Tag Archives: Al-Qaeda

US asks Russia not to target Al-Qaeda branch in Syria – Russian FM Lavrov

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Washington has asked Moscow not to conduct airstrikes against al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, for fear that members of the “moderate opposition” could also be hit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reported.

“They [the US] are telling us not to hit it [al-Nusra Front], because there are also ‘normal’ opposition groups [on those territories],” Lavrov said in an interview with local Russian media that was published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

The minister also stressed that “such opposition groups should leave terrorist positions,” adding that “we have long agreed on that.” Russia first set a deadline for the “moderate” opposition to leave territories occupied by al-Nusra Front extremists, but then agreed to give them more time to withdraw.

In the interview, Lavrov said that Russia believes that taking specific and more effective measures to fight the Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups should be the top priority for Russia and the US if the Syrian crisis is to be resolved.

“It is important to provide humanitarian access to the settlements blocked by one side or another, to secure the ceasefire and to prevent its violation, as well as to launch the political process… but, as important as these goals are, terrorism is our common threat, and there should be no doubt about that,” he said, adding that, in the meantime, al-Nusra Front has been attempting to merge with other armed opposition groups.

Lavrov also said that the political process in Syria is being held back by radical opposition groups that refuse to come to the negotiating table and set preconditions for peace talks. He added that it is important to set aside these demands and focus on the fight against terrorism.

The minister also emphasized that Russia and the US are involved in a close and intensive dialog on Syria that includes regular telephone calls between Lavrov and his US counterpart, John Kerry, and a video-conference channel set up between the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria located at the Khmeimim airbase in Latakia and the US base in the Jordanian capital of Amman, as well as a joint US-Russian center in Geneva.

Lavrov had held a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the initiative of the US side earlier the same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement

The two ministers discussed “the fight against ISIS and the need to urgently distance the moderate opposition from the Jabhat al-Nusra group, as well as efforts to cut off the flow of weapons and militants coming from abroad to beef up terrorist organizations,” the statement said.

In the meantime, Kerry, who is in Paris, told journalists that he had discussed the upsurge in violence in Syria during the phone call with Lavrov, explaining that the two had worked specifically on “ways to try to strengthen the enforcement and accountability for this cessation,” AP reported.

In the meantime, the US State Department said that Washington has asked Russia to be “more careful” in targeting its airstrikes against al-Nusra Front, as hitting civilians or opposition groups while attacking the jihadists could eventually give more support to the terrorist groups.

“[The US State] Secretary conveyed to Russia and the Assad regime that they need to carefully distinguish between these terrorist groups operating on the ground and those parties to the cessation of hostilities,” US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said during a briefing on Friday, adding that the US agrees that IS and al-Nusra Front “pose a real threat to the security on the ground in Syria.”

Over 40,000 Foreign Terrorists From 100 Countries Fight in Syria

More than 40,000 foreigners from over a hundred caountries arrived to Syria to fight for various factions like Daesh extremist group, the US Stet Deaprtment said citing intelligence sources.

WASHINGTON — The number of foreign terrorists participating in the Syrian conflict has exceeded 40,000, US Department of State Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell said in a briefing on Thursday.

“An excess of 40,000 total foreign fighters have gone to the conflict [in Syria] from over a hundred countries,” Siberell stated.

The official said the number has been provided by the US intelligence community.

Siberell added that international efforts have made it more difficult for terrorists to enter the conflict zone.

Syria has been mired in civil war since March 2011, with opposition factions and extremist groups, including terrorist organizations like the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, fighting the Syrian Arab Army and government forces loyal to the country’s legitimate President Bashar Assad.

At least 88 killed, dozens more injured in triple car bombings across Baghdad

The Iraqi capital, Baghdad, has been rocked by three successive bombings that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians, according to police sources and media. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the so-far deadliest of the attacks.

The car bombing attack in the city’s district of Sadr City killed at least 63 people and injured dozens of others, AP reported citing Iraqi officials.

An SUV rigged with explosives was parked near a beauty salon in a busy market in the Sadr City neighborhood, Iraqi police reported.

The bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber, a media outlet that sympathizes with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) reported.

The blast killed over 20 people on the spot while others succumbed to their wounds shortly after. At least 60 people were injured by the blast, and many remain in critical condition.

Shortly after the first blast, two more attacks were recorded in the city. One of them occurred in the Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad – an area of the city considered a center of Shiite Islam. The attack claimed the lives of 18 people, Iraqi police and hospital officials told AP on condition of anonymity, adding that at least 34 people have been injured.

One more bomb that went off in the Sunni district of Jamiya killed seven and wounded at least 22 people.

The officials told Reuters that the death toll figures are likely to rise.

IS targeted Sadr City in February in a twin bombing attack, which claimed the lives of 70 people.

The group is ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim and considers Muslims adhering to other sects of Islam apostates and their enemies.

Sectarian violence remains one of the biggest security challenges in Iraq, since the US invasion of Iraq deposed its Sunni minority in power and installed a Shiite majority government.

Military officers and former officials of Saddam Hussein’s government, whose careers were ruined by the change of regime in Baghdad, were instrumental in Islamic State’s rise from a little-known Iraqi ally of Al-Qaeda to the most-publicized terrorist threat in the modern world.

 

Just In Case: Inside the Pentagon’s Explosive Plan B for Libya

Recognizing its own failure in Libya, the Pentagon has a new plan to address the spread of terrorist groups in the North African nation: more bombs.

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in chaos. NATO airstrikes destabilized a government that was unpopular with the West, but otherwise secure, allowing terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, to flourish.

Now the Pentagon has a new plan to “cripple” the terrorist group’s growing influence in Libya, and it’s not much different from the strategy that led to their rise. Presented to the White House last month, the strategy calls for “as many as 30 to 40” airstrikes across the country, which, it is promised, will allow “Western-backed” militias to overwhelm Daesh militants.

According to US officials, the plan is not being “actively” considered at this time, as the Obama administration is currently trying to install a unity government in Libya, and that effort could be hindered by renewed violence.

Earlier this week, a number of Libyan experts noted that the Pentagon’s strategies are based on faulty intelligence.

“The estimates of the number of jihadists is grossly exaggerated,” said Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council, according to AntiWar.com.

While the Pentagon has claimed that between 5,000 and 6,500 Daesh militants are operating in Libya, the need for only 30 to 40 airstrikes suggests that even Washington suspects that the terrorist fighters number in the hundreds, not the thousands.

As the US considers a new military operation in Libya, recently uncovered secret documents show that Italy has invasion plans of its own. Published by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the documents show that Italian troops are preparing to join US, French, and British special forces that have been operating inside Libya for several weeks.

Varying estimates suggest that between 3,000 and 7,000 international troops will be deployed, with nearly a third sent by Rome.

Critics have questioned Italy’s need to become embroiled in a foreign military ground war.

“And the principal question – what is that national interest Italy wants to protect?” reads an op-ed from La Repubblica. “There is danger that Italy could once again be dragged into war with only one purpose – to please its allies.”

Whichever stabilization strategy the West ultimately decides upon, the US and its allies may increasingly regret ousting Gaddafi in the first place.

Turkish Opposition Sues Erdogan Government for Supporting Terrorism

Turkey’s main opposition party has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing Ankara of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, has filed a criminal complaint against senior officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including President Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Chief Hakan Fidan.

The complaint accuses Ankara of being complicit in violence caused by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara itself considers a terrorist organization, as well as the group’s accumulation of weapons, for political gain.”More fatally, just in order to go through election periods calmly, the terrorist organization’s activities of transferring and piling up weaponry, both in rural areas and in urban centers, were openly overlooked,” CHP Deputy Chair Bulent Tezcan said as part of the filing.

The complaint cites the fact that only eight out of 290 requests to conduct anti-terror operations by the Turkish Armed Forces were granted during election periods.

As evidence, Tezcan cited a secret meeting between leaders of the AKP and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The complaint follows statements made by CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accusing the AKP of aiding terrorist organizations by “overlooking the stockpiling of weapons by the PKK.”

Highlighting unrest within the Turkish government, the nation’s highest court opened its own investigation into government links to the PKK last summer. This followed a criminal complaint by the ruling AKP against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Critics claim that the AKP’s complaint is political, attempting to force the HDP to comply with the Erdogan government.

Southeastern Turkey has been engulfed in violence as Turkish security forces crackdown on Kurdish communities to root out militant groups. The government’s actions have been roundly criticized by a number of rights groups.

“If we cannot solve the Kurdish issue in democratic ways, I am sure the next generation of the Kurds will be very radical,” Mehmet Yuksel, a representative of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, told Sputnik.

“We already see youths of old that are much more radical. They already think that the political ways are not the solution.”

Egypt Links Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas to Prosecutor’s 2015 Assassination

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Egypt’s Minister of Interior Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar said that 14 out of 48 suspected organizers, conspirators and perpetrators of the assassination of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat have been detained.

Egypt’s Minister of Interior Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar said Sunday the Muslim Brotherhood organized the assassination of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat with assistance from Palestine’s Hamas movement.

Earlier on Sunday, prosecutors ordered the arrest of six suspects linked to Barakat’s murder in a car bomb attack on June 29, 2015 in Cairo.

“Members of the Muslim Brotherhood who planned this murder are hiding in Turkey. The terrorist attack was plotted and its perpetrators were trained in the Gaza Strip under the supervision of Hamas members. Then the culprits were sent to Egypt across the border,” Abdel-Ghaffar said in a press conference.

he minister said 14 out of 48 suspected organizers, conspirators and perpetrators of the attack have been detained.Barakat oversaw several cases against officials of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement of Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi, deposed by the current leadership in 2013.

Islamic State truck bomb kills at least 60 people south of Baghdad

Residents gather at the site of a bomb attack at a checkpoint in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, March 6, 2016.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack with an explosive-laden fuel tanker on an Iraqi police checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 70, medical and security officials said.

Responsibility was claimed in a posting on the website of the Amaq news agency, which supports the ultra-hardline Sunni group.

“A martyr’s operation with a truck bomb hit the Babylon Ruins checkpoint at the entrance of the city of Hilla, killing and wounding dozens,” the statement on the Amaq website said.

Hilla is the capital of Babylon province, a predominantly Shi’ite region with some Sunni presence.

“It’s the largest bombing in the province to date,” Falah al-Radhi, the head of the provincial security committee, told Reuters. “The checkpoint, the nearby police station were destroyed as well as some houses and dozens of cars.”

A provincial hospital official confirmed the number of casualties. Many had suffered burn injuries.

 

 

Tripoli Endorses Possible Italy-Led Anti-Terrorist Operation in Libya – FM

Tripoli endorses the fact that Italy might take a leading role in the international fight against Daesh terrorist organization in Libya, Foreign Minister of the Tripoli-based General National Congress, Ali Ramadan Abuzaakouk, said Thursday.

ROME (Sputnik) — There are currently two rival governments in Libya: the internationally-recognized Council of Deputies (House of Representatives) based in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC).

“We endorse the fact that Italy might assume the role of international intervention leader in the war against the growing IS forces in Libya,” Abuzaakouk told the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The foreign minister underscored that it was necessary for Italy to carefully coordinate with the Tripoli government and military forces, to avoid any potential operation changing from a legitimate fight against terrorism into an open violation of Tripoli sovereignty.

In 2011, as civil war broke out in Libya, a multi-state coalition, consisting mostly of NATO members, began a military intervention in the country with the declared aim of establishing an immediate ceasefire.The operation ended with a decisive NATO victory, which led to the escalation of the conflict in the country and the subsequent killing of the country’s long-standing leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Earlier, in December 2015, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that the issue of an international military operation in Libya was not on the agenda.

According to the newspaper, on February 10, the Italian Council of Ministers allegedly decided to send 50 soldiers to Libya.

 

Austrian police warn of a possible terror attack between Christmas and New Year

Police in Vienna has stepped up security following a warning about a potential terror attack employing explosives or firearms between the Christmas and New Year holidays. According to police, the warning was issued to several European capitals.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Austrian police said that the warning came from an unidentified “friendly intelligence service” just days before Christmas, offering mostly general information about the possible attacks without specifying potential targets or exact dates.

It added that “several possible names of potential attackers were mentioned, who were checked and the investigation based on (these checks) has so far yielded no concrete results.”

“We do not know if these people exist in real life, or if they are only names with no real person behind them. We have no evidence that they are in Vienna, and we have no evidence that they are even in Europe,” Christoph Poelzl, a spokesman for Vienna police, said as quoted by the Guardian.

Poelzl refused to give any further details concerning the terror warning as he did not reveal the list of European capitals mentioned in the warning.

In the view of the warning, Vienna authorities said that no public events would be canceled but police surveillance will increase in the places expected to attract large numbers of people during the specific period.

Police will also pay closer attention to suspicious bags.

Meanwhile, France remains on high alert since Paris attacks in November. Last week, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve ordered police and security forces to be especially watchful during festive church services.

 

Iraqi Army Captures Daesh Leader in Ramadi – Reports

Iraqi soldiers have detained one of the leaders of the Islamic State jihadist group, in the Iraq’s Ramadi, local media reported.

The identity of the leader of Daesh militants has not been disclosed, Sky News Arabia reported Saturday.

On Tuesday, Iraqi troops launched an offensive in Anbar against the Daesh jihadists. The main aim of the offensive is to liberate Ramadi, the biggest city of the province, from the militants.

Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia and many other countries, has seized large areas in Syria and Iraq and declared a caliphate on territories under its control. The group is currently considered to be one of the main threats to global security.