Iraqi forces attack last IS stronghold along Syria border

As per reports Iraqi forces have launched an operation to recapture the last stronghold of Islamic State in the western desert of the country.

According to the information conveyed by a military source to BBC, soldiers, Anbar provincial police and Sunni Arab tribal fighters, had started advancing on the town of Ana on Tuesday morning after being initially set back by many booby traps.Ana is a Iraqi town located 90km (55 miles) from the Syrian border. It is one of three Iraqi towns in the Euphrates river valley held by IS who still have control over a great part of the neighboring Syrian province of Deir al-Zour. Here too the IS is facing retaliation from the Syrian pro-government forces and a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.

Reportedly, the Iraqi forces had help from US-led coalition air strikes and military advisers on the ground to carry out the attack. Shortly after the commencement of the operation the coalition warplanes succeed in destroying an explosives-packed car driven by a suicide bomber.

Following the completion of this operation, the troops will target Rawa, 12km (7.5 miles) to the north, and then al-Qaim, the last town before the border with Syria.

The Ana attack is the latest of a series of blows suffered by the IS in Iraq recently, with the government declaring that the second city of Mosul had been recaptured in July.

Sources: BBC, Business Standard

Refugee ban granted by US Supreme Court

By the decision of lower court and the justice department, 24,000 additional refugees, who were granted an allowance to enter the US before October, were banned due to Supreme Court Justices grant on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. This was done on the basis of a request from the Trump administration block.

On March 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump had signed a revised order banning travelers and refugees from six Muslim majority countries, namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for 90 days and 120 days respectively. Trump claimed that the reason for this ban was to prevent terrorists. Though there had been no definite information regarding the permanence or the expansion of the limit of the ban.

As the Lower Courts argued that this ban goes against the constitution and feudal immigration law, the High Court agreed to look into the matter, but did not came up with anything constructive. After the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, it has been decided that, people having authentic relationships with legal US residents or with entities in the US, will be exempted from the travel ban. But, nothing has been specified about the refugee allowance.

As reported by Reuters, senior director of campaigns, Naureen Shah of Amnesty International of USA said, “The Supreme Court today had dealt yet another devastating blow to vulnerable people who were on the cusp of obtaining safety for themselves and their families. They continue to be subjected to unimaginable violence and fear while their lives are in limbo.”

Sourced from Reuters and Al jazeera

 

Israeli jets reportedly bombed Syrian chemical site

According to early Arab and Israeli media reports, Israeli jets have bombarded a Syrian government facility in Hama related to the Assad regime’s chemical weapons programme.

The Guardian reported that the air raid took place overnight on the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre near Hama, which, according to western intelligence, has been associated with Syria’s chemical weapons programme. Syrian opposition figures speculated the involvement of four warplanes in the strike.

Israel has in the past, very rarely admitted to conducting strikes in Syria. But Israel has conducted air raids previously during the Syrian War against ammunition convoys and weapons storage facilities of Hezbollah, a key ally of Assad. The Israeli ministry refrained from commenting on the issue.

However, in August, a former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel conceded Israel tried to destroy arms and ammunitions meant for the Hezbollah for the past five years. Even before the outbreak of Syrian War, Israel kept a strong vigil on the bombed centre.

If the strike is confirmed, it would be a direct response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the course of the war which has already seen advance from the Bashar al-Assad camp backed by Iran Hezbollah and Russia.

 

Sources: The Guardian, BBC

Image source: AFP

17 Keralites revealed as IS supporters in Syria and Iraq

Shajahan VK, an Islamic State (IS) sympathizer who is now in judicial custody, from Kerala who was deported from Turkey in July after a fizzled endeavor to enter Syria, has uncovered that 17 individual Keralites have joined the dread gathering in Syria/Iraq since January 2016.

The significant number of Keralites living in Iraq/Syria, along with the 21 Malayalis who had moved to IS an area in Afghanistan a year ago and other IS sympathizers from the state ousted from the Gulf since 2016, allude to the solid impact IS employs over segments of Kerala’s youth. Indeed, estimates by the organizations say 70-80 Indian IS enlisted people might be in Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan, with a greater part of people from Kerala

The government keeps up that IS has not affected very many youth in India. It had informed the Lok Sabha that NIA and different state police have already booked 54 people till date for joins with IS.

Shajahan went to Malaysia in 2016 to enquire about getting an Iranian or Turkish visa for the journey to Syria. Shajahan took two different Keralites, Rashid and Midlaj, along. They were however caught at the Syrian border by the Turkish military and were deported.

 

Sources: Economic Times, Times of India

Mosul Pays the Price for Freedom

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi triumphantly declared the successful liberation of the city of Mosul from the ISIS’s brutal regime on the 10th of July. The announcement marked the end of ‘The Battle of Mosul,’ and came almost exactly three years after the ISIS assumed control of the city in June 2014.

The fight to retake the city began nine months ago, on October 17, 2016, with the deployment of an Iraqi-led coalition of troops estimated to have a strength of over 1,08,500 soldiers. The battle comprised of two separate offensives for the Eastern and Western halves of the city, which are separated by the Tigris river. The Eastern half of Mosul was liberated on 24 January, after the coalition captured the Rashidiyah district.

The offensive for western Mosul began in February, as Iraqi forces gradually moved westward, into the Old City districts of Mosul. Large parts of the fighting took place in urban areas, especially in the Western half of the city, which is significantly more crowded than the Eastern half. By the month of May, ISIS militants occupied less than five square miles of territory, which housed tens of thousands of civilians. The narrow streets, dense population and compact planning of these neighbourhoods posed considerable problems to Iraqi forces, and civilian-casualty rates escalated during this phase of the battle. This was most evident in an incident that occurred on 25 May, when a coalition airstrike unintentionally killed close to 100 civilians, after it set off explosives planted by ISIS.

The Western half was liberated on 10 July, and peace was restored to Mosul, but the struggle to recover any semblance of normalcy has just begun. The fighting took its toll on the city, as entire buildings were razed to the ground and thousands of civilians were killed or injured during military operations. ISIS destroyed several famous buildings and structures of Mosul, like the al-Nuri and Hamou al-Qadu mosques and the shrine of Imam Awn al-Din.

The Battle of Mosul has given cause for Iraq and America to reconsider their methods of warfare. Amnesty International released a report shortly after the announcement by Haider al-Abadi which alleged that coalition forces did not do everything they could to limit civilian casualties. Close to 6000 civilian deaths are estimated to have been caused by the offensive for western Mosul, and the use of explosives in crowded urban areas has been condemned by the report. The citizens of Mosul face a long and arduous road to recovery, but with ISIS on the run and Shia-Sunni tensions at a low, perhaps this is Iraq’s chance to achieve stability in the nation.

Iraq excluded from US travel ban list

According to American president Donald Trump’s new immigration order, Iraq will be removed from the list of countries who face a temporary travel ban to the US. Trump will sign the executive order on Wednesday.

The Independent reported that four US officials told Associated Press, the decision was an outcome of pressure from the Pentagon and the State Department which triggered the White House to think about excluding Iraq given its significant role in fighting the ISIS.

Citizens of six other Muslim countries, namely Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen will remain on the list. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to reveal anything before the order is signed. The ban stands effective for 3 months.

The new order will include other changes as well such as the categorisation of the Syrian refugees under an indefinite ban will now include them under a general, 120-day suspension of new refugee entries.

The original order was signed in January which sparked outrage and caused panic and confusion among travelers. Some of them were sent back after being detained at U.S airports and others barred from boarding flights at foreign airports.

SOURCES-

  1. INDEPENDENT- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-muslim-ban-immigration-reform-change-iraq-countries-a7604926.html

2. INDIA TODAY-http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/donald-trump-immigration-order-iraq-travel-ban-list-us-officials/1/893989.html

3. IMAGE SOURCE- Alaraby

Al-Qaeda veteran killed in Syria during airstrike

The Pentagon claimed on Wednesday that American airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib province were responsible for the death of eleven militants with links to the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The deceased included Al-Qaeda veteran Abu Hani al-Masri, who was a close  ally of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al-Qaeda.
The airstrikes were reportedly carried out over the period of two days. The first airstrike killed 10 militants in a building near Idlib that was regularly used as a meeting place for the Al-Qaeda, while al-Masri was killed on the second day. Al-Masri has been affiliated with the al-Qaeda since the 1980s.
Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, addressed the press on Wednesday, saying “These strikes disrupt Al Qaeda’s ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the US and our interests worldwide. These extremists are increasingly questioning the loyalty of their members as paranoia spreads throughout their network about the many strikes conducted against them. U.S. forces have struck multiple meeting locations, an established basic training camp, and four leaders since the beginning of the year.”
The Pentagon has recently faced criticism due to continous airstrikes in Idlib, after an airstrike on February 1 caused damage to the headquarters of the Syrian Red Crescent, and caused the death of four Red Crescent employees. However, the Pentagon has supported the efficiency of these airstrikes, claiming that 150 al-Qaeda affiliated militants have been killed since the beginning of 2017.