Iraqi militia threatens ISIS supply route to Syria

A woman carrying a handicapped child uses the opportunity to flee during a lull in the fighting as the Iraqi Special Forces 2nd division engage ISIS terrorists while pushing into the Aden neighborhood in Mosul on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2016
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Iraqi militia threatens ISIS supply route to Syria

BAGHDAD/BASHIQA: Iraqi militias said on Wednesday they had driven ISIS terrorists from an air base west of Mosul, a victory which would threaten its supply route from Syria to its last major stronghold in Iraq.

“The airport of Tal Afar has been liberated,” Yusif Al-Kallabi, a spokesman for Popular Mobilization, a coalition of mainly Iranian-backed militias, told Iraqi state TV.
The capture of the base, if confirmed, could be a significant development in the campaign to recapture Mosul, ISIS’ de facto capital since its forces swept through Iraq in 2014 and set up a self-declared caliphate in a swathe of Syria and northern Iraq.
Tal Afar lies about 60 km west of Mosul on the main road to Syria. Its seizure could also alarm Turkey, which is wary of Iraqi involvement in the civil war in Syria.
“Tal Afar will be the starting block for the liberation of all the area...to the Syrian border and beyond the Syria border,” said Hadi Al-Amiri, head of Badr Organization, Popular Mobilization’s largest component, in a video clip.
While the Shiite coalition is fighting ISIS west of Mosul, regular army and police units are trying to advance from the other sides, backed by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters deployed in the north and the east.
Iraqi counter-terrorism forces breached ISIS defenses in east Mosul two weeks ago but have faced resistance from the militants, who have fought back with suicide car bombs, snipers and waves of counter-attacks.
The campaign that began on Oct. 17 with air and ground support from a US-led coalition is the biggest military operation in Iraq in more than a decade of turmoil unleashed by the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Popular Mobilization, known locally by its Arabic name Hashid Shaabi, has said it plans to use Tal Afar base to take the battle against ISIS into Syria, fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran. Although it officially reports to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, it is mainly trained and equipped by Iran.
Popular Mobilization’s advance toward Tal Afar, which had a mixed population of mainly Shiite and Sunni Turkmen before ISIS captured it in 2014, has raised the prospect of sectarian strife and alarmed neighboring Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last month that Turkey was reinforcing its troops on the border with Iraq and would respond if the militias “cause terror” in Tal Afar.
Iraq’s Abadi has sought to calm fears that the operation to recapture Tal Afar would ignite sectarian tension or escalate problems with Turkey, saying the attacking force that would enter the town will reflect its religious and ethnic make-up.


US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

Updated 19 September 2018
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US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

  • The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism
  • The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened

WASHINGTON: The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East.
The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere.

"Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Lebanon," he said.
All three -- Daesh, Al-Qaeda and Iran -- "have both the capability and intent to strike the United States and our allies," State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said.
The report indicated a general increase in global cooperation to fight terrorism, including tracking and blocking financial flows to the groups.
But this remains a challenge, Sales noted.
"You have got to stop the flow of money to these organizations."
"You have got to stop terrorist travel" as well, he added, pointing to the spread of airport detection systems like biometric face identification as a potent tool.
In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.