- Military Airstrikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
U.S. and partner-nation military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists over the last four days, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.
Fighter and bomber aircraft have conducted 15 airstrikes in Syria since Dec. 5, officials said. Separately, they added, U.S. and partner-nation military forces conducted 31 airstrikes over the same period in Iraq, using fighter, bomber, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft.
Strikes in Syria
In Syria, 14 airstrikes near Kobani destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL-occupied buildings, two ISIL staging areas, two ISIL tanks, a motorcycle and a mortar, and struck eight tactical ISIL units and two ISIL fighting positions. Near Raqqah, an airstrike struck an electronic warfare garrison.
Strikes in Iraq
In Iraq, six airstrikes near Kirkuk destroyed two excavators, a bulldozer, an ISIL bunker and an ISIL ammunition dump and struck another excavator and an overpass servicing the ammunition dump. These airstrikes also suppressed an ISIL fighting position and struck a tactical ISIL unit near Kirkuk, officials said.
Near Biaj, four airstrikes destroyed four armored vehicles, an ISIL checkpoint and two ISIL storage containers. Near Sinjar, four airstrikes destroyed six ISIL-occupied buildings, seven ISIL storage containers, two ISIL fighting positions and an excavator and struck an ISIL bunker. Near Mosul, four airstrikes destroyed an excavator, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL heavy weapon and struck two ISIL tactical units.
Also in Iraq, three airstrikes near Qaim destroyed two ISIL armored vehicles and struck an ISIL observation point. Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes destroyed seven ISIL armored vehicles, a bulldozer and an excavator. Near Ramadi, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL-occupied building and a front-loader and struck two ISIL units.
Near Bayji, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL-occupied building and struck two tactical ISIL units. Near Rawah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL tank. Near Hit, an airstrike was conducted, but there was no damage.
All aircraft returned to base safely, officials said, noting that airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.
The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
2. Will Iran join the fight against ISIL?
Iran has admitted targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Iraqi soil, saying it is defending its friends’ interests.
Ebrahim Rahimpour, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in an interview that the air strikes were not co-ordinated with the US, whose military is also fighting the group, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.
He said the attacks were carried out at the Iraqi government’s request.
This was the first confirmation of the attacks by Iran. The government had previously denied that its military launched any air strikes.
The timing and nature of the military operations are not clear, but they are said to have occurred in Diyala province, which extends from northeast Baghdad to the Iranian border.
John Kerry, US secretary of state, has rejected the possibility of any co-ordination with Iran in anti-ISIL operations.
3.Britain needs better information about returning Isil fighters, David Cameron to tell Turks
Turkey must provide a better early warning system about British Jihadi fighters who are trying to sneak back into the UK, David Cameron will tell Turkish leaders today.
The Prime Minister is flying to Turkey for face to face talks with the country’s Prime Minister and President about the “shared threat” that both countries face from returning Islamic State (Isil) fighters.
4. Saudi king reshuffles cabinet amid falling oil prices and ISIL threat
RIYADH // Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah made the most sweeping changes to his cabinet in almost a decade on the throne, as the kingdom faces the challenges of plunging oil prices and ISIL militants.
Changes were made at the agriculture, higher education, information, telecommunications, Islamic affairs, health, social affairs and transportation ministries, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing royal decrees. Key posts, such as oil, finance, interior and defence, were left unchanged.
This is the most significant cabinet reshuffle since the Saudi monarch, born in 1924, took power in 2005.
Two years after ascending the throne, King Abdullah reappointed all serving cabinet members including oil minister Ali Al Naimi, who has held his post since 1995.
Since then, the monarch has only made minor ministerial changes.
The overhaul comes as Saudi rulers seek to manage the impact of crude prices that have dropped about 40 per cent since June. The decline accelerated after the November 27 decision when Opec, led by Saudi Arabia, ruled out cuts in production.
Saudi Arabia also faces a potential threat from ISIL militants after joining the US military campaign against the militant group in Iraq and Syria.
Saudi authorities said on Monday they arrested 135 terrorism suspects in nationwide raids, after attacks linked to supporters of the Al Qaeda breakaway group.
King Abdullah has been gradually introducing younger members of the royal family into key government positions. The process has gained speed since 2011 when revolts spread through the Arab world and Saudi Arabia expanded its welfare programmess to ward off unrest.
“The king and his advisers are looking to the future transitions, but also toward the present problems,” said Paul Sullivan, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University in Washington. “Many of these cabinet shifts have to do with cultural, social and economic issues that are a major cause of some building tensions in the kingdom.”
Among the cabinet members replaced in the overhaul was Islamic affairs minister Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdulaziz Al Ashaikh, who ran the country’s mosques and religious schools since 1999. Another was Khalid Al Angary, who had held the post of minister for higher education since 1991, according to the website of the Saudi embassy in Washington DC.