US troops prepare to back Iraqi push into west Mosul


By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: February 14, 2017


BARTELLA, Iraq — 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers are honing Iraqi security forces’ urban combat skills ahead of a planned offensive to eject the Islamic State group from the western half of Iraq’s second largest city.

“They (the Iraqi troops) already know how to clear rooms,” said Sgt. 1st Class Bradley Thomas, 36, one of 1,000 soldiers from the legendary airborne unit that is advising and helping government forces battling the militants in Mosul.

The paratroopers, who have been in Iraq for a month, aren’t teaching the Iraqis new tactics for fighting in built-up areas. Rather, they’re providing tips that will help them limit casualties during what’s expected to be a tough battle in some of Mosul’s most densely populated and oldest neighborhoods, Thomas said.

Armored vehicles operated by the 82nd Airborne Division in Bartella, a Christian village near Mosul, Iraq, last month.


“They want to be the ones doing it rather than having U.S. forces do it for them. We just give them input on how they can improve,” said Thomas, a native of St. Joseph, Mo.

His unit, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, recently moved to a temporary assembly area in northern Iraq to guard four M109 Paladin 155 mm self-propelled howitzers that will provide artillery support for advancing Iraqi forces, he said.

“We are repositioning people,” in preparation for the push into the western half of Mosul, said Lt. Col. James Downing, the battalion commander.

Downing, 40, of Lewistown, Ill., and his soldiers took over the advise and assist mission from members of the 101st Airborne Division.

Some of the paratroopers initially occupied houses in Bartella, a Christian town on the outskirts of Mosul, alongside Australian and Iraqi special forces. However, Downing said his soldiers are now on the move to a new location.

The tall infantryman visited Mosul in 2004. His senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. Santos Cavazos, lost an eye battling insurgents there on a previous deployment, but the injury didn’t appear to have dampened his enthusiasm for the mission on a cold winter day near the battlefield.

Some of the battalion’s Mosul veterans spent time at Forward Operating Base Marez, which is still in enemy territory west of the Tigris River. But they don’t expect to see many familiar sights once the area is recaptured. Aerial images show the base has been destroyed beyond recognition, Downing said.

The airborne troops are focused on helping Iraqi security forces prepare for their final assault on the city, he said.

“The enemy has been heavily attritted,” he said. “They were handed a pretty heavy defeat (in eastern Mosul) and they are suffering from things like desertion.”

Iraqi commanders have learned from the hard fighting over the past few months and have devised a good plan to capture the rest of the city, Downing said.

“It could go a lot quicker (in the west), but it’s very complex terrain,” he said. “It’s an older part of town, and the population is denser.”

The airborne soldiers won’t see any action on the front line during the battle. Instead they will be coaching Iraqi officers, sharing intelligence and coordinating fire support, he said.

“The Iraqis are doing the fighting, and they are getting after it,” he said, adding that other Iraq veterans would likely be impressed at the skill and professionalism of the local forces.

“I’m certainly proud to serve next to them,” he said.
Twitter: @SethRobson1

Iraq Plans For Enormous Boost To Refining Capacity

Irina Slav
Oilprice.comFebruary 14, 2017


Iraq’s government is ambitious and it wants to make the most of the country’s oil and gas reserves. Plans for an expansion of the country’s refinery network have been circulating for years, but the war with IS has put these on hold. What’s worse is that the prospects for these plans are gloomy unless it gets a significant amount of external help.

Before the war with IS engulfed OPEC’s second-largest exporter, plans were to add five new refineries to the network over a period of 20 years, starting in 2008. At the time, the refining capacity of Iraq stood around 886,000 bpd.

Since then, the only progress made has been the start of construction of the Karbala refinery, as one expert, the former chief of the Energy Study Secretarial of OPEC, notes in an industry analysis.

In it, Saadallah al Fathi quotes information from an unnamed industry insider who had told media that Iraq’s government is planning the construction of not five but twelve to thirteen new refineries with combined installed capacity of between 1.425 and 1.530 million bpd. All this is supposed to happen in the next four years, no less.

Al Fathi is right to be suspicious of this information. He is also suspicious of the unnamed source’s statement that Iran will be helping Iraq prop up its downstream industry, but these suspicions are not so well grounded: Iran’s current rulers are allies of the government of Haider al-Abadi, and it makes sense to suggest that the neighbors have realized that if they work together they may reap more benefits than if they try to compete.

The suspicion surrounding the timeline for the construction of these twelve or more refineries, however, is sound. Iraq is still fighting IS – the army has not yet retaken Mosul. Progress with that mission has been slow, but it is being made and we will probably see the terrorist group ousted from its last big stronghold in Iraq later this year.

This, however, will not solve Iraq’s security problems: the consensus in army circles seems to be that a prolonged presence of U.S. forces will be needed to help the Iraqi army maintain peace between various religious groups and deal with the very likely resurgence of IS.

This situation is by no means conducive to business. Investors are bound to be wary when they make decisions about throwing money at new refineries. And without external investors, Iraq’s refinery expansion plan is doomed.

Related: Is $60 Oil Within Reach?

The country’s coffers have been drained from the war with IS and the oil price crash. Iraq can’t even make the most of the price improvement because it has to cut its production as per the agreement struck with the other members of OPEC as a way of propping up prices. It can’t wriggle out of the agreement because traders and analysts are watching it like hawks: Iraq is considered the most likely OPEC member to cheat on its compliance with the agreement precisely because it needs more oil revenues desperately.

Last month, Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi reassured the market that Iraq will stick to its undertaking in the production cut agreement, adding that it plans to tender five new refineries on an investment basis, and expand existing ones, most of them damaged during the war with IS. Saadallah al Fathi is skeptical – the investment basis has been advertised before but has failed to attract meaningful investor interest.

While skepticism may be in order when it comes to war-torn Iraq, it is still the country with the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world, and that changes things. It all seems to hinge on the success in rooting out IS from Iraq and on the success of the output cut deal, which has so far been limited.

By Irina Slav for

Coalition Commander Claims 60,000 Daesh Terrorists Killed


01:40 15.02.2017

The US-led coalition fighting Daesh in Syria and Iraq have killed 60,000 members of the terror group over a two year period, according to media reports.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The number of Daesh fighters killed is 10,000 higher than what was reported in December, when US officials said 50,000 fighters had been killed, reported.

© AFP 2016/ AHMAD AL

“To date, US coalition military efforts have resulted in the deaths of more than 60,000 Islamic State [Daesh] militants over the course of a two-year campaign,” the commander of US Special Operations Command US Army Gen. Raymond Thomas was quoted by as saying at a defense industry conference on Tuesday.

The US-led campaign to defeat Daesh is known as Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve, which operates in Iraq and Syria.

Daesh is outlawed in Russia and numerous other countries around the world.

Security forces kill 24 IS members after sneaking into eastern Mosul


Feb 14, 2017, 7:07 pm

Security forces kill 24 IS members after sneaking into eastern Mosul

Nineveh ( A Counter-Terrorism Officer announced on Tuesday, that 24 members of the Islamic State, including two elite leaders, were killed, after sneaking into eastern Mosul.

Major Ali Mohsen said in a press statement, “Security forces killed 24 members of the Islamic State, including two senior leaders, after sneaking into al-Maliyah area, in eastern Mosul.”

“The security forces emphasized the importance of reporting any suspicious movements in the area, to prevent the sneaking of the Islamic State’s members into the liberated areas,” Mohsen added.

Valentine’s Day returns to Iraq’s IS-free east Mosul AFP Marisol Rifai


AFPFebruary 14, 2017

A member from the "Rebirth Generation", a group of Iraqi youths who are trying to revive the embattled city of Mosul, distributes balloons as they organise an event to mark Valentine's Day on February 14, 2017

View photos

A member from the “Rebirth Generation”, a group of Iraqi youths who are trying to revive the embattled city of Mosul, distributes balloons as they organise an event to mark Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2017 (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Mosul (Iraq) (AFP) – Valentine’s Day returned Tuesday to the eastern sector of the Iraqi city of Mosul from where the Islamic State group was expelled last month, at least for a group of enthusiastic schoolchildren.

“My feelings for you flow like a river, and will flow on for the rest of my life,” young volunteers recited in front of the children at one school, as plastic roses, balloons and heart-stickered pens were handed around.

In a celebration of “love for our liberated city”, multi-coloured confetti was scattered across the floor and in the children’s hair, as they awaited the arrival of a big cream cake.

“This February 14 will be unforgettable!” was the verdict of schoolgirl Manal.

“I knew there was an event that celebrates love but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to take part,” said the girl with honey-coloured eyes lined with black kohl, framed by a traditional niqab covering the rest of her face and hair.

Nour, aged 14, was equally enthralled.

“To hold a feast with girls and boys in the same room, with music, simply to have fun, this was unthinkable just a few months ago,” she said.

Organisers of the Mosul-style Valentine’s Day, however, remained on their guard, preventing children from venturing out into the courtyard of the Azzuhur school, whose name means flowers in Arabic.

Drones operated by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group still overfly parts of eastern Mosul retaken by Iraqi forces.

“Daesh has threatened to attack any schools which reopen. We’re not safe here. They can still reach us from the western bank (of the Tigris River dividing the city) or with suicide bombers,” warned Farid, a volunteer of the Nahdat Jeel (Rebirth Generation), using an Arabic acronym for IS.

The group, made up of around 300 local young men and women aged between 15 and 30, was formed a month ago through contacts on social media, and it has set itself the task of cleaning up schools and hospitals, repainting public squares and planting trees.

– ‘Get rid of traces’ of IS –

“We must get rid of all trace of Daesh, whether visible or symbolic,” said Rafal Muzaffar, 26.

The many slogans splattered on the walls to glorify the “caliphate” proclaimed by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from a Mosul mosque in 2014 at the start of the group’s two-year rule of the city have almost all disappeared.

“We’re trying to carry out symbolic actions that provide a sharp contrast with what life was like over the past two years,” said Muzaffar, dressed in a long black tunic and yellow scarf.

Last week, the all-Muslim group worked on cleaning up a huge church nicknamed “The Titanic” because of its ship-like shape, “to show that in Mosul our differences are our strength”, she said.

Mohamed Namoq, one of Nahdat Jil’s founders, was jailed and tortured by IS for almost two months for having recited poems on the radio that the group deemed subversive.

“Whatever the threats we face, nothing can stop us from carrying on and from shouting it out loud and clear, something we should have done long ago,” said Namoq.

Haneen, 17, is also determined to play a role in restoring life to Mosul. “All young people should take part, not only boys but girls as well,” she said.

As for celebrating Valentine’s Day, that was “magical, because how can you live without love?” she asked, while pointing out shyly — in deference to her conservative society — that she does not have a boyfriend.

‘Choose life, not death’ reform center tells Iraqi teenage militants


Wearing funky beads, Laith Abbas comes across as just another Iraqi teenager trying to look cool, until he describes how he clutched an AK-47 assault rifle at checkpoints along with other Islamic State militants who terrorized Mosul.

Abbas is one of 54 teenagers Kurdish authorities are trying to de-radicalise at a reform center in the northern city of Dohuk for youths and women suspected of aiding Islamic State.

The idea is to prevent the hardline Sunni group from brainwashing a new generation of suicide bombers and fighters into threatening Iraq’s stability again after an ongoing army offensive in their stronghold of Mosul ends.

“We encourage them to choose life, not death,” said Zaki Saleh Moussa, head of the institution in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk.

Reuters was given exclusive access to the facility and allowed to speak with Abbas, another 17-year-old boy and two adult women, all in the presence of interrogators.

All four prisoners denied that they wilfully supported the fighters, and said Islamic State had put pressure on them to cooperate. An interrogator said he was skeptical of those accounts and a court would determine the prisoners’ fate.

“My uncle and cousin pressured me to join,” said Abbas, sitting in a room with books on culture and art designed to open up new horizons for teenagers and women exposed to jihadist ideology.

“I had no choice. My family was in a feud with another one and they threatened to give those people my whereabouts and said ‘we will let them kill you’,” he said.

He spent 18 days at an Islamic State training center in Mosul for religious indoctrination. Abbas was given an assault rifle and assigned to a checkpoint where he was charged with catching anyone who broke the group’s many rules.

“They told me to go sign up to be a suicide bomber and I said no. My sister and brothers are sick; I could not leave them. I quit after 15 days. They jailed me for three days and tortured me with a stick,” said Abbas.

Many Mosul residents acknowledge having backed Islamic State when militants seized control of Iraq’s main northern city in 2014. They initially regarded the Islamic State fighters, fellow Sunni Muslims, as protectors against the Shi’ite-dominated army.

Eventually Islamic State alienated Mosul with its beheadings and shootings of opponents and public whippings of people for enjoying simple pleasures like smoking or watching television.

Since October, the Iraqi army, federal police, special forces and Shi’ite militias have driven Islamic State out of the eastern half of Mosul and towns and villages around it, with air and ground support from a U.S.-led international coalition.

The western half of Mosul is the last major stronghold of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq. But once the city falls, Iraqi authorities fear the group will go underground and mount an insurgency. De-radicalisation programs are seen as a tool to reduce further security threats.


Bishra Abdullah, a 40-year-old woman also undergoing de-radicalisation at the Dohuk center, said Islamic State fighters had come to the family home, taken her 14-year-old daughter and married her off to a militant for two months.

“They brought her back and said, ‘We don’t need her,'” she said.

An interrogator said Abdullah was accused of sheltering jihadists. She denied it.

The teenagers at the Dohuk center are confined in groups of about 20 to a room with bunk beds and blankets. Above their beds are photographs of Kurdish leaders, people that Islamic State describes as infidels who deserve to die.

Social workers teach them that Islam is a religion of peace.

Ghaith Rajeb, a subdued 17-year-old who slurs his words, said he felt joining Islamic State was the only option as the militants jailed hundreds of people and forced others to pray and listen to fiery mosque sermons condemning non-Sunnis.

He too manned a checkpoint, where he was told to keep a close eye out for anyone who collaborated against Islamic State.

“No one could defy their orders,” said Rajeb, whose cousin signed up with the militants and was never heard from again.

Rajeb is nostalgic for the days when he was studying to become a teacher and playing soccer with friends, another activity banned by Islamic State. But returning to Mosul depends on convincing the Kurdish authorities to release him.

“I would like to go back and study and see my family. But I don’t know if there will be a court ruling,” he said.

Moussa, the reform center director, was cautiously optimistic the re-education program would help prevent the youths and women from supporting Islamic State in the future.

“There are results. But more efforts are needed in this place because the number of people arriving here increases by the day,” he said, as an interrogator looked on.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

«Daesh» Looking for a replacement for Khalifa «Baghdadi»



2/15/2017 0:00

After hours of targeting him Sqorna airstrike
Mosul / morning

Hours after the declaration of the hawks intelligence cell injury organize “Daesh” terrorist leader Ibrahim al-Samarrai called “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” after the air strike was carried out by hawks our air power near Qaim, an intelligence source from Nineveh, said on Tuesday that the dens “Daesh” west of Mosul witnessed upheaval clear because of the news about the possibility of killing, “al-Baghdadi” in the air strike, while the media talked machine terrorist organization for the first time for a “new Khalifa” as an alternative to him.

The intelligence source said: ” The state of confusion prevails militants organize” Daesh “strongholds in western Mosul after news that talked about the possibility of killing theleader of the organization based in airstrike two days ago with a number of leaders in theQaim area of Anbar west.”
The source added that the “machine” Daesh “quick to talk for the first time clearly that there is ( the successor to substitute for Baghdadi) in the case of the latter was killed , ” pointing out that “this phrase was not used by this direct subtraction in a sign that there issomething of what happened in blow – based. “
The cell hawks intelligence today announced the first implementation of an air strike Monday bombed the headquarters of an important meeting of the leaders of “Daesh” in western Anbar – based two days before the killing important leaders in the organization amid reports the injury , “al – Baghdadi.”
Furthermore, a local source in Nineveh province said on Tuesday that the “heavy firing was heard echoed in the vicinity of the center of Tal Afar hospital , with the early morning hours, with detachments imposed combat of” Daesh “ban almost universal in most of the revival of the judiciary,” the source added, ” the fire and according to the information available was due to sharp differences between the poles of the organization” Daesh “in Tal Afar mutual them and accusations about the failure of the first Monday an attack on the pieces of the popular crowd , ” pointing out that ” the organization suffered a very big setback because of the size of the number of dead and wounded . ” .

Dead Doaash raids west of Mosul


Tuesday, February 14, 2017 – 22:34 GMT | Posted Number: 23240

Iraqi military sources said that 14 of the regulation Daesh -pinhm General in charge of intelligence in Altnzim- killed Tuesday in raids in the international coalition, west of Mosul, while the organization launched attacks on the city of Tal Afar, and fell four people in the bombing of Baghdad.

The officer said the Iraqi Air Force Maj. Khaled Noordin Awsi The F-16, an international coalition today launched a series of raids targeted two buildings Atakzhma-based organization for the accommodation of the new elements in the Mosul area (south of Mosul).

He explained Awsi told Anatolia that “the strikes have killed 13 insurgents carrying different foreign nationalities, and wounding 18 others, as well as the destruction of a number of mechanisms and combat equipment of them, and severely damaged Balamartin and nearby sites of them.”

In turn, it presented in the Iraqi army, Abdul Salam al-Jubouri detect General in charge of intelligence in the organization Daesh Hakki Ismail O. Ameri, known as Abu Ahmed filter, an air strike.

For his part, Brigadier Hamza al-Khattab, the officer in the rapid response of the Interior Ministry forces, the anti-terrorism forces managed to defuse three missiles were ready for launch in the eastern half of the connector at the south eastern effect.


The deaths of dozens of Daesh after air raids in Mosul Tuesday, February 14, 2017



Qatar News Agency

مق 14, 2017 
(أرشيف) (Archives)
 Baghdad on February 14 / QNA / fighter jets launched five international coalition air strikes on sites to organize Daesh west of Mosul in northern Iraq.
The security source said in a statement today that the raids targeted sites in the regulation of agrarian reform area west of Mosul, killing dozens of members of the organization and the destruction of their equipment.The same sources reported that with the imminent launch of storming the right coast of the city of Mosul process under its control organization Daesh, the elements to evacuate their headquarters and withdrew from the streets and intersections key to this aspect and the fear of targeting aircraft international coalition that fly in the city sky intensely.
In contrast, the dawn of the organization Daesh the Federal Court of Appeal building in Aldndan area south of Mosul, after the transfer of important documents, including to an unknown destination.
 In another development, security, a source in the Iraqi police said this evening that a person was wounded when a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, adding that the explosive device was placed on the side of a road in the viewing area exploded, injuring people injured.

Abadi: we refuse to drag the country to internal fighting and projects division of Iraq is grave [Extended]


History of edits:: 14.02.2017 20:4454 visits readable
[Oan- Baghdad]
announced Prime Minister Haider al – Abadi, his rejection of attempts to drag the country ‘s “internal fighting over the demonstrations.”
Ebadi said during his weekly news conference on Tuesday: We do not want freeing marginal issues and dragging the country into internal fighting , “he said , ” were peaceful demonstrations , but there are infiltrators attempted penetration and signed clashes and did so they bear it and do not hold the security forces , the occurrence of the victims because it protects us. ”
He expressed” regret for the casualties in the protests last Saturday , “warning that” any attempts to inflict between citizens and demonstrators were some means of enticing the media against the security forces will not tolerate it and its goal to save Aldoaash either out of ignorance or knowledge. ”
He stressed Abadi” the inalienable right to demonstrate in a peaceful and law – abiding select places demonstration and we have taken measures to preserve it and prevent the use of weapons outside the framework of the state , “noting that” the demonstrations affect the performance of security forces. ”
He pointed out that” those who fire rockets is not directed at Baghdad have no objection to detonate car bombs and detonate explosive devices and post terrorists ” and called for” disclose their understanding of traitors. ” He
also called on the Prime Minister , ” the organization blocks for the demonstrations to detect these missiles launchers, not only to condemn and if they say that they do not control Vliqta and not to mobilize the crowds and directing them wrong. ”
And “There are five dead and caught in the demonstrations , including military and four civilians , ” stressing that ” the death certificates of the victims speak they did not kill shooting the neighborhood, but the tear gases or plastic releases.”
And editing city of Mosul process assured the Prime Minister that “almost complete preparations for the Liberation of the right side and soon will start the process , ” stressing that “victory is near, and Daesh trying to exploit the locals as human shields and call on citizens to cooperate and Our first goal is safety and maintaining the infrastructure.”
He denied “the existence of any problem with the international coalition in the liberation of the right side and there is no retreat but increased support for the former , ” noting that “delay the process related to Ptoukitat for the benefit of the fighters and the citizens, and the enemy lose a day to drain its resources and killing its elements.”
He noted that ” the liberation of Hawija spend southwest of Kirkuk , there was a discussion around it and put several plans to release it but emerged again like editing Fallujah, Ramadi and Beiji priorities , ” adding “we plan to edit Hawija before the Mosul operation was then Asafna time , but we will soon begin editing did not forget.”
The Abadi, that ” the new US administration confirmed assigned to Iraq and received a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump and assured continued support for Iraq , ” pointing to “received an invitation to attend the Munich Security Conference in Germany early next week to discuss the security of the world and we will meet on the sidelines of the leaders and heads of state , including Trump and Chancellor German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders. ”
He pointed to “discuss with US President inclusion of Iraq ‘s decision to ban entry to the United States and Trump acknowledged that there is abuse of Iraqis in it and said he would Foreign Minister to deal with this trend.”
He added that “our unity and our institutions are immunity to prevent outside interference, and our part of hostility between Iran and America, but the two countries are helping Iraq in the war on terror.”
And calls for the establishment of provinces al – Abadi, said that ” the Iraqi provinces , constitutional issue and there lawmaker by law, while talking about the division of Iraq have been the tomb of this idea Iraqis then fight together and we have an Iraqi national army.”
The Prime Minister added, “Iraqis Cyproa Altksaam projects and some politicians warn that they reprobate concerning the areas which have seen unrest , ” he said . “Do not be afraid of the projects division and Joe in there against her and also touched a regional movement in this direction and the states.”
Abadi noted that “there are undue delay of goods at border crossing points and customs , which is a deliberate delay for the purposes of corruption.”



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