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UN Calls for Moratorium on Death Penalty in Iraq

A new U.N. report on the death penalty in Iraq says it is fueling the violence and a moratorium should be imposed.

The report says executions in Iraq have been increasing at an alarming pace and that is applied unfairly:

Judges often pass death sentences based on evidence from disputed confessions or secret informants, condemning suspects who are unaware of their rights, may have been tortured and have no defense attorney until they arrive in court, the report said.

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Saddam's Pilots Teach ISIS to Fly

Former pilots for Saddam's air force are reportedly teaching ISIS to fly. Among the aircraft: MI-G fighter planes they got from Syria in battle. The fighter jets have been spotted over Aleppo in Syria.

Islamic State (Isis) is takings its first steps towards building an air force by training pilots to fly captured fighter planes, according to a group monitoring the conflict in Syria.

Isis is using lots of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and Jeeps taken from the Syrian and Iraqi armies but this is the first report that it has planes in the air.

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U.S. Gives Name to War Against ISIS, ISIS Baits U.S. in Video

The U.S. today announced the name for the war against ISIS. It's called "Operation Resolve."

The operation name applies retroactively to all U.S. military actions conducted against ISIL in Iraq and Syria since airstrikes against ISIL began Aug. 8 in Iraq, officials said.

The name Inherent Resolve is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community, Centcom officials explained.

100 U.S. military advisors arrived in Anbar today to train Iraqi forces and tribe members.

ISIS has released a new video of three foreign fighters challenging the U.S. to send ground troops, titled "Wait, We Also Are Waiting." SITE has the transcript and a description. Or, you can watch it here.

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ISIS Gains in Iraq

ISIS is making gains around Baghdad. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno today said he is "somewhat confident" the Iraqi Army can resist.

The army withdrew from Hit in the Anbar province following an attack on a military training camp.

Here's a photo by ISIS of its fighters being prepped for battle in the Diyala province.

Reuters says 180,000 have fled Iraq.

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Two New Messages From ISIS Hostage John Cantlie

ISIS hostage John Cantlie has a new video message (Episode 3 of "Lend Me Your Ears") available on You Tube here. It's much the same message as prior videos. More interesting is a new written statement by Cantlie addressing media claims that his video messages are scripted or written by ISIS.

Cantlie's new written statement is contained in the final pages of the just released Issue 4 of ISIS's Dabiq Magazine, available here in English. [More...]

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As Kobane Falls to ISIS, No Ground Troops From Turkey

Turkey has the second biggest army in Nato. If it wanted to take out ISIS, it could, without any help from anyone else.

Turkey has not sent ground troops to Syria to fight ISIS, and probably won't enter Syria, unless ISIS attacks its special monument.

The U.S. (hopefully) will continue to reject the the use of ground force against ISIS in Syria.

The end result, according to news headlines, is that it would be a travesty if Kobane falls to ISIS. Perhaps to Turkey, where the Kurds and Turks might return to fighting each other. But not to us. And if it would be a travesty for Turkey and the Kurds, why aren't Turkey and other countries in the region offering ground troops to prevent it?

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Abu Wahib: Dead or Alive?

Abu Wahib, as I've written before, is the most recognizable, telegenic and frightening looking ISIS fighter. He is the military commander for the Anbar province in Iraq. He has falsely been declared dead several times, including within the past year.

Yesterday, there were reports by pro-Kurdish tweeters saying he had been killed in Kobane. Others said he was killed in Ramadi.

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Views on ISIS From the Middle East

I'm always interested in how countries halfway around the world say they would address a problem here. I'm not talking about legal problems since laws in other countries vary too much, but in hands-on tackling of a problem that affects society. Like ISIS.

Here's three articles I recommend, all from the same paper in the Middle East. Two are op-ed's and one is an editorial.

The bottom line for all three is that military force cannot solve the problem of ISIS. They come up with other suggestions, which read like something I might have written. If the answer is so obvious to them (and me), why is our Government so obtuse? War is usually never the answer. Links to the articles belos: [More...]

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Al Nusra Threatens Retaliation for U.S. and Allies' Air Strikes

Well, that didn't take long. Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaida's branch in Syria, has been fighting with ISIS for months, refusing to pledge allegiance to the self-declared Caliphate State. But now that the U.S. has targeted it in air strikes, resulting in the loss of its headquarters, a leader or two and some civilians, the gap between the two groups is quickly closing. Nusra spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri published a video statement threatening retaliation against the U.S. and any allies involved in the bombing.

So far, ISIS is not weakened by the strikes. It is fighting hard in Kobane against the Syrian Kurds, who are still trying to flee to Turkey. Turkey's President is now saying Turkey might provide military support to the U.S. led coalition, but it doesn't seem to mean boots on the ground fighting ISIS. [More...]

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New Additions to the Designated Terror List

Yesterday, the U.S. added additional suspected terrorists and groups on its designated terror list. More than one are connected to kidnappings and beheadings.

Among the new names I recognize: Amru al-Absi

As of mid-July 2014, Amru al-Absi was selected as ISIL’s provincial leader for Homs, Syria, in the Aleppo region. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, he has been in charge of kidnappings.

I wrote about him here, but check the source articles I relied on, here and here. [More...]

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New Video Message From Hostage John Cantlie

Here's the latest video message from ISIS hostage John Cantlie. Watch now, because You Tube keeps taking it down. He quotes a lot of U.S. officials and argues Obama was caught off guard and the air strikes won't succeed.

He says Iran is running Iraq, and the appointment of "a new puppet" in Iraq is an important piece of the puzzle of America's Gulf War III.

He points out the pre-911 Afghans are already back in control of large parts of Afhanistan. He says not since Vietnam, have we witnessed such a potential mess in the making. [More...]

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ISIS Declares War, Stirs the Lone Wolf Pot

ISIS has just declared the equivalent of World War III. The announcement comes in the form of a long-awaited statement by ISIS official spokesman Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī ash-Shāmī.

Adnani calls on Muslims everywhere to attack Americans and Europeans wherever they find them. You can find the English version of the ten page statement here. But be forewarned, it's not a pleasant read. [More...]

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ISIS: Major Change of Hostage Media Strategy

British reporter John Cantlie was first captured by extremists in Syria in July, 2012. Here he is in a new video, calmly sitting at a table dressed in the tell-tale orange detainee garb, telling the public this is the first of a series of programs from him. There's no man in black, no desert in the background. He says he will expose the truth. He begins by saying the U.K. and U.S.A. are the only countries that refuse to pay ransom demands. He also asks why, after two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Government is so keen on getting into yet another unwinnable conflict, this time with the Islamic State.

He says, "I know what you're thinking" -- that he's being forced to do this video and there's a gun to his head. He says, it's true, he is a prisoner. But "seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic state, I've got nothing to lose. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die."

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Obama: No Ground Troops For Iraq

President Obama addressed the military in Tampa today.

"I want to be clear. The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission," Obama said.

"We will train and equip our partners. We will advise them and we will assist them. We will lead a broad coalition of countries who have a stake in this fight."

Also today, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi ruled out foreign ground troops in Iraq. [More...]

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Pentagon May Ask for Boots on the Ground in Iraq

At a congressional hearing today, General Martin Dempsey would not rule out sending ground troops to Iraq.

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

The plan so far, according to Dempsey and Secretary Hagel: [More...]

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