Friday, April 25, 2014

War Watch April 25 , 2014 -- Afghanistan will most likely see a run off to elect its new President in June as none of the candidates have more than fifty percent of the vote , shockingly , we now see Afghans turning on US doctors - Afghan Hospital Guard Kills Three US Doctors in Kabul US Nurse Also wounded in Incident ..... Syria nears completion of chemical weapon handover ( 92.5 percent of chemical material removed and destroyed despite an ongoing war and having to move the chemical material through Rebel controlled areas ) , ongoing battles between Government and Rebels - Northern Syria , Homs , Aleppo and areas around Damascus seem to be in focus presently ....... Iraq - daily carnage across the country and somehow a free and impartial Election is supposed to occur in less than a week ....


Afghan Hospital Guard Kills Three US Doctors in Kabul

US Nurse Also wounded in Incident

by Jason Ditz, April 24, 2014
An Afghan security guard working for the Interior Ministry opened fire on American doctors in a Kabul hospital today, killing three and wounding an American nurse.
The hospital, affiliated with Christian charity Cure International, was established in 2005, and specializes in pediatrics. Dr. Jerry Umanos, a pediatrician from Chicago, had been working there since many years. The two other doctors,identified as a father and son, were visiting the site.
What prompted the shooting remains unclear, but the attacker was wounded during the incident and underwent surgery in the same hospital. He is recovering and will be questioned soon.
The US embassy confirmed the incident, but offered no further details. So far no group has claimed responsibility for encouraging the shooting, either.

Election Chief: Neither Abdullah Nor Ghani Will Get 50 Percent

by Jason Ditz, April 24, 2014
The count in the Afghanistan presidential election from earlier this month is continuing, but at 82.5% of the votes counted, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has confirmed no candidate is going to secure 50 percent, and a run-off must be held.
The current front-runner is Abdullah Abdullah, with Ashraf Ghani having sewn up second place. Zalmay Rassoul, polling at a distant third, will not be able to catch up and get into the two man run-off.
Not that Rassoul is out of the picture, and both candidates in the run-off will clearly court his endorsement, in the hope sthat he can bring some of that 11% of the vote with him into the next round.
It will be the first proper run-off vote in Afghan history. In the first election, President Karzai netted a majority in the first round, winning outright, and in the 2009 election a run-off between Abdullah and Karzai became a moot point when Abdullah withdrew, protesting Karzai’s refusal to implement reforms.

Syria .......

Anti - War....

Western Intel: Syria Could Still Make Chemical Weapons

Officials Claim Secret Evidence of Undeclared Capabilities

by Jason Ditz, April 25, 2014
Officials are claiming secret evidence that Syria did not declare the entirety of its chemical weapons program’s capabilities, and are complaining that at the end of the disarmament program Syria still retains the technological and practical capability to manufacture such arms.
Some officials claimed the secret evidence had been provided to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) months ago, but there is no indication that it went anywhere or led to any findings.
Likewise, the technological capability to mix chemicals is a fairly trivial one for any industrialized state, and there had never been any supposition that dismantling the chemical arms factories meant Syria as a whole would forget how chemistry works.
Thus while scary the latest allegations don’t amount to much, if anything, and seem primarily to be a continuation of Western efforts to oppose the OPCW ending its chemical disarmament program just because the chemical weapons as such are gone. Western officials have suggested they’d prefer to leave the OPCW there more or less permanently.

30 Killed in Air Strike Against Northern Syria Rebel Town

Warplanes Hit Crowded Marketplace

by Jason Ditz, April 24, 2014
At least 30 people were killed and scores of others wounded today when Syrian warplanes launched an air strike against the northern town of Atareb, just outside of Aleppo.
The rebel-held town was targeted early in the day, and the strike hit a crowded vegetable market,killing a lot of innocent bystanders. Rebels say the toll may rise further, as many of the wounded are not expected to survive.
Atareb, like many other cities in Aleppo, has paid a heavy price in the civil war, and has traded hands multiple times over the past few years between the military, al-Qaeda, and other rebel factions.
It is unclear exactly what the intended target was in today’s attack, but it does not appear any significant rebel targets were hit.


Conflict kills 71 in Syria   2014-04-25 05:57:20   

DAMASCUS, April 24 (Xinhua) -- A total of 71 people were reportedly killed on Thursday in separate car bombs and battles between the Syrian army and rebels across the country, local media reported.
At least seven people were killed and many others wounded on Thursday when two rebel car bombs exploded in the countryside of Syria's northeastern province of Hasaka, which is largely populated by Kurds, the official SANA news agency said.
The first car went off near a school at the entrance of the town of Ras al-Ein, north of Hasaka, killing two people and injuring some others. The second car bomb simultaneously exploded at the al-Khamis marketplace in the town of Tal Halaf, west of Ras al-Ein, killing five people.
SANA spelled no further details, but both towns are predominately Kurdish near the Turkish borders.
Syria's Kurds pose some 15 percent of Syria's 23 million inhabitants, of which most live in the north of the embattled country. They tried to keep their areas immune from military operations during the conflict and retain some kind of "autonomy."
However, fighting has broken out in northern Syria between the Kurds and the Nusra Front, covering all the Kurdish areas in northern Syria. The Kurds managed to hold their ground in a number of areas, such as Ras al-Ein.
In the capital Damascus, the rebels' mortar shelling continued on Thursday against a number of districts of the capital, namely al-Amara, Qazzasin, Salhiyeh and Jaramana.
SANA said the armed militant groups fired 16 mortar shells on Jaramana, wounding at least 22 people.
The incident was the latest in a string of similar shelling attacks by suspected militant groups that aimed to shake the government's grip on the area and to retaliate the army's advancement on many fronts in central and southern Syria.
Separately, SANA said the Syrian army fought the rebels on Thursday in the eastern countryside of Damascus, the central Homs province, Idlib and Aleppo in northwestern Syria. The report said the army killed 30 rebels during the battles in Aleppo.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on ground, claimed that 12 civilians were killed in Aleppo on Thursday by the government troops' aerial bombardment on the rebel-held Karm al- Beik neighborhood.

Activists have for long accused the government troops' aircraft of dropping crude, explosive-filled barrels on rebel-held areas in Aleppo.
The Observatory added that 22 fighters of the al-Qaida- affiliated Nusra Front and the Ahrar al-Sham movement were killed during clashes with the Syrian army in the southern province of Daraa.
Reports estimated that more than 150,000 people have been killed so far since the Syrian crisis started in mid-March 2011.

Syria chemical handover nearly complete


A handout picture taken on January 7, 2014, and released by Norwegian Armed Forces shows the Danish cargo ship "Ark Futura" arriving at the Syrian port of Latakia before being loaded with chemical agents
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The Hague (AFP) - Syria has nearly completed surrendering its chemical weapons stockpile, a joint task force in charge of the operation said Thursday, as UN Security Council members called for a fresh probe into alleged gas attacks.
"Today's operation brings the total of chemical material removed and destroyed to 92.5 percent," the combined Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-UN task team said in a statement.
Damascus had pledged to have all of its stockpile removed from the war-ravaged country by Sunday. The weapons are then due to be destroyed by June 30.
The consignment of chemicals were delivered to the main Syrian port of Latakia, from where it will be removed by cargo ships for delivery to the US Navy vessel Cape Ray for destruction.
Syrian authorities also "destroyed buildings, equipment and empty mustard gas containers", the OPCW-UN statement said.
"A majority of (storage and productions) sites are now closed," the joint mission said.
"I welcome the significant progress of the last three weeks and I strongly encourage the Syrian authorities to conclude removal operations as part of their efforts to achieve the June 30 deadline," the mission's chief Sigrid Kaag said.
- Gas attack probe call -
In New York, Security Council members on Wednesday called for new claims of a chlorine gas attack in a rebel bastion in Syria to be probed after Kaag briefed them behind closed doors.
Joy Ogwu, Nigeria ambassador who holds the rotating presidency, said members "expressed concern about alleged reports about the use of chlorine gas in some of the towns, which left people dead and injured, and called for an investigation into this incident".
France and the United States allege that President Bashar al-Assad's forces may have unleashed industrial chemicals on a rebel-held village in central Hama province earlier this month.
There have been conflicting accounts of the alleged chlorine attack on Kafr Zita, with the government and the opposition trading blame.
Activists have also reported other chlorine gas attacks, most recently in Idlib province, in the northwest, on Monday.
Damascus has denied any part in the attacks.
Under the terms of a US-Russian brokered deal which averted the threat of US military action last year, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical stockpiles.
The deal was reached after deadly chemical attacks outside Damascus in August that reportedly killed hundreds.
The West blamed Assad's regime but the government said rebels were behind it.
- Chemical issues remain -
As Syria -- which in the past has missed several deadlines according to the deal -- nears completing the handover, several issues however remain on the table, analysts and diplomats said.
It is unclear whether Syria itself will make Sunday's deadline, sources said.
The last of the chemical stockpile remains near Damascus and cannot be accessed for security reasons, a source close to the OPCW told AFP.
Syrian representatives at the OPCW said at a meeting Wednesday they "hoped to celebrate the last of the removal" by the next Executive Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, but gave no guarantees, another source added.
"They will complete the removal, but the question of production sites is still there," added chemical weapons analyst Sico van der Meer of the Clingendael Institute.
He was referring to the often-heated topic of debate at OPCW Executive Council meetings on how Syria's chemical production sites should be destroyed.
Damascus wants to seal the sites, which it says has already been rendered unusable while Western countries want them completely destroyed, fearing that they may be used in future for chemical purposes.
A diplomatic source told AFP that "this is an issue which may occupy the (41-country) Executive Council for a long time still".
Van der Meer said this would benefit Syria and Assad's forces as they battle to crush rebels in the three-year conflict, which has now killed more than 150,000 people, according to a monitoring group.
"Syria is playing for time, as long as the process of destroying its chemical weapons is underway, the international community is not going to bother it too much," Van der Meer said.


Al-Qaeda Bombers Kill 31 at Iraqi Shi’ite Campaign Rally

Rally Was for Militia Aiming to Turn Political Party

by Jason Ditz, April 25, 2014
A major political rally attended by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a Shi’ite militant faction aiming to turn into a political party in this month’s national election, attracted thousands of supporters to a Baghdad soccer stadium.
It also attracted several bombers from al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which tore through the rally, killing at least 31 people and wounding scores of others. and fueling calls by the group’s supporters for revenge.
Multiple blasts were reported in the stadium, with the second prompting security guards to start firing into the stadium, though who they were shooting at is unclear. The panic grew as people tried to flee the rally, and candidates tried to hide behind the stage.
Later in the evening, a top Sunni politician in Basra was assassinated by Shi’ite militants in what officials say was likely a revenge attack for the earlier bombing, and another example of the growing sectarianism across Iraq.

More US Advisers Head to Iraq as Pentagon Pushes for Increased Role

CENTCOM: Iraq Army Not Ready to Fight in Anbar

by Jason Ditz, April 25, 2014
Officially, the US military occupation of Iraq ended years ago. Nothing is over as far as the Pentagon sees it however, amid reports that they are pushing for increased numbers of advisers and “intelligence officers” to be deployed to the country.
Officials say the military is pushing hard for increased involvement in Iraq, particularly in Anbar, where al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has taken over much of the province.
Exactly how many US military personnel are on the ground is not public knowledge, and officials would only say “it’s more than before, but not really a lot.”
Central Command also reportedly counseled Iraq against attacking Anbar at present, warning they don’t think the Iraqi Army is up to the task, despite massive weapons shipments to the army to fight that battle. The Pentagon, it seems, is envisioning using this as its ticket back in.

85 Killed, 108 Wounded Across Iraq As Political Rally Attacked
by , April 25, 2014
The Pentagon has sent a team to Iraq to assess the situation in Iraq. The U.S. military appears keen to help Iraq counter the Sunni extremists. Today, at least 85 Iraqis were killed and 108 more were wounded. Many of them were killed at a political rally in Baghdad. Elections take place next week, except in Anbar where the situation is too volatile.
In Anbar:
Clashes broke out in Ramadi, but the number of casualties is unknown. Mortars and Katyusha rockets struck an army base. A clash left four soldiers dead and two woundednine militants were also killed.
In Fallujasix militants were killed and six more were wounded in artillery fire. Four civilians were wounded in a shelling attack. Shelling continued later. At least 18 more militants were killed.
A roadside bomb wounded a council member in Rutba.
In Baghdad, three bombs killed 33 people at a political rally held by the Shi’ite militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq in the Industrial Stadium. At least one suicide bomber was involved, and 90 other spectators were wounded. Also, guards fired their guns in the air after the attack.
A militant-linked website claimed the attack was in revenge for killing and displacing Sunnis. It did not help to have one speaker tying some Sunni politicians to terrorism. The group has also sent fighters to support Assad in Syria and is apparently planning to do the same in Anbar province.
In Basra, a senior Sunni politician was killed in what may have been a revenge attack.
police major and three bodyguards were shot dead at a polling station in al-Hay.
A bomb in Dibis wounded two soldiers. A suicide bomber managed to only kill himself.
A roadside bomb killed one civilian and wounded another in Hamrin.
Gunmen attack the home of a senior judge in Zab, where they wounded him.


73 Killed, 79 Wounded in Ongoing Iraq Bloodshed
by , April 24, 2014
Once again, many militants were reported killed across Anbar province. While independent figures are impossible to obtain, the numbers hint at the carnage currently underway in the province. However, even more civilians and security members were killed today. Most of the casualties were in scattered violence across Iraq, including Anbar. The worst attacked occurred at a checkpoint in Hilla.
In Anbar:
Shelling in Falluja killed six people and wounded nine more. Flooding caused by the militant takeover of a dam has forced 1,700 families to flee their homes.
Six gunmen were killed during a raid in al-JaziraOne soldier was killed in the raid, and three more were wounded. It has been a rare occurrence for the Iraqi government to admit army casualties during battles in Anbar.
In Rutbatwo policemen were killed and three more were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded. A sticky bomb killed three more.
A clash in Saqlawiya left two gunmen dead and three injured.
Gunmen blew up a polling center in Mohammadi and killed three policemen.
Two policemen were killed and two more were wounded by a roadside blast on a highway in a southern region.
Security forces arrested 19 Iraqis and five foreign nationals who attempted to hold an ISIL/DAASH parade in Albu Bali.
Security forces killed 12 militants in Albu Abeid.
In Ramadi, security forces killed an al-Qaeda emir and his assistant.
Four militants were killed in Amiriyat al-Falluja.
Eleven people were killed and 27 more were wounded when a suicide bomber attacked a Hilla checkpoint.
Gunmen killed four soldiers at a checkpoint south of Jahesh.
A bomb targeting a police chief’s home in Tikrit instead killed one civilian bystander and wounded five members of his family. Another bomb wounded a Sahwa member.
In Mosultwo civilians were shot dead in separate incidents. A roadside bomb intended for police killed one civilian and wounded two more. A civilian was woundedin a roadside blast.
In Saniya, a sticky bomb planted on a taxi killed its driver. Two bombs at a polling center killed five guards and wounded five more.
Twelve people were wounded in Kirkuk, when a bomb blew up near a hospital.
A bomb wounded four civilians in Qayara.
In Balad, an I.E.D. wounded two Sahwa members.
A roadside bomb in Jalawla wounded an educational supervisor.
gunman was killed in a clash in Shora.
Security forces repelled an incursion from Syria in Nineva province. One border guard was killed, as was one gunman.


Sectarian Divisions Cast Long Shadow Over Iraqi Elections

‘The candidates are counting on divisions to win votes’ more