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Update: Hamas' military wing, al Qassam Brigades, has released this statement:
“The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades has no information on this soldier. We have lost contact with one of our combatant groups, which was fighting in the sector where the soldier went missing and it is possible that our fighters and this soldier were killed,” the group said in a statementThey also say:
"We have no idea about where the Israeli soldier is or what is the situation. "We lost contact with the group who made the suicide mission near Rafah after it was done. "We believe everyone in this group was killed by an Israeli air strike including the Israeli soldier who the Israelis are talking about having disappeared."
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Update: since writing the post below, the Israeli Defense Forces have posted on Twitter that they are trying to "identify" (not locate) the 7th soldier. Nor do they describe him as "missing."
A vehicle carrying 7 soldiers was attacked July 20. We have identified 6 of their bodies. Efforts to identify the 7th soldier are ongoing.
On Sunday, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prossor, denied Hamas had captured an Israeli soldier.
Yet, today the Israeli Army says the fate of the one of the seven soldiers in an armored vehicle in Shujaiyeh, Gaza that was attacked by Hamas is "unclear." He is classified as "missing" but presumed dead. [More...]
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"There's no kidnapped Israeli soldier and those rumours are untrue," said Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor.
It appears the soldier, whose name is Oron Shaul, was one of 13 Israeli soldiers killed yesterday, but was not captured alive. Hamas may have found his identification, or it may have taken his name from this leaked list of the 13 soldiers who were killed. The list is not from an official source.
Prior to the official denial, many reporters and analysts on Twitter doubted the claim. Here's why. [More...]
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The blame game continues as to who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. President Obama blames the pro-Russian rebels. So does British Prime Minister David Cameron. Russian President Putin blames the Ukranian armed forces. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged Western leaders to 'bring justice to those b*******' who brought down the flight. Obama also said that one American with dual citizenship with the Netherlands was on board.
Republicans in Congress are already using the tragedy to call for an increase in defense spending. This tragedy does not call for a military response by the U.S. This is not our fire, we didn't start it, it wasn't directed at us, and whether it was pro-Russian rebels or the Ukranians, they weren't intending to attack the United States. We can help with the investigation into who shot down the plane (which we are already doing)and press for a cease-fire and restitution for the families of the victims from those ultimately deemed responsible, but using the tragedy to call for increased military spending by the U.S. is just political gamesmanship.
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Update: Later information shows either 1 American was on board.
Among those on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was shot down over the Ukraine, near the town of Grabovo, not far from the Russian border: 9 Britons, 23 Americans (later revised to 1 or 3) and 80 children. All 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers were killed. The passengers were from all over: 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 38 Malaysians. Also: 11 Indonesians, four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines and one Canadian. Some of those aboard were headed to an AIDS conference in Melbourne.
Here's a reason it's nice to still have print publications: Check out the front page of Friday's Independent, "Shot Out of the Sky." [More...]
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Egypt proposed a cease-fire plan for Israel and Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted it and will bring it to a vote before the Israeli Security Cabinet in the morning. (Added: The Israeli Security Cabinet has now approved it.) cabinet has approved it.)
Hamas has rejected it.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri already rejected the proposal late Monday night on the grounds that "we are still under occupation and resistance is the right of our people."
Here is the text of Egypt's proposal.
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Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, today said the alleged kidnappers and killers of Palestinian teen, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, believed to be Jewish extremists, will be treated as harshly as Arab terrorists. Six are under arrest for the murder.
“These debased murderers don’t represent the Jewish people or its values, and they must be treated as terrorists,” the defense minister said. “We will not allow Jewish terrorists from our midst to disrupt the fabric of the many different communities in the state of Israel, and to harm innocents just because they are Arabs.” ...“We must battle the perpetrators [of such actions], and those who deploy them, with an iron fist.”
If a Jew kills they will be put to the court like any other criminal. There is no privilege, the law is equal to all and all are equal before the law. On that there is no compromise. We do not distinguish between blood and blood. The murder of a child is reprehensible, regardless of the religion or nationality of the child. It is our responsibility to secure life and to punish those who take it away from others.”
Israeli President Shimon Press said:[More...]
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Bump and Update: We have the answer. As I suggested below on June 23, it was the police and army forces, not ISIS, who killed the inmates being transferred from one prison in Hillah to another. Will the Wall St. Journal and others issue a correction? As of now, the WSJ article still headlines "At Least 81 Iraqis Killed in Sunni Rebel Attack on Convoy" and begins:
Sunni militants brought their campaign against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki closer to Baghdad on Monday, attacking a police convoy just 20 miles from the center of the capital and triggering a shootout that left at least 81 people dead.
Original Post 6/23
Did major media, in a rush to get out breaking news, publish unreliable reports from one-sided sources and get it backwards? [More...]
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ISIS held a victory parade in Mosul today. You can view all the photos here. It was a big turnout, and lasted into the evening. Noticeably absent from the photos: women. I saw one figure that looked like a female in all of them (to the right of the headlights) and given her trench coat and purse and black head scarf, I'm wondering if she wasn't a reporter.
ISIS got whacked by Syrian jets near Al-Qa'im and Rutbah today. They lost some men, including Sheikh Abdul Majeed al Otaibi (@OT_48 on Twitter). They also were able to take two towns south of Baghdad, Iskandariya and Mahmoudiya.
The U.S. has sent its first group of advisors to Iraq. Here's the transcript of the Defense Department briefing.[More...]
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The penalty for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death, which it carries out regularly through public beheadings. Either the death penalty is not much of a deterrent, or some people are pretty confident they won't get caught.
The Saudi Government announced today it seized 1/2 ton of cocaine (526 kilograms)at the port of Jeddah on June 7. The drugs were in a shipment of refills of photocopy paper that came from an unspecified country in South America.
Where did the drugs ship from? Ecuador is a possibility. Last week, the foreign minister of Ecuador announced on Twitter that 4 tons of drugs had been seized at the port of Guayaquil, bound for Saudi Arabia. (The police later corrected him and said it was 400 kilos.) In January, 227 kilos were seized en route to Saudi Arabia from Ecuador hidden in pineapples. In April, 600 kilograms were seized en route from Ecuador to Saudi Arabia. hidden in bananas.[More...]
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It now moves on to Haditha and its dam, which has a major hydroelectric power plant. It may also try to take Al-Asad, a large Iraqi air force base and the nearby town of Hit, before moving on to Baghdad.
Obama, in an interview Friday with Face the Nation that was aired today, says the U.S. military can't play "whack a mole" with every new terrorist threat that pops up. [More...]
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Reuters reports ISIS has taken the towns of al-Qaim on the Iraq side of border with Syria and Albukamal, on the Syrian side. ISIS says it has also taken Rawa and Aneh. It may soon have control of the entire Euphrates Valley.
The militants seem to be trying to connect up these two pockets and secure control of the whole Euphrates valley from the Syrian border to Baghdad.
....If the rebels can join up those two areas and take full control in Ramadi, they would be in a position to prepare for an assault on the western approaches to Baghdad, using Falluja as the springboard.
Up next: Haditha and Hit, which are between Aneh and Ramadi. It will then control everything from the Syrian border to Baghdad.
Reading ISIS literature and twitter feeds, it seems what ISIS cares about is tearing down geographical boundaries set long ago by the Sykes-Picot agreement and establishing a unified Islamic state which it refers to as Khilafah or a Caliphate state -- and overthrowing the U.S.- backed Shi'a government in Iraq, which discriminated against the Sunnis and through violence, reduced their numbers.
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ISIS is claiming on Twitter it has executed the Judge who ordered the hanging of Saddam Hussein. It says Khalil Hussein Attia,a Jordanian official has confirmed the news, and said Judge Raouf Abdel-Ramen tried to flee disguised as a dancer.
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The Financial Times reports that for two years, ISIS has been publishing annual reports (al-Naba) with detailed accounts of its operations -- just like General Motors or any other huge corporation.
It is not a corporation and does not have shareholders, but the military success and brutality of the jihadi group surging through Iraq have been recorded with the level of precision often reserved for company accounts.
ISIS' 400 page 2013 report is filled with statistics of the number and type of attacks it carried out and even the number of people it has converted to its cause. [More....]
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- Dozens killed in Kenya where Islamic militants set fire to a hotel.
- Pakistan launches air strikes in North Waziristan, killing 10 militants.
- Israel conducts air strikes in Gaza on military sites used by Hamas
- Syria intensifies airstrikes on ISIS bases
- ISIS takes another Iraqi town, Tal Afar, not far from Mosul.
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