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18 Jul

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

War News

Children  Photos

We won’t be able to change what grew inside the brains and hearts  of the children of War.

Damn The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell 

A child leans against the bullet-riddled wall of his house. Three years ago, ISIL took control of the neighbourhood and Kaiwan suffered burns to his left arm while fleeing with his family. The scars of conflict are still fresh on the child's body and the city's walls. [Tom Peyre-Costa/NRC]

The McGlynn

ALJ: Battle for Yemen’s Hodeidah: ‘Shells raining down on us’

UN warns the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is worsening as tens of thousands of families are displaced by the Saudi-UAE coalition offensive to retake the strategic port city.

The battle for the port city of Hodeidah is intensifying as the Saudi-UAE coalition forces step up their offensive to take the strategic area from Houthi rebels.

Military analysts say that the Saudi-led coalition is not making much progress, but the relentless air raids and lack of aid are making an already dire humanitarian crisis even worse for the civilians who live in the region.

The United Nations says additional tens of thousands of families have been displaced from Hodeidah as a result of the fierce fighting.

Read full story »

AP: Officials: 30 civilians dead in recent clashes in Yemen city

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavy fighting over the last two weeks along Yemen’s western coast between pro-government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Shiite rebels has killed at least 30 civilians, including women and children, officials and witnesses said Tuesday.

Government forces have been trying to seize rebel-held areas along the western coast, including the port city of Hodeida, while the Saudi-led coalition has been targeting the rebels, known as Houthis, with airstrikes.

The fighting has been concentrated over the past two weeks in al-Tuhyta district, south of Hodeida, a vital lifeline for Yemen’s aid-dependent population. The coalition launched an offensive to retake the city in June.

Along with over 30 killed, fighting and airstrikes — as well as land mines — have wounded 57 civilians since the beginning of July, health and security officials said.

Last Tuesday, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition killed the eight-member family of Abdallah Kassem. They were driving south of al-Tuhyta when the strike hit their car, the officials said.

Separately, a 65-year woman who made her living selling flowers was killed when she stepped on a land mine, witnesses said.

The Houthis have laid land mines south of al-Tuhyta and along a road that links it with Zabid district, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. Witnesses spoke anonymously for fear of reprisals……………Impoverished Yemen has been devastated and pushed to the brink of famine by the stalemated three-year civil war that has left around two-thirds of its population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starving.

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REU: Syrian rebels, Iran reach deal to evacuate villages: sources

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian rebels and Iranian-backed negotiators have reached a deal to evacuate thousands of people from two rebel-besieged Shi’ite villages in northwestern Syria in return for the release of hundreds of detainees in state prisons, opposition sources said.

FILE PHOTO – People that were evacuated from the two villages of Kefraya and al-Foua walk near buses, after a stall in an agreement between rebels and Syria’s army, at insurgent-held al-Rashideen, Aleppo province, Syria April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

They said the negotiators from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a rebel coalition spearheaded by Syria’s former al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had agreed all residents would be evacuated from the mostly Shi’ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province.

A commander in the regional alliance that backs President Bashar al-Assad said 100 buses were heading to the two towns to evacuate around 6,000 alongside 300 Alawite civilians held by rebels.

“We now are working on the logistical arrangements,” said an Islamist rebel source familiar with the secret negotiations that Turkey was also involved in and which builds on a deal reached last year that was never fully implemented…………….Iran, which backs Assad against the mainly Sunni insurgents and has expanded its military role in Syria, has long taken an interest in the fate of its co-religionists in the two towns.

It has arranged dozens of air lifts of food and equipment to circumvent the rebel siege of the two towns.

Past deals have mostly affected Sunni Muslims living in former rebel-held areas surrounded by government forces and their allies after years of sieges that have in some cases led to starvation.

Read full story »

REU: Buses arrive to evacuate two besieged pro-Assad Syrian villages

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Dozens of buses reached two Syrian government loyalist villages under siege from insurgents in the northwest, as part of a deal to evacuate residents on Wednesday, state media said.

Some 6,000 people will leave, emptying out the mostly Shi’ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, a commander in the regional alliance that backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters.

Rebels and Iran-backed forces agreed a deal to evacuate the two mostly Shi’ite villages in return for the release of hundreds of detainees in state prisons, sources said on Tuesday…………“Buses and ambulances enter the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya to bring out the besieged people,” state news agency SANA said.

In April last year, thousands of people in the two villages were shuttled out to government territory in a swap deal.

In return, hundreds of residents left two towns at the border with Lebanon which were in the hands of Sunni rebels at the time and besieged by pro-government forces. They were evacuated to insurgent territory in northern Syria.

Read full story »

REU: Syrian army pounds southern city of Nawa, reports of casualties: residents

AMMAN (Reuters) – The Syrian army late on Tuesday launched intensive aerial strikes on the city of Nawa in southern Deraa province with reports of dozens of civilian casualties as the army pressed a Russian-backed offensive in the area.

A resident said dozens of missiles were also fired on the heavily populated city that lies near Quneitra province adjoining the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights where the army moved earlier this week to control the remaining parts of the country’s southwest in rebel hands.

“It’s like doomsday,” said Malek al Ghawi in a text message sent to Reuters, adding there were “many corpses in the streets and everyone is unable to pull them.”……………“We don’t know where to take the injured, the town has been burnt,” Abu Hashem, another resident said.

The city of Nawa, in which at least 100,000 people still live, is the largest urban centre left in rebel hands in Deraa province, where a Russian-backed offensive begun last month defeated rebels across a swathe of territory near Jordan and Israel.

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NYT: Health System in Mosul Remains Broken One Year After Defeat of Islamic State

MOSUL — A year after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from Islamic State the city’s healthcare system remains broken, its hospitals lie in ruins and even basic services are lacking, according to aid groups.

The government retook Mosul with help from a U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces a year ago but 380,000 people were displaced from the northern city, which had a population of 2 million prior to its capture by the militant group in June 2014.

The fighting caused 8 million tons of debris, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement. It is one of many international organizations and governments helping with relief and rehabilitation.

Nine of the city’s 13 hospitals are damaged and that means there are 1,000 hospital beds available rather than 3,000, said Heman Nagarathm, Iraq Head of Mission for MSF, Doctors Without Borders.

“There are not enough facilities or bed capacity available,” he said, adding that the current numbers were half the internationally accepted minimum standard.

MSF said that in May it received 3,557 cases at the emergency room of its west Mosul hospital of which 95 percent were caused by unsafe living conditions, such as people falling from damaged buildings or walls or buildings collapsing.

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REU: Iraqi police disperse protesters outside Zubair oilfield as unrest grows

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi police wielded batons and rubber hoses to disperse about 250 protesters gathered at the main entrance to the Zubair oilfield near Basra on Tuesday as unrest across southern cities over poor basic services gathered pace.

Since demonstrations began nine days ago, protesters have attacked government buildings, branches of political parties and powerful Shi’ite militias and stormed the international airport in the holy city of Najaf.

Tensions focused attention on the performance of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking a second term after May 12 parliamentary elections tainted by allegations of fraud that prompted a recount.

In his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Abadi promised to work with protesters to fight corruption and said the government would improve services.

AP: Afghan officials: IS bomber kills 20, Taliban kill 9 police

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 20 people in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, including a Taliban commander, while in southern Helmand province, a government commando unit freed 54 people from a Taliban-run jail, officials said.

In southern Kandahar province, the Taliban attacked a police checkpoint in Arghistan district late on Monday night, killing nine policemen and wounding seven, according to Daud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

Zia Durrani, the provincial police spokesman, said 25 Taliban fighters were killed and 15 were wounded in the ensuing battle in Arghistan, a violate districts close to the Pakistani border.

Afghanistan has faced intense attacks by both the Taliban and the country’s Islamic State affiliate recently, even as Washington considers a Taliban demand for direct talks in hopes of jump-starting a negotiated end to what is now the longest military engagement by U.S. forces.

A Taliban official in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain an unofficial office, told The Associated Press the insurgents want direct talks and are ready to put troop withdrawal as well as any outstanding concerns the United States might have on the table — but that so far, no official request to open negotiations has come from Washington.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, the Taliban official said de-listing Taliban leaders from U.S and U.N. watch lists and recognizing their office in Doha, Qatar’s capital, would aid progress in talks, should they begin.

Meanwhile, in northern Afghanistan’s Sar-i-Pul province, provincial police chief Abdul Qayuom Baqizoi said Tuesday’s attack by IS took place as village elders met with Taliban officials. He said 15 of the 20 killed were local elders and five were Taliban members, including a Taliban commander.

The Taliban and the Islamic State group have been waging bitter battles in recent days in northern Afghanistan. As many as 100 insurgents from both the Taliban and IS have died in the fighting, said Baqizoi.

Read full story »

NYT: Islamic State Fighters in Afghanistan Kill at Least 15 Taliban

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Islamic State fighters attacked the house of a Taliban commander in the northern Afghan province of Sar-e Pul on Tuesday, killing at least 15 people as they were attending a prayer ceremony, the provincial governor’s office said.

The attack, in Sayyad district of Sar-e Pul, followed reports from local officials of fighting between Islamic State and Taliban militants in other northern provinces over recent days.

“Two Daesh fighters entered a Taliban commander’s house where a ceremony was under way and opened fire,” said Zabihullah Amani, spokesman for the Sar-e-Pul governor’s office said, using a term widely used for Islamic State.

He said 15 Taliban were killed and another five wounded.

Northern Afghanistan has become one of the main areas of Islamic State activity in Afghanistan as the movement has spread beyond its original base in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where it remains strong.

Read full story »

Upcoming elections a good opportunity for the Taliban, Afghan nation: Ghani

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani once again invited the Taliban group to peace talks as he emphasized that the upcoming elections is a good opportunity for the group and the Afghan nation. Speaking during a meeting of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board in Kabul, President Ghani said the laws and regulations are modified in other .

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Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Staff Sgt. James T. Grotjan, 26, of Waterford, Connecticut, died July 12 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident July 8 at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

He was assigned to the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz, 32, from Summerville, South Carolina, died, July 12, in Afghanistan, of wounds sustained as a result of enemy small arms fire while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in Zurmat district, Paktiya province. The incident is under investigation.

Celiz was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California, died July 7, 2018, in Tarin Kowt District, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan from wounds sustained during an apparent insider attack. The incident is under investigation.

Maciel was assigned to 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia. Task Force 1-28 Infantry is currently deployed in support of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade.

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

Iraq A Deadly Deception – War Documentary 2018

WAR DOCUMENTARY: IRAQ A DEADLY DECEPTION ALJAZEERA DOCUMENTARIES 2018 On the evening of 9/11, George W Bush made a vow to the American public – that he would defeat terrorism.
Unknown to those listening in shock to the presidential address, the president and his advisers had already begun planning their trajectory into an invasion of Iraq. It was packaged as “holding responsible the states who support terrorism” by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser between 2001 and 2003.
“I believe it represented a recognition that we would never succeed against the terrorists if we went after them one at a time and as long as governments were facilitating the organisation, training, equipping of, financing of terrorist organisations, we were never going to get it under control,” says Perle.
After 100 days spent fighting those who had become publicly accepted as the culprits – Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan – the US set the ball rolling for war against Iraq.
On the evening of 9/11 the president is saying: well, maybe we’ll be going after Iraq now and somebody said, well, that would be against international law. The president responded: I don’t care, we’re going to kick some ass.

The War Criminals

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell  

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry.

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

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17 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

How Vladimir Putin outfoxed Donald Trump at Helsinki before their meeting even began

By Michelle Bentley, Royal Holloway

Well played. EPA/Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva Hando

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s summit with US counterpart Donald Trump was never going to be a balanced negotiation.

Putin had everything to gain, and Trump everything to lose. The Russian president controlled the agenda from the start, and Trump apparently didn’t even realise he needed to prepare. Putin came to the negotiations fresh from the diplomatic triumph of the World Cup (which even overshadowed the latest Novichok poisonings in the UK); Trump came fresh from a disastrous NATO summit and a terrible visit to the UK, where he was met by throngs of balloon-wielding protesters. It isn’t hard to see who’s running this show.

The week before the meeting, aboard Air Force One, Trump announced the issues he was prepared to negotiate on, including Crimea and Syria. He couldn’t have picked a better agenda for Putin, who wants concessions on all these matters and now has the opportunity to get them.

While this could have been a chance for Trump to reign in Russian power, no one ever seriously expected him to do so. Despite the president’s claim that he’s a great deal maker, he has been widely criticised as a useless diplomat who gives away US interests without a fight. Against the canny and experienced Putin, he’s political fresh meat.

Donald the unready

Trump also arrived in Helsinki direly unprepared. Whereas Russia has been strategising about this meeting since it was announced, Trump has not put together a concrete plan of action. Past diplomatic progress between the US and Russia has depended on preparation, such as Barack Obama’s 2009 summit with Russia’s then president, Dmitry Medvedev. Calling that summit a success might be pushing it, but Obama did still walk away with the beginnings of a new nuclear agreement, undeniably a major diplomatic win. Yet this achievement was only possible because of the incredible amount of planning that happened before the summit. Trump did not do this work, and so he came into the summit at a significant disadvantage.

Hardly surprising then that key experts on US foreign policy like Jon Wolfsthal are concerned that Trump is about to sell the proverbial farm. Specifically, they are worried that Trump could recognise Russia’s claims in Crimea and undermine US assurances to Ukraine.

Trump might also destabilise the fragile US-Russian relationship on nuclear weapons or allow Putin to interfere even further in Syria. He could even threaten his own recent denuclearisation agreement with North Korea if he doesn’t come down hard on Putin’s violation of sanctions against Kim Jong-un. None of these outcomes are good.

The agenda, however, is only a part of the problem. Just holding the summit is a major setback for international politics. Putin wants to disrupt the Western alliance, and he has advanced that cause simply by getting Trump to show up.

Read Full Article>>

As hunters hold immense clout in the Trump administration and most of the council’s members are advocates of the sport, critics worry the board will protect their hobby, not the animals

Donald Trump Jr on a Zimbabwe hunting trip.

Donald Trump Jr on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Hunting Legends

Donald Trump has called big-game trophy hunting a “horror show”, despite his own sons’ participation in elephant and leopard hunts, and in 2017 he formed an advisory board to steer US policy on the issue.

But rather than conservation scientists and wildlife advocates, it is composed of advocates for the hunting of elephants, giraffes and other threatened, charismatic species. And observers say that since Trump took office, court rulings and administrative decisions have in fact made it easier for hunters to import the body parts of lions, elephants and other animals killed in Africa.

Members of Trump’s advisory board, called the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), argue that the sport, in which wealthy hunters pay tens of thousands of dollars to shoot endangered megafauna, is a laudable method of conservation abroad.

“This council will be focused on making hunting a better tool for conservation,” said John Jackson III, a member of the IWCC and founder of Conservation Force, an international hunting non-profit. Only two of the council’s 16 members are not active advocates for trophy hunting – the rest belong to groups such as Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association. Instead of discussing whether the sport should be limited, the group is focusing on how to broaden its reach.

Awareness of trophy hunting has increased thanks to social media. In 2015, a Minnesota dentist ignited debate when he shot Cecil, an enormous, black-maned lion immensely popular with camera-wielding tourists and a focus of research. More recently, a Kentucky woman has been criticized for triumphantly posing next to a giraffe she killed; conservationists estimate giraffe populations have fallen 40% since 1990.

Trophy hunters hold immense clout in the Trump administration. The president’s sons, Donald Jr and Eric, frequently hunt in Africa. And the hunting advisory council operates under the auspices of the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, who received $10,000 from the Safari Club during his 2016 congressional campaign. The lopsided composition of the council has critics worried its decisions will protect their chosen pastime, not the animals.

Walter Palmer, right, with one of his kills – a White Rhino. He also hunted and killed Cecil, an enormous, black-maned lion popular with tourists and a focus of research, in 2015 in Zimbabwe.

Walter Palmer, right, with one of his kills – a white rhino. He also hunted and killed Cecil, an enormous, black-maned lion popular with tourists and a focus of research, in 2015 in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

“People who consider themselves conservationists don’t consider trophy hunting conservation,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s an elite, bourgeois activity.”

The US cannot ban its residents from hunting in another nation, but it does regulate the importation of trophies – the body parts of animals killed abroad. Hunters seeking to import the remains of species protected under the Endangered Species Act must provide proof that killing an individual animal broadly enhances the species’ odds of survival.

In 2017, Trump’s interior department eased Obama-era restrictions on trophy hunting, and the president used Twitter to voice displeasure with the practice, writing it was unlikely he would “change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal”. The department then reinstated the ban, but a subsequent court ruling found that it was not based on proper rule-making procedures, and imports continue………………As evidenced by the controversy surrounding recent high-profile kills, sport hunting poses an ethical conundrum as well. Sanerib sees the activity as a “pay-to-play” system that counters the Endangered Species Act’s intent. “As long as you have enough money, and you allegedly are putting it toward the conservation of the species, you can do whatever you want,” she said.

Jackson, the IWCC member, sees it another way. Politicians and the mainstream media have “put out bad information, and people have no idea that they’re attacking a paradigm that saves more wildlife than anybody, and to which there is no alternative,” he says. “I’ll repeat that – no alternative. When the hunting community is disenfranchised, that’s the end of most of the habitat, and most of the wildlife.”

Jackson’s hunts over the years may have resulted in the death of more than a dozen bull elephants – but he believes his cash has saved hundreds of others.

Read Full Article>>

More on the Environment:

World Politics

United States

Trump ‘treasonous’ after siding with Putin on election meddling>>

John McCain, chairman of the Senate armed services committee and a former Republican presidential nominee, said: “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivety, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

‘No collusion’: Trump and Putin deny election meddling in TV interviews>>

 

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17 Jul

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

War News

Children  Photos

We won’t be able to change what grew inside the brains and hearts  of the children of War.

Damn The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell 

A child leans against the bullet-riddled wall of his house. Three years ago, ISIL took control of the neighbourhood and Kaiwan suffered burns to his left arm while fleeing with his family. The scars of conflict are still fresh on the child's body and the city's walls. [Tom Peyre-Costa/NRC]

The McGlynn

IS fighters’ orphaned children stranded in Libya

REU: Syrian civilians approach Israeli frontier fence in Golan Heights

GOLAN HEIGHTS (Reuters) – Dozens of people walked on Tuesday from Syrian refugee encampments on the Golan Heights to Israel’s nearby frontier fence, where they stopped some 200 meters (yards) away and were ordered by an Israeli soldier to turn back.

People walk towards the border fence between Israel and Syria from its Syrian side as it is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the Israeli Syrian border July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

“You are on the border of the State of Israel. Go back, we don’t want to hurt you,” the soldier shouted in Arabic through a loudspeaker at the crowd, live Reuters TV footage showed.

The Syrian army is pressing a Russian-backed offensive against rebels in the area.

Read full story »

REU: Syrian army says it captures strategic hill overlooking Israeli border

AMMAN (Reuters) – The Syrian army and its allies have taken control of a strategic hill overlooking the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as it pushes forward with an offensive to seize the remaining parts of the southwest from rebels, state TV and rebels said on Monday.

It said the army had taken control of al-Haara hill on the second day of an offensive to take back the last parts of southwest Syria in Quneitra province that are in rebel hands and are close to the border with Israel.

The hilltop, which had a major anti-aircraft radar base that was part of elaborate Syrian army defenses against Israel, and is the highest ground in Deraa province, fell into rebel hands in October 2014.

It has been heavily bombed by Russian and Syrian army raids in the past two days as the army has moved closer to the Israeli border after gaining control of most of Deraa province to the east in a push that began last June, according to rebels and a war monitor.

A Syrian army source quoted by state media said the army had made territorial gains in Quneitra province where it seized the town of Mashara, about 11 km (7 miles) from the Golan frontier.

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REU: Turkey says reports of Kurdish militia withdrawal from Manbij ‘exaggerated’

ANKARA (Reuters) – A source at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Monday dismissed a militia report that Kurdish YPG fighters had completely left Syria’s Manbij region as exaggerated, saying their withdrawal was still under way.

Turkey and the United States reached a deal last month over Manbij, a town in northern Syria, after months of disagreement. Under the deal, the YPG would withdraw from Manbij and Turkish and U.S. forces would maintain security and stability around the town.

The Manbij Military Council militia controlling Manbij said the last YPG fighters had left on Sunday after completing their mission of military training of local forces. The Manbij Military Council has repeatedly said there are no YPG fighters there, only some YPG military advisers.

In a phone call on Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the importance of implementing the joint roadmap in Manbij, the Turkish presidency said.

The two leaders said the implementation of the deal would “significantly contribute” to the cooperation in solving the Syria problem, the presidency said.

Washington’s support for the YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State has infuriated Ankara, which sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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NYT: Iraqi Police Use Batons to Disperse Protesters Outside Zubair Oilfield

BASRA, Iraq — Iraqi police used batons and rubber hoses to disperse about 250 protesters at the main entrance to the giant Zubair oilfield near Basra on Tuesday as unrest across southern cities over poor basic services gathers pace.

Since demonstrations began nine days ago, protesters have attacked government buildings, branches of political parties and powerful Shi’ite militias and stormed the international airport in the holy city of Najaf.

Officials and industry sources said the protests have not affected output at Zubair, run by Italy’s Eni, and the other major oilfields including Rumaila developed by BP and West Qurna 2 managed by Lukoil.

Many Iraqis believe their Iraqi leaders do not share the country’s oil wealth. Some demonstrators said foreign laborers were robbing them of employment at oil companies. Three protesters have been killed, including one at West Qurna 2.

“We the people of Basra hear about the Iraqi oil and its huge revenues, but we never enjoy its benefits,” said 24-year-old protester Esam Jabbar.

“Strangers have decent jobs at our oilfields and we don’t have the money to pay for a cigarette. That’s wrong and must be stopped.” Jabbar said he was unemployed.

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REU: U.S. State Department in talks with Turkey to sell Patriot system

FARNBOROUGH, Britain (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department on Monday said it was working with NATO ally Turkey on the possible sale of a Raytheon Co Patriot missile defense system to avert its purchase of a Russian-made S-400 system.

Tina Kaidanow, Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, told reporters at the Farnborough Airshow that U.S. officials were “trying to give the Turks an understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriot.” She did not say if the delegations were meeting at the air show.

Turkey had passed over the Patriot system twice in its selection process, first choosing a Chinese system, then turning to the Russian S-400 system in 2017.

Industry executives said Turkey had sought more technology transfers than Washington was previously willing to approve.

U.S. and NATO officials have repeatedly warned Ankara that the Russian system cannot be integrated into the NATO air and missile defense system, and its purchase would jeopardize Ankara’s purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Kevin Fahey, the Pentagon’s most senior official weapons buyer at the show told reporters at the show that “Turkey has had an interest in Patriot, so we’ve been working for a while how we can make that work.”

Kaidanow said Washington was worried that U.S. allies purchasing Russian systems would support “some of the least good behavior that we have seen from them (Russia) in various places including Europe but also elsewhere.”

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AP: Officials: In policy shift, US open to meeting with Taliban

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is open to holding direct talks with the Taliban to encourage negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government to end 17 years of war, U.S. officials said.

That marks a tactical shift by the Trump administration, which has previously only appeared willing to participate in discussions with the Taliban if those talks also involve the Afghan government. The U.S. officials said Monday that Afghan-to-Afghan negotiation remains the goal of any engagement with the militants.

The officials were not authorized to speak to media and requested anonymity.

The Taliban have long refused direct talks with the Afghan government, demanding instead to negotiate with Washington. The militants have persisted in that stance despite Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s unilateral extension of a holiday cease-fire last month in hopes of encouraging the militants to come to the bargaining table. With the Taliban continuing to mount deadly attacks, Ghani ordered government forces to resume military operations this month.

The unprecedented, three-day cease-fire by both sides had offered a rare glimpse of peace for Afghans during which militants fraternized with security force members.

A Taliban official in the small Gulf Arab nation of Qatar told The Associated Press on Monday that no American official or intermediary has been in touch with them to start direct talks, and it had only heard of it in the media. The administration’s willingness to hold direct talks with the Taliban was first reported by The New York Times on Sunday.

The Taliban official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was authorized to speak to journalists, said, “We wait for them to officially inform us.” But he added that if the U.S. is interested in talks, it should take steps to get Taliban leaders off a sanctions blacklist and support the formal opening of the Taliban office in Qatar where its political representatives reside. The official reiterated the Taliban’s call for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Asked if the U.S. was willing to hold direct talks with the Taliban, the State Department said Monday, the United States “is exploring all avenues to advance a peace process in close consultation with the Afghan government.”

The department added that “any negotiations over the political future of Afghanistan will be between the Taliban and Afghan government.”

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AP: Official: 54 released from Taliban prison in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least 54 people, including security personnel and civilians, were released from a Taliban prison in southern Helmand province, a provincial official said Tuesday.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the prisoners were freed after a commando unit raided the prison late Monday night in Musa Qala district.

Zwak said there were 32 civilians, 16 police, four soldiers and two military doctors who had been locked up by the insurgents. He said security forces were still securing the area.

The Taliban did not immediately comment on the raid, but the insurgents are in control of the majority of the districts in Helmand, where they have increased their attacks against provincial officials and security forces.

The Taliban have long refused direct talks with the Afghan government, demanding instead to negotiate with the U.S. The militants maintained that position despite Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s unilateral extension of a holiday cease-fire last month in hopes of encouraging the militants to come to the bargaining table. When the Taliban continued to mount deadly attacks, Ghani ordered government forces to resume military operations this month.

Trump administration officials said Monday for the first time that the U.S. would be open to holding direct talks with the Taliban to encourage negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government to end 17 years of war. They said that Afghan-to-Afghan negotiations remain the goal of any engagement with the militants, however.

That marks a tactical shift by the administration, which previously only appeared willing to participate in discussions with the Taliban if those talks also involved the Afghan government. The officials were not authorized to speak to media and requested anonymity.

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37 militants killed in Faryab and Kunduz operations: Shaheen Corps

At least thirty seven militants were killed during the separate operations and airstrikes conducted in northern Faryab and Kunduz provinces of Afghanistan. The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said at least 14 militants were killed during the airstrikes in Char Dara and Dashti Archi districts of Kunduz province. A statement .

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Doctors and soldiers among 58 rescued from Taliban prison in Helmand

The Commando Forces of the Afghan National Army (ANA) have rescued at least 58 people from a Taliban prison in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense in a statement said the prisoners were rescued during an operation conducted late on Monday night in the vicinity of Musa Qala district. The statement further .

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28 militants killed in Afghan-US airstrikes in Kandahar and Helmand

At least 28 anti-government armed militants were killed in separate airstrikes conducted by the Afghan and US forces in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces. A spokesman for the Kandahar Police Commandment Zia Durani said at least twelve militants were killed in a airstrike conducted by the foreign forces in this province. He said a vehicle .

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Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Staff Sgt. James T. Grotjan, 26, of Waterford, Connecticut, died July 12 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident July 8 at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

He was assigned to the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz, 32, from Summerville, South Carolina, died, July 12, in Afghanistan, of wounds sustained as a result of enemy small arms fire while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in Zurmat district, Paktiya province. The incident is under investigation.

Celiz was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California, died July 7, 2018, in Tarin Kowt District, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan from wounds sustained during an apparent insider attack. The incident is under investigation.

Maciel was assigned to 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia. Task Force 1-28 Infantry is currently deployed in support of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade.

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

Iraq A Deadly Deception – War Documentary 2018

WAR DOCUMENTARY: IRAQ A DEADLY DECEPTION ALJAZEERA DOCUMENTARIES 2018 On the evening of 9/11, George W Bush made a vow to the American public – that he would defeat terrorism.
Unknown to those listening in shock to the presidential address, the president and his advisers had already begun planning their trajectory into an invasion of Iraq. It was packaged as “holding responsible the states who support terrorism” by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser between 2001 and 2003.
“I believe it represented a recognition that we would never succeed against the terrorists if we went after them one at a time and as long as governments were facilitating the organisation, training, equipping of, financing of terrorist organisations, we were never going to get it under control,” says Perle.
After 100 days spent fighting those who had become publicly accepted as the culprits – Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan – the US set the ball rolling for war against Iraq.
On the evening of 9/11 the president is saying: well, maybe we’ll be going after Iraq now and somebody said, well, that would be against international law. The president responded: I don’t care, we’re going to kick some ass.

The War Criminals

The war criminals, Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell  

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry.

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

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16 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

World Politics

Finland

Helsinki ‘not neutral ground’ despite its history of hosting key cold war meetings

A protest in Helsinki ahead of the summit meeting

A protest in Helsinki ahead of the summit meeting. Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

The Finns are proud of hosting some of the cold war’s most historic summits. But many in the country will tell you: don’t call Helsinki “neutral ground”.

Protesters came out on Sunday to attack both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin before the controversial summit between the two leaders in the Finnish capital.

“Not welcome,” read one sign, held by Hemmo Siponen, showing a cartoon of Trump and Putin embracing. “Fuck you both,” read another carried by two young women.

“It doesn’t feel good to have them here,” said Anna Bruun, a civil servant who said she was opposed to “great power politics” playing out in her home city.

The country’s largest newspaper has put up English- and Russian-language street adverts saying: “Mr President, welcome to the land of free press.”

Helsinki often served as a crucial bridge between the Soviet Union and the US during the cold war. The city was the venue for the 1975 Helsinki accords in which Gerald Ford and Leonid Brezhnev signed a 35-state declaration that called for respect of sovereign territory and human rights. Other notable summits included George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, and Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in 1997.

“If the result is something in the tradition of those agreements, then it could be very positive, but if it’s something that becomes Munich-Yalta-Helsinki, then that would be catastrophic,” Laura Saarikoski, the US correspondent for the Finland daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, said, referring to talks synonymous with appeasement.

Saarikoski and a colleague published an open letter in the newspaper on Sunday that praised the “spirit of Helsinki” as a summer setting conducive to talks, but showed that the hosts would also have their say.

“Hopefully everyone will nevertheless understand that European matters can no longer be agreed on over the heads of Europeans,” the letter read.

Many here recall the forced Soviet-era neutrality, a policy called Finlandisation, as a dark period in the country’s history.

Finland has established its western credentials in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union, with EU membership and an enhanced partnership with Nato.

“Finns don’t view themselves as being neutral between east and west,” said Mika Aaltola of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. “Since the end of the cold war, the policy has been that Finland is part of the west. We have built a society that is very solid and unified, world class in terms of many rankings, as a way of getting out of the geographical bind we found ourselves in.”

Russia still maintains some strong ties with Finland. Putin has met regularly with the country’s last two prime ministers, and a close associate, Boris Rotenberg, holds Finnish citizenship and business interests in the country. Russia is also the source of important energy projects in the region, including a nuclear power plant and gas pipeline.

“I support open dialogue,” said Hemmo Siponen, a protester. “But that should be done in the open. I don’t want backdoor talks to be held here.”

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Russia

An increase in the retirement age blamed for drop in approval ratings for Russian president

President Vladimir Putin with Croatia’s president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

President Vladimir Putin with Croatia’s president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, during the closing ceremony of the World Cup on Sunday. Photograph: Mikhail Tereshchenko/Tass

As France clinched the World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday evening, the cameras panned to Vladimir Putin, looking delighted in the official box together with Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

The Russian president has every reason to be happy: the general consensus is that Russia has hosted a successful World Cup and hundreds of thousands of foreigners are leaving with positive impressions of the country.

But a strange thing is happening, as Russia basks in the glow of a job well done: Putin’s approval ratings are dropping among Russians.

A recent survey by a state-funded polling agency showed that confidence in the Russian president dropped from 77% to 63% since elections in March, with the biggest reason believed to be a controversial rise in the pension age, which was announced on the first day of the World Cup.

The World Cup has passed off with no major incidents off the field, no violence or hooliganism and many positive stories of fans who travelled to Russia. On Friday, Infantino said this year’s World Cup had been the best ever and thanked Russia for the organisation. “It is an incredible, amazing World Cup. From the very beginning of the tournament, we have experienced incredible emotions from being here,” he said.

Having been in power for the best part of two decades, Putin and Russia are often seen as interchangeable concepts: what’s good for one is good for the other. This time, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“One of the tasks of the tournament was to further link the concepts of ‘Putin’ and ‘Russia’ but instead it has started to move them in different directions,” wrote political commentator Andrei Kolesnikov in a recent comment for Vedomosti newspaper.

Putin attended the opening match, but missed Russia’s extraordinary win against Spain in Moscow and their narrow quarter-final defeat to Croatia in Sochi. Those games were instead witnessed by the unpopular and gaffe-prone prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

In March, Putin won another six-year term with an overwhelming 77% of the vote in the presidential elections. Despite the impressive figures, the public mood around election time was marked by apathy, with many saying they were voting for Putin because there was no alternative.

The pension change was announced on the opening day of the tournament and Putin himself has attempted to distance himself from the measure, but the polling figures suggest this has not been successful.

There were protests in a number of Russian cities in early July, organised by an unusually broad coalition of political forces, including parliamentary opposition parties that are usually broadly loyal to the Kremlin. The organisers did not hold protests in World Cup host cities.

The retirement age will rise gradually from 55 to 63 for women and from 60 to 65 for men over a number of years. Economists say it is important to raise the age from norms that were set in the era of Joseph Stalin, but the move is extremely unpopular with Putin’s supporters.

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