Posts Tagged ‘ISIL’

UN Required to Step in to End US, Israel Escalation against Syria

February 21, 2018

Fars News (Iran)

UN Required to Step in to End US, Israel Escalation against Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- Various terrorist groups, including ISIL, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates, continue to find themselves on America’s and Israel’s good sides and it’s official.

Israel’s mounting interest in the US-led war on Syria, and in particular in picking fights with the Syrian government, Iran, and Hezbollah – after the defeat of ISIL by these allied forces – have included reports by analysts of a growing amount of Israeli arms and ammunition flowing across the border for Qaeda-allied terrorist groups on the Golan frontier.

To be clear, similar reports and evidence have put the United States on the side of all these terror proxy groups, like Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which have been active in the area for some time. After all, American officials, the Pentagon regime, and the CIA continue to be very public saying they prefer ISIL over the elected government in Syria.

No wonder the regime changers are pushing the UN Security Council members for the Syrian government and its allies to halt their ongoing offensive in the Idlib province. Their desperate attempts to stop the successful offensive are designed primarily to save the Nusra Front and other terror proxies. This way they can claim they need to stay in the country, support the so-called “moderates”, and prolong their illegal occupation and war on the pretext of fighting terror.

The US has done the same to save the ISIL forces. In early February this year, US forces intensified their heliborne operations to evacuate ISIL commanders trapped in Hasaka province. Local sources in Hasaka confirmed that the US helicopters conducted heliborne operations in the village of Tuwaimin, 50km Northeast of al-Shadadi, in Southern Hasaka. The sources said militants, including an ISIL security commander, were evacuated from the region. The area where the operation took place is still occupied by the terrorist group.

If still in doubt, consider this: US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has just proposed legislation that would prohibit US assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit US military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act’ challenges for the first time in Congress a US policy toward the conflict in the Syrian war that should have set off alarm bells long ago:

In 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA claimed to be “relatively moderate” groups. According to a declassified October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report, that policy which began in September 2011 helped build up Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise Nusra Front as well as ISIL into the dominant threat to Syria, Iraq, the region, and the rest of humanity.

The closest Washington came to a public reprimand of its allies over the arming of terrorists in Syria was when Vice President Joe Biden criticized their role in October 2014. In remarks at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Biden complained that “our biggest problem is our allies.” In his words, “The forces they had supplied with arms were Nusra and Al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

The significance of all this is clear: In blatant violation of International Law and the UN Charter, which bars UN member states from supporting military action to overthrow other members’ governments, the US and its allies have been largely responsible for having extended the power of ISIL and Al-Qaeda across a significant part of Syrian territory.

The CIA, the Mossad and the Pentagon regime are still doing anything they can to regime change post-ISIL Syria. Unless the United Nations and the international civil society confront the warmongers explicitly, they will continue to be complicit in the consolidation of power by Al-Qaeda in Syria, even if ISIL has been defeated there.

Here is the conclusion: Much of the carnage that has ravaged Syria during the past seven years is due to the criminal actions and the calamitous policies of the United States and its allies in the Middle East, mainly Israel and Saudi Arabia. Their failed regime-change war is at risk of a new round of escalation. Now, faced with an alarming risk of a renewed escalation, it’s time for the United Nations to step in to end the US and Israeli threats and aggressions against Syrian sovereignty. It’s not clear why the UN has never condemned Israel’s continued attacks on Syria and the United States’ unauthorized deployment in the country both in support of the terrorists in open alliance with Al-Qaeda.


Daesh yet to suffer ‘enduring defeat,’ says US Secretary of State Tillerson

February 13, 2018
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 Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (right) meets with Rex Tillerson. AFP photo
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “the end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
KUWAIT: The end of major combat operations against Daesh does not mean the US and its allies have achieved an enduring defeat of the militant group, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.
Tillerson, speaking at a meeting in Kuwait of the US-led global coalition against Daesh, also said Washington had decided to provide an additional $200 million of aid to stabilize liberated areas in Syria.
“The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS,” he said, referring to the group using an acronym.
“ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands, and other parts of the globe.”
The hard-line militants, who lost all territory they held in Iraq and are on the cusp of defeat in Syria, are trying to gain territory in other countries where they are active, he said, adding that “History must not be allowed to repeat itself elsewhere.”
“In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is attempting to morph into an insurgency. In places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa, and others it is trying to carve out and secure safe havens.”
Tillerson said he was concerned over recent events in northwest Syria, where Turkey launched an assault last month on a US-allied Kurdish militia it considers a threat on its southern border, adding that he was keenly aware of Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns.”

CAIRO, Feb 12 – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday the United States supports Egypt’s fight against Islamic State but reiterated that it advocated free and fair elections in the Arab country.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Tillerson also said that Washington remained committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Tillerson arrived in Egypt at the start of a regional tour amid heightened tensions between Israel and Syria after an Israeli F-16 aircraft was shot down. It also follows a major security operation by the Egyptian military to crush Islamist militants who have killed hundreds of people since 2013.

“We agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures,” Tillerson said.

“The Egyptian people should be confident that the U.S. commitment to continue to support Egypt in fight against terrorism and bringing security to Egyptian people is steadfast.”

The Egyptian military campaign comes ahead of presidential election in March, in which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seeking a second term in office.

Asked about the Tillerson said the United States supports a credible, transparent election in Egypt and Libya.

“We have always advocated for free and fair elections, transparent elections not just in Egypt but in any country,” Tillerson said.

“The U.S. is always going to advocate for electoral process that respects rights of citizens,” he told journalists, adding that the United States was also keen to continue supporting Egypt in its economic recovery

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Turkey’s Ground and Air Forces Penetrate into Syria Toward Afrin

January 21, 2018

Al Jazeera

Turkey says it has launched a much-awaited air and ground offensive against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.

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After days of shelling, Turkish fighter jets on Saturday carried out air raids on the border district targeting positions held by the Syrian Kurdish PYD and YPG groups.

The heavy bombardment began as units of pro-Ankara rebels known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) started moving into Afrin, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the operation in Afrin would be followed by a push in the northern town of Manbij, which the US-backed Kurdish forces captured from ISIL in 2016.

Turkey considers Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, “terrorist groups” with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long fight inside Turkey.

The US has previously armed the YPG, viewing it as the most effective ground force in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group.

Erdogan said that all Kurdish armed groups “are all the same” and that changing their names “does not change the fact that they are terror organisations”.

According to estimates, there are between 8,000 to 10,000 Kurdish fighters in the Afrin area.

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‘Complicated situation’

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Antakya in Turkey, said the launch of the operation followed a week of “increasingly strong political rhetoric” coming from Turkish officials.

“The Turkish army says it is only targeting what it calls ‘terrorists’ … and not civilians – but certainly it will be terrifying for civilians in that area because they are surrounded,” she added.

“To highlight the complexity of this war, there is now a NATO ally, Turkey, bombing a group that the US calls its best ally when it was fighting ISIL on the ground and still continues to do so – so it’s an incredibly complicated situation.”

In recent days, Ankara has been repeatedly threatening to crush the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

On Friday, Turkey’s Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said his country would go ahead with its military offensive in Afrin, saying Syrian Kurdish fighters there pose a “real” threat to his country.

Ankara fears the establishment of a Kurdish corridor along its border and had been deploying troops and tanks there in preparation for the ground assault.

“We will wipe out this corridor step-by-step, starting from the west,” Erdogan said on Saturday. “Afrin operation has de facto started in the field. This will be followed by Manbij.”

Syria had earlier warned against any operation and said it would shoot down Turkish fighter jets.

Ground push

On Friday, Turkey mobilised thousands of FSA rebels to Hatay province near the Syrian border, as part of the planned offensive.

Anadolu reported that the FSA rebels were taken “under extensive security” in a convoy of at least 20 buses, from the province of Kilis.

Last year, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield, in which Turkish-backed FSA rebels cleared a large part of northern Syria of armed fighters.

“The language coming from the Turks has been that the Afrin operation is going to be the start, then they are going to move into Manbij and then all the way to the Iraqi border,” said Dekker.

“Manbij is a town west of the Euphrates, the YPG remains there and Turkey always wanted the YPG to move east of the Euphrates. The last time there was a confrontation there between the two sides the Americans moved in with troops and vehicles to calm that down.”

Syrian Kurds rally on Thursday against the Turkish threats in Afrin, Aleppo province [AP]

Following the start of Turkey’s air campaign, the defence ministry of Russia, which controls the airspace over Afrin, said it was pulling back soldiers that had been deployed near the city.

It said in a statement that “to prevent possible provocations, to exclude the threat to life and health of Russian servicemen, the operational group of the Center for Reconciliation of warring parties and military police in the Afrin area is relocated to the Tell-Adjar area”.

Moscow’s military intervention in Syria in 2015 turned the war in favour of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“It’s now clear that the Russians have given tacit green light to this [Turkish operation] because they control the airspace – so seeing Turkey flying air sorties means the Russians have agreed to this.”

“However, we have also heard from the Russians that they are concerned that they are watching it closely and that they urge constraint.”

This came as Turkish officials reportedly had discussions with US and Russian officials, as well as a rare official contact with Assad’s government.

Meanwhile, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, warned against more military activities in Syria.

“We’ve seen the reports of shelling in Afrin. We reiterate our call on all concerned parties to avoid further escalation and any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people,” Dujarric said.

“All parties must ensure protection of civilians at all times, under any circumstances.”

The US had also urged Turkey to avoid taking action against the Kurdish rebels, urging Ankara to keep its focus on ISIL.

There have been reports that the US was also trying to recruit Kurdish fighters in Syria to fight against ISIL.

In response, Turkey warned that its relations with the US would be “irreversibly harmed” if Washington moves to form the 30,000-strong army in the north of Syria.


Two 19-Year-Old Bedouin Women From Israel’s South Charged With Plotting ISIS Attack

January 8, 2018

The 19-year-old women are accused of swearing allegiance to the organization, trying to enlist supporters and plotting bombing attack on New Year’s Eve

By Almog Ben Zikri Jan 08, 2018 2:25 PM

19-year-olds Rahman al-Assad (left) and Tasnin al-Assad from Bedouin town of Lakiya in southern Israel.

19-year-olds Rahman al-Assad (left) and Tasnin al-Assad from Bedouin town of Lakiya in southern Israel. Shin Bet security services

Two teenage Bedouin women from Israel’s south region were charged Monday with planned to carry out an attack on behalf of the Islamic State group, Shin Bet security services said in a statement.

19-year-olds Rahman al-Assad and Tasnin al-Assad from the Bedouin town of Lakiya are accused of swearing allegiance to the organization, trying to enlist supporters and plotting a deadly terror attack against Israelis and Jews.

A 24-year-old man, Ahmad Abu Ramila, was also charged in connection to the plot with contacting a foreign agent, conspiracy to commit a crime, and destroying evidence for erasing his communication with the women.

A gag order was placed on their arrests in late December prior to the indictments submitted to the Be’er Sheva District Court.

The women, acccording to the indictment, had plans to travel abroad with the intention to join the Islamic State’s affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai region, saying the teens made contact with the group sometime last year.

According to the indictment, the group requested the women explore the possibility of carrying out an attack in Israel. Tasnin was asked to visit Ben-Gurion University to determine whether they could bring in a bomb. After visiting, they determined such a venture impossible.

Upon request to consider the Be’er Sheva central bus station as a site for attack, the women refused, citing the amount of Muslim citizens of Israel who pass through.

The indictment also wrote that Rahma al-Assad contacted Abu Ramila inquiring whether he would assist in an attack during New Year’s Eve celebrations. He refused to carry out the attack, but Rahma insisted. According to the indictment, Tasnin attempted to help Abu Ramila get out of committing the attack.

A gag order was placed on their arrests in late December prior to the indictments submitted to the Be’er Sheva District Court. It is unclear whether the two women are related.

Almog Ben Zikri
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Iran in the North, ISIS in the South: These Are the Threats Israel Is Facing in 2018

December 29, 2017


With Trump increasingly detached from Mideast events and more concerned with North Korea, Israel has picked a very bad time to neglect its relations with U.S. Jewry

By Amos Harel Dec 29, 2017 8:19 PM

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a Hezbollah demonstration in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on December 22, 2017

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a Hezbollah demonstration in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on December 22, 2017 AFP PHOTO / Mahmoud ZAYYAT

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World developments in recent months will likely continue to gather momentum in the early part of 2018. The main focus for the United States – and therefore for the rest of the international community, too – is no longer the Middle East but what’s happening far from these parts, in North Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s frequent threats have so far failed to budge North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. It won’t be easy to find a peaceful way to dissipate this tension. If the verbal escalation continues, even war cannot be ruled out.

Plenty of strategic experts say there’s a high probability of a military confrontation between Washington and Pyongyang sometime in 2018. If that does happen, it will be the first time the United States is going to war against another country boasting a nuclear capability. America’s most recent wars, in 1991 and 2003 against Iraq, would look like child’s play in comparison.

Trump appears to be weighing military action, despite the reservations of his security advisers. The polls currently predicting Republican losses in the Senate and House in the 2018 midterm elections next November might also act as a catalyst for a military move.

People watching a TV screen showing images of U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, November 21, 2017.Ahn Young-joon/AP
The Americans are also attaching more significance to the country’s political and economic rivalries with Russia and China, respectively. The Middle East has taken a back seat.

Although in recent weeks the U.S. administration has been making a concerted effort to give the impression that America is in the Middle East to stay, Israel sees it differently. The United States is packing up and leaving the various parties to their wars.

The U.S. military presence in Syria is minimal and not expected to grow. Now the Americans so kindly got the Islamic State out of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s way, his regime and its supporters are seizing control of most of the territory abandoned by the crumbling caliphate. And Russia and China (the latter so farto a lesser extent) are gradually entering the diplomatic vacuum left by the Americans.

Beyond the United States’ dwindling interest in Syria and the ongoing stagnation of the peace process with the Palestinians, the increasing risk of a war on the Korean Peninsula will greatly reduce the attention Washington pays to Israel’s security needs and expectations.

Up to now, whenever Israel has become embroiled in a local military conflict in Lebanon or Gaza, the United States has generally been there to help – either by working to achieve a cease-fire or by sending increased aid shipments to restock depleted emergency stores.

In the event of another war erupting here, we can probably count on Trump to fire off a strongly worded tweet in support. But a continuing crisis with North Korea on the verge of boiling over will necessarily monopolize Washington’s focus, and overshadow any escalation on one of Israel’s borders.

In 2017, dramatic changes occurred in nearly every arena concerning Israel. Yet the predictions of the intelligence agencies for the coming year haven’t radically shifted.

Instability on the various borders slightly increases the risk of war, despite all parties’ clear desire to avoid a military confrontation at this time. Internal shocks accompanied by local tensions with Israel could degenerate into a war that Israel doesn’t want. Gaza is the most volatile area right now.

The most dangerous possibility is a flare-up with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which could also spill over to the Syrian border in the Golan Heights. Like most countries in the West, Israel was surprised by the rate at which the Assad regime reclaimed control of about 70 percent of Syrian territory this year – with the help of Russian air support and the additional troops provided by Hezbollah and the Iran-backed Shi’ite militias.

The Assad regime’s return to the Golan Heights now looks inevitable, and the chances that Israel will extend aid to the Sunni rebels’ villages are not high.

There are conflicting views within the defense establishment about the gravity of the threat posed by Iran’s influence on Assad’s regime. In public statements, Israeli spokespeople frequently cite the need to keep Shi’ite militias away from the border in the Golan Heights.

A Palestinian protester kicks a flaming tire during clashes with Israeli security forces north of Ramallah, December 22, 2017
A Palestinian protester kicks a flaming tire during clashes with Israeli security forces north of Ramallah, December 22, 2017ABBAS MOMANI/AFP

But another argument is being made that the main focus should be on Iran’s attempts to rebuild Assad’s surface-to-surface missile battery, which was nearly depleted in the civil war. This would enable Iran to threaten the Israeli home front, via proxies, from three fronts: Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

In Lebanon, the big Saudi gambit in November ended in a total fiasco. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was extricated from his forced stay in Riyadh and then rescinded the resignation announcement that had been dictated to him by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

For now, Hezbollah’s political and military power has not been dented. The organization has no clear reason to start a war with Israel, but it will keep on building up its power – and with the fighting in Syria subsiding, it will be able to devote more resources to this.

In the West Bank, Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital effectively threw the Palestinian Authority a lifeline (as Alex Fishman wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth this week).

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas feared he would soon be faced with a new U.S. peace initiative that was much closer to the Israeli negotiating positions. The protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world enabled Abbas to get ahead of the curve by declaring he no longer believes the Americans can be a fair mediator in the peace process, thus delaying any discussion of the administration’s proposals by weeks, if not months.

It’s a convenient situation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, too, since even a pro-Israel U.S. proposal would be opposed by Habayit Hayehudi and part of his own Likud party, which would further rattle his already shaky governing coalition.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left shaking hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul during an emergency summit on Jerusalem, December 13, 2017.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left shaking hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul during an emergency summit on Jerusalem, December 13, 2017.Yasin Bulbul/AP

However, Trump’s announcement did not resolve all of Abbas’ problems – and it also created some new ones. His participation in the protest summit organized by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Trump’s announcement angered the Saudis and jeopardizes Saudi support for the PA – which amounts to some $30 million per month. And although the PA is keeping the weekly anti-Trump protests on a very low flame, the leadership cannot guarantee that things won’t get out of control.

In Gaza, the stalemate in reconciliation talks between Hamas and the PA is causing Hamas to become more financially strapped and exacerbating its strategic woes. Hamas’ new leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, essentially already abdicated management of Gaza when he announced that responsibility was being transferred to the PA. However, fearing a trap, Abbas is not about to rush in and the PA’s presence in Gaza remains minimal. The money is still stuck, too.

Israel is concerned that this combination of circumstances could push Hamas to take another gamble on a military escalation, even though Hamas leaders are well aware of the potentially devastating implications.

In Sinai, the ISIS offshoot Wilayat Sinai has notched up some recent successes. Egypt is far from subduing the organization – despite the massive assistance it receives from Israel, according to Arab media reports.

For now, Wilayat Sinai is concentrating on attacking the Egyptian security forces. But Israeli defense officials are aware of the possibility it could attempt a showy major attack on the Israeli border, using the attack capabilities it has shown in operations against the Egyptians.

skip – Video showing the ISIS attack on al-Arish Airbase in North Sinai posted on Twitter.

Israel’s intelligence agencies are trained and authorized to observe and analyze what is happening on the “red” (enemy) side of the map. In their security assessments, they do not include what is happening on the “blue” (Israeli) side.

But there is one ongoing process that has the potential to do vast strategic harm to Israel, and warnings about it are frequently heard in talks with security officials. This is the rift between the government and the Reform and Conservative movements in America, following Netanyahu’s retreat on the Western Wall agreement and his government’s derisive attitude toward much of American Jewry.

The behind-the-scenes role played by Jewish organizations with regard to Congress and the U.S. administration, ensuring U.S. military aid to Israel and promoting legislative initiatives of vital strategic importance to Israel, is barely discussed by the Israeli public.

The argument could be made that some of this support is excessive and gives right-wing Israeli governments too much maneuvering room whenever a U.S. peace plan is presented. But we also cannot ignore the crucial role Jewish activism plays when there are urgent security needs – from joint funding for missile defense systems like Iron Dome and Arrow, to getting sanctions imposed on Iran to slow its military buildup.

A visit to the Western Wall by senior Reform rabbis was punctuacted by pushing, punching and shoving from ultra-Orthodox worshippers and the police. November 19, 2017
A visit to the Western Wall by senior Reform rabbis was punctuacted by pushing, punching and shoving from ultra-Orthodox worshippers and the police. November 19, 2017Noam Rivkin Fanton

Netanyahu allowed the Western Wall plan to be buried because he placed internal coalition needs – relations with the ultra-Orthodox parties – above the long-term alliance with American Jewry.

Ariel Kahana reported in Makor Rishon last month that, in private conversations, Netanyahu tells people that he thinks the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism in the United States will disappear within two generations due to assimilation and a low birth rate, so there is no point investing in ties, Instead, he says, the focus should be on securing the support of Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians. (Netanyahu’s office said the comments were taken out of context.)

This assessment disregards how much Israel relies on American Jewry – from its philanthropy directed at civil society here, to ensuring defense aid and diplomatic support in Washington. This could turn into a very damaging trend in the long run.

The IDF fesses up

In recent years, in academia and then later in the media, there has been discussion about young people being channeled into specific jobs in the Israel Defense Forces based on their economic background. Pricey prep courses for service in the cybersecurity units; the IDF’s requirement that candidates for certain jobs take and pass the psychometric exam at their own expense; the decline in the percentage of youngsters from “high quality groups” enlisting for combat service – all of these reflect a clear trend the army has been doing its best to suppress for some time.

During an event at the Dov Lautman Conference on Education Policy earlier this week, a partial acknowledgement about the situation was heard for the first time. Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, head of the manpower directorate, was taking questions from the audience.

Someone asked, “Is there a division in the IDF that perpetuates the social gaps rather than having the army serve as a melting pot? Are new recruits from the outlying towns going to combat service while those from the Sharon [the wealthy coastal region encompassing Tel Aviv] are going into technological areas?”

To which Almoz replied, “There is no institutional division. I can cautiously say this: We would like it to be more mixed. We would like for it not to be divided that way. I also think it’s our job to say so out loud, and there are organizations in this country that are helping us. It shouldn’t be that if you tell me your socioeconomic situation, I can basically decide right now what your path in life will be – that I’ll know from the start where you’ll go to school, where you’ll serve, what university you’ll go to, what your profession will be and what kind of income you’ll earn.

“I think there needs to be a little more of a mix, and we’re addressing that,” Almoz added.

In other words, the IDF is recognizing the problem and is, for the first time, publicly stating it is taking steps to change the situation.

Amos Harel
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Forgotten in hell: Half of abducted Iraqi Yazidi girls remain in ISIS captivity & sex slavery

December 29, 2017

RT — Russia Today

Ayman was sold by ISIS militants to a Muslim couple in Mosul, hugs his grandmother after he was returned to his Yazidi family, in Duhok, Iraq, Jan. 31, 2017. (Reuters)
15yo Nadi could barely speak when RT crew met her just a few hours after she was bought out after years of slavery for $2,500 – not the highest ransom by far, as ISIS terrorists fetch $10,000 on average for young Yazidi girls.
Nadi is one of thousands of Yazidi girls, captured and then enslaved by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists who would turn the girls – often no older than 10 years – into forced laborers, sex slaves, and send them on suicide missions. With the self-proclaimed IS caliphate crumbling, the slave trade has become a source of income for the retreating militants in need of money to flee the battlefield and resettle in nearby countries.
The girl was kidnapped in 2015 in Mosul – then a major IS stronghold in Iraq – where the group’s mastermind, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a self-styled terrorist caliphate in June 2014. Though Mosul was “liberated” in July, Nadi’s long journey home ended just two hours before RT’s Murad Gazdiev spoke to her in Baghdad.

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Asked how she feels now that her horrific ordeal is over, Nadi, still visibly shaken but already smiling, said “good, thank God.” She was rescued by a group of local men who track down Yazidi girls taken captive by ISIS and try to bring them back by either negotiating a price with the militants or stealing them.

Nadi’s family forked out $2,500, which was handed over to the militants in a clandestine exchange operation with no law enforcement involved as militants threaten to kill the captives if they are exposed.

“ISIS say that if we show the girls still in their possession – or if their relatives appear on TV – the deal will be off. That they’ll kill their hostages,” a man involved in the rescue told RT.

Despite all the difficulties and controversy, deals are still being struck with the terrorists, as remnants of ISIS are in desperate need of money and the relatives of the girls do not have much hope of ever seeing them again otherwise.

“When ISIS fighters flee to Turkey – they sell their slaves because they need money to go back to their home countries,” the man said.


Image result for Yazidi girls taken prisoner by islamic state, photos

Yazidi girls are treated by jihadists as human commodities that could be easily sold or given away as presents. A man, who preferred to stay anonymous, told RT that he knows several girls as young as 10, 11, and 12 who were “all raped” by the militants and “were gifted or sold as many as 15 times.”
The price tags militants put on the abducted girls and women ranges from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. “If they’re in a dangerous place – it can be 80 thousand dollars. Otherwise, around 10-15 thousand,” he said.

There are nearly 3,000 Yazidis that are still missing with their fate unknown according to Vian Dakhil, Yazidi Member of the Council of Representatives of Iraq, which has gained prominence for leading rescue efforts on behalf of Iraqi MPs. Dakhil would sometimes pay ransom with her own money, saying that no amount of money is worth more than a life.

“I was stunned by the tragedy of the Yazidi people,” she told RT. She recalled the story of a 12-year-old sex slave girl, who drugged her ISIS captors with sleeping pills and walked with her aunt 30km before they were rescued. “Yazidi women have incredible inner strength. At first I could not believe how they could endure all of this.”

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Putin praises Russia’s ‘principal’ role in defeating IS — After Obama failure to engage in Syria

December 28, 2017


© POOL/AFP | Putin said Russia’s intervention in Syria had showed off Moscow’s military might to the world.

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Moscow had made the key contribution to defeating the Islamic State group in Syria, adding its military campaign also boosted morale in the armed forces.

Russia “has made the principal, decisive contribution defeating the criminal force which challenged our entire civilisation,” Putin said at a ceremony to award officers who took part in Moscow’s Syria campaign.

He called the jihadists a “barbaric dictatorship which sowed death and destruction” and accused them of “global aggression, the target of which is and was our country.”

In a speech before the hundreds of servicemen in the Kremlin, Putin said Russia’s intervention in Syria had also changed the armed forces as it boosted confidence and showed off Moscow’s military might to the world.

He said some 48,000 Russian servicemen took part in the campaign, which Russia launched in September 2015 in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, helping turn around the multi-front war.

“You as no one else understand, know and feel that the army has drastically changed over these two-something years,” he said.

“It changed because people felt they were at their best.”

“They understood how our military equipment works, how our command and supply works, how modern our armed forces have become. The whole world saw this, and most importantly, our people too.”

Putin earlier this month made a surprise visit to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Syria where he ordered a partial pullout of the country’s troops, saying their task had been largely completed.

Russia said the Hmeimim airbase in Latakia would remain in operation, while its naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus would be expanded.


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Obama: US troops won’t fight ground war in Syria

The Hill
BY JORDAN FABIAN – 04/25/16 01:09 PM EDT

President Obama said Monday that sending 250 additional troops to Syria doesn’t constitute a change in the U.S. mission there.

Obama told CBS News’s Charlie Rose that, “as a general rule,” American troops will not be fighting directly with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces in that country. Instead, they will beef up the train-and-advise mission that is already underway.

“As a general rule, their role is not to engage directly with the enemy but rather to work with local forces that is consistent with our overall policy throughout,” he said in an interview that aired Monday.
The president’s decision has drawn some scrutiny from some critics, who are wary of U.S. mission creep inside of Syria.

They are worried American forces could get caught in a quagmire; Syria has been wracked by a civil war for five years, leaving a power vacuum that contributed to ISIS’s rise.

Despite the administration’s insistence the U.S. isn’t fighting the ground war against ISIS, special forces have participated in targeted raids on the ground in Syria.

Last May, a Delta Force unit led a raid into Syria that resulted in the killing of ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf.

Obama this week ruled out sending in U.S. ground forces to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“It would be a mistake for the United States, for Great Britain, for a combination of Western states to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime,” he said in a separate interview with the BBC.

The president insisted that U.S. forces would be mostly confined to training local ground forces in Syria fighting ISIS as well as providing intelligence on the extremist group in strongholds like the city of Raqqa.

It’s a mission, Obama says, has been successful.

“Although we are not going to send ground troops in to fight, we are going to try to find out what works and then double down,” Obama told CBS.


Hundreds of British Daesh fighters are hiding in Turkey, prompting fears of terror attacks in Europe

December 27, 2017

Iraqi forces are seen flashing the sign for victory in Iraq’s western Anbar province near the Syrian border after retaking it from Daesh jihadists a day earlier (AFP)

LONDON: Hundreds of British fighters who joined ISIS are believed to be hiding in Turkey, adding to fears of an increased threat of terror attacks in Europe.

Thousands of jihadists fled to Turkey after the terror group lost its grip on the strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq this year.
Ciwan Xhalil, a Syrian Kurdish intelligence officer who collaborates with western intelligence agencies over foreign ISIS fighters, told
The Times of London that most British ISIS fighters had fled Syria and gone to Turkey.
“The exodus began after Mosul (in Iraq) fell and continued after (ISIS) lost Raqqa. We have lots of French in our jails and scores of
other nationals but we think most of the British have escaped,” he said.
About 850 Britons traveled to join Daesh, of whom about half have returned. About 130 are confirmed dead.
The figure is higher than the 300 returnees to Germany and 271 to France.
The report warned there has also been a surge in the number of women involved in attacks — with nearly a quarter of terror plots in Europe from the start of 2017 to May involving women.
Meanwhile, according to the United States-led international coalition fighting the militant group, fewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.
“Due to the commitment of the Coalition and the demonstrated competence of our partners in Iraq and Syria, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 ISIS terrorists in our combined joint area of operations, most of whom are being hunted down in the desert regions in eastern Syria and Western Iraq,” the US-led coalition told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Moreover, British security sources said it is increasingly difficult to leave Turkey and return to Britain without being flagged.
Returning jihadists are stopped and questioned by MI5 and police and will be prosecuted if there is evidence that they fought for the caliphate.
The authorities also deploy covert techniques to track down extremists. American intelligence sources said that the CIA and MI6 were co-ordinating to track a cadre of foreign Isis fighters.
Although only three of the 40 attacks in Europe since 2015 have involved foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, those incidents caused more than half the fatalities.
The threat level in Britain remains at “severe,” meaning that further attacks are likely. The country is dealing with one of the worst cases of homegrown radicalization in Europe, and the chief of Britain’s MI5 domestic security service warned in October that the threat of extremist attacks in Britain was at its “highest tempo” in his three-decade career. British security services have foiled almost a dozen attack plots this year.

Iran’s Supreme Leader: We will pin down the criminal US — Money and materialism bring ruin

December 27, 2017

Fars News (IRAN)

Related image File photo

TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei blasted Washington for its numerous crimes against the regional people by supporting terrorist groups and dictatorial regimes, stressing that the Iranian nation will defeat the US.

“Every one should know that with God’s help, we will pin the criminal US and its collaborators down in this phase,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing members of the Council of Coordination on Islamic Propagation in Tehran on Wednesday.

He blasted the huge amounts of money spent and complicated plots hatched by the US to sow discord among the Iranian people as fruitless, and said the Iranian nation will make Washington disappointed in all arenas.

Ayatollah Khamenei predicted that Washington’s pressures and mischiefs would continue during US President Donald Trump’s era, but ensured that they will never succeed in weakening or overthrowing the Islamic Republic.

“(Former US President Donald) Reagan was both wiser and more powerful than Trump. They took measures against Iran: they shot down one of our passenger aircraft. But where is Reagan, and how powerful is the Islamic Republic now,” the leader said.

He expressed pleasure that Americans’ ill wishes for Islam and the Islamic Republic have been unveiled to the Iranian nation soon after a number of US officials sought to fool Tehran with their iron fist covered in a velvet glove.

Ayatollah Khamenei described the US as the most corrupt and most cruel government in the world, lashing out at Washington for its support for the ISIL and other Takfiri terrorists, the Zionists and the Saudi regime which kills the Yemeni people every day.

He also underscored the racism ruling the US and its judiciary system, and expressed surprise that Washington raises allegations against other countries’ judiciary systems, including Iran.

In relevant remarks in November, Khamenei categorically rejected any possibility for Iran’s compromise with the world powers on its national interests.

“We have experienced that we can [overcome]. We saw firsthand that we can [overcome]. Some spread disappointment, saying that we should compromise with those major powers. Not at all,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a large number of Basiji (Mobilized Forces) in Tehran.

He praised the young revolutionary individuals, who continue to celebrate and act upon revolutionary values, by stating: “The fact that, after 38 years, the youth–who never met Imam Khomeini and didn’t experience the holy defense era or the revolution–can be so zealous and influentially act (make a difference) in the region is truly a miracle of the Islamic Revolution. In certain neighboring countries some couldn’t believe that the barbaric, takfiri group ISIS (ISIL) could be eradicated, but they had to enter the fight, and they soon came to believe it was possible. This is how the Islamic Republic of Iran’s message, the Revolution’s message, reaches out to other nations.”

Ayatollah Khamenei applauded the endeavors of the young men, in nullifying US plots and conspiracies, adding, “In the region, the Islamic Republic and you, young individuals, managed to bring the US to its knees and defeat it. All their efforts and plots were aimed at removing the ideologies of the Islamic Revolution or resistance from the region, but the exact opposite occurred.”

“The operation in Syria and Iraq–disposing of the cancerous tumor, created by the enemies to counter the resistance–was successful thanks to devout young men.

One of the enemy’s strategies is to disappoint our younger generation. Unfortunately, some act like mouthpieces for the enemy, spreading hopelessness, saying it’s not possible to resist such enemies. And, why not? The Islamic Republic has stood up against the enemies’ avarice and has defeated the enemy in all cases,” he said.

“The Iranian people overthrew the monarchy, which was an evil, long-standing regime in Iran, while the US, Europe, and the reactionaries of the region backed it. It was able to create and maintain a state based on moral values, ​​in a world full of disbelief, atheism and negligence, and they developed it [the new state] day after day,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“You have witnessed that these consecutive conspiracies, which were created in this region by the US, Zionists, Arab reactionaries and others, were destroyed by the sovereignty of the Islamic Revolution. One of the conspiracies was the inhumane Takfiri group: ISIS–which was destroyed, thanks to the efforts of faithful men, with the help of those who supported the resistance force,” the Leader said.

“Even in some of our neighboring countries, sometimes, they did not believe that it was possible to accomplish this. But, they had to join the fight: they entered the battlefield; they succeeded and came to believe it was possible. This is how the message of the Islamic Republic, the message of the revolution, reaches other nations,” he added.

Noting that the Mobilized Forces (Basij) is a unique phenomenon of the Islamic Revolution, which can act in all areas as required and open up the problem nodes, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Basij represents the gathering and aligning of capacities and facilities to achieve goals. If the Islamic Revolution was only left with all it has today without their Basij, it would no doubt see a great deficiency.”

“In every country, the element that has the last word is the working force. The advanced materialized countries also reached a climax, because of perseverance of their active labor force, who abandoned stagnation–even if for the pursuit of money and materialism,” he said.


The  Basij are subordinate to and receive their orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Khomeini

Iraq’s Shia paramilitary troops deployed at Syrian border

December 23, 2017

Al Jazeera

Roughly 63 factions make up Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces [Ari Jalal/Reuters]

Roughly 63 factions make up Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces [Ari Jalal/Reuters]


Iraq’s Shia paramilitaries have deployed fighters to the Syrian border to support security forces after multiple attacks from within Syria.

“After several Iraqi border guard positions came under several attacks by missiles, and backup from security forces was late, the 13th brigade of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) was deployed and targeted the origins of the launch,” Qassem Mesleh, the PMF commander for Iraq‘s western Anbar province, said in a statement on Friday.

“Operations command and the infantry brigade are now present on the Iraqi-Syrian border in border guard positions to repel any attack or movement by the enemy. This area is not within the PMF’s remit but it is our duty to back up all security forces.”

The PMF is largely outside of government control, but the Iraqi parliament formally recognised it as a state-affiliated institution when its own forces became depleted in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the armed group earlier this month, marking the end of a three-year war to drive ISIL out of Iraq.

Just six months ago, ISIL still controlled vast expanses of territory, including major cities, on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border. The group’s quick advance in Iraq began in 2014 as it captured major cities, including Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah.

Roughly 63 factions make up the PMF, an umbrella of groups rallied by ethnic and tribal leaders whose fighters are either loyal to religious scholars, Iraqi political leaders, or Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.