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ISIS Starves Civilians to Force Them Into Fighting for the Caliphate

The Islamic State is withholding food and water from citizens in Mosul in an effort to force them into joining the terrorist organization, according to an Iraqi non-profit.

The beleaguered terrorist organization has suffered personnel and territory losses since the U.S.-backed Iraqi Security Forces began operations to retake Mosul in October. Combat operations in Mosul have led to intense, street-to-street fighting in the city’s western area. ISIS is now forcibly conscripting the thousands of locals who remain by withholding food and water, according to a report by the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights.

“An infant and its sister [have] died last week in Uruba neighborhood due to lack of food,” the report stated. “Now their mother is facing the same fate as she is in a very bad health condition.”

Some local civilians have given into ISIS to survive.

A single hospital in Mosul has seen hundreds of cases of malnourished and dehydrated people, mostly children, a representative told the Observatory. (Read more from “ISIS Starves Civilians to Force Them Into Fighting for the Caliphate” HERE)

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What ‘the Mother of All Bombs’ Means in Trump’s Foreign Policy

Why did America just drop the mother of all bombs?

There is the glib answer: Because we can. Then there is the technical answer: Because it was right for the job.

The U.S. military on Thursday dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, on an Islamic State, also known as ISIS, target in eastern Afghanistan. The bomb, which weighs 21,600 pounds and extends 30 feet long, had never before been used in combat.

In military operations, one of the considerations is to be proportional—use coercive force commensurate with the task, while taking due diligence to protect innocents.

In this case, it appears the target was an underground complex—virtually a sanctuary, impossible to get at with conventional munitions. It was an important enemy target. This particular weapon creates a massive overpressure wave that collapses the tunnel underneath.

Operationally, this could well reflect a shift in how the U.S. fights. The last administration was risk-averse. The top goal was to figure out how to disengage. There was a tendency to pull decision-making to Washington.

This White House seems more inclined to let commanders do their jobs and exercise their military judgment.

Strategically, there appears to be a shift in this administration’s plans to fight the war in Afghanistan.

While continuing to shift responsibility to the Afghans to defend their own country and win their own future, President Donald Trump looks to be tossing out the timeline, effectively saying we’ll stay until the job is done and will do what we have to do to help, but it’s in our interest to see the Afghan state standing on its own.

Trump seems less enamored with taking credit for ending wars than winning peace and protecting U.S. interests, delivering Washington, D.C.’s equivalent of the mantra “Don’t mess with Texas.”

That the administration chose to speak publicly and plainly about the use of this weapon was clearly intended to send a message: Playtime is over.

Trump may not be interested in looking to go forth to find dragons to slay. On the other hand, he seems determined and persistent in seeing through the tasks required to protect America’s interests and warn America’s enemies to back off. (For more from the author of “What ‘the Mother of All Bombs’ Means in Trump’s Foreign Policy” please click HERE)

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This Is What It Looks Like When a 21,000-Pound MOAB Takes out 36 ISIS Terrorists

The Pentagon has released video footage of MOAB — i.e. the “Mother of All Bombs” — as it was dropped by the U.S. military’s C-130 aircraft Thursday, targeting ISIS fortifications in Afghanistan.

It is the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb, and reports indicate at least 36 ISIS fighters were killed in the blast. So far, no civilian casualties have been reported.

The 20-second night-vision video shows the bomb’s detonation in real time.

(For more from the author of “This Is What It Looks Like When a 21,000-Pound MOAB Takes out 36 ISIS Terrorists” please click HERE)

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The Mother of All Bombs the US Just Dropped on ISIS: What You Need to Know about MOAB (+video)

The U.S. military just dropped the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb, the MOAB (officially, Massive Ordinance Air Blast, but better known by its nickname “Mother of All Bombs”), on an Islamic State terror stronghold in Afghanistan.

According to military officials, at 7:32 pm local time, the military dropped a GBU-43 bomb in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 22,000-plus pound weapon was developed by the U.S. Air Force at the turn of the century, and has been described as arguably the most powerful non-nuclear ever made. It is the first time the weapon has ever been utilized on the battlefield, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The MOAB serves as a replacement to the Vietnam-era BLU-82 (also known as the “Daisy Cutter”). It is not intended to be used similar to a massive ordnance penetrator (commonly referred to as a “bunker buster”) to crack through heavily armored facilities. Instead, the MOAB is best utilized to target large surface areas (such as wooded areas or large swaths of terrain) that are out in the open.

“The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities,” the statement said.

ISIS-K is short for ISIS-Khorasan, which references the branch of the Islamic State that has a presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

General John W. Nicholson, the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, added:

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense … this is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

The news comes following President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday that he is sending National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to Afghanistan to evaluate the operations there. The president is contemplating whether to send more U.S. troops to the war-stricken country.

The strike took place on the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, who was the first American president to square off against Islamic radicals (the Barbary pirates). (For more from the author of “The Mother of All Bombs the US Just Dropped on ISIS: What You Need to Know about MOAB” please click HERE)

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Mattis: Defeating Islamic State Still Top US Priority in Syria

After attacking a Syrian air base in response to President Bashar Assad’s alleged battlefield use of chemical weapons, the Pentagon intends to refocus on defeating the Islamic State group without getting more deeply involved in the country’s civil war, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday.

“The military campaign is focused on … breaking ISIS, defeating ISIS in Syria,” Mattis told reporters in his first Pentagon news conference as President Donald Trump’s defense chief. Last week’s cruise missile assault on a Syrian air base “was a separate issue” meant to demonstrate that the Trump administration will not tolerate what it believes are violations of international conventions against the use of chemical weapons, Mattis said.

The Syrian government has denied that it used chemical arms in an attack on a Syrian town last week. (Read more from “Mattis: Defeating Islamic State Still Top US Priority in Syria” HERE)

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Why Won’t the US Help Syrian Christians Fighting ISIS?

It’s no secret that the battle for Raqqa, the ISIS capital, is near. The Syrian Democratic Forces are preparing themselves for what will be a gruelling battle to liberate the city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces are an alliance of Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs and Syriac-Assyrian Christians in northern Syria. They fight together against ISIS, with the express support of the U.S. The SDF is the army of the Federation of Northern Syria.

The One Free Region in Syria

I’ve written before about the Federation at The Stream. Unlike most of the Middle East, it offers multi-ethnic governance, real freedom for women and real freedom of religion. It governs an area twice the size of Lebanon with several million people.

A crucial move towards the fight for Raqqa happened on March 22. That’s when the U.S. airdropped an entire SDF fighting force at the southern bank of the Euphrates, near the Tabqa town and dam southwest of Raqqa. Soon both Tabqa and the dam over the Euphrates will be taken by the SDF.

ISIS was seized by panic. A rumor spread that the dam was about to break and many fled Raqqa. Still many ISIS fighters stayed. They started to dig in even deeper, increasing the prospect of a gruelling battle for Raqqa.

Turkey Halts Attack on Christians’ Allies

The Trump Administration apparently finally concluded that Turkey is of no use for any further anti-ISIS operations in Syria. Regardless of Turkish pressure, the U.S. is sticking with the SDF. That became very clear when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey and Turkey announced an end to its Euphrates Shield attack on the SDF.

One important question remained unanswered. Why is the U.S. singling out the Syrian Christian militias and refusing to arm them? So far, the U.S. has only sent arms to the Arab elements in the SDF. Those forces deserve the help. But so do the Christians.

Why Deny Christians Weapons?

The Syriac-Assyrians (Christians) in the SDF have released a statement calling for equal treatment. The Syriac Military Council says:

General Votel stated in the congressional hearing of March 29, 2017 that “the most effective force (against ISIS) we have right now in Syria is the Syrian Democratic Forces that consist of both Kurds and Arabs, Turkmen and in some cases Christians.”

First of all we want to emphasize that it is a simple fact that we as Syriac-Assyrian Christians are a founding member of the SDF via the Syriac Military Council. We have furthermore been in every single operation of the SDF.

Yes our numbers are smaller as our population is smaller as a consequence of the genocides against our people. However we are a full and equal partner in the SDF. … Our men and women are on the frontlines and we lost dear friends in battle. We know that it is not our compatriots who created this impression but a lack of information on the side of the US. …

The fact that we suffered under genocides emphasizes the need for delivery of military equipment. If we are weak, we are a target of the extremist forces that the SDF is fighting against.

We will be part of any operation against Raqqa, regardless of our current level of military equipment. We cannot imagine that the U.S. would deliberately want us to be more poorly equipped then our Arab partners when we go into that big battle.

We thank the US for the air support given in crucial battles and the support to the SDF. We also hope that this is an opportunity to work together for the long-term security and freedom of our people and all the peoples of the region.

The Second Amendment for Syria’s Christians

The statement is a challenge to the Trump administration. Trump has (rightly) emphasized the need to protect Christians and to act against persecution. Syria’s Christians don’t ask for U.S. troops. They ask for equal treatment. They need the arms to protect themselves against ISIS, just like their neighbors. In fact they would like to have the same right as Christians in the U.S. — who also have the equal right of self-protection as their fellow citizens, thanks to the Second Amendment.

The crucial question is whether Christians in the U.S. will stand up. Will they ask the Trump Administration to treat Syria’s Christians equally? Or will they allow their brothers and sisters to be more easily killed by ISIS? Will U.S. Christians lobby Congress, Senate and White House to set this injustice right? Or will they allow brothers and sisters to be left without protection? Do they imagine that Christians in the Middle East do not need to protect themselves against jihadists?

This is an urgent question as the battle for Raqqa will commence very soon. Syriac-Assyrian Christians in northern Syria are now treated equally by their fellow citizens fighting ISIS. The question is if Christians in the U.S. will do the same. The answer will determine if Syria’s Christians have a reliable ally in American Christians and a strong voice in the post-ISIS settlement of Syria. (For more from the author of “Why Won’t the US Help Syrian Christians Fighting ISIS?” please click HERE)

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London Terror Suspect Identified for Parliament Square Jihad, ISIS Claims Responsibility

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London, according to the jihadi outfit’s propaganda outlet, Amaq News Agency.

“The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition,” Amaq revealed.

On Wednesday, four people were killed and dozens more injured when the Islamic terrorist drove his vehicle along a pedestrian walkway over the Westminster Bridge in London. After ramming several people, the terrorist got out of his car and proceeded to go on a stabbing spree, before he was finally neutralized by police. The terrorist utilized a vehicular jihadi tactic popularized by Palestinian terrorists, a tactic which has since spread to groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

An American citizen, 54-year-old Kurt Cochran from Utah, was among those killed in the attack, along with a police officer and a female schoolteacher. Cochran was in London celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife Melissa, who was also injured in the melee.

British authorities have named British-born Khalid Masood as the man responsible for the attack.

“Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack. However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences,” said a statement from London Metropolitan Police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the killer had previously been investigated for ties to extremist activity.

“Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology,” May said at the British Parliament. “We know the threat from Islamist terrorism is very real. But while the public should remain utterly vigilant, they should not and will not be cowed by this threat.”

“An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal … we are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism,” May added. “Democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”

Meanwhile, police have spent much of Thursday conducting raids throughout the country. They are reportedly investigating areas where Masood has previously lived. (For more from the author of “London Terror Suspect Identified for Parliament Square Jihad, ISIS Claims Responsibility” please click HERE)

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ISIS’s Killer Drones Are a Threat, but the Pentagon Is Bracing to Face More-Advanced ‘Suicide’ Aircraft

The Pentagon, concerned about the danger that small, armed drones pose to U.S. troops, is moving forward with a project that looks beyond remote-control aircraft used by the Islamic State to an even more complex problem: an aerial raid of autonomous suicide bombers.

The unmanned bombers have not yet appeared in combat, but defense officials already are researching how to stop them. Laden with explosives or other dangerous materials, they would operate by crashing into U.S. troops in a combat zone and would not be as easy to detect as existing drones used by the Islamic State, because they would not rely on radio frequencies for remote controlling. Instead, they would be programmed to carry out a specific mission, making them especially hard to see coming.

The effort to stop the aircraft is known as the Mobile Force Protection Program and is overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which examines ways that technology can help the U.S. military. DARPA anticipates awarding contracts within weeks for the first of three phases of testing and research, said J.C. Ledé, who oversees the program . . .

Early stages of the research were launched in October with a solicitation to industry, and final proposals for the first phase are due in January, according to DARPA documents. The program is focused specifically on going beyond using electronic jamming to stop unmanned planes and helicopters of to 200 pounds. Each company picked is expected to get about $3 million in the first phase, with the possibility of continuing on to two subsequent phases of work that are longer and more lucrative. (For more from the author of “ISIS’s Killer Drones Are a Threat, but the Pentagon Is Bracing to Face More-Advanced ‘Suicide’ Aircraft” please click HERE)

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Where the Fight Against ISIS Stands, and How the US Can Win

The Trump administration has invited 68 countries and international organizations to attend a summit in Washington on Wednesday to coordinate policies to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead the two-day gathering of foreign ministers in synchronizing coalition efforts to destroy ISIS on the battlefield, prevent it from staging a comeback, and deprive it of money, arms, and recruits.

The military campaign launched by the anti-ISIS coalition has made considerable progress in recent months. The ongoing offensives to push ISIS out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and seize Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital city in Syria, will be key topics at the summit.

The Iraqi army, in coordination with Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite militias, launched the offensive against Mosul in October, and has surrounded and retaken most of the city. They have been aided by a U.S.-led air campaign and supported by U.S. advisers, trainers, artillery batteries, and special operations forces.

Defeating ISIS in Syria is likely to be much more difficult than in Iraq because of the lack of reliable partners on the ground.

Syria’s brutal dictatorship has long been hostile to the United States. Backed by Russia and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has focused its military attacks not on ISIS, but against more moderate rebel groups, including some supported by the United States.

Washington has been working with Syrian Kurdish militias, which have been effective military forces, but they are handicapped by the fact that they are feared and resented in the predominantly Arab areas that ISIS controls.

Moreover, Turkey considers them to be terrorists due to their affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a terrorist group that Turkey has been fighting on and off since 1984.

The Pentagon in recent weeks has deployed several hundred Army rangers and Marines to Syria to bolster Syrian rebel groups and provide artillery support to help them defeat ISIS. This is in addition to an estimated 500 American special operations personnel already in Syria.

The Trump administration’s revised plans for seizing Raqqa reportedly call for an enhanced U.S. military role, including the deployment of additional U.S. special operations forces, artillery, and attack helicopters.

More Help Needed

Washington also should press its NATO allies and Arab coalition members to provide more military forces and support for the impending offensive against Raqqa.

The anti-ISIS summit also is an opportunity to develop a supportive international framework for transforming the military defeat of ISIS into a sustainable long-term political defeat.

The summit meeting should focus on how to restore law and order and enable self-government in areas of Syria liberated from ISIS. This means recruiting as many local Sunni Arabs as possible to root out ISIS and preclude it from resurging.

Washington also should press coalition members to take more effective steps to choke off fundraising for ISIS, combat its internet recruitment efforts, and discredit its propaganda.

The summit meeting also should focus on enlisting coalition members–particularly the rich Sunni Arab oil kingdoms—to provide adequate financial support for humanitarian aid for Syria’s huge refugee population and help Syrians to eventually rebuild cities shattered by the war.

But as long as Syria’s ferocious civil war rages on, international efforts to ease the humanitarian catastrophe, stabilize the country, and permanently bury ISIS will remain precarious exercises.

Washington should lead international diplomatic efforts to pressure the Assad regime to accept a political settlement to end the conflict, including the full autonomy of regions that have expelled the regime’s repressive presence.

To nail the ISIS coffin shut, Washington must use the summit meeting to coordinate coalition efforts not only on the military front, but on the diplomatic, counterterrorism, humanitarian, and self-government fronts as well. (For more from the author of “Where the Fight Against ISIS Stands, and How the US Can Win” please click HERE)

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ISIS Attacks Military Hospital in Afghan Capital

Gunmen wearing white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Afghanistan’s capital on Wednesday, killing at least four people, wounding dozens and setting off clashes with security forces that were still underway hours later.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed the attack on the 400-bed military hospital, which is located near two civilian hospitals in Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul’s heavily-guarded diplomatic quarter.

Health Ministry spokesman Ismail Kawasi said at least three bodies of civilians and more than 60 wounded people had been brought to nearby hospitals, adding that the toll was likely to rise as ambulances were still at the scene. (Read more from “ISIS Attacks Military Hospital in Afghan Capital” HERE)

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