Peshmerga arrest 30 ISIS members near Tal Afar

Tal Afar – Kurdish Peshmerga forces arrested 30 Islamic State militants near Tal Afar, Islamic State’s last haven in Nineveh province, a security source said Wednesday.

Mawazin News quoted the source saying that the militants were arrested over the past four days while attempting to flee the enclave towards Peshmerga-held territories.

According to the same source, more than 600 civilians, mostly Turkmen, had fled Tal Afar towards Peshmerga deployments.

Tal Afar is 65 kilometers west of Mosul, and is home to a mixed Turkmen and Arab population. Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Islamic State’s former capital, early July after more than eight months of U.S.-backed offensives.

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi and his defense officials have marked Tal Afar as their next target of anti-Islamic State action. Iraqi defense officials said recently that warplanes were carrying out raids on the enclave in preparation for the ground invasion which is yet to be scheduled.

Tal Afar has reportedly seen divisions among Islamic State leaderships, with occasional news telling of power conflicts and dissents among leaders, as well as attempts by some militants to flee the anticipated battle field.

Since Iraqi forces launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Mosul in 2016, paramilitary troops managed to isolate the town from the Syrian borders and from the rest of Nineveh.

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Mobilization forces kill 7 ISIS members escaping to Syrian borders

Tal Afar – Pro-government paramilitary troops killed seven Islamic State militants escaping towards the Syrian borders, the troops’ media service said Thursday.

The Popular Mobilization Forces said through their media that troops killed seven Islamic State militants and destroyed three of their vehicles while they were trying to escape the town of Tal Afar towards the borders with Syria at Ein Tallawi region.

Tal Afar is 65 kilometers west of Mosul, and is home to a mixed Turkmen and Arab population. Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Islamic State’s former capital, early July after more than eight months of U.S.-backed offensives.

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi and his defense officials have marked Tal Afar as their next target of anti-Islamic State action. Iraqi defense officials said recently that warplanes were carrying out raids on the enclave in preparation for the ground invasion which is yet to be scheduled.

Tal Afar has reportedly seen divisions among Islamic State leaderships, with occasional news telling of power conflicts and dissents among leaders, as well as attempts by some militants to flee the anticipated battle field.

Since Iraqi forces launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Mosul in 2016, paramilitary troops managed to isolate the town from the Syrian borders and from the rest of Nineveh.

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Philippines war on drugs and crime intensifies, at least 58 killed this week

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MANILA – At least 26 people died overnight in police operations in the Philippines capital Manila, authorities said on Thursday, a second night of heavy bloodshed this week in an intensification of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fierce war on drugs and crime.

The killings across Manila followed 32 deaths in near-simultaneous police raids on Monday night in Bulacan province, which borders the capital. Together, they mark the deadliest period of a drugs-focused crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos, and caused international alarm, since Duterte took office over a year ago.

Colonel Erwin Margarejo, spokesman for Manila police, described the raids that started late Wednesday in Manila as “one-time, big-time” operations, the same term used by police in Bulacan, who said the victims died because they chose to put up a fight.

“This is ‘one-time, big-time’ operations, so it is not focused only on drugs, we are operating also against other street crimes, like robbery, but these people could also be under the influence of drugs,” Margarejo said.

“If they resisted violently, our police have to defend themselves.”

Duterte unleashed his crackdown the day he took office on June 30 last year after a convincing win in an election in which he campaigned heavily on a promise to use deadly force to wipe out crime and drugs.

It was not immediately clear what was behind the step-up in the number of coordinated police operations this week, but Duterte gave a clear indication on Wednesday that it had his blessing.

He said it was good that 32 criminals had been killed in Bulacan, then added: “Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said there had been no instruction to change or increase the scale and scope of the anti-drugs campaign.

“This is just part of our ‘one-time, big-time’ operations against illegal drugs,” he told Reuters.

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Canada: Muslima who attacked non-Muslims with golf club says she accepts only Sharia, not Canadian law

“Her mental health needs to be addressed.”

Of course. What else could possibly be involved in this case?

“Accused terror-attacker refuses to attend court,”

A woman who openly pledged allegiance to ISIS refused to leave her prison cell Tuesday to attend court.

Rehab Dughmosh — who faces 21 charges, including terror-related offences — allegedly entered a Scarborough Canadian Tire store on June 3 and swung a golf club at staff.

“I’m here for Syria. I’m going to kill everybody,” she allegedly shouted.

Dughmosh, 32, has told court in the past she only believes in Sharia law and not the Canadian justice system. She also refused to show up for court last month.

On Tuesday, she would not leave her cell to attend court at 1911 Eglinton Ave. E., and court guards can’t use force to remove a prisoner from her confines without an order issued by a judge, said federal Crown attorney Bradley Reitz….

Grant added Dughmosh also needs an assessment to determine her fitness for trial.

“Her mental health needs to be addressed,” Grant said.

During a previous court appearance, Dughmosh told court that she “meant to harm those people” during the Canadian Tire store attack.

She also said she would do it “again and again.”

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ISIS Fighters in Raqqa Hopped Up on Amphetamines: US Military

Starving ISIS defenders who have surrendered or been captured in the siege of Raqqa have shown signs of using amphetamines to stay in what is described as a “brutal fight” for the Syrian city, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

The ISIS fighters taken into custody recently by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and questioned by “coalition” advisers have been malnourished and emaciated, with track marks on their arms.

The SDF, a mix of Arab and Kurdish fighters, and advisers who have seen detainees with “pocked needle marks” on their arms have concluded ISIS fighters are using amphetamines to boost their “murderous fervor,” said Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Those are the signs we assessed to be amphetamine,” he said.

In a phone briefing to the Pentagon from Baghdad, Dillon said the initial reports from Raqqa, the so-called capital of the ISIS caliphate, are the first he has heard of ISIS fighters “using some sort of drugs to keep them alert and keep them going.”

He said it is one of the “signs of their desperation” in the fight for Raqqa, where “desperate and fanatical terrorists are clinging to territory with no chance of escape.”

The SDF claims control of about 55 percent of Raqqa, but Dillon predicted the fight for the town will not get “quicker and easier” as ISIS employs “fiendishly clever” improvised explosive devices and relies on the same “three-dimensional” defense U.S. and Iraqi commanders described them using in the battle for Mosul.

ISIS troops in Raqqa have been fighting from rooftops, on the ground and in the warren of tunnels they have dug under the city, Dillon said.

Earlier this week, the SDF repelled a counterattack launched by ISIS from a tunnel complex, he added.

Dillon confirmed that Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, had arrived in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi officials and to confer with Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of CJTF-OIR, on the progress of the war in Iraq and Syria against ISIS.

It was not immediately clear whether Votel would go into Syria, which he has done in the past.

In his briefing from Baghdad, Dillon was questioned on the long-standing discrepancies between the numbers of U.S. troops reported to be in Iraq and Syria by the Pentagon and the numbers actually on the ground.

Dillon again gave the “Force Management Levels” of troops — 5,200 in Iraq and slightly above 500 in Syria — but acknowledged the numbers could be considerably higher when those deemed to be on “temporary” assignment are taken into account.

President Donald Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide latitude to set the Force Management Levels, or numbers of troops, in Iraq and Syria, but Mattis to date has retained Obama administration levels, while boosting forces on temporary assignment.

Dillon acknowledged that the numbers he gave on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria did not include “people who come in and out for the fight on a temporary basis. This is policy, and I can’t comment further.”

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