Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.
“The (Russian) air strikes will in the near future be accompanied by ground advances by the Syrian army and its allies,” said one of the sources familiar with political and military developments in the conflict. Continue reading
KABUL — Taliban insurgents fought their way into a major city in northern Afghanistan on Monday, driving back stunned security forces in a multi-pronged attack that also sent Afghan officials and U.N. personnel fleeing for safety.
The fall of Kunduz would be a huge blow to the Western-backed government in Kabul and would give Taliban insurgents a critical base of operations beyond their traditional strongholds in Afghanistan’s south. Afghan government leaders and the U.S.-led coalition here view the battle for Kunduz as a key test of the Afghan security forces in their continuing fight with the Taliban. Continue reading
Islamic militants’ growing influence in Iraq and Syria is a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in trying to crush them.
President Barack Obama last week approved limited airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham fighters, whose rapid rise in June plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the end of 2011, when U.S. troops withdrew from the country at the end of an unpopular eight-year war. Obama said the current military campaign would be a “long-term project” to protect civilians from the deadly and brutal insurgents.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the militants threaten not just Iraqis but also Americans. He said Obama’s airstrikes were insufficient to turn back the militants and were designed “to avoid a bad news story on his watch.”
“I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and in Iraq,” said Graham, a reliable advocate for U.S. use of military force overseas.
“They are coming here,” Graham later added about the militants. “This is just not about Baghdad. This is just not about Syria. It is about our homeland.” Continue reading
Intercepted phone calls purportedly between Russian military intelligence officers and members of a pro-Russian separatist group that appear to capture the moment the rebels realized the plane they shot down was a civilian passenger plane could be the smoking gun that helps prove Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed Ukraine by the insurgents.
The tapes were released by SBU, Ukraine’s security agency, and transcript was published in the Kiev Post. It appears to capture the chaotic moments after the plane was shot down — and the realization that it was a passenger plane rather than a Ukrainian transport plane, which had been targeted in recent days by the Russia-backed separatists.
“We have just shot down a plane,” says a man the SBU identified as Igor Bezler, a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Continue reading
(BAGHDAD, Iraq) — The Iraqi military ran out of Hellfire missiles six days ago, and though the U.S. is rushing more missiles into the country, Iraq has only two modified Cessna aircraft to launch them in their battle against the radical Islamic militia ISIS.
ISIS has damaged 28 tanks and shot down three helicopters, a significant percentage of the government force, and the militia killed an entire Iraqi Security Force brigade in the last couple of days at the border with Syria, which ISIS now controls.
The losses have left the Iraqi military with no offensive capability, and no real air force. Continue reading
Islamic insurgents have deployed surface-to-air missiles in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for attacks on Israel, a report said.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said Hamas has joined with Bedouin insurgents to establish Sinai as a venue for SAM attacks on Israeli civilian and military aircraft. In a report, the institute said the insurgency network was believed to have acquired a range of Russian-origin air defense systems.
“This flow of arms, which includes advanced Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 missiles capable of reaching the outskirts of Tel Aviv, has been supplemented by equipment smuggled from Libya, such as the fairly advanced Russian-made SA-14, SA-16, and SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles, which could pose a threat to Israeli aircraft and the Eilat airport,” the report, titled “Sinai: A New Front,” said.
Full article: Hamas, insurgents basing SAMs in Sinai for attacks on Israel (World Tribune)