From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack with Elements from «ISIS» Playbook

Patrick Cockburn

In the immediate aftermath of what police are describing as a terrorist incident in and around Parliament, at least three facts stand out suggesting that the attacks are similar to those carried out over the last two years by “ISIS” supporters in Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin.

UK's Big Ben

The similarities with the events today are in the targets of the attacks which in all cases were ordinary civilians, but the means of trying to cause mass casualties differs. In Nice, Berlin and London no fire arms were used by the attackers, while in Paris and Brussels there was a coordinated assault in which guns and explosives were employed.

In Nice on 14 July 2016 a truck killed 86 people and injured hundreds, driving at speed through crowds watching a firework display on the Promenade des Anglais until the driver was shot dead by police. “ISIS” claimed that he was answering their “calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight ‘ISIS'”. Britain is a member of the coalition with aircraft and Special Forces troops in action against “ISIS” in Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS” claimed responsibility for a lorry which drove into a Christmas market in 19 December 2016, killing 12 and injuring dozens. As with Nice, this appears to resemble what happened on Westminster Bridge, going by first reports.

The overall location of the attacks today may be significant and would fit in with the way that “ISIS” normally operates when carrying out such atrocities. This is to act in the center of capital cities or in large provincial ones in order to ensure 24/7 publicity and maximize the effectiveness of the incident as a demonstration of “ISIS’s” continuing reach and ability to project fear far from its rapidly shrinking core areas in Syria and Iraq.

“ISIS” is sophisticated enough to know that such attacks carried out in news hubs like London or Paris will serve their purposes best. In cases of attack with a knife or a vehicle then “ISIS” would not need to provide more than motivation, though individuals seldom turn out to have acted alone. It may no longer have cells in Europe capable of obtaining fire arms or making bombs.

It could be that the attacks were carried out by another group, the most obvious candidate being one of the affiliates of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Syria or elsewhere. On 11 March 2017 Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, carried out two bombing attacks in Damascus, killing 59 people, mostly Shia pilgrims from Iraq visiting holy sites. But the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, while carrying out suicide bombings against targets in Syria, has previously avoided doing so abroad in order to make itself more diplomatically palatable than “ISIS”.

Could the attacks on Westminster Bridge and in Parliament be linked to the siege of Mosul where “ISIS” has lost the east of the city and half the west since an Iraqi army offensive started o n17 October? “ISIS” has traditionally tried to offset defeats on the battlefield, by terrorist attacks aimed civilians that show they are still very much a force to be feared. The same logic led to the ritual decapitation, drowning and burning of foreign journalists and domestic opponents.

The most likely speculation at this early stage is that the attacks in London are inspired or directed by “ISIS”, but there is too little evidence to make the connection with any certainty. “ISIS” often holds off claiming such atrocities for several days to increase speculation and intensify terror.

Source: Independent, Edited by website team

23-03-2017 | 11:22

US Strikes on Mosul Kill 230 Civilians Overnight

US Strikes on Mosul Kill 230 Civilians Overnight

Over 130 Civilians Killed in Attack on a Single Building in Western Mosul

As the US airstrikes in the Iraqi city of Mosul are increasingly concentrated around densely populated neighborhoods in the city’s west, the death toll from those airstrikes in spiraling rapidly out of control, with the most recent figures out of the area suggesting around 230 civilians were killed overnight in US and coalition strikes in just a single neighborhood.

That’s an enormous toll, of course, but is reported from several sources telling largely the same story, including that a single US airstrike against a large building full of civilians in Mosul killed over 130 people, while the other 100 or so were killed in the surrounding area.

Central Command said that they were “aware of the loss of life” and were carrying out “further investigation,” while insisting that all of their strikes against Mosul overnight “comply with the Law of Armed Conflict.” Centcom’s official report for the overnight strikes claimed they’d hit “11 fighting positions” and didn’t mention killing hundreds of civilians.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that the civilian death toll was mostly women and children, saying that the bulk of the bodies were pulled from just three adjoining residences in the Jadida neighborhood. They speculated the civilians were “human shields” for ISIS snipers in the area.

That would be an awful lot of human shields, of course, and there wouldn’t be much point of stashing them inside buildings where the US forces clearly either didn’t know where they were or didn’t feel it amounted to a deterrent to bombing those buildings anyhow.

If the toll is ultimately confirmed by Centcom, which is a huge “if” given how often well documented incidents never end up on their official reports, it would roughly double the number of civilians the US has admitted to killing in Iraq and Syria over the ISIS war. NGOs have suggested the US strikes have killed well over 2,000 civilians already, and that’s not including last night’s massive toll.

War Crimes, Death and Destruction in Mosul ~ [+LIVE UPDATES]

Source

It’s been months since the Mosul operation began, and – unlike in the coverage of the liberation of Aleppo – Western media have lauded it. But RT journalists have been on the ground in Mosul and discovered more to the story: civilian deaths and damage caused by the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes.


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Rushing into crossfire:
Mosul civilians flee amidst coalition airstrikes & Daesh

“It was hell for us, and when the Iraqi army came we celebrated. Our district was completely destroyed. Suicide bombers, rockets, jets bombed us all the time. Civilians are still buried under wreckage”, an elderly woman said.

“Very often the jets would miss. Seven entire families near us were killed this way. Perhaps their weapons were faulty, as they regularly went off-target”, a young female refugee in burka said.

“There are so many people hurt by airstrikes. Four children were wounded yesterday. While they were playing in the garden”, a male refugee told Gazdiev, saying that “army artillery bombed us nonstop“…[…read more…]………..


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Syrian War Report – March 17, 2017: ISIS Defenses Collapsing Across Syria

https://southfront.org/syrian-war-report-march-17-2017-isis-defenses-collapsing-across-syria/

March 17, 2017

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

In the province of Aleppo, the Syrian army’s Tiger Forces liberated the villages of Tal Ahmar, Asimiyah, Qarin, Hazazah, Tal Ayyub, Um Zulaylah and Rasm al-Harmel. Government troops also attacked ISIS units at Ahmadiyah and Zubaydah.

Government forces took control of the Al-Mazar Mountaion, the nearby military depots, the Palmyra gas field. Government troops destroyed an ISIS vehicle at the al-Talila crossroad and some 4 ISIS members at the town of Arak.

Over 150 Russian sappers arrived the Syrian city of Palmyra to take part in a mine clearance effort, the Russian Defense Ministry announced. The sappers will use cutting-edge equipment and protective gear, Ruslan Alakhverdiyev, Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ Engineering Troops said at the Russia-24 TV channel.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) mostly consisting of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) captured the Hamad Assaf and al-Kulayb villages, the al-Kulayb Grain Silos and entered entered Judayat Khabur east of the ISIS-held city of Raqqah.

The Free Syrian Army’s Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo Forces have launched an offensive against the ISIS terrorist group in the eastern part of the Qalamoun Mountains in the Rif Dimashq province. Pro-militant sources claim that the Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo Forces seized multiple sites from ISIS. Clashes are ongoing.

Iraqi forces secured the Badush area west of Mosul after a series of clashes with ISIS terrorists in the area and recaptured a large chunk of Mosul’s Old City and three of five Mosul bridges. Up to 20 ISIS members were killed in the recent clashes in the area. According to the Iraqi military, Iraqi forces have achieved control over 60 percent of western Mosul since operations to recapture that area launched in February.

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Syria”s Civil War Is Almost Over… And Assad Has Won

Syria’s Civil War Is Almost Over… And Assad Has Won

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 10.03.2017

Syria’s Civil War Is Almost Over… And Assad Has Won

Patrick COCKBURN

Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from other its territory further east.

Isis is confronting an array of enemies approaching Raqqa, but these are divided, with competing agendas and ambitions. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main fighting force is the Syrian Kurdish Popular Mobilisation Units (YPG), backed by the devastating firepower of the US-led air coalition, are now getting close to Raqqa and are likely to receive additional US support. The US currently has 500 Special Operations troops in north-east Syria and may move in American-operated heavy artillery to reinforce the attack on Raqqa.

This is bad news for Turkey, whose military foray into northern Syria called Operation Euphrates Shield began last August, as it is being squeezed from all sides. In particular, an elaborate political and military chess game is being played around the town of Manbij, captured by the SDF last year, with the aim of excluding Turkey, which had declared it to be its next target. The Turkish priority in Syria is to contain and if possible reduce or eliminate the power of Syrian Kurds whom Ankara sees as supporting the Kurdish insurrection in Turkey.

Turkey will find it very difficult to attack Manbij, which the SDF captured from Isis after ferocious fighting last year, because the SDF said on Sunday that it is now under the protection of the US-led coalition. Earlier last week, the Manbij Military Council appeared to have outmanoeuvred the Turks by handing over villages west of Manbij – beginning to come under attack from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) militia backed by Turkey – to the Syrian Army which is advancing from the south with Russian air support.

Isis looks as if it is coming under more military pressure than it can withstand as it faces attacks on every side though its fighters continue to resist strongly. It finally lost al-Bab, a strategically placed town north east of Aleppo, to the Turks on 23 February, but only after it had killed some 60 Turkish soldiers along with 469 FSA dead and 1,700 wounded. The long defence of al-Bab by Isis turned what had been planned as a show of strength by Turkey in northern Syria into a demonstration of weakness. The Turkish-backed FSA was unable to advance without direct support from the Turkish military and the fall of the town was so long delayed that Turkey could play only a limited role in the final battle for nearby east Aleppo in December.

Turkey had hoped that President Trump might abandon President Obama’s close cooperation with the Syrian Kurds as America’s main ally on the ground in Syria. There is little sign of this happening so far and pictures of US military vehicles entering Manbij from the east underline American determination to fend off a Turkish-Kurdish clash which would delay the offensive against Raqqa. The US has shown no objection to Syrian Army and Russian “humanitarian convoys” driving into Manbij from the south.

There are other signs that the traditional mix of rivalry and cooperation that has characterised relations between the US and Russia in Syria is shifting towards greater cooperation. The Syrian Army, with support from Russia and Hezbollah, recaptured Palmyra from Isis last Thursday with help from American air strikes. Previously, US aircraft had generally not attacked Isis when it was fighting Syrian government forces. Seizing Palmyra for the second time three months ago was the only significant advance by Isis since 2015.

Turkey could strike at Raqqa from the north, hoping to slice through Syrian Kurdish territory, but this would be a very risky venture likely to be resisted by YPG and opposed by the US and Russia. Otherwise, Turkey and the two other big supporters of the Syrian armed opposition, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are seeing their influence over events in Syria swiftly diminish. Iran and Hezbollah of Lebanon, who were the main foreign support of President Bashar al-Assad before 2015, do not have quite same leverage in Damascus since Russian military intervention in that year.

American and British ambitions to see Mr Assad removed from power have been effectively abandoned and the Syrian government shows every sign of wanting to retake all of Syria. If Isis loses Mosul and Raqqa in the next few months there will be little left of the Caliphate declared in June 2014 as a territorial entity.

The remaining big issue still undecided in both Syria and Iraq is the future relations between the central governments in Baghdad and Damascus and their Kurdish minorities. These have become much more important as allies of the US than they were before the rise of Isis. But they may not be able to hold on to their expanded territories in post-Isis times – and in opposition to reinvigorated Syrian and Iraqi governments.

counterpunch.org

Civilians in Mosul, Iraq being slaughtered by indiscriminate USA air raids

Civilians in Iraq “Die by Mistake” as a Result of US Air Raids, Humanitarian Catastrophe in Mosul

By Firas Samuri,

Iraq-Mosul-jpg

The government forces of Syria and Iraq continue to fight against terror groups with the support of their allies. Russian Air Force assists the Syrian army, and the International Coalition headed by the U.S. is “cooperating” with the armed forces of Iraq [against the ISIS which is supported by America’s Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Qatar in close liaison with Washington].

It should be mentioned that the Liberation of Aleppo from Jabhat al-Nusra‘s terrorists by the Syrian army units last December became a tipping point in the Syrian war. Then the Syrian government has taken all possible measures to safely evacuate all of the civilians from the western neighborhoods of the city. The humanitarian pauses have been introduced and thousands of people left the city through humanitarian corridors. More than 110,000 civilians have been evacuated from the city, including 44,000 children.

Unfortunately the situation in Iraq is the complete opposite. The locals are facing very difficult conditions. On the one hand, they are threatened by ISIS terrorists who placed their positions in residential areas in the vicinity of schools and hospitals.

In addition, the terrorists use the civilian population as a human shield. On the other hand, the advance of the Iraqi army under support of International Coalition bombers, which frequently carry out indiscriminate attacks on the residential neighborhoods. As a result of the U.S. air raids dozens of civilians die ‘by mistake’.

According to the official figures, 220 people have been killed by the International Coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014. It’s obvious that the coalition intentionally hides the real number of victims in order to avoid criticism by international human rights organizations.

The situation in Mosul can only be described as a humanitarian catastrophe.

There are still more than 750,000 civilians in the western neighborhoods of Mosul, who have nowhere to run. The refugee camps are currently overflowing. The representative of the International Organization for Migration in Iraq Hala Jaber stated that in the near future a refugee camp for 60 thousand people should be set up in the area of the Qayyarah airbase. However even the organization of this camp won’t be enough to save all those in need.

In addition, when the Mosul-Raqqa highway was blocked last year, the city was left without humanitarian and commercial supplies. The citizens of western Mosul reported that almost half of local grocery stores closed and bakeries can’t afford flour because of high prices. Due to the destruction of sewage facilities the local people desperately lack drinking water.

Reporting the situation in Mosul the Western media prefer not to cover the problems of the local population, who are forced to flee the war, and keep silent about the deaths of civilians from the hands of terrorists.

When the city of Aleppo was liberated in the end of last year, the situation was completely different. Although the local citizens were leaving their homes via humanitarian corridors organized by the Syrian military, the media dubbed this situation as a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ and blamed the Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Hence a question arises: what hindered the Iraqi authorities and the International coalition from organizing humanitarian pauses for withdrawal of civilians from the besieged city similarly to what the Syrian government had done?

It seems that the Western countries remain indifferent to the destiny of the civilians of Mosul, who have to hide in basements hoping that they won’t be found by terrorists or be ‘mistakenly’ bombed by the US jets. Only a miracle could save them and bring them back to safety.

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