"Crossing Euphrates"

On that day Jehovah concluded with Abram a covenant, saying: “To your seed I will give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates." -- Genesis 15:18

***A POWERFUL "SIGN" FROM GOD WILL SOON BE GIVEN!***

According to the Bible, Jehovah provided much needed INSPIRED LEADERSHIP in the first century and in ancient times (like in the days of Moses), and yet are we to believe He refuses to see the need of providing it in our day and time??? Does this make sense to you? Does this seem consistent to you? (See John 16:13, 14)
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:47 pm 
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About 60,000 Syrian Kurds flee to Turkey from Islamic State advance


Source of Article

BY DAREN BUTLER
SURUC Turkey Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:16pm EDT


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A Turkish soldier stands guard as Syrian Kurds cross the border fence into Turkey near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, September 19, 2014.

(Reuters) - About 60,000 Syrian Kurds fled into Turkey in the space of 24 hours, a deputy prime minister said on Saturday, as Islamic State militants seized dozens of villages close to the border.

Turkey opened a stretch of the frontier on Friday after Kurdish civilians fled their homes, fearing an imminent attack on the border town of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani. A Kurdish commander on the ground said Islamic State had advanced to within 15 km (9 miles) of the town.

Local Kurds said they feared a massacre in Kobani, whose strategic location has been blocking the radical Sunni Muslim militants from consolidating their gains across northern Syria.

The United States has said it is prepared to carry out airstrikes in Syria to stop the advances of Islamic State, which has also seized tracts of territory in neighbouring Iraq and has proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

U.S. forces have bombed the group in Iraq at the request of the government, but it is unclear when or where any military action might take place in Syria, whose president, Bashar al-Assad, Washington says is no longer legitimate.

Lokman Isa, a 34-year-old farmer, said he had fled with his family and about 30 other families after heavily armed Islamic State militants entered his village of Celebi. He said the Kurdish forces battling them had only light weapons.

"They (Islamic State) have destroyed every place they have gone to. We saw what they did in Iraq -- in Sinjar -- and we fled in fear," he told Reuters in the Turkish town of Suruc, where Turkish authorities were setting up a camp.

Sitting in a field after just crossing the border, Abdullah Shiran, a 24-year-old engineer, recounted scenes of horror in his village of Shiran, about 10 km (six miles) from Kobani.

"IS came and attacked and we left with the women but the rest of the men stayed behind ... They killed many people in the villages, cutting their throats. We were terrified that they would cut our throats too," he said.

HUDDLING IN FIELDS

Turkish soldiers looked on as the refugees, many of them women carrying bundles on their heads, streamed across. Hundreds of people huddled in the dusty fields with their few belongings.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus put the number of Syrian Kurds to have crossed the 30-km section of the border that has been open since Friday at 60,000. Officials said many thousands were still waiting to cross on Saturday evening.

"The United States, Turkey, Russia, friendly countries must help us. They must bomb Islamic State. All they can do is cut off heads, they have nothing to do with Islam," said Mustafa Saleh, a 30-year-old water industry worker.

"I would have fought to my last drop of blood against Islamic State, but I had to bring the women and children."

Kurdish forces have evacuated at least 100 villages on the Syrian side since the militants' onslaught started on Tuesday.

"Islamic State sees Kobani like a lump in the body, they think it is in their way," said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria's civil war.

Islamic State has executed at least 11 Kurdish civilians, including boys, in the villages it has seized near Kobani, the Observatory said.

Abdulrahman said more than 300 Kurdish fighters had crossed into Syria from Turkey late on Friday to help push back Islamic State, but that it was not clear which group they belonged to.

"Islamic State is killing any civilian it finds in a village," Mustefa Ebdi, director of a local radio station called Arta FM, told Reuters by telephone from the northern outskirts of Kobani. He said he could see thousands of people waiting to cross the border into Turkey.

"People prefer to flee rather than remain and die," he said. "(Islamic State wants) to eliminate anything that is Kurdish. This is creating a state of terror."

On his Facebook page, Ebdi said the killing of 34 civilians - women, elderly, children and the disabled - had been documented. He said the residents of 200 villages had been forced to flee.

CLOSING IN

Scrambling to coordinate aid, the mayor of Suruc, Orhan Sansal, described the situation in the area as "chaotic".

"Help is coming but there are problems with accommodation. Some people are staying with relatives, some in wedding halls, some in mosques and municipal buildings," he said.

Esmat al-Sheikh, commander of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, told Reuters by telephone that clashes were occurring to the north and east on Saturday.

He said Islamic State fighters using rockets, artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles had advanced towards Kobani overnight and were now only 15 km away.

At least 18 Islamic State fighters were killed in clashes with Syrian Kurds overnight as the militant group took control of more villages around the town, according to the Observatory.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani called on Friday for international intervention to protect Kobani from the Islamic State advance, saying the insurgents must be "hit and destroyed wherever they are".

Western states have increased contact with the main Syrian Kurdish political party, the PYD, whose armed wing is the YPG, since Islamic State made a lightning advance across northern Iraq in June.

The YPG says it has 50,000 fighters and should be a natural partner in the coalition the United States is trying to build.

But such cooperation could prove difficult because of Syrian Kurds' ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group listed as a terrorist organisation by many Western states due to the militant campaign it has waged for Kurdish rights in Turkey.

The PKK on Thursday called on young men in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast to join the fight against Islamic State. On Saturday Kobani's local radio station broadcast a call to arms from PKK commander Murat Karayilan in Kurdish.

(Additional reporting by Asli Kandemir in Istanbul, Sylvia Westall and Tom Perry in Beirut,; Writing by Seda Sezer and Sylvia Westall; Editing by Gareth Jones and Kevin Liffey)

End of Article.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:34 am 
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U.S. airstrikes hit ISIS inside Syria for first time
By Jim Sciutto, Mariano Castillo and Holly Yan, CNN
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014


Source of Article

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO

(CNN) -- American jets began bombing ISIS targets in Syria early Tuesday, raising U.S. involvement in the war-torn country and sending a forceful message to the terror group.

The airstrikes focused on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, a U.S. official told CNN, though other locations were hit as well.

At least 20 targets in an around Raqqa were hit, the opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
They're the first strikes against the terror group inside the country since President Barack Obama's announcement this month that he was prepared to expand the American efforts beyond targets in Iraq.

All foreign partners participating in the strikes with the United States are Arab countries, a senior U.S. military official told CNN. Those nations are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Diplomatic sources told CNN that Qatar was also involved, though it was not clear whether Qatar actually conducted airstrikes itself.

Get the latest updates on CNN.com's live blog

The U.S. and "partner nation forces" began striking ISIS targets using fighters, bombers and Tomahawk missiles, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said, though he didn't specify a geographic location.

Citing the ongoing operations, Kirby said the Pentagon would not provide additional details immediately. But a U.S. military official said the strikes are meant to target the ability of ISIS to command and control, resupply and train.

Western allies reject ISIS leader's threats

Tomahawk missiles launched from the sea initiated the strike, followed by bombers and fighters, a senior U.S. military official told CNN.

The goal with this first move is to have an initial, definitive blow, the official said, describing the pace of the operation as intense.

Most of the spots hit were hard targets such as buildings, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

A post office, a recruitment center and a building in the governor's compound were among the structures in Raqqa hit by U.S. airstrikes, Syrian opposition activists said.

There was no immediate word about casualties, the activists said.

Power went out in the city shortly after the airstrikes but was restored later Tuesday morning.

A 'punch in the nose'

Until now, ISIS has been able to take over cities and operate in Syria with near impunity. Now, it's coming under attack.
"This is the punch in the nose to the bully that we talked about on the playground," former Delta Force officer James Reese said. "ISIS is the bully, and we just punched him in the nose."

Finding the 'right' rebels in Syria: One tough job

With the airstrikes, the United States enters a new level of engagement in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Obama had resisted U.S. military action in Syria, but as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq made sweeping advances in both Middle Eastern neighbors, calls for such a step grew.

"I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are," Obama said in a September 10 speech. "That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

The message of the speech was clear -- it was a matter of when, not if -- the United States would carry out airstrikes inside Syria.

A U.S. intelligence official said that while law enforcement is aware the airstrikes against ISIS in Syria could incite a response, there is no evidence to suggest any terrorist strike is in the works against the United States.
200,000 flee in biggest displacement of Syrian conflict

Last week, U.S. officials told CNN that the military had everything in place it needed to strike ISIS inside Syria and was awaiting Obama's go-ahead to do so.

For weeks, intelligence and military targeting specialists have been working around the clock on a list of targets, the officials said. It is unlikely that the President reviewed all the targets individuall, but was presented broad guidance with analysis about the risks of bombing inside Syria, as well as the rewards in terms of attacking ISIS.
Al Qaeda's new Syrian franchise has a mission: Attack the West

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee last week that he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey signed off on plans to strike ISIS in Syria.

"CENTCOM's plan includes targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria -- including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure," Hagel said last week. "Our actions will not be restrained by a border that exists in name only."


CNN's Steve Almasy, Jim Acosta, Barbara Starr, Arwa Damon, Pam Brown, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Elise Labott, Khushbu Shah and Josh Levs contributed to this report.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:46 am 
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200,000 flee in biggest displacement of Syrian conflict, monitor says
By Ben Brumfield, Josh Levs and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
updated 9:55 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014


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Istanbul (CNN) -- The sudden, massive flood of refugees fleeing ISIS is unlike any other displacement in the 3½-year Syrian conflict.

As many as 200,000 people have left the area surrounding the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, in just four days as ISIS advances into the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday. Most have gone into Turkey, the London-based monitoring group said.

Turkey's semiofficial Anadolu news agency and the United Nations said 130,000 Syrian refugees have entered Turkey since Friday.

But the unprecedented surge that broke loose Friday has slowed, as Turkey reduced the number of open crossings from eight or nine to just two, said Ariane Rummery, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency.

Processing the refugees is also taking time.

New arrivals are being searched for arms, receiving medical checks, being identified and receiving ID cards that they can use in Turkey to show their status to local authorities.

"Children are being vaccinated," Rummery said.

READ: The anatomy of ISIS

Fight to prevent massacre

Inside Syria, a Kurdish official complained about the border becoming more difficult to cross. "Now, they stop people and make a procedure before letting them in," Idris Nassan said in Kobani.

The town is fighting ISIS with determination, he said. "Every moment of every second of every day, we have clashes ongoing outside the center of Kobani," Nassan said.

But ISIS, which also calls itself the "Islamic State," has bigger, better weapons than the Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as YPG, the initials for their name in Kurdish.

"ISIS brought weapons from Iraq and Raqqa. They have tanks, RPGs, cannons," Nassan said.

READ & SEE VIDEO HERE: Kurdish fighters from Turkey join fight against ISIS

Turkish Kurds help

But Kurdish fighters from Turkey are crossing into Syria to help.

"I saw groups of them last night walking inside the city, getting ready to go to the fighting," Nassan said. "Some were experienced fighters and others civilian volunteers to help the resistance." New men arrive every day and are eager to join. "It helps with morale," Nassan said.

It's making a difference. "Over the last two days, YPG has been making progress. Before that, ISIS was advancing, and YPG was retreating, but the situation has changed now, and the YPG is making a strong response," Nassan said.

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Kobani may be hanging on, but ISIS has captured some 60 villages in recent days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The terror group's fighters took 39 villages on Friday alone, as Kurdish forces withdrew from their positions.

The fight is no longer about holding on to their hometowns, Kurdish activist Mostafa Baly said from Kobani.

"It is about resisting the attack by ISIS and defending 50,000 Kurds from a massacre."

READ AND SEE VIDEO: Dozens of Turkish hostages released by ISIS

Turmoil in Turkey

ISIS' offensive is stoking tensions in Turkey.

As Turkish Kurds have responded to their ethnic brothers and sisters in Syria, friction has heated up between the Kurdistan Workers Party and Turkish security forces, who used tear gas and water cannons against them in several clashes.

The number of Syrian refugees now in Turkey since the beginning of the conflict is approaching 1.6 million, according to the Turkish government.

Turkey may now feel freer to join the fight against ISIS.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that the release of 49 Turkish citizens taken hostage when ISIS took control of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, has removed a barrier to Turkey joining an international coalition to fight the terrorists.


CNN's Gul Tuysuz reported from Istanbul, Turkey, and CNN's Ben Brumfield and Josh Levs reported from Atlanta. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, Yousuf Basil and Jennifer Deaton contributed to this report.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 6:06 am 
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Anti-ISIS Coalition Grows To More Than 50 Countries, But That Doesn’t Mean Victory Is Near
POSTED 2:41 PM, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014, BY Q13 FOX NEWS STAFF

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(CNN) — The coalition is growing — not just in words, but in action.

Just over two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama vowed “America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat” posed by ISIS, more than 50 countries have signed up, so far, to support the fight.

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U.S. Central Command released this video showing an airstrike against the Jeribe West Modular Refinery in Syria on Sept. 24, 2014.

They include new entrants Belgium, Denmark and Britain, which will all send fighter jets to Iraq to assist that nation’s government and the United States in the anti-ISIS military campaign. Even the foreign minister of Russia — which has butted heads repeatedly with Washington, including over whether the President of neighboring war-torn Syria needs to go — signaled Friday his country is ready to back Iraq in fighting terrorists, “above all the Islamic State,” which is what ISIS calls itself.

Most members of the anti-ISIS coalition have restricted their support to Iraq-focused efforts. A handful of Arab nations, however, have joined Washington in going after ISIS, from the air, in Syria as well.

Why do it? Ahead of what turned out to be an overwhelming Parliament vote Friday authorizing UK air power, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the world has an obligation to corral a well-funded, highly organized force known for virtually unmatched cruelty — reviled for its “beheadings, crucifixions, the gouging out of eyes, the use of rape as a weapon, the slaughter of children.”

“Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven determination to attack our country and our people,” said Cameron, referring to NATO member Turkey.





Click Here To See Large Screen Video (On CNN Website) Of ISIS-Kurds Fighting On Syria-Turkey Border

Still, even as more countries agree to take part in airstrikes and helping Iraq, that doesn’t mean this will be a cakewalk.

No one has pledged combat troops to join Iraq’s oft-maligned military or the various forces — from moderate opposition forces to their foes in President Bashar al-Assad’s military — doing battle with ISIS in Syria. Plus, eliminating a movement of militants who can easily mingle among civilians and strike in myriad, devious ways isn’t easy.

That’s why U.S. and British officials, including Cameron, said coalition forces need to be prepared to devote not weeks, not months, but years to the fight.

As U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday: “This is going to be a persistent and sustained campaign. And it will take time.”

Expert: ISIS adapting, mixing in with civilians

It’s not known if any ISIS leaders have been killed so far in airstrikes. Nor is there much evidence the group has lost a big amount of territory, much less that it is in full retreat.

Yet that doesn’t mean the air campaign — which began in August in Iraq and a few weeks ago in Syria — hasn’t had an effect.

In the Pentagon briefing Friday, Dempsey credited airstrikes with disrupting ISIS command and control activities and logistics in Syria as well as helping friendly ground forces begin to take back ground lost to the group.

CNN military analyst James Reese, a retired U.S. Army special operations officer, added that the strikes have helped “blunt the momentum of ISIS in Iraq.”

Airstrikes also have disrupted ISIS safe havens on the ground, such as the northern Syrian town of Raqqa, Reese said.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters helped drive the extremists back and secure positions on the ground. Strikes have since targeted ISIS throughout the swaths it holds, and the combined efforts have stopped ISIS from swarming over Baghdad.

But the group’s command structure is adapting, said CNN military analyst Peter Mansoor, a retired U.S. Army colonel. It is spreading out, and its leaders are now “mixed in with the civilian population,” he said.

“So, it’s unlikely these airstrikes have crippled ISIS,” he said.

Big questions about coalition ground partners

While Dempsey vowed he will recommend to Obama “what it takes to destroy ISIL,” he said the best mix of ground forces to defeat the extremist groups will be drawn from Iraqis, Kurds and moderate Syrian rebels.

Some support has begun flowing to Iraq and Kurdish forces, including equipment to training. Then, of course, there’s the growing international air component — like Denmark sending seven F-16 fighter jets, according to a spokeswoman for that country’s Defense Ministry — though new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told CNN this week that his country’s ground troops aren’t getting the coordinated “air cover” they need to advance on ISIS forces.

A lack of faith right now in Iraq’s military may not help, especially after ISIS overran the Iraqi Saqlawiya military base near Falluja this weekend.

It wasn’t just the defeat that stung, but claims from Iraqi soldiers that their pleas for backup went unanswered by military commanders for hours. Iraqi officials said they had tried to support them but failed.

“There is no leadership in the Iraqi army right now,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona. “The people who are paying the price are the soldiers in the trenches.”

For all these issues in Iraq, what to do on the ground in Syria may be even more complicated.

It’s in the midst of a more than three-year civil war, one that’s seen several groups — from ISIS to the moderate opposition that Washington supports — spring up trying to unseat al-Assad.

Here, the marshaling of an effective ground partner against ISIS terrorists has only begun.

There has been no coordination, “nor will there be,” between Washington and al-Assad’s government regarding U.S. airstrikes in Syria, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Friday. The United States hasn’t shifted its approach to al-Assad, who has “lost all legitimacy to govern,” according to Hagel.

Khorasan Group still a threat in Syria, along with ISIS

As all this is being sorted out, the violence continues.

This includes fresh battles between Kurdish Syrian fighters and ISIS militants near a city on the border with Turkey.

CNN’s Phil Black, watching the fighting from a hillside in Turkey, reported hearing small arms and artillery fire as the Kurdish and ISIS forces fought to advance toward the Syrian city of Ayn al-Arab.

Turkish Kurds gathered near the border to watch the fighting cheered whenever ISIS fighters appeared to take a hit.

A resident of the city, also known as Kobani, said ISIS forces are 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the city and that resistance forces are running low on ammunition.

“We are hoping and waiting for any coalition air strike on these terrorists, to save our city from the barbaric attack,” Hussein Kamal said.

Coalition air power was not evident in the region. But earlier in the day, the United States did turn its air power on more ISIS targets, taking out vehicles in other parts of Syria and Iraq and destroying a command node and a checkpoint.

And it’s not just ISIS. The air campaign has also targeted the Khorasan Group, which consists of senior al Qaeda operatives that a U.S. senior official has said was actively plotting attacks in the United States and elsewhere in the West.

The U.S. military launched eight Tomahawk missiles against Khorasan targets — including training camps plus command and control facilities — Tuesday west of Aleppo, Syria.

The American government believes at least some senior Khorasan members survived the strikes and that they could continue plotting attacks, a U.S. government official said Friday.

Added TSA Administrator John Pistole on Friday: “I see the Khorasan Group as a very capable, determined enemy who was very much focused on doing — getting somebody or something on a plane bound for Europe or the United States.”


CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali, Evan Perez, Al Goodman, Adam Levine, Alla Eshchenko, Chelsea J. Carter, Holly Yan and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:31 am 
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US-Led Air Strikes Hit IS On Syria's Border With Turkey
27 September 2014 Last updated at 12:32 ET

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US-led coalition air strikes have hit Islamic State (IS) targets near the besieged Syrian town of Kobane on the border with Turkey, the Pentagon says.

An IS building and two "armed vehicles" were destroyed at the Kobane border crossing, US Central Command announced.

Other strikes hit IS targets elsewhere in Syria and in northern Iraq.

Kurdish fighters have been defending Kobane against IS since some 140,000 civilians fled the town and surrounding area for Turkey.


Mark Lowen joined villagers on the Turkey-Syria border watching the fight against IS on Friday

IS shelled Kobane on Saturday and several people were killed, the BBC's Paul Wood reports from the scene.

The coalition air strikes did not appear to prevent skirmishes during the night between IS and the Kurdish defenders, our correspondent says.

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Syrian Kurdish refugees on the Turkish side of the border at Suruc

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Syrian Kurdish refugees on the Turkish side of the border at Suruc

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An RAF Tornado jet crew at Akrotiri air base, Cyprus

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Shia Muslim men receive military training at Karbala, Iraq

MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of air strikes in Iraq, but not in Syria.

Two of six RAF Tornados based in Cyprus have carried out their first combat mission over Iraq since the British Parliament authorised air strikes targeting IS.

They had flown out loaded with laser-guided bombs and missiles, and were followed by an RAF refuelling tanker.

In the latest coalition action, Saudi, Jordanian and UAE forces joined the US in launching fighter and drone strikes. According to the Pentagon

  • An IS vehicle was destroyed south of Hassakeh, Syria, along with several buildings used by IS fighters
  • An IS command and control centre near Manbej, Syria, was damaged
  • An IS airfield, garrison and training camp near Raqqa, the militants' capital in Syria, were damaged
  • Four IS armed vehicles and a position were destroyed south-west of Irbil, Iraq

All the aircraft involved returned safely, the US military said.

At the scene: Paul Wood, Kobane

The sound of warplanes circling overhead is nearly constant. And in the early hours of the morning people heard what they said were multiple air strikes against Islamic State positions.

Not before time, say the Kurdish forces defending this place. They are in the fight of their lives, with the jihadis now just a 10-minute drive from the town, and threatening to push further.

At the last Kurdish position outside Kobane last night bullets whined overhead and shells fell either side of the main road to the town.

The Kurds are grateful for the air strikes, but the battle for Kobane is far from over.

Turkish troops have been trying to prevent Turkish and Syrian Kurds crossing the border to help defend Kobane, Paul Wood reports.

Several thousand Kurdish refugees are stuck at the railway line which marks the border with Turkey along with their sheep and cattle.

The problem is that, as refugees, they cannot take their animals, their livelihoods, with them but they believe they will be killed if they turn back.

Coalition growing

On Saturday, a spokesman for the opposition Free Syrian Army said the group supports air strikes but opposes any action that would cause civilian casualties.

Hussam al-Marie told the BBC that Western countries should also carry out strikes against the government in Damascus.

"(The) so-called Islamic State is our enemy as much as (President) Assad's regime is our enemy," he said.

"We want Syria free from dictatorship and from terrorism. We need the support of the free world to continue this battle against the regime and Isis (IS). We are fighting on two fronts."

On Friday the UK became the latest nation to join the US-led coalition against IS, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq after rapid advances in the summer.

The UK also has a Rivet Joint spy plane in the region.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said "intensified surveillance" would identify "convoys" of IS fighters.

Speaking to BBC's Newsnight, he warned the campaign would be "long and drawn out".

French fighter jets are already taking part in strikes in Iraq with Belgium and the Netherlands each pledging six F-16s planes and Denmark deploying seven.

About 40 countries, including several from the Middle East, have joined the US-led coalition against IS.

European countries have so far only agreed to strike targets in Iraq where the government has asked for help.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:55 pm 
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Which Countries Are Doing What In The ISIS Coalition?
Story By — Erin McClam and Abigail Williams, with The Associated Press and Reuters

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The American-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq grew by three on Friday — Belgium, Britain and Denmark. Prime Minster David Cameron of Britain won approval from Parliament after describing the militants as “psychopathic terrorists who want to kill us.”

Through Friday, the coalition had carried out more than 200 strikes in Iraq and 43 in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters. Here’s a look at major countries that are providing or have committed military help to the coalition.

IN SYRIA

Saudi Arabia took part in at least two rounds of airstrikes and has agreed to hosting American training of the so-called moderate Syrian rebels, the key to the U.S. strategy for fighting ISIS in Syria.

The United Arab Emirates has carried out at least two rounds of airstrikes. Its mission on Tuesday, the first round, was led by the first woman fighter pilot in that country’s history, Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, flying an F-16 Desert Falcon.

Bahrain took part in the first round of airstrikes, late Monday U.S. time.

Jordan took part in the first round of airstrikes.

Qatar has played a supporting role in this week’s strikes, according to the U.S. military. The emir warned this week that the fight in Syria will not succeed unless President Bashar Assad is removed from power.

IN IRAQ

Australia is contributing eight F-18 fighter jets, plus special forces to advise Iraqi troops.

Belgium will send six F-16 fighter jets, as well as 120 pilots, support staff and C-130 cargo planes, the defense ministry said this week. Parliament gave final approval on Friday by a vote of 114-2, despite concerns about retaliatory terrorism.

Britain, on a 524-43 vote in Parliament, voted Friday to join the coalition. Six Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers, based in Cyprus, are on standby.

Canada has sent roughly 70 troops to Iraq to serve as advisers to Iraqi security forces. The United States has asked for more help, and Canada is weighing its response, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said this week.

The Czech Republic has provided weaponry to the Iraqi Army, including L-159 fighter jets, and 500 tons of ammunition to Kurdish forces, in coordination with Canada.

Denmark joined up on Friday, offering four operational planes and three reserve jets, plus 250 pilots and support staff. They will be deployed for a year. “No one should be ducking in this case,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said.

France carried out an airstrike in Iraq on Sept. 19 and hit an ISIS depot near Mosul. It is also flying reconnaissance and training Kurdish security forces after providing them weapons. France ruled out cooperating in Syria because it believes that would help Assad in the civil war there, but the foreign minister says that could change.

Germany has sent military trainers to help Kurdish forces.

Italy provided $2.5 million worth of weaponry to Kurdish fighters and has offered assistance in the refueling of planes as support to the airstrikes.

The Netherlands committed six F-16 fighter jets on Wednesday and said they could be operational in a week. It found no legal justification to help in Syria but said that it “understood” the U.S. campaign there.

Albania, Estonia and Hungary have also provided weapons and ammunition.

STILL TALKING IT OVER

Russia offered Friday to help support Iraq in the fight against ISIS, although it did not mention the U.S. coalition. In Syria, Russia is allied with Assad, and the Russian foreign minister says airstrikes should only go forward with Syria’s consent.

Turkey committed this week to joining the coalition but has provided no details on what it will do. It stayed on the sidelines while ISIS held 49 Turkish hostages, but those hostages were freed last weekend.

IN-DEPTH



— Erin McClam and Abigail Williams, with The Associated Press and Reuters


First published September 26th 2014, 2:13 pm


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:34 pm 
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Al-Qaeda Leader in Syria Warns of Revenge for Airstrikes
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The leader of al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate vowed Sunday that his group would "use all possible means" to fight back against airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and warned that the conflict would reach Western countries joining the alliance.

The U.S. views the affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, as a terrorist group, but Syrian rebels have long seen it as a potent ally against both the ISIS extremist group — which is the main target of the coalition — and Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

In a 25-minute audio recording, Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani portrayed the U.S.-led coalition as a "Crusader alliance" against Sunni Muslims and vowed to fight back.

"We will use all that we have to defend the people of Syria ... from the Crusader alliance," al-Golani said. "And we will use all possible means to achieve this end," he said, without offering more details. He went on to warn Western nations, saying of the airstrikes, “This is what will cause the battle to be transported to the hearts of your own homes.”

The United States and five Arab allies launched an air campaign against ISIS fighters in Syria on Tuesday. Some of the initial strikes targeted the Nusra Front, killing dozens of its fighters. Washington said it was trying to take out an al-Qaeda cell known as the Khorasan Group that was actively plotting attacks against Americans and Western interests.

IN-DEPTH



— The Associated Press


First published September 28th 2014, 6:32 pm


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:35 pm 
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US-Led Air Strikes Pound Isis Bases In Syria
Coalition raids target oil facilities held by Islamic State while Syrian army bombs areas in Aleppo province overnight

Reuters in Beirut
The Guardian, Monday 29 September 2014 04.10 EDT


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A man walks past damaged buildings after US-led air strikes in Aleppo last week. Photograph: Abdalghne Karoof/Reuters

US-led forces launched air strikes overnight on territory controlled by Islamic State (Isis) in northern and eastern Syria while the Syrian army continued bombing areas in the west, according to a group monitoring the war.

The US has been carrying out strikes in Iraq against the militant group since last month and in Syria since last week with the help of Arab allies. It aims to destroy the bases and forces of the al-Qaida offshoot that has captured large areas of both countries.

The overnight raids hit Isis in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers information from sources in Syria.

Manbij sits between Aleppo city in the west and Kobani on the northern border with Turkey, which Isis has been trying to capture from Kurdish forces, forcing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee over the frontier.

Syria’s army carried out air raids in Aleppo province overnight, targeting areas east of Aleppo city with barrel bombs and other projectiles, the observatory said. It also carried out air strikes in Hama, western Syria.

Forces loyal to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, have been battling Islamist fighters around Aleppo, which is held by a number of groups in Syria’s civil war.

In eastern Syria, US-led forces bombed a gas plant controlled by Islamic State outside Deir al-Zor city, wounding several militants, the observatory said.

The US has said it wants strikes to target oil facilities held by Islamic State to try to stem a source of revenue for the group.

The raid hit Kuniko gas plant, which feeds a power station in Homs that provides several provinces with electricity and powers oil fields generators, the observatory said.

Coalition warplanes also hit areas of Hasaka city in the north-east and the outskirts of the Isis stronghold of Raqqa city in the north.

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Turkey Moves Closer To Intervention In Syria, Iraq
By Erin Cunningham and Rebecca Collard September 30 at 2:08 PM

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BAGHDAD—Turkey’s government edged closer Tuesday to direct intervention in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, bolstering security along its frontier with Syria and asking parliament to authorize a deployment of Turkish troops to the two war-ravaged countries.

Turkey on Tuesday dispatched hundreds of soldiers and tanks to the Syrian border to contain potential violent spillover from an Islamic State siege on the Syrian border town of Kobane.

Its cabinet also sent a motion to parliament that would allow Turkish troops to enter Iraqi and Syrian territory to combat extremists, Turkish media reported. The authorization could also open up Turkish military bases to foreign forces, the deputy prime minister told reporters in Ankara.

Possible cross-border operations by Turkey’s powerful and well-equipped military would mark a significant change in the international confrontation with the Islamic State, a radical Islamist militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Turkey, a NATO member, has been accused of aiding Islamist militants and has not yet joined a U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the group in Syria and Iraq. Many of the foreign fighters that have joined the Islamic State or other rebel groups in Syria have entered through Turkish territory.

But the Islamic State offensive on Kobane has caused more than 160,000 refugees to flee into Turkey in the past week, and shells from the fighting have also landed in Turkish territory.

Recent U.S. airstrikes have sought to drive Islamic State fighters away from Kobane, which is protected by Syrian Kurdish forces and some Kurdish fighters from Turkey.

Clashes nevertheless persisted outside the strategic town. Kobane’s fall to the Islamic State would give the group control of a large stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border and possibly open new routes for supplies and recruits.

“Each time ISIS makes progress, the coalition strikes behind them,” said Ojlan Esso, a spokesman for the Kurdish fighting force in Kobane. “This happened in several villages.”

U.S. warplanes hit an Islamic State position on the Turkish-Syrian border, according to a statement released Tuesday by the U.S. military’s Central Command. An additional 10 strikes were carried out in both Iraq and Syria on Monday and Tuesday, the statement said.

Kurdish troops in Iraq, meanwhile, also launched an offensive to retake towns held by the Islamic State in the north, security officials said. The officials said thousands of Kurdish fighters, known as pesh merga, were participating in the battle, which is focused on the Iraqi border town of Rabea.

In August, the Islamic State began a stunning campaign across northern Iraq from the city of Mosul, which it has controlled since June. Its fighters routed Kurdish forces from a number of areas, reaching within striking distance of the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, before U.S. warplanes intervened to push the militants back.

Since then, pesh merga fighters have held onto those gains, backed by the threat of U.S. airstrikes. But Rabea and other towns in the area west of Mosul have remained under Islamic State control since August.

A Kurdish parliament member, Majid al-Sinjari, said Islamic State militants planted hundreds of improvised explosive devices that were slowing the offensive’s progress. He said the pesh merga has suffered casualties.

But he also said pesh merga forces hoped to advance on the jihadist-controlled town of Sinjar in the next two days. Sinjar was previously home to tens of thousands of Yazidis, an ethnic-religious minority that the Islamic State has deemed devil worshipers.

In August, the militants surrounded thousands of fleeing Yazidis who had taken shelter on nearby Mount Sinjar. The humanitarian crisis, in which Yazidis were dying of hunger and thirst, prompted the U.S. military to intervene.

Mahmoud Hajji, a security adviser to the Kurdish Interior Ministry, described Rabea and Sinjar as key logistics hubs for the Islamic State.

“We expect massive clashes [with the Islamic State] in Sinjar,” Hajji said.


Collard reported from Beirut. Mustafa Salim in Baghdad and Suzan Haidamous in Beirut contributed to this report.


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ISIS Fighters Now 'At The Gates Of Baghdad': Islamic Militants Fighting 'Just One Mile From Iraqi Capital' Despite Days Western Airstrikes
  • Fierce clashes between jihadists and government forces near Iraqi capital
  • Militants understood to be attempting to enter and seize control of Baghdad
  • Reports of militants' proximity to Baghdad came from Canon Andrew White
  • He is vicar of the city's St George's Church - Iraq's only Anglican church
  • News comes despite ongoing Western airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq


By JOHN HALL FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 01:31 EST, 29 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:46 EST, 29 September 2014

Source of Article

Fierce fighting has been reported on the outskirts of Baghdad where ISIS militants are attempting to seize control of the Iraqi capital - despite ongoing Western airstrikes against the terror group.

The fighting is taking place just one mile to the west of the city, with government forces desperately trying to hold off the militants, who allegedly killed up to 1,000 soldiers during clashes yesterday.

ISIS have held a number of towns and villages close to the Iraqi capital since earlier in the year, when government troops melted away following a lightning advance in the west of the country - enabling the terrorist group to seize further swaths of territory for their so-called caliphate.

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Under attack: An Iraqi army soldier aims his weapon during clashes with ISIS militants in Jurf al-Sakhar - 43 miles south of Baghdad - at the weekend. ISIS militants reportedly killed 1,000 such soldiers yesterday

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Defence: Fierce fighting has been reported on the outskirts of Baghdad where ISIS militants are attempting to seize control of the Iraqi capital. In this image taken at the weekend, peshmerga forces are seen holding a post in the strategic Jalawla area, considered a gateway to the city

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Peshmerga fighters hold a position at a post in the strategic Jalawla area near Baghdad during a battle with Islamic State militants at the weekend. The location is considered a gateway to the Iraqi capital

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Location: The militants are understood to have had their advance halted by airstrikes yesterday at Ameriyat Al-Falluja yesterday - a small city about 18 miles south of Fallujah and 40 miles west of Baghdad. But the clashes did not force the bulk of the fighters - with many of them now having made their way to the Baghdad suburbs

Reports that ISIS militants are now just one mile from Baghdad came from the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East - an organisation supporting the work of Canon Andrew White, vicar of the city's St George's Church, the only Anglican church in Iraq.

In a message posted on Facebook, the group said: 'The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad. They said it could never happen and now it almost has.

More...

  • RAF jets make three raids on jihadis... but still haven't dropped any bombs: Defence chiefs insist missions are invaluable for gathering intelligence about ISIS
  • 'We are the indispensable nation': President Obama explains U.S.-led airstrikes on ISIS as he admits intelligence community 'underestimated' terrorist group


'Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well you only need to be hear a very short while to know they can do very very little,' they added.

The claims were backed up by Canon White himself, who shared the message just hours after he had earlier suggested the group were approximately six miles from the centre of Baghdad.

In a message he also posted on Facebook, Canon White had said: 'The Islamic State are now within 10km of entering Baghdad. Over a 1000 Iraqi troops were killed by them yesterday, things are so bad. As I said all the military air strikes are doing nothing. If ever we needed your prayer it is now.'

The militants are understood to have had their advance halted by airstrikes yesterday at Ameriyat Al-Falluja yesterday - a small city about 18 miles south of Fallujah and 40 miles west of Baghdad.

But the clashes did not force the bulk of the fighters - with many of them now having made their way to the Baghdad suburbs for this morning's fighting.

Obama: The Only Thing ISIS Killers Understand Is Force (Related)
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The news comes as RAF jets flew armed sorties for a second day over Iraq yesterday – but despite having now sent out jets five times, they again failed to locate any suitable targets for their weapons.

Defence chiefs insisted that the flights by Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers were invaluable for gathering intelligence on the Islamist jihadists who have swept across large swathes of Iraq and Syria, carrying out massacres.

But the failure to unleash any firepower has fuelled concern that Britain is failing to pull its weight in the international coalition against Islamic State

It came as military commanders warned that Britain should brace itself to be dragged into a ground war in Iraq to crush IS, which is also known as Isis and Isil.

Former top brass also warned that the air campaign would be futile unless the UK could target the terrorists in Syria.
While the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the RAF's third mission had – like on Saturday – failed to locate any targets, US-led coalition aircraft targeted four makeshift oil refineries under IS control in Syria, as well as a command centre.

The mobile refineries generate up to £1.2million a day for the militants.

Iraqi Troops Retake 16 Villages From Militants
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On a mission: The RAF jets seek out their terror targets in Iraq - which they failed to find and bomb, again

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Strong presence: Military leaders have said about two-thirds of the estimated 31,000 Islamic State militants were in Syria. But ISIS have held a number of towns and villages close to the Iraqi capital since earlier in the year, when government troops melted away following a lightning advance in the west of the country

US And UK Planes Ahead Of Airstrikes Against ISIS

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Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has acknowledged that US intelligence agencies underestimated the threat posed by ISIS extremists in Syria, and overestimated the capabilities of the Iraqi army.

Obama added that breaking up the terrorist cell will be a complicated battle involving both military and political action.
The president spoke about the multi-national effort against ISIS in a televised interview with 60 Minutes, which aired Sunday night.

Citing earlier comments by James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Mr Obama acknowledged that U.S. intelligence didn't take seriously enough what had been taking place in Syria.

'Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,' Mr Obama said.

Conversely, the United States overestimated the ability of the Iraqi army to fight the militant groups, Obama said in the interview taped on Friday, days after the president made his case at the United Nations for action.

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President Obama says the US intelligence agencies underestimated Islamic State activity in Syria and overestimated the Iraqi army's role to fight back against militants

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Speaking to CBS's 60 Minutes, he said the militants had used the chaos of the Syrian civil war, when large swathes of the country were ungoverned, to 'reconstitute themselves'

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Militants: The terrorist-group ISIS has been taking large swaths of Syria and Iraq in the recent absence of a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq

Cameron: Britain To Join Airstrikes Against ISIS In Iraq

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KEY PARTNERS IN THE COALITION AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group is growing, with dozens of countries among its ranks. The coalition is contributing a wide range of efforts, from carrying out airstrikes to providing military assistance and humanitarian aid.
Here are some of the key partners in the coalition.

UNITED STATES

The U.S., which is leading the coalition, has launched dozens of airstrikes on Islamic State targets. It also has sent military advisers, supplies and humanitarian aid to help Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces beat back the insurgents.

GULF STATES

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have participated in airstrikes in Syria. A fourth, Qatar, has played what the Pentagon called a supporting role.
The Emirates and Qatar also host air bases that are being used for the coalition's aerial campaign against the Islamic State group. U.S. Navy ships involved in the airstrikes are assigned to the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. Saudi Arabia has agreed to host training facilities for Syrian rebels on its territory.

JORDAN

Jordan has launched airstrikes against Islamic State positions, with government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani calling the move 'necessary in light of continuous attempts to infiltrate our borders.' The kingdom didn't give any specifics about its operations, but said the airstrikes aim to insure the country's security.

EGYPT

Egypt hasn't announced any specific participation in airstrikes, but President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told the AP that Egypt is 'completely committed to giving support,' and will do 'whatever is required' to support the coalition.

ISRAEL

Israel is offering intelligence estimates and concrete intelligence to the U.S. on the Islamic State group as part of ongoing intelligence sharing between the two countries, an Israeli defense official said. But, he added, Israel wasn't asked to contribute anything beyond that. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The prime minister's office declined to comment.

BRITAIN

Britain said that Tornado fighter bombers, supported by air-to-air refueling aircraft and signals intelligence, are operating over Iraq. Britain's media has widely reported that six warplanes are on standby in Cyprus, but defense officials have declined to offer specific numbers. Ben Goodlad from IHS Jane's has said that the Tornado jets offer the coalition enhanced capability to engage moving targets. Britain also has two weapons for long-range strikes: the Tornado's Storm Shadow cruise missile and the submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missile, he said.

FRANCE

France has carried out airstrikes in Iraq on two occasions since joining the U.S.-led coalition on Sept. 19, firing laser-guided bombs from Rafale fighter planes upon munitions and military hardware stockpiles — first near northern Mosul, then on Thursday, near Fallujah. France is conducting the operations in Iraq from a French air base in the United Arab Emirates. The base, with about 750 French service personnel and six Rafales, is 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) from Mosul, meaning that the planes need refueling in flight to strike in Iraq.

AUSTRALIA

An Australian air force contingent, including eight F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters and two support aircraft, has arrived in the United Arab Emirates. About 600 troops — most of them air force personnel — are being deployed with the aircraft. The jets are expected to be used in airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq, although the Australian government has yet to commit to a combat role.

BELGIUM

Six F-16 multirole fighters and a contingent of 120 support staff, including eight pilots, to be based in Jordan. Authorized to take part in operations over Iraq for one month, subject to extension if approved by the Belgian government.

DENMARK

Denmark has pledged seven F-16 fighter jets — four operational planes and three reserve jets along with pilots and support staff for 12 months. The U.S. also has asked Danes to provide military trainers to Iraq to school Iraqi and Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State group on the ground. Denmark has already contributed a transport plane with personnel to a U.S.-led humanitarian operation in northern Iraq.

CANADA

Canada has contributed about 70 special operations soldiers to offer instruction to Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. Early this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Cabinet will be considering a U.S. request to support airstrikes against Islamic State forces. This could include five to eight CF-18 fighter aircraft as well as tanker aircraft. Canada has already contributed two military cargo planes that carried weapons to Kurdish fighters.

GERMANY

Germany isn't participating in any airstrikes against the Islamic State group. They have sent weapons to Kurdish fighters in Irbil, and a group of Kurdish peshmerga fighters arrived in Germany to receive weapons' training here by the German army. There's also German military in Irbil to train the peshmerga fighters in Irbil.

GREECE

Greece is participating with humanitarian aid and by sending ammunition for Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group. They haven't specified any more details on quantities or type of humanitarian aid.

GEORGIA

Georgia will be providing humanitarian assistance, not military aid, according to comments made by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Thursday to local news websites.

HUNGARY

Hungary has promised to send 15 types of ammunition totaling nearly 6 million units to Iraqi Kurds. Most of the ammunition, 4.1 million cartridges, was the M43 type for the AK-47 assault rifle.

ROMANIA

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said his country would offer 'logistic, operational and humanitarian' support to the coalition, but not troops. He provided no details of the assistance.

POLAND

Poland supports the coalition against the Islamic State, but is not actively engaged in combat.


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ISIS Militants March On Despite Airstrikes, International Outrage
By Faith Karimi and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 8:08 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014

Source of Article & Video

(CNN) -- Despite airstrikes and international outrage against ISIS militants, the terror group is overrunning Iraqi forces and slowly marching on toward a province on Baghdad's doorstep. And as alarming developments piled up over the weekend, Iraqi forces threatened to flee if the U.S. military does not intervene.

Here are where things stand:

On Baghdad's doorstep

ISIS fighters are making headway against poorly equipped local forces. The Islamist extremists appear set to take Kobani, a key Syrian town along the Turkish border. Next up: a province on Baghdad's doorstep.

Iraq's Anbar province pleaded for U.S. ground troops to halt the group's rapid, relentless assault.

The terror group came within 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) of Baghdad's airport, according to the leader of U.S. military efforts to fight ISIS in Iraq.

The United States brought in low-flying attack helicopters to keep ISIS at bay, Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC on Sunday.

"You're not going to wait until they're climbing over the wall," Dempsey said. "Had (ISIS forces) overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the Baghdad airport."

Anbar province at risk

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is moving -- fast.

The group, which calls itself the Islamic State, controls about 80% of the province, according to Sabah Al-Karhout, president of Anbar Provincial Council.

If the province falls, the Sunni extremists would take over an area from the perimeter of Iraq's capital to Raqqa in Syria, according to Falleh al-Issawi, the provincial council's deputy head.

Iraq's military abandoned a strategically important base in Anbar after heavy fighting with ISIS militants, provincial security force sources told CNN on Monday.

The base outside Hit was one of the Shiite-led government's few remaining military outposts in the predominantly Sunni province.

Targeting law enforcement

No one is safe from the militants. The police chief of the province was killed over the weekend when a blast targeted his convoy, authorities said.

The attack is just one of the things sending shock waves among forces fighting the militants.

Iraqi army forces and Anbar tribesmen have threatened to abandon their weapons if the U.S. military does not intervene.

The army soldiers lack training and equipment, according to local authorities. Already, some 1,800 tribesmen in the province have been killed or injured in the struggle.

Iraqi officials have been adamant that they don't want U.S. forces on the ground. President Barack Obama has not shown any intent to deploy any.

Family of ISIS captive speaks

Meanwhile, the family of an ISIS captive, British journalist John Cantlie, is begging ISIS -- also known as IS -- to re-establish direct contact.

"This is frustrating for all parties, including those who are trying to assist us. We had previously been in contact through a channel started by you, but then this stopped for reasons best known to you," Cantlie's sister, Jessica Cantlie, said in a statement.

"We strongly challenge those holding John to return to your previously opened channel, to which we continue to send messages and await your response so that in keeping with everyone's wishes, we can restart dialogue. We implore IS to reinitiate direct contact."

Offensive against ISIS in Syria

ISIS is still advancing in Syria, where it emerged during that country's civil war. Its focus is on Kobani, a Kurdish enclave a stone's throw from Turkey.

The militants are gradually taking control of a large chunk of Kobani.

Monday was one of the most violent days since ISIS launched its assault on the city, with sounds of fierce fighting, including gunfire and explosions, CNN staff on the Syria-Turkey border said.

A fighter from the Kurdish People's Protection Unit, or YPG, told CNN's Arwa Damon that the battle was focusing on the main border crossing into Turkey. If ISIS took control, he said, "it's over."

On Saturday, ISIS fighters also clashed with local troops over the official border crossing into Turkey at Mursitpinar.
If they're successful, the militants would control three official border crossings between Turkey and Syria and a stretch of the border about 60 miles (97 kilometers) long.

The U.S. military said it and its allies had attacked ISIS on Sunday and Monday, launching four airstrikes southwest of Kobani, three northeast of the city and one northwest of Raqqa.


CNN's Chandrika Narayan and Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.


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Iraqi Isis Militants 'Use Chlorine Gas' Against Security Forces
By Vasudevan Sridharan
October 24, 2014 09:18 BST

Source of Article

Image
Smoke rises from the site of a car bomb attack in BaghdadThaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Isis militants have used chlorine gas against Iraqi security forces in multiple incidents, officials in Baghdad have said.

At least 11 Iraqi security personnel have been admitted to hospital with symptoms which are consistent with chlorine gas poisoning, the use of which is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Though the specifics of the attacks remain vague, witnesses have been quoted as seeing yellow smoke filling up the sky during the attacks.

"They were panicked, we were panicked. We initially thought it might be a more serious gas, a nerve gas or an organophosphate," Kasim Hatim, director of a hospital facility located in Balad where the victims are being treated, told the Washington Post.

The incident took place in mid-September when several Iraqi police officers who were "dizzy, vomiting and struggling to breathe" were taken to the hospital, which is about 80km from Baghdad.

US officials have said they are looking into the matter.

"We continue to take all allegations of CW use - and in particular these recent allegations regarding the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon - very seriously" Alistair Baskey, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

"We are aware of the reports but cannot confirm details and are seeking additional information. The use of chlorine as a chemical weapon is an abhorrent act. These recent allegations underscore the importance of our work to eliminate chemical weapons in this volatile region."

If confirmed, this will be first time the Sunni insurgent group, which has been terrorising Iraq and Syria, have used chemical weapons in the battlefield.

The latest reports add to concerns that the Islamist organisation is intensifying its fighting against security forces to consolidate its gains.

Nonetheless, others argue that the latest attack, even if confirmed, will not signify Isis's capabilities to mount a chemical weapons attack.




**********

PENTAGON: US Probes Allegations ISIS Used Chemical Weapons
Source of Article & Video

Published October 24, 2014 FoxNews.com

The U.S. is investigating claims that Islamic State militants used chemical weapons against Iraqis last month, in what would be a serious escalation of the fighting in the region.

Iraqi officials have told media outlets that the terror group used chlorine gas bombs during clashes in September near Baghdad.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and a spokesman with the Pentagon could not confirm the reports but said they are taking them “seriously” and investigating the claims.

"We continue to take all allegations of chemical weapons use -- and in particular these recent allegations regarding the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon -- very seriously,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren said in a statement. “The use of chlorine as a chemical weapon is an abhorrent act.”

The allegations come after chemical weapons use in Syria last year prompted a standoff between the Obama administration and the Assad government. Though President Obama had called the use of chemical weapons a “red line,” he ultimately backed down when Bashar Assad agreed to turn over his weapons stockpile. Asked Friday if the latest attack, if confirmed, would change the approach to the Islamic State fight, Earnest did not say.

“We’re going to investigate those reports,” Earnest said.

Three Iraqi officials -- a senior security official, a local official from the town of Duluiya and an official from the town of Balad – had told The Associated Press that the Islamic State group used bombs with chlorine-filled cylinders during clashes in late September in the two towns.

The militants, who control large areas of Syria and Iraq, have failed to capture Duluiya or Balad, both of which are around 50 miles north of the Iraqi capital.

In the attacks, about 40 troops and Shiite militiamen were slightly affected by the chlorine and showed symptoms consistent with chlorine poisoning, such as difficulty in breathing and coughing, the three officials said. The troops were treated in hospital and quickly recovered.

The senior security official said it was most likely that the Islamic State fighters obtained the chlorine from water purification plants in the areas they have overrun. Iraqi intelligence has indicated that the group has shells filled with chlorine that are ready to be used, the security official said.

"The IS fighters seized some quantities of chlorine after seizing control of some water purification plants or sites where chlorine was kept," said the senior official, adding that the "IS group has some experts who were able to manufacture chlorine shells."

The use of chlorine by the group in Iraq in September was first reported by the Washington Post.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said he could not confirm the Iraqi allegations but called them "extremely serious." He said chlorine can be considered a chemical weapon if it is mixed with other toxic agents.

"The use of any chemical weapon is an abhorrent act," Kerry told reporters at a State Department news conference with the South Korean foreign minister. "It's against international law. And these recent allegations underscore the importance of the work that we are currently engaged in."

He said the attacks, if true, "will not change our strategy" in Iraq.

Chlorine, an industrial chemical, was first introduced as a chemical weapon at Ypres in World War I with disastrous effects because gas masks were not widely available at the time.

In neighboring Syria, a joint U.N. fact-finding mission sent to investigate alleged chlorine attacks was ambushed and briefly detained by armed men earlier this year in rebel-held territory. The mission had said it was virtually certain chlorine had been used as a chemical weapon in the country's north.

And earlier this week Kurdish officials and doctors said they believed Islamic State militants had released some kind of toxic gas in the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border, where Kurdish forces have been fending off a massive monthlong offensive by the extremist group.

Assad had agreed with the United States and Russia to dispose of his chemical weapons -- an arsenal that Damascus had never previously formally acknowledged -- after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus in the summer of 2013. But because of its dual-use nature, chlorine was not listed as part of the Syrian arsenal.

Chlorine gas, when inhaled, swallowed or exposed to through skin, causes difficulty in breathing, coughing, and eye and skin irritation. It is not as toxic or effective at killing as sarin, a nerve agent, and experts say it is difficult to achieve high concentrations of chlorine by dropping it from the air.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Iraqi Forces, Peshmerga Claim Gains Against ISIS; Battle For Kobani Continues
By Laura Smith-Spark and Kareem Khadder, CNN
October 25, 2014 -- Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT)

Source of Article & Slide Photos

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Smoke rises during fighting in the Syrian city of Kobani, seen from the outskirts of Suruc, Turkey, on Saturday, October 25. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria to take out the militant group's ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.

Baghdad (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces have regained control of the area of Jurf al-Sakhar, a town south of Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday, as they battle to keep ISIS militants in check.

In a post on Facebook, al-Abadi saluted the efforts made by Iraqi forces to liberate the area and said they "have inflicted a strong blow to the terrorist organization ISIS."

Jurf al-Sakhar is on the outskirts of Hilla and is a mixed Sunni-Shiite area.

The town was also the site of intense fighting in June between Iraqi forces and ISIS over the control of a military facility, where an infantry brigade is based, Iraqi security officials said.

Farther north, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces have liberated the northern Iraqi town of Zumar, west of the Mosul Dam, and its surroundings, according to the ruling party of the Kurdish Regional Government and Iraqi state TV.

"Zumar is controlled by the Peshmerga forces. ISIS completely evacuated it," Sheikh Ahmad Mohammad, a Peshmerga commander, told Kurdish news agency Rudaw.

Specialized teams subsequently moved into the town to defuse all rigged homes and booby traps that ISIS left behind, Peshmerga operations commander in Mosul Sa'eed Mamzayn told CNN.

Peshmerga forces also regained control of 10 villages around Zumar and killed 81 ISIS fighters, Heman Hawrami, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Foreign Relations Office, said via Twitter.

Airstrikes pummel ISIS

The U.S. military said 10 coalition airstrikes had been carried out against ISIS forces Friday and Saturday west of the Mosul Dam, destroying five ISIS units, a building used by the group and several fighting positions.

Another coalition airstrike struck a large ISIS unit southeast of the Mosul Dam, according to the U.S. Central Command.
Altogether, 22 airstrikes have targeted the Sunni extremist group in Iraq since Friday.

ISIS took control of Zumar back in August when Peshmerga troops were forced to pull out after being surrounded by ISIS militants and being isolated from any support, Kurdistan Democratic Party regional official Ismat Rajab told CNN.

Kobani awaits Peshmerga reinforcements

News of the reported gains against ISIS in Iraq comes as Kurdish forces in Syria continue to battle ISIS for control of the Kurdish town of Kobani, known in Arabic as Ayn al-Arab.

Clashes could be heard in the border town Saturday, but the Kurdish defenders appear to be holding their ground against ISIS as the militants seek to regain territory.

There's been heavy fighting this week around Tal Shair, a strategic hill to the west of Kobani, as well as to the south and east of the city.

Turkey has said it will allow Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Iraq to pass through its territory into Syria to join the fight for Kobani, which lies on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Saleh Muslim, chair of the PYD, a Kurdish poitical party in northern Syria, told CNN that the Peshmerga and his party finalized their pact Friday night and fighters could enter Kobani Saturday evening or Sunday.

The precise timing is unclear and dependent on part on Turkish permission, he said, adding that the armed wing of the PYD may also influence the timing in Kobani, the site of fierce fighting.

As many as 150 fighters could be allowed in, but it's not yet clear exactly how many or when the reinforcements will arrive.
One fighter in Kobani told CNN they could come as soon as Saturday night.

There was one U.S. airstrike in Syria from Friday to Saturday, against an ISIS artillery piece near Kobani, U.S. Central Command said.


CNN's Kareem Khadder reported from Baghdad and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Pierre Meilhan and Adam Levine also contributed to this report.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:40 pm 
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The Merger of ISIS And Al-Qaeda Could Cripple The Civilized World
  • Take a barbaric army, add strategic jihadists—and a new evil is born.
  • Organized and disciplined, ISIS is grabbing territory to build a state.
  • On their hit list—the state of Israel.


Source of Article & Video

BY RIYADH MOHAMMED,
The Fiscal Times

October 10, 2014

As ISIS continues to advance on the Syrian town of Kobani and close in on Turkey’s border, experts in Islamic radical movements think the terror group may merge with its al-Qaeda mother organization soon. Together, the group would represent the greatest terror threat to the civilized world.

“I think Britain, Germany and France will witness significant attacks in their territories by the Islamic State. Al-Baghdadi [the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS] may reconcile with al-Zawhiri [the leader of the al-Qaeda central organization] to fight the crusader enemy. The attacks by the United States and her allies will unite the two groups,” said Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi researcher who just finished writing a book about ISIS based on his unique access to the organization’s documents and years of research and advising Iraqi security forces.

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The break between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda

ISIS and al-Qaeda have a long, tangled history with one another. ISIS was the al-Qaeda official branch in Iraq until last February. However, they finally split after disagreements over operations in Syria.

The recent US intervention in the region along with the new US-led airstrike campaign against ISIS has actually forced the two groups to renew negotiations. For example, recent reports suggested that ISIS and al-Nusra Front are together planning the war against the US-led alliance. The al-Qaeda affiliated Khorasan group in Syria that was also targeted in the recent air attacks declared a few days ago in an audio message that it had joined ISIS. Add to that the Taliban in Pakistan who are hopping on board the ISIS train and you have a potential jihadi World War III.

Related: 20 Facts About Baghdadi, the Elusive ISIS Leader

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Other experts think that ISIS could be dissolved and swallowed by al-Qaeda, leading to the same result. “The Islamic State has killed many of al-Qaeda’s operatives in Syria and Iraq.... I think that al-Baghdadi will be killed, either by an attack by the U.S.-led alliance or by al-Qaeda.... The Islamic State doesn’t have the elements of survival like the al-Qaeda mother organization. It is most likely that it will be dissolved within al-Qaeda,” said Ibrahim al-Somaidaei, an Iraqi security analyst and former intelligence officer based in Amman, Jordan.

The Structure and the Strategy

Understanding who is responsible for big decisions within ISIS is critical to making sense of the group’s activity. According to al-Hashimi, ISIS has a written doctrine similar to a constitution. This document was authored by a man called Abdallah Abdul Samed al-Ani, who is considered the main theorist of the ISIS. The group’s decisions are divided into three categories. The first contains decisions made at the highest level by the emirate council headed by Baghdadi, the council of the resolution and decision also headed by Baghdadi, and the Shura council headed by Abu Ala al-Afri. “These decisions are very rare…like the decision of declaring the Caliphate and the decisions of rebellion on al-Zawahiri and Mulla Omar…they represent great hardship.” added al-Hashimi.

The second category specifies decisions made by the emirate council only. “These decisions are made to declare war or open new fronts or execute foreign hostages,” said al-Hashimi. The third category represents all other decisions made at the regional leadership level by the 24 governors or the numerous field commanders and religious leaders, each responsible for their jurisdiction.

Related: As Caliphate Is Declared, Iraqi Troops Battle for Tikrit

When analyzing ISIS’s main decisions since the take over of Mosul in June, it's clear that second and third category decisions are common. For example, the decision to advance to Tikrit in June was taken by the field commander of the region after the collapse of the Iraqi government forces and to control the Beiji oil refinery, the largest refinery in Iraq.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

“They have declared their target: the formation of a Caliphate state and they declared Iraq and Syria as a destination for Jihadis to immigrate from all over the world…. Controlling the Beiji refinery is one of the means to enable the so-called state,” said Luay Jawad al-Khatteb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution Doha Center. The same economic drive was behind controlling the Iraqi border towns with Syria and Jordan in June and the Syrian border towns with Turkey in August. These decisions were made by the emirate council and several local governors. Economic grounds were behind last July's attacks on Syria’s largest oil field, al-Omar as well as the al-Shaer gas field in Homs Governorate, Syria and the dams in Mosul and Haditha in Iraq in August.


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