War on Terror

Thousands of Islamic State Militants Surrender as Group Nears Total Defeat

Thousands of Islamic State militants have surrendered to the U.S.-Syrian Democratic Forces as the caliphate nears complete defeat, according to the group’s spokesman. “Number of Daesh (ISIS) members surrendered to us since yesterday evening has risen to 3,000,’ Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted in English on Tuesday evening. “[Three] Yazidi women and [four] children were rescued, too.” Bali added that the “decisive moment is closer than ever before,” following heavy fighting in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the final stretch of territory in Syria and Iraq still held by the Islamic State. However, the group has not provided a timeline for when the group will be completely defeated. The operation to completely expel the caliphate from the Euphrates Valley has taken far longer than expected, having begun nearly six months ago. On January 25th, the SDF’s commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani declared that the caliphate would be fully defeated within a month, a target the forces have not achieved. Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition has previously explained that Baghouz had been “more crowded with both civilians and fighters than expected,” requiring troops to evacuate around 40,000 civilians from the area. “The overflow during the lull in battle has been difficult for the SDF and they have responded to everything well,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan last month.

 

U.S. kills 62 al-Shabab militants with massive air assault in Somalia

The U.S. military over the weekend unleashed an intense air assault targeting al-Shabab militants in Somalia, killing at least 62 in a series of strikes aimed at denying the terrorist group a safe haven from which to launch attacks. The strikes in the Gandarshe region of Somalia — which mark the latest step in a growing U.S.-led military campaign targeting the terrorist group in Africa — were conducted in coordination with the Somali government, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement early Monday. At least 34 militants were killed on Saturday and another 28 on Sunday, Pentagon officials said. The military said no civilians were killed or injured in any of the six bombings. “All six airstrikes … targeted a known al-Shabab encampment,” U.S. Africa Command said in the statement. “U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks.” “We are committed to preventing al-Shabab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia,” the U.S. military said. “In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists.” The U.S. in recent months has ramped up its air campaign against the terrorist group, which is affiliated with al Qaeda. There are estimated to be as many as 9,000 al-Shabab fighters across Somalia. In addition to the continuing airstrikes, there have also been clashes between al-Shabab fighters and U.S. forces on the ground in Somalia. Last June, an American soldier was killed and another four wounded in a firefight with militants in southwestern Somalia.

Score one for the good guys!  🙂

Leader of ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan killed in US drone strike, officials say

The leader of an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for a spate of recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday. The deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS-K leader, Abu Sayeed Orakzai, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell said. “I would also add that the United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O’Donnell said in a statement. The airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, according to Agence France-Presse. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed. Orakzai is at least the 3rd ISIS-K leader in Afghanistan killed in the past 2 years. The Islamic State has lost around 90 percent of the lands bordering Iraq and Syria since declaring a caliphate in June 2014. The killing of Orakzai comes just takes after an audio recording of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apparently resurfaced, in which he congratulated his followers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, and referenced Turkey’s recent quarrel with the U.S. over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. He purportedly said “America is going through the worse time in its entire existence,” and said Russia was competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout. Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts has eluded captors since the rise of the Islamic State. His only public appearance was in 2014 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. His last know audio recording was released on Sept. 28, 2017, and there have been several reports of his death or injury. Next weekend, a new U.S. military commander will be taking over in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command which oversees the elite commando units Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them fivefold over 2016 levels.

Another Islamic wako killed.  Score another one for the good guys!  Excellent!!       🙂

Top U.S. Gen. Warns: Islamic State in Afghanistan ‘Harboring Intentions’ to Attack West

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in Afghanistan has become a significant menace against the West despite the fall of the group’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria, a top American commander warned this week. In June, Brig. Gen. Lance R. Bunch, the top U.S. air commander in Afghanistan, noted that the ISIS wing has attempted to “establish” its own “caliphate” twice this year alone in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar along the Pakistan border, considered the group’s primary stronghold in the region. U.S.-NATO-assisted Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have so far managed to thwart the ISIS attempt to establish a caliphate in Afghanistan, Gen. Bunch declared. Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), charged with overseeing the war in Afghanistan, warned Pentagon reporters on Wednesday the American military is “concerned” ISIS in Afghanistan intends to attack the West. “I think we always have to be concerned about ISIS, whether it’s ISIS-K or whether it’s any of the other branches of it, harboring intentions to operate, you know, much more globally or externally from the areas in which they’re operating. And so, you know, we do have that concern about them,” Votel said. The ISIS branch in South Asia, which primarily operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is known as the Khorasan Province (ISIS-K). Asked whether the U.S. military is aware any links between ISIS-K and outside groups that would potentially carry out attacks in Europe or against the United States, Gen. Votel responded: “I think in general ISIS does have that intention.” When pressed to describe any actual plots by ISIS-K on the West, the top commander added, “I think there probably has been, but I can’t cite a specific example to you.” Back in October 2016, the U.S. military acknowledged that ISIS was “very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan.” ISIS officially announced its presence in Afghanistan in early 2015, less than a year after the United States declared its combat mission over at the end of 2014. The U.S. has been assisting the Afghan forces in their fight against ISIS in their stronghold of Nangarhar. “We have killed numerous ISIS-K fighters this year,” Gen. Votel told reporters Wednesday. “The military campaign against ISIS has been both continuous and effective.” The general stressed that U.S. efforts towards “reconciliation” between Kabul and the Taliban, the primary goal of American President Donald Trump’s strategy to end to the nearly 17-year-old war, are separate from the fight to annihilate ISIS. “It is important to recognize that while we apply military pressure against the Taliban to bring them to the table of reconciliation, we harbor no illusion about reconciliation with ISIS-K; our mission is to destroy this organization,” he declared. Citing U.S. officials and the latest American intelligence estimates, Voice of America (VOA) reported this week that efforts to root out and decimate ISIS-K have “so far failed to prevent the terror group from maintaining a foothold in the country.” “IS-Khorasan is thought to have more than 1,000 fighters, most of them located in Afghanistan’s southern Nangarhar province, with a small number operating in the country’s eastern Kunar province,” VOA added. The ISIS branch reportedly reached a peak of 3,000 fighters in Afghanistan. According to a report from the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), ISIS-K was behind more than 50 percent of civilian casualties in the war-ravaged country through the first half of 2018. The University of Maryland’s renowned National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) listed ISIS-K among the 10 top prolifically deadliest terrorist group’s in the world last year, separate from core Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Last year, ISIS-K carried out 197 attacks, killing 1,302 people, the study revealed.

So, we’re VERY glad to hear GEN Votel say that his mission is “to destroy this organization.”  Outstanding!!  Having spent some time in Afghanistan myself, I’m thrilled to hear that we’re going on the offense again there.  Excellent!!     🙂

Winning: Study Shows Worldwide Terror Attacks Falling Under Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump presided over a decline of nearly 25 percent in the number of terrorist attacks and their lethality across the globe last year compared to 2016, a feat likely made possible by the ongoing demise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), a U.S. government-linked study shows. Although ISIS remains the most prolific and deadly jihadi group in the world, followed by the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda’s Somalia-based al-Shabaab, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) noted a decline in ISIS attacks in a report released on August 1: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was responsible for the most terrorist attacks (1,321) and deaths (7,120) in 2017, though were responsible for 10 percent fewer attacks and 40 percent fewer deaths than in 2016. The Taliban and al-Shabaab were the next most active with 907 attacks (4,925 deaths) and 573 attacks (1894 deaths) respectively. Established as a Center for Excellence by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, the University of Maryland issues various START studies every year. The consortium catalogs attacks across the world by terrorists of all stripes, from ISIS to members of the Communist Party of India-Maoist. Click here for more.

U.S. Troops Celebrate Independence Day amid Unrelenting Threat in Afghanistan: ‘We Fight for It’

U.S. service members in Kabul took a moment’s respite from the wave of terrorist bombings in Afghanistan in recent months to enjoy a lunchtime ceremony in honor of America’s 242nd Independence Day on the Fourth of July. “It’s an important holiday because we fight for it,” U.S. Army Cpl. Ruby Cruz of the 191st Regional Support Group Forward from Fort Allen, Puerto Rico, told Stars and Stripes in Kabul. Acknowledging that she missed the celebrations back home, she added, “But we have fun here, too, so it’s not too bad.” A barbecue dinner in the evening is expected to follow the Fourth of July ceremony at the headquarters of the U.S.-NATO mission known as Resolute Support (RS). “American flags could be seen in all corners of NATO’s Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday as U.S. service-members celebrated Independence Day,” Stars and Stripes reports. Honoring the birth of the United States at the ceremony in Kabul, U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, declared: ” For American servicemen and women who are deployed overseas, this day holds a very special significance, and it reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices made by previous generations of patriots in all of America’s wars in defense of liberty at home and abroad. …We hope Afghans will remember this, that reconciliation is possible between rivals.” Reconciliation between Kabul and the Taliban is the primary goal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to end the nearly 17-year-old war. In recent months, both the Afghan Taliban and its alleged rival, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), have heavily targeted the Afghan capital of Kabul, including a meeting of the top Islamic scholars in the country last month. The U.S. military has deployed a brigade that consists of about 800 military advisers and a few hundred additional soldiers to tackle the wave of bombings that have been targeting Kabul, the Washington Post reported on July 1. In March, Gen. Nicholson expanded the American mission to prevent massive bombings in Kabul..

So much for that reconciliation..  Having spent some time in Afghanistan, myself, I can say with certitude and experience that the Taliban (and certainly ISIS) has NO intention of reconciling.  They’re just waiting us out, so they can take back control after we leave.  So, as long as we’re there, we should be using all of our resources to totally intimidate, humiliate, and crush the Talian and the rest of the Islamo-wackos there.  As for the troops celebrating our Independence while “down range,” we’re all thinking of you.

U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State surge 300 percent

American warplanes are working overtime against Islamic State targets in Syria, with the number of combat sorties in May against the terror group surging over 300 percent compared to recent months, says new airstrike figures released by command officials Friday. U.S. and coalition combat aircraft flew 225 airstrikes last month, hitting 280 known Islamic State or ISIS redoubts in Syria, located mostly in the volatile Euphrates River Valley, said American commanders with the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission Operation Inherent Resolve. During a single six-day period in May, American and allied fighter jets executed 41 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, resulting in 49 enemy targets hit, coalition officials said in a statement. “This demonstrates a 304 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March and a 123 percent increase over the 183 strikes recorded in April,” according to Friday’s statement. The majority of the airstrikes were carried out in support of Operation Roundup, the ground campaign led by the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF — the American-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab paramilitaries — to eliminate remaining pockets of ISIS resistance in the Euphrates River Valley. “Operation Roundup will continue to build momentum against Daesh remnants remaining in the Iraq-Syria border region and the [Euphrates River Valley],” command officials said in the statement, using the derogatory Arabic term for ISIS. “The Coalition remains committed to the lasting defeat of Daesh here, increasing peace and stability in the region and protecting all our homelands from the Daesh threat,” coalition officials added. Kicking off in early May, the operation is the first major anti-ISIS operation by the SDF and the American-led coalition since the fall of Raqqa — the terror group’s de facto Syrian capital and the heart of its so-called caliphate — in 2017. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters aboard the U.S.S Harry S. Truman carrier strike group began bombarding Islamic State positions in May, linking up with the Navy’s Sixth Fleet — which is responsible for U.S. maritime operations in Europe and North Africa — late last April, as part of the Pentagon’s seemingly final push to eradicate ISIS from its Syrian enclaves. On Thursday, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said American advisers on the ground in Syria and their higher ups at the Pentagon were seeing good progress from the SDF. “We’re making progress, and, in concert with our SDF partners, I think that we’re beginning to clear out the final pockets of ISIS,” he told reporters during a Defense Department briefing. “We want to leave behind security elements that are going to be able to maintain [security] at the local level,” the three-star general said. “That’s sort of a long-term aim we have, as we push down the Euphrates River Valley, and that progress is continuing.”