- Chad Christopher Rediker
THE ISIS REPORT
The early summer of 2017 has been a busy time for the minions of ISIS. While losing ground in and around their last caliphate cities of Mosul and Raqqa, ISIS has shifted their acttacks toward soft targets in europe with relative ease. Their attacks within syria have also begub to take a larger punch at targets. One imagines when a dangerous animal is losing ground and defenseless what does it do? Attack. Below are there stories highlighted from GlobalSecurity.org which help expain todays situation in a way the main media refuses to.
By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2017 – The fight to defeat Islamic State of Iraq and Syria extremists is progressing in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, Army Col. Ryan S. Dillon, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters today.
Providing an update by teleconference from Baghdad, Dillon told reporters that Iraqi security forces in Mosul have continued to push forward this week on the west and northwest portions of the forward line of troops, keeping pressure on ISIS.
"As expected, the tight confines of the remaining neighborhoods, the well-defended urban canyons, have proven to be very difficult to liberate," he said.
And the Iraqi security forces are continuing to methodically clear ISIS "street-by-street, house-by-house and room-by-room," Dillon said, and remain focused on civilian safety as they clear ISIS-held areas, moving civilians out of danger as much as possible.
But ISIS has reverted to brutalizing and murdering civilians, Dillon said.
He noted that the United Nations reported June 6 that 163 bodies of murdered Iraqi men, women and children lay on the streets of the Sheer neighborhood in western Mosul after being shot and killed by ISIS snipers when they desperately tried to flee to safety.
Also this week in western Iraq, Iraqi popular mobilization forces recaptured Baaj and retook nearly 1,000 square kilometers – 386 square miles – liberating terrain and villages all the way to the Iraq-Syria border, Dillon said.
Raqqa Offensive Begins
Meanwhile, the U.S. partner force in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces, began its offensive June 6 to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, the terrorist organization's de facto capital for its self-proclaimed caliphate, the spokesman said.
Raqqa has served as an important ISIS hub to recruit, inspire, finance and plan external attacks, he added.
"This week's attacks in London, Paris and Melbourne are further evidence of the danger this evil terrorist group poses, not only to their region, but to all nations," Dillon emphasized
The liberation of Raqqa, as with a string of other ISIS strongholds, such as Dabiq, Manbij and Tabqa, will further degrade ISIS' ability to export terrorists, plot external attacks, recruit members and subjugate populations, he said.
The SDF has moved to isolate Raqqa with forces to the west, north, and east, Dillon added.
"To the south is the Euphrates River, and with bridges that cannot be used to cross, ISIS is limited to using watercraft to move into or out of Raqqa," he said. "Understanding this, the coalition conducted several strikes this week, destroying 20 boats attempting to shuttle ISIS fighters across the river."
The liberation of Raqqa will deal the enemy a punishing blow and further degrade ISIS' ability to move throughout the region and further spread terror and kill innocent civilians, Dillon said.
Strikes in Syria
This morning in southern Syria, U.S. airstrikes hit two technical vehicles and pickup trucks with weapons that were assessed to pose a threat to coalition partner forces based at Al Tanf Garrison, the spokesman said.
"Later this morning, after that first incident, the United States also shot down a suspected pro-regime drone that fired on coalition forces conducting patrols outside of the deconfliction zone to the east," he said.
"There are no coalition casualties, and today was the third set of kinetic strikes the United States has conducted in response to threats posed to the coalition forces and partners operating out of Al Tanf," Dillon noted.
The first kinetic strike was May 18, and the second was June 6, he added, in addition to today's air-to-ground and air-to-air engagements.
"We're watching the situation very closely," Dillon said. "The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime or pro-regime forces; however, we remain ready to defend ourselves against any threat."
The coalition has been very clear through the deconfliction line, through leaflets, messages and actions, to warn pro-regime forces not to advance toward or otherwise threaten coalition forces at Al Tanf, the spokesman said.
"The coalition calls on all parties in southern Syria to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to the region and the rest of the world," Dillon said.
ISIL - Fighting Strength /globalsecurity.org
At least 50,000 Islamic State jihadists have been killed by the US-led coalition since it began operations in Iraq and Syria in late 2014, a senior US military official said 08 December 2016. A relentless operation using planes and drones from a dozen or so members of the anti-IS coalition since August 2014 had conducted some 16,000 air strikes against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria -- two-thirds of them in Iraq. In addition, the coalition provided training and weapons to local forces fighting IS. "I am not into morbid counts but that kind of volume matters, that kind of impact on the enemy," the official said, calling the 50,000 number a conservative estimate. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the air campaign had been the "most pristine" ever in terms of avoiding civilian casualties, with almost all the bombs dropped so far being smart weapons that can be steered to a precise target.
US intelligence estimates of Islamic State force strength in Iraq and Syria during 2014 and 2015 remained practically unchanged from before the strikes began, staying between 20,000 to 30,0000, thanks to a steady influx of foreign fighters. That is, the US claimed to have killed Daash twice over to no apparent net effect. The coalition previously said it "does not use a casualty count as a measure of effectiveness in the campaign to ultimately defeat (IS) in Iraq and Syria". Despite this assertion, such figures are periodically announced.
In 2000 the US State Department reported that Al-Qaida "May have several hundred to several thousand members." And in 2001, the State Department reported that "Al-Qaida may have several thousand members and associates."
As of April 2013, the US Government reported on AQI that "In Iraq, membership is estimated between 1,000 and 2,000, making it the largest Sunni violent extremist group in Iraq. Membership in Syria is unknown, although it is likely that the group’s members make up a significant portion of the estimated 26,000 violent extremist fighters in Syria." The Syrian number included both ISEL and al-Nusrah.
While the Pentagon said it was hard to put a number on just how large the ISIL force is, some believed it to have 5,000 to 7,000 fighters. Other analysts said in June 2014 that between Iraq and Syria, there could be as many as 12,000 to 15,000 fighters moving across an area largely under their control, 3,000 of whom were from Western countries.
Six years earlier, the US State Department reported that "The threat from AQI continued to diminish in 2008. AQI, although still dangerous, has experienced the defection of members, lost key mobilization areas, suffered disruption of support infrastructure and funding, and been forced to change targeting priorities. Indeed, the pace of suicide bombing countryside, which we consider one indicator of AQI's operational capability, fell significantly during last year.... Membership is estimated at 2,000-4,000, making it the largest, most potent Sunni extremist group in Iraq."
One source of combatants for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was prison breaks through its Destroying the Walls campaign. In July 2013 almost 2000 inmates escaped from prisons in Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan. Hundreds of convicts, including senior Al-Qaeda terrorists, broke out of Abu Ghraib prison in July 2013 after a military-style raid to free them. The attacks were carried out after months of preparations on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The militant Islamist organization has claimed responsibility for the assaults on Iraq’s Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons. Between 500 to 1,000 prisoners have escaped as a result of the attacks.
ISIS had a falling out with the Syrian Sunni radical group Jabhat al-Nusra – the Nusra Front, and the rift caused al-Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri to disown ISIL and al-Baghdadi. But in June 2014, reports said al-Nusra agreed to send its fighters to join the Islamic State, giving its thrust into Iraq even greater energy. Many intelligence estimates have pegged al-Baghdadi’s force at some 15,000. If al-Nusra, which has a similar force strength, had indeed merged there could be 30,000 fighters under the Islamic State’s black banner.
The Islamic State recruited at least 6,300 men in July 2014, Rami Abdelrahman, founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters on 19 August 2014. This was a big expansion from early estimates suggesting the group numbered around 15,000. Around a thousand of the new fighters were foreign, and the rest Syrian, he said. The surge followed Islamic State's rapid advance in northern Iraq in June, where its capture of the city of Mosul furnished it with new weaponry and resources, some of which were diverted to Syria. Much of the recruitment had taken place in Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa.
Andreas Krieg, an expert on transnational groups in the Middle East and a lecturer at King's College London, noted in June 2014 that the Islamic State " ... is quite fragile at the moment. They don't have the fighting force to actually administer the vast territory that they have gained. So I think because they are weak right now, if we act quickly, I think something can be done. But once they consolidate their power over months to come, I think we will face a much bigger problem that we will not be able to contain".
The number of Islamic State recruits is much higher than that estimated by foreign observers – around 100,000, one of Iraq’s foremost security experts with unique access to intelligence said on 28 August 2014. The terrorists are swallowing up other insurgent groups. Foreign estimates put the figure between 20,000 and 50,000. “[The] Islamic State didn’t come from nowhere,” according to Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises Iraq’s intelligence services and analyzes raw information gathered on the ground. He had studied the group’s progression for years. Recruitment has never been easier, according to al-Hashimi.
Voice of America reported [without attribuation] on 02 Septemer 2014 that "Even before U.S. forces left Iraq in 2011, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) was forging a professional military force, stoking Sunni unrest, mounting brutal bombing campaigns - and barbaric killings. It boasts of 50,000 fighters in Syria and 30,000 in Iraq while recruiting 6,000 more last month alone."
US intelligence authorities said 12 September 2014 that the Islamic State was more powerful than they originally estimated. The Central Intelligence Agency said the group had between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters on the ground in Iraq and Syria. This is much higher than the previous estimate of 10,000.
Matt Olsen, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, appeared on the Charlie Rose Show on 07 October 2014. He clarified that the 30,000 estimated number of ISIL fighters did not the estimted 15,000 foreign fighters in Syria, placing the total ISIL strength at nearly 50,000.
Up to 50,000 militants are currently fighting within the ranks of Islamic State (IS) terrorist groups, and this number is growing as extremists from a number of states including the CIS are joining them, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev said 26 September 2014. "The Islamic State radical movement currently controlling some parts of Iraq and Syria is growing stronger. Their numbers, according to preliminary data, range from 30,000 to 50,000 and they are able to undermine international security," Patrushev said, adding that supporters of radical Islam from Europe, the United States and the CIS continue to join the group and that the militants are characterized by high skill levels and cruelty in particular.
The Islamic State jihadist organization recruited more than 6,000 new fighters since America began targeting the group with air strikes in early August 2014, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 28 September 2014. At least 1,300 of the new recruits are said to be foreigners, who have joined IS from outside the parts of Syria and Iraq that it controls.
Islamic State militants killed 120 of its own members, most of them foreign fighters trying to return home, in the last two months of 2014, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the Munich Security Conference in February 2015 that “We’ve disrupted their command structure, undermined its propaganda, taken out half of their senior leadership, squeezed its financing, damaged its supply networks, dispersed its personnel, and forced them to think twice before they move in an open convoy.”
But experts who track IS told Bloomberg News 13 March 2015 that the Shura and Sharia councils, the groups that advise IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were mostly untouched and they’re skeptical that what Kerry said was accurate. Al-Baghdadi himself was still around, notwithstanding a close call in November when he was seriously injured in an air strike and had since recovered. And even though those airstrikes have killed several regional leaders, they were quickly replaced by a senior leadership unaffected by bombing raids.
In December 2015 US officials became the latest to join the chorus of voices accusing Islamic State of child conscription, saying the terror group recently sank to new lows. “We're seeing them lowering the conscription age," Colonel Pat Ryder, U.S. Central Command spokesman, said 04 December 2015. “This again is an indication that they are scraping to replace the losses that they've experienced on the battlefield.”
Evidence indicates the conscripts are as young as 10 and are used in various capacities, including to fight. Children have long been featured in Islamic State propaganda, sometimes touted as “Cubs of the Caliphate.” In a recent propaganda video posted on an IS website, six children were featured carrying out the execution of prisoners.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group with researchers across Syria, IS recruited more than 1,100 children in 2015. Researchers with Human Rights Watch said they were also hearing reports of the increased use of child soldiers by Islamic State. They pointed to UN findings that most of the 480 dead Islamic State fighters found after Iraqi forces retook the town of Baiji were children or teenagers.
According to UNAMI, in 2015 Da’esh forcibly recruited children to serve as informants, checkpoint staff, and suicide bombers. According to the UN report on children and armed conflict, from August 2014 to June 2015, Da’esh forcibly recruited hundreds of boys as young as eight years old from Ninewa Governorate, including Yezidis and Turkmen, and sent them to centers to train on weapons and learn combat. On January 14, a video widely circulated on social media showed a Da’esh training camp for children in Tall Afar District in Ninewa Governorate.
The video, titled “Farouq Institute for Cubs,” showed children under the age of 15 training to use weapons. On 06 February 2015, Da’esh imposed compulsory recruitment of children in Rutba, Anbar Governorate. The Ministry of Human Rights and local media reported that on June 21, Da’esh abducted more than 800 children and held them at al-Salamiya Camp in Mosul. Children ages five to 10 were placed in religious education camps, and children ages 10 to 15 were forced to attend military training. According to UNAMI, Da’esh allegedly stopped allowing families to pay 500,000 dinars ($455) in lieu of service.
For most militaries, let alone a terrorist group with aspirations of statehood, the mathematics would seem daunting if not impossible: a force of up to about 30,000 losing more than two-thirds of its fighters in just over a year. That is the pounding US military officials claim airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have dealt the Islamic State from August 2014 to December 2015, with the overall death toll put at 23,000. Yet the official U.S. intelligence estimates of Islamic State force strength in Iraq and Syria remained practically unchanged from before the strikes began, staying between 20,000 to 30,0000, thanks to a steady influx of foreign fighters.
Despite a number of military setbacks across Iraq in 2015, by early 2016 ISIL's manpower and their ability to carry out attacks did not seem to be waning.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonon said 06 February 2016 that 34 militant groups worldwide had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group as of mid-December. Militant groups from countries like the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Libya and Nigeria had pledged their allegiance, so IS posed 'an unprecedented threat,' Ban said.
Islamic State Threatens More Terror Against Iran
By Jeff Seldin June 08, 2017
Iran's Intelligence Ministry said Thursday that five of the men involved in attacks on the country's parliament and the tomb of former leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini were Iranians who had joined the Islamic State group.
The ministry said the men had fought for Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, and in Raqqa, Syria, before returning to Iran in August of last year.
Iranian officials also raised the death toll in Wednesday's attack, saying at least 17 people were killed and 40 wounded.
The near simultaneous attacks by machine-gun wielding assailants and two suicide bombers were claimed almost immediately by Islamic State, and could set off a new round of hostilities in an already tense Middle East.
In a new twist, the terror group's Amaq news agency also quickly distributed a 24-second video of the attack showing a bloody, lifeless body inside the parliament complex, and threatened it would strike again.
Iranian security officials late Wednesday confirmed IS involvement, saying the attackers, many disguised as women, were Iranians who had joined the terror group.
The officials said Iranian forces killed six of the attackers. Another five suspects were arrested, and two suicide bombers blew themselves up. Officials suggested a third attack had been foiled.
"These fireworks have no effect on Iran," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told state-run television, vowing the terrorists "will soon be eliminated."
Islamic State and Iran have long been at odds, with IS fighters facing off against Iranian proxies and Iranian-led forces in Syria and Iraq. But Wednesday's attacks marked the first by the Sunni terror group in the majority Shi'ite country.
U.S. intelligence called the incident the worst domestic terror attack in Tehran since the 1980s, but an official said there have been signs IS was, at least, hoping to strike.
"ISIS has expressed a growing interest in conducting attacks on the Iranian homeland," the official said, using an acronym for the militant group.
And pointing to increasingly virulent propaganda over the past six months, the official added it had become clear "Iran has been at the top of ISIS' enemy list."
Still, Iranian officials immediately placed the ultimate blame on Saudi Arabia.
"This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U.S. president and the [Saudi] backward leaders who support terrorists," according to statement by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. "The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack."
Condemnation for the attacks poured in from around the world.
The United Nations Security Council said the attacks were "barbaric and cowardly" and stressed that it condemned the attacks "in the strongest terms."
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent condolences and offered assistance
In a statement, President Donald Trump said the U.S. grieves and prays for "the innocent victims" of the attacks, and "the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times."
But Trump also warned "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote."
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter, criticizing both Trump's words and the U.S. Senate moving closer to new sanctions against Iran.
"Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by U.S. clients. Iranian people reject such U.S. claims of friendship," Zarif wrote.
Middle East tensions
Tensions have been running high across the Middle East, where Iran and Saudi Arabia have long vied for prominence and influence, including in Yemen where the rivals have been locked into a proxy war.
The region has further put been on edge following a decision by key Arab powers to cut ties with Qatar, accusing the government in Doha of supporting terror groups and of aligning too closely with Iran.
Some analysts fear Wednesday's terror attack in Tehran could prompt a harsh response by Iran, at home and perhaps even across the region.
At least initially, though, Iran's proxy forces have been quiet on social media.
"It's reminiscent of when some IS bombs have hit Baghdad or other parts of Iraq," said Phillip Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who closely follows Shi'ite militia activity. "Often there is little reaction and the groups continue to talk about their efforts."
Some of the groups issued condolences, Smyth said, though one Tehran-based account called it a "blueprint of [how] Zionist, Gulf-Saudi, and American terrorism [is exported] to Iran."