Turkish Forces Enter Syria To Crush Syrian Kurds, US Pledges To Support Kurds

[Turkey’s Syria offensive aimed at Kurdish YPG]

US envoy Brett McGurk previously visited Kurdish forces in Kobane in January 2016. Photo: YPG press office
US envoy Brett McGurk previously visited Kurdish forces in Kobane in January 2016. Photo: YPG press office

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The United States’ presidential envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, met with Kurdish allies in northern Syria last week, a State Department official told AFP on Monday.

His visit comes as the US’ support for the Kurdish forces has come into question after the Turkish army launched its military operation Euphrates Shield to clear Islamic State (ISIS) militants from the border and to stop Kurdish advances west of the Euphrates River.

McGurk met with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition force dominated by the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG).

The State Department spokesperson said McGurk promised “ongoing US support for the SDF in the fight against ISIL [ISIS], while emphasizing the need for strict adherence to prior commitments,” referring to an agreement between Washington and Ankara that Kurdish forces would retreat to the east bank of the Euphrates on the conclusion of the operation to liberate the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

McGurk also met with Turkish officials last week, the spokesperson confirmed. They discussed Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation and the US support for it, as well as “planning for the Mosul campaign in Iraq, and closer US and Turkish cooperation to accelerate ISIL’s ultimate defeat.”

“In all of his meetings, he encouraged unity of effort and de-confliction between all forces fighting ISIL in northern Syria,” the spokesperson added.

Turkish and SDF forces have clashed in northern Syria, something US officials have described as “unacceptable.”

The Americans’ chief desire is to see all parties focused on fighting ISIS, rather than pointing their guns at each other. “What we have made clear is that our support to all parties is contingent upon the focus on ISIL,” a Department of Defense spokesperson told Rudaw last week. “And that will be how we will continue to do this.”

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European Jihadists With Round Trip Tickets

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Europe prepares for influx of jihadists

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Security services are examining plans for how to deal with thousands of Western jihadists who would seek to return to Europe as Isis continues to lose territory in its “caliphate” and suffer severe losses from pounding air strikes by the US-led coalition and Russia.

Although the Islamist group has suffered increasingly from desertion, very few of the foreign fighters who have left its ranks have returned to Europe in recent times. The numbers coming to Britain for instance, The Independent has learned, have been in no more than single figures for the last eight months.

These extremists, radicalised, armed and trained, will present a severe threat in the near future, “a ticking time bomb” as they try to break out of the region, say security officials, who stress that a coordinated policy is needed to confront the impending crisis.

The problem has been compounded by a dramatic increase in the use of children, including those of Western parentage, by Isis to carry out executions of prisoners and other acts of extreme violence. A photo appeared last week of a young boy, said to be British, in the act of shooting Kurdish fighters captured by Isis. The 11-year-old, it has been claimed, was the son of Sally Jones, a British woman who had converted to Islam and joined Isis in Syria.

Isis is believed to have around 1,500 child fighters in its ranks. The vast majority are Syrian and Iraqi, with Yemen and Morocco supplying most from Arab countries. There are also around 50 children from Britain are currently in the self-declared “Islamic State”, along with smaller numbers from France and Australia, among Western countries.

“What one does with these children need to be considered,” said a senior British security official. “Some of them have who have been used to carry out these criminal acts are below the age of criminal responsibility in many countries in Europe. We know of children from the West who had been taken to Syria, but there are also children who have been born there to European parents. As we know Daesh [Isis] are now bringing five-year-olds into their jihad.

“But the real problem would be with the thousands of adults. A number of states are liaising on this, but the policies will depend to an extent on political and legal considerations in individual states.”

For the UK there is the further complication over intelligence sharing with European allies states following the referendum vote on European Union membership and what happens with such matters as the European arrest warrant. The negotiations for Brexit, addressing these issues, are expected to begin as the problem with the jihadists is likely to become increasingly urgent.

Around 27,000 foreign fighters are believed to have joined Isis since the start of Syria’s civil war five years ago, with between 5,000 and 7,000 of them arriving from Europe to join the group and other hardline rebel organisations such as Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate. Just under 800 have travelled from the UK.

One key reason for jihadists not returning to Europe is that Western European states have a policy of bringing criminal charges against those who had fought for alongside extremists. Denmark, which has a programme of rehabilitating returning jihadists, is the exception to this.

Isis has also been taking vengeance against foreign fighters who have attempted to leave. Samra Kesinovic, a 17-year-old Austrian schoolgirl who was beaten to death last November was one high-profile victim of this, and there have been mass executions of deserters. Earlier this year The Independent was contacted at the Turkish border with Syria by 11 foreign fighters who were seeking to flee through Syria’s Idlib province. They failed after their escape route, organised by a moderate rebel group, was cut off by Isis.

Jihadists have been using the Turkish border to get in and out of Syria, sometimes with the connivance, it has been claimed, of the Erdogan government. But the Turks are now carrying out military operations against Isis, and its militants have now lost control of points they had occupied in the area.

Around half the British Muslim volunteers who had travelled to Syria and Iraq – about 400 – are believed to have returned. Fifty-five of them have been subsequently convicted of fighting for or aiding extremist groups.

There have been claims that Islamist extremists have been infiltrating back into Europe, using, among other channels, the flow of refugees from Syria and other Muslim countries. However, the numbers are relatively small and although some of those involved in the attacks in France and Belgium have fought in Syria, the vast majority of terror plots in the continent have involved those who had not undertaken the jihadi journey and have been indoctrinated through other means.

Security officials hold that there had been a degree of  “misinformation” about just how many fighters from Europe have returned from Syria and Iraq. The British head of Europol has accused Nigel Farage of making the ” false” and “alarmist”  statement the European Union’s migration and refugee policies have allowed 5,000 terrorists to get into Europe. In fact, explained Rob Wainwright, Europol believed 5,000 European Muslims have gone to Syria and Iraq but “by no means” had all of them returned to Europe.

The senior British security official said “making claims of thousands of jihadists already back in Europe obscures the real problem which lies ahead. Isis will face big losses over the next year. Some of the foreign fighters will killed, some captured, but the others will try to flee, many back to Europe. It’s a real witch’s brew, quite a big problem: one which will not go away.”

Kabul Suffers 3 Bombings In One Day

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Officials have confirmed that more than 30 people were killed in two separate explosions outside the Ministry of Defense in Kabul on Monday afternoon.

The first explosion took place shortly after 2.30pm and was followed by a second explosion which appeared to have targeted the first responders to the scene.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed that more than 30 people were killed and over 40 injured.

Among the dead are Sayed Zaman, the police chief for PD2, and Razaq, the deputy chief of support for the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) Regiment Unit. Also killed were Zaman’s deputy and the head of the intelligence unit for PD2.

A number of other senior police officials are also among the dead.

According to security officials the first bomb was detonated remotely while the second had been a suicide bomber.

Officials also said the suicide bomber had been wearing an ANA uniform.

Reporting from the scene, TOLOnews Wali Arian said that security officials had cordoned off the area and were only letting security personnel and ambulance in.

Meanwhile President Ashraf condemned the incident and said that Afghanistan’s enemies have once again shown that they are against progress in the country.

“Terrorist groups are trying to reach their nefarious aims by conducting terror attacks in the country,” he said.

Afghanistan’s enemies have lost the capability of facing security forces on the battlefield and therefore attack highways, cities, mosques, schools and other public places.”

Ghani also extended his condolences to the families of the victims and wished all those wounded a speedy recovery.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

The Lying Pak Army Generals and Their Secret Carnage in Balochistan

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[SEE: Brave Baloch Woman Posts Photos of Balochistan’s “Disappeared”]

Double dealings and carnage in Balochistan

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by Saroop Ijaz

LAHORE, PAKISTAN – In a nation almost constantly reeling under years of repeated bombings by militants, the one on Aug. 8 is still a shock. A massive blast in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province and home to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban, killed more than 70 people, including at least 55 lawyers. In a flash, almost one-third of the members of the Quetta Bar Association were dead.

This was a particularly callous attack. The lawyers had congregated at the emergency ward of the main government hospital after hearing that their colleague, Bilal Anwar Kasi, had been shot dead. The attackers waited until the lawyers gathered before they set off the bomb, which also killed hospital workers and journalists.

I spent two weeks in Quetta in June 2014 doing research for a Human Rights Watch report. Almost every lawyer that we met, all deeply committed to civil liberties, is either dead or critically injured. I also lost my good friend Arbab Gulzareen Kasi. “You don’t understand many things,” Gulzareen once said to me. “It is because you and I live in different countries.” I knew what he meant. I live in Lahore, Punjab, “mainland Pakistan,” home to the country’s elite. Though surrounded by war and subject to frequent terror attacks, Punjab is nevertheless tranquil compared with Balochistan, which has been the site of unabated sectarian, government and Taliban violence for years.

Many of the dead were advocates for the missing people of Balochistan, the victims of a state policy of enforced disappearances. According to a recent government report, around 1,000 bullet-ridden bodies have been recovered in Balochistan in the past six years.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province by size, bordering Afghanistan and Iran. It is the epicenter of multiple ethnic, nationalist and sectarian conflicts, with Pakistan’s security forces and Baloch nationalists demanding a right to self-determination in a long-standing state of often violent confrontation. It is also home to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban. Balochistan has massive mineral resources and is a key link for China between Xinjiang and the Arabian Sea.

The government’s response to the Aug. 8 attack, for which both ISIS and the Taliban have claimed responsibility, added insult to injury. Officials and politicians have tried to blame almost anyone but the culprits. Some blamed the Afghan intelligence agency, while others blamed Iran. A member of the opposition Pakistan Theerik-i-Insaf (PTI) said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government may have been behind the attack to distract attention from corruption allegations linked to the Panama Papers. In a blatant attempt to avoid responsibility for failing to provide security from yet another militant attack, within minutes of the explosion Balochistan’s chief minister blamed the Indian intelligence agency.

There is a sick irony at play here: Many of those who died were human rights defenders and activists whom the Pakistani government had previously and wrongly labeled as “foreign agents,” a reference to India; in death they have been conveniently branded as victims of those same “foreign agents.”

The army chief came up with an even more fanciful explanation, saying on a visit to Quetta that “this is an attack on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor development project” in a transparent attempt to blame so-called foreign actors for the slaughter. It seems not to have occurred to him that suggesting 70 people died to delay the construction of a bunch of roads and bridges is no way to honor their memory.

All of this is sadly emblematic of the way the Pakistani military and civilian establishment regularly try to obfuscate the facts when faced with the well-documented reality that the militant groups they helped create — and continue to protect as they prop up some groups while rounding up others — are killing the people of Pakistan.

This double game has a long history. The army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency have used militants to destabilize Afghanistan as part of its policy of “strategic depth.” When blowback occurs and the clients attack their patrons, the country’s leaders seem ready to blame anyone but the militant groups that have been responsible for hundreds of such attacks in the past 10 years.

The authorities aren’t fooling anyone in Pakistan — or abroad. Just two weeks ago the United States, which for too long has turned a blind eye, reluctantly withheld $300 million in military assistance because it concluded that Pakistan is being “selective” in combating terrorism.

The death toll from militant attacks will keep mounting so long as the murders of Gulzareen and others are not addressed by the government. The army and intelligence services have to end their double game of saying they are fighting terrorism while at the same time allowing their allies to set off bombs. The shameful denial of the government to even name the perpetrators, while their preferred militants devour the nation, has to end.

Saroop Ijaz is the Pakistan researcher for Human Rights Watch. © 2016, The Diplomat; distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Philippine Pres. Duterte Calls Obama “Son of a Bitch” and the SoB Stayed Home

Many more will be killed before the end of the campaign against illegal drugs, President Duterte said yesterday of his war on drugs that has claimed about 2,400 lives since he took office two months ago. AP/Bullit Marquez, file photo

Obama cancels meeting after Philippines president’s insult

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Rodrigo Duterte warned President Obama not to ask him about extrajudicial killings related to his crackdown on drug dealers, and using a curse in Tagalog that can be translated as “son of a bitch,” he added, “I will swear at you in that forum.”

By CHRISTINE HAUSER
The New York Times

President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines scheduled for Tuesday in Laos, after the Philippine president directed an expletive at Obama on Monday.

Duterte warned Obama not to ask him about extrajudicial killings related to his crackdown on drug dealers, a campaign pledge that helped sweep him to victory in the country’s presidential election in May.

“I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody,” he said in remarks published by The Associated Press. Apparently addressing Obama, he added: “You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions.” Then, using a curse in Tagalog that can be translated as “son of a bitch,” he added, “I will swear at you in that forum.”

Obama, who was in China for a Group of 20 meeting, departed Monday for Laos, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the nation. In addition to taking part in the Asian regional summit meeting, he is scheduled to speak at a forum with young people.

Obama had planned to meet Duterte in Laos, but Ned Price, the National Security Council spokesman, said early Tuesday that the meeting had been canceled.

“Clearly, he’s a colorful guy,” Obama said Monday. “I always want to make sure if I’m having a meeting that it’s productive.”

Duterte, a former mayor of Davao, was apparently referring to the numbers highlighting his crackdown on drug dealers.

Last month, the Philippines’ top police official, Chief Ronald dela Rosa, told a Senate hearing that killings by the police and vigilantes in the country’s war on drugs had soared to nearly 1,800 in the seven weeks since Duterte was sworn into office.

Duterte’s public image has been characterized by bouts of coarse language. He has lashed out at his critics, threatening to withdraw from the United Nations after human rights experts called for a halt to the killings.

He joked about the rape of an Australian missionary during the presidential campaign. He cursed Pope Francis and his entourage for causing huge traffic jams in Manila during the pope’s visit to the Philippines in 2015.
CHRISTINE HAUSER

83 Year-Old White Grandma Burned Alive By 4 Black Youth, Now Charged With Murder

Authorities say Dorothy Dow, 83, was brutally beaten and burned by unknown assailants inside her home. (SOURCE: Meriwether County authorities)
Authorities say Dorothy Dow, 83, was brutally beaten and burned by unknown assailants inside her home. (SOURCE: Meriwether County authorities)

Justin Grady, Cortavious Heard, and Shanquavious Cameron (Source: Meriwether Co. Sheriff's Office) Justin Grady, Cortavious Heard, and Shanquavious Cameron (Source: Meriwether Co. Sheriff’s Office)

 

Ellery and Harmon (Source: Meriwether County Sheriff's Office) Ellery and Harmon (Source: Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office)

MERIWEATHER COUNTY, GA (CBS46) –

An elderly woman that was attacked during a home invasion has died after spending weeks in the hospital and the people who police say assaulted her will now face murder charges.

Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith said the sheriff’s office will file murder charges in the death of Dorothy Dow. Each suspect, of which there are four, now face felony murder and malice murder charges.

According to family members, the 83-year-old Dow had been on a ventilator since the incident occurred at her home in Lone Oak in early August.

Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office officials said the suspects forced their way into her home, beat her, poured something on her and set her on fire.

“Once they entered the home, one individual entered her bedroom where she was already in bed,” Smith said.

He says one man started beating Dow with a gun, breaking several bones in her hand and forearm. She was then set on fire by another suspect. Dow crawled around on the floor of her home searching for a gallon of water she had near a breathing machine, eventually found it and then put the fire out. She then found her cell phone and dialed 911.

“With one hand broken and her arm broken in four places, she pulled the top off of a gallon of water, poured it over her head and put out the fire,” said Dorothy’s daughter-in-law Beth Dow. “She then drug herself into the den on her broken arms to get to her cellphone to call 911. She said, ‘I thought they were going to kill me’. They told her that she was never going to see her sons again.”

Dow had several surgeries due to her injuries which included broken bones and severe burns. She later passed away.

Suspects held without bond

  • Justin Peirce Grady, B/M, 38 years of age, listed address of Meriwether Street, Grantville, Ga. Grady is being charged additionally for the offenses of Felony Murder and Malice Murder, 1 count each.
  • Cortavious Deshun Heard, B/M, 18 years of age, listed address of Hilltop Circle Grantville, Ga. and Askew Ave, Hogansville, Ga. Heard is being charged additionally for the offenses of Felony Murder and Malice Murder, 1 count each.
  • Mina Christine Ellery, B/F, 17 years of age, listed address of Westgate Park, Newnan, Ga. Ellery is being charged additionally for the offenses of Felony Murder and Malice Murder, 1 count each.
  • Angel Latrice Harmon, B/F, 17 years of age, listed address of Happy Valley Trail, Newnan, Ga. Harmon is being charged additionally for the offenses of Felony Murder and Malice Murder, 1 count each.

The suspects are being held without bond.