(CNN) – Civil War soldiers receive the funeral never held

The procession with a caisson bearing a ceremonial casket arrives for Andersonville service.

Story highlights

  • “Funeral for 13,000” remembers soldiers who died 150 years ago at Civil War prison in Georgia
  • Events through Sunday will recall stories of courage, despair at Andersonville
  • Observances coincide with annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day

(CNN)A simple wooden casket, placed on a raised bier, bore witness for thousands of Civil War soldiers who died while under the guard of fellow Americans.

Battlefields were the places for winners and losers. But survival was the only matter of magnitude at prisons in the North and South, the audience was told Saturday afternoon during the “Funeral for 13,000” at a national cemetery in southwest Georgia.

The juxtaposition of yesterday and today was apparent from the beginning of the memorial service at Andersonville National Historic Site: A bagpiper playing “Going Home” led a horse-drawn caisson carrying the ceremonial casket. Sheriff’s deputies and members of the armed forces walked in the procession toward the cemetery rostrum. Among those in the crowd were men and women portraying Civil War soldiers and civilians. One woman wore a black mourning dress and veil.

Despite the somber mood, there was a prevailing note of appreciation for the sacrifice of those who died at Andersonville and other prisons.

“It’s a great day to be a soldier,” said Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, referring to the role uniformed men played in the forging of a great nation through a bloody civil war that cost more than 600,000 lives.

Memorial illumination at the stockade site on Friday, September 18.

Events planned through Sunday at Andersonville are the culmination of the site’s sesquicentennial observance of an often-overlooked aspect of the war: Away from the battles that are famous today — Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh — thousands of prisoners endured wretched conditions. At Andersonville alone, nearly 13,000 Federal soldiers and civilian captives died over 14 months. Officials wanted those who died there 150 years ago to finally receive a proper, reverent funeral.

The observance coincided with the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

Dailey, in an address carried nationally by C-SPAN, praised descendants for keeping alive the stories of prisoners.

He told the story of Sgt. Christian Kephart, a father of four girls who enlisted with the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry in 1863. Kephart survived Andersonville but died of dysentery at another camp.

No one knows why he enlisted. Was it for an enlistment bounty? To save the country? End slavery?

Only about 1% of Americans serve in the military today. Dailey referenced the POW/MIA flag flying above the cemetery. Since the Civil War, he said, the United States has learned to provide humane treatment for prisoners, including enemy combatants.

Read more: Civil War prisoners clawed for survival

Speakers reminded Americans of the ordeals soldiers went through. And they prayed to the creator.

“Here at Andersonville, we are suffering from what we have forgotten,” said Judson Mitcham, poet laureate of Georgia. “Tell us again how to praise and grieve and witness. Give us this day, forgive us our trespasses.”

Some 45,000 men were at Andersonville prison over 14 months; 13,000 died.

Officials hope that visitors don’t see the weekend events just as a history lesson. There are larger questions of how soldiers transition to civilian life. How a nation binds its wounds after war and tells the story of those who were held captive in all wars.

Eric Leonard, former chief of interpretation at Andersonville, told C-SPAN that the number of Civil War prisoners proliferated after an exchange system broke down, partially because the Confederate government would not agree to exchange African-American captives.

At first, many prisoners that were moved by train from Virginia to Andersonville believed that conditions would be better. But the stockade’s main stream quickly became polluted. Officials had no real understanding of how germs and disease spread. They channeled water to create a latrine, hoping the flow of the creek would “flush” the toilet.

“They … completed the perfect breeding ground for dysentery,” Leonard said.

Source: Civil War soldiers receive the funeral never held – CNN.com

Advertisements

(eagle radio news) – Syria Condemns Any UK Military ‘Interference’

On Air: 19:00 – 00:00

Eagle Radio News

Article image thumbnail

Syria has accused the UK of “interference” following reports the Government is seeking to persuade Labour MPs to back airstrikes in Syria.

The Syrian foreign ministry has sent two letters to United Nations chiefs objecting to “brazen standpoints” taken by British officials and accusing the UK of a “colonialist” agenda, according to state news agency SANA.

It comes after Chancellor George Osborne acknowledged that a comprehensive plan is needed to tackle the refugee crisis “at source”.

He has said that means dealing with the “evil” regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad as well as Islamic State fighters.

And, speaking on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, he described the UK’s rejection of a previous vote on military intervention in Syria in 2013 as “one of the worst decisions the Commons has ever made”.

However, several opposition politicians have told Sky News they are wary about the prospect of military action.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Murnaghan programme she is sceptical about the “efficacy” of airstrikes, given the complex nature of the conflict in Syria.

“I believe the only long-term sustainable solution here, not that it is easy or that it can be delivered quickly, is a political and diplomatic one,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who asked where the global diplomatic effort had been in getting world powers together to address the conflict.

Both women said they would accept Syrian refugees into their own homes as part of a wider housing initiative.

An estimated 250,000 people have been killed during Syria’s four-and-a-half year conflict and a further 11 million have fled their homes.

Sky News understands that the Government is currently preparing to accept at least 10,000 people from camps on the Syrian border.

The Prime Minister has announced that the UK will take “thousands more” refugees, following fierce public pressure over the UK’s response to the migration crisis, although he is yet to announce an official figure.

Number 10 is keen to demonstrate that, given stinging criticism from elsewhere in the EU, the UK is “pulling its weight”.

According to Mr Osborne, Britain will fund the influx by dipping into its international aid budget.

Some of the UK’s £12bn-a-year foreign aid budget will now be offered to local councils to help them house refugees at home, he said.

David Cameron will be pressed on precisely how many refugees the UK will take and what support local authorities will receive when Parliament returns on Monday.

More than 40 councils across the UK have so far stated their willingness to offer sanctuary to Syrian refugees.

Speaking on Murnaghan, Mrs Cooper welcomed the Government’s promise to help those fleeing persecution in Syria.

But she said the UK should not take refugees exclusively from camps on the Syrian border and should also house those who have already made it to Europe.

She also called for more to be done to help the vast number of unaccompanied Syrian children, saying the UK should bring back its “tradition of compassion and support” seen during the Kindertransport rescue effort in the Second World War.

Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall was more scathing in her criticism, accusing the Prime Minister of making the UK look “uncaring and impotent” compared to other EU countries likeGermany, which is expecting some 800,000 asylum applications this year alone.

She urged the Government to accept tens of thousands, rather than thousands of refugees.

:: Syrian refugees hoarded into camps in Hungary tell Sky News their families are dead, their country is at war and now they are being treated as “criminals”

Get in touch

  Twitter Facebook You Tube-social-square red_48px App

 

(The Washington Post) – The Latest: Pope Francis asks faithful to shelter refugees – 

Refugees and migrants take part in a protest demanding the authorities to let them go to Athens and continue their trip towards Northern Europe, at the port of Mytilene, on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Earlier many of them confronted the police as they attempted to get onboard a ship bound to Athens’ port of Piraeus. (Santi Palacios/Associated Press)
By Associated Press September 6 at 6:32 AM
BERLIN — The latest news as countries across Europe cope with the arrival of thousands of migrants and refugees. All times local (CET):

___

12:30 p.m.

Pope Francis is asking faithful throughout Europe to shelter refugees fleeing “death from war and hunger.”

Francis said Sunday that the Vatican’s two parishes are taking in two families of refugees. He gave no details as he addressed tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Francis said it’s not enough to say, “Have courage, hang in there,” to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are on the march toward what he called “life’s hope.”

He called on every Catholic parish, convent, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter a family, and asked bishops throughout Europe to urge their dioceses to do the same.

___

11:30 p.m.

Israel’s prime minister says his country is not indifferent to the plight of migrants and refugees flooding Europe, but that Israel is too vulnerable to absorb them.

Benjamin Netanyahu bemoaned the “human tragedy” of the victims of Syria’s civil war and said Israel has aided them in various ways. But he added that Israel is too small a country, both geographically and demographically, to provide a haven for a large influx of migrants.

Israel runs a field hospital on its border with Syria and has taken in wounded Syrians, but has stopped short of opening the borders to its longtime enemy.

Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog says the country should take in a limited number of Syrian asylum seekers amid the current refugee crisis in Europe.

___

10:45 p.m.

Authorities in Cyprus say they have rescued 114 people believed to be refugees fleeing war-torn Syria after their fishing boat issued a distress call some 46 miles (74 kilometers) off the east Mediterranean island nation’s southern coast.

Cyprus police said Sunday that all 114 people, including Palestinians from Syria, are in good health. They include 19 women, 30 children, 5 infants and 60 men.

A merchant vessel notified Cyprus’ Search and Rescue Center late Saturday that the refugees’ 60-foot (18-meter) fishing boat was in trouble.
The refugees were transferred to the southern port of Larnaca for health and identity checks.

Police said three men, including a 28-year-old believed to be the boat’s captain, have been arrested and are being questioned.

___

10:00 a.m.

French mayors are offering to house refugees amid increasing concern for Syrians and others fleeing war and seeking haven in Europe.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement Sunday that several dozen mayors have offered to help in recent days, and convened a national meeting to organize refugee housing on Sept. 12.

France is trying to speed up the process for seeking asylum and to better welcome refugees, as the numbers coming to Europe this year have soared. Many asylum seekers in France have no place to live and sleep in make-shift camps, from Paris to Calais.

A grassroots French group arranging private housing for refugees has also seen a spike in offers in recent days, after the widely viewed photo of a drowned Syrian boy helped raise public awareness.

___

9:30 a.m.

On the Greek island of Lesbos, police have used batons to beat back a demonstration by some 300 migrants chanting “Athena, Athena” as they tried to come out of the port area. Several of the protesters were injured in the clash, with one taken away unconscious by an ambulance.

The migrants, mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, say that local authorities on the Aegean island are not processing them quickly enough so they can continue their journey to western Europe. They also complain that authorities on Lesbos are not offering them any help and that they are fast running out of money.

The clashes early Sunday were the third in as many days between migrants and police. The demonstration on Sunday was led by Afghans.

___

9:15 a.m.

Thousands of migrants and refugees have arrived by train and bus in cities across Germany overnight.

Police say a special train with 570 people on board arrived in the Thuringian town of Saalfeld late Saturday. More than half of them were taken onward to Dresden, where a school for German army officers has been cleared to provide temporary shelter for 350 newcomers.
Trains also took migrants to Hamburg in the north and Dortmund in the west of the country, while buses brought more than 300 people to the capital Berlin.

Thousands more people, mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans fleeing war and persecution, are expected to arrive in Germany and Austria from Hungary on Sunday.

The refugees were allowed to leave Hungary Saturday after the country opened its borders with Austria.

Source: The Latest: Pope Francis asks faithful to shelter refugees – The Washington Post

(CTV News) – Toll from rebel missile attack in Yemen rises; Saudi Arabia says 10 of its troops killed

Missiles hit Yemen - SanaaPeople inspect buildings destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP / Hani Mohammed)

SANAA, Yemen — Saudi Arabia’s military said Saturday that 10 of its troops were killed in a rebel missile strike a day earlier in Yemen, raising the death toll in the attack to at least 55 coalition troops killed.

It was the first public acknowledgement by the Saudis that they have ground troops in Yemen, where they lead a coalition targeting Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies.

The United Arab Emirates lost 45 troops in the attack Friday, when rebels hit an ammunition depot in Marib, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital, Sanaa. It was the deadliest day for the UAE’s military in the nation’s 44-year history.

“Ten Saudi soldiers from the Arab coalition forces were martyred,” in the attack on the weapons depot, Saudi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said in a statement.

The Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition, made up mainly of Gulf nations, has been launching airstrikes against the rebels since March, part of an increasingly assertive military policy by both the Saudis and the UAE in the region.

Before Saudi Arabia and the UAE confirmed their casualties in the attack, coalition countries had avoided acknowledging that they had troops on the ground in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country. On Friday, Bahrain’s state news agency also reported that five of its soldiers were killed in Yemen operations, although it did not specify where or how.

Yemeni security officials have said that Saudi, Emirati, Egyptian and Jordanian military advisers are training hundreds of fighters at a military base in Aden. The Saudis also are supplying weapons and providing military advice in the fight for control of their southern neighbour.

The rebels and army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh are fighting forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia, as well as southern separatists and local militias.

Officials from the Houthis media office confirmed they had fired a Soviet-era Tochka missile in Marib, which had been a staging ground for what pro-government described as an upcoming assault toward the Houthis’ northern strongholds.

Also Saturday, pro-government Yemen officials said Arab coalition forces in Marib received reinforcements in the form of troops and supplies from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. They said the troops were from Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and also included Saudi-trained Yemeni forces.

The coalition also has launched almost-continuous airstrikes in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa since the rebels’ Friday missile attack, demolishing at least one building, Sanaa residents said. Shock waves from the explosions caused several small buildings to collapse as well. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The airstrikes in the capital targeted weapons storage facilities and a police department in downtown Sanaa, which the rebels had turned into a military headquarters, independent security officials and witnesses said. The strikes knocked down a nearby house, killing four civilians and wounding three from the same family, they added. The Houthi-controlled Interior Ministry said 27 people have been killed by the intensified airstrikes since Friday.

Meanwhile in Jawf, a massive desert province north of Marib, hundreds of Saudi-trained Yemeni fighters and coalition troops have marched in and set up military encampments in the north-western al-Yetema crossing bordering Saudi Arabia, pro-government security officials and tribal leaders there said. The move came Thursday as part of the military plan to seize Jawf in order to advance on the neighbouring Sadaa, the heartland of the Houthis.

Sandwiched between rebel forces in Jawf and cities to the south like Bihan and Sirwah, which lie on supply routes with the rebel-held capital, the coalition forces in Marib are unable to advance north, independent security officials said. A breakout would require help from the reinforcements to Marib and Jawf, Yemeni analyst Mansour Haael said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

read more

(financial express) – 47 dead as rebels battle IS in north Syria: monitor

A battle between Islamic State group jihadists and rebels for control of an opposition stronghold in northern Syria has killed at least 47 fighters, a monitor said today.

Twenty Islamist and other rebel fighters were killed in the clashes in Aleppo province throughout yesterday, along with 27 IS jihadists, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The fighting centred on the town of Marea, a key rebel bastion that IS has been trying to capture for months.

The Observatory said fighting was ongoing around the town, which rebel forces still control, as well in villages in the surrounding area.

Marea is one of the most significant rebel-held towns in northern Aleppo and lies on a key supply route running to the Turkish border.

IS has targeted the town for months, seeking to expand westwards from territory it already holds in Aleppo province.

Last week, IS advanced in the area, seizing five villages from rebel forces around Marea after allegations it had used a chemical agent, possibly mustard gas, in its attacks.

The IS advances came despite an agreement between Turkey and the United States to work on the establishment of an IS-free zone in northern Aleppo.

In recent days, the US-led air campaign fighting IS in Syria has carried out strikes against the group near Marea, according to the Pentagon.

More than 240,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with peaceful anti-government protests.

It has evolved into a complex multi-front war, with regime and rebel forces as well as Kurds and jihadists involved in the fighting.

 

read more

(Reuters) – China holds massive military parade, to cut troop levels by 300,000

President Xi Jinping announced on Thursday he would cut troop levels by 300,000 asChina held its biggest display of military might in a parade to commemorate victory overJapan in World War Two, an event shunned by most Western leaders.

China’s confidence in its armed forces and growing military assertiveness, especially in the disputed South China Sea, has rattled the region and drawn criticism from Washington.

Xi, speaking on a rostrum overlooking Beijing’s Tiananmen Square before the parade began, said China would cut by 13 percent one of the world’s biggest militaries, currently 2.3-million strong.

The Defence Ministry said the cuts would be mostly complete by the end of 2017. The move is likely part of long-mooted military rationalization plans, which have included spending more money on high-tech weapons for the navy and air force. Troop numbers have been cut three times already since the 1980s.

“Prejudice and discrimination, hatred and war can only cause disaster and pain,” Xi said under a clear blue sky. “China will always uphold the path of peaceful development.”

He then descended to Beijing’s main thoroughfare and inspected rows of troops, riding past them in a black limousine and bellowing repeatedly: “Hello comrades, hard-working comrades!”

More than 12,000 soldiers, mostly Chinese but with contingents from Russia and elsewhere, then marched down Changan Avenue, led by veterans of World War Two carried in vehicles.

They were followed by ballistic missiles, tanks and armored vehicles, many never seen in public before. Advanced fighter jets and bombers flew overhead in a highly choreographed spectacle that lasted around 90 minutes.

Among the weapons China unveiled for the first time was an anti-ship ballistic missile, the Dongfeng-21D, which is reportedly capable of destroying an aircraft carrier with one hit.

Also shown were several intercontinental ballistic missiles such as the DF-5B and the DF-31A as well as the DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile, dubbed the “Guam killer” in reference to a U.S. Pacific Ocean base.

SIGN OF STRENGTH

Greg Austin, a professorial fellow at the East-West Institute in New York, said the troop cuts had nothing to do with curbing military power.

“It’s a determination to expand military power by redirecting money to higher impact, higher technologies, which can have more strategic effect,” he said, referring to the maritime, cyber and space frontiers.

Peng Guangqian, deputy head of China’s Council for National Security Policy Studies, said the equipment on display was intended to show the combat readiness of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“This indicates a change of the PLA training strategy; with more focus on actual combat,” Peng told the official Xinhua news agency.

China is also building two aircraft carriers that will be the same size as its sole carrier, a 60,000-tonne refurbished Soviet-era ship, according to a report on the PLA by the Defence Ministry in neighboring, self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own. Chinese state media have hinted new vessels are being built.

For Xi, the parade was a welcome distraction from the country’s plunging stock markets, slowing economic growth and recent blasts at a chemical warehouse that killed at least 160 people.

Xi was joined by Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of several other nations with close ties to China, including Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Most Western leaders rebuffed invitations to attend, diplomats said, unhappy about the guest list and wary of the message China would send with the show of strength.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not attend the parade, which was held one day after the 70th anniversary of Tokyo’s surrender in World War Two.

China’s government repeatedly said the parade was not aimed at today’s Japan, but to remember the past and to remind the world of China’s huge sacrifices during the conflict.

However, it rarely misses an opportunity to draw attention to Japan’s wartime role. On Wednesday, Xi said Japanese invaders before and during World War Two behaved with barbarity.

CHINESE NAVY IN BERING SEA

Xi has set great store on China’s military modernization, including developing an ocean-going “blue water” navy capable of defending the country’s growing global interests.

In a sign of that emerging capability, five Chinese Navy ships were sailing in international waters in the Bering Sea off Alaska, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama is touring the state.

China’s Defence Ministry said the ships were there as part of routine drills not aimed at any particular country.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said it was the first time the United States had seen Chinese navy ships in the Bering Sea.

“It is living up to what the Chinese have been saying, ‘We are now a blue water navy. We will operate in the far seas and we are a global presence’,” said Dean Cheng, a Chinaexpert at the Heritage Foundation think-tank in Washington.

Xi will meet Obama in Washington for talks later this month that will be dominated by a host of issues, including China’s growing military reach.

Beijing was locked down to ensure nothing went wrong at the parade, with much of the downtown off-limits, a three-day holiday declared and ordinary people kept well away.

“This parade and patriotism are two separate things,” said Mi Guoxian, who had come to Beijing for a wedding, standing on a nearly deserted street behind a line of police.

“This is for the national leaders.”

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Meng Meng in BEIJING, Matt Siegel in SYDNEY, Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO, J.R. Wu in Taipei and Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON; Editing by Dean Yates and Nick Macfie)

(The Washington Post) – Kurds fight the ISIS group while being bombed by Turkey – 

By Vivian Salama
BAGHDAD — Turkish jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq Friday and Saturday in what were the first strikes since a peace deal was announced in 2013.

The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group.

The Kurds of Syria and Iraq have become a major part of the war against the Islamic State group, with Kurdish populations in both countries threatened by the militants’ advance. Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds took part in cross-border operations to help rescue tens of thousands of displaced people from the minority Yazidi group from Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain in August last year and they continue to fight in cooperation with one another against the Islamic State group in areas along the Iraq-Syria border.
They have been somewhat effective in limiting the expansion of the Islamic State militants across northern Iraq but there are concerns that Turkish airstrikes on the PKK could jeopardize Kurdish positions.

WHO ARE THE KURDS?

The Kurds are an ethnic group with their own language and customs whose nomadic past led to their modern-day dispersal across several countries, mostly Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. Sunni Muslims make up the vast majority, but there is a sizeable Shiite population, particularly in Iran.

After the collapse of the Ottoman and Qajar empires and the subsequent creation of these modern states, Iraq, Iran and Turkey each agreed to oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan, making them the largest stateless minority group in the world. With nearly 25 million people living in five countries, they continue to push for self-rule.

WHAT IS THEIR ROLE IN TURKEY?

Turkey is home to an estimated 15 million Kurds, about one-fifth of the country’s population of 76 million. Most are Sunni Muslim.

The PKK has fought a three-decade war, initially for independence and later for autonomy and greater rights for Kurds. The conflict with the PKK has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.
Turkey and its U.S. and European allies consider the PKK — which has Marxist origins — a terrorist organization for killing civilians in urban bombings.
In 2012, Turkey launched secret talks with the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to end the conflict. The talks were made public in 2013 and the PKK declared a cease-fire a few months later.

Kurds accused Turkey of not doing enough to help Syrian Kurds during the battle against Islamic State militants over the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, prompting violent clashes and straining the fragile peace process.

Tensions flared again after an Islamic State suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people. Kurdish groups held the Turkish government responsible, saying it had not been aggressive in battling the Islamic State group.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic Party, said the strikes on the PKK in Syria and Iraq amounted to an end of the two-year-old truce. It called on the government to end the bombing campaign and resume a dialogue with the Kurds.

Turkey views Kurds in Iraq as an ally but is suspicious of Syrian Kurds who are affiliated with the PKK. Ankara is worried that Kurdish gains in Iraq and in Syria will encourage the aspirations of its own Kurdish population.

WHERE DO THEY STAND IN IRAQ?

Five million Kurds have their own government in Iraq’s semi-autonomous north and have significant representation in the central government with several key posts including the presidency, which is allocated to Kurds. They currently represent about 20 percent of Iraq’s population, making them the largest ethnic minority.

There are two main Iraqi Kurdish factions: The Kurdistan Democratic Party is led by Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is led by former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The factions fought a bloody war for power over northern Iraq in the mid-1990s, before agreeing to a power-sharing deal that ended the fighting in 1998.
The Iraqi Kurdish militia, known as the peshmerga, has been a major force in repelling the Islamic State group’s onslaught in recent months, with nearly a dozen countries rushing to its aid with weapons and training in the absence of genuine support from a strained Iraqi military.

The United States has been one of the most ardent protectors of Iraqi Kurds for over a generation, helping establish and enforce a safe haven in northern Iraq to protect them from Saddam Hussein. After the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials sought to give equal power to Kurdish politicians even in navigating the delicate rivalry between the factions.

WHERE DO THE KURDS STAND IN SYRIA?

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up more than 10 percent of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million people. They are centered mostly in the impoverished northeastern province of Hassakeh, wedged between the borders of Turkey and Iraq.

The Kurdish Democratic Union party, or PYD, is the most powerful political force among Syria’s Kurds. The party is a deeply secular, and affiliated with the PKK. The People’s Protection Units, known by its Kurdish acronym YPG, is the main Kurdish fighting force in Syria.

Since Syria’s civil war began, the Kurds have made unprecedented gains, strengthening their hold on the far northeast reaches of the country and carving out territory where they declared their own civil administration in areas under their control. They have demonstrated a surprising resilience in their fight against Islamic State group militants in Kobani, pushing them out in January with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes. More recently last month, they ejected the Islamic State group from their stronghold of Tal Abyad along the border with Turkey, robbing the IS of a key avenue for smuggling oil and foreign fighters.

___

Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.
Kurds fight the IS group while being bombed by Turkey Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options Resize Text Print Article Comments 4 Turkey strikes Kurdish militants in Iraq(1:55) Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, expanding and complicating the air war launched by Turkey against the Islamic State in Syria a day before.

Read Source:

(Miami Herald) – Turkey allows US to use key air base to strike Islamic State 

(DOD) – Dempsey, Ghani Discuss Transregional Effort Against ISIL

Martin E. Dempsey

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 19, 2015 – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey today discussed the possibility of forming a network to oppose the transregional threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Ghani here this afternoon and said there is a clear need for a transregional strategy to address ISIL.

Terror groups in Afghanistan – most notably the Tehreek-i-Taliban — have rebranded themselves as ISIL, officials said, noting that these are terrorists who believe the Taliban are not vicious enough.

ISIL is the latest and most successful manifestation of the terror threat, they added, posing a military threat and promoting an ideology that appeals to disaffected youths around the world.

Dempsey has said for years the United States should address this transregional threat with a transregional strategy. ISIL began in Iraq and Syria, but has spread to the Sinai, Libya and into Nigeria. Now the group is recruiting in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I think we’re all having an important discussion on how to address the transregional nature of what is clearly a persistent threat that has to be addressed at a sustainable level of effort over a period of time,” Dempsey said to reporters traveling with him.

Seeks Expanded Assessment

The chairman said he has asked Army Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission here, to expand his assessment of the current campaign in Afghanistan to include the changing nature of the threat and “to give us his insights into what he thinks we should do.”

Dempsey said Ghani told him in their meeting that Afghanistan should be a regional hub in a transregional network that includes the Levant, Iraq, North Africa and West Africa. “His view is, ‘Hey, look, I’m a willing partner in an area where you may not have willing partners,’” the chairman said. Ghani wants to have a conversation on what Afghanistan can do over time to form a network that will operate transregionally, he added.

The chairman said Ghani’s idea falls in line with his own thinking, but that he would like a discussion among American leaders on what the objective would be. “Once we have a clear idea of what we would like to accomplish … over a 10 year period,” he said, “then we should discuss what authorities would be needed, … as well as what resources can be applied.”

The long-term look is important, the general said, because this is a generational fight and the level of resources supplied must be sustainable over 10 years. “I don’t want to do this one year at a time,” he said.

Afghanistan could be a coalition counterterrorism partner and a South Asia hub. Ghani also pointed out to Dempsey that other global actors – Russia, China and Iran –also are concerned about the rising ISIL movement and are looking to Afghanistan for help. Ghani believes Afghanistan could be an exporter of stability in this type of program, Dempsey said.

Afghanistan is a credible and willing partner in counterterrorism and could be one of the keys to addressing ISIL in all of South Asia, the chairman said, adding that it could also network with similar efforts elsewhere.

Window of Opportunity

This could be a window of opportunity for a strategy against ISIL, the chairman said, noting that there are nine stages of development for an organization that, like ISIL, aspires to be a state.

“In Iraq and Syria, you might say they are in stage 6 or 7 or 8,” he said. “In Libya, they are in stage 3 or 4, and in Afghanistan they are in stage 1 or 2.” Therefore, he said, there is an opportunity in Afghanistan to deal with ISIL while it is still small there.

Any military effort against ISIL must have two components, the chairman said. The main effort should be by, with and through partners. “But we also need to carve out for ourselves the ability to take actions unilaterally when we deem it to be a credible, real and imminent threat to our people, facilities or the homeland,” he said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

Contact Author

Biographies:
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey
Related Sites:
Special Report: Travels With Dempsey

(Fox News) – North Korea says it won’t do Iran-style nuclear deal with US

>North Korea’s government said Tuesday that it had no interest in pursuing a nuclear agreement of its own with the U.S. as long as Washington pursued what Pyongyang described as provocative U.S. policies.

The statement from the isolated, totalitarian country’s Foreign Ministry was its first official response to the agreement concluded earlier this month between Iran and six global powers, including the U.S.

The unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman said the North’s nuclear deterrent was “not a plaything to be put on the negotiating table” in the statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. There was no immediate comment form the U.S.

North Korea’s nuclear program is a major regional concern, with the country having conducted atomic weapons tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. International nuclear disarmament talks have been stalled since early 2009, and outside analysts believe the North has built a small but growing nuclear bomb arsenal.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said North Korea is different from Iran because it already has nuclear weapons. He said the North faces constant military and nuclear threats from the U.S., citing its regular military exercises with South Korea.

On Thursday, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman had said that Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement, followed by the lifting of sanctions, “might give North Korea second thoughts.”

But Tuesday’s statement said that North Korea “is not interested at all in the dialogue to discuss the issue of making it freeze or dismantle its nukes unilaterally first,” adding that the North “remains unchanged in the mission of its nuclear force as long as the U.S. continues pursuing its hostile policy toward” the country.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan were coordinating attempts to engage North Korea in preliminary talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear program. However, officials in Washington and Seoul told the Wall Street Journal that North Korea had not responded to overtures made by the U.S. and South Korea in recent months.

The so-called six-party talks began in 2003 to negotiate for North Korea’s denuclearization in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees. Talks have been stalled since late 2008. Earlier this year, the Journal reported that Chinese experts had warned U.S. officials that North Korea could double the size of its nuclear arsenal by the beginning of next year.

The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Under the Iranian nuclear deal reached by Tehran, Washington and others, Iran’s nuclear program will be curbed for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of relief from international sanctions. Many key penalties on the Iranian economy, such as those related to the energy and financial sectors, could be lifted by the end of the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.

Source: North Korea says it won’t do Iran-style nuclear deal with US

(The Times of India) – Rebel shelling kills at least 45 in Yemen’s Aden: Officials 

Officials Houthi militants look at a damaged car at the site of a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen’s capital Sanaa. (Reuters photo)

2-Air strikes kill 20 Houthi fighters in Yemen’s AdenSaudi Arabia shoots down Scud missile fired from Yemen
India wraps up Yemen evacuation
Rebel fire kills 20 civilians in Yemen’s AdenSANAA: Shia rebels and their allies randomly shelled an area north of Aden on Sunday, killing at least 45 people and wounding over 100, officials said.The rebels are pushing back against an offensive by their Saudi-backed rivals that uprooted them from areas they control in the strategic port city last week, including the Aden international airport.The officials said hundreds of residents fled Dar Saad, north of Aden, amid shelling that intensified Sunday from the rebels. They said at least 45 people, believed to be civilians, were killed. Ambulances rushed to various areas in the town, taking the wounded to various hospitals, including some operated by the international aid group Doctors Without Borders.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists. Abdu Mohammed Madrabi, a 65-year old resident of the town, said he was in line outside the post office to collection his pension when the shells hit, causing chaos in the area. Madrabi, who was wounded in the neck, back and leg, said many private cars carried the wounded to hospitals because ambulances couldn’t cope. “We are now sitting on the floor of the hospital waiting for treatment,” he said. The shelling was intense in the neighbourhood of Sharqiya, hundreds of meters (yards) from the post office. Residents said shelling since early dawn kept them hiding at home.” It’s been one shell after the other since the morning. We are feeling the house is going to collapse over our head,” said Arwa Mohammed, a resident of Sharqiya, who has been locked up in one room with her seven-member family for safety. She said a shack nearby was burning from the bombing, adding that its residents fled only minutes before the shell landed.

“Balls of fire are falling over our heads amid screams of children and women,” said Anis Othman, a neighbour of Mohammed. “Why all that shelling? There are no weapons or fighters here. They (the rebels) want to terrorize us and drive us out. This is only rancour and hate.”

Hassan Boucenine, the head of Doctors Without Borders in Yemen, said the situation is “very, very difficult,” describing random shelling in Dar Saad that is coming from the north and east, wounding mostly civilians. He said his medical facilities have received 50 wounded people and 25 corpses. “There will be more,” he said. The Saudi-backed fighters, backed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes, pushed the rebels out of Aden’s airport and two major neighbourhoods last week. The rebels vowed to retaliate. Aden has been the scene of some of the war’s most intense ground fighting since March.

Source: Rebel shelling kills at least 45 in Yemen’s Aden: Officials – The Times of India

(Israel News, Ynetnews) – ISIS claims to destroy Egyptian warship with rocket

Smoke on the Water Sequence depicting the rocket approaching and hitting the ship  Moment the ship was struck  Smoke billows from the Egyptian ship (Photos: AFP) 

Sequence depicting the rocket approaching and hitting the ship


Photo shows moments of attack, which terror group claims killed troops – which Egypt denies. Roi Kais Published:  07.16.15, 19:05 / Israel News

The Islamic State terror group on Thursday claimed responsibility for firing an apparently guided rocket at an Egyptian warship in the Mediterranean Sea, north of Rafah.  The group claimed that the ship was destroyed and troops killed, but there was no official confirmation. Sequence depicting the rocket approaching and hitting the ship  Photos showing the incident could be found on social media sites after the attack. Palestinian sources said earlier Thursday that an Egyptian ship was on fire after an explosion whose cause was unclear.  An Egyptian military spokesperson issued a statement reporting exchanges of fire between naval forces and terrorists. According to an Egyptian military statement, navy vessels guarding Egypt’s shores noticed suspicious terrorist activity along the coast, chased after them, and exchanged fire. The military said this caused the ship to catch fire, but added that no one had been killed. 

Read More

(DOD) – Airstrikes Hit ISIL in Syria, Iraq

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 14, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Syria:
— Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
— Near Aleppo, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL towed artillery piece.
— Near Dayr Az Zawr, two airstrikes struck nine ISIL staging areas.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Bomber, attack, and fighter-attack aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
— Near Fallujah, six airstrikes struck five ISIL tactical units destroying two ISIL excavators, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun position, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL fighting position.
— Near Habbaniyah, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL armored personnel carrier and an ISIL excavator.
— Near Haditha, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units destroying an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL structure.
— Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL rocket position.
— Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
— Near Ramadi, five airstrikes destroyed an ISIL excavator, an ISIL vehicle bomb factory, an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL structure and four ISIL vehicle bombs.
— Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL buildings, two ISIL light machine guns, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
— Near Tal Afar, one airstrike had inconclusive results.
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, Syria, 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, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(DOD) – Airstrikes Hit ISIL Targets in Syria, Iraq

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during Talisman Sabre 2015 in the Timor Sea, July 7, 2015. The Hornet is assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 115. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 9, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Bomber, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Syria:
— Near Bukamal, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
— Near Aleppo, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL vehicle and two ISIL bunkers.
— Near Raqqah, an airstrike struck 20 ISIL staging areas.
— Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL structures.
— Near Tal Abyad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
— Near Baghdadi, two airstrikes denied ISIL a tactical advantage and suppressed ISIL sniper fire. — Near Huwayjah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.
— Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL mortar, an ISIL tunnel entrance, an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL recoilless rifle and two ISIL bunkers.
— Near Haditha, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb.
— Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck three ISIL staging areas.
— Near Makhmur, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL building and eight ISIL vehicles.
— Near Mosul, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL building.
— Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck two ISIL excavators.
— Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL heavy machine gun, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL command-and-control node.
— Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
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, Syria, 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, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.