Posts tagged ‘Syria’

FRIDAY FOTO (October 30, 2020)

No Trick, Just Treats.

(U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sergeant Michael West)

A U.S. soldier serving in Operation Inherent Resolve offers a treat to a child while meeting with villagers in northeastern Syria on October 15, 2020.

While the aim of such visits is to strengthen ties with local folks, the troops that are part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve mission work in a dangerous neighborhood. If you click on the photo to enlarge the image, you’ll notice this soldier has in his vest, six spare clips of ammunition for his M-4 automatic weapon, and an additional clip or two for the pistol strapped to his hip.

The mission, according to the Army, is working by, with and through coalition members and partners in the area to ensure the defeat violent extremists of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh — and that they stay defeated.

Soldiers involved in the village meeting on the day this photo was taken were from the 1st Armored Division (1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team) and the 82nd Airborne Division (1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team).

October 30, 2020 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 10, 2017)

Night Flight.

816th EAS Moves Cargo through Syria

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Gregory Brook)

Air Force C-17 Globemaster III pilots from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron conduct combat airlift operations for U.S. and coalition forces in Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

To see a video of this massive cargo plane, click here. 

Here’s another shot of these folks at work.

816th EAS Moves Cargo to Syria

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Gregory Brook)

November 10, 2017 at 11:49 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: U.S. to Deploy More Special Ops in Fight Against ISIS

Expeditionary Targeting Force.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, foreground, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify before the House Armed Services Committee about U.S. strategy for Syria and Iraq. (Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, foreground, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify before the House Armed Services Committee about U.S. strategy for Syria and Iraq.
(Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

The Obama administration is sending more Special Operations Forces (SOF) to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a congressional hearing Tuesday (December 1) that the Pentagon was deploying “a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist” Iraqi and Kurdish forces and put “even more pressure” on the leadership of the so-called Islamic State — also known as ISIS and ISIL (for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).

Eventually, Carter said, special operators will be able to “conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.”

Carter did not detail how many SOF troops would be sent to the region or where they would be deployed. But Pentagon officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to several news organizations, said this new force was expected to be based in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. The number of SOF operators could be between 150 and 200, it was reported by USA Today, the Washington Post and Reuters.

President Obama has already sent 3,500 troops to Iraq and the surrounding region to advise and support — but not fight alongside —  Iraqis, Kurds and moderate Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime. In October Obama authorized the deployment of  50 special ops troops to advise and train Arab and Kurdish anti-ISIS fighters in Syria.

Before that, Obama was — and remains — reluctant to commit U.S. ground forces to fight ISIS, preferring to rely on U.S. led airstrikes on ISIS targets in support of Kurds, Iraqis and Syrians fighting the Islamist terror organization, which has captured chunks of Iraq and Syria.

Map and data courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War.

Map and data courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War. (Click to enlarge)

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee the the air campaign has intensified against ISIS’s main revenue stream: oil exports. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  also at the hearing, said the air attacks had disrupted 43 percent of ISIS oil production. But under sometimes testy questioning, Dunford conceded that “we have not contained” ISIS.

“We are at war,” Carter told the hearing, adding that he meant “this is a serious business … it has that kind of gravity.” ISIS has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian jetliner over Egypt, killing all 224 people on board, and a string of attacks in Paris last month that left 130 dead.

Carter said  the new SOF presence in Iraq will raise uncertainty among ISIS leaders. “It puts everybody on notice in Syria. You don’t know at night who’s coming through the window,” he added.

December 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: [UPDATED 11/25/2015] Refugee Crisis; Winning Over Muslim Immigrants; Water Woes Behind Mass Migrations

Food for Thought: Double Trouble.

Food for ThoughtNews that some of the gunmen and suicide bombers in the Friday the 13th Paris attacks were European nationals have politicians and governments on both sides of the Atlantic fretting and fulminating.

They’re worried that terrorists may be hiding among the refugees swarming into Europe — like one of the attackers in Paris who killed 129 people. They also fear that refugees from Muslim countries like Syria and Iraq — even if they’re fleeting terrorism — may become radicalized by anti-Western propaganda and turn into Islamist terrorists themselves.

In the United States, the governors of more than half the states say thousands of Syrian refugees President Barack Obama wants to bring to America are not welcome. Only 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the United States since 2011, but the Obama administration announced in September that 10,000 Syrians will be allowed to enter the country as refugees next year, according to CNN.

Syrian and Iraqi refugees leave a boat from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos. (Photo by Ggia via wikipedia)

Syrian and Iraqi refugees leave a boat from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos.
(Photo by Ggia via wikipedia)

Meanwhile, some countries in Europe, which has been swamped this year by more than 700,000  political and economic refugees from the Middle East and Africa, say they won’t take in any more people. According to Reuters, 1,500 migrants remain trapped in northern Greece unable to cross the border into Macedonia after other countries in the Balkans began limiting their intake to Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis. Meanwhile, Poland cited the Paris attacks as the reason for not taking in 4,500 Syrian refugees as part of a European Union plan to spread the immigration burden, Britain’s Daily Mail reported. Instead, Poland’s new foreign minister suggested turning the refugees into an army to fight and “liberate their country with our help.”

Here at 4GWAR, we don’t have all the answers to these expanding problems, but we offer two pieces of research that could help point the way to a solution.

*** *** ***

Winning Muslims’ Trust.

You know the old saying “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar”? Well, some academic researchers say their work shows harsh rhetoric and cold shoulders can make Muslims feel like they don’t belong in Europe or the United States — and that can lead to radicalization.

“Our research, forthcoming in Behavioral Science and Policy, and in partnership with the World Organization for Resource Development and Education, shows that making Muslims feel this way can fuel support for radical movements. In other words, many Western policies that aim to prevent terrorism may actually be causing it,” say in an article on “The Conversation” website via the Washington Post.

Lyons-Padilla, a research scientist at Stanford University’s Stanford SPARQ and Gelfand, a professor and Distinguished University Scholar Teacher at the University of Maryland, asked hundreds of Muslims in Germany and the United States to tell them about their experiences as religious and cultural minorities — including their feelings of being excluded or discriminated against on the basis of their religion. “We also asked how they balance their heritage identities with their American or German identities. We wanted to know if these kinds of experiences were related to their feelings toward radical groups and causes.”

Because you can’t pre-interview a potential terrorist, they measured two indicators of support for radicalism.

“We asked people how willing they would be to sacrifice themselves for an important cause. We also measured the extent to which participants held a radical interpretation of Islam. (For example, they asked whether it’s acceptable to engage in violent jihad.) “Finally, we asked people to read a description of a hypothetical radical group and tell us how much they liked the group and how much they would want to support it.” This hypothetical group consisted of Muslims in the United States or Germany upset about how they were treated by society and would stop at nothing to protect Islam.

“Overall, support for these indicators of extremism was very low, which is a reminder that the vast majority of Muslims do not hold radical views,” the researchers wrote. But the responses of some interviewees  showed they felt marginalized and identified with neither the culture of their heritage nor the culture of their adopted country — in effect they were “culturally homeless.”

“The more people’s sense of self worth was threatened, the more they expressed support for radicalism,” the researchers said. “Our findings are consistent with a theory in psychology that terrorists are looking for a way to find meaning in their lives.” Extremists know and exploit these vulnerabilities, targeting Muslims whose sense of significance is low or threatened, they wrote.

The researchers add: “For people who already feel culturally homeless, discrimination by the adopted society can make matters worse. In our data, people who said they had been excluded or discriminated against on the basis of their religion experienced a threat to their self-esteem. The negative effects of discrimination were the most damaging for people who already felt culturally homeless.”

The research results suggest that cultivating anti-immigrant or anti-Islamic sentiment is deeply counterproductive. “Anti-immigrant discourse is likely to fuel support for extremism, rather than squelch it,” the authors said. To read the full article, click here.

*** *** ***

Water Woes.

Beyond conflict, there is another contributing factor to the waves of refugee flooding Europe: water scarcity, according to a world renowned environment and development research organization.

Water Stress in Syria and Middle East. (World Research Institute map)

Water Stress in Syria and Middle East.
(World Resources Institute map)

“A well-documented path can connect water scarcity to food insecurity, social instability and potentially violent conflict,’ say researchers at the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank.”As climate change amplifies scarcity worries, more secure water supplies could help the lives of millions in conflict zones,” say WRI’s , and

They say drought and water shortages in Syria are likely to have contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s civil war — now in its fourth year. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people — primarily farmers and herders — to lose their livelihoods and leave their land. The farmers then moved to urban areas, magnifying Syria’s general destabilization.

The unstable conditions are likely to deteriorate in coming decades. Syria is projected to be among the 11 most water-stressed countries in the world by 2040. And it’s not alone in the region. Fourteen of the 33 likely most water-stressed countries in 2040 are in the Middle East. Water stress is an underlying conflict multiplier that will not go away, the trio of researchers say.

Food prices and other food-supply disruptions are caused by a complex series of factors, including the global food trade and government subsidies. But local water stress can make the situation worse over the long term, the WRI researchers says. Part of the reason Middle Eastern countries had to import so much food is that water is relatively inaccessible compared to other food-growing regions, they added.

To read the entire article, including possible solutions to water stress, click here.

 

November 25, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: British Strike on ISIS/ISIL; Pakistan’s First In-House Drone Attack; Secret U.S. Drone Campaign [UPDATE]

Drone Wars.

Updates with new 3rd item item on secret drone campaign against Islamic State, reported by the Washington Post.

 

RAF Reaper drone (Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence photo)

RAF Reaper drone
(Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence photo)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for military unmanned aircraft around the world: Britain launched its first drone strike against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) … Pakistan launched the first homegrown drone strike against terrorists within its borders … and a secret U.S. drone campaign in the war against the Islamic State was revealed by the Washington Post.

Britain-Syria.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament Monday (September 7) that he had approved an air strike against a vehicle carrying a British jihadist in Syria. Cameron said the dead man — identified as Reyaad Khan — was plotting attacks against Britain, Reuters reported.

The Hellfire missile strike was launched from an RAF General Atomics Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remotely piloted from a hi-tech control hub at RAF Waddington, the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

Despite the absence of a parliamentary mandate to take military action in Syria, Cameron told MPs that, as an act of self-defence, Khan had been targeted and killed in a Royal Air Force (RAF) precision drone strike in the country. Cameron said that two people traveling with Khan, including another Briton, Ruhul Amin, were also killed. “There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him,” Cameron said. “We took this action because there was no alternative,” he added, calling the air strike “entirely lawful.”

But the August 21 drone strike has prompted criticism that the government disregarded the intent of a 2013 vote that rejected allowing air attacks against Syrian targets, the New York Times reported. Critics in and out of politics say the Cameron government is on shaky ground in approving the killing of Britons abroad without a full legal process.

But British defense minister Michael Fallon said Tuesday (September 8) Britain will not hesitate to carry out more deadly drone strikes against militants in Syria planning attacks on the United Kingdom, Reuters reported (via Yahoo).

*** *** ***

Pakistan.

Also on Monday (September 7) Pakistan said it used its first-ever armed drone in an airstrike that killed three ‘‘high-profile’’ militants near the Afghan border, according to an army statement, the Associated Press reported. The missiles hit a compound in the Shawal valley of the Waziristan tribal region, the army statement said.

Narayanese - Map of Pakistan and Waziristan by Narayanese via Wikipedia

Narayanese – Map of Pakistan and Waziristan by Narayanese via Wikipedia

No other details have been made available about those killed or whether any civilians were among the victims. The area is not accessible for reporters and aid workers, the Voice of America reported.

Parts of the Waziristan region are still believed to be serving as hideouts for militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban and fugitive commanders of the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. The area has been the focus for nearly a decade of a U.S. drone campaign to eliminate extremist bases from the Pakistani border region, and to defuse the threat they pose to coalition and Afghan forces across the border, according to VOA.

The armed drone, called Burraq, was used for the first time since its development in November 2013. Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa announced the first ever use of the UAV on his Twitter page adding that a terrorist compound was hit and three militants were killed in the air strike carried out by “Burraq,” the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported. However, the newspaper noted that the tweet could not be independently verified “as reporters have limited access to the restive agency.”

The Pakistan Army tested a Burraq armed with laser-guided Barq missile for the first time on March 14, Dawn said. Both th Burraq drone and Barq missile, have been indigenously developed, according to the army.

*** *** ***

United States.

The Washington Post reported last week (September 1) that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. Special Operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria. The drone campaign is part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, according to U.S. officials cited by the Post.

The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are flying drones over Syria in an effort responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said. Among those killed was a British militant thought to be an architect of the effort by the terrorist group (also known as ISIS and ISIL) to use social media to incite attacks in the United States, the officials said.

According to the Post the clandestine program represents a significant escalation of the CIA’s involvement in the war in Syria, enlisting the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) against a militant group that many officials believe has eclipsed al Qaeda as a threat. Officials told the Post the program is aimed at terrorism suspects deemed “high-value targets.”

Spokesmen for the CIA and the U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees JSOC, declined to comment. Other officials would discuss the program only on the condition of anonymity, the Post said.

September 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS/INTELLIGENCE: Treasure Trove of Intel Found in Syria Raid

Rating the Raiders.

James R. Clapper official portrait.

James R. Clapper official portrait.

TAMPA, Florida — The Delta Force team that killed a key Islamic State leader in a raid into Syria last week also recovered a “treasure trove” of information about the violent extremist group, the president’s top intelligence adviser said Wednesday night (May 20).

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence saluted the special operations forces (SOF) that killed Abu Sayyaf, captured his wife and freed a young Iraqi woman reportedly being held as a slave by the couple. According to press and government accounts, the raid’s aim was to capture Sayyaf, described as the chief financial officer of IS, but a gun battle broke out and he and about a dozen IS fighters were killed.

“They collected, what appears to me to be a treasure trove of valuable intelligence,” Clapper told attendees at a black tie awards dinner at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC). I congratulate and salute you,” Clapper told the SOF members in the audience, “it was well done.” Clapper noted that the raiders “got in and got out and no one from our side got hurt.”

Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general (three star) and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among other intel community posts, said the raid’s success illustrated the cooperation that now exists between the SOF community and the intelligence community.

He recalled the intelligence bonanza reaped by SOF when they raided a Pakistani compound in May 2011 and killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEALs that took out bin Laden stayed in the house long enough to collect books and papers as well as files from his computers. “I was blown away when I saw — not only by what was picked up but the care with which it was picked up,” Clapper said. He called the materials taken from bin Laden’s compound “invaluable in our fight against al Qaeda.”

Delta Force did exactly the same thing in Syria, Clapper said, noting that papers and other documents have given the intelligence community insight into ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), the Defense Department’s preferred term for the brutal extremist group.

Clapper said his staff has just released “a sizable tranche” of documents seized from the bin Laden raid, including what he termed bin Laden’s book shelf: a list of commercially available and public domain books found in the terrorist leader’s home. The documents were posted on ODNI’s unclassified public website.

“Those who want to see him as a super villain are going to be a little disappointed,” Clapper said. He read Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” But about half of the 38 English language books on bin Laden’s bookshelf included books about conspiracy theories and the Illuminati and Free Masons.

May 21, 2015 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOFIC Trade Show Opens

…in a Complex World.

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year's SOFIC in Tampa. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year’s SOFIC in Tampa.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

TAMPA, Florida — Few events could better illustrate the theme — Winning in a Complex World — of a special operations forces industry conference opening today than the good news/bad news coming the Middle East last week.

On Friday (May 15) U.S. Army Delta Force commandos killed a key leader of the Islamic State group in a daring helicopter raid inside war torn Syria. About a dozen Islamic State fighters were killed in the brief but intense firefight. No U.S. forces were killed or injured although at least one helicopter was riddled with bullets.

Two days later (May 17) word came that Islamic State fighters had captured Ramadi, seizing a large cache of weapons in the capital of Iraq’s largest province just 60 miles west of Baghdad — despite U.S. air strikes and other support.

The United States is being challenged on a number of fronts around the world from violent extremist organizations across Africa and the Middle East to transnational narcotics cartels corrupting governments in Latin America and West Africa.

Russia and China are flexing their muscles and bullying their neighbors. And there are still the challenges posed by North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan.

And on the front line of these and other hotspots around the world are U.S. special Operations Forces (SOF) tasked with training partner nation militaries, keeping tabs on threatening groups, rescuing hostages and killing or capturing terrorists.

In Tampa this week, leaders of U.S. Special Operations Command USSOCOM) — which oversees the training and equipping of Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Raiders, Air Commandos and other SOF units, will be explaining their needs — and their funding constraints — to industry.  At that same time, hundreds of manufacturers and vendors at the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference will be showing the equipment, technologies and services they believe will help SOCOM complete its varied missions. Your 4GWAR editor is here to listen to both groups.

May 19, 2015 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: New Threats, New Challenges, New Response UPDATE

9/11 2001 and 2014

UPDATES with additional Obama remarks, criticism by Sens. McCain and Graham, Middle East coalition agreement and maps of Iraq and Syria by the Institute for the Study of War

Burning World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001 (National Park Service)

Burning World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001
(National Park Service)

It’s the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania that left nearly 3,000 dead, hundreds injured and untold numbers traumatized by an surprise attack from a little known, but vicious, enemy.

Now America is gearing up to battle extremist terrorism again.

In a televised address from the White House Wednesday night (September 10) President Barack Obama outlined plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the violent militant group that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The extremist group has emerged from the Syrian civil war to rout Iraqi military units and seize a swath of northern Iraq. The group, also known as ISIL (for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has killed captured prisoners, threatened non Sunni Muslims like Shia and Yazidi with extermination, killed two American journalists in gruesome videos and forced Christian Iraqis to convert to Islam, flee the country or be killed.

“ISIL is not “Islamic.”  No religion condones the killing of innocents.  And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” Obama said in his 14-minute address. He added: “And ISIL is certainly not a state.  It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border.  It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates.  ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.  And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

The president outlined a strategy for eliminating ISIS, which critics claim has taken too long to evolve and doesn’t go far enough. Obama said he was sending 475  more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers and trainers of Iraqi forces. That would bring the number of American troops there to more than 1,500 — just a few years after the United States withdrew combat troops from the war-shattered country. Obama also promised more airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq, a step he has declined to take in the past. Since August, the United States has launched 150 airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL targets in Iraq. The United States has also been dropping cargo pallets of food, water and other relief supplies to Iraqi refugees hiding in the mountains.

Iraq Situation Report by the Institute for the Study of War. (click to enlarge)

Iraq Situation Report by the Institute for the Study of War.
(click to enlarge)

“Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.  That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.  This is a core principle of my presidency:  If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” Obama said, noting U.S. actions against al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. He also stressed that the additional forces will not have a combat mission. “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” he pledged.

But if ISIS/ISIL is left unchecked it could pose a treat to the Middle East and beyond, including the United States. American intelligence agencies believe that thousands of foreign nationals, including Europeans and some U.S. citizens have flocked to Syria over the last three years to fight against the Assad regime and other rebel groups. There is concern that those fighters, now battled-tested and exposed to extreme radical ideology, could return to their home countries and launch terrorist attacks. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson made that point back in February.

Obama called on Congress to authorize and fund the training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels. He also said the United States will work with partner nations to redouble intelligence and counter terrorism efforts to prevent a terror attack by ISIS/ISIL in America. Lastly,Obama to keep support relief efforts for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homes to avoid persecution by ISIS/ISIL. Obama pledged to head a coalition of partner nations to battle the threat. “Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” Obama said.

Syrian Situation Map by the Institute for the Study of War. (click on image to enlarge)

Syrian Situation Map by the Institute for the Study of War.
(click on image to enlarge)

Shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry has born fruit. Leaders from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council – an alliance of the Sunni Arab Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – have pledged to “stand united” against “the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” according to The Guardian website.

But the British newspaper notes there are several thorny issues such as whether the Assad regime will allow coalition warplanes into its airspace to bomb ISIS/ISIL and whether U.S. advisers will enter Syria with the retrained rebels. There are also questions about what role pro-Assad Russia will play as well as Shia-majority Iran, which sees ISIS/ISIL as a threat on its border.

September 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

TERRORISM: The Widening Syria-Iraq Threat

 Deja vu all over again

Iraq map by CIA World Factbook

Iraq map by CIA World Factbook

Syria, courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War

Syria, courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War

Back in February, 4GWAR reported that new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was troubled by foreign jihadists streaming into war-torn Syria, which was turning into an incubator for future terrorists.

Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, Johnson said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had become “very focused” on foreign fighters heading to Syria, where foreign Islamists have radicalized and complicated the three-year civil war with the Bashar al-Assad regime. The DHS concern is what these fighters will do when they return to their home countries or travel elsewhere, indoctrinated with a violent Islamist mission.

Then in April we reported on another threat emanating from Syria: the rise of the Iranian-backed, Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia as a military force in Syria. In a report, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), another Washington think tank, said that Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia which has been battling Israel and the West for decades, has become a major player in the Syrian conflict.

Hezbollah has been designated as a Global Terrorist organization by the United States since 1995 for a long history of terrorist attacks against American citizens and officials – including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s.

ISIS Territory in Syria and Iraq Red is area controlled by ISIS Yellow is area claimed by ISIS Via iukipedia

ISIS Territory in Syria and Iraq
Red is area controlled by ISIS
Yellow is area claimed by ISIS
(Via Wikipedia)

Now this: President Barrack Obama says he is sending up to 300 special operations forces to assess the situation on the ground in Iraq, where forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have captured several cities in northern and western Iraq in a sweeping attack out of Syria.

But Obama made clear that he will hold back more substantial support for Iraq – including U.S. Airstrikes – until he sees a direct threat to U.S. Personnel or a more inclusive and capable Iraqi government, according to the Washington Post.

At the White House, Obama said “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.”

Obama, who withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, said he’s positioned “additional U.S. military assets in the region. Because of our increased intelligence resources, we’re developing more information about potential targets associated with ISIL. And going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it. If we do, I will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.”

But Obama emphasized “that the best and most effective response to a threat like ISIL will ultimately involve partnerships where local forces, like Iraqis, take the lead.”

 

 

June 19, 2014 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: The Rise of Hezbollah in Syria

New Study.

WASHINGTON – Back in February, 4GWAR attended the first major address by new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. At that time, Johnson said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has become “very focused” on Syria and the foreign jihadists streaming into the war-torn country to aid the rebels battling the regime of President Bashir al-Assad.

Map of Syria (Courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War)

Map of Syria
(Courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War)

Johnson said DHS was concerned about what those fighters will do when they return to their home countries across the Middle East, Africa – and North America, indoctrinated in a violent Islamic mission.

On Friday (April 11) we heard about another threat emanating from Syria – the rise of the Iranian-backed, Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia as a military force in Syria.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, issued a report last week on Hezbollah in Syria. Among the findings: that Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia which has been battling Israel and the West for decades, has become a major player in the Syrian conflict.

Hezbollah has been designated as a Global Terrorist organization by the United States since 1995 for a long history of terrorist attacks against American citizens and officials – including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s.

According to the ISW report, Hezbollah has moved beyond its role as an adviser and trainer of Syrian troops and taken over a direct combat role against the mostly Sunni rebels battling Assad’s forces.

Iran and Syria have been important supporters of Hezbollah and the Syrian conflict threatened to disrupt that so-called Axis of Resistance. Hezbollah’s participation in the conflict has shored-up Syria’s lagging army, protected the hub of Iran’s power projection in the Eastern Mediterranean and given Hezbollah, as a fighting force, experience in urban warfare. But it has come at a cost – hundreds of causalities  — over the past year.

One key take-away, says Marissa Sullivan, an ISW research fellow and the report’s author, is that Hezbollah, the Syrian military, Iranian and Iraqi Shi’ite fighters have evolved into “a very well-integrated fighting force” that can coordinate, plan and deploy efficiently. “This is a huge innovation that has come out of the conflict in Syria,” she told a briefing on the report last week.

Before al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack on the United States in 2001, Hezbollah was responsible for killing more Americans in terrorist attacks than any other terrorist group, U.S. Treasury Department officials told a 2012 press briefing.

Hezbollah started carrying out bombings and kidnappings in Lebanon but quickly expanded its violent campaign to a global stage, carrying out and supporting terrorist attacks in South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and various countries in the Middle East.

 

 

April 14, 2014 at 11:18 pm 2 comments

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