U.S. troops on site of Syria deadly blast

admin   •   January 17, 2019   •   1664


U.S. military vehicle in Manbij, Syria | Reuters

U.S. troops were on site of a bomb attack claimed by Islamic State that killed U.S. troops in northern Syria on Wednesday (January 16).

The attack came weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said the group had been defeated there and that he would pull out all American forces.

A U.S. official who declined to be named said four U.S. troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast.

An Islamic State-affiliated site said the blast was the work of a suicide bomber. A war monitor said 19 people in total had died in the blast.

The attack took place in the town of Manbij, controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

Last month, Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria after concluding Islamic State had been defeated there. — Reuters

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U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo in Ankara for talks on Turkey’s Syria offensive

Robie de Guzman   •   October 17, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens to US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 16 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS / POOL

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Ankara on Thursday (October 17) as part of Washington’s efforts to convince Turkey to halt its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

Turkey’s week-long assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 160,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.

Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish fighters, who were Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Turkey launched its offensive on Oct. 9.

Following a phone call with Erdogan, who has rejected calls for ceasefire or mediation, Trump dispatched top aides including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara for emergency talks to try to persuade Turkey to halt the offensive. (Reuters)

Gov’t vows justice for MILF fighters slain by local terrorist group

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2019

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The government on Monday vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators of an attack that killed seven members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. expressed his apologies and sympathies to the families of the former MILF combatants who were slain by an attack claimed to have been carried out by an Islamic State (IS)-linked terror group.

“In solidarity with the leadership of the MILF, the government will assist in every way possible the families of these slain MILF fighters,” Galvez said.

“We will exert all efforts to make sure that justice will be served to the perpetrators of this dastardly act,” he added.

The MILF members were killed after the IS-linked group, Turayfe-Dawla group attacked their camp near Shariff Saydona in Maguindanao last week.

The Turayfe-Dawla is a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which opposes the peace agreement that the MILF signed with the government.

Galvez said the attack demonstrates the “brutality of these terror groups, and the violent methods they will utilize to sow fear, anger, and discord among the populace.”

“Their twisted ideology does not recognize ethnicity nor religion. They have no place in a humane, peaceful society,” he added.

The Cabinet official further said the government recognizes the gallantry of these former MILF fighters who fought against the terror group.

“For us, they are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice so that their people can live in peace,” he said.

In the previous weeks, the MILF began the decommissioning of its weapons and combatants as part of the peace treaty they forged with the government aimed at ending the decades-long separatist insurgency in Mindanao.

During the second phase of the decommissioning held in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao last month, thousands of weapons were turned over to the government.

Decommissioned MILF fighters also received socio-economic assistance.

“As we sympathize with our Moro brothers and sisters for their loss, I would like to call on the Filipino to unite so that we can address the roots of violent extremism, and bring enduring and long-lasting peace to our nation,” Galvez said.

Oil tanker bound for Syria seized in Gibraltar for sanctions-busting

Robie de Guzman   •   July 5, 2019

British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday (July 4) accused of bringing oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that could escalate confrontation between the West and Iran.

The Grace 1 tanker was impounded in the British territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, after sailing around Africa from the Gulf.

Shipping data reviewed by Reuters suggests it had been loaded with Iranian oil off the coast of Iran, although its documents say the oil is from neighboring Iraq.

The Gibraltar authorities who seized it did so under the authority of European sanctions against Syria that have been in place for years, with no reference to the source of the oil.

But the likelihood that the cargo was Iranian draws a link between this incident and a new U.S. effort to halt all global sales of Iranian crude, in what Tehran has described as an illegal “economic war” against it.

European countries have tried to stay neutral in that confrontation, which saw the United States calling off airstrikes against Iran just minutes before impact last month, and Tehran amassing stocks of enriched uranium banned under a nuclear deal.

In a statement, the Gibraltar government said it had reasonable grounds to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria. (REUTERS)

(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie)

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