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Hundreds in Fallujah burn U.S. flag to celebrate troops pulling out of Iraq December 15, 2011


December 14, 2011

by legitgov

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Hundreds in Fallujah burn U.S. flag to celebrate troops pulling out of Iraq [Right, but Blackwater terrorists remain, en masse. That issue needs to be addressed.] 14 Dec 2011 Hundreds of Iraqis set alight U.S. and Israeli flags on Wednesday as they celebrated the impending pullout of American forces from the country in the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah. Shouting slogans in support of the “resistance,” the demonstrators held up banners and placards inscribed with phrases like, “Now we are free” and “Fallujah is the flame of the resistance.” Surrounded by the Iraqi army, demonstrators carried posters bearing photos of apparent insurgents, faces covered and carrying weapons.

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Nato braces for reprisals after deadly air strike on Pakistan border post November 28, 2011

Nato forces in Afghanistan were braced on Sunday for possible reprisals from Pakistani-backed insurgents following the coalition air strike along the border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Senior officers from the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), were scrambling to resume contacts with their Pakistani counterparts in the hopes of setting up a joint investigation into the incident.

But Pakistani officers severed communications and Islamabad cut Isaf’s two supply routes running through Pakistan.

It also gave the US two weeks to vacate the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, which has been used to launch American drone aircraft.

One Isaf source voiced concern that the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, could go much further and use its suspected influence over insurgent groups in the tribal areas along the Afghan border to launch reprisal attacks on Nato. “This will come back at us, and at a time and a place of their [the ISI's] choosing,” the source predicted. In September the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said the ISI was using insurgent groups such as the Haqqani network to wage a “proxy war” in Afghanistan.

The incident, and the subsequent breakdown in relations with Pakistan, is a particular blow to the Isaf commander, US general John Allen, who sees the insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan as one of the keys to the Afghan conflict and who had been in Pakistan the day before the border incident for talks with the Pakistani army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, to discuss border co-operation.

In an interview in Kabul on Sunday, Allen refused to discuss details of the incident, saying it was under investigation. But he said: “We don’t know where all of this will end up with Pakistan. We have been good friends with them for a long, long time, and this is a tragedy.”

Isaf officers say the strike on Pakistani border positions took place when a joint force of Afghan and Isaf special forces carrying out a counterinsurgency operation in southern Kunar province came under fire and called in “close air support” from Nato aircraft. The air strikes hit two Pakistani border posts in the Mohmand tribal area on Saturday.

Pakistan’s military refused to accept that its checkposts had been hit by accident, insisting that Isaf knew the location of the posts, on a mountaintop at Salala, next to the Afghan border.

Major General Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for the Pakistan military, told the Guardian on Sunday that he did not believe Isaf or Afghan forces had received fire from the Pakistani side. “I cannot rule out the possibility that this was a deliberate attack by Isaf,” said Abbas. “If Isaf was receiving fire, then they must tell us what their losses were.”

Pakistani officials said the posts hit are 300 metres into Pakistani territory, but Isaf officers say the border in that area is disputed.

Abbas said, however, that the firing lasted for over an hour, while Isaf made “no attempt” to contact the Pakistani side using an established border co-ordination system to report that they had come under fire. He said that the map references of the posts were previously passed to Isaf.

“This was a totally unprovoked attack. There are no safe havens or hideouts left there [for militants] in Mohmand,” he said.

“This was a visible, well-made post, on top of ridges, made of concrete. Militants don’t operate from mountaintops, from concrete structures.”

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Taliban Claims to Have Afghan Jirga Security Plans November 15, 2011

The Taliban is claiming it has a copy of the top-secret security arrangements for this week’s traditional assembly, or loya jirga, in the Afghan capital. Some 2,000 tribal elders and community leaders are gathering in Kabul to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan. 

The Taliban posted what it claimed to be the security arrangements for this loya jirga on its website, just three days before hundreds of Afghans gather to discuss a strategic agreement with the United States and efforts to reconcile with the insurgent group.

Afghan security officials say the documents posted by the Taliban are fake. The insurgent group has vowed to disrupt the jirga in threatening letters sent to potential participants in several areas of the country and has attacked the tribal assembly in previous years.

Gran Hewar is a researcher with the Afghan Analysts group in Kabul. He says the Taliban announcement is part of their propaganda war.

“If it was not a propaganda technique, they did not need to release it, they did not need to circulate it, they just could implement it and use the concept of the plan,” said Hewar.

Hewar says the Taliban is using propaganda techniques because international and Afghan forces have been successful in degrading the Taliban’s military capability.

“As a result of these last year’s attacks, night raids and so on, it is almost clear that they are not as strong as they were in 2008 and -9 and -10,” added Hewar.”So they want to show themselves up and show that they are there and they can do something effective from an intelligence point of view.”

NATO officials have dismissed the documents published on a Taliban website as a “fabricated piece of propaganda.” Afghan officials say the material is a scare tactic, designed to intimidate participants coming to Wednesday’s meeting.

Still the threat of violence has not dissipated. On Monday, the Afghan Interior Ministry said security forces shot and killed a suicide bomber outside the academic campus where the meeting is to be held.  At least two other would-be attackers were arrested in Kabul.

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Kabul suicide bomber kills thirteen Americans October 29, 2011

US forces in Afghanistan have suffered their deadliest insurgent attack in months after a car bomb filled with explosives rammed into the side of an armoured bus shuttling troops between Nato bases in Kabul.

The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) initially said 13 of their troops died in the attack but, after further identification, it confirmed that five service members and eight civilian contractors had been killed.

Afghan and western officials privately confirmed that all of the dead soldiers were from the US.

That makes the bombing the heaviest loss of US life since a Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban in August, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.

Four Afghan civilians were also killed in Saturday’s attack, which the Taliban claimed responsibility for in a text message.

The Taliban said they had filled up the vehicle with around 700kg of explosives which struck at around midday on a thoroughfare overlooked by the iconic hulks of old royal palaces wrecked by Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s.

One eyewitness said a red Toyota Corolla had been seen driving at high speed, in an apparent attempt to catch up with the heavily fortified bus.

The explosion was sufficient to rip the heavily armoured Rhino bus apart and throw it several metres, over the central reservation of the major road.

Many of the windows in a building half a kilometre away, that is used by Afghan MPs, were smashed.

“It was a huge blast,” said Mohammad Wali, a student who had crossed the road just ahead of the Isaf convoy. “It threw the bus about 10m from the blast and sent shrapnel all across the area.”

The vehicle had just begun a long journey across the city from Camp Julien, the home of a counterinsurgency school that teaches Afghan troops how to fight guerrilla warfare, to Camp Phoenix, a base that houses US trainers who work with the Afghan army and police.

Kabul’s deputy police chief said eight civilians were wounded in addition to the four killed, while one of his own policemen was also killed.

A policeman at the scene, who did not wish to give his name, said he saw three dead school-age children with severely burned bodies.

In a separate incident, three Australian troops lost their lives in the southern province of Uruzgan when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them. Two died immediately, while a third died later of his wounds.

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Kenyan Sentenced to Life in Prison for Grenade Attacks

A Kenyan man who pleaded guilty to a grenade attack earlier this week in Nairobi has been given life in prison, while Somali insurgent group al-Shabab continues to threaten more violence across Kenya in retaliation for its offensive into Somalia.

Elgiva Bwire Oliacha confessed to being a member of al-Shabab, and admitted his role in one of two grenade attacks that took place in the Kenyan capital earlier this week, which killed one person and injured more than 20 others.

Meanwhile, an al-Shabab militant leader in Somalia is calling on his followers to carry out huge explosions inside Kenya. Sheikh Muktar Robow says tossing grenades is not enough, and urges the militants to strike what he calls “big, painful blows.”

Kenyan military forces in Somalia encountered their first direct clash with al-Shabab on Thursday. The army says it killed nine Islamist fighters after al-Shabab ambushed a military convoy near the southern Somali town of Qoqani.

Kenya sent forces into Somalia earlier this month in pursuit of al-Shabab, which Kenyan officials blame for the cross-border kidnapping of several foreigners.

A Kenyan government spokesman said Thursday Kenya’s goal is to destroy al-Shabab in the shortest time possible. He said the militants present a clear and present danger to the region.

At least four Kenyan government workers were killed Thursday when their vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in northeastern Kenya, near the Somali border.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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