Thursday, 13 October 2016

US to grant safe passage to 9,000 ISIS fighteres

US, Saudis to grant 9,000 ISIS fighters free passage from Iraqi Mosul to Syria – source

© Stringer
© Stringer / Reuters

12 October, 2016

The US and Saudi Arabia have agreed to grant free passage to thousands of Islamic State militants before the Iraqi city of Mosul is stormed. The jihadists will be redeployed to fight against the government in Syria, a military-diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

"More than 9,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) militants will be redeployed from Mosul to the eastern regions of Syria to carry out a major offensive operation, which involves capturing Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra,” the source said. 

Still from Facebook video. © Jürgen Todenhöfer

According to the anonymous diplomatic source, US President Barack Obama has already sanctioned an operation to liberate Mosul, due to take place in October.

During the storm of the city in northern Iraq the US-led coalition’s planes would only strike detached, vacated or uninhabited buildings, while keeping terrorists as targets, he said.

In September, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter confirmed that Washington would send an additional 600 troops to Iraq to help liberate Mosul at the request of the local authorities.

The source suggested that redeployment of IS militants is necessary because “Washington must somehow counter Russia’s achievements in Syria, try to diminish their importance.”

"Apart from the purely political dividends, the other purpose of this operation, obviously, will be to discredit the success of Russian Airspace forces. And, of course, it’s an attempt to undermine Syrian President (Bashar) Assad,” he said.

The leadership of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate will be the mediators and guarantors of the agreement on safe passage for the jihadists from Mosul, he claimed.

The source added that a similar scheme had been used by the US and its allies during the liberation of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Damascus has accused Washington for coordinating with IS after an airstrike against the Syrian government troops near the city of Deir ez-Zor on September 17. Washington said that the bombing, in which 83 soldiers were killed and over 100 injured, was a mistake.

'We Weren’t Ready for This': Daesh Deploys Weaponized Drones
Violent extremist groups in the Middle East, including Daesh, have reportedly begun to weaponize drones, using them on the battlefield to kill, according to a source in the US military.

12 October, 2016

There has been plenty of evidence that extremist groups in the region, including Daesh and Hamas, use a variety of surveillance drones to collect information and to improve precision targeting. 

Most of the groups, except for the Iran-backed Hezbollah, only have access to commercial or hobbyist drones generally available online. Those cost upwards of $3,000 and don't weigh enough to support a large bomb or rocket. 

But newly surfaced video demonstrates that the groups have now weaponized their drones. Footage belonging to an al-Qaeda branch, Jund al-Aqsa, purportedly shows a drone landing on Syrian military barracks. In another video, bomblets presumably dropped by Hezbollah hit a camp of the Sunni militant group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front.  

According to a Pentagon official speaking on condition of anonymity, the US military is aware of the development and troops are being told to take cover if they detect what appears to be a surveillance drone. 

Although the technology is not a significant threat and cannot change the balance of power in the Middle East, the mere fact that insurgents have shown to possess what is typically believed to be beyond their capability is disturbing, according to a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Peter Singer. 

"We should have been ready for this, and we weren't," he told the New York Times. 

Chris Woods, the head of the Airwars project, which tracks the international air war in Iraq, Syria and Libya, added to the concern, suggesting that there are too many methods to weaponize drones. 

"This is the stuff everyone has been terrified about for years, and now it's a reality," he said. 

The Pentagon said Wednesday that two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and two French special forces soldiers were wounded in northern Iraq last week as a result of the explosion of a small drone armed with an improvised device, after it was intercepted and brought down. US military experts are concerned that Daesh may deploy more weaponized drones against coalition troops.

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