Highlights of Iraq/Syria Update for October 25, 2016:

National Defense Expert Robert Lee Maginnis is available for interview on the following topic:

Highlights of Iraq/Syria Update for October 25, 2016:

  • U.S. embeds with Iraqi combatants pushing towards Mosul
  • ISIS terrorists roam Kirkuk
  • Europe’s serious security challenges
  • Mosul residents flee fighting
  • Air Force secretary claims U.S. could create no-fly zone over Syria
  • Armed drones growing global reality
  • Why is it taking so long to defeat ISIS in Libya?
  • Taliban gunman kills at least 53 Pakistani policemen

 

IRAQ-SYRIA UPDATE OCTOBER 25, 2016 (REPORT # 378)

CURRENT

 

  • S. embeds with Iraqi combatants pushing toward Mosul. The Military Times reports U.S. troops are embedded with Iraqi combat units, pushing forward as the fight moves to the densely population city center.  The fight to wrestle back control from ISIS becomes more complex as the combatants mount guerilla-style attacks from the gear.  There are approximately 200 U.S. special operations troops assigned to 12 Iraqi brigades advancing in the attack.  U.S. officials indicate American troops are not involved in direct combat, rather they are providing tactical advice and up-to-the minute intelligence afforded by American airstrikes and close-air support.[i]

 

CONSEQUENCES

 

  • ISIS terrorists roam Kirkuk. The Washington Free Beacon reports dozens of terrorists struck Iraq’s oil capital of Kirkuk on Friday and are still roaming the city.  “There are possibly 37 terrorists still in the city,” reports a Peshmerga commander.  The ISIS jihadi stormed a power plant under construction, occupied hotels and schools.   The Peshmerga commander indicated the ISIS jihadi were in fact were already in the city, not infiltrators with the mission of distracting attention away from the Mosul front.[ii]
  • Europe’s serious security challenges. The New York Times reports German security authorities were warned in early September that a terrorist assault might be in the works.  Subsequently German officials identified a suspect, a refugee from Syria who had been casing a Berlin airport for an attack.  Powerful explosives were recovered from the Syrian’s apartment only to see him slip through their fingers.  Eventually he was captured but then hanged himself in his jail cell.  This case illustrates two challenges: getting a handle on the security risk associated with more than a million migrants last year and addressing the continued reliance of European governments on intelligence from the U.S. to avert attacks.[iii]
  • Mosul residents flee fighting. NPR reports the Iraqi army held its fire in the Mosul assault until the civilians were out.  Some of those civilians indicated ISIS banned cellphones on pain of death but secretly some villagers in the path of the attack spoke to the army and agreed on an escape route.  One woman said as they were leaving “ISIS appeared out of nowhere … They were firing at us.”  They ran for their lives and it was noteworthy, said one woman, the men firing were our neighbors – people from the same small village.[iv]
  • Air Force secretary claims U.S. could create no-fly zone over Syria. The com reports Air Force Secretary Deborah James said her service could “figure out” how to create a no-fly zone over Syria while continuing to prosecute its fight against ISIS, despite budget cuts and scarce resources.  “If we were called upon to do a no-fly zone or territory of some sort, we know how to do this.  We know how to put this together, how to plan it, how to execute it,” she said.  A no-fly fly zone over Syria has been the subject of heated international debate for a long time, something advocated by Turkey and something endorsed by Hillary Clinton.  “We need some leverage with the Russians because they’re not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution unless there is leverage over them,” Clinton said at the second presidential debate Oct. 9.[v]

 

ANALYSIS

 

  • Armed drones growing global reality. Although the U.S. leads in the development of armed drone technology, China exports more drones to satisfy a global lucrative market and there is little will to curb their proliferation, a very dangerous outcome.   Attempts to curb their spread are becoming more difficult now that other countries like China are exporting the systems.  The technology is now in the hands of less-developed militaries which deploy them for surveillance and reconnaissance and non-state actors, including terror groups like ISIS, use commercial drones for offensive weapons platforms.[vi]

 

RELATED ISSUES

 

  • Why is it taking so long to defeat ISIS in Libya? The Washington Post reports the U.S. air campaign against ISIS in Libya was supposed to be short-lived.  About 100 ISIS jihadi were previously believed to be in the coastal city of Sirte, which in 2015 became the group’s stronghold outside of Syria and Iraq.   For months local militia struggled against the group with little success.  One analyst explained, “It matters for the United States and other Western countries that an operation that was initially thought to last weeks could last months, and it’s unclear what happens after ISIS disappears from Sirte.”  Meanwhile, militia from nearby city of Misurata have become bogged down in their efforts to retake Sirte in May.  Evidently the pace is set by the militia which are acting judicious and precise in their operations which is taking much longer than expected mostly because ISIS jihadi prepared defenses that include tunnels, booby-traps and rely heavily on snipers.[vii]
  • Taliban gunman kills at least 53 Pakistani policemen. Gunmen attacked a police academy in Quetta, Pakistan, late on Oct. 24, killing at least 53 people and wounding nearly 100 others, provincial officials said, Dawn and Geo News reported. Two of the militants blew themselves up, while the third was shot dead by Pakistani troops responding to the attack. Security officials said the attack has concluded. Pakistani officials blamed the attack on a Taliban splinter group and said the militants received direction from Afghanistan.[viii]

 

Robert Maginnis

robertmag73@comcast.net

(703) 692-7313 / (571) 331-6094 (cell)

[i] http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/us-troops-embedded-with-iraqi-brigades-and-battalions-push-toward-mosuls-city-center?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.25.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

[ii] http://freebeacon.com/national-security/dozens-terrorists-large-kirkuk/

[iii] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/25/world/europe/germany-terrorism-bakr-security.html?ref=world&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.25.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief&_r=0

[iv] http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/10/24/499157960/near-mosul-some-residents-flee-isis-others-stay-and-fight-with-isis?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=conflictzones&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

[v] http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/10/24/secaf-us-could-create-syria-no-fly-zone-while-fighting-isis.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.25.2016&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

[vi] https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/unstoppable-spread-armed-drones

[vii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/10/24/why-its-taking-so-long-for-the-u-s-and-its-allies-to-finish-off-the-islamic-state-in-libya/?utm_campaign=Early%20Bird%20Brief%2010.25.2016&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru

[viii] https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/pakistan-gunmen-kill-least-53-quetta-police-academy

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