudi-led coalition.

Security officials and witnesses also said Thursday that al-Qaida militants in Yemen were pulling out of Zinjibar and Jaar, two coastal cities east of the key southern port of Aden, following tribal-led negotiations.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters while the witnesses requested anonymity out of safety concerns.

The top U.N. envoy in Iraq strongly urged the country's political leaders and civil society on Friday to work together to resolve the current political deadlock, warning that the ongoing crisis and chaos are only serving the interests of Islamic State extremists.
UN envoy warns that Iraq's political crisis helps extremists

Despite notable progress on the ground against the Islamic State group, Jan Kubis told the U.N. Security Council that "it remains a formidable and determined enemy that constantly adjusts its tactics and attack patterns." He pointed to the discovery of more than 50 mass graves in territory retaken from IS, including three found on April 19 in the soccer grounds area of Ramadi, and reports that the extremist group is using chemical weapons.

Kubis said enemies of Iraq — first and foremost IS extremists — "stand to benefit from political instability and lack of reforms."

He said a profound political crisis engulfing Baghdad and the country has paralyzed the work of the government and parliament "and added a new layer of complications to the already complex set of military, security, humanitarian, economic and human rights challenges the country is facing."

Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have been holding demonstrations and sit-ins for months to demand an overhaul of the political system put in place by the U.S. following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. On Saturday, hundreds of his supporters stormed the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and broke into the parliament building.

Kubis said a majority of Iraqi political blocs have rejected replacing the cabinet created on the basis of party affiliation or ethnic or sectarian with a cabinet of technocrats sought by al-Sadr and protesters who argue this is the only way "to enact genuine reforms, get rid of a powerful patronage system and achieve success in fighting corruption."

The political blocs view al-Sadr's actions as an attempt to take power and de-legitimize the government and parliament, he said.

"The stability, security and unity of Iraq hinge on an effective and inclusive political system, and equality in decision-making at the federal and local levels, tangible solutions to prevent political and sectarian exclusion," Kubis said.

He urged the government, constitutional and political leaders and civil society to hold talks that not only resolve the political impasse but give hope to Iraqis for a better future and unite efforts behind the "critical effort" of fighting IS extremists.

But Kubis also reiterated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's warning that IS cannot be defeated by military means alone and that efforts to retake IS-controlled territory will not be sustained without addressing the root causes of violent extremism and supporting people who have been displaced.

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim said the country's leaders and elected political blocs are working to implement the prime minister's reform program but focused his speech to the council on the fight against IS.

"The year 2016 is a crucial year for Iraq, it is crucial for combatting terrorism and recovering all the territory taken over by the (IS) terrorist gangs," he said.

Alhakim urged the U.S.-led international coalition to build on military victories and the weakening of IS to liberate Mosul, the country's second-largest city. He also urged the Security Council to set up an "international legal mechanism to pursue and bring to justice the criminals of (IS)."

Kubis called the humanitarian crisis in Iraq "one of the world's worst," saying nearly a third of the population — over 10 million people — need humanitarian assistance.

In a worst case scenario, he said, more than two million additional people may be newly displaced by the end of the year.

The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time on Friday (May 6) it has deployed US troops to Yemen since the country's collapse last year, in a push to bolster Arab and local government forces battling Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
US sends troops to Yemen, steps up anti-Qaeda strikes

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time on Friday (May 6) it has deployed US troops to Yemen since the country's collapse last year, in a push to bolster Arab and local government forces battling Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the US military has also stepped up air strikes against AQAP fighters in the war-torn country.

A "very small number" of American military personnel has been working from a "fixed location" with Yemeni and Arab coalition forces - especially the Emiratis - in recent weeks around Mukalla, a port city seized by AQAP a year ago, Davis said.

"This is of great interest to us. It does not serve our interests to have a terrorist organization in charge of a port city, and so we are assisting in that," the spokesman added.

He said the troops were helping the Emiratis with "intelligence support," but declined to say if they are special operations forces.

AQAP fighters have now fled Mukalla and other coastal areas, due to the government offensive.

While the number of US personnel on the ground is limited, the United States is also offering an array of assistance to partners in Yemen, including air-to-air refueling capabilities, surveillance, planning, maritime security and medical help.

The Pentagon previously had more than 100 special operations forces advising the army in Yemen, but pulled them out early last year as the country collapsed.

The US Navy also has several ships nearby, including an amphibious assault ship called the USS Boxer and two destroyers.

AQAP took advantage of the chaos of fighting between pro-government forces and Iran-backed rebels to expand its control in southern Yemen, including the seizure of Mukalla.

The Pentagon announced it has carried out a recent string of strikes on AQAP in recent weeks, outside of Mukalla.

"We have conducted four counterterrorism strikes against AQAP since April 23, killing 10 Al-Qaeda operatives and injuring another," Davis said.

The United States periodically targets AQAP in Yemen, including a strike in March on a training camp that killed more than 70 fighters.

AQAP, which has long been entrenched in Yemen, is regarded by Washington as the network's most dangerous branch.

The group claimed responsibility for last year's deadly attack in Paris on the staff of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and has been linked to more than one attempt to blow up aircraft bound for the United States.

The Yemen conflict has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced 2.8 million since March last year.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Russia says the terrorists operating near the city of Tikrit in north-central Iraq have been found in possession of chemical weapons that have been sourced from Turkey.

CWs in hands of Iraq terrorists traced to Turkey

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Vitaly Churkin made the announcement to a UN Security Council meeting on Friday.

“These [explosive] compounds were either manufactured in Turkey or sold there without the right of re-­export,” he said.

The Russian envoy said the discovery had been made following the “analysis of core chemical components of explosive compounds seized from” terrorists near Tikrit, “a subsequent identification of producer companies, and a scrutiny of terms of sales to other countries.”

“Chemical warfare agents are rapidly spreading across the region and are used by terrorists whereas some of the [Security Council] member states are stubbornly seeking to turn a blind eye on that and go on blaming ‘the [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad’s regime’ for everything.”

Russia and China have initiated a draft Security Council resolution obligating the world body’s member states to immediately report to the Council any action by non-government entities aimed at developing, obtaining, possessing, transporting, transferring or using chemical weapons.

Churkin suggested that, as a means of accusing the Syrian government of carrying out chemical attacks, Western countries “are using trumped­-up pretexts to block the Russian-Chinese initiative.”

Damascus surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) following an attack outside the Syrian capital two years ago.

The August 21, 2013 attack saw chemical weapons being used in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus, where hundreds of people died. According to reports, the rockets used in the assault were handmade and contained sarin.

While the attack was blamed by some countries on the Syrian government, Damascus denied having been behind it. It agreed to a US-Russia initiative to turn over its arsenal of chemical weapons anyway.

Last December, Ahmed al-Gaddafi al-Qahsi, a cousin of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, alleged that the chemical weapons used in Ghouta were stolen from Libya and later smuggled into Syria via Turkey.

On Tuesday, the OPCW warned of the “extremely worrying” signs that the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, could be developing chemical weapons of its own.

Turkey, alongside some other heavyweight regional players, are believed to have been providing patronage and safe passage for the Takfiri terrorism, which has been ravaging the countries since 2014. Daesh terrorists are believed to have made over USD 800 million dollars in black market oil sales in Turkey over the last eight months of the last year. Turkey denies the accusations.

NATO said Saturday that two of its soldiers have been killed in southern Afghanistan.
2 NATO soldiers killed in southern Afghanistan

The Resolute Support mission said two of its members were killed after a shooting attack inside one of its bases in Afghanistan’s south.

A statement from the mission said the attackers were also killed in an ensuing exchange of fire.

“Two Resolute Support (NATO) service members died this morning when two individuals wearing Afghan (security) uniforms opened fire... in southern Afghanistan,” NATO said.

There was no immediate clarification on the nationalities of the soldiers, neither where the shooting exactly happened.

A statement by Romania's Defense Ministry earlier in the day said two Romanian soldiers had been killed and another injured during a training mission near the Afghan town of Kandahar. It said the troops were training Afghan police officers.

The ministry said the injured man is in a stable condition and will be transferred to Germany for treatment. It identified the two dead troops as Plutonier Iulian Dumitrescu and Sgt. Adrian Vizireanu.

No further details were provided but a foreign ministry statement said the incident is being investigated.

Condolences were offered by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Defense Minister Mihnea Motoc. Romania has had 631 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002.

Daesh terrorists have reportedly used internationally-banned chemical weapons in their recent offensive against a Shia Turkmen-populated town in Iraq’s northern province of Kirkuk.
Daesh launched attack on northern Iraqi town: Local official

Friday that the extremists lobbed a barrage of mortar rounds, which contained chemical agents, on the town of Tuz Khurmatu, situated 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) south of oil-rich city of Kirkuk, on March 9.

Three civilians lost their lives in the attack and hundreds more suffered injuries.

“Daesh has materials to produce these kinds of prohibited weapons [...] and has also experts to produce these weapons,” Salihi said.

Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu said on Tuesday that fact-finding teams from The Hague-based watchdog have discovered evidence suggesting the use of sulphur mustard in Daesh attacks against areas in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

“Although they could not attribute this to Daesh... there are strong suspicions that they may have used it (chemical weapons),” Uzumcu said.

“Secondly, the suspicions are that they may have produced it themselves, which is extremely worrying,” he pointed out.

He further said “it proves that they have the technology, know-how and also access to the materials which might be used for the production of chemical weapons.”

On April 7, 23 people were killed and over 100 others injured in a chemical attack by Daesh terrorists against members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in a neighborhood of the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Videos posted online purportedly showed yellow gas rising over Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo, located some 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of the capital, Damascus.

According to a report by the Syrian-American Medical Society, Daesh has carried out more than 160 attacks involving “poisonous or asphyxiating agents, such as sarin, chlorine, and mustard gas” since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011. At least 1,491 people have been killed in the chemical attacks.

Over 50 mass graves have been found in various parts of Iraq after retaking the areas from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, the UN Special Envoy for Iraq Jan Kubis says.
Over 50 mass graves unearthed in various parts of Iraq: UN

Kubis told the Security Council on Friday that evidence of the "heinous crimes" committed by Daesh in Iraq has been discovered as more territories are liberated from the terror group.

"More than 50 mass graves have been discovered so far in several areas of Iraq," he said.

Kubis noted that three graves containing some 40 sets of remains were found in a football pitch in the central city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, on April 19.

The city, which had fallen to Daesh last May, was liberated in December 2015.

At least nine people have lost their lives and nearly a dozen others sustained injuries when two bomb explosions ripped through residential neighborhoods near the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Bomb blasts leave 9 people dead, 10 wounded near Baghdad

Iraqi security and medical officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said eight people were killed and two others injured on Friday when an improvised explosive device went off close to a commercial district in the city of Bismayah, located about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) southeast of Baghdad, Arabic-language al-Baghdadia satellite television network reported.

Separately, a bomb detonated close to a commercial district in the town of Abu Ghraib, located some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the capital, leaving a civilian dead and eight others injured.

On Thursday, five civilians were killed and more than a dozen others sustained injuries when an explosion ripped through a group of mourners at a burial in Haswa region.

“A bomb went off in a graveyard in Haswa as a family were preparing to bury a relative,” Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said in a statement.

He added, “The bomb exploded near the grave... and killed five mourners and wounded 14.”

Moreover, a bomb attack struck an outdoor market in the city of Sabaa al-Bour, located approximately 18 miles northwest of Baghdad, leaving one civilian dead and eight others injured.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq says a total of 741 Iraqis were killed and 1,374 others injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in April.

According to the UN mission, the number of civilian fatalities stood at 410. Violence also claimed the lives of 331 members of the Iraqi security forces. A great portion of the fatalities was recorded in Baghdad, where 232 civilians were killed.

UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon says his country will send more British troops to Iraq to train Iraqi forces in the fight against Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
Britain planning to dispatch more troops to Iraq

The exact number of the British forces has not been declared, but sources say the “trainers and engineers” could number in the “low hundreds.”

Some 300 UK military personnel are currently in Iraq, training Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

The British minister also said that London plans to provide Peshmerga fighters with more ammunition for their machine guns.

A report says a British military firm hired African mercenaries, including former child soldiers, to take part in US operations in Iraq in order to reduce costs.
UK used former child soldiers in Iraq war: Report

Back dated Mon Apr 18, 2016 - The claims against Aegis Defense Services are to be made in a Danish television documentary The Child Soldier's New Job which is due to be broadcast later on Monday.

The documentary claims that Aegis hired some 2,500 mercenaries on as little as 10 pounds a day in order to fulfill contracts to guard US military bases from 2004 onwards.

Former Aegis director James Ellery told The Guardian that contractors recruited from countries with high unemployment rates and cheap labor such as Sierra Leone, not checking if the mercenaries were former child soldiers.

The company was providing guards to safeguard US military bases in Iraq since 2004. It initially hired British, American and Nepalese individuals, but began employing recruits from African nations in 2011.

The company was taken over last year by the Canadian security company GardaWorld.

Iraqi warplanes have airdropped pamphlets for people in the Southern parts of the city of Mosul to urge civilians to stay away from the ISIL military bases in those regions, Nineveh Operations Commander Brigadier General Nasser al-Hamed announced on Saturday.
Iraqi Army Urges Mosul Citizens to Stay Away from ISIL's Military Positions

The Iraqi air force airdropped thousands of pamphlets over al-Qayar region and the Southern parts of Mosul city.

The residents of Mosul have also been cautioned not get on board ISIL boats in order to cross the Tigris river.

The airstrikes will come in order to weaken the ISIL defense lines prior to a fresh round of operations to back up the Iraqi ground force in coming days.

US-led drone strikes in Afghanistan
US-led drone strike kills over dozen in eastern Afghanistan

Back dated Sat Apr 30, 2016 - More than a dozen people have lost their lives in Afghanistan in a new drone strike carried out by US-led foreign forces in the country’s east.

Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the provincial governor, said on Friday that the aerial assault took place in the Narai Obah area of the southern district of Haska Mina, which is located more than 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

He said the airstrike targeted a hideout of the members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in the area, killing 15 militants and destroying a considerable amount of weapons and ammunition.

US drone strikes kill 17 Afghan civilians: Paper

Back dated Fri Apr 8, 2016 - US airstrikes in Afghan province of Paktika have killed at least 17 civilians, local officials and elders say, rejecting official American and Afghan claims that only militants had been killed.

They were killed during three drone strikes carried out by the US in the area of Nematabad on Wednesday, former Afghan senator Hajji Muhammad Hasan said, quoted by The New York Times.

The first raid struck a vehicle carrying a local elder, Hajji Rozuddin, who was on his way to mediate a land dispute in a tribe with four bodyguards and seven other people, the report said.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Breaking: Iraqi Army captures Karabuk village from ISIS

Moments ago, the Iraqi Army – assisted by the Popular Mobilization Forces – captured the village of Karabuk (Kabrouk) after clashing with ISIS fighters throughout the morning.

This town is located west of Makmour along the Tigris River and approximately 60 kilometers south of Mosul, ISIS’ foremost stronghold in Iraq.

The Iraqi Armed Forces have now wrestled 7 villages from ISIS in the Makmour region this year. These include Mahanah, Kudilah, Kharbardan, Kamardi, Kharaba, Qaryat Umah Awah and as of today, also Karabuk.

Now, Iraqi troops are expected to strike towards the nearby ISIS-held town of al-Qaiyara.

These Iraqi advances are likely linked to an upcoming Mosul offensive in which the Baghdad Government hopes to recapture Iraq’s 2nd largest city before the end of 2016.

Mosul was initially captured by ISIS in 2014 along with much of northern Iraq and most of the Syrian border; inhabitants of these areas have since lived under strict religious laws and almost daily coalition airstrikes.

Iraqi forces retake village from Islamic State in slow campaign

Iraqi forces retook a northern village from Islamic State on Monday, supported by artillery and air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition, as they try to close in on the city of Mosul.

In March, Iraq's military opened a new front against the militants in the Makhmour area, which it called the first phase of a wider campaign to liberate Mosul, around 60 km (40 miles) further north. But progress has been slow, and to date Iraqi forces have taken just five villages.

"In a swift operation, our units took the groups of the terrorist organization Daesh by surprise and entered the village," read a statement from the Nineveh Operations Command, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

A source involved in the operation said the militants put up little resistance in the village of Kabrouk.

The advance brings Iraqi forces slightly closer to the oil town of Qayyara on the western banks of the Tigris River, control of which would help to isolate Mosul from territory the militants hold further south and east.

An air base about 16 km (10 miles) west of the river that U.S. forces used following the 2003 invasion could serve as a staging ground for the Mosul offensive. Kurdish peshmerga forces and a range of militia groups may take part.

The offensive's faltering start has cast renewed doubt on the capabilities of the Iraqi army, which retreated in disarray when Islamic State seized Mosul in 2014.

Nineveh Operations Commander Major General Najm al-Jabouri blamed the slow pace on a lack of troops. "If it weren't for the limited units, we could have advanced further, but we don't have forces to hold ground," he told Reuters in a recent interview.

His forces had no tanks and were fighting without the elite counter-terrorism forces that have spearheaded most of Iraq's successful offensives elsewhere, Jabouri said. Islamic State's use of civilians as human shields has also hampered Iraqi forces.

U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said more troops would be deployed to Makhmour and that "tens of thousands" were needed for the final push on Mosul.

"We knew that the fighting would get harder the further north we went and we are seeing that to be the case," he told Reuters.

Iraqi officials say they will retake Mosul this year. But in private many question whether that is possible. The pace of fighting could slow further as temperatures continue to rise and the month-long Ramadan season begins in early June.

12 killed in Iraq car bomb explosion

Iraqi security forces have announced that a car bombing has killed at least a dozen and injured 40 in the east of the country.

Police and hospital sources said Monday that the blast happened in Shaftah district of the city of Baqubah near a popular restaurant.

Iraq’s Summeriyah news said security forces cordoned off the area and ambulances arrived to transfer the wounded.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said the attack happened at the heart of the city, adding that an investigation has been opened into the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Takfiri group Daesh, which controls areas in western and northern Iraq, has carried out similar attacks in the province of Diyala, where Baqubah is located.

Back in January, more than two dozen were killed in two car bombs in the town of Muqdadiya, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

The latest figures released by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq show a total of 741 Iraqis were killed and 1,374 others injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in April.

According to the UN mission, the number of civilian fatalities stood at 410.

Violence also claimed the lives of 331 members of the Iraqi security forces.

A great portion of the fatalities was recorded in Baghdad, where 232 civilians were killed.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Yemen Under Siege (PBS Video - 35 minutes - May 3, 2016)

Journalist Safa Al Ahmad makes a dangerous trip to report on the fighting in Yemen and the stunning human cost of the war.

Full transcript:

Exclusive: A recent PBS report about the war in Yemen exposed the secret connection between the U.S.-Saudi alliance and Al Qaeda, a reality that also underscores the jihadist violence in Syria, writes Daniel Lazare.
The Secret Behind the Yemen War

PBS Frontline’s “Yemen Under Siege,” which aired on May 3, makes for powerful viewing. A first-hand look at the devastation that the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and other powers have visited on one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, the 35-minute documentary shows families struggling amid the rubble, children dying from mortar attacks, surgeons operating without anesthesia, and other such horrors.

But the most important revelation comes almost as an aside. Interviewing pro-Saudi fighters near the central Yemeni city of Taiz, journalist Safa Al Ahmad suddenly hears shouting. “What’s wrong?” she asks. “Who are they? They don’t want me to be here?”

A soldier explains that the people making a ruckus are Ansar al Sharia, i.e. fighters for shari‘a. “And he just says quite casually, these are Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Al Ahmad says later of the local Al Qaeda affiliate often referred to as AQAP. “And he referred to them by their local name, which is Ansar al Sharia. He revealed what is considered an open secret in the front lines, that they [AQAP] had been fighting with all the different factions, the [pro-Saudi] Yemeni factions and the [U.S.-Saudi] coalition against the Houthis.”

“We don’t accept you,” the Al Qaeda members cry out. “On religious grounds, we do not accept you.” A non-Al Qaeda fighter says dismissively, “They are ISIS.” But a second corrects him: “No, they’re not. They’re worse than ISIS. We can’t coexist with them.”

But coexist they do, as the film makes clear. Yet another non-Al Qaeda fighter explains: “Islam does not allow for people to be overly strict. We must be moderate. But we have a group here who are strict.”

“But you fight together at the front line?” Al Ahmad asks.

“For sure. At the front, we are together.”

With that, the documentary lifts the lid on perhaps the single most incoherent aspect of U.S. policy in the Middle East. On one hand, the United States claims to be fighting Al Qaeda, and indeed AQAP, regarded as one of Al Qaeda’s most aggressive franchises, has been a prime target of U.S. drone strikes ever since the war on terror began.

At the same time, though, the U.S. provides military backing for forces led by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Persian Gulf petro-states that welcome AQAP fighters into their ranks as full and active participants in the anti-Houthi crusade.

The U.S. opposes Al Qaeda, on one hand, but supports elements that ally with it, on the other.

Explaining the War in Yemen As Al Ahmad – a heroic Saudi dissident who has been effectively banished from her homeland for reporting on the plight of the kingdom’s Shi‘ite minority – puts it: “This is why it’s so difficult to explain the war on Yemen, because there are so many enemies that find themselves on the same front lines fighting the other enemy. lot of people who wanted to fight the Houthis, that didn’t necessarily agree with Al Qaeda, did join them because that was a ready front for them to go out and fight. And that grew with the ranks of Al Qaeda. And so the situation only got worse from 2012 until now.”

Where formerly Al Qaeda “controlled huge parts of South Yemen,” she adds, the group’s reach over the last four years has grown to the point where it now constitutes a veritable state within a state.

All of which runs directly counter to the official line in Washington, which holds that if AQAP has expanded, it is only because it has taken advantage of the disorderly conditions that the Houthi uprising has imposed. As a U.S. counterterrorism official told The Daily Beast last summer: “It is now clear that AQAP has been a significant beneficiary of the chaos unleashed by the Houthi takeover. While the Saudi-led coalition has started to push back the Houthis, they are not able to simultaneously fight AQAP. The net result is that AQAP continues to make inroads and exploit the situation.”

This vision holds that the Houthis are the prime cause of Al Qaeda’s expansion, they created the conditions that have allowed it to expand, and poor Saudi Arabia is now struggling valiantly to set things right. It’s all quite heartwarming except that “Yemen Under Siege” shows that the opposite is really the case.

Rather than rolling Al Qaeda back, it makes clear that, whatever their misgivings, pro-Saudi forces have come to rely on it as a useful asset in the anti-Houthi struggle and that, consequently, they have encouraged its growth. Since the Saudis are backing the anti-Houthi forces, this makes them complicit in AQAP’s expansion. And since the U.S. is backing the Saudis, this makes America complicit, too.

Indeed, America’s role is even worse. By subjecting AQAP to periodic drone strikes, it not only winds up killing civilians – such as the 14 members of a wedding party that the U.S. mistakenly targeted in December 2013 – but fairly encourages AQAP members to intermingle with other anti-Houthi forces by making it clear that is the one place it will not bomb.

The result, in effect, is a highly effective machine for fueling apocalyptic fervor, spreading Islamic militancy, and encouraging AQAP to extend its tentacles throughout the broader anti-Houthi movement. The only ones who are in the dark as to why AQAP can prosper under such conditions are the foreign-policy experts back in Washington.

A Broader Pattern None of this is unique to Yemen, meanwhile. To the contrary, it takes place wherever the U.S. pretends to combat Al Qaeda while in fact doing the opposite. The original model was Afghanistan where Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid
estimates that the CIA, the Saudis and others poured a total of $10 billion into the anti-Soviet jihad over a ten-year period beginning in mid-1979.

Since Islamic militants generally proved to be the most dedicated fighters, the money flowed to extremists such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious fanatic who got his start in the 1970s throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women at Kabul University.

His reign as prime minister in 1993-94 and again briefly in 1996 was so brutal and destructive that the Taliban were hailed as liberators when they finally took over and sent Hekmatyar fleeing to Pakistan.

The same happened in Libya when the Arab Spring touched down in early 2011 and the White House urged Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, emir of Qatar, to contribute to a growing swarm of anti-Gaddafi rebels. Obama described Al-Thani at a Democratic fundraiser as “a big booster, big promoter of democracy all throughout the Middle East,” but then confessed: “Now, he himself is not reforming significantly. There’s no big move towards democracy in Qatar. But you know part of the reason is that the per capita income of Qatar is $145,000 a year. That will dampen a lot of conflict.”

In fact, it did the opposite. Happy to oblige, Al-Thani, a major supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, funneled $400 million in the form of machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition to Salafist rebels who proceeded to do to Libya what an earlier generation of U.S.-backed jihadis had done to Afghanistan, i.e. reduce it to chaos. [See’s “Obama’s Risky ‘Mission Creep’ in Syria.”]

Once again, Washington’s clueless foreign-policy establishment was left scratching its head as to how it had all gone so wrong.

Finally, there is Syria, where such perverse policies have generated a tidal wave of violence resulting in millions of refugees and as many as 470,000 deaths. The Bush administration began making threatening noises toward Damascus weeks after invading Iraq in March 2003, although it quickly pulled back once events in its new protectorate began spinning out of control.

But three years later, then-U.S. Ambassador to Syria William V. Roebuck suggested that fostering religious conflict might be an easier way to bring down the Assad government. Even though Sunni fears of Shi‘ite proselytizing are “often exaggerated,” he advised in a diplomatic cable made public by Wikileaks, “Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders) are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue. ”See’s “Obama Tolerates the Warmongers.”

Exploiting Religious War Religious war was too good an opportunity to pass up. In June 2012, The New York Times revealed that the CIA was relying on the arch-Sunni Muslim Brotherhood to help channel arms to rebel forces that had already taken the field against Assad.

In August, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reported that Al Qaeda, the Salafists, and Muslim Brotherhood were “the major forces driving the insurgency,” that the likely outcome was the establishment of a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria,” and that “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” – i.e. the U.S., Turkey, and Arab gulf states – “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion….”

In August 2014, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes assured Americans that ISIS posed no danger since its “primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State” rather than striking out at Western targets abroad.

Hence, Americans could count on the violence remaining safely self-contained as Islamic State made life miserable for the Damascus government – an assessment, needless to say, that proved woefully incorrect when ISIS hitmen shot up the Bataclan theater and other Paris targets last November, killing 130 people in all.

Thereafter, U.S. policy wobbled ever more unsteadily. Washington still tilted toward Islamic State when it came to combatting Syrian government forces, which is why it refrained from bombing ISIS fighters as they converged on Palmyra in May 2015 even though they would have been perfect targets as they traversed miles of open desert.

But it otherwise tilted toward Al Nusra Front, as Al Qaeda is locally known, which it now regarded as less dangerous, or toward groups with which Al Nusra is closely aligned.

“Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who’s not affiliated with ISIL,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. explained in March 2015 – and indeed the White House made no objection a month later when so-called moderates joined with Al Nusra to launch a major offensive in Syria’s northern Idlib province. [See’s “Climbing into Bed with Al-Qaeda.”]

Covering for Salafists Similarly, the U.S. resisted classifying a Salafist army known as Ahrar al-Sham as terrorist even though it collaborates closely with Al Nusra and its ideology is virtually identical, as Stephen Gowans recently noted at the Global Research website.

The same goes for a Free Syrian Army unit known as the 13th Division, which the US has long backed even though it maintains “a tacit collaboration with Nusra” according to The Wall Street Journal “and even shared with the group some of its ammunition supplies.”

Mohammad Alloush, who enjoys strong US backing as the chief rebel negotiator at the Geneva peace talks, is a leader of yet another Salafist group called Jaysh al-Islam, which issued a blood-curdling call to exterminate Syria’s Alawite community in July 2013. Jaysh al-Islam, it informed the Alawites, “will make you taste the worst torture in life before Allah makes you taste the worst torture on judgment day.” But while one might think this would place Jaysh al-Islam beyond the pale, former Ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford praised it a year later as one of the “moderate” rebel forces that were making life “particularly painful” for the Damascus government.

Genocide is permissible, apparently, as long as it’s not too extreme. More recently, Secretary of State John Kerry assailed Assad for bombing rebel positions in Aleppo even though it is clear that so-called “moderates” have intermingled with Al Nusra fighters to the degree that it is impossible to attack one without affecting the other. After Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for US military forces in Iraq, conceded in a press briefing that “it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” Kerry reportedly pushed to include it among the non-terrorist groups exempt from Syrian government attack under the terms of an Aleppo ceasefire agreement that went into effect on May 5.

“This was absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said, “and at the end we managed to strike it down.”

While the U.S. was happy to see ISIS attack Syrian government forces in Palmyra, it was none too pleased to see Syrian forces attack Al Qaeda in Aleppo, which pretty much tells us where its sympathies lie.

If ISIS, Al Nusra, and Al Qaeda-clones like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam continue to grow, it is not hard to figure out why. The more the Sunni political spectrum shifts in a Salafist direction as sectarian warfare deepens and spreads, the more the advantage goes to a hard core composed of ISIS and Al Qaeda.

They are the best fighters, the most dedicated, the best financed thanks to years of support by wealthy gulf contributors, and the best armed thanks to weapons that other groups have relinquished voluntarily or not. Despite friction, the Saudis and Qataris cannot say no to such forces because they see them as increasingly important in a fight against a “Shi‘ite crescent” stretching from the Houthis in Yemen to the Alawites in Syria.

They are allies whose help they cannot afford to forego, which is why the various Sunni forces are coming together at this point rather than pulling apart. Hence the intermingling of “moderates” and Al Qaeda that we see from Taiz to Aleppo.

As for the U.S., it is locked in a dysfunctional marriage with the Saudis from which it is unable to escape. As a result, it winds up in bed with the same forces as well. Like a character in a Somerset Maugham novel, it finds itself returning again and again to the same sordid love affair no matter how hard it tries to resist.


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A report says a British military firm hired African mercenaries, including former child soldiers, to take part in US operations in Iraq in order to reduce costs.
UK used former child soldiers in Iraq war: Report

Back dated Mon Apr 18, 2016 - The claims against Aegis Defense Services are to be made in a Danish television documentary The Child Soldier's New Job which is due to be broadcast later on Monday.

The documentary claims that Aegis hired some 2,500 mercenaries on as little as 10 pounds a day in order to fulfill contracts to guard US military bases from 2004 onwards.

Former Aegis director James Ellery told The Guardian that contractors recruited from countries with high unemployment rates and cheap labor such as Sierra Leone, not checking if the mercenaries were former child soldiers.

The company was providing guards to safeguard US military bases in Iraq since 2004. It initially hired British, American and Nepalese individuals, but began employing recruits from African nations in 2011.

The company was taken over last year by the Canadian security company GardaWorld.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Horn of Africa) — For years they were children at war, boys given rifles and training by al-Qaeda-backed militants and sent to the front lines of this country’s bloody conflict. Many had been kidnapped from schools and soccer fields and forced to fight.
Exclusive: U.S.-funded Somali intelligence agency has been using kids as spies

The United Nations pleaded for them to be removed from the battlefield. The United States denounced the Islamist militants for using children to plant bombs and carry out assassinations.

But when the boys were finally disarmed — some defecting and others apprehended — what awaited them was yet another dangerous role in the war. This time, the children say, they were forced to work for the Somali government.

The boys were used for years as informants by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), according to interviews with the children and Somali and U.N. officials. They were marched through neighborhoods where al-Shabab insurgents were hiding and told to point out their former comrades. The faces of intelligence agents were covered, but the boys — some as young as 10 — were rarely concealed, according to the children. Several of them were killed. One tried to hang himself while in custody.

The Somali agency’s widespread use of child informants, which has not been previously documented, appears to be a flagrant violation of international law. It raises difficult questions for the U.S. government, which for years has provided substantial funding and training to the Somali agency through the CIA, according to current and former U.S. officials.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the issue. But in the past the U.S. government has supported Somali security institutions — despite well-known human rights violations — citing the urgent need to combat terrorist groups such as al-Shabab.

The child informants were used to collect intelligence or identify suspects in some of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods, according to their accounts. Somali intelligence agents called the boys “far-muuq,” they said — finger-pointers.

Somalia’s army has long recruited children as soldiers. But for years, U.N. and human rights officials found it difficult to confirm reports about a shadowy government-run center in Mogadishu, which was said to hold children used in intelligence operations. Only late last year did U.N. officials persuade Somali authorities to transfer the boys to a new rehabilitation center, where they would not be accessible to intelligence agents, according to U.N. and Somali officials. That is where The Post interviewed the children.

Somalia’s intelligence chief denied in an interview that the boys were forced to work as informants but said that “high-level” child combatants were — and still are — kept in custody, because they are dangerous and have valuable knowledge. Those boys, he said, sometimes volunteer to go on missions and have yielded “important information” that has helped agents prevent attacks.

“If a child joins al-Shabab when he is 9, by the time he is 16, he is a lion,” NISA’s director, Gen. Abdirahman Turyare, said in an interview. “They are able to point to someone and tell us, ‘That guy, he fought with me.’ ”

Somalia’s intelligence agency continues to keep such boys for months at a time, Turyare acknowledged, in spite of a 2014 agreement to release children to UNICEF within 72 hours of their escaping al-Shabab or being apprehended.

Although details of the CIA’s operations in Somalia are secret, Somali officials said the two agencies work together closely.

“There’s nothing NISA does that the CIA doesn’t know about,” “There’s nothing NISA does that the CIA doesn’t know about,”
said a senior Somali official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence issues.

During Somalia’s 25-year civil war, which has shifted among rebel factions, clans and Islamist groups and left hundreds of thousands dead, children have constantly been caught up in the fighting.

Al-Shabab, which seeks to transform the country into a hard-line Islamic state, has been even more notorious for recruiting children. In some parts of Somalia, the group has ransacked classrooms, kidnapping hundreds of children and sending them to training camps.

The international community, recognizing that child combatants needed to be assimilated back into Somali society, lobbied in recent years for a reintegration program. And the government in 2012 launched a plan that it said would provide former underage soldiers with psychological help and education. But according to the boys interviewed in Mogadishu, the program they entered was not about rehabilitation. To their surprise, the teens were put to work gathering intelligence.

In late 2015, after years of pressure from the United Nations, the children were quietly transferred from the government-run detention center to a juvenile rehabilitation facility in central Mogadishu at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, which is run by a nonprofit group and receives its funding from UNICEF. Thirty-three of the boys remain. Thirty-one have been released.

But international aid workers and experts suspect that the use of boys as informants continues.

One Somali security official confirmed that “hundreds” of children remain in NISA facilities and are used as intelligence assets. In Galkayo, in central Somalia, about 30 former child combatants have been kept in a one-room building since being captured in late March and have faced NISA interrogations, according to several relief workers.

In 2015, Somalia ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which outlaws the recruitment of children younger than 15 by security forces. Such recruitment is considered a war crime by the International Criminal Court. The majority of the former underage soldiers interviewed by The Post said they began working as informants before they turned 15.

[...] In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which was intended to block military assistance to countries that “recruit and use child soldiers.” But under a “national interest” waiver, the United States allocated $330 million to Somalia this year, much of which has gone to the security sector. Three other countries — Nigeria, South Sudan and Congo — also received a waiver in 2015 despite using underage soldiers.

“Some children are in such great danger because of their time as informants that we have to relocate them and their families to new regions,” Elman said.


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ISIS buries alive dozens of defectors who fled Iraq battlefield – reports

Islamic State has reportedly buried dozens of its own militants alive, after the jihadists refused to fight and fled the battlefield in the face of the Iraqi government’s push to retake ground in northern province of Nineveh, which has been ruled by the terrorists since 2014.

The overall number of militants who have been executed remains ambiguous. AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA) is reporting that 35 fighters were killed, while Iraqi News is reporting that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) buried 45 of its members alive on charges of fleeing the battlefield.

The executions took place on the outskirts of Qayyarah, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of the militant-held city of Mosul, an anonymous provincial source told ABNA. According to reports, those who were buried alive were accused of fleeing clashes with government forces in the village of Bashir, just south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Another source confirmed the slaying to, saying that “ISIS had buried its members, who escaped from al-Bashir battles, inside one grave.”

According to Arabic language media, on Monday ISIS command also shot and killed dozens of its fighters in the village of al-Hadar south of Mosul – likewise for escaping from battle in Anbar province.

The murder of ISIS fighters by its own command seems to show an increased morale deterioration within its ranks as desertions become widespread. The hardline group currently suffers from a shortage of manpower and financial resources due to the intensified airstrikes and ground attacks by anti-terror forces in both Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by the US-led coalition against IS launched the offensive in Ninevehin province in March in an attempt to recapture jihadist-controlled Mosul which the militants have held since 2014. Over the past few months, the coalition’s airstrikes have killed a number of top ISIS commanders across Iraq, while the Iraqi forces and Kurdish militia are now within a 50 km range of Mosul.

ISIL Smuggles Food, Fuel from Syria to Western Iraq

“ISIL is smuggling various kinds of food and fuel from al-Raqqah and Albu Kamal areas in Syria to al-Qa’im District (460 km West of Anbar) to finance its fighters in the western regions,” senior member of Anbar Provincial Council, Farhan Mohammed Karbouli said in a press statement, Iraqi News reported.

Karbouli added, “ISIL gangs were using the Syrian areas, for more than two years, in the smuggling of food, fuel, medical supplies and even weapons and missiles.”

“The government of Anbar called the security leaders to cleanse the Iraqi-Syrian border, in order to cut off ISIL funding, weaken their fighting skills and preventing the arrival of food and weapons to ISIL cells in the cities of Anbar,” Karbouli continued.

Car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City kills 16, sources say

A car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood killed at least 16 people on Wednesday and wounded more than 40 others, Iraqi police and hospital sources said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in a bustling market during the morning rush, but Islamic State militants battling government troops in the country's north and west regularly attack Shi'ite civilian areas in the capital.

The sources said they expected the death toll to rise.

Endless corruption is leaving Iraq a failed state

LONDON,— Property prices in central Baghdad are as high as London’s, even though Iraq’s national income is down by 70 percent since the collapse of oil prices. Islamic State bombings regularly devastate parts of the capital and still the real estate market booms. Why?

Because there is so much “dirty money” in Iraq that needs to be laundered. If you lack the political clout to get your stolen money out of the country, then the safest course is to put it into residential property. But then that’s not a very safe bet either when the entire pseudo-democratic system bequeathed to Iraq by the U.S. invasion is on the brink of collapse.

Intrusion late last month by thousands of angry Iraqis into the Green Zone, the vast blast-walled government compound in Baghdad, was probably the beginning of the end of the current dispensation in Iraq. They stayed for two days, only leaving after delivering an ultimatum calling for wholesale reform of the government but vowing to return if it does not happen.

It will not happen, and they will be back in the streets soon. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, forced from power in 2014 after Islamic State forces conquered the western half of Iraq, has been plotting a comeback with other parties in parliament. He may not succeed, but he and his allies are certainly able to block the passage of most measures they do not like.

The cement binding Maliki and the other plotters is their determination to retain the utterly corrupt system that has allowed them to loot the country’s oil wealth for so long. The oil wealth is a great deal less now, but it is still practically Iraq’s only source of income and they have no intention of giving it up.

The man who replaced Maliki, President Haider al-Abadi, is in relative terms a reformer. He belongs to the same Dawa Party as Maliki and can’t afford to get too far out of touch with his power base. Nevertheless, almost a year ago he promised that he would replace many of his Cabinet members, drawn from the various parties in the ruling coalition, with “technocrats” who would (theoretically) be less likely to steal the government’s money.

He couldn’t deliver on his promise, however, because any Cabinet changes have to be approved by parliament. None of the parties there were willing to give up their own Cabinet ministers, and with it their ability to divert the government’s cash flow into their own pockets. Three times Abadi’s proposed reforms were rejected by parliament.

It was after the last time, in April, that Moqtada al-Sadr, a populist cleric with a big following among Baghdad’s multitudinous Shiite poor, ordered the invasion of the fortified Green Zone. That forced parliament to approve of five of Abadi’s Cabinet changes, and more will probably follow.

But changing the figureheads in the government ministries will not end the looting of public funds, which permeates the system from top to bottom. Indeed, you might say that corruption is the system in Iraq. Like several other oil-rich countries, Iraq distributes some of the cash flow to the citizens by means of paying them to do non-jobs. Most of the rest is stolen by the 25,000 or so people who hold senior administrative, political or military positions, leaving a small amount for public works.

There are 7 million government employees in Iraq — a large majority of the adult male population — and most of them do little or no work. Indeed, some of them don’t even exist, like the “ghost soldiers” whose pay is collected by their officers. Collectively they were paid around $4 billion a month, which was all right when monthly oil income was up around $6 billion.

The oil revenue is now down to $2 billion a month. The central bank has been making up the difference from its reserves, but those are now running out. The country’s economic crisis is now more urgent and more dangerous than the military confrontation with Islamic State, but that does not seem clear to many of the major players in Iraq’s dysfunctional political system.

It is so dysfunctional that little is being done even to repair the Mosul Dam, which requires constant work on its foundations if it is not to break and drown Mosul, four hours downstream, under a 24-meter-high wave. The wave would be much lower by the time it would reach Baghdad two days later, but it would still be big enough to wreck property values for a long time to come.

All the talk about the Iraqi army driving Islamic State back is just hot air. The only Iraqi military advances have happened under the cover of massive U.S. airstrikes, and the government’s own attention is elsewhere. So, increasingly, is that of the population. But Islamic State is still paying attention.


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Iraqi Security Forces Hold Positions Within 40 Km of Daesh-Occupied Mosul

US-backed Iraqi troops have captured villages toward Mosul city, US Major General Gary Volesky told reporters on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US-backed Iraqi troops have captured villages moving up the Tigris River valley toward the nation’s second largest city of Mosul, and they are now positioned the furthest north since Daesh (IS) seized control of the city two years ago, US Major General Gary Volesky told reporters on Wednesday.

"When I say they’re [Iraqi military forces] the furthest north since Daesh [IS] came and occupied Mosul, that’s the furthest north they’ve had Iraqi security forces in a while," Volesky said.

Iraqi troops, Volesky noted, are positioned near the Tigris River roughly 20 to 25 miles from Mosul. He declined to predict when an Iraqi offensive to retake the city would begin.

Daesh seized control of Mosul in June 2014. It now operates the city as the Iraqi capital of its self-declared Islamic caliphate.

Capturing Mosul is considered a key objective for the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces.

Daesh-controlled areas shrink to 14 percent: Iraq

Iraq says the areas under the grip of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the Arab country have significantly decreased to only 14 percent, compared to almost triple that number recorded two years ago.

Iraq’s government spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said in a televised statement on Wednesday that the Iraqi army had retaken around two-thirds of the territory captured by Daesh in their sweep across Iraq in 2014.

"Daesh's presence in Iraqi cities and provinces has declined. After occupying 40 percent of Iraqi territory, now only 14 percent remains [under their control]," Hadithi added.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have seen violence by Daesh since the group began an offensive in the Iraqi territory in June 2014.The Takfiri elements frequently launch deadly attacks in the areas under the government's control.

On Wednesday, three separate bombings claimed by Daesh in and around the Iraqi capital left at least 93 people dead and 165 others wounded in the deadliest attacks in Baghdad this year.

Fresh gains by the Iraqi army against terrorists

In another development on Wednesday, the Iraqi security forces liberated two villages from Daesh in the city of Khan al-Baghdadi in western Anbar Province, Iraq's al-Forat news agency reported.

The advance was the latest in a string of gains by the Iraqi military and allied volunteer fighters against Daesh in the conflict-ridden country.

Meanwhile, airstrikes also killed 20 Daesh terrorists in the Anbar city of Hit, according to Iraq's al-Sumaria News.

Iraqi Army Continues Push Towards Syrian Border (VIDEO)

Media: The Iraqi military chief of communications and eliminated IG Communications

MOSCOW, May 11 -. RIA Novosti Iraqi military on Wednesday eliminated one of the leaders of the terrorist group "Islamic state" (IG, banned in Russia), in charge of communication and communication in the organization, according to the Iraqi News Agency (Iraqi Media News Agency) with reference military.

The operation took place in a suburb of Fallujah, which since 2013 is under the control of the IG.

"This morning, the security forces carried out a military operation against a group of IG fighters ... in the heart of al-Karma and eliminated the so-called chief of the IG Communications in the city of Fallujah and nine of his associates", - quotes agency the statement of Colonel Mahmoud Mardi Jumana (Mahmoud Mardi Jumaili) .

Iraq remains a serious situation in the field of security in connection with the activity of the IG. In Baghdad and surrounding areas regularly affected by explosions, killing civilians and members of the security forces.


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Iraqi government assured the United States that it will protect the US embassy in Baghdad amid protests in the city, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing on Wednesday.

Washington Receives Assurances From Iraq to Protect US Embassy in Baghdad

The press secretary underscored that all the necessary steps to ensure safety of the embassy staff have been taken.

On May 6, US media reported that 25 Marines had arrived to the US embassy in Baghdad at the request of the Department of State due to security concerns.

On April 26, supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr entered the Baghdad’s Green Zone, housing government buildings and foreign missions, and broke into the Iraqi parliament to demand reforms of the political quota system.

Sir John Chilcot and UK Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that the Iraq Inquiry’s report will be published on Wednesday 6 July 2016, according to a statement on the public inquiry’s website.
Inquiry Into UK’s Part in Iraq War to Be Published on July 6

Sir John Chilcot’s report into the United Kingdom’s part in the Iraq war will be published on July 6, seven years after it was launched, a statement on the public inquiry’s website said Monday.

Last week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that the report would not be published until after the national referendum on staying or leaving the European Union, which is set to be held on June 23, as it might affect the voters' decisions.

The people of Iraq may be facing a poisonous new threat as Black Widow spiders were spotted in one of the country’s regions.
New Menace: Deadly ‘Daesh Spiders’ Threaten Iraq (Video)

Black spiders with characteristic red markings on their abdomens are apparently spreading in the vicinity of the "Al Habbaniyah" US military base in western Iraq. This development has outraged the residents of Anbar province where a bloody conflict between government forces and Daesh militants is currently being waged.

A resident of the Al Habbaniyah district of the Anbar province provided Sputnik with the following video footage.

The man featured in this video, an Iraqi farmer named Abu Osman, says: “I confirm that American Black Widow spider was found in Al Habbaniyah region. I demand that the local government get rid of these spiders that invade our homes in this region, and prevent them from spreading.”

He also pointed out that many local residents don’t know how dangerous these spiders are and urged the authorities to raise awareness among the populace regarding this new threat.

An official representative of Iraq’s Health Ministry told Sputnik however that so far no cases of people being bitten by this type of spider have been reported in Anbar province or in any other region of the country. He also added that the rumors about the spiders are mostly being spread via social media.


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Within these next two articles, it states that U.S. troops were sent to Yemen about two weeks ago, to help support Yemeni and Emirati forces - battle against al-Qaida militants near the city of Mukalla. There is a separate campaign being led by the Saudi's against the Houthis in which the U.S. is also assisting with midair refueling aircraft and some reconnaissance capabilities.

To add to the confusion (for me, anyway) staged off the Yemen's coast, are U.S. ships from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit which include: the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship with Marine infantry and aircraft, and two destroyers, the USS Gravely and the USS Gonzalez.

The Saudi's are threatening (if the Peace talks fail) to move forces into Sanaa, the Yemeni Capital. I wonder if this General Asiri is planning, with the help of the Marine's from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, etc. to over power the supporters of the Houthi movement, loyal to the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, just to secure the Yemeni Capital for the Saudi's?

I don't think, that idea is going to go over "too Big" with the Houthi, if the Saudi's & U.S. plan on - forcing their way to take over their Capital?

US forces now on the ground supporting combat operations in Yemen, Pentagon says

May 6, 2016 - U.S. troops have been on the ground in Yemen for approximately two weeks supporting Yemeni and Emirati forces that are fighting a pitched battle against al-Qaida militants near the city of Mukalla, Pentagon officials said Friday.

U.S. military activity in Yemen has been relegated mostly to airstrikes for more than a year following the overthrow of the government in the capital Sanaa by Houthi rebels, but Friday's announcement signals a new level of involvement in the conflict - one that the Pentagon described as temporary without putting a timeline on it.

The U.S. forces are working with Yemeni forces loyal to the old government, not the Houthis, officials said. The officials also said that the actions U.S. forces are engaged in are focused on al-Qaida and are separate from a Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis. The United States has assisted the Saudi-led coalition with midair refueling aircraft and some reconnaissance capabilities.

"We view this as short term," said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

According to Davis, the United States is providing a "small number" of military personnel as well as medical teams, maritime support and intelligence-gathering assets including airborne surveillance aircraft to the Emirati and Yemeni forces fighting al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP.

Davis would not describe what type of U.S. personnel were on the ground. U.S. Special Operations forces operated in Yemen in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but were forced to withdraw when civil war broke out in 2015. The U.S. troops, Davis said, would help advise the Arab ground forces and assist with operational planning.

Aside from the troops on the ground, Davis said ships from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit have staged off Yemen's coast. The flotilla of U.S. ships includes the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship with Marine infantry and aircraft, and two destroyers, the USS Gravely and the USS Gonzalez.

Davis said the United States has conducted four strikes against al-Qaida militants since April 23, killing 10 militants and wounding one. In March the Pentagon announced it had killed more than 70 al-Qaida fighters in Yemen in one of the largest U.S. strikes conducted in the country since the beginning of operations there. According to a Long War Journal database, the United States has conducted roughly 140 airstrikes in Yemen since 2002.

AQAP has exploited Yemen's civil war to expand its influence throughout the country, officials said, and has also managed to hold a number of key towns since the start of the conflict.

The influx of U.S. troops is intended to help Emirati and Yemeni forces wrest the port city of Mukalla and surrounding areas from AQAP. The group has held the city for the past year and in recent days has been mostly driven out and into the surrounding countryside.

Saudi Arabia will send troops into Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, if peace talks between the Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels fail, a military spokesman said Wednesday, raising the specter of extended conflict.
Saudi military threatens to move forces into Sanaa if peace talks fail

May 9, 2016 - Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebel forces since last year, said that Saudi Arabia hoped that peace talks in Kuwait, already strained by ongoing violence on the ground, would succeed.

"If not, . . . today we have troops around the capital, and we will get in, because the goal should be achieved, the goal which is securing Yemen," Asiri told reporters during a visit to Washington. "Securing Yemen doesn't mean that we will tolerate to have a militia . . . controlling ballistic missiles, artillery, etc., and threatening our border and threatening the area."

But Saudi Arabia would face a major challenge in trying to advance local troops or members of its mostly Arab military coalition into the Sanaa area, populated by supporters of the Houthi movement and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Asiri's comments came several days after U.S. officials revealed that they had placed a small team of U.S. advisers on the ground around the Yemeni port city of Mukalla, where they are supporting operations in a parallel campaign by Emirati troops fighting alongside Saudi and Yemeni forces against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The action against AQAP has also drawn the United States deeper into the conflict. The small advisory operation marks the first U.S. military presence since the rebels' takeover of Sanaa in late 2014 prompted Washington to pull remaining American personnel from Yemen and end a long-standing training program for local forces.

Asiri said Saudi and Emirati Special Operations forces, about a company-size unit of each, joined troops loyal to the Yemeni government in fighting the militants in Mukalla. He declined to say how many Saudi troops had been on the ground but said most of them had been withdrawn after the fighting in Mukalla subsided. In addition to the foreign troops in Mukalla, on Yemen's southern coast, 300 Sudanese troops are in Aden, another important port city to the west.

Asiri said the Mukalla operation was just "one step" required against AQAP, which had retreated into remote areas where it is difficult to track, adding that Yemeni forces would need to reassert government control of those areas. "The objective is, once you free the zone, you put the army on the ground, the Yemeni army on the ground, and you start providing services," he said.

The expanded operations against AQAP take place as the United Nations struggles to bring about progress in the Kuwait peace talks. This week, Houthi leaders accused Saudi Arabia of violating a recently announced truce. Asiri, meanwhile, said that rebels had fired two Scud missiles at a Saudi city this week.

"We cannot leave Yemen in a gray area without having a final result," he said. "Otherwise, we will see the Libyan model in Yemen."

The general defended Saudi Arabia's management of its air campaign against the Houthi rebels, saying that strikes were conducted to the standard of NATO operations.

"We take all the measures to conduct surgical airstrikes," he said.

The United Nations has accused the Saudi-led coalition of being responsible for twice the number of civilian casualties as other combatants in Yemen. Asiri said that Saudi and allied forces systematically investigated allegations of civilian casualties but were hindered by a lack of access to Houthi-controlled areas. He did not provide a number for how many of those allegations had been verified.

The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 6,000 people and triggered a severe humanitarian crisis in an already poor country.


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Gunmen Open Fire on Iraqi Cafe, Casualties Reported

At least 12 people were killed and 25 more wounded after three unidentified gunmen opened fire on Iraqi cafe, according to police sources.

Three unknown mеn opened fire on a popular cafe in a mainly Shiite town of Balad in northern Iraq, killing at least 12 and injuring 25 more.

The gunmen successfully passed several police checkpoints before reaching the cafe, according to a police source. Then they managed to carry out the attack for for about 10 minutes despite the area being one of the most heavily secured.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in the wake the attack.


Iraqi Army liberates 3 villages in Al-Anbar: 40 terrorists killed

On Thursday morning, the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division – backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) – liberated 3 more villages from the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) in the Al-‘Anbar Goverenorate.

According to the Iraqi Minister of Defense, the 7th Division and the PMF liberated the villages of Baraziyah, Adusiyah, and Sam’aniyah from the ISIS terrorists after a violent battle on Thursday morning.

These 3 villages that were liberated on Thursday by the Iraqi Armed Forces were reportedly located just south of Al-Baghdadi City in western Al-‘Anbar.

The Iraqi Minister of Defense also added that as many as 40 ISIS terrorists were killed during the battle on Thursday, including several foreign combatants.

In addition to this news, the Iraqi Armed Forces also killed the prominent ISIS commander, ‘Abdullah ‘Abdel-Latif ‘Umar, during an intense battle near Rubbah.

Iraqis hold protest after deadly Daesh bomb attacks in Baghdad

Hundreds of Iraqis have rallied in Baghdad to criticize the government for what they called its failure to maintain security, a day after separate bombings claimed by Daesh killed more than 90 people.

Wednesday was the bloodiest day in Baghdad so far this year, when at least 64 people, mostly women, lost their lives and 85 others were injured in a car bomb blast rocked the Sadr City neighborhood.

Later in the day, a bomber detonated his explosives in the al-Kadhimiya neighborhood of Baghdad, killing 17 people. A similar attack at a checkpoint in the al-Jamia neighborhood claimed a dozen lives.

On Thursday, residents of Sadr City gathered at the site of the bomb attack and reproached Iraq’s political leaders for not doing enough to establish security in the Iraqi capital.

Some of the demonstrators chanted slogans demanding the resignation of Iraq’s Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghaban.

“The government is supposed to put in place certain procedures to protect the people, but they are not offering anything,” Sheikh Kadhim Jassem, a protester, told AFP.

On Thursday, Daesh terrorists killed at least 17 Iraqi soldiers with truck bombs in a major attack on government forces that recaptured the western city of Ramadi in December.

A recent surge in bombings has heightened criticism of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as he grapples with a political crisis over his attempts to overhaul his cabinet.

Lawmakers have failed to convene parliament since protesters loyal to Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr breached the heavily-fortified Green Zone district two weeks ago and took over the assembly complex for several hours.

Abadi urges probe

On Wednesday, Abadi ordered an immediate investigation into security breaches that allowed terrorists to target Baghdad’s neighborhoods.

“The terrorist acts are aimed at undermining the internal front, which supports the armed forces in their fight for the liberation of Iraq from terrorist groups,” he said, referring to volunteer forces helping the army.

Abadi also held an emergency meeting with officials in charge of protecting security across the capital.

Daesh terrorists frequently target various neighborhoods of Baghdad, particularly those populated by Shia Muslims, to undermine government efforts to maintain security.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since Daesh began an offensive in the Iraqi territory in June 2014.

According to the latest figures released by the UN, a total of 741 Iraqis were killed and 1,374 others were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in April, with Baghdad being the hardest-hit city.

The government's spokesman, however, said on Wednesday that areas under the control of Daesh terrorists in Iraq have shrunk from 40 to 14 percent of the national territory.

"We declare that Daesh's presence has receded in the cities and provinces of Iraq," Saad al-Hadithi said in televised comments.


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Daesh Kills 16 in Attack on Real Madrid's Football Fan Club in Iraq

Daesh terrorist group fighters killed 16 people in armed and bomb attacks on a fan club of Spain’s Real Madrid football club in the Shiite Iraqi city of Balam, the Spanish press reported Friday.

Daesh terrorist group fighters killed 16 people in armed and bomb attacks on a fan club of Spain’s Real Madrid football club in the Shiite Iraqi city of Balam, the Spanish press reported Friday.

Three gunmen opened fire inside a cafe that housed the football club’s fan association, killing 16 and wounding 20 people late on Thursday, the El Pais daily said. The newspaper quoted the fan club’s Facebook post condemning the "cowardly terrorist act."

One of the assailants who managed to flee detonated a suicide vest during an arrest attempt, according to the publication.

Head of Spain’s LFP national league Javier Tebas expressed shock with the attack via Twitter, saying that the league postponed a planned trip to Iraq.

Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, houses the Iraqi air force base that has been handed back by the US military in 2011.
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