President Obama will expand the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan in 2015, a major shift from his previous statements.
The president's order means U.S. forces will be targeting the Taliban and other militant groups for at least another year, sources told the New York Times. U.S. air power will also be used in support of Afghan troops during combat missions. That will include F-16 fighters, B-1 bombers and drones, a military official told the Times.
Obama's shift was spurred by two factors. The first was a request from Afghanistan's new president, Ashraf Ghani, for U.S. troops to continue fighting the Taliban in 2015. Ghani's request was a departure from his predecessor, Hamid Karzai.
"President Ghani has reached out and embraced the international community," Gen. John Campbell, the allied commander in Afghanistan, told the Times. "We have a strategic opportunity we haven't had previously with President Karzai."
The second was the stunning collapse of the Iraqi military due to the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials fear a premature departure from Afghanistan may leave security forces ill-prepared to fight the Taliban and other militant groups.
Obama's timeline for ending the war before he leaves office reportedly remains in place.
Islamic Shebab extremists ambushed a bus in Kenya before executing 28 non-Muslims at point-blank range in a revenge attack for police raids on mosques in the troubled city of Mombasa.
The heavily-armed gunmen ambushed the bus early this morning as it headed for Nairobi from Mandera, a town that lies on the border with Somalia. Gunmen waved down the bus before spraying it with bullets when it did not stop. They then shot a rocket-propelled grenade at the vehicle, before commandeering the bus off the road .
They ordered the passengers to get off the vehicle before separating the travellers into Muslims and non-Muslims. The extremists reportedly separated the Muslims from the 28 victims by forcing them to read versus from the Koran. Those that failed were shot in the head at point-blank range. Three people who were due to be killed were reportedly spared after managing to successfully recite some of the verses.
After the ambush, a Shebab spokesman said the 'perishing of the crusaders' was in retribution for last week's raids 'against Muslim brethren' in Mombasa, which heightened tensions in the city.
The death toll - which included 19 men and nine women - was confirmed by Kenya's Red Cross, which said it was attempting to retrieve the victims' bodies from the scene. Some 60 passengers were on board the bus when it was seized by the gunmen.
Somalia's Al Shabab insurgents said they staged a bus attack in northeast Kenya on Saturday that killed 28 people. Witnesses said all non-Muslims inside the bus were led out to be shot while passengers identified as Muslims were spared.
Al Shabab said its men had ambushed the Nairobi-bound bus outside Mandera town, near Kenya's border with Somalia and Ethiopia, and killed the non-Muslims in retaliation for raids on mosques in the port city of Mombasa.
Early this week, police in Mombasa shot dead a man and arrested over 376 others when they searched four mosques in the port city that they said were used to recruit militants and stash weapons.
"The Mujahideen successfully carried out an operation near Mandera early this morning, which resulted in the perishing of 28 crusaders, as a revenge for the crimes committed by the Kenyan crusaders against our Muslim brethren in Mombasa," Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, Al Shabab's spokesman, said in a statement.
Police Inspector-General David Kimaiyo told reporters that 19 men and nine women were killed. "Preliminary reports indicate that the attackers, who were heavily armed, later fled towards the border into Somali," he said.
A witness to the ambush said the attackers entered the bus and greeted passengers before trying to identify Muslims and non-Muslims. Ahmed Maalim, an official at the Mandera East sub-county security force, said the attackers ordered passengers thought to be non-Muslims out of the bus. Three were spared after reciting Quran verses and ordered back into the bus.
"The women and men (remaining outside) were separated, then shot at close range. None survived," he said.
"Two damn Norwegian citizens fighting for the Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group have been killed in recent battles in Syria, media reported. Of the two killed who traveled to Syria from Norway, one was a 24-year-old Eritrean Norwegian no hyphen?
and the other a 23-year-old person whose identity was not disclosed, media reported citing the local TV channel TV2. The 24-year-old came to Norway from Eritrea as a single minor asylum seeker Hey, don't we have somma these
in 2003 and he was believed to be one of the Norwegian citizens who stayed in Syria the longest, according to the report Tuesday. The Norwegian police Security Service estimates that over 60 people, including some women, have travelled from Norway to fight in Syria and Iraq and that about 10 of them have been killed by now."
[AnNahar] The Pak Taliban on Saturday grabbed credit for an attack on a political party camp in the southern city of Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It is among the largest cities in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... which maimed at least 15 people.
Three provincial politicians were among those maimed when gunnies hurled hand grenades and opened fire on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement ...English: United National Movement, generally known as MQM, is the 3rd largest political party and the largest secular political party in Pakistain with particular strength in Sindh. From 1992 to 1999, the MQM was the target of the Pak Army's Operation Cleanup leaving thousands of urdu speaking civilians dead... (MQM) membership drive meeting in the city's restive eastern district of Orangi Town late Friday.
Ehsanullah Ehsan ...formerly the front man for the Pak Taliban, now the lips and tongue of the Jamaatul Ahrar splinter group in Mohmand Agency... , front man for the Jamatul Ahrar faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain, said the attack was in Dire Revenge for the arrest and killing of Taliban members in Karachi.
"We will keep on targeting MQM, Awami National Party founded by Abdul Wali Khan in 1986. Part of the PPP-led cabinet 2008-13. The ANP is considered left wing, advocating for secularism, democratic socialism, public sector government, and economic egalitarianism.... (ANP)and Pakistain Peoples Party (PPP) in Karachi," he told Agence La Belle France Presse by telephone from some holy man's guesthouse an undisclosed location.
The PPP rules southern Sindh province while the MQM represents the city's dominant Urdu-speaking population.
Karachi, a city of 18 million people which contributes 42 percent of Pakistain's GDP, has been plagued by sectarian, ethnic and political violence for years.
LAHORE -- Local administration recovered a suspicious bag near Minar-e-Pakistan on Saturday during the address of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq.
Some participants of the public gathering reported to the security officials about the unclaimed bag at Minto Park. The bag had a cracker in it. Security officials took rapid action over the information. Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) was called, while law enforcers started clearing the area.
ISIS militants have killed 25 members of a Sunni tribe during their assault on a provincial capital west of Baghdad, local officials said on Saturday. They said the bodies of the men from the Albu Fahd tribe were discovered after the army launched a counter-offensive on Saturday against the ISIS in a village on the eastern edge of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province.
The killings echoed the execution of hundreds of members of the Albu Nimr tribe last month by ISIS fighters trying to break local resistance to their advances in Anbar, a Sunni province they have largely controlled for nearly a year.
"While they were combing the territories they are liberating, security forces found 25 corpses in the Shujariya area," Hathal Al Fahdawi, a member of the Anbar Provincial Council, said.
Albu Fahd tribal leader Sheikh Rafie Al Fahdawi said at least 25 bodies had been found and said he expected the total to be significantly higher. He said the bodies were found scattered around with no signs of weapons next to them, suggesting they were not killed during fighting.
ISIS, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, continues to gain territory in Anbar despite three months of desultory US-led air strikes launched against the group. On Friday it launched coordinated attacks in central and outlying areas of Ramadi in an attempt to take full control over a city which is already mostly in its hands.
Government troops killed an infamous Abu Sayyaf leader, thought to be among those who kidnapped two German yachters, while evading capture in Sulu in the southern Philippines. Sihata Latip engaged security forces trying to arrest him in Parang town late Saturday afternoon.
Military spokeswoman Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela said, "Latip was killed when he resisted arrest and engaged security forces in a firefight. One soldier was killed while another is wounded during the brief clash with the Abu Sayyaf leader."
Muyuela said a report by the commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu, named Latip as involved in the kidnappings of foreigners and attacks against security forces. She said, "Latip was involved in the kidnappings of foreigners and in the series of violent attacks against government forces. The military and police are continuously pursuing notorious leaders of the Abu Sayyaf who are now on the run in Sulu."
Breakaway Moro militants had denied any role in a series of bombings, including one in Kabacan, North Cotabato, that have been blamed on them.
Abu Misri Mama, spokesman for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), said his group, which broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front over peace talks with the Philippine government, does not attack civilians. About the Kabacan bombing which killed a girl and injured dozens of others, he said, "We had no hand there. We don’t attack civilians, only military (men)."
The military said it suspected the BIFF of planting the bomb in Kabacan, but Mama urged authorities to investigate deeper. He said BIFF is conducting its own investigation.
[Ynet] Air strikes by US-led forces in Syria have killed 910 people, including 52 civilians, since the start of the campaign against Islamic State ...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear the pols talk they're not really Moslems.... and other fighters two months ago, a group monitoring the conflict said on Saturday.
The majority of the deaths, 785, were Islamic State fighters according to the Britannia-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Islamic State, a hard-line offshoot of al Qaeda, has seized land in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, where it has also been targeted by US-led strikes since July.
[IsraelTimes] The Lebanese army reportedly arrested a man who allegedly collaborated with Israeli secret agents operating in the country, security officials in Beirut said Saturday.
According to Saudi daily newspaper Okaz, the man, dubbed by Lebanese officials as F. Yassin, held covert meetings with Israeli spies in a tourist resort which he owned in the countryâs south.
The south Lebanon region is a major stronghold of Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, and many of the organizationâs primary bases are located in the area.
The Saudi daily further reported that the suspect is believed to possess key information regarding the whereabouts and undercover operations of Israeli agents in Lebanon, especially in the countryâs south.
The report was not confirmed by Israel.
In a speech earlier this month, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated that his group was âfully ready in southern Lebanon,â in an apparent reference to the possibility of future conflict with Israel.
Addressing thousands of Lebanese Shiites in a rare public appearance for the Ashura holiday in southern Beirut, Naharnet reported, he said the groupâs activities fighting in support of the Syrian regime had not affected its battle readiness.
Hezbollahâs campaign in Syria has cost the group over 1,000 fighters, according to some reports.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.