ISIS Militants: Our Message To The World Is That We Are The Soldiers Of The Caliphate State And We Are Coming
Video released by the Islamic State (IS) group has shown militants celebrating and raising the black IS flag over buildings and facilities in a number of key Iraqi locations under their control.
The militants took control of Mosul in June, and captured a string of towns and Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam and reservoir in recent weeks.
In the video, armed militants of the Islamic State group stand by a tank, holding weapons as one declares to the camera: "Our message to the entire world is that we are the soldiers of the Caliphate state and we are coming."
Pushing southward from Mosul, they swept over Sunni-majority towns almost to Iraq's capital of Baghdad, and now hold large parts of western Iraq as well as swaths of neighbouring Syria.
Iraqi government forces crumbled in the face of the assault but have since been able to prevent the militants from advancing into Shiite-majority areas.
U.S. Lawmakers Warn Of ISIS Attack On American Soil, Urge Strong Response To Islamic Terrorists In Iraq
Islamic militants’ growing influence in Iraq and Syria is a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in trying to crush them.
President Barack Obama last week approved limited airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham fighters, whose rapid rise in June plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the end of 2011, when U.S. troops withdrew from the country at the end of an unpopular eight-year war. Obama said the current military campaign would be a “long-term project” to protect civilians from the deadly and brutal insurgents.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the militants threaten not just Iraqis but also Americans. He said Obama’s airstrikes were insufficient to turn back the militants and were designed “to avoid a bad news story on his watch.”
“I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and in Iraq,” said Graham, a reliable advocate for U.S. use of military force overseas.
“They are coming here,” Graham later added about the militants. “This is just not about Baghdad. This is just not about Syria. It is about our homeland.”
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, also said the Islamic State militants pose a threat “in our backyard” and were recruiting westerners.
“Inaction is no longer an option,” she said in a statement as U.S. airstrikes were underway.
The rhetoric tracked closely to that used in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers from both parties voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to take military action against Iraq in the hopes of combating terrorism.
“The big question is: What can the United States do to stop it?” Durbin asked.
American airstrikes have included fighter pilots and drones near Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, as recently as Sunday. The strikes are aimed at limiting Islamic State fighters’ advances and helping Iraqi forces take back control. U.S. and Iraqi aircraft also have conducted airstrikes and dropped humanitarian aid to help the minority Yazidis, thousands of whom have been under attack by Islamic militants and stranded on a scorching mountaintop since Islamic State forces seized Sinjar, near the Syrian border, last week.
The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior US officials said Monday.
Previously, the US had insisted on only selling arms to the Iraqi government in Baghdad, but the Kurdish peshmerga fighters had been losing ground to Islamic State militants in recent weeks.
The officials wouldn’t say which US agency is providing the arms or what weapons are being sent, but one official said it isn’t the Pentagon. The CIA has historically done similar quiet arming operations.
The move to directly aid the Kurds underscores the level of US concern about the Islamic State militants’ gains in the north, and reflects the persistent administration view that the Iraqis must take the necessary steps to solve their own security problems.
To bolster that effort, the administration is also very close to approving plans for the Pentagon to arm the Kurds, a senior official said. In recent days, the US military has been helping facilitate weapons deliveries from the Iraqis to the Kurds, providing logistic assistance and transportation to the north.
More than 360 violent assaults against Jews living in East Jerusalem, including the capital’s Old City, were recorded in July, nearly double the number of similar attacks that took place during the same period in 2013, according to figures published Monday.
Most incidents involve youths hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish civilians living in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods, or rioters setting off firecrackers near Jewish institutions. In some cases, however, masked gunmen opened fire at Jews residing in the eastern half of the city, the Haaretz daily reported. Last Monday, an IDF soldier was shot at close range by a gunman on a motorbike near the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz.
Many of the clashes involved confrontations with police during protests in the city. Police and Housing Ministry figures show that 72 violent incidents took place on the last night of Ramadan alone, compared to an average of five or six such cases a month over the rest of the year. On a different night, violent clashes took place in no fewer than 30 different locations simultaneously, according to Haaretz.
The violence had prompted police to bolster its presence and to heighten security measures all throughout the city, according to Haaretz. Following recurrent cases of Palestinian stone throwing at the Jerusalem light rail, the municipality equipped the tram with a small flying robot that filmed its vicinity and broadcast the footage to a control center. Service was stopped to the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina during rioting that followed Abu Khdeir’s murder which damaged train tracks and stops, but resumed two weeks later.
Russian strategic nuclear bombers and other military aircraft entered US air defense identification zones (ADIZs) at least 16 times over the past ten days, American defense officials confirmed on Thursday.
“Over the past week, NORAD has visually identified Russian aircraft operating in and around the US air defense identification zones,” said Maj. Beth Smith, spokeswoman for US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
Smith sought to downplay the incursions that she called “a spike in activity,” telling the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz that the flights were assessed as routine training missions and exercises.
But an unnamed defense official familiar with the incursion reports disagreed with Smith’s assessment.“These are not just training missions,” the official told Gertz, saying that Russian strategic nuclear forces appear to be “trying to test our air defense reactions, or our command and control systems.”
NORAD scrambled fighter jets several times when Russian strategic aircraft flew along US ADIZs. The planes included a mix of Tu-95 Bear H heavy bombers and Tu-142 Bear F maritime reconnaissance aircraft, as well as one IL-20 intelligence collection aircraft, Smith said.
The bomber flights took place mainly along the Alaskan air defense identification zone that covers the Aleutian Islands and the continental part of the state, and one incursion involved entry into Canada’s air defense zone, she added.
The recent spike in activity after a surface-to-air missile brought down the Malaysia Airlines plane is not the first time Russian military planes were detected in US ADIZs this summer. On June 9, a pair of Tu-95 Bear H aircraft maintained by Russia came close to US airspace during practice bombing while four of the planes were conducting bombing runs near Alaska, a NORAD spokesman told Gertz.
“After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East,” he wrote of the June incident. “The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 P.M. entered the US northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.”
Those two aircraft, Gertz added, made it within 50 miles of the coast before turning around after a US F-15 intercepted them.
There is growing dissent in the EU over policies that led to a de fact trade war with Russia. Meanwhile the countries not toeing the line are reaping the benefits, irritating those who jumped on the sanctions bandwagon.
Greek members of the European Parliament demanded Sunday that the EU cancel sanctions against Russia. MEPs Kostantinos Papadakis and Sotiris Zarianopoulos said in a letter to some senior EU officials that Russia’s ban on food import from the EU, which was Moscow’s response to anti-Russian sanctions, was ruinous to Greek agriculture.
"Thousands of small- and middle-sized Greek farms producing fruit and vegetables and selling them primarily to the Russian market have been hit hard now as their unsold products are now rotting at warehouses,” the letter said.
The MEPs are representing the Communist Party of Greece and blame the EU leaders and their own government for supporting what they called “an imperialist intervention by the US, the EU and NATO” in Ukraine at the expense of good relations with Russia.
Greek farmers stand to lose an estimated 200 million euro in direct damages due to Russia’s move, with more long-term consequences expected even if year-long ban is not renewed on expiry. The producers may find it very hard to win back the market share they had before the ban as non-affected countries would certainly weight in.
Similar sentiments came Sunday from Heinz-Christian Strache, Chairman of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria, which has 20 percent of seats in the lower chamber of the national parliament and showed similarly strong results in this year’s European parliamentary election.
“In just a few days after the [Russian] sanctions came into force they hurt out agriculture. The EU is thinking on how to mitigate it. Instead of putting Russia on its knees, they drag our farmers to ruin with their senseless sanctions policy,” Strache said ac sited by Austria Presse Agentur.
He also lashed out at Kiev for considering a ban on the transit of Russian gas into Europe to hurt Russia, calling such statements “an affront to their own allies” and “a mockery of the EU,” which will have to save Ukraine from bankruptcy. He called on the Austrian government to clearly state their policy on the situation.
Gregor Gysi, a German parliament member from the Left Party, criticized on Sunday the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel for supporting the sanctions policy, which he called “childish.”
“[US President Barack] Obama talks about economic sanctions all the time, but the response hits us, not the US,” the politician said in an interview with ARD television.