US Claims That Pentagon Would Welcome Effective Syrian Effort To Defeat ISIS

US would welcome effective Syrian effort

to defeat IS

 

 

By robert burns, ap national security writer

 

The U.S. military coalition fighting the Islamic State would welcome a concerted effort by the Syrian government or its Iranian-backed partner forces to defeat IS in its remaining strongholds in eastern Syria, a U.S. spokesman said Friday.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. goal is to defeat IS wherever it exists. If others, including the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies, want to fight the extremists as well, then “we absolutely have no problem with that,” he said, speaking from Baghdad.

“If it looks like they are making a concerted effort to move into ISIS-held areas, and if they show that they can do that, that is not a bad sign,” Dillon said, referring to forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. “We are here to fight ISIS as a coalition, but if others want to fight ISIS and defeat them, then we absolutely have no problem with that.”

Washington severed diplomatic relations with Syria during the Obama administration, which insisted that Assad “must go.” More recently, Assad has strengthened his position, regaining key territory from weakened opposition forces.

The battlespace in Syria is getting more crowded and complex as IS-held territory shrinks, raising questions about how the various parties will interact or avoid one another. Syrian government troops, for example, have reached the Iraqi border in an area where IS leaders have been gathering. The area is far from the main battle lines of Syria’s civil war.

The U.S. so far has shunned any cooperation with Assad and has partnered instead with local Arab and Kurdish forces in fighting IS. Those local forces, which the U.S. calls the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, are currently fighting to recapture the extremists’ self-declared capital of Raqqa.

Last weekend, for the first time, the U.S. shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs near the SDF. Two other times this month the U.S. has shot down Iranian-made drones in southern Syria that were deemed to pose a threat to U.S. and partner forces.

Key remaining IS territory includes the cities of Deir el-Zour and Abu Kamal, along the Euphrates River Valley.

Dillon said that as Syrian government forces move toward Abu Kamal, “if they want to fight ISIS in Abu Kamal and they have the capacity to do so, then that would be welcomed. We as a coalition are not in the land-grab business. We are in the killing-ISIS business. That is what we want to do, and if the Syrian regime wants to do that and they’re going to put forth a concerted effort and show that they are doing just that in Abu Kamal or Deir el-Zour or elsewhere, that means that we don’t have to do that in those places.”

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Saudis Prevent Suicide-Bomber Attack Upon Mecca’s Grand Mosque

Saudis ‘foil suicide attack’ on Mecca’s

Grand Mosque

 

Rubble of collapsed building in Mecca. Photo: 23 June 2017
Reuters  The building collapsed after a suicide bomber blew himself up, the Saudi interior ministry said

Saudi Arabia says it has foiled a “terrorist action” against the Grand Mosque in Mecca – Islam’s holiest site.

A suicide bomber blew himself up when security forces surrounded the building he was in, the interior ministry says.

The building collapsed, injuring 11 people, including police officers. Five other suspected militants have been taken into custody, officials say.

Millions of Muslims from around the world have gathered in Mecca for the end of Ramadan.

Saudi officials released no further details about the foiled attack.

TTP Terrorist Remnants Murder 40 In Parachinar and Quetta, Pakistan

 

By Gul Yusufzai and Javed Hussain | QUETTA/PARACHINAR, Pakistan

Bombs killed at least 40 people in Pakistan on Friday, with a suicide car bomber killing 13 in the southwestern city of Quetta, and two blasts later claiming at least 27 lives in the northwestern town of Parachinar, officials said.

A separate gun attack on police in the southern megacity of Karachi killed four officers on Friday evening, a security official said.

Seven police officers were among those killed in the first attack, in Quetta, which happened when police stopped the car to search it at a checkpoint.

Abdul Razzaq Cheema, director general of police in Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is capital, told Reuters the bomber had detonated a car packed with explosives.

At least 13 bodies were taken to hospital, along with 19 wounded people, said Wasim Baig, a spokesman for the Civil Hospital in Quetta. Nine security officials were among the wounded, said Fareed Sumalan, a doctor at the hospital.

Jamaat ur Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack in a message sent to Reuters by its spokesman, Asad Mansur.

“Our attacks will continue until a true sharia system is enforced in Pakistan,” the spokesman said, referring to Islamic law.

Islamic State (IS) also claimed responsibility for the attack in a message sent to journalists. Jamaat ur Ahrar and IS have jointly claimed responsibility for past attacks in Pakistan.

In the evening, several hundred kilometers to the northeast, two explosions in the town of Parachinar killed at least 27 people and wounded 120, a government official told Reuters.

The blasts were in a market and within three minutes of each other, senior government official Wazir Khan Wazir said. Parachinar is near the border with Afghanistan.

Many people were at the market buying food for iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims break the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan ends this weekend.

No group claimed responsibility for the Parachinar blasts.

POLICE THE TARGET?

In Baluchistan, provincial government spokesman Anwar ul Haq Kakar said the Quetta car bomb went off near the office of the inspector general (IG) of police.

“It’s possible the IG office was the target, or the assailants were trying to enter the cantonment which is close by,” he said, referring to an army housing area.

An official from Baluchistan’s bomb disposal unit said the car had contained up to 95 kg of explosives.

Television footage showed emergency workers rushing to the debris-strewn scene as security officials cordoned it off.

Quetta is about 100 km (60 miles) east of the border with Afghanistan.

Resource-rich Baluchistan province has been plagued by violence for years. Separatist rebels are battling government forces while Taliban and other militant Islamist groups also operate there.

Baluchistan is also a main center of Chinese-backed “Belt and Road” infrastructure and energy projects involving some $57 billion worth of investment across Pakistan.

Militants loyal to the Islamic State group abducted and killed two Chinese nationals in Quetta last month.

That attack prompted Pakistan to boost security for Chinese nationals and other foreigners in the province, which is already one of the most militarized regions in the country.

Late on Friday, in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial capital, four police were shot dead as they were observing the iftar meal to break the daily Ramadan fast, local TV and a security official said.

(Additional reporting by Saad Sayeed in Islamabad, Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar; Editing by Robert Birsel and Andrew Roche)