Archive for the ‘ISIS’ Category

As US Kills ISIS Leaders, a Notorious One Remains Elusive – New York Times

As for Mr. Baghdadi, the Defense Department has no concrete evidence of whether he is still alive, Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the American-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State, told reporters on Friday from Baghdad.

That said, we dont have any concrete evidence on whether or not hes dead, either, Colonel Dillon said of Mr. Baghdadi, who has been the subject of a three-year manhunt.

Since the American-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State began in August 2014, reports of Mr. Baghdadis death have repeatedly surfaced. None have turned out to be true.

The latest foray into figuring out whether the Islamic State leader is dead or alive began June 16, when Russias military which is also bombing the Islamic State in Syria said it was looking into whether one of its airstrikes in the Syrian desert had killed Mr. Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State. In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the Russian Air Force had struck a meeting of Islamic State leaders on May 28 outside Raqqa, Syria, the groups de facto capital, possibly killing Mr. Baghdadi.

This week, Russia upgraded its assessment, as the deputy foreign minister, Oleg V. Syromolotov, said that Moscow was increasingly certain that Russian warplanes had killed Mr. Baghdadi three weeks ago.

Throughout it all, American defense officials have maintained that they have no proof that the Islamic State leader is dead. They said they were reviewing reports from May 28 and subsequent days for clues, but pointed out that Mr. Baghdadi has not been heard from publicly since November, when the Islamic State released a blistering audio recording in which he urged forces to remain firm in the face of the American-backed Iraqi offensive in Mosul. So the fact that he has not popped up publicly since May 28 does not necessarily mean he has been killed.

But on Friday, Colonel Dillon seemed to inch ever so slightly in the direction that Mr. Baghdadi may be dead. We certainly know that if he is still alive, we expect that he is not being able to influence what is currently happening in Raqqa or Mosul or over all, he told a Pentagon briefing, as they continue to lose their physical caliphate.

Military officials insisted they did not mind whether the Russians killed him and not the American-backed coalition. If, that is, he actually is dead.

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A version of this article appears in print on June 24, 2017, on Page A5 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Strikes Kill Top Figures in ISIS, but the Most Notorious Target Remains Elusive.

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As US Kills ISIS Leaders, a Notorious One Remains Elusive – New York Times

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What the Destruction of the Mosul Mosque Shows About ISIS – TIME

First built in the 12 th century, Mosuls Nouri Mosque withstood the rise and fall of the Mongol, Ottoman, and British empires. The building survived the regime of Saddam Hussein, an American invasion, and the first 14 years of civil war in Iraq. But on Wednesday night, ISIS gunmen blew it up.

After nearly nine months of brutal fighting for the city, ISIS destruction of the mosque deprives its opponents of an expected emotional conclusion to an epochal battle. The mosque is where the Islamic State signaled the peak of its power in June 2014, days after overrunning the city of more than a million people, the largest population center ISIS captured. It was at the Nouri mosque that ISIS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a sermon proclaiming victory and conquest. With the building now reduced to rubble, Iraqs military and government will have no opportunity for a similar declaration.

The leveling of the historic mosque is emblematic of the painful reality of the battle for Mosul. Though the city is on the brink of its full liberation from ISIS, a vast portion of the city has been shattered. In much of western Mosul, where the battle has been the fiercest, entire neighborhoods have been reduced to a ghostly landscape of hollowed out buildings. What had been apartment blocks, shops, restaurants, and hotels are now rubble. The citys airport, train station, government buildings, and museum have been devastated. ISIS will soon be gone, but the built environment of the city is shattered.

The loss of the Nouri mosque also obliterates an important symbol of Mosul and Iraq as a whole. The site, with its iconic leaning minaret even appears on the 10,000 Iraqi Dinar note (a denomination equal to about eight and a half U.S. dollars). The slanted minaret was nicknamed al-Hadba , the hunchback. Majid Alsayegh, who was born and raised in Mosul and now runs a consulting business in Philadelphia, says the mosque represents generations of memories.

My father and his siblings grew up going to Friday prayers at the mosque, learning to read and write at the mosque, he tells TIME. ISIS destruction of the mosque is an evil attempt to destroy the very core of Mosul, he adds.

The destruction of the mosque follows a pattern in which confronting ISIS renders an area unlivable, the militants leaving behind ruins and boobytraps as they retreat. In the Iraqi city of Ramadi, freed from ISIS in December 2015, teh battle to reclaim the city left more than 5,700 buildings destroyed according to the United Nations. Fallujah, was all but deserted when Iraqi troops finally seized it from ISIS in June 2016. South of Mosul, retreating ISIS fighters set fire to oil fields, igniting blazes that continued for months, choking peoples lungs and blotting out the sky .

In addition to ISIS’ own brutality, the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes have also taken a huge toll on cities and on human life. The coalition has launched more than 22,000 strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and reports of civilian casualties are surging. The nonprofit monitoring group Airwars , some 3,100 civilians have been killed in American-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria between August 2014 and March 2017. In March alone, more than a thousand civilian deaths were reported in Mosul.

The Islamic States propagandists claimed the historic mosque was destroyed in a coalition airstrike. The U.S. military rejected those claims, and surveillance video released by the Iraqi military showed an explosion consistent with a planned detonation, not an aistrike. Still, for ISIS to score a propaganda victory, muddying the waters may be enough. The ISIS story is taken seriously. For many the culprit is ambiguous, at best, said Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, on Twitter.

The landscape of urban destruction in Iraq and in the parallel war in neighboring Syria is drawing comparisons to the devastation of Europes cities in World War Two. We are witnessing a profound change in the history of armed conflict which sees towns and cities locked in entrenched patterns of urban warfare for years at a time, writes the renowned military historian Anthony Beevor in the forward to a report on urban warfare released in June by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Today, ISIS fighters are holed up in a shrinking enclave of Mosul surrounded by Iraqi troops and bombarded from the air by the U.S.-led military coalition. Tens of thousands of civilians are also trapped in the besieged zone, facing death if they attempt to flee. In early June, the U.N.s human rights chief reported that jihadist gunmen shot and killed 163 civilians to prevent them from fleeing the Islamic State-controlled enclave. More than 860,000 people have already fled Mosul, and many still make the attempt.

In Mosul at the end of March, an Iraqi couple paused in the road to scrape mud from their shoes. Days earlier, Umm Tiba, 33, and her husband, Abu Tiba, 40, fled the ISIS-held section of the city, sprinting across the front line in the early evening to the relative safety of the Iraqi military-controlled section of the city. Now they stood in the muck on the highway that connects Mosul to Baghdad, out in search of supplies for their family of seven. Like tens of thousands of other Mosul residents, the pair were struggling to survive. Before ISIS arrived in Mosul, Abu Tiba had a small shop selling CDs. The jihadists arrested and tortured him for distributing music banned under the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate. He sticks a finger in his mouth and pops out a set of false teeth to illustrate the severity of the beatings. During the battle, they decided to flee when a mortar hit their house.

They faced new problems on the military-controlled side of the front line. With no source of income, the two had virtually no way to buy food. They had appealed to Iraqi soldiers for help, but to no avail. For their own safety, the couple asked to have their full names withheld. And yet, Umm Tiba says of their situation, In all cases this is better than ISIS.

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What the Destruction of the Mosul Mosque Shows About ISIS – TIME

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World record: Canadian sniper shoots ISIS fighter dead from over 2 miles away – RT

Published time: 23 Jun, 2017 15:33

A sniper for Canada’s elite special forces in Iraq has broken the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot, the country’s military has confirmed to several media. The fatal shot targeted a member of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target at 3,540 meters (2.19 miles), the unit said in a Thursday statement.

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For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our Coalition partners we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place.

However, the Globe and Mail – the first to report on the incident – said that the operation took place “within the last month.”

The sniper used a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle when firing at the militant from a high-rise building. The shot reportedly took less than 10 seconds to hit the IS fighter.

The achievement marks a new world record for sniper kill shots. The previous record was held by British sniper Craig Harrison, who shot a Taliban fighter with a 338 Lapua Magnum rifle from about 2,475 meters (1.53 miles) away in 2009.

The shot in question actually disrupted a Daesh (IS) attack on Iraqi security forces, a military source told the newspaper. Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far way, the bad guys didnt have a clue what was happening.

The kill was independently verified by video footage and other data, according to the newspaper.

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However, the Canadian military insisted that it is still merely taking part in an “advise and assist” role for Iraqi forces.

“This takes the form of advice in planning for their operations and assistance to defeat Daesh through the use of coalition resources,” the statement said, as quoted by CBC.

Canada has been part of the war against IS since 2014. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal government ordered the withdrawal of six Canadian fighter jets that were involved in targeted IS positions in Iraq and Syria in 2015, it has expanded the number of special forces involved in training missions with Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

IS has responded by repeatedly calling for attacks on Canada. In October 2014, a man who claimed allegiance to the group plowed his car into two Canadian soldiers in a Quebec mall, killing one.

Just two days after that attack, a Canadian-Libyan by the name of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed a Canadian soldier at the National War Memorial before breaking into parliament buildings. He was shot dead by authorities, with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying he had been motivated by Canada’s participation in the war against IS.

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World record: Canadian sniper shoots ISIS fighter dead from over 2 miles away – RT

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Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria – NBCNews.com


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Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria
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Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria. Fri, Jun 23. Two Russian frigates and a submarine in the Mediterranean Sea targeted ISIS positions in Syria's Hama province, Moscow said. Share Video; Facebook · Twitter · E-mail; Embed. Copy this
Russia blasts Isis from ships in the MediterraneanMetro
Iran Rains Missiles on ISIS in SyriaWhich Means Israel Is in RangeObserver
What's Trump's Syria Plan Once ISIS Is Defeated?Newsweek
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Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria – NBCNews.com

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US forces say they’ve killed ISIS financier | TheHill – The Hill

U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria have killed a key figure who moved millions of dollars for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon saidFriday.

Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr Rawi was killed in a June 16 airstrike in Abu Kamal, Syria, according to a U.S. Central Command statement.

Rawi, a Syrian native, was a known terrorist financial facilitator for ISIS and moved millions of dollars for the terror organizations attack and logistics network.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Rawi and his company in December, the first time the United States had specifically targeted an ISIS-affiliated money services business.

The statement notes that the coalition targeted and killed several of Rawis close terrorist associates, including Samir Idris, another ISIS financial facilitator and international money launderer killed June 7 near Mayadin, Syria.

The Coalitions efforts to disrupt and attack ISISs financial networks have restricted the terror groups ability to move resources and export terrorism, Central Command said.

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US forces say they’ve killed ISIS financier | TheHill – The Hill

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New ISIS Poster Shows a Jeep Rolling Over the Skulls of the Dead – The Drive

An ISIS propaganda image released by the terrorist-group-affiliated Nashir News Agency shows a Jeep Grand Cherokee with what appears to be an ISIS flag attached climbing over a mound of skulls with the caption “run them over without mercy.”

The vehicle in the image is placed in front of a background that shows a city in distressgrey skies, tornadoes, and damaged skyscrapers.

The propaganda, which we first found via DailyMail, is part of an effort from ISIS to push more of the terror group’s followers to commit vehicle attacks in the western parts of the world before the end of Ramadan. Similarly-styled attacks have recently been seen in London, Berlin, and Nice, among other cities.

In late March, a 52-year-old man drove his car into pedestrians on the sidewalk of the Westminster Bridge in London and continued to attack innocent bystanders near the Palace of Westminster with a knife until he was shot and killed by an armed police officer. On that day, March 22, six were killed, including one unarmed police officer, and more than 50 were injured.

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Is ISIS Conceding Defeat? – The New Yorker

Three years ago, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi chose the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, in Mosul, as the site to proclaim his new Islamic State. The mosque, known as al-Hadba, or the hunchback, for its leaning minaret, is a fabled landmark in the Middle East. It dates back to the twelfth century. The creation of a modern caliphate was symbolized when the black ISIS flag was hoisted atop the minaret, on July 4, 2014. It was Baghdadis first, and still only, public appearance.

I do not promise you, as the kings and rulers promise their followers and congregations, luxury, security, and relaxation, he said , from the mosques pulpit. Instead, I promise you what Allah promised his faithful worshipersa jihad to consume all other territory and people in the world. This is a duty on Muslims that has been lost for centuries.

The Iraqi Army had set its sights on the al-Nuri Mosque as the ultimate prize in the campaign to oust ISIS from Mosul, which was launched eight months ago. Ferocious urban battles around the Old City have been fought within fifty yards of the mosque over the past few days. Iraqis hoped that their beloved mosque would be liberated by Eid al-Fitr, the joyful celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Instead, on Wednesday night, ISIS prempted the Army by blowing up the Great Mosque. Ironically, it acted during the period of Ramadan known as Laylat al-Qadr, when Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

Once again, the Great Mosque of al-Nuri reflects the fate of the worlds most notorious terrorist group; this time, its demise. The black flag no longer flies from the tipping minaret.

Blowing up the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri Mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat, Iraqs Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, said on Thursday. Its a matter of a few days and we will announce the total liberation of Mosul.

ISIS is now in retreat from both Mosul, the largest city under its control, and its pseudo capital, in Raqqa, Syria. In the past month, fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have taken territory on the outskirts of Raqqa. At its height, the Islamic State was roughly the size of the country of Jordan or the state of Indiana. Since late last year, the group has lost vast swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria, with some leaders abandoning major cities for more remote areas in the Euphrates Valley, between the two countries.

The fate of Baghdadi himself is also increasingly uncertain. On Thursday, the Russian deputy foreign minister, Oleg Syromolotov, said that there is now a high degree of certainty that the Islamic States emir was liquidated in a Russian air strike in Syria last month. The claim was met with skepticism in Washington. But U.S. officials admit that they do not know the whereabouts, or status, of Baghdadi, who was detained by American troops for ten months, in 2004, then released.

Baghdadis last known public message was released from hiding in November, when he appealed to followers not to weaken their commitment to the ISIS jihad. Turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, he told them. Wreak havoc in their land, and make their blood flow as rivers.

This raging battle and total war, and the great jihad that the state of Islam is fighting today, only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction, that all this is a prelude to victory, Baghdadi said. The recording was released online. Not a peep has been heard from him since.

Baghdadis past bravado now rings hollow, especially as other senior leaders around him are picked off. On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that Turki al-Binali, the self-proclaimed Grand Mufti of ISIS its chief clerichad been killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria on May 31st. The cleric was a close confidant of Baghdadi. He developed ISIS propaganda and recorded lectures attempting to justify and encouraging the slaughter of innocents, the Pentagon said, in a statement.

Spokesmen for the Islamic State continue to make claims online designed to encourage its fighters or confuse its enemies. They initially tried to blame the mosques destruction on U.S. air strikes. But Mosul residents reported this week that they had been shooed away from its grounds, near the western banks of the Tigris River, as ISIS prepared for a last stand.

The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Jn Kubi, said that the Islamic States decision to blow up the mosque was a clear sign of the groups imminent collapse. This latest barbaric act of blowing up a historic Islamic site adds to the annals of Daesh’s crimes against Islamic, Iraqi and human civilization, he said, in a statement, and added that it shows their desperation and signals their end.

The destruction of a historic mosque may mark the beginning of the end of the Islamic State. But then what? The looming issue is what the loss of its territory means for ISIS as a stateless movement. Its loyalists still number in the many thousands. And thousands who fought in Iraq and Syria have already returned home; its influence is now global. It is still capable of craven violence, from inspiring terrorist attacks in Britain to waging an insurgency in the Philippines. The scariest scenario is the prospect of someday feeling nostalgia for a period when most of ISIS was contained in one place.

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Is ISIS Conceding Defeat? – The New Yorker

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Sniper hits ISIS target from over 2 miles away – CNN

The unnamed marksman was part of Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 special operations unit that is currently deployed in an “advise and assist” capacity to help Iraqi security forces battle ISIS from behind the front line in Mosul.

“The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 meters. For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our Coalition partners, we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place,” the unit said in a written statement.

Due to the distance of the shot, some voices in the military community expressed skepticism at the Canadian government’s report. The reported shot from 3,540 meters, or about 2.2 miles, would eclipse the previous sniper world record of 2,474 meters or 1.54 miles set by the United Kingdom’s Craig Harrison when he killed two Taliban insurgents in November 2009.

“The elite sniper was using a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle while firing from a high-rise during an operation that took place within the last month in Iraq. It took under 10 seconds to hit the target,” the paper said.

The Canadian military unit confirmed the distance of shot shortly after the Globe and Mail story was published, but the shot has yet to be formally confirmed a third party agency.

In 2016, the Canadian government announced it would triple its training efforts in northern Iraq despite pulling out of the US-led ISIS bombing campaign the year before.

In May, Iraqi forces began what they hope is the final push to crush ISIS in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city,

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Sniper hits ISIS target from over 2 miles away – CNN

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Russian warships fire missiles at ISIS in Syria – CNN International

The Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich frigates, along with the Krasnodar submarine, fired the cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea, the Defense Ministry said in a statement posted to state news agency RIA.

ISIS command points and a weapons and ammunition depot were destroyed in Hama province of Syria, according to RIA. The ministry also said Turkey and Israel were informed about the missile launches, but made no mention of informing the US, which is leading an international coalition against ISIS in the country.

The strike comes amid tensions after a US warplane downed Syrian jet, the first time the US has shot down a manned aircraft since 1999.

Russia is the most powerful ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the rare air-to-air encounter prompted Moscow to suspend a de-confliction hotline with the US-led coalition, designed to prevent any accidents in the skies over Syria.

The Syrian conflict has transformed from a civil war to a more complex battle involving international players and their proxies. While international players are focused on targeting ISIS, many are maneuvering to either prop up or depose Assad and his regime.

Iran, which also supports Assad, on Sunday fired missiles at ISIS targets in Syria, the first such strike carried out by Tehran on another country in three decades. It is a major escalation of Iran’s role in the war.

Russia this week said it thinks one of its airstrikes may have killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi, a figure who has evaded international forces for years. But US officials told CNN that the US has not confirmed Russia’s claim.

The US downed the Syrian warplane after a series of clashes between pro-regime troops and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US backs to fight ISIS.

According to the Pentagon, Syrian regime soldiers equipped with tanks, artillery and technical vehicles were advancing on the US-backed rebels’ position, forcing the coalition to use the de-confliction hotline with the Russians in an attempt to turn the regime troops back.

When that proved unsuccessful, coalition aircraft performed “strafing runs” near the regime positions, which halted their advance.

The Russian Ministry of Defense called the downing of the plane “a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic” and “military aggression.”

Russia has stopped using the de-confliction hotline, a US official said, and Moscow warned that aircraft operating where the shoot-down occurred would be considered “air targets” for its forces in Syria.

But the downing did not appear to hamper Syria, which attempted a similar bombing Tuesday, according to US military officials.

The US official told CNN that another Syrian Su-22 fighter made an approach Tuesday in what the military assessed as a possible bombing run on the SDF near the same area.

The official said that coalition aircraft made a show of force and conducted a warning maneuver, and the Syrian fighter jet then aborted its trajectory and left the area.

CNN’s Barbara Starr, Tim Lister and Elizabeth Roberts contributed to this report.

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Russian warships fire missiles at ISIS in Syria – CNN International

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As US Kills ISIS Leaders, a Notorious One Remains Elusive – New York Times

As for Mr. Baghdadi, the Defense Department has no concrete evidence of whether he is still alive, Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the American-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State, told reporters on Friday from Baghdad. That said, we dont have any concrete evidence on whether or not hes dead, either, Colonel Dillon said of Mr. Baghdadi, who has been the subject of a three-year manhunt. Since the American-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State began in August 2014, reports of Mr. Baghdadis death have repeatedly surfaced. None have turned out to be true. The latest foray into figuring out whether the Islamic State leader is dead or alive began June 16, when Russias military which is also bombing the Islamic State in Syria said it was looking into whether one of its airstrikes in the Syrian desert had killed Mr. Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State. In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the Russian Air Force had struck a meeting of Islamic State leaders on May 28 outside Raqqa, Syria, the groups de facto capital, possibly killing Mr. Baghdadi. This week, Russia upgraded its assessment, as the deputy foreign minister, Oleg V. Syromolotov, said that Moscow was increasingly certain that Russian warplanes had killed Mr. Baghdadi three weeks ago. Throughout it all, American defense officials have maintained that they have no proof that the Islamic State leader is dead. They said they were reviewing reports from May 28 and subsequent days for clues, but pointed out that Mr. Baghdadi has not been heard from publicly since November, when the Islamic State released a blistering audio recording in which he urged forces to remain firm in the face of the American-backed Iraqi offensive in Mosul. So the fact that he has not popped up publicly since May 28 does not necessarily mean he has been killed. But on Friday, Colonel Dillon seemed to inch ever so slightly in the direction that Mr. Baghdadi may be dead. We certainly know that if he is still alive, we expect that he is not being able to influence what is currently happening in Raqqa or Mosul or over all, he told a Pentagon briefing, as they continue to lose their physical caliphate. Military officials insisted they did not mind whether the Russians killed him and not the American-backed coalition. If, that is, he actually is dead. Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook, Twitter and in the Morning Briefing newsletter. A version of this article appears in print on June 24, 2017, on Page A5 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Strikes Kill Top Figures in ISIS, but the Most Notorious Target Remains Elusive.

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What the Destruction of the Mosul Mosque Shows About ISIS – TIME

First built in the 12 th century, Mosuls Nouri Mosque withstood the rise and fall of the Mongol, Ottoman, and British empires. The building survived the regime of Saddam Hussein, an American invasion, and the first 14 years of civil war in Iraq. But on Wednesday night, ISIS gunmen blew it up. After nearly nine months of brutal fighting for the city, ISIS destruction of the mosque deprives its opponents of an expected emotional conclusion to an epochal battle. The mosque is where the Islamic State signaled the peak of its power in June 2014, days after overrunning the city of more than a million people, the largest population center ISIS captured. It was at the Nouri mosque that ISIS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a sermon proclaiming victory and conquest. With the building now reduced to rubble, Iraqs military and government will have no opportunity for a similar declaration. The leveling of the historic mosque is emblematic of the painful reality of the battle for Mosul. Though the city is on the brink of its full liberation from ISIS, a vast portion of the city has been shattered. In much of western Mosul, where the battle has been the fiercest, entire neighborhoods have been reduced to a ghostly landscape of hollowed out buildings. What had been apartment blocks, shops, restaurants, and hotels are now rubble. The citys airport, train station, government buildings, and museum have been devastated. ISIS will soon be gone, but the built environment of the city is shattered. The loss of the Nouri mosque also obliterates an important symbol of Mosul and Iraq as a whole. The site, with its iconic leaning minaret even appears on the 10,000 Iraqi Dinar note (a denomination equal to about eight and a half U.S. dollars). The slanted minaret was nicknamed al-Hadba , the hunchback. Majid Alsayegh, who was born and raised in Mosul and now runs a consulting business in Philadelphia, says the mosque represents generations of memories. My father and his siblings grew up going to Friday prayers at the mosque, learning to read and write at the mosque, he tells TIME. ISIS destruction of the mosque is an evil attempt to destroy the very core of Mosul, he adds. The destruction of the mosque follows a pattern in which confronting ISIS renders an area unlivable, the militants leaving behind ruins and boobytraps as they retreat. In the Iraqi city of Ramadi, freed from ISIS in December 2015, teh battle to reclaim the city left more than 5,700 buildings destroyed according to the United Nations. Fallujah, was all but deserted when Iraqi troops finally seized it from ISIS in June 2016. South of Mosul, retreating ISIS fighters set fire to oil fields, igniting blazes that continued for months, choking peoples lungs and blotting out the sky . In addition to ISIS’ own brutality, the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes have also taken a huge toll on cities and on human life. The coalition has launched more than 22,000 strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and reports of civilian casualties are surging. The nonprofit monitoring group Airwars , some 3,100 civilians have been killed in American-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria between August 2014 and March 2017. In March alone, more than a thousand civilian deaths were reported in Mosul. The Islamic States propagandists claimed the historic mosque was destroyed in a coalition airstrike. The U.S. military rejected those claims, and surveillance video released by the Iraqi military showed an explosion consistent with a planned detonation, not an aistrike. Still, for ISIS to score a propaganda victory, muddying the waters may be enough. The ISIS story is taken seriously. For many the culprit is ambiguous, at best, said Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, on Twitter. The landscape of urban destruction in Iraq and in the parallel war in neighboring Syria is drawing comparisons to the devastation of Europes cities in World War Two. We are witnessing a profound change in the history of armed conflict which sees towns and cities locked in entrenched patterns of urban warfare for years at a time, writes the renowned military historian Anthony Beevor in the forward to a report on urban warfare released in June by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Today, ISIS fighters are holed up in a shrinking enclave of Mosul surrounded by Iraqi troops and bombarded from the air by the U.S.-led military coalition. Tens of thousands of civilians are also trapped in the besieged zone, facing death if they attempt to flee. In early June, the U.N.s human rights chief reported that jihadist gunmen shot and killed 163 civilians to prevent them from fleeing the Islamic State-controlled enclave. More than 860,000 people have already fled Mosul, and many still make the attempt. In Mosul at the end of March, an Iraqi couple paused in the road to scrape mud from their shoes. Days earlier, Umm Tiba, 33, and her husband, Abu Tiba, 40, fled the ISIS-held section of the city, sprinting across the front line in the early evening to the relative safety of the Iraqi military-controlled section of the city. Now they stood in the muck on the highway that connects Mosul to Baghdad, out in search of supplies for their family of seven. Like tens of thousands of other Mosul residents, the pair were struggling to survive. Before ISIS arrived in Mosul, Abu Tiba had a small shop selling CDs. The jihadists arrested and tortured him for distributing music banned under the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate. He sticks a finger in his mouth and pops out a set of false teeth to illustrate the severity of the beatings. During the battle, they decided to flee when a mortar hit their house. They faced new problems on the military-controlled side of the front line. With no source of income, the two had virtually no way to buy food. They had appealed to Iraqi soldiers for help, but to no avail. For their own safety, the couple asked to have their full names withheld. And yet, Umm Tiba says of their situation, In all cases this is better than ISIS.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

World record: Canadian sniper shoots ISIS fighter dead from over 2 miles away – RT

Published time: 23 Jun, 2017 15:33 A sniper for Canada’s elite special forces in Iraq has broken the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot, the country’s military has confirmed to several media. The fatal shot targeted a member of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target at 3,540 meters (2.19 miles), the unit said in a Thursday statement. Read more For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our Coalition partners we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place. However, the Globe and Mail – the first to report on the incident – said that the operation took place “within the last month.” The sniper used a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle when firing at the militant from a high-rise building. The shot reportedly took less than 10 seconds to hit the IS fighter. The achievement marks a new world record for sniper kill shots. The previous record was held by British sniper Craig Harrison, who shot a Taliban fighter with a 338 Lapua Magnum rifle from about 2,475 meters (1.53 miles) away in 2009. The shot in question actually disrupted a Daesh (IS) attack on Iraqi security forces, a military source told the newspaper. Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far way, the bad guys didnt have a clue what was happening. The kill was independently verified by video footage and other data, according to the newspaper. Read more However, the Canadian military insisted that it is still merely taking part in an “advise and assist” role for Iraqi forces. “This takes the form of advice in planning for their operations and assistance to defeat Daesh through the use of coalition resources,” the statement said, as quoted by CBC. Canada has been part of the war against IS since 2014. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal government ordered the withdrawal of six Canadian fighter jets that were involved in targeted IS positions in Iraq and Syria in 2015, it has expanded the number of special forces involved in training missions with Kurdish Peshmerga forces. IS has responded by repeatedly calling for attacks on Canada. In October 2014, a man who claimed allegiance to the group plowed his car into two Canadian soldiers in a Quebec mall, killing one. Just two days after that attack, a Canadian-Libyan by the name of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed a Canadian soldier at the National War Memorial before breaking into parliament buildings. He was shot dead by authorities, with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying he had been motivated by Canada’s participation in the war against IS.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria – NBCNews.com

NBCNews.com Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria NBCNews.com Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS Targets in Syria. Fri, Jun 23. Two Russian frigates and a submarine in the Mediterranean Sea targeted ISIS positions in Syria's Hama province, Moscow said. Share Video; Facebook · Twitter · E-mail; Embed. Copy this … Russia blasts Isis from ships in the Mediterranean Metro Iran Rains Missiles on ISIS in SyriaWhich Means Israel Is in Range Observer What's Trump's Syria Plan Once ISIS Is Defeated? Newsweek WDSU New Orleans  – The Spokesman-Review  – The Guardian  – Fox News all 462 news articles »

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

US forces say they’ve killed ISIS financier | TheHill – The Hill

U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria have killed a key figure who moved millions of dollars for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon saidFriday. Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr Rawi was killed in a June 16 airstrike in Abu Kamal, Syria, according to a U.S. Central Command statement. Rawi, a Syrian native, was a known terrorist financial facilitator for ISIS and moved millions of dollars for the terror organizations attack and logistics network. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Rawi and his company in December, the first time the United States had specifically targeted an ISIS-affiliated money services business. The statement notes that the coalition targeted and killed several of Rawis close terrorist associates, including Samir Idris, another ISIS financial facilitator and international money launderer killed June 7 near Mayadin, Syria. The Coalitions efforts to disrupt and attack ISISs financial networks have restricted the terror groups ability to move resources and export terrorism, Central Command said.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

New ISIS Poster Shows a Jeep Rolling Over the Skulls of the Dead – The Drive

An ISIS propaganda image released by the terrorist-group-affiliated Nashir News Agency shows a Jeep Grand Cherokee with what appears to be an ISIS flag attached climbing over a mound of skulls with the caption “run them over without mercy.” The vehicle in the image is placed in front of a background that shows a city in distressgrey skies, tornadoes, and damaged skyscrapers. The propaganda, which we first found via DailyMail, is part of an effort from ISIS to push more of the terror group’s followers to commit vehicle attacks in the western parts of the world before the end of Ramadan. Similarly-styled attacks have recently been seen in London, Berlin, and Nice, among other cities. In late March, a 52-year-old man drove his car into pedestrians on the sidewalk of the Westminster Bridge in London and continued to attack innocent bystanders near the Palace of Westminster with a knife until he was shot and killed by an armed police officer. On that day, March 22, six were killed, including one unarmed police officer, and more than 50 were injured.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

Is ISIS Conceding Defeat? – The New Yorker

Three years ago, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi chose the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, in Mosul, as the site to proclaim his new Islamic State. The mosque, known as al-Hadba, or the hunchback, for its leaning minaret, is a fabled landmark in the Middle East. It dates back to the twelfth century. The creation of a modern caliphate was symbolized when the black ISIS flag was hoisted atop the minaret, on July 4, 2014. It was Baghdadis first, and still only, public appearance. I do not promise you, as the kings and rulers promise their followers and congregations, luxury, security, and relaxation, he said , from the mosques pulpit. Instead, I promise you what Allah promised his faithful worshipersa jihad to consume all other territory and people in the world. This is a duty on Muslims that has been lost for centuries. The Iraqi Army had set its sights on the al-Nuri Mosque as the ultimate prize in the campaign to oust ISIS from Mosul, which was launched eight months ago. Ferocious urban battles around the Old City have been fought within fifty yards of the mosque over the past few days. Iraqis hoped that their beloved mosque would be liberated by Eid al-Fitr, the joyful celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Instead, on Wednesday night, ISIS prempted the Army by blowing up the Great Mosque. Ironically, it acted during the period of Ramadan known as Laylat al-Qadr, when Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Once again, the Great Mosque of al-Nuri reflects the fate of the worlds most notorious terrorist group; this time, its demise. The black flag no longer flies from the tipping minaret. Blowing up the al-Hadba minaret and the al-Nuri Mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat, Iraqs Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, said on Thursday. Its a matter of a few days and we will announce the total liberation of Mosul. ISIS is now in retreat from both Mosul, the largest city under its control, and its pseudo capital, in Raqqa, Syria. In the past month, fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have taken territory on the outskirts of Raqqa. At its height, the Islamic State was roughly the size of the country of Jordan or the state of Indiana. Since late last year, the group has lost vast swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria, with some leaders abandoning major cities for more remote areas in the Euphrates Valley, between the two countries. The fate of Baghdadi himself is also increasingly uncertain. On Thursday, the Russian deputy foreign minister, Oleg Syromolotov, said that there is now a high degree of certainty that the Islamic States emir was liquidated in a Russian air strike in Syria last month. The claim was met with skepticism in Washington. But U.S. officials admit that they do not know the whereabouts, or status, of Baghdadi, who was detained by American troops for ten months, in 2004, then released. Baghdadis last known public message was released from hiding in November, when he appealed to followers not to weaken their commitment to the ISIS jihad. Turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, he told them. Wreak havoc in their land, and make their blood flow as rivers. This raging battle and total war, and the great jihad that the state of Islam is fighting today, only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction, that all this is a prelude to victory, Baghdadi said. The recording was released online. Not a peep has been heard from him since. Baghdadis past bravado now rings hollow, especially as other senior leaders around him are picked off. On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that Turki al-Binali, the self-proclaimed Grand Mufti of ISIS its chief clerichad been killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria on May 31st. The cleric was a close confidant of Baghdadi. He developed ISIS propaganda and recorded lectures attempting to justify and encouraging the slaughter of innocents, the Pentagon said, in a statement. Spokesmen for the Islamic State continue to make claims online designed to encourage its fighters or confuse its enemies. They initially tried to blame the mosques destruction on U.S. air strikes. But Mosul residents reported this week that they had been shooed away from its grounds, near the western banks of the Tigris River, as ISIS prepared for a last stand. The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Jn Kubi, said that the Islamic States decision to blow up the mosque was a clear sign of the groups imminent collapse. This latest barbaric act of blowing up a historic Islamic site adds to the annals of Daesh’s crimes against Islamic, Iraqi and human civilization, he said, in a statement, and added that it shows their desperation and signals their end. The destruction of a historic mosque may mark the beginning of the end of the Islamic State. But then what? The looming issue is what the loss of its territory means for ISIS as a stateless movement. Its loyalists still number in the many thousands. And thousands who fought in Iraq and Syria have already returned home; its influence is now global. It is still capable of craven violence, from inspiring terrorist attacks in Britain to waging an insurgency in the Philippines. The scariest scenario is the prospect of someday feeling nostalgia for a period when most of ISIS was contained in one place.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

Sniper hits ISIS target from over 2 miles away – CNN

The unnamed marksman was part of Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 special operations unit that is currently deployed in an “advise and assist” capacity to help Iraqi security forces battle ISIS from behind the front line in Mosul. “The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 meters. For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our Coalition partners, we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place,” the unit said in a written statement. Due to the distance of the shot, some voices in the military community expressed skepticism at the Canadian government’s report. The reported shot from 3,540 meters, or about 2.2 miles, would eclipse the previous sniper world record of 2,474 meters or 1.54 miles set by the United Kingdom’s Craig Harrison when he killed two Taliban insurgents in November 2009. “The elite sniper was using a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle while firing from a high-rise during an operation that took place within the last month in Iraq. It took under 10 seconds to hit the target,” the paper said. The Canadian military unit confirmed the distance of shot shortly after the Globe and Mail story was published, but the shot has yet to be formally confirmed a third party agency. In 2016, the Canadian government announced it would triple its training efforts in northern Iraq despite pulling out of the US-led ISIS bombing campaign the year before. In May, Iraqi forces began what they hope is the final push to crush ISIS in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city,

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

Russian warships fire missiles at ISIS in Syria – CNN International

The Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich frigates, along with the Krasnodar submarine, fired the cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea, the Defense Ministry said in a statement posted to state news agency RIA. ISIS command points and a weapons and ammunition depot were destroyed in Hama province of Syria, according to RIA. The ministry also said Turkey and Israel were informed about the missile launches, but made no mention of informing the US, which is leading an international coalition against ISIS in the country. The strike comes amid tensions after a US warplane downed Syrian jet, the first time the US has shot down a manned aircraft since 1999. Russia is the most powerful ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the rare air-to-air encounter prompted Moscow to suspend a de-confliction hotline with the US-led coalition, designed to prevent any accidents in the skies over Syria. The Syrian conflict has transformed from a civil war to a more complex battle involving international players and their proxies. While international players are focused on targeting ISIS, many are maneuvering to either prop up or depose Assad and his regime. Iran, which also supports Assad, on Sunday fired missiles at ISIS targets in Syria, the first such strike carried out by Tehran on another country in three decades. It is a major escalation of Iran’s role in the war. Russia this week said it thinks one of its airstrikes may have killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi, a figure who has evaded international forces for years. But US officials told CNN that the US has not confirmed Russia’s claim. The US downed the Syrian warplane after a series of clashes between pro-regime troops and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US backs to fight ISIS. According to the Pentagon, Syrian regime soldiers equipped with tanks, artillery and technical vehicles were advancing on the US-backed rebels’ position, forcing the coalition to use the de-confliction hotline with the Russians in an attempt to turn the regime troops back. When that proved unsuccessful, coalition aircraft performed “strafing runs” near the regime positions, which halted their advance. The Russian Ministry of Defense called the downing of the plane “a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic” and “military aggression.” Russia has stopped using the de-confliction hotline, a US official said, and Moscow warned that aircraft operating where the shoot-down occurred would be considered “air targets” for its forces in Syria. But the downing did not appear to hamper Syria, which attempted a similar bombing Tuesday, according to US military officials. The US official told CNN that another Syrian Su-22 fighter made an approach Tuesday in what the military assessed as a possible bombing run on the SDF near the same area. The official said that coalition aircraft made a show of force and conducted a warning maneuver, and the Syrian fighter jet then aborted its trajectory and left the area. CNN’s Barbara Starr, Tim Lister and Elizabeth Roberts contributed to this report.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed


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