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Islamic State Militants Advance Despite Airstrikes: ‘Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control…the situation is getting worse’

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ISIS Gains Territory Despite Weeks of Bombing by U.S., Allies, Raising Questions About Strategy

For WSJ, Margaret Coker in Erbil, Iraq, Jay Solomon in Cairo and Tamer El-Ghobashy in Baghdad report: Islamic State militants have gained territory in Iraq and Syria despite weeks of bombing by the U.S. and its allies, raising questions about the coalition’s strategy of trying to blunt the jihadists’ advance while local forces are being trained to meet the threat on the ground.

“The strategy’s biggest weakness in Iraq, officials there say, is the glacial pace of cobbling together an Iraqi political alliance between Sunnis willing to join with the Shiite-controlled central government to rebuild a national military force to fight Islamic State more effectively.”

In Syria, fighters from Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have taken large sections of the city of Kobani in recent days, said Ismet Sheikh Hasan, the defense minister of the city’s Kurdish administration. “Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control,” he said. “The situation is getting worse.”

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[Also see Matthew Continetti‘s Accept No Substitutes: As the Islamic State continues to gain territory, U.S. ground troops are needed more than ever]

This comes despite a week of heavy airstrikes around the city to help local Syrian Kurdish fighters keep Islamic State forces from the city center.

“The call for American ground troops, however unlikely to be met, caused fresh rifts in Anbar which threatened to weaken the already shaky coalition of government forces working with tribal fighters to fend off the Islamic State assault.”

In Iraq, militant forces operating in a swath of territory the size of California have extended their control of the roads and commercial routes in strategically vital Anbar Province, which connects the capital Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.

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Anbar, which has critical infrastructure and whose eastern edge lies only about 25 miles from Baghdad’s center, is also in danger of falling wholly under Islamic State control despite weeks of U.S. strikes aimed at weakening the group, local officials say.

“While the militant group is yet to take the provincial capital of Ramadi, officials in Anbar warn that they are losing their grip on the city to a highly organized and disciplined insurgency that has surrounded military bases and put a choke hold on trade from Jordan, effectively controlling movements of goods and people in the region.”

The province’s chief of police was killed in a bombing Sunday, officials said, heightening unease over the government’s ability to fend off Islamic State forces. Read the rest of this entry »

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UPDATE: German Magazine BILD Features Ceylan Özalp Story — ‘Peshmerga Fighter: Suicide Out of Fear of ISIS Rape’

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Peschmerga-Kämpferin: Selbstmord aus Angst vor ISIS-Vergewaltigung – Politik Ausland – Bild.de

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This appeared online about an hour ago, the first I’m aware of the Ceylan Özalp story being picked up by traditional print media. Until now, we’ve only seen it in social media, and blogs. Note that BILD concludes, rather than begins, with the familiar disclaimer:

“The source for the fate of Ceylan Ozalp was not conclusively verify their validity is, however, the descriptions appears authentic.”

Though it’s a less-than-ideal Google translation from German to English, we can see that it remains an “as is” story. However, it includes graphics, maps, a video, and a little more background. Does BILDs confidence in its authenticity give it more credibility? Perhaps so. We’ll let the readers decide.

Turkish and French sites occasionally have references, and the BBC has coverage of Kurdish women fighters, but information about Ceylan Özalp is elusive, adding to her increasingly mythic status.

Since this particular European tabloid is the first mainstream news organization to put any effort into telling the story of Ceylan Özalp, I offer it here with minimal interference (other than this introduction) with the German-to-English translation errors untouched. To see it at BILD in the original formatting, go here.

[Do you have a source, or more information about the fate of Ceylan Özalp? If so, drop us a line]

The Kurdish soldier Ceylan Ozalp said to have shot herself after they had no more ammunition to fight against ISIS

When the terrorists had surrounded it to Ceylan Ozalp adopted by radio, took her gun and shot himself. Afraid of being raped by the jihadists like so many women before.

“To the Bitter End”: Peshmerga women fighting against ISIS

For days warriors deliver the terror militia Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria (ISIS, also IS) violent struggle for Kurdish enclave Ain Al-Arab (Kurdish: Kobane) and the surrounding villages. Already 300 villages are in the hands of terrorists, Ain Al-Arab have them surrounded from three sides. Only two kilometers – then they are in town!

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The embattled border town of Ain​​-al-Arab

The Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim told the news agency Reuters: When the ISIS-fighters should arrive in the city, “they will destroy everything and the people slaughtered.” Within a few days the decision would be like.

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[click image to go to video at BILD]

The brave Peshmerga fighters

Still trying fighters of the Kurdish people’s defense units, the jihadists to stop. With poor facilities face young, old and women terrorists in the way. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Hubris: Obama Taking Credit for Iraq Troop Withdrawal Over and Over in 2012, Ducking Responsibility for it in 2014

President Obama took credit for Iraq troop withdrawal over and over in 2012 before ducking responsibility for it in 2014. The first 3/4ths of this is predictable grandstanding, electioneering, credit-taking, campaigning, boasting, signature Obama. The sweet spot starts at around 46 seconds.

via Bombs Over Erbil – YouTube.


U.S. to Evacuate Many Staff Members From Baghdad Embassy

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Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army paraded in Baghdad on Sunday. Credit Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

ERBIL, Iraq —For the New York Times and Michael R. Gordon report: The American Embassy in Baghdad plans to temporarily evacuate a substantial number of its personnel this week and to increase security at the embassy in the face of a militant advance that rapidly swept from the north toward the capital, the State Department announced on Sunday.

The embassy, a beige fortress on the banks of the Tigris River within the heavily-secured Green Zone, where Iraqi government buildings are also located, has the largest staff of any United States Embassy.

The exact number of people being evacuated was not clear Sunday. The embassy would remain open, according to a statement from the department’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki,and many of its approximately 5,500 staff members would stay in Baghdad.

Many staff members who are leaving — the statement called it “relocating” — will be flown to Amman, Jordan, where they will continue their work at the embassy there, the statement said. Others will be shifted from Baghdad to consulates here in Erbil, in the northern Kurdish region, and in Basra, in the south, which are not now under threat by the militants. Read the rest of this entry »