Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rockets Fired Into Israel From Sinai, Iraq On Brink Of Civil War

Two rockets fired into Israel from Sinai, no injuries

Two rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday night, likely by an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, the army said.
There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.
The two rockets were aimed at the southern Eshkol region, an area that abuts both the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the army said.
A military spokesperson said one of them had been located in an open field near the communities of Magen and Ein Habasor, but that soldiers and police were still looking for the second.
Eyal Rozen, a former IDF colonel who lives in Ein Habasor, said on Twitter that one projectile “fell right next to my house. There was a tremendous ‘boom.'”

The IDF also did not immediately identify who launched the rockets, but it was likely a Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group.
The Sinai-based off-shoot has been waging a bloody war with Egyptian forces for years and has also occasionally directed its aggression toward Israel, launching rockets at nearby Jewish communities and in one case at the southern city of Eilat.
It was not immediately clear if Israel was specifically targeted or if this was a case of spillover fire from the intense fighting over the border between Islamic State terrorists and Egyptian troops.
On Sunday, members of the terrorist group carried out multiple attacks on six Egyptian checkpoints near the border, killing at least six soldiers and injuring dozens more.
Egyptian officials said the near-simultaneous attacks took place at and around the town of Sheikh Zweid, with dozens of militants using heavy machine guns and mortars. Apache helicopter gunships were called in to repel the attackers, said the officials.

Iraq is on the precipice of civil war, with tens of thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga forces preparing to face down the Iraqi Army and thousands of Iran-backed Shia militia advancing towards the northern Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk.

The Iraqi government, which controls the Iran-backed Shia militia known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), have given the Kurdish Peshmerga a Sunday 2 a.m. deadline to relinquish oil fields, an airport, and a military base under their control.

Karim said the Iraqi forces include two Iraqi army brigades, including its elite counterterrorism force known as the Golden Division, as well the Iranian-backed Badr militia, Hezbollah, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and four or five other groups controlled by Iran.
He said the Iraqi forces, including the Shia militias, are armed with U.S.-provided tanks, artillery, Humvees, armored carriers, and weapons. On the Peshmerga side, he said there are 12 to 14 Peshmerga brigades with about 2,000 forces each along the front line, which runs about 500 miles. Right now, the two sides are so close they can talk to each other, he said.

He said another 20,000 Sunni forces have pledged to fight with the Kurds.

The Kurdish Peshmerga are closely-allied with U.S. forces on the battlefield in both Iraq and Syria against ISIS, even fighting side-by-side during some missions. 

South Korea and the United States began joint Navy drills in the waters around the Korean peninsula on Monday (local time), amid high tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, Reuters reports.

About 40 Navy ships from both countries, including the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, are taking part in the week-long exercises on the east and west coasts of the peninsula, said a spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry.

North Korea has criticized the joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea, saying they are a "rehearsal for war".

Last week, the U.S. military flew two Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers over the Korean peninsula in a joint exercise with the South Korean and Japanese militaries.

The drill took place as President Donald Trump met with his national security team to discuss "a range of options" on North Korea in response to its increasing nuclear ambitions.
It came a day after Defense Secretary James Mattis urged military leaders "to be ready" with military options for Trump to deal with North Korea should diplomacy fail.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in recent weeks following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and two missile launches over Japan.

Just last week, North Korea's Foreign Minister, Ri Yong Ho, threatened the United Stateswith “a hail of fire” and said Trump has "lit the wick of war" with his country.

North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile which it believes can reach the west coast of the United States, according to a Russian lawmaker who returned from a visit to Pyongyang earlier this month.

South Korean intelligence officials and analysts have said that North Korea might time its next provocation to coincide with China's all-important Communist Party Congress which begins on Wednesday.

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