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U.S. military says difficult to avoid Mosul casualties, probes blast

A senior U.S. general said on Wednesday it will be difficult to maintain "extraordinarily high standards" to avoid civilian casualties in Mosul, even as the U.S. military begins a formal investigation into an explosion in the Iraqi city that is believed to have killed scores of civilians.

The U.S. military has acknowledged the U.S.-led coalition probably had a role in the March 17 explosion but said Islamic State also could be to blame.

Local officials and eyewitnesses say as many as 240 people may have been killed in the Al-Jadida district when a huge blast caused a building to collapse, burying families inside.

When asked in a congressional hearing about the standards used by the U.S. military to avoid civilian casualties, General Joseph Votel said it would be difficult to apply those standards in the narrow, crowded streets of the Old City in west Mosul.

"I do agree that as we move into these urban environments, it is going to become more and more difficult to apply extr…

More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as Trump Expands War on Terror

Details are emerging about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that are believed to have killed over 200 people in a single day in Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition has admitted launching airstrikes on March 17 targeting a crowded neighborhood in Mosul. They are among the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in the region since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. According to some reports, one of these strikes destroyed houses where hundreds of people were taking refuge amid the city’s heavy fighting. Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one house’s basement alone. This bombing is just one of an onslaught of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that has killed as many as 1,000 civilians in March alone, according to the journalistic project Airwars. For more, we speak with Chris Woods, founder of Airwars, a nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final for…

HAYAT TAHRIR AL-SHAM CONTINUES COSTLY OFFENSIVE IN DARA’A WITH NO GAINS

The al-Qaeda-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group resumed its attack on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the Manshieh district of the Syrian city of Dara’a with no gains whatsoever. Click to see the full-size image The SAA was able to fully repel HTS’s assault destroying a tank and killing its crewmen one of whom identified as Abdullah Al-Ordoni, the commander of HTS’s tank battalion in southern Syria.

The Syrian Army then continued to target HTS movements around the provincial capital and inside. According to pro-government sources, HTS lost scores of militants in Dara’a’s al-Balad district. The terrorist group’s fortifications were destroyed in the neighboring Ibta’ village and a HTS command center was destroyed in Al-Bihar district.

From its side HTS reported that the group had targeted an SAA HQ inside the embattled Manshieh district. HTS targets an SAA HQ According to several sources embedded in the SAA, government forces are now preparing for an attack in the Dara’a cit…

AUTHORITIES OF CHINESE XINJIANG PROVINCE BAN WEARING OF ‘ABNORMAL BEARDS’ TO COMBAT RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

“Abnormal beards” have been banned in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China in order to combat religious extremism. Photo: AP / Ahn Young-joon

The authorities of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China are going to introduce a ban on wearing “abnormal beards” in order to combat religious extremism, the Tianshan Van information website reported.

According to the website, the set of rules was adopted at a session of the Assembly of People’s Representatives of Xinjiang, which was held a day before. It will come into force on April 1.

In addition to wearing an “an abnormal beard,” dissemination of extremist ideology and interference in religious freedom have also been banned.

According the new rules, it is prohibited to wear clothes that completely cover face and body, as well as extremist attributes, in public places. Employees of airports, railway stations and public transport have been ordered to close doors for people in such clothes and report about them to law enforcemen…

TURKISH AIR FORCE STRIKES FACILITIES OF PKK MILITANTS IN IRAQ

The Turkish Air Force targeted and struck facilities of PKK militants in the northern part of Iraq.


Photo: savunmasanayi.net

On Wednesday, the Turkish Air Force carried out airstrikes on facilities of militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the regions of Avashin-Basyan and Hakurk, located in the northern part of Iraq, the Anadolu news agency reported, citing the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces.

In addition, the Turkish Air Force managed to destroy protective constructions and firing points of militants in the vicinity of Chukurja and Yuksekova districts in the Turkish province of Hakkari.

Four improvised explosive devices were destroyed during inspection of the territory of Gench district of the Turkish province of Bingel.

The news agency noted that 3.45 kilograms of explosives, 162 magazine cases for the Kalashnikov assault rifle, 159 magazine cases for the M-16 rifle, other ammunition, a pyrotechnical pistol and a hand-held radio were discovered in one of the protec…

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – MARCH 30, 2017: SYRIAN ARMY REGAINING GROUND IN NORTHERN HAMA

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the 5th Legion, and the Tiger Forces successfully counter-attacked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Izzah, and Abnaa al-Sham in northern Hama, recapturing the Samsam hill, the nearby points north of Qumhana, and the al-Sheha hill south of Arzah. If government forces are able to retake Khattab from HTS-led forces, this will mean that they retake the initiative in the area.

Pro-government sources reported that the militants had suffered major casualties in the recent clashes but didn’t provide numbers. Meanwhile, about 20 Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed by HTS-led forces in the area of Majdal.

On March 29th, the SAA’s Tiger Forces entered the important town of Deir Hafer in the province of Aleppo. ISIS terrorists withdrew from Deir Hafer earlier this month, but the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces were not able to enter the town because of a high number of IEDs in the area.

Since then, government forces have been waiting for …

Army Aviation kills 50 IS members crossed borders from Syria to Iraq

Iraqi Army aircraft.


Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Ministry of Defense’s War Media Cell announced on Monday, that the Army Aviation warplanes carried out air strikes, based on intelligence information, on the Islamic State’s headquarters in areas west of the city of Mosul.

The cell said that the Army Aviation bombarded a gathering of the Islamic State members, who were coming from Syria and Husaiba, in Balij area, south of Tal Afar, killing nearly 50 terrorists and destroying 10 vehicles.

The air strikes also destroyed a cache of rockets and explosive, as well as killing 8 IS terrorists in al-Qayrawan area, south of Tal Afar, the statement added.

Furthermore, the Army Aviation warplanes destructed a hideout belonging to the IS in Balij area, killing 12 militants inside it, the statement further explained.

The statement also revealed that a hideout of the Islamic State was destroyed and a number of militants were killed in al-Mahlabiya area in Mosul.

THE INEVITABILITY OF ROUHANI

A female supporter of Iranian presidential candidate Hasan Rowhani flashes a victory sign as she holds his poster during a celebration gathering in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 15, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)

Written by Evgeny Satanovsky; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

The main problem in Middle Eastern politics is the opposition between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is the centre of the Shi’ite world. The neo-imperial expansion as a basis for Iranian foreign policy, changing the export of the Islamic revolution, is the main threat to Riyadh’s plans and its competitors to dominate the Sunni world.

Thus each country has its own project in which it takes on the leadership position, using war, economic or financial power. Support of the army, for those that have it (Egypt or Turkey), or Islamist formations, for those that do not have powerful enough army (such as Qatar or even Saudi Arabia), either hired privat…

SYRIAN ARMY, RUSSIAN AIR FORCE INREASE PRESSURE ON ISIS NEAR PALMYRA

FILE IMAGE: Sputnik/ Iliya Pitalev

The Syrian Arab Army’s artillery and the Russian Air Force increased military strikes on ISIS militants in the mountains surrounding the ancient city of Palmyra in the province of Homs, especially at the grain silos, Jabal Antar, Arak, Al-Talilah Reserve and the armament depot.

This move was a respond to continued ISIS attacks on Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions near at the areas of Jazal and Silos. Pro-ISIS media outlets claimed that ISIS terrorists had destroyed a tank and two BMP vehicles belonging to the SAA. Three Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed as a result of ISIS mortar shelling in the Jazal Oil Fields area.

ISIS remains in control of some of the most important oil and gas fields in the area, like Sha’er fields, Jihar fields, al-Mahr fields, the strategic towns of Sakhna and Khafsa and the nearby oil fields.

Opposition sources suggest ISIS withdrew the bulk of its forces from that region onto Raqqa and Tabqa to hamper the progress of the a…

GERMANY IS UNABLE TO FULFILL TRUMP’S REQUIREMENTS ON DEFENSE – DIE ZEIT

According to the Die Zeit newspaper, Germany currently has the smallest army in its history.


Photo: Getty Images / C. Koall

Germany has the smallest army in its history and seems not to be ready to carry out tasks to protect its borders, as well as NATO’s borders, the Die Zeit newspaper reported.

According to the article’s author, US President Donald Trump actively calls on Germany to discuss the issue of increasing the defense budget and allows himself to voice “false” allegations, according which Berlin owes NATO.

“This is obvious stupidity, but there is a grain of truth in these discussions: during the past 25 years, since the end of the Cold War, the Bundeswehr has been implementing a large-scale disarmament program. And it seems that now it is hardly able to fulfill the main task – to protect the country and, as a consequence, the military alliance in case of an emergency,” the newspaper states.

During the Cold War, the Bundeswehr consisted of 500,000 soldiers. Now, its strength is ab…

ORGANIZER OF COUP ATTEMPT IN TURKEY CONTACTED WITH US CONSULATE – MEDIA

The US Embassy to Ankara confirmed that the US Consulate in Istanbul called one of the alleged organizers of the coup attempt in Turkey a few days after the riots.


People demonstrate in front of the Republic Monument at the Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016 (Photo: Reuters / Murad Sezer)

The Turkish security forces found that one of the alleged organizers of the coup attempt in Turkey, Adil Oksuz, received a phone call from the US Consulate in Istanbul a few days after the riots, the Anadolu news agency reported, citing a source in the Ankara prosecutor’s office.

According to the news agency’s source, the call from a phone number, registered on the US diplomatic mission, was received by Oksuz on July 21. This fact is reflected in the indictment prepared by the prosecutor’s office, which will be submitted to the court in the near future.

The US Embassy to Ankara confirmed that such a phone call to one of the alleged organizers of the coup attempt, Adil Oksuz, really took pla…

Noam Chomsky: Trump could stage a ‘false flag’ terror attack and ‘change the country instantly’

Noam Chomsky (Screen shot)
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Author and political philosopher Noam Chomsky sounded a dire warning on Monday in an interview with AlterNet’s Jan Frel, saying that President Donald Trump could stage a “false flag” terror attack in an effort to consolidate his power and strip Americans of their constitutional rights.

Chomsky warned that eventually the people who voted for Trump will realize that his “promises are built on sand” and begin to lose faith in his presidency, at which point Trump will need someone to scapegoat, so he will say, “‘Well, I’m sorry, I can’t bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it.’ And the typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people: immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be. And that can turn out to be very ugly.”

“I think that we shouldn’t put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly,” Chomsky …

‘MODERATE’ MILITANTS CAPTURES TEL DAKWA FROM ISIS IN SUWEIDA

Moderate ‘opposition’ forces have captured Tel Dakwa from ISIS units in northeastern Suweida.

This is the recent in a series of advances by ‘moderate’ militants against ISIS in the area.

Earlier this week, ISIS defenses collapses in northeastern Suweida. As a result, Syrian government forces and ‘opposition’ forces gained large areas from the terrorist group. Click to see the full-size map

‘TERRORISM GODFATHER’ ERDOGAN CONDUCTS ‘THIRD REICH-STYLE’ FOREIGN POLICY – TOP GERMAN MP

A top German PM has accused the Turkish President of conducting a Third Reich-style foreign policy and called him a terrorist.


Head of the German Left Party’s parliamentary faction, Sahra Wagenknecht (Photo: EPA)

Head of the German Left Party’s parliamentary faction, Sahra Wagenknecht, has called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “terrorism Godfather” and accused the politician of conducting a Third Reich-style foreign policy. The statements were made during her speech to other members of the parliament in the Bundestag, after Ankara’s Nazi-themed mockeries over a ban on Turkish rallies in Germany.


“Turkey’s foreign policy priorities… are reminiscent of the Third Reich,” Wagenknecht said. “Namely, it seeks to install [Turkish] minorities in other countries in order to pursue [Turkey’s] own violence-based policy, own geopolitics as well as its own policy of suppression there.”

The top German MP also mentioned the Turkish president as a “terrorist Godfather.”


“This is a call for terro…

IRAQI ARMY & COALITION MUST CHANGE TACTICS OF FIGHTING IN MOSUL – UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Iraqi Army and the US-led coalition must urgently review their tactics of the fighting in Mosul to avoid further civilian casualties.


Jordan’s Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, listens during a news conference at the UN European headquarters in Geneva October 16, 2014 (Photo: Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

At least 307 civilians were killed, while 273 others were wounded in the western part of the Iraqi city of Mosul since February 17 to March 22, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, said.

According to him, the responsibility for these losses entirely lies with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and the international coalition led by the US.

Al-Hussein noted that since March 23 to 26, 95 civilians were killed as a result of the coalition’s bombing and actions of the IS in the western neighborhoods of Mosul.

The UN High Commissioner called on the Iraqi Ar…

OVER 400 FORMER JIHADI FIGHTERS BACK IN BRITAIN – SECURITY SOURCES

According to UK security sources, over 400 militants have returned to the UK from the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields.


Photo: EPA / Andy Rain

At the moment, the number of militants, who returned to the UK from Iraq and Syria, exceeds 400 people, the Sky News TV-channel reported, citing its own unnamed security sources.

As the TV-channel noted, the authorities fear more and more that the UK can become a place of large-scale terrorist attacks, conducting with usage of firearms and explosive devices, similar to those that recently occurred in France and Belgium, as many returning militants have all the necessary training to use weapons and set up improvised explosive devices.

Citizens of more than 80 countries actively replenish the ranks of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. About a hundred of Britons have already joined IS militants. Many of them entered the Syrian and Iraqi territories through Turkey. Ankara claims that for effective detention of such foreigners it needs m…

Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe

Only hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a bloodcurdling warning about terror attacks against European citizens, four people lay dead on the streets of London. That death toll may rise further because several of those injured in the attack this week in the British capital are in critical condition, fighting for their lives.

Erdogan was speaking Wednesday in what was yet another diatribe in his ongoing war of words with the European Union. The Turkish leader has been enraged by European governments refusing ministers from Ankara holding political rallies in Germany, Netherlands and Austria among other countries. As a result of the injunctions, he has accused the EU of displaying Islamophobia and hostility towards Turkey.

In his latest barrage earlier this week, Erdogan warned that there would be dire repercussions for EU citizens owing to the perceived stance of their governments.

«If you continue to behave like this, tomorrow in no part of the world, no European, no…

Washington Sponsored State of “Great Kurdistan” To Be Created in Syria And Iraq

By Inside Syria Media Center

Inside Syria Media Center has obtained proofs of plans to create a state of Great Kurdistan.




Map of Great Kurdistan

According to the documents at our disposal, the U.S. authorities and the Syrian Kurds reached an agreement past week on the boundaries of the Kurdish autonomy in the territory of Syria, which had been guaranteed to Kurds in case of capturing Raqqa and Al-Tabqah (34 miles to the West of Raqqa). This confirms the reports about the U.S. plans to divide Syria.

In addition, Washington has already defined the boundaries of the new state of the Great Kurdistan on the territory of Syria and Iraq. It is to be created after ISIS defeat and the final collapse of Syrian Arab Republic. According to the U.S. military, Kurds remain the only force capable of defeating ISIS.

In order to strengthen its positions the new U.S. administration announced the upcoming liberation of the so-called ISIS capital, Raqqa. To grease the wheels the Americans resorted to money, t…

US Forces Block Syrian Army Advance in Preparation For Syria Partition

A U.S.-backed operation near Raqqa aims to "block any advance by Syrian government forces from the west". The Balkanization of Syria begins

By RI

The road to Raqqa is now blocked by U.S. forces and their allies. The chances that Raqqa (and the surrounding region) will be returned to Syria are now slim to none. Foreign armies and their proxies are sharpening their carving knives.

U.S. Special Forces and Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have just captured a "strategic air base" from Islamic State in northern Syria; in doing so, they have also "blocked" the advance of the Syrian Army as it approaches Raqqa from the west:


The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they captured the Tabqa air base, 45km west of Raqqa, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group's de facto capital in Syria.

Earlier this week, US forces airlifted SDF fighters behind ISIL lines to allow them to launch the Tabqa assault, and on Friday the all…

Daesh, Creature of the West

By Pepe Escobar

James Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – now that’s a lovely title – recently gave a talk at a private club in London on the Islamic State/Daesh. Shea, as many will remember, made his name as NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.

After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.

According to Saudi intelligence, Daesh was invented by the US government – in Camp Bacca, near the Kuwait border, as many will remember — to essentially finish off the Shiite-majority Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad.

It didn’t happen this way, of course. Then, years later, in the summer of 2014, Daesh routed the Iraqi Army on its way to conquer Mosul. The Iraqi Army fled. Daesh operatives then annexed ultra-modern weapons that took US instructors from six to twelve months to train the Iraqis in and…surprise! Daesh incorporated the weapons in their arsenals in 24 hours.

In the end,…