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Showing posts from March 31, 2017

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.

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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 …