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ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: ISIS attacks in Syria and Iraq not slowing for virus

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:08 am

Britain conducts
airstrikes against ISIS


The British government on Saturday announced its first counter-Islamic State (ISIS) airstrikes in seven months as part of the continued global coalition campaign against the extremist group

In a "successful operation" on April 10, a pair of British Royal Air Force Typhoon jets struck ISIS militants in Tuz Khurmatu, south of Kirkuk, "removing several Daesh fighters from the battlefield and further degrading the terrorist movement.”

"The pair of Typhoons, assisted by an RAF Reaper aircraft, identified Daesh terrorists occupying a group of fortified buildings in an isolated location west of Tuz Khurma[tu], known to be inhabited by active terrorist commanders and fighters," read an update published on an government page dedicated to air strikes against the group.

"The aircraft conducted a thorough check of the area for non-combatants, before using a combination of precision guided bombs to destroy the buildings," the statement read.

"The surveillance aircraft continued to scan the area, confirming that all weapons had struck their targets and there was no collateral damage," it added.

The last airstrike to be conducted by British forces was in September, when "a pair of Typhoons responded to reports that a small group of Daesh extremists had been engaged in fighting with Iraqi security forces."

Tuz Khurmatu is a disputed city claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad and is home to Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen. Iraqi forces have taken charge of the city’s security since October 2017, when Kurdish Peshmerga forces were forced out of the region following the independence referendum.

ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017 and in Syria in March 2019. However, insurgency has continued in both countries, exploiting security vacuums between rival forces.

Iraq’s disputed territories have seen a recent uptick in insurgent activities, including bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, extortion, and arson.

Members of the terror group killed five Iraqi security force members in Diyala and Kirkuk last week. A police officer was also killed in an April 12 attack on a checkpoint in Hawija, western Kirkuk.

Earlier in the month, two Peshmerga fighters were killed in Kolajo, Garmiyan, and two Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, Hashd al-Shaabi) fighters were killed in an ISIS strike in Tuz Khurmatu on April 9.

The recent wave of ISIS attacks also comes as the US and the international anti-ISIS coalition draw down and consolidate their missions in Iraq and Syria.

Britain has been a key partner of US-led coalition to defeat ISIS. Their troops have been in Iraq since 2014.

On March 19 the UK government withdrew some of its service personnel from Iraq back to the United Kingdom after the international coalition instituted a precautionary 60-day pause in training operations in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Key personnel have remained at their posts across the country, the UK Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The RAF has deployed more than 4,400 bombs and missiles in the five-year war with ISIS, according to the BBC.

A recent Pentagon Inspector General report, covering October 1 to December 31, said ISIS remnants are still active, capable of conducting small-scale attacks, and enjoy freedom of movement in Iraq’s isolated mountains and deserts.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/25042020
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Re: ISIS attacks in Syria and Iraq not slowing for virus

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Re: UK conducts first airstrikes against ISIS since Septembe

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 01, 2020 1:24 am

Iraqi military official to visit
Erbil and discuss ISIS threats


An Iraqi military official is slated to visit Erbil next week to discuss the increase in ISIS activities in the disputed territories with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs

“The deputy head of the Iraqi joint operation command, Lie. Gen. Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah will visit Erbil next week to discuss ways of eliminating the remaining Islamic State (ISIS) activities in the disputed areas with the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs in the Kurdistan Region,” Nasir Harki, a Kurdish MP in Iraqi parliament told Rudaw on Wednesday.

This comes after the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani told reporters at a press conference last week that Baghdad is not taking ISIS threats seriously.

“Today, Daesh is a serious threat to the Kurdistan Region and the whole of Iraq,” Barzani said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

“We as the Kurdistan region have tried several times to discuss this matter [ISIS threats] with Baghdad, but to be honest the Iraqi government is not taking the threat of ISIS very seriously,” Barzani added.

The main aim of Yarallah’s visit to the Kurdistan Region is to fill the “security vacuum” between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in the disputed territories, according to Harki.

Although the government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group have returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

ISIS seized vast swathes of Syria and northern Iraq in the summer of 2014, including Mosul and other large Sunni-majority cities.

Baghdad called on the international community to form a coalition to help fight ISIS in Iraq. At the height of its power between 2014 and 2016, ISIS controlled an area roughly the size of Great Britain, spread across both Iraq and Syria.

ISIS insurgent activities have increased in recent weeks, with militants killing five soldiers and wounding three more in three separate incidents in Diyala and Kirkuk provinces.

ISIS militants also killed an Iraqi federal police officer at a checkpoint in Hawija, western Kirkuk on April 12, according to defense officials.

Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari vowed last week to “ramp up” the government’s anti-ISIS efforts, and stop the group’s attacks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jabar Yawar, chief of staff at the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, warned earlier in April that the ISIS resurgence has been underway for some time.

“According to our data, the group increased its activities in 2018 and 2019, especially in Kurdistani areas outside of the Kurdistan Region administration, including Diyala, Hamrin, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Qarachogh. In Qarachogh, they even established bases,” Yawar told Rudaw.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/290420202
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun May 03, 2020 11:54 pm

ISIS conducts new
round of attacks in Iraq


Islamic State (ISIS) militants conducted multiple attacks on several locations in Iraq late Sunday, according to the Popular Mobilization Forces

The PMF, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic, claims that ISIS militants attacked Hashd al-Shaabi units in eastern Saladin province, as well as in the town of Jurf al-Nasr, southwest of Baghdad, separately late Sunday.

Jurf al-Nasr, formerly known as Jurf al-Sakhir, is a town in the province of Babil, sixty kilometers southwest of Baghdad.

“ISIS militants were attempting to enter Babil province through Jurf al-Nasr. However, their attack was foiled by the Hashd al-Shaabi units,” tweeted the PMF, a predominantly Shiite paramilitary network, late Sunday.

In another tweet, Hashd al-Shaabi claimed that their units “repelled” an attack by ISIS militants in eastern Saladin province late Sunday.

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group have returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

ISIS insurgent activities have increased in recent weeks, with militants killing three federal police officers and wounding two others in an attack on Zaghniya police station in Diyala province on late Saturday.

ISIS militants also carried out multiple attacks against Iraqi security forces early Saturday in Saladin province, killing ten members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi. It was ISIS’s biggest attack in Iraq since its territorial defeat.

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari vowed last week to “ramp up” anti-ISIS efforts.

Despite Iraq’s coronavirus lockdown measures and the US-led coalition’s withdrawal from several bases across Iraq, the ISF has stepped up its operations against ISIS remnants active in the country’s remote deserts and mountains.

Between January 1 and April 15, the ISF carried out 1,060 operations and killed 135 ISIS targets, defense ministry spokesperson Yehia Rasool said on April 21.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/030520201
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 05, 2020 9:49 pm

Iraqi military launches new operation

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched a new operation in Saladin province on Tuesday to track remnants of the Islamic State group (ISIS) following a spate of deadly attacks

The group has taken advantage of recent instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the political crisis in Baghdad to mount a campaign of attacks on Iraqi personnel, Kurdish Peshmerga, and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militiamen.

The ISF has mounted several mop-up operations in recent months, combing rural areas of Saladin, Diyala, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Anbar looking for ISIS hideouts, arms caches, and bomb factories.

Tuesday’s operation follows an especially bloody spate of assaults, including a brazen suicide attack on the Iraqi directorate for counter-terrorism and intelligence in Kirkuk on April 28 and the slaughter of 10 PMF militiamen in coordinated attacks in Saladin on May 2.

“Saladin Operations Command and Brigades of Hashd al-Shaabi launched a military operation from four different fronts in Mukashafah district and areas located west of the Tigris River to search for Daesh remnants,” defense ministry spokesperson Yehia Rasool tweeted Tuesday, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Four PMF brigades are taking part in the operation, according to Iraqi Security Media Cell.

In an earlier tweet, Rasool said the ISF killed three ISIS militants in Kirkuk’s Gaida region. Three members of the Sunni tribal militia Hashd al-Ashairi and one federal policeman were killed by an improvised explosive device and gunfire in Rashad. He did not say when the attacks took place.

ISIS claimed responsibility for several of recent attacks on messaging app Telegram, including the destruction of thermal cameras installed in these areas to track their nighttime movements.

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group have returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

Between January 1 and April 15, the ISF carried out 1,060 operations and killed 135 ISIS targets, Rasool said on April 21. The flurry of military activity comes as the ISF increasingly takes the lead in anti-ISIS operations and the US-led coalition steps back.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/05052020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 08, 2020 10:36 pm

New cycle of ISIS crop arson

Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq have once again begun claiming responsibility for the arson of agricultural land as another hot and dry summer season approaches

The group's militants torched crop fields in al-Bou Khiyal, a village in al-Athim area of Diyala province, according to its weekly al-Nabaa newspaper published on messaging app Telegram on Thursday.

Incidences of crop arson across Iraq have been reported by local media outlets in the past week. State media reported the burning of crops in Najaf province on Tuesday, but said it was the result of an electrical fault.

Iraq's government is stepping up plans to protect the country's agricultural land as summer begins, Muhammed Amin Faris, a member of parliament's Agricultural and Water Resources committee told Rudaw on Tuesday.

“This is something that happens every year during summer,” Faris said. “The agricultural and water resources committee in Iraqi parliament has already sent a letter to the ministries of interior and defense, as well as to the provinces, urging them to protect the agricultural fields and crops from burning,”

Responsibility for the defense of vulnerable territory ultimately lies with Baghdad, Faris added.

“The defense and interior ministries are responsible for protecting agricultural land in Iraq from ISIS militants, who are behind the burning of fields.”

It is feared that recent incidences of arson could mark the replication of last year's attacks that saw hundreds of thousands of donums of agricultural land catch fire across Iraq over the summer.

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group have since returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations. The group's activity is focused on territories the group once controlled and are now disputed by the governments of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

In its most deadly attack since its territorial defeat, the group carried out a five-pronged offensive on Iraqi security forces that killed ten members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Saladin on Saturday.

On the same day, militants killed three federal police officers and wounded two others in an attack on Zaghniya police station, Diyala province.

The attacks were just two of 64 carried out in Iraq between April 30 and May 6 for which the group claimed responsibility via al-Nabaa on Thursday. More than half were conducted in the province of Diyala alone.

In mid-April, then-Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari vowed the government would “ramp up” anti-ISIS efforts to prevent the group from capitalizing on Baghdad's prioritization of its efforts on the coronavirus crisis.

Parliament approved the appointment of new prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and his cabinet on Wednesday night, and the premier placed tackling ISIS high on his list of priorities.

More military equipment and weapons are to provided to security forces "in order to face the increased ISIS activities in liberated provinces [once under the group's territorial control], read Kadhimi's agenda published Wednesday.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/070520202
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun May 10, 2020 11:58 pm

Can Iraq and Kurdistan
forge alliance against ISIS?


Amid political and economic uncertainty in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, the Islamic State group (ISIS) recently stepped up its attacks in the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad

Can the Iraqi armed forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga cast aside their differences and cooperate against a common adversary. Analysts, however, are sceptical they can work together and mount an effective campaign.

On April 27, suspected ISIS gunmen attacked the office of the Iraqi directorate for counter-terrorism and intelligence in Kirkuk, engaging in a firefight with security forces before detonating suicide vests. This was the fourth attack in Kirkuk in less than a month.

Earlier in April, ISIS militants killed two Peshmerga fighters in the Garmiyan region.

On May 2, ISIS attacked Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), in Saladin province, killing at least ten.

Five days later, Iraq launched a fresh military campaign against ISIS in Diyala and Kirkuk.

In light of this recent uptick in ISIS violence, Iraqi officials are once again discussing joint security coordination with the Peshmerga against the militants.

The present security gaps between Iraqi and Kurdish lines were brought about after Iraq militarily seized Kirkuk from the Peshmerga in October 2017. For a fortnight, both sides engaged in skirmishes along the Iraq-Kurdistan Region frontiers, which ended in a ceasefire by the month’s end. ISIS was able to capitalize on the subsequent security gaps that have remained since.

“Many of the disputed areas of Iraq, especially in Diyala, are being exploited by the Islamic State mainly because there are large sections of no man’s land in between the federal and regional government’s forces,” Joel Wing, author of the Musings on Iraq blog, told Rudaw English.

According to Jabar Yawar, the chief of staff of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, there is 1,000 km of territory stretching from Khanaqin to Rabia in which ISIS has been able to operate. From these areas the group has mounted attacks, terrorized locals, and imposed taxes to fund its activities. ISIS has also taken shelter in caves around the Qarachogh Mountains of Makhmour (60 km southwest of Erbil), where it killed two US soldiers assisting Iraqi forces in an operation there in March.

Cooperation between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga could, in theory, apply more pressure on the militants and deny them sanctuary in these areas. However, all of this is much easier said than done.

“There have been mild talks between Baghdad and Erbil to work out some kind of cooperation between the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga to close this gap,” Wing said.

“Even if they agree to joint operations, there are two main hindrances to this being successful.”

The first hindrance Wing identified is the fact that many of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil are presently controlled by Hashd al-Shaabi brigades who are only “nominally under the control of Baghdad.”

Some of these Hashd units have bad relations with the Kurds, meaning that if the government were “to order them to work with the Peshmerga, there’s no telling how cooperative they would actually be.”

The second hindrance is that neither the Iraqi forces nor the Peshmerga have demonstrated they are capable of mounting effective counterinsurgency campaigns.

“Most of the times they [the Iraqi forces] will mount a large operation that can be detected beforehand, sweep through an area, find some weapons caches and very few insurgents because most have left, declare a success, and then leave while the militants infiltrate back in,” he said.

While close cooperation between the Iraqis and Peshmerga might reduce the freedom of movement ISIS presently enjoys “the bigger picture is that their operations in the disputed areas will likely continue largely as they have been.”

Alex Mello, a security analyst at energy consultancy Horizon Client Access, who follows the security situation in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, also doubts we’ll see close cooperation between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga in the near future.

“The withdrawal of the US advisory cells from K1 [base in Kirkuk], Makhmour, and the NiOC [Nineveh Operations Command] headquarters that were coordinating between federal and Kurdish security forces in those areas is likely going to reduce cooperation in the short to medium term,” Mello told Rudaw English.

“Without the US pushing things forward I think there’s very little political will in either Baghdad or Erbil to improve security cooperation right now,” he said.

On the political front, any potential cooperation in the future will depend on the type of tone that Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sets going forward.

Mello noted that Iraq’s last prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, had good ties with Erbil until the recent spat over oil revenues. However, these cordial relations did not have “a big impact at the ground level in places like Kirkuk and Khanaquin where coordination between the Kurdish and federal security forces was still poor to nonexistent.”

“To a large extent this [prospect of cooperation] also depends on who’s the Iraqi operations command head in the province, the relationship between local divisional and brigade commanders with the guys on the Kurdish side, whether the local Iraqi unit is the army, Federal Police, or PMF,” he said.

“If the security situation in Kirkuk or northern Diyala gets really bad, there’ll be more pressure on Baghdad and Erbil to cooperate,” he added.

Even if Iraq and the Peshmerga do successfully cooperate and mount joint offensives, with US-led coalition air support, it’s still unclear if they could decisively rout ISIS.

Mello noted that there have already been several US-coordinated operations involving both Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga along the border zone in places like the Qarachogh Mountains in Makhmour.

“The issue is with the gap between the Kurdish control line and the federal Iraqi FLOT [forward line of own troops],” he said. “Covering that gap is going to require things like working the boundaries of unit AOs [Area of Operations], manning of joint checkpoints, joint patrols, and so forth, not just temporary clearance sweeps or airstrikes in those areas.”

Peshmerga cooperation with Iraq and increased Peshmerga deployment in the disputed areas could prove advantageous. Mello pointed out that the Peshmerga “in general just tend to be tougher and more professional” than their Iraqi counterparts.

“So, for example, they’re more willing to go out on patrols if the weather’s bad instead of just sitting in their little outposts,” he said.

“In a lot of places along the frontline, they’ll know the local terrain better than the Iraqi unit, which might be Federal Police brigade from southern Iraq or an army battalion moved up from Baghdad,” he added.

Cooperation and the building of trust between the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga in the disputed territories could potentially pave the way for the resolution of other contentious issues between Baghdad and Erbil, such as the federal budget and oil-sharing arrangements.

“Potentially you could see US-driven, bottom-up process where improved coordination between federal and Kurdish security forces in places like Kirkuk creates the climate for broader settlement between Baghdad and Erbil,” Mello said.

However, he believes this would be highly unlikely without the US overseeing and pushing such a process forward. Washington is unlikely to do so anytime soon “since, even with Kadhimi coming in, the US looks like it’s generally trying to step back from managing day to day security arrangements.”

“It’s more likely that a high-level political settlement between the KRG and Baghdad leads to improved coordination at the local level, though I think that’s not particularly likely either right now,” Mello added.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/analysis/10052020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 12, 2020 9:00 pm

Babies killed as gunmen
storm maternity ward


Two babies and 12 mothers and nurses were killed in a militant attack on a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday morning

Another 15 people, including a number of children, were injured in the attack by several gunmen, officials said.

Meanwhile, in the east, a bombing at a funeral killed at least 24 people.

In the wake of the attacks, President Ashraf Ghani said he was ordering the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban and other groups.

He accused the militants of ignoring repeated calls for a reduction in violence.

The Islamic State (ISIS) group said it was behind the attack on a police commander's funeral in Nangarhar, in the east of the country. It is still not clear who carried out the attack on the hospital, and the Taliban have denied any involvement.

A maternity ward in the hospital is run by the international medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and some of those working there are foreigners.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on the hospital "sheer evil" and an "unconscionable assault". In a statement he urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to co-operate to "bring the perpetrators to justice".

What happened at the hospital?

The attack began at about 10:00 (05:30 GMT), and locals described hearing two blasts then gunfire. One doctor who fled during the assault told the BBC about 140 people were in the hospital when the gunmen attacked.

Another doctor told AFP news agency that "total panic" took hold as the assault unfolded.

Ramazan Ali, a vendor who saw the attack begin, told Reuters news agency: "The attackers were shooting at anyone in this hospital without any reason... It's a government hospital, and a lot of people bring in their women and children for treatment."

Afghan special forces rescued 100 women and children, including three foreigners, an official told the BBC. The attackers, who reportedly had gained access dressed as police officers, were all killed by security personnel after a battle lasting hours.

Many foreign staff live in a guesthouse behind the Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital and a doctor who fled the building told the BBC he saw an explosion there too.

In the past, similar attacks in this mostly Shia area of the capital have been attributed to IS. The group's leader in South Asia and the Far East was arrested in Kabul on Tuesday, with two other high profile members, Afghan intelligence said.

In 2017, ISIS gunmen disguised as medical staff attacked Kabul's main military hospital, prompting widespread shock and anger and raising questions about security. The authorities later confirmed about 50 people had been killed.

But the Taliban also attack hospitals. Last September, 20 people died after a truck packed with explosives was detonated by militants from the group outside a hospital in southern Zabul province.

On TV, Mr Ghani said: "In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I'm ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one and to resume their operations against the enemies."

Fragile hope shaken
Analysis by Lyse Doucet

Even in a country which has seen the worst of the worst, this savage attack on newborn babies and their mothers has shocked, and shaken fragile hope this would be the year Afghanistan would finally start to turn towards peace.

Images of special forces in bulky body armour, carrying infants to safety, will remain long in the memory of those who have repeatedly called for a ceasefire - especially when Afghans are battling another deadly enemy in Covid-19.

Despite Taliban denials that this ghastly attack was their work, President Ghani's denunciation reflects the anger and frustration of many. Some worry that groups like Islamic State, trying to drive an even greater wedge between Taliban and the government, have also killed for now what were slow uncertain steps toward peace talks.

And for those who have never trusted the Taliban's commitment, this latest attack solidifies their resolve to keep fighting.

What happened at the funeral?

According to survivors, thousands of people had gathered for the local police commander's funeral, and the bomb detonated about half-way through. Ataullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor, said 68 people were injured.

A member of the provincial council was among the at least 24 killed.

Tuesday's attacks were widely condemned by countries around the world and human rights groups, with Amnesty International saying: "The unconscionable war crimes in Afghanistan today... must awaken the world to the horrors civilians continue to face."

On Twitter, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "I'm horrified by the appalling terrorist attacks in Afghanistan today - including on a maternity hospital. Targeting mothers, their newborns and medical staff is despicable."

Meanwhile, in northern Balkh province, at least 10 people were killed and many others injured in an air strike by US forces, reports said. Residents and the Taliban claimed the victims were all civilians, but the Afghan Defence Ministry said all those killed were militants.

What's going on with Afghan peace talks?

Since a February troop withdrawal agreement signed between the US and the Taliban, talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have broken down over a prisoner swap and violence has continued unabated.

The agreement was aimed at ending more than 18 years of war since US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power following the 9/11 attacks on the US, whose mastermind Osama Bin Laden had been given sanctuary by the hardline Islamist group.

Tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict. Many more have been injured or displaced from their homes.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-52631071
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 12, 2020 9:13 pm

ISIS kills two farmers in Khanaqin

Islamic State (ISIS) militants killed a Kurdish man and his nephew just outside the village of Merkhas in Khanaqin, Diyala province on Sunday night

The incident took place around 9pm, when four ISIS militants attacked four Kurdish and two Arab farmers harvesting their crops.

The militants, who wore military fatigues, left booby traps behind them.

Two of the Kurds managed to escape, but the other two were captured and shot dead. The militants allowed the two Arabs, who were operating a combine harvester, to leave the area, according to villagers

After killing the two Kurdish farmers, they engaged in a three-hour firefight with villagers before torching large areas of cropland around the village.

According to information from Peshmerga in the region, there were four militants in the latest attack.

The families of the victims have criticized Iraqi security forces, accusing them of failing to protect them from ISIS, as well as refusing to allow them to carry weapons to defend themselves.

“We called the [Iraqi] armed forces for help, but they refused to reach out to us on grounds they did not have orders [from their superiors],” said Hemin Shkur, a villager from Merkhas.

"After one hour, they came, but we could not move to the scene as they [the ISIS militants] had torched all these areas down here. Until 12am, all the youth among us stood guard for the village.”

Mekhas villagers are largely Kurdish Kakaiys, and consist of 400 families.

In the last three years, ISIS has launched three attacks on the village killing seven among them.

“They [ISIS] are a serious threat who have reorganized. They have militants including snipers and those trained to use other weapons,” Diler Shukir, a Peshmerga commander in Garmiyan, told Rudaw.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/12052020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 12, 2020 11:18 pm

Hawija tribes launch campaign against ISIS

Hundreds of Hawija tribesmen have recently joined the Iraqi army and largely-Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi to launch a widespread campaign aimed at discovering Islamic State (ISIS) remnants harassing locals in the area

Coming out in such large numbers while armed is largely a show of military prowess and an act of showing their support for Iraq's armed forces in their ongoing battle against ISIS.

This is the second campaign against ISIS in Hawija over the last week, after 28 tribal chiefs in Kirkuk province called on locals to take up arms to fight the group.

Although territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017, ISIS remnants are in control of a number of locations on Mount Hamrin and Saddam Hussein's palaces on Mount Makhul in Kirkuk province.

In just one week, ISIS has launched three attacks against Iraqi forces, killing six and wounding eight others in Hawija and its surrounding areas.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/120520201
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed May 13, 2020 12:37 pm

Evil maternity ward
attack toll rises to 24


Special forces battled three gunmen for hours and brought a number of babies to safety

The number of people who were killed in a militant attack on a maternity ward in the Afghan capital has risen to 24.

Mothers, newborn babies and nurses were among the victims. At least another 16 people were injured, the health ministry said.

Tuesday's attack in Kabul prompted widespread condemnation. No group has said it carried it out. A bombing at a funeral in the east killed at least 32.

President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban and other groups.

He accused the militants of ignoring repeated calls for a reduction in violence.

The Islamic State (ISIS) group said it was behind the attack on a police commander's funeral in Nangarhar, in the east of the country. It is still not clear who carried out the attack at the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul, and the Taliban have denied any involvement.

Relatives of about 15 babies whose mothers were killed have gathered awaiting news of what will happen to the infants, the New York Times reported.

In all, about 100 people were killed in violence around Afghanistan on Tuesday, the paper said. The attacks underline the fragility of peace efforts, and have dimmed hopes for an end to decades of war.

What happened at the hospital?

The Kabul attack began at about 10:00 (05:30 GMT) on Tuesday, and locals described hearing two blasts then gunfire. One doctor who fled during the assault told the BBC that about 140 people were in the hospital when the gunmen attacked.

A maternity ward in the hospital is run by the international medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and some of those working there are foreigners.

Another doctor told AFP news agency that "total panic" took hold as the assault unfolded.

Ramazan Ali, a vendor who saw the attack begin, told Reuters news agency: "The attackers were shooting at anyone in this hospital without any reason."

Afghan special forces rescued 100 women and children, including three foreigners, an official told the BBC. The three attackers, who reportedly had gained access dressed as police officers, were all killed by security personnel after a battle lasting hours.

In the past, similar attacks in this mostly Shia area of the capital have been attributed to ISIS.

The group's leader in South Asia and the Far East was arrested in Kabul on Monday, with two other high profile members, Afghan intelligence said.

In 2017, ISIS gunmen disguised as medical staff attacked Kabul's main military hospital, prompting widespread shock and anger and raising questions about security. The authorities later confirmed about 50 people had been killed.

But the Taliban also attack hospitals. Last September, 20 people died after a truck packed with explosives was detonated by militants from the group outside a hospital in southern Zabul province.

On TV, Mr Ghani said: "In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I'm ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one and to resume their operations against the enemies."

Fragile hope shaken
Analysis box by Lyse Doucet

Even in a country which has seen the worst of the worst, this savage attack on newborn babies and their mothers has shocked, and shaken fragile hope this would be the year Afghanistan would finally start to turn towards peace.

Despite Taliban denials that this ghastly attack was their work, President Ghani's denunciation reflects the anger and frustration of many. Some worry that groups like Islamic State, trying to drive an even greater wedge between Taliban and the government, have also killed for now what were slow uncertain steps toward peace talks.

And for those who have never trusted the Taliban's commitment, this latest attack solidifies their resolve to keep fighting.

What was the reaction?

Tuesday's attacks were widely condemned by countries around the world and human rights groups, with Amnesty International saying: "The unconscionable war crimes in Afghanistan today... must awaken the world to the horrors civilians continue to face."

    "Who attacks newborn babies and new mothers? Who does this?" tweeted Debra Lyons, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "Any attack on innocents is unforgiveable, but to attack infants and women in labour... is an act of sheer evil
"Terrorists who attack mourners lining up for prayer at a funeral are only seeking to tear apart the bonds that hold families and communities together, but they will never succeed."

According to survivors, thousands of people had gathered for the funeral in Nangarhar, and the bomb detonated about half-way through. Casualty figures have been rising since first reports of the bombing. Officials now say 133 people were injured.

Meanwhile, in northern Balkh province, at least 10 people were killed and many others injured in an air strike by US forces, reports said. Residents and the Taliban claimed the victims were all civilians, but the Afghan Defence Ministry said all those killed were militants.

What's going on with Afghan peace talks?

Since a February troop withdrawal agreement signed between the US and the Taliban, talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have broken down over a prisoner swap and violence has continued unabated.

The agreement was aimed at ending more than 18 years of war since US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power following the 9/11 attacks on the US, whose mastermind Osama Bin Laden had been given sanctuary by the hardline Islamist group.

      Tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict. Many more have been injured or displaced from their homes
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-52642503
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed May 13, 2020 1:00 pm

RAF air strike on Iraq

RAF jets have bombed a cave network being used as a base by an Islamic State cell in northern Iraq

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that “two Typhoon jets used Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to strike all six of the caves” in the joint UK-US operation last week, with ten terrorists reported to have been killed.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The strikes continue because the Daesh threat is relentless and so will we be.”

Intelligence sources had identified the caves and tunnel complex in the Hamrin mountains as an ISIS base, reports The Times.

A “thorough check” of the surrounding area for civilians was carried out before the night-time attack last Tuesday, according to a statement on the MoD website.

Following the operation, “surveillance confirmed all the weapons struck their targets successfully, removing more Daesh fighters from the battlefield and further downgrading the terrorist movement”, the department said.

The Typhoons flew out of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and were supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker, reports defence news site DefPost.

The attack follows an RAF air strike on 10 April on Iris terrorists holed up in fortified buildings at an isolated site in northern Iraq, adds the Daily Mail.

The RAF began strikes against ISIS in 2014 as part of “a wider strategy to promote peace and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa”, says the air force’s official website.

https://www.theweek.co.uk/106930/raf-ai ... raqi-caves
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 15, 2020 10:16 pm

ISIS vows to break
supporters out of jails


Islamic State (ISIS) militants will launch a campaign to break their supporters out of jails across Iraq, the jihadist group said in a new propaganda film on Friday

In the 49-minute video titled ‘Strike the Necks’ – published on messaging app Telegram – a masked militant holding an assault rifle says ISIS will scale up its attacks on Iraqi police and security forces.

The militant also says the group will stage mass prison breaks to release ISIS supporters held in Iraq’s jails. A mass prison break could quickly swell the group’s ranks and undo years of counter-terror work.

“We came to behead you and burn your houses, and I want to let our brothers and sisters in the prisons of infidels know that we have not forgotten you and we ask you to be patient, as we will come for you, because it is an obligation to set you free from the infidels,” the ISIS militant says.

In August 2019, ISIS militants were among 15 prisoners who broke out of Rusafa prison in Baghdad.

In December 2018, 21 prisoners, including ISIS members, reportedly escaped from a detention facility in Sulaimani.

In May 2018, seven inmates died and several more were wounded in a fire following an attempted prison break in Duhok.

The Iraqi government has repeatedly refused to reveal the exact number of ISIS members and terror offenders held in its prisons, what proportion are women and minors, or the nature of the charges against them.

    In a March 22 analysis, the Associated Press estimated at least 19,000 ISIS members, affiliates, a terror offenders are currently incarcerated in Iraq

    An earlier Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigation published in December 2017 put the figure at 20,000
Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group have since returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

Having lost all of its urban strongholds, the group is now most active in Iraq’s remote deserts and mountains and in the disputed territories contested by the federal government and the autonomous Kurdish region, where a wide security vacuum has opened up.

ISIS has been held responsible for a spate of attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and units of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi.

Late on Friday, the PMF said four of its fighters were killed and six injured in an ISIS attack in northern Diyala.

In a statement on Thursday evening, the PMF said its units had come under attack in Khanaqin, Jurf al-Nasr (formally known as Jurf al-Sakhir) and on the Syrian-Iraqi border in the Akashat area of western Anbar.

On Friday the Iraqi defense ministry said two soldiers were killed and four wounded when their convoy hit an IED in northern Baghdad province. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the blast.

These follow a spate of attacks in early May, the deadliest of which saw ten PMF fighters killed in a five-pronged assault in Saladin on May 2.

On the same day, militants killed three federal police officers and wounded two others in an attack on Zaghniya police station in Diyala province.

The video published by ISIS on Friday purportedly shows a number of attacks on security forces and on the homes of civilians accused of working with Iraqi authorities.

During the film, Abu Hamza al-Quraishi, the ISIS spokesman, says more attacks should be expected in the coming weeks.

“The government of infidels should realize that the will of our jihadists is very high, and what is coming is more severe than what has gone before,” Quraishi said.

“We are at the doors of the big cities, we are at the doors of your houses, so do not sleep and keep your necks covered,” he added – a threat alluding to beheadings.

In a post on Thursday, ISIS claimed its militants had carried out 42 attacks in Iraq between May 7 and 13 alone – almost half of them in Diyala.

The latest Pentagon Inspector General report, covering January 1 to March 31, said ISIS remnants are “regrouping and reforming” and continue to pose a threat in both Iraq and Syria.

“US CENTCOM in February described ISIS as ‘regrouping and reforming’ in the Makhmour Mountains in northern Iraq, while the 2021 DoD budget justification for overseas contingency operations said that ISIS is expected to seek to re-establish governance in northern and western areas of Iraq,” the Lead Inspector General’s report said.

According to the Pentagon report, Diyala has seen the highest frequency of attacks over the first quarter of the year – 80 of the 250 total. The Diyala towns of Baqubah and Khanaqin suffered the deadliest attacks.

Other attacks were reported in the provinces of Anbar, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Saladin.

Iraq’s former defense minister Najah al-Shammari said in April the government would “ramp up” anti-ISIS efforts to prevent the group capitalizing on the coronavirus crisis. Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the new prime minister, has made combatting ISIS a cornerstone of his government’s agenda.

In recent days, ISIS militants have resumed an earlier tactic of torching crop fields. The group claimed responsibility for arson attacks in Diyala last week and is thought to be behind a rash of fires in Makhmour on Tuesday.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/150520202
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 15, 2020 10:30 pm

ISIS again burns crops

Kazim Sofi, a farmer from Makhmour, had been due to harvest his crops in just a few days – a bumper harvest after good winter rainfall. But in this disputed territory of northern Iraq where Islamic State (ISIS) militants roam freely, his livelihood is under constant threat

On Tuesday morning, as Sofi was tending to his land, the familiar smell of smoke began to drift across the fields.

“If the fire had not been brought under control, it would now all be burned,” Sofi told Rudaw on Thursday, examining a large area of cropland which has been reduced to ashes.

Luckily, the flames were doused before they could swallow the entire harvest, but Sofi estimates the 50 acres lost to the blaze could have yielded 25 million dinars ($21,000).

“A total of [87.5 acres of] land belonging to us and our neighbors were torched by Daesh,” Sofi said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

"Now the farmers’ biggest problem is how to control fires because the Iraqi army does not allow firefighting vehicles to reach us to put out blazes because they consider our place a war-zone,” he added.

This year, around 2,000 local farmers have planted 87,500 acres of land with wheat and 6,250 acres with barley around Makhmour.

Ahmed Jamil, another local farmer, says agricultural workers are bearing the brunt of the rivalry between the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi army, who refuse to coordinate on security to eliminate the ISIS threat.

“In the past there were just 500 Peshmerga in Makhmour and it was very safe,” Jamil said. “But now it is not safe even with 5,000 Iraqi army soldiers.”

ISIS targeted cropland across northern Iraq in early 2019, disrupting the local economy, placing a strain on food security, and intimidating the population.

Komar Wali has planted 10,000 acres of wheat. Although the crop is not quite ready, he will begin the harvest in 10 days. He doesn’t want to risk his months of hard labor turning to ash.

“I just cannot harvest my crop now because it has not completely ripened,” Wali said. “I have to harvest it in 10 days or it will be burned.”

Makhmour’s farmers are tired of living in constant fear and want Baghdad to compensate them for lost income.

“There is not yet a decision on whether to compensate farmers,” Jawdat Abdulrahman, spokesperson for the Iraqi Civil Defense, told Rudaw. “But we call upon farmers to strictly follow our instructions, which say they must have fire extinguishers.”

Abdulrahman also pointed out that not every fire is started by militants. “Some of the factors are natural and others are related to terror in places that are not safe,” he said.

In 2019, 325 acres of cropland were burned by ISIS in Makhmour, Abdulrahman said.

In its weekly al-Nabaa newspaper, published on messaging app Telegram last week, ISIS claimed responsibility for a recent spate of arson attacks in Diyala province.

Several similar incidents have been reported by local media outlets in the past week. State media reported the burning of crops in Najaf on Tuesday, but said it was the result of an electrical fault.

The Iraqi government is stepping up plans to protect the country’s agricultural land as summer approaches, Muhammed Amin Faris, a member of the parliament’s Agricultural and Water Resources committee, told Rudaw on Tuesday.

“This is something that happens every year during summer,” Faris said.

“The Agricultural and Water Resources Committee in the Iraqi parliament has already sent a letter to the ministries of interior and defense, as well as to the provinces, urging them to protect the agricultural fields and crops from burning,” he added.

ISIS militants seized Makhmour and surrounding villages in 2014 before they were quickly routed in a combined operation led by the Peshmerga, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerillas, and Coalition forces.

Although the jihadist group was declared defeated in Iraq in December 2017, its remnants have retreated into Iraq’s deserts and mountains, where they have resumed earlier hit-and-run tactics of kidnap, ambush, bombing, and execution, aided by highly sophisticated sleeper cells in the cities and hinterland.

In the aftermath of the Kurdistan independence referendum of September 2017, Iraqi forces launched an offensive against Peshmerga forces in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas considered disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

In Makhmour, a combined force of Iraqi Army troops and Hashd al-Shaabi attacked the Peshmerga and PKK, forcing them out of the town and into the mountains.

The Peshmerga’s carefully cultivated human intelligence network in Makhmour collapsed. The predominantly Shiite forces which took their place failed to imitate its success.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/140520203
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed May 20, 2020 1:18 am

Obviously ISIS was
never defeated


Iraq is in 'close coordination' with multiple Syrian authorities to defeat ISIS

Baghdad continues to work with both the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and government in Damascus to exchange information and intelligence about remaining Islamic State (ISIS) members in the adjacent countries.

Maj. Gen. Tahsin Khafaji, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operation Command, told Rudaw on Tuesday that the Iraqi government is in close coordination with neighboring Syria in “two ways.”

“First with the SDF through the US-led coalition, to exchange intelligence and information regarding the ISIS prisoners in SDF prisons,” Khafaji said. “Second with Damascus, as Iraq is part of the operation room that the Syrian Defense ministry established to share intelligence and information against ISIS.”

The “operation room” coalition is composed of four countries, namely Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria.

The coalition between the four countries was established in September 2015, to cooperate in gathering information useful in the fight against ISIS.

At the height of its power between 2014 and 2016, ISIS controlled an area roughly the size of Great Britain, spread across Iraq and Syria. The group was declared defeated in Iraq in December 2017. However, a spate of attacks, kidnappings, and ambushes suggest an insurgency is already underway.

According to an intelligence assessment by the Center for Global Policy, ISIS has 3,500 to 4,000 active and 8,000 inactive militants in Iraq.

ISIS has been held responsible for a spate of attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and units of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi.

Late on Friday, the PMF said four of its fighters were killed and six injured in an ISIS attack in northern Diyala.

In a statement on Thursday evening, the PMF said its units had come under attack in Khanaqin, Jurf al-Nasr (formally known as Jurf al-Sakhar) and on the Syrian-Iraqi border in the Akashat area of western Anbar.

On Friday the Iraqi defense ministry said two soldiers were killed and four wounded when their convoy hit an IED in northern Baghdad province. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the blast.

These follow a spate of attacks in early May, the deadliest of which saw ten PMF fighters killed in a five-pronged assault in Saladin on May 2.

On the same day, militants killed three federal police officers and wounded two others in an attack on Zaghniya police station in Diyala province.

The disputed territories between the federal government and KRG have been a safe haven for ISIS remnants to move around freely.

Jabar Yawar, chief of staff at the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, warned earlier in April that the ISIS resurgence has been underway for some time.

“According to our data, the group increased its activities in 2018 and 2019, especially in Kurdistani areas outside of the Kurdistan Region administration, including Diyala, Hamrin, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Qarachogh. In Qarachogh, they even established bases,” Yawar told Rudaw.

Regarding military coordination between KRG and Baghdad, Khafaji added that “Baghdad is also in close coordination with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to conduct military operations and protect the Iraqi-Syrian border from ISIS militants who sneak into Iraq through Syria.”

ISIS claimed in a new video Thursday that its militants had carried out 42 attacks in Iraq between May 7 and 13 alone – almost half of them in Diyala.

The latest Pentagon Inspector General report, covering January 1 to March 31, said ISIS remnants are “regrouping and reforming” and seeking to “re-establish governance in northern and western areas of Iraq.”

According to the Pentagon report, Diyala has seen the highest frequency of attacks over the first quarter of the year – 80 of the 250 total. The Diyala towns of Baqubah and Khanaqin suffered the deadliest attacks.

Other attacks were reported in the provinces of Anbar, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Saladin.

Iraq’s former defense minister Najah al-Shammari said in April the government would “ramp up” anti-ISIS efforts to prevent the group capitalizing on the coronavirus crisis. Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the new prime minister, has made combating ISIS a cornerstone of his government’s agenda.

In an effort to purge the group from isolated regions of Anbar, Nineveh, and Saladin, the Iraqi army on Sunday launched an operation entitled Lions of al-Jazeera.

The operation, spread over several days, is being conducted by Iraqi army units, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, and Sunni tribal fighters known as Hashd al-Ahsairi. They are accompanied by Iraqi warplanes.

In recent days, ISIS militants have also resumed an previously used tactic of torching crop fields. The group has claimed responsibility for recent arson attacks in Diyala and Mosul provinces.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/190520202
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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu May 21, 2020 12:31 pm

ISIS new leader caught in Iraq!?!

Iraqi security forces reportedly caught a person alleged to be the new chief of ISIS

This claim was made by Sky News Arabia. The information was later confirmed by the Iraqi news agency and state television. However, the authorities have yet to make a statement.

Last January, the responsible for Iraqi intelligence services confirmed to The Guardian newspaper that the new chief of the ISIS was Abdul Nasir Qardash. The same officials stated that the real name of the gang leader was Emir Mohammed Abdulrahman al Mewla al Selbi.

Before the The Guardian newspaper, ANF had revealed that the new ISIS leader was likely to be Qardash. Later, this information was confirmed by western media and intelligence services.

Qardash is said to be one of the founders of ISIS, as well as the person who organized the genocidal attacks against Shengal.

Before the killing of Abu Bakr al Bagdadi, Qardash was ranked among the potential candidates to replace him. The American army had placed $ 5 million in reward for Qardash.

Al Bagdadi was killed by the US military 5 Km inside Syria on the border with Turkey on 27 October 2019.
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