On October 8, a terrible blast struck the worshippers attending Friday noon prayers at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque in the Khan Abad district of Bandar, the capital of Kunduz, one of Afghanistan’s largest cities in its northern belt. This is a mosque frequented by Shia Muslims, who were referred to as “our compatriots” by Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid. Forty-six people died immediately in the blast, and local officials said that many more people were injured in the incident. Not long afterward, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), took credit for the attack on its Telegram channel. The suicide bomber was identified as Mohammed al-Uyguri by ISIS-K. The name of the attacker raised red flags across the region.
By Medea Benjamin for the Guardian. Donald Trump loudly criticized President Obama’s air campaign against Islamic State as “too gentle” and called for a reassessment of battlefield rules designed to protect civilians. The US military insists that the rules of engagement have not changed, but Iraqi officers have been quoted in the New York Times as saying that there has been a noticeable relaxing of the coalition’s rules of engagement since President Trump took office. President Trump has also escalated US intervention in Syria. In March, he authorized the deployment of 400 more troops to fight the Islamic State in Syria, and has upped the number of US airstrikes there. According to the UK-based organization Airwars, for the first time since Russia intervened in Syria’s civil war in 2015, US strikes in Syria are now responsible for more civilian casualties than Russian strikes. Among the most devastating incidents was a strike on a school sheltering displaced people outside Raqqa that killed at least 30 people, and an attack on a mosque in western Aleppo that killed dozens of civilians while they were attending prayers.
By Seumas Milne for The Guardian - The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting. The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.
ERBIL, Iraq — Iraq is in the midst of a refugee crisis. With Islamic State militants having taken over swathes of the Levant and establishing a caliphate from Raqqa, Syria, through to Mosul, Iraq, over one million Iraqis have found themselves seeking refuge from the marauding militants. The front lines are fluid in Iraq, but the chaos is more defined than within Syria. Safe areas still exist, such as parts of the south and in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq in the north, and thousands continue to seek refuge there every day. Across the country, average citizens, NGOs, mosques and churches have all reached out to offer refuge to the hundreds of thousands of refugees made homeless by the Islamic State over the past two months. People are refusing to be divided between religious and sectarian lines. Across Iraq, Muslims have offered refuge to Christians, Christians to Muslims, and both to many of the small groups of minorities, such as the Yezidis, who have been targeted hardest by Islamic State militants. In Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and a city is under Islamic State control, militants have carried out public lashings and executions against individuals who do not adhere to their draconian laws. Unsurprisingly, many of the over one million displaced persons from Iraq’s latest war have come from the city and its surrounding areas.