Kurdish forces raised their flag in the center of Sinjar on Friday after encountering little resistance from IS, as Iraqi Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani claimed the town had been "liberated" in only a day. US and Kurdish officials had earlier cautioned against claiming victory too soon. The town still needs to be cleared of IEDs and booby-traps, and Kurdish fighters could still face suicide bombers. The light resistance put up by IS suggests they either fled or could stage a counterattack. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that he was "absolutely confident" Sinjar would be liberated. "There are some entrenched IS fighters, but we are absolutely confident that over the next days Sinjar will be able to be liberated," Kerry said during a visit to Tunisia. Backed by US air power, the operation includes some 7,500 peshmerga alongside Yazidi units. Turkey's banned rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), also played a role despite a long simmering rivalry … [Read more...] about Kurds claim Sinjar ‘liberated’ from IS
Iraqi vs syrian kurds
The US forces entered Iraq as their controversial withdrawal from Kurdish-held northeastern Syria continues. But an Iraqi military spokesman said: "All US forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan Region so that they may be transported outside Iraq. There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq.” US military vehicles were pelted with potatoes and stones as they drove through Kurdish-dominated cities on their way out of Syria. Video footage shows angry residents hurling anti-US insults as a convoy of armoured vehicles made its way through the city of Qamishli. People shouted: "No America, America liar" in English. Another man shouted in Arabic: ”Like rats, America is running away." The film shows on US military vehicle reversing over a footpath in an attempt to get away from the crowd. Another video, filmed in the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, shows young people throwing stones at a convoy and yelling expletives as … [Read more...] about Iraqi military issue threat to ‘unwelcome’ US troops leaving Syria
The long brown cloak gave the man an antiquated look. His unkempt hair stood out from his head and his face was framed by an unruly beard. He slowly crept up the narrow mountain trail, and when he took a step with both crutches and moved his left leg forward, his right thigh swung slightly in the same direction. The man plodded along like this until he saw a stretch of path in the distance that was so steep it would have to be climbed. He stood still for a while, let his crutches fall to the side and dropped down to the ground. He sat in the dust for a few minutes while bag-toting women, wounded adults and children shuffled past. Finally, he struggled to get up, grabbed his crutches and trudged at a snail's pace until finally disappearing in the crowd that had gathered at the base of the cliff. If the end of Islamic State (IS) could be distilled into one scene, one individual and just a few minutes, it would be this one-legged man on one of the last days in March when people could … [Read more...] about Beaten but Not Defeated: Islamic State Plans Next Move After Loss of ‘Caliphate’
WASHINGTON — Syria's civil war began six years ago as a popular revolt against the brutal regime of President Bashar Assad.Now a domestic uprising that has left an estimated 500,000 dead and millions homeless has morphed into a global war, sucking major powers into a conflict growing more volatile by the day.The United States, Russia, Turkey and Iran — as well as foreign terrorists — have joined the fray with an array of forces, often with conflicting objectives. Overhead, the airspace is crowded with Russian and coalition aircraft, sometimes flying within sight of one another, as they pursue separate air campaigns.In the shadows, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East have secretly backed armed fighters to overthrow Assad. More on Syria: U.S. launches cruise missile strike on Syria after chemical weapons attack U.S. launches strikes against Syria: Here's what we know Syria's civil war: A look at … [Read more...] about Syria’s civil war: A look at how we got to this point
West of the Euphrates, Isis is facing pro-Syrian regime forces backed by Russian Federation, while to the east it has battled the US-backed Syrian rebels.IS fighters pulled back to positions east of Hajin Friday and to Sousa and Al-Shaafa, the other two main villages in their shrinking Euphrates valley enclave.Joe Robinson was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after being accused of fighting alongside the People's Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan (YPG) - which the Turkish state considers a terrorist organisation.She said it was in the following three months in Iraq that he fought IS with the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish military.On Thursday, SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani said there were at least 5,000 fighters loyal to ISIS still in Syria who had vowed to fight to the death.This includes some 2,000 foreign fighters, mostly Arabs and Europeans along with their families.President Donald Trump said this week he expects the group, also known as ISIS, would be … [Read more...] about Mapping the targets of Turkey’s new military operation in northern Syria
By Trudy Rubin | Philadelphia Inquirer PUBLISHED: February 12, 2019 at 11:40 am | UPDATED: February 12, 2019 at 11:41 am By Trudy RubinPhiladelphia Inquirer On the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution, the rhetoric between team Trump and the ayatollahs has risen to fever pitch. In his State of the Union address, President Trump labelled Iran the “world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and “a radical regime” that does “bad, bad things.” The United States has withdrawn from a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran and reimposed harsh economic sanctions. Pushing back, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Friday that the Iranian slogan “‘Death to America’ means death to Trump and (national security adviser John) Bolton and (secretary of state Mike) Pompeo.” Khamenei’s website said the slogan would remain alive until the United States changed its “evil and mean” ways. Yet … [Read more...] about Rubin: Why can’t the Trump team produce an Iran strategy that works?