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On 22 May, Ahmed Mohsen, an unemployed taxi driver, left his house in the Islamic State-controlled western part of Mosul to try to escape across the Tigris to the government-held eastern side of the city. He and his mother, along with ten other people, carried rubber tyres down to the river: most of them couldn’t... Read More
The U.S. War Against Civilians in Syria
It was midday on Sunday, May 7th, when the U.S.-led coalition warplanes again began bombing the neighborhood of Wassim Abdo’s family. They lived in Tabqa, a small city on the banks of the Euphrates River in northern Syria. Then occupied by the Islamic State (ISIS, also known as Daesh), Tabqa was also under siege by... Read More
You would barely know it, living in this country, but the essence of modern warfare is what our military tends to call “collateral damage”: the killing or wounding of civilians, not combatants. The Global War on Terror -- more than 15 years later a no-name set of conflicts still spreading across the Greater Middle East,... Read More
The catastrophic number of civilian casualties in Mosul is receiving little attention internationally from politicians and journalists. This is in sharp contrast to the outrage expressed worldwide over the bombardment of east Aleppo by Syrian government and Russian forces at the end of 2016. Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish leader and former Iraqi finance and foreign... Read More
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Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled. So far, they have been disappointed. But this week a light flashed at the end of the tunnel. President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and... Read More
True civilian death toll feared at 40,000
More than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from Isis, according to intelligence reports revealed exclusively to The Independent – a death toll far higher than previous estimates. Residents of the besieged city were killed by Iraqi ground forces attempting to force out militants, as well as by air strikes... Read More
Iraqi security forces kill Isis prisoners because they believe that if the militants are sent to prison camps they will bribe the authorities in Baghdad to release them. “That is why Iraqi soldiers prefer to shoot them or throw them off high buildings,” says one Iraqi source. A former senior Iraqi official said he could... Read More
Northern Iraq is one of the most fought over places on earth. Ancient and modern fortifications are everywhere. Just outside Erbil is the site of the battle of Gaugamela where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian army in 331 BC. Saddam Hussein’s soldiers fought the Kurds here for decades. But the nine-month long struggle for... Read More
“The people of Mosul will receive their salaries, while the people of Basra will receive the bodies of their martyrs,” runs a bitter comment on Iraqi social media. Many Iraqis see the inhabitants of Mosul as willing collaborators with Isis during its three years in power in the city. In particular, there are calls for... Read More
“There were very few Daesh [Isis fighters] in our neighbourhood, but they dropped a lot of bombs on them,” says Qais, 47, a resident of the al-Jadida district of Mosul. “We reckon that the airstrikes here killed between 600 and 1,000 people.” He shows pictures on his phone of a house that had stood beside... Read More
Iraq's Prime Minister formally declared victory over Isis in the northern city of Mosul, saying their defeat marks the "collapse" of the self-proclaimed caliphate. "I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism which the terrorist Daesh announced from Mosul," Haider al-abadi said in... Read More
Iraq is declaring victory over Isis in Mosul as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, wearing black military uniform, arrived in the city to congratulate his soldiers at the end of an epic nine-month-long battle. Elite Iraqi government forces raised the country’s flag on the banks of the Tigris River this morning, though Isis snipers are still... Read More
Iraqi soldiers have started celebrating their defeat of Isis in Mosul after a nine-month siege, even before the last resistance has been extinguished. An Iraqi commander called on a loudspeaker for surviving Isis fighters to surrender, but this was rejected by their commander. “It may take another two or three days,” said an Iraqi observer,... Read More
In the early dawn of 5 July, a 200-strong force of anti-Isis fighters launched a surprise attack on the Old City of Raqqa, which is the last big urban centre held by Isis anywhere in Syria and Iraq. Recruited mostly from survivors of a tribe that Isis massacred three years ago, the five-man assault teams,... Read More
President Trump has told a crowd of cheering Polish nationalists in Warsaw that the great threat to the world is from “radical Islamic terrorism”, which should make it good news for him that Isis is losing Mosul, the heart of its self-proclaimed Caliphate and its de facto capital in Iraq. At the same time, US-backed... Read More
The voice of Abdulkareem, 43, a former construction worker trapped inside the fast-shrinking Isis enclave in Mosul, trembles with fear as he describes the battle raging around him. He knows that it would be dangerous to try to escape, but it may be even more risky to stay where he is. He told The Independent... Read More
The battle for Mosul is a ferocious struggle that has now been going on for 256 days, or two months longer than the battle of Stalingrad. The fighting between Iraqi government forces and Isis is much smaller in scale than in Russia 75 years ago, but is comparable in its savagery and the importance with... Read More
The blowing up by Isis of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul marks a decisive defeat for the caliphate declared by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the same mosque three years ago. Isis will continue fighting as a guerrilla force, but it will be the end of a state once the size of Great Britain and fielding... Read More
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Sunday, a Navy F-18 Hornet shot down a Syrian air force jet, an act of war against a nation with which Congress has never declared or authorized a war. Washington says the Syrian plane was bombing U.S.-backed rebels. Damascus says its plane was attacking ISIS. Vladimir Putin's defense ministry was direct and blunt: "Repeated combat... Read More
On June 10, the Syrian Army blitzed across an arid stretch of countryside in southeastern Syria to reach the Iraqi border for the first time in three years. The move, which caught US war-planners off guard, prevents US-backed rebels from moving north from al Tanf to join the fight against ISIS in Raqqa and Deir... Read More
Just when you thought our Syria policy could not get any worse, last week it did. The US military twice attacked Syrian government forces from a military base it illegally occupies inside Syria. According to the Pentagon, the attacks on Syrian government-backed forces were “defensive” because the Syrian fighters were approaching a US self-declared “de-confliction”... Read More
The Conservative government largely avoided being blamed during the election campaign for its failure to stop the terrorist attacks. It appealed to British communal solidarity in defiance of those who carried out the atrocities, which was a perfectly reasonable stance, though one that conveniently enables the Conservatives to pillory any critics for dividing the nation... Read More
Anti-Isis forces are advancing into eastern Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria, and Iraqi troops have penned surviving Isis fighters into one part of the Old City in Mosul, once the heart of the self-declared Caliphate. “They are down to their last neighbourhoods in Mosul and they already lost part of Raqqa, and... Read More
“I do not think the siege of Raqqa will be as long as Mosul,” says Awad, an Arab fighter in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who belongs to a military unit attacking Raqqa, the de facto capital of Isis in Syria. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, he says that “we are advancing... Read More
On May 22, Salman Abedi, 22, waiting at the entrance of the Arianna Grande pop concert in Manchester, blew himself up, killing almost two dozen people, among them parents waiting to pick up their children. Saturday, three Islamic terrorists committed "suicide-by-cop," using a van to run down pedestrians on London Bridge, and then slashing and... Read More
The indiscriminate slaughter of ordinary members of the public on London Bridge and in Borough Market on Saturday night is fully in keeping with the operational methods of Isis. They have yet to claim responsibility, but it is extremely likely that they were ultimately behind an attack that bears so many Isis hallmarks. The killings... Read More
Ice cream and blood mingle on the floor after a bomb exploded outside an ice cream shop in the Karada district of Baghdad as people broke their fast during the first day of Ramadan. A bewildered young girl wanders through the wreckage, past the smashed yellow tables and benches where at least 26 people have... Read More
In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will then become open to... Read More
By the end of this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster will deliver to President Trump their plans for military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. President Trump would be wise to rip the plans up and send his national security team back to the drawing board – or replace... Read More
President Trump’s decision to provide weapons to the Syrian Kurds, who are fighting Isis, potentially marks a crucial change in the political geography of the Middle East. In effect, the US is choosing to support its Kurdish ally in Syria, in defiance of Turkey, whose aim is to prevent the establishment of a quasi-independent Kurdish... Read More
With the upcoming French Presidential election in France the topic of Islam in Europe has again become central to the political discourse. This is nothing new, we also saw that in the UK, in Holland, in Austria and even in Switzerland where the Muslim communities were banned – by popular referendum - from building minarets... Read More
When Lionel Messi scored a last minute winning goal for Barcelona against Real Madrid on 23 April, football fans in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous who had been watching the game on television rushed into the street to celebrate. This turned out to be a mistake from their point of view because many of... Read More
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis and self-declared Caliph, escaped from the siege of Mosul two months ago when the road to the west was briefly re-opened by a fierce counter attack by Isis fighters, according to a senior Kurdish official. “Isis used 17 suicide car bombs from Mosul and some of their units... Read More
Isolated in their houses and short of food and water, people besieged in the Isis-held Old City of Mosul say it is like being held in an underground prison with little idea of the ebb and flow of the battle being fought around them. Iraqi government forces have advanced up to the periphery of the... Read More
Standing high above Mosul beside the ruins of the Nabi Yunus shrine, destroyed by Isis as idolatrous in 2014, one can see the west of the city on the far side of the Tigris River. There the Iraqi security forces and Isis are engaged in the fiercest and longest battle of the Iraq conflict. Like... Read More
People trapped in the Old City of Mosul are dying of hunger because they have not received any food for almost three weeks according to a resident. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Karim, a 28-year-old taxi driver who lives in the ancient centre of Mosul, says that many people, including several he knows,... Read More
The Iraqi government made a mistake that will allow Isis to survive by seeking to capture Mosul before eliminating other Isis safe havens in northern and western Iraq to which its fighters can retreat, according to a senior Iraqi leader. “It would have been better first to eliminate Daesh (Isis) sanctuaries to which they can... Read More
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Ominous developments in East Syria have drawn the United States and Russia into closer proximity increasing the likelihood of a violent confrontation. The Trump administration has embarked on a dangerous plan to defeat the terrorist militia, ISIS, in Raqqa. But recent comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggest that Washington’s long-term strategy may... Read More
Civilians trying to flee the besieged Isis-held enclave in west Mosul are being shot dead by Isis and Iraqi army snipers as they try to cross the Tigris River, says an eyewitness trapped inside the city with his family. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Jasim, a 33-year old Iraqi Sunni living in west... Read More
Let’s be honest. The US attack on Mosul, Iraq, is not an attack on ISIS. It it a repeat of Israel’s operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The purpose is to kill as many Muslims for Israel as possible. Here is the evidence: Remember, the reason ISIS is in Iraq and Syria is that the US... Read More
Iraqi forces are stalled and suffering heavy casualties in their assault on the last Isis fighters defending close-packed buildings in the Old City of Mosul. Civilian loss of life is very high as US aircraft, Iraqi helicopters and artillery, try to target Isis strongpoints in a small area in which at least 300,000 civilians are... Read More
In the immediate aftermath of what police are describing as a terrorist incident in and around Parliament, at least three facts stand out suggesting that the attacks are similar to those carried out over the last two years by Isis supporters in Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin. . The similarities with the events today are... Read More
Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from other its... Read More
After Isis captured Mosul in June 2014, people in Baghdad waited in terror to see if its fighters would go on to storm the capital. There was very little to stop them as the Iraqi army in northern Iraq broke up and fled south. Many government ministers and MPs rushed to the airport and took... Read More
Iraqi military forces are advancing towards the main complex of government buildings in the centre of west Mosul, indicating that Isis is losing control of its last big urban stronghold in Iraq. “The provincial council and the governorate building are within the firing range of the rapid response forces,” said an officer with the elite... Read More
Just over a week into the Trump Administration, the President issued an Executive Order giving Defense Secretary James Mattis 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. According to the Order, the plan should make recommendations on military actions, diplomatic actions, partners, strategies, and how to pay for the operation.As we approach... Read More
Iraqi government forces have started their offensive aimed at capturing the western half of Mosul, Isis’s last big urban stronghold in the country. There are an estimated 4,000 jihadi fighters defending the close-packed houses and narrow alleyways in the half of the city west of the Tigris River, which is inhabited by some 650,000 civilians.... Read More
The Iraqi armed forces will eventually capture west Mosul, which is still held by Isis fighters, but the city itself will be destroyed in the fighting, a senior Iraqi politician has told The Independent in an interview. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leader who until last year was the Iraqi finance minister and prior to that... Read More
President Trump made great play when he came into office with his return of a bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office, presenting the move as a symbol of his admiration for adamantine patriotic resolve in pursuit of patriotic ends. Presumably, Trump was thinking of Churchill in 1940, not Churchill in 1915-16 when he... Read More
The Turkish army is suffering unexpectedly serious losses in men and equipment as it engages in its first real battle against Isis fighters holding al-Bab, a small but strategically placed city north east of Aleppo. Turkish military commanders had hoped to capture al-Bab quickly when their forces attacked it in December, but they are failing... Read More
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