Sunday, October 16, 2016

US, UK Weighing New Sanctions On Russia, Iraqi PM Signals Start Of Operations To Drive ISIS From Mosul

US, UK say they're weighing new sanctions on Syria, Russia

With military options all but eliminated, the United States and Britain on Sunday said they were considering new sanctions to pressure the Syrian and Russian governments to halt an offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

While the close allies said diplomacy was their primary focus, the tone was tougher than Saturday’s message from US Secretary of State John Kerry after he launched a new diplomatic effort to resolve the 5½-year civil war.

But the threats brandished Sunday — from harsher economic penalties to international prosecution for alleged perpetrators of war crimes — weren’t new.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Where is the action?'” Kerry said. “But what is the action?”

“I haven’t seen a big appetite from governments in Europe to declare war,” he noted dryly after talks in London that included diplomats from France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union. All oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad’s long-term control over his country and all are angry over a year-old Russian military intervention that has contributed to thousands of deaths and harrowing scenes of destruction in Aleppo.

Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson emerged from the discussions declaring that all options are on the table to stop the bloodshed. But they expressed misgivings with a military approach.
Kerry said countries have an obligation not to “light a fire” under a conflict that could expand into a larger regional war or one that draws in superpowers against one another. Johnson described the use of armed force as a drastic step.
The two appeared more affirmative when it came to the possibility of “ratcheting up” economic pressure on Syria and Russia, as Johnson described it.
He decried the “terrible, medieval siege” of the city, even as he expressed doubt about the ability of Syria and Russia to drive the opposition from Aleppo. More than 10,000 fighters remained in the rebel-held eastern part of the city, Johnson said, as well as a quarter-million civilians whose lives are at risk.

Johnson called on the US and Europe to make Russia “feel the consequences” of their military campaign.

Kerry confirmed the US was studying additional sanctions, and he accused Russia of participating in “crimes against humanity on a daily basis.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of military operations to liberate the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants on Monday, launching the country on its toughest battle since American troops left nearly five years ago.

State TV aired a brief statement in the early hours Monday announcing the start of the widely anticipated military offensive to drive IS out of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Broadcasts showed the prime minister, dressed in the uniform of the elite counterterrorism forces, speaking while flanked by senior military officers.

“These forces that are liberating you today, they have one goal in Mosul which is to get rid of Daesh and to secure your dignity. They are there for your sake,” he told the city’s residents, using an alternate name for the militant group. “God willing, we shall win.”

The push to retake Mosul will be the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011 and, if successful, the strongest blow yet to the Islamic State. A statement on Al-Abadi’s website pledged the fight for the city marked a new phase that would lead to the liberation of all Iraqi territory from the militants this year.

Iraqi forces have been massing around the city in recent days. They include members of the elite special forces, who are expected to lead the charge into the city itself.

After seizing Mosul, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi visited the city to declare an Islamic caliphate that at one point covered nearly a third of Iraq and Syria.
But since late last year, the militants have suffered battlefield losses in Iraq and their power in the country has largely shrunk to Mosul and small towns in the country’s north and west. Mosul is about 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad.
The operation to retake Mosul is expected to be the most complex yet for Iraq’s military, which has been rebuilding from its humiliating 2014 defeat.


D. Pearson said...

Well Scott,
Looks like some pre election- fire bombing going on at the republican headquarters up your way.
Perhaps a precursor of something to come?????

Scott said...

Probably not - just the "tolerant" liberals in this area :)