Iraq

ISIS believed to have attacked US base in Iraq with chemical agent

ISIS fighters are believed to have attacked U.S. and Iraqi forces with a “crude” chemical weapon Tuesday evening, a U.S. official told Fox News. The U.S base outside Qayyarah, 25 miles south of Mosul, was struck by a rocket and traces of a “mustard agent” were believed to be present, the official said. The attack was first reported by CNN. A Pentagon official told reporters that a “tar-like black oily substance” was found on the shell, which landed within the base hundreds of yards from U.S. forces. An initial test for the agent was positive, but “could be false,” the official said. The second test was negative, possibly because the shell had been exposed to the elements. No one was injured in the attack and there were “no signs of exposure” shown by any U.S. troops, including the two soldiers who inspected the shell. Two to four soldiers who were near the shell received full decontamination treatment. “Unless you are right next to [the shell], exposure is unlikely,” the official said. U.S. troops at the base are equipped with chemical weapons exposure suits. The official said the base is attacked “fairly often” with conventional weapons, but Tuesday’s assault is believed to be the first chemical attack on U.S. forces in Iraq since they returned to the country in 2014. Nearly 5,000 U.S. troops are currently on the ground in Iraq and “hundreds” of those forces are located at the base, the official said. The ordinance and residue from the shell are being sent to Ft. Detrick, Md. for processing to confirm the presence of a chemical agent. Unlike mustard gas, which can spread, mustard agent leaves an oily residue behind. The official said the security posture at the base had not changed. Mosul is the last major Iraqi city controlled by ISIS, which overran much of the country more than two years ago.

IF, in fact ISIS/ISIL is trying to use any form of chem or bio warfare against U.S. troops, then the paradigm has definitely shifted there, and we need to respond accordingly.  This story is developing…

Confessions of a captured ISIS fighter

He had a ringside seat for the entire, bloody rise of ISIS, and by his own count killed dozens of innocent men, women and children. Now facing likely execution, Thahir Sahab Jamel disavows the black-clad Islamist army, but his Kurdish jailers say they’ve heard it all before. In a jailhouse interview with FoxNews.com in the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, Jamel, 27, detailed how he joined Islamic State in 2013, served as a foot soldier in the takeover of Mosul a year later and, he claims, eventually became disillusioned with the dark vision of his fellow fighters. “At the beginning, ISIS told us we would all go to heaven,” Jamel said, speaking under the watchful eyes of Kirkuk police guards. “But now that I am in prison it means I am going to the fire. I am going to hell.” Handcuffed and partially masked, Jamel, who has been in solitary confinement since his arrest two and a half months ago, said he joined the terror group like many other young Sunni Muslim men opposed to the Shia-led government in Baghdad. “A man named Salam talked to me and got me connected to ISIS. He told me I needed to be a jihadist and fight the Shia government. He convinced me to fight the government,” Jamel said. “I started getting involved as they were planning operations to begin in Iraq and Syria.” Jamel lived with his mother and three brothers in Hawija, a smaller town just south of the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk. He had a decent, agriculture-related job, and his family did not understand why he wanted to throw in with the insurgents who would soon become the world’s most-feared terrorist army. In the early days, Jamel said, most of the recruits were young men in their early 20s. But soon their ranks were swollen by experienced soldiers as old as 50 from Saddam Hussein’s old army. The battle-hardened men, also Sunni Muslims alienated by the Shia government, were experienced with small arms and heavy equipment. The mission was to take over the nation, and kill infidels and fellow Muslims who stood in their way, he said. “Everything was about setting the role of Shariah [Islamic law],” he said. “We have to have a world based on Shariah. “We were told that yes, people here are Muslims, but they are not the right Muslims,” he said. “And to build the Caliphate we must control the economy, take over every oil field.” Jamel was initially permitted to carry a gun, but as ISIS grew, orders came down that only senior leadership and mid-level commanders, known as “Amirs,” could carry arms when not in battle. But Jamel would not be without his weapon long: He was made an Amir in early 2015 and put in charge of a group of 70 fighters in the heavily-contested area of Baiji. ISIS moved on the oil-rich city of Baiji, situated on the primary road to Mosul some 130 miles north of Baghdad, a week after overrunning Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul in June 2014. With momentum from victory, and their ranks increased by a steady stream of foreign fighters, ISIS battled Kurdish and Iraqi government forces for the city, which is home to the nation’s largest oil refinery, the Baiji oil refinery and other crucial energy and money-producing facilities. Over the next 18 months, the city would change hands repeatedly, its residents caught in a perpetual, bloody crossfire. The prized refinery that made Baiji so critical was so heavily damaged that it may not be operational again for years. Jamel did not offer an estimate as to how many civilians and soldiers he and his men killed, but he admitted he willfully took part in the slaughter and also handed over prisoners to his ISIS superiors for torture and execution.

Hopefully this piece of garbage hangs for what he has done.  Awful..

More American troops headed to Iraq, US general says

More U.S. troops will be going to Iraq in the months ahead to help local forces defeat ISIS, the top American military commander in charge of operations in the Middle East told Fox News in Baghdad Thursday. This is in addition to the 560 U.S. forces President Obama ordered to Iraq this week. “There will probably be some additional capabilities we will need to bring in to complete our objectives,” said Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads the U.S. Central Command. “As the leadership has told me, if we need something, we need additional capabilities, we need additional people, we should ask for those things and I’ve been encouraged to do that,” Votel added. The 560 troops deploying to Iraq will help secure an air base 40 miles south of Mosul, recently captured by Iraqi forces supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. American military logistics personnel, engineers and force protection units will compose the bulk of the troops. The British government said this week they would send 250 more troops to Iraq as well. The base will be used to stage Iraqi forces making the assault on Mosul, defense officials say. Iraqi forces want to build on their momentum following their victory over ISIS in Fallujah, backed by hundreds of coalition airstrikes. Gen. Votel traveled to Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as well as top Iraqi defense officials to discuss upcoming operations against ISIS. Votel previously made stops in Afghanistan and Bahrain to visit a U.S. Navy warship transiting the Strait of Hormuz, and Jordan before arriving in Iraq for the final leg of his visit to the region. It is not immediately clear what type of forces will be headed to Iraq to help prepare for the long awaited ground operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city located more than 250 miles north of Baghdad. The majority of ISIS fighters in Iraq are located in Mosul since conquering the city more than two years ago.

US Navy SEAL killed by ISIS during intense Iraq firefight

Islamic State fighters shot and killed a Navy SEAL during an “extremely heavy, extremely intense” firefight with U.S. forces and Kurdish Peshmerga troops in northern Iraq Tuesday, military officials and a trainer who witnessed the fighting told Fox News. The unnamed service member was advising Peshmerga forces but was less than 2 miles behind the front lines in the town of Tel Askuf, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. A defense official told Fox News the service member was killed by small arms fire, likely from an AK-47 rifle. “The Peshmerga were trying to hold the line, but Navy SEALS – at least 20 – came in and pounded the s— out of ISIS,” military trainer Matthew Van Dyke told Fox News, saying that “scores” of Islamic State militants died. Van Dyke and three U.S. veterans were training Assyrian Christian forces battling ISIS in the region. “ISIS kept sending in suicide bombers, SEALs pounded them and the [U.S.] airstrikes did a lot to help. Bullets flying everywhere, machine gun fire from ISIS, really intense firefight,” Van Dyke added. He said three Christian fighters and several Peshmerga were also hurt. Navy SEALs joined the fight roughly an hour after it started, “heroically” beating back ISIS, according to Van Dyke. He said the SEALs kept fighting until ammunition ran low. “It is a combat death, of course. And a very sad loss,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said, referring to the Navy SEAL. Carter was speaking in Stuttgart, Germany, where he was attending a ceremony installing a new commander of U.S. European Command. “It shows you the serious fight that we have to wage in Iraq.” The town of Tel Askuf is located about 20 miles north of ISIS’ Iraqi hub of Mosul. Despite a push from the Obama administration to accelerate the fight against ISIS, senior defense officials say they do not believe Mosul will fall this year. Still, Van Dyke says he believes ISIS “won’t be able to sustain continued losses like that.” Three U.S. military personnel have been killed in Iraq as part of the ground fight against the ISIS terror group. The last American death happened in March, when U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed in a rocket attack on a firebase in northern Iraq. This past October, Delta Force Master Sgt. Josh Wheeler was killed during a rescue mission that freed as many as 70 ISIS hostages. The latest death came following the deployment of a 200-person special operations task force to Irbil, southeast of Mosul, which Carter first announced in December. Last week, President Obama approved the deployment of 450 additional U.S. troops to Iraq and Syria. Vice President Joe Biden visited Baghdad last week to exhort leaders of the government in Iraq to resolve internal political strife and concentrate on the effort to defeat ISIS. Carter, likewise, visited Baghdad recently. The Obama administration has been pressing the effort against ISIS, which has been slowed down in its quest to overrun Iraq. There are now roughly 5,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.

Very sad news..  As of this reporting we don’t have a name for this brave warrior.  But, our prayers are with his family, and loved ones.  Thank you for your service, sailor.  R.I.P.

Bible bonfire: ISIS video shows Christian books being destroyed, adds fuel to genocide debate

Having driven the last Christian out of Mosul, ISIS has now released a chilling video showing a bonfire consuming a huge pile of Bibles and other Christian literature. The video, entitled “Diwan of education destroys Christian instruction books in Mosul,” was made by ISIS’ “morality police,” the infamous Diwan Al-Hisbah, according to Christian Today. It comes as the U.S. is deliberating over whether to label the terrorist group’s actions in Iraq as genocide, a term that has important ramifications under international law. “It’s another example that ISIS means what they say,” David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, told FoxNews.com. “That’s what makes the debate so powerful. They want elimination and they are very serious.” While ISIS has killed, enslaved and displaced hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians, the destruction of religious materials could also be part of a genocide determination. The House voted unanimously Monday to approve a resolution branding ISIS’ actions as genocide, which the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines in part as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The State Department is under pressure to reach the same conclusion, which could obligate the U.S. to take action. The video first surfaced last week and shows ISIS militants piling hundreds of books with crosses printed on the cover into a large fire at an unknown location in the northern Iraqi city. “This video is the first specifically showing the burning of Christian books,” officials for the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor team for the Middle East Media Research Institute said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “It is in line with ISIS’ treatment of Christians, which MEMRI regularly monitors in ISIS publications. There is not any particularly new or recent trend in regard to ISIS’s treatment of Christians, which has been consistent in its statements and actions since ISIS declared its caliphate in 2014.” Mosul, long considered a haven for Iraq’s Christian population, was overrun by militants in 2014. After the takeover, ISIS demanded that Christians convert to Islam, pay a tax known as a jizya, or flee the city. Although Mosul was once considered a center of Christianity in the region, all Christians are believed to be gone from the city. The Christian population of Iraq has dropped from 1.5 million to 275,000 since ISIS established its caliphate. “The stated purpose [of ISIS] to eliminate and force the Christians and Yazidi people out of the region,” Curry said. “They are succeeding. The Christian population in the region has greatly diminished.” If U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry determines their actions amount to genocide, the UN could be forced to address the issue. “This has always been genocide,” Curry told FoxNews.com. “The West has realized that they cannot deny it any longer.”

This article is about a month old, and since this article came out, Sec. of State John Kerry (D) DID make the “genocide” determination.  Unfortunately, the UN hasn’t done a darn thing.  Anyway, to see this horrific video, click on the text above.

US to send 200 more troops, Apache helicopters, to Iraq

The U.S. has agreed to deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq and to send Apache helicopters for the first time into the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, U.S. defense officials said Monday. The decisions reflect weeks of discussions with commanders and Iraqi leaders, and a decision by President Barack Obama to increase the authorized troop level in Iraq by 217 forces — or from 3,870 to 4,087. The new plan, expected for weeks, would mark the first major increase in U.S. forces in nearly a year. Last June the Obama administration announced that hundreds of troops would be deployed to help the Iraqis retake Ramadi — a goal they accomplished at the end of the year. Of the additional troops, most would be Army special forces, who have been used all along to advise and assist the Iraqis. The remainder would include some trainers, security forces for the advisers, and more maintenance teams for the Apaches. The increased military support comes as the U.S.-led coalition looks to better enable local Iraqi and Syrian forces to retake the key cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. The advise-and-assist teams — made up of about a dozen troops each — would embed with Iraqi brigades and battalions, putting them closer to the fight, and at greater risk from mortars and rocket fire. They would have security forces with them. Putting the U.S. teams with Iraqi forces closer to the battlefront will allow them to provide more tactical combat advice as the Iraqi units move toward Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. Until now, U.S. advisers have worked with the Iraqis at the headquarters level, well back from the front lines. The Apaches are considered a significant aid to any attack on Mosul, providing precision fires in the fight. Last December, U.S. officials were trying to carefully negotiate new American assistance with Iraqi leaders who often have a different idea of how to wage war. At that time, the Iraqis turned down a U.S. offer to provide Apache helicopters for the battle to retake Ramadi. Speaking to U.S. troops at the airport in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Ash Carter also said that he will send an additional rocket-assisted artillery system to Iraq. The system is likely to be used by Army soldiers who replace the Marines current stationed at a small outpost outside of the Iraqi base of Mohkmour. U.S. officials have also said previously that the number of special operations forces in Syria would be increased at some point, but Carter did not mention that in his comments.

Peshmerga troops running on empty in fight against ISIS

Kurdish Peshmerga forces – arguably the most effective ground troops battling the Islamic State terror group in Iraq – have been fighting for the past three months without a paycheck, according to experts and a top official from the region. “Unless we get direct [financial] support, we will not be able to continue the way we are currently doing so,” Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said at a forum held by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington on Wednesday. A lack of direct financial support isn’t the only problem, according to Talabani. The Kurdish-controlled area of Northern Iraq also has been forced to absorb a loss of more than $100 million a month in declining oil revenues and diminished support from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad. “The situation is dire. People are not getting paid. Including their frontline troops,” said John Hannah, a senior counselor with the FDD and former national security advisor for former Vice President Dick Cheney, told Foxnews.com. Hannah said the Kurds “have a lot of issues,” including a bloated government that was built on the expectation of a $100 per barrel of oil. The KRG has also taken on almost two million refugees, on top of a population of only five million Kurds, which has put an incredible strain on their finances. “They’re facing incredible burdens with few good options for relief. They have been cut off from any of their budget from Baghdad, and have no easy access to international debt markets or to the international donor community since they are not a sovereign state,” Hannah said. This shortfall has affected not just Peshmerga fighters, but public service like teachers and healthcare workers. But sources familiar with the KRG’s current financial issues say it’s likely they are actually losing hundreds of millions more than officials say. And the lack of payments to Kurdish forces is becoming more of a problem. Some fighters have reportedly gone home to visit their families without returning to the combat zone. Many have begun to look for work elsewhere. Some have pulled double duty, refusing to quit the battle by day but moonlighting as cab drivers or laborers at night. “When I come [home] from the frontlines, I have to work because of my family’s needs. It is my responsibility,” Haval Muhammed, 28, a Peshmerga fighter from the Sulimani area, told Foxnews.com. Muhammed says he has two disabled daughters, leaving his wife unable to get a job. Along with his Peshmerga work, he said he often finds work in home construction when he’s back from the fighting – if the work is available. “There are not a lot of jobs,” he said. “Most of the days I can’t find work, people don’t have money to build houses.” KRG officials say that despite the lack of payment, a majority of the Peshmerga have not given up the fight. “We are facing many challenges. International community has helped us but we need more,” Farhan Jawhar, head of the KRG’s Cultural Committee, recently told FoxNews.com. “We need more money… two years ago [this] started, we are fighting the same enemy as Baghdad, but they cut our funds. “The salaries for the Peshmerga haven’t been paid. How do we stay here fighting?”

Indeed..  It is beyond outrageous that our administration has allowed this to happen.  Shame on them.  The Peshmerga forces are the most effective fighting force fighting ISIS in Iraq. THEY are the “boots on the ground” that we should be supporting, as they fight to take back their homeland.  And all they need is some cash to pay their forces and maybe some small arms (i.e. rifles, ammo, etc.).  That’s a drop in the bucket when you think that our idiot-in-chief has been spending our hard-earned tax dollars by the BILLIONS on an ineffective and inefficient air campaign for YEARS.  Each time a missile is fired from an F-16, that’s millions of dollars.  Just think how many salaries and bullets for a rifle that one missile could pay for.  It’s simple math.  Email your member of Congress, and both of your U.S. Senators, and urge them to support, financially, the Peshmerga forces in Iraq.  It is in our national security interests to support these proud warriors fighting the good fight.