Islamic State fighters seen fleeing to Raqqa as troops move toward Iraqi city in battle that was predicted to take months
PARIS — Iraqi forces are “advancing faster than expected” in a major offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State jihadists, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday.
“We are advancing faster than we had expected and planned,” Abadi said, speaking on a video conference link to an international meeting co-hosted by France and Iraq on the future of Mosul following the start of the offensive this week.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had warned Tuesday that the battle to retake Iraq’s second-biggest city could take “months.”
French President Francois Hollande told Thursday’s meeting that the jihadists were already fleeing to Raqqa, their stronghold in neighboring Syria.
“We can’t afford mistakes in the pursuit of the terrorists who are already leaving Mosul for Raqqa,” Hollande said, adding: “We cannot allow those who were in Mosul to evaporate.”
The French president added: “Everything must be done to protect civilians who are exposed in combat zones and used as human shields” by IS fighters.
The long-awaited offensive on Mosul was launched on Monday, with some 30,000 troops involved in Iraq’s largest military operation since the pullout of US troops in 2011.
Abadi told the meeting: “Our war in Mosul is an Iraqi war for the Iraqis, for the defense of Iraqi territory.”
Representatives from around 20 countries including the United States, Turkey, Iran, Gulf states and EU member states are attending the Paris meeting co-chaired by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Thursday’s talks come ahead of a meeting in Paris next Tuesday of the coalition’s defense ministers to assess progress in the Mosul offensive.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be among 13 ministers at the talks, an aide to Le Drian said.
Mosul, held by the jihadists since June 2014, was where IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria that month.
“The battle for Mosul is decisive because it is hitting Daesh in the heart of its sanctuary where it wanted to build its caliphate,” said Hollande, using an alternative name for IS.
The city’s loss is widely predicted to deal a death blow to the group’s ambitions as a land-holding force in Iraq.
Recently a group of former U.S. officials and experts issued a proposal for an “enduring partnership” with Afghanistan, calling the nation “a key front in a generational conflict against violent extremists across the greater Middle East.” The group, which included Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, both former commanders of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, argued that in addition to preventing Afghanistan from again becoming a sanctuary for terrorist organizations, a long-term American presence is critical to ensure stability in the region and as a base of operations to conduct operations against other adversaries in the war on terror.
It is understandable that officials whose professional careers are so closely connected with the current U.S. strategy would find it difficult to admit failure, but the truth is there is no good reason to stay in Afghanistan.
The central argument for staying in Afghanistan — to prevent it from becoming a terrorist sanctuary — is weak for several reasons. This argument hinges on the fear that withdrawal would lead to the Taliban retaking control of Afghanistan. But although the Taliban did provide al Qaeda safe haven back in 2001, it is highly unlikely they would do so again. The Taliban suffered grievously for their decision to host bin Laden, provoking the American invasion and enduring fifteen years of bloody insurgency against coalition forces. Recall that the Taliban themselves had no designs to threaten or attack the United States. It is hard to see why they would risk another invasion by letting al Qaeda or another terrorist group set up shop in Afghanistan.
Beyond this, the push for an indefinite U.S. military presence in Afghanistan ignores the fact that this kind of presence throughout the Middle East has been a key motivation for al Qaeda and related groups since the 1990s. The War on Terror has not only failed to eliminate terrorism, it has also poured fuel on the fire as the extended American presence and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere helped spawn dozens of new terrorist groups and thousands of jihadists, most prominently the Islamic State.
In Afghanistan terrorism was almost unknown before 2001, but between 2002 and 2015 over 9,000 terrorist attacks took place in Afghanistan alone, the majority of them after President Obama’s surge began in 2009. It is hard to imagine a strategy that would have done a better job at fomenting terrorism than the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the notion that preventing terrorists from hiding in Afghanistan is either necessary or sufficient to prevent attacks on the American homeland is misguided. It is not necessary because despite the escalation of terrorism in the Middle East, terrorism remains the province of an extremely small number of people and organizations, all of which have very limited capacity for attacking the United States directly. Even the Islamic State, which temporarily enjoys access to significant resources, has no better way to attack the United States than to encourage lone wolves who live here to act on their own. Thus, despite fears there have been relatively few terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11.
Finally, it makes little sense to frame the fight against terrorism in the context of a land war. Al Qaeda’s metastasis into regional franchises and the Islamic State’s ability to inspire even minor long distance attacks make clear that preventing terrorism is not simply a matter of controlling territory.
In the absence of a counter-terrorism rationale, there are no other sufficiently compelling reasons to keep American forces in Afghanistan. The argument that the United States could use a rebuilt and friendly Afghanistan as a forward base for fighting other terrorists in the region also falls apart upon inspection. More American military intervention in the greater Middle East won’t stop terrorism, but it will ensure that Americans keep dying for little return, at great cost, for years to come.
What about regional stability and the moral obligation to help Afghanistan rebuild? There is no question that the United States bears some responsibility for the state of affairs in Afghanistan. But after 15 years and $800 billion the evidence clearly suggests that there is not much the United States can do to improve things.
Even after heroic efforts by the United States and its coalition partners, the security situation in Afghanistan remains appalling. The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan is suffering 10,000 civilian casualties per year (3,000 of them deaths), and the Afghan security forces are losing 5,000 per year to the fighting. Afghanistan is a country of just 30 million people. Those casualties are the equivalent of the United States suffering 84,000 deaths each year.
Meanwhile neither the economy nor the political situation in Afghanistan gives a great deal of hope for the near future. Though nation building is a noble goal, it is difficult to justify when there is little prospect of success and when the resources it requires could be put to more productive use elsewhere.
[Here is another case where the British press purposely releases untrue “NEWS“ about Taliban participation in fraudulent Afghan peace talks. The Taliban have consistently insisted that there will be NO TALKS while Afghanistan is still under American occupation. Whenever the Guardian or Reuters puts-out one of these pieces of disinformation, it is automatically picked-up and reprinted in hundreds of lesser news sources in perhaps one-hundred different countries. Here it is in Russian…in Turkish, on both sides of Afghan contest, in India, even in Pakistan, which, above all other nations, knows that the report is patently false. I am absolutely certain that the intelligence agencies of every major world power knows that the real Afghan Taliban are not meeting anyone in Qatar or Dubai, yet everybody plays along with Obama’s great scam. I am somewhat shocked that Putin allows Sputnik press to go along with the charade.
If anyone can make sense of this, I would appreciate a little input on this.]
Turkish press had reported that the military claimed to have killed between 160 and 200 fighters.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) reported on Twitter that Turkish planes had carried out at least 14 airstrikes, bombing positions of the Jaish al-Thuwar, a member of the SDF, near the border of Efrin, the western-most canton of the Rojava, the self-autonomous region of northern Syria.
The reports were corroborated by pro-Turkish media on Thursday morning. Yeni Safak reported that Turkey had targeted 18 “PYD/PKK” positions as part of its Euphrates Shield operation in northwestern Syria.
The PYD is the Democratic Union Party. Turkey claims the PYD is aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it has named as a terrorist organization.
The pro-Turkish outlet reported that the attack took place in Ma’arat Umm Hawsh, a Kurdish village in the northern Aleppo region where the Euphrates Shield operation is taking place.
According to the Turkish military, the incident took place between 9:11 pm an 11:59 pm local time.
CNN Turk has reported that the Turkish military claimed to have killed 160 to 200 “militants” in the operation.
On Wednesday night the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights conflict monitor received a statement from the forces being targeted who alleged that, “Turkey is backing IS [Islamic State/ISIS] by targeting our areas with artillery in corporation with rebels factions.”
“We asked these rebel factions to stop targeting these areas but we did not receive any response as our forces managed to not target any of these factions, but in case the bombardment did not stop under the name of “al-Furat Shield” [Euphrates Shield], our forces will fire back on any front or military area,” the statement added.
Turkey is backing a group of militiamen fighting under the flag of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in northwestern Syria. It launched its current Euphrates Shield campaign on August 24 to clear the border of ISIS militants and prevent the YPG from marching westward of the Euphrates River. Since then these FSA proxies have clashed with YPG fighters who are fighting under the flag of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
[Pro-US Manilla police violently dispersed anti-US protesters.]
“The violent dispersal at the US embassy happened as the rally ended and groups prepared to leave. There was no justification for it. Even as the president avowed an independent foreign policy,
PH police forces still act as running dogs of the US,” Reyes said.
SCORES were injured when policemen threw teargas and rammed into a group protesting the continued presence of American troops in the Philippines in front of the US Embassy in Manila Wednesday.
The rallyists, who included students and members of indigenous groups, were about to leave after throwing paint at the logo of the embassy, when they were violently dispersed.
A police car rammed into the group several times. At least three persons were injured when they were run over by the vehicle.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes took to social media to condemn the violent dispersal.
“The violent dispersal at the US embassy happened as the rally ended and groups prepared to leave. There was no justification for it. Even as the president avowed an independent foreign policy, PH police forces still act as running dogs of the US,” Reyes said.
At least 53 demonstrators and 10 policemen were injured in the scuffle.
Lawmen arrested several of the protesters and hauled them to the nearest police station.
Ephrim Cortez, the group’s lawyer, said those taken into police custody will be released but will face charges.
Rapid intervention experts quest.
Policemen investigation department of the Criminal Police and Investigation of the Police Presidium again successfully collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The aim of the police was this time a Russian citizen suspected of hacking attacks on targets in the United States. On the search was called Interpol issued. RED NOTICE.
With the rapid flow of information, the man was detained for 12 hours after receiving the first operational information. In the Czech Republic moved luxury car accompanied by his girlfriend. For the actual arrest took place in a hotel in the city center. Searched police crackdown was so surprised that no resistance. Immediately after the arrest of a man showed collapse and the state police had to take immediately provide first aid and was eventually hospitalized. The Municipal Court in Prague decided on the man’s custody. The hacker’s extradition to the US will now decide judicial authorities.
October 18, 2016
pore. David Schön
Spokesperson – Police Presidium