French fighter planes hit ISIS targets in Iraq on Friday, according to French President Francois Hollande. The planes bombed an ISIS warehouse facility.
Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’
For the first time, U.S. warplanes this week bombed terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operating near Baghdad.
The air strikes were coordinated with Iraqi forces and came in support of ground troops fighting to defend that nation’s capital.
Six ISIS vehicles were destroyed near Sinjar, along with a ISIS position southwest of Baghdad that had been the source of gunfire directed at Iraqi troops.
Thus far, the United States has carried out 162 air strikes against the terror group in Iraq since it began missions early last month.
But this is the first time American warplanes have carried out a bombing mission in direct support of Iraqi troops.
“U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIS (IS) terrorists in Iraq, employing attack and fighter aircraft to conduct two air strikes Sunday and Monday in support of Iraqi security forces near Sinjar and southwest of Baghdad,” US Central Command said in a statement.
“The air strike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit ISIS targets as Iraqi forces go on offense, as outlined in the president’s speech last Wednesday.”
Nevertheless, President Barack Obama’s administration has harshly criticized Israel for carrying out similar actions against Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization in this summer’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge.
The U.S. State Department attacked Israel last week at a briefing in which spokesperson Marie Harf said, “We were horrified by the strikes that hit UNWRA facilities.”
UNWRA is the United Nations Work and Relief Agency that provides humanitarian aid in Palestinian Authority territories. The agency operates some 200 schools and food storage warehouses in Gaza, along with other facilities. More than a few were discovered to have been used by terrorists during the war as missile storage hideouts; others served as convenient human shields in and around which the terrorists were able to launch rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians, assuming there would be no return fire due to the displaced Gazans sheltering within the “neutral” buildings they used for cover.
The situation made a very juicy, deliberate photo op for the terrorists, as noted in a terrorist training manual captured earlier in the summer by the IDF. All this has been documented and published in the media as well as submitted to international authorities.
Nevertheless, Harf scored Israel for returning fire to the source of attacks on its civilians and soldiers — even though it was not even clear that any Israeli shells actually hit UNRWA facilities while they were occupied. In fact, satellite imagery and video documentation exists showing that the buildings were empty at the time that a lone Israeli shell struck an UNWRA building. Other shells that struck around UNRWA buildings and in a courtyard and were aimed directly with surgical precision at the terrorists who were being targeted precisely because they were firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and at Israeli soldiers.
Pot calling the kettle black? No way to know because oddly enough, unlike with Israel, the United States has not seen fit to share any information about collateral damage from its own air strikes in Iraq. And the international media has been equally silent on the matter. How odd.
Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz says that Iran is still a greater threat than the global Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror organization.
The terror group has spread its threat level to the borders around Iraq and Syria, and has taken over the Iraqi side of the sole border crossing with Jordan – an ominous sign – as well as two crossings with Syria, which is creating a growing security concern for Amman.
Asked in a radio interview whether Israel would help defend Jordan from ISIS, Steinitz said Sunday that Israel would certainly help the Hashemite Kingdom in its defense against the radical Islamist terrorists.
“Jordan is a strong state, but still, if Jordan were truly in danger from these jihadist extremists and asked for our assistance, Israel has a very clear interest in the existence of Jordan,” Steinitz said.
He added, however, that he believes the threat to the Hashemite Kingdom may have subsided, given the ability of Kurdish fighters to beat back the ISIS forces with the aid of U.S. air strikes in Iraq.
Steinitz acknowledged that the threat to the region from ISIS is real – but the threat to Israel and the rest of the world from Iran is far greater, he warned. ISIS, he said, “is a threat for a few years; Iranian nuclear weapons will be with us – if Iran becomes a nuclear power – for dozens of years.”
Steinitz recently met in Washington with American officials to discuss the upcoming nuclear talks with Iran, pointing out that while building a world coalition to fight ISIS is important, it is equally important not to forget the Iranian nuclear threat.
The U.S. State Department has again warned its citizens against traveling to Israel, equating the dangers facing people in the Jewish State with those facing visitors to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The warning comes on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack on America by the global Al Qaeda Islamist terrorist organization — and just ahead of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, the start of the Jewish high holy days.
The new travel warning replaced that posted on July 21 during the height of Israel’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge, when Hamas was firing rockets and missiles at Israel daily from Gaza. To read it, one would believe the war is still in progress. But to walk the streets of Israel, one knows without a doubt it’s over. Schools are overflowing and so are the stores, which are filled with the latest fall fashions in Be’er Sheva, Ra’anana and even in Ramallah.
This is total silliness. Or perhaps a veiled attempt to sabotage the Israeli economy, which although damaged by the war is still in much better shape than that of Gaza.
Or even maybe it’s an attempt to take a swing at the Ramallah-based Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas — with whom Hamas is currently locked in a power struggle over control of the Palestinian Authority unity government, which the two factions agreed to this spring.
Sour grapes? Also maybe. Hamas is backed by Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, and demanded unsuccessfully the latter two nations be allowed to participate in cease-fire negotiations in Cairo. Although at the end they were not allowed, Secretary of State John Kerry consulted with both at a meeting in Paris at the height of the war. All three are close allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the United States recently signed an $11 billion military contract with Qatar. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have backed Ramallah, which has recently resumed its stance in supporting Israel on a crackdown on terrorism.
But to read the U.S. travel warning, one could believe there’s an active war zone at play.
“During the recent conflict between Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza, long-range rockets launched from Gaza reached many locations in Israel and the West Bank including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities in the north and south. A ceasefire was announced on August 26 and, as of the date of this Travel Warning, is holding. The Government of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has successfully intercepted many rockets. However, in some cases missile impacts caused damage and injuries,” the travel warning reads – as if a cease-fire with Hamas was never reached.
“U.S. citizen visitors to and U.S. citizen residents of Israel and the West Bank should familiarize themselves with the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened site. Consult municipality websites, such as those for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, for lists of public bomb shelters and other emergency preparedness information. Visitors should seek information on shelters from hotel staff or building managers. We advise all US citizens to follow the instructions of the Home Front Command on proper procedures in the event of rocket attacks or other crisis events.”
Commercial flights to and from Ben Gurion International Airport are operating as usual, the warning notes, “although delays and cancellations can occur. Travelers should check with their airline prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. Other border crossings are generally operating as normal; however, travelers should check the status of crossings before embarking on trips. See information on the status of the airport and other crossings.”
US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that America is going back to war, this time against the global terror group ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known in Arabic as “Da’esh.”
Obama made the announcement in a 15 minute nationally televised address on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attack on America by the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization.
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Obama said in his address. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” he promised.
Nevertheless, the president made it clear that the U.S. would wage a “relentless” military campaign to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist group that beheaded two American journalists, including one with dual Israeli citizenship.
The U.S. will rely heavily on air strikes to get the job done, Obama explained – including air strikes inside Syria, for the very first time. The four-part strategy includes air strikes, support to other forces battling the terrorist organization, counter terrorism efforts to prevent attacks and weaken the group, and continued humanitarian assistance to civilians.
A senior administration official carefully told reporters in a pre-speech briefing that attacks in Syria would be carried out at a ‘time and place of our choosing.” He added that no specific information would be provided to the media, in order not to “telegraph our punches by being specific about the time and nature of the target. We will do that as necessary, as we develop targets and as we continue what is a systematic air campaign that is not going to be restricted by a geographic border that, frankly, has very little meaning anymore, given [the group’s] operations in both Iraq and Syria.”
The official added that the formation of a new Iraqi government was what had allowed the U.S. to expand its support for a war against ISIS. Following the insertion of military advisers into Iraq earlier in the summer, the president said in June that “he would do more when the Iraqi cabinet was appointed. That has now happened and the next phase will be more offensive,” the official said.
The president cited support by what he said were dozens of “coalition” partners to “roll back this terrorist threat” in what will be an open-ended timetable. Several hours before going on the air, Obama authorized Secretary of State John Kerry to allocate $25 million in Foreign Assistance Act funds to train, educate and provide military assistance to the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional governments in their fight against ISIS. Another 475 U.S. military troops will be sent to the region next week, bringing the total deployed to some 1,600 soldiers thus far.
To date, the U.S. has conducted 153 air strikes against ISIS terrorists in Iraq. The official who briefed journalists prior to the president’s speech said Obama is authorized to move from a humanitarian to offensive campaign against the terrorists without Congressional approval, based on the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress following the 9/11 terror attack by Al Qaeda. The legislation allows the president to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against any entity he believes “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The legislation expires when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.
Israel’s top brass met Wednesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the growing threat in the region from the Islamic State terror organization.
Representatives from every security establishment were present, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the National Security Council, Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, Foreign Ministry representatives, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Netanyahu discussed with those present the issues surrounding the threat posed to Israel by the Islamic State. The prime minister warned world leaders about the terror organization during Israel’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge this summer in Gaza.
Netanyahu repeatedly has drawn a parallel between Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization and the Islamic State, which has spread its influence from Iraq and Syria to the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, Lebanon and recently as far as Europe. Israel has officially outlawed the group.
U.S. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, planned to address the American people in a prime-time televised address to the nation Wednesday evening.
Obama was to outline his strategy for dealing with the global threat posed by the Islamic State, which is rapidly becoming a specific threat to the United States as well. There have been reports that up to 100 sleeper cells from the group may already exist in the U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Baghdad just two days after Iraq’s newly-sworn Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi installed his top government ministers.
Two car bombs exploded simultaneously in the southeastern neighborhood of New Baghdad, killing 13 people, during the meeting of the two leaders.
“A new and inclusive Iraqi government has to be the engine of our global strategy against ISIL (a former acronym for Islamic State – Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant),” Kerry said.
The next question is, where are the Europeans and how are they planning to fend off this threat in their midst? (Yes, the Islamic State has indeed already arrived on Europe’s shores. It was an Islamic State terrorist who was behind the terrorist attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum this past May 24.)
On the same day a second American journalist was beheaded by the Islamic State terror organization, a former CIA operative says sleeper cells from the group already exist in the USA.
Steve Sotloff, an American journalist with Israeli citizenship who hid both his Judaism and his second passport from the Islamic State terrorists who kidnapped him, nevertheless was beheaded on Tuesday as a “second message to America” to stop air strikes in Iraq.
Many Americans — and perhaps some American leaders as well — may believe the terrorists are contained in the Middle East. But CNN national security analyst Bob Baer, a former CIA operative, said “The Lead” Tuesday that nothing could be further from the truth.
The “people who collect tactical intelligence on the ground, day-to-day – and this isn’t Washington – but people collecting this stuff say they’re here, ISIS is here, they’re capable of striking,” Baer warned.
Intelligence agents are monitoring the activities of suspected Islamic State terrorists who cross into the U.S. through the southern border from Mexico.
But others, he warned, are American citizens who flew to Syria to fight with “the resistance,” and have already returned.
“They can’t prove it. They’re waiting to get enough intelligence to actually run them in. And then there’s the unknown, of how many people have come back they’re not even aware of,” Baer told CNN. “The people who do this for a living are very alarmed,” he said.
U.S. intelligence officials warned last month the Islamic State organization has been pushing to establish cells outside its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Among its targets have been cities in Europe, as well as countries in the Middle East.
“We have seen an expansion of its external terrorism ambitions,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters at a Washington, DC briefing on August 14. It was estimated there are now more than 10,000 fighters in the ranks of the Islamic State.
In addition, since the group seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul in June, it has significantly swelled its coffers with cash due to also having conquered the nearby oil field and the electricity-generating Mosul Dam. The terror group currently holds five oil fields under its control which provide funding for its operations.
The Islamic State has proved extremely attractive to foreign fighters of every stripe, and thousands are streaming to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside its forces. Among them are many who hold Western passports – including those from the United States and Europe.
After rigorous training, some then return, with orders to start their own terrorist cells at home.