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Tue, 24 Oct 2017
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ISIS 'retreating on almost every front'

Since January the tide has turned dramatically against ISIS on almost every front

1. Mosul

The Iraqi army began its operation to liberate Mosul in October. Contrary to initial expectations it encountered fierce resistance and the first part of the operation, which was focused on liberating Mosul east of the Tigris proved exceptionally difficult. Eventually eastern Mosul was liberated but only after many weeks of fierce fighting and after the Iraqi army suffered heavy casualties.

When the Iraqi army recently launched its offensive to liberate Mosul west of the Tigris it was assumed that ISIS would offer similarly fierce resistance. Moreover the layout of western Mosul, with its maze of narrow streets and its overwhelmingly Sunni population some of whom are believed to sympathize with ISIS, was expected to favor the organization.

Sheriff

Duterte rolls out new task force to tackle Philippines drug epidemic

© Czar Dancel / Reuters
Members of the police SWAT team guard residents who were rounded up in Manila
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating a joint command which will mobilize 21 state agencies to assist in his controversial "war on drugs." The order prioritizes "high value" targets.

President Duterte's order, published Friday, outlines a "priority thrust" of the government to suppress drugs and "put behind bars" makers, dealers, and traffickers of narcotics - all while "transforming users into productive members of society," Reuters reported.

The order also allows for the creation of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), which will consist of government branches including police, military, coastguard, health, education, and social welfare.

"The ICAD shall ensure that each member agency shall implement and comply with all policies, laws, and issuances pertaining to the government's anti-illegal drug campaign in an integrated and synchronized manner," the order states, as quoted by local media outlet the Inquirer.

Magnify

Born again: Obama's half-bro, Malik, reveals Barack's 'birth certificate'

© The Truth Division
Family secrets and revelations.
Barack Obama's estranged half-brother Malik has tweeted an image of what he claims is a birth certificate for the former president. The authenticity of the document is questionable, with the results not too surprising given Malik's political allegiances.

"Surely. What's this?" Malik tweeted Thursday with the image of the alleged document containing details of Obama's parents and the date and time of Barack's birth. Also included is the alleged origin of the document, revealing Obama's much-disputed place of birth as Mombasa, Kenya.


Comment: Yet another birth certificate for Obama...eight years in the revelation? Malik could have come forth long ago. That he didn't may lead credence to the hushed Muslim-connection innuendo always in the background during Obama's years in office, family ties to organizations not-American and the great divide between the brothers. Is this certificate a "step" in the right direction? Perhaps the die (dye) has been cast and footprints don't lie.
See also:


Pirates

New reporting confirms FISA warrant issued in October to investigate Russian hacking claims

According to an explosive new report in Circa News Wednesday night, a FISA court warrant was granted to federal investigators in October of 2016 as part of an overall Russian hacking investigation.

Investigative journalists Sara Carter (formerly of the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, and The Blaze) and John Solomon (formerly of the the Washington Post, the Washington Times, and AP) spoke to sources close to the investigation who have been "watching in horror" at the politicization of intelligence since the election, and wanted to set the record straight.

"What we don't know is who was connected to that FISA," Carter said on Sean Hannity's show Wednesday night. "What was that FISA looking at? That is very highly classified. Nobody wants to talk about that particular FISA, right now. They said it did have to do with the Russian hacking on a very broad level, but it didn't hone in directly on Trump is what I was told," she said.

Comment: See also: Two instances of spying on Trump now confirmed - Zero connection to Russia found


Pirates

UK admits to secret fund for Syrian mercenaries but refuses to name groups they were supporting

© Stringer / Reuters
Responding to questions from the Defence Committee, the government refused to identify the forces it is training in Iraq and Syria but appeared to confirm it has increased the amount of cash available for the conflict from a secretive war fund.

The committee asked a number of questions about the supposed 70,000 moderate fighters available to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), cited by then Prime Minister David Cameron to make the case for British intervention in Syria in December 2015.

The committee said it had been forced to examine the claim with the help of outside sources because the government had previously refused to name the groups. Critics say the figure was either made up or consisted of groups similar to IS and Al-Qaeda.

Rocket

THAAD: US missile system in S. Korea 'threatens regional stability'

© USFK/Reuters
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors arrive at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
The deployment of the THAAD missile system in South Korea could lead to an arms race and regional instability, the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned.

The United States has begun deploying its advanced THAAD anti-missile defense system in South Korea, despite opposition from Russia and China. In a statement released on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned of the potential "serious negative consequences" of Washington's plans.
"Such a development is fraught with the most serious negative consequences for international and regional strategic stability," the statement read. "In the Asia-Pacific region, where an uneasy security situation already exists, a new, destructive factor has emerged that can further complicate the nuclear question and other problems on the Korean peninsula and provoke a regional arms race involving missiles."
On Tuesday, the US Pacific Command announced the start of the THAAD deployment as the first components of the system arrived at Osan airbase in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

The decision was made in response to North Korea's firing of four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Monday morning, which White House press secretary Sean Spicer characterized as consistent with its history of "provocative behavior."

Comment: Even though THAAD is technically a defense system, Russia and China consider this action as part of the buildup of the Asia Pacific segment of the US missile shield which threatens to undermine the existing and strategic balances in the region. The question then becomes: Which country is going to operate THAAD - USA or S. Korea? Bet we can guess.

See also: Despite Russia and China objections, US deploys THAAD defense system to S. Korea


Bomb

Kabul military hospital attack leaves 49 dead, up to 90 wounded, gunmen in disguise

© NBC News
Afghan National Army soldiers land on the roof of the Kabul military hospital under attack.
Afghan officials say the death toll in an attack on a military hospital in Kabul has risen to 49.

Salim Rassouli, director of Kabul hospitals, said on March 9 that 49 people were killed in the attack on the Sardar Mohammad Khan military hospital on March 8, and at least 63 wounded. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack in which gunmen dressed as health workers shot doctors, patients, and visitors at the 400-bed hospital.

Health Ministry spokesman Qamaruddin Sediqi confirmed the death toll of 49 but put the number of people wounded at 76. Other officials said 90 people were wounded.

Afghanistan's largest military hospital, Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan is located close to the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy. It took Afghan special forces several hours to neutralize the attackers.

The number of gunmen killed in the attack was also unclear. Afghan officials had spoken of four armed men. However, IS overnight published a photo of the alleged fighters including their names, showing five men. In a statement via its affiliated news agency Amaq, the militant group claimed that 400 people were killed or wounded.


Comment: The raid exemplifies how a nation's warring factions, government forces, and radical terrorists have repeatedly targeted medical facilities at the expense of the human need for life-saving healthcare and not just in Afghanistan. Israeli bombings of Palestinian hospitals come readily to mind, as well as the coalition bombings in Syria.

More Details:
Medical staff hunkered down in the hospital wards posted desperate messages for help on social media, with television footage showing some of them trapped on the ledge of a top-floor window.

Hospital administrators told AFP three gunmen wearing white laboratory coats began spraying bullets after a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at the backdoor entrance, sparking chaos inside the 400-bed facility.

"I saw one of the attackers, armed with an AK-47 and dressed as a doctor, shooting at patients and guards on the third floor," hospital nurse Abdul Qadeer told AFP.

"They shot my friend but I managed to flee... I had to jump over the barbed wire to escape."

At least two other loud explosions -- including what the defence ministry called a car bomb in the hospital's parking lot -- were heard as Afghan special forces launched a clearance operation that lasted around six hours.

The attackers were gunned down after special forces landed on the roof of the hospital in a military helicopter.

The Taliban said they were not behind the raid and are known to distance itself from attacks on medical facilities or those that result in high civilian casualties.



Chess

Could Erdogan's obsession with killing Kurds make a US-Russia detente in Syria?


What a weirdo
Turkey's insanity in northern Syria could make a US-Russia detente a reality

We're not joking: Turkey has become so crazy that it might require Russia and the U.S. to team up in northern Syria.

Actually, we suspect there is already a high level of cooperation that is not being publicly disclosed, for political reasons.

Here's what Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNN Turk earlier today:
"If the Self-Defense Forces don't leave Manbij we will deliver a strike against them. We have openly stated this. If Russia comes in support of the Self-Defense Forces in Manbij or in other place, it will become a problem for us," the foreign minister stressed.
He's talking about violently removing Kurdish forces backed by Washington and Moscow from Manbij. This is how crazy Ankara has become. (And there has already been sporadic fighting between Turkish-backed "moderate" rebels and Kurdish forces around Manbij.)

Comment: See also: Putin 'cautiously optimistic' about Syrian ceasefire with help of US & others


MIB

General Michael Flynn registered as a foreign agent of Turkey

© Carlos Barria / Reuters
National security adviser General Michael Flynn
Upon learning that General Michael Flynn had registered as a foreign agent of Turkey in 2016, Vice President Mike Pence praised President Donald Trump's decision to request the resignation of his former national security adviser.

According to the lobbying disclosure forms filed Tuesday with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit, Flynn's company was paid at least $530,000 for lobbying work that may have benefited the Turkish government.

In a press briefing Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed the president was not aware of Flynn's work before he appointed the former lieutenant general as national security adviser.

"I think this is what he did for a living," Spicer told reporters, adding that Flynn was not being compensated as part of the transition.

"And so he was a private citizen at the time. And when you're a private citizen, you're allowed to engage in legal activities," Spicer said.

Chess

Putin 'cautiously optimistic' about Syrian ceasefire with help of US & others

© RT
Russia is cautiously optimistic about consolidating the Syrian ceasefire and moving towards a political settlement with the assistance of other players, including the US, President Vladimir Putin said at a joint briefing with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"As for the prospects [of the settlement in Syria], we must say frankly that the situation remains complicated. There are a lot of uncertainties; a lot of contradictions in the region and in the country itself - in Syria," Putin said after the talks with Erdogan in the Russian capital on Friday.

"Therefore, I want to express cautious optimism that by joining efforts with other solid players, including the US, we will be able to effectively contribute to the strengthening of the ceasefire regime and, on its basis, to move towards a full-fledged political settlement," he said.

Comment: See also: Erdogan and Putin discuss Syria debacle & megaprojects during Russia visit