The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stated on 22 February that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that ISIS perpetrated chemical weapons attacks on the town of Marea, close to Aleppo, in 2015. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) of the watchdog determined that ISIS militants utilized sulphur mustard in attacks across various parts of the town on 1 September 2015. According to a OPCW report, ISIS units deployed sulphur mustard gas via their artillery munitions on the town of Marea between 9:00 and 12:00 pm.
A new report by the inspectors general of the US State Department, Defense Department, and USAID conducted between 1 October and 31 December 2023 has determined that ISIS poses a minimal threat in Iraq and Syria, raising questions about the Pentagon's insistence on keeping US troops in both nations. “During the quarter, ISIS continued to operate in a survival posture in both Iraq and Syria. The group remained militarily defeated, incapable of mounting large, complex attacks domestically or externally, even as Coalition forces increased their focus on force protection due to attacks by Iran-aligned militia group,” the quarterly report on the so-called Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) determines, noting the group's ”capacity to conduct insurgent activities remained severely degraded."
As Israel continues its massacres in Gaza, tensions are intensifying over the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the wider North African and Western Asian region. After three US soldiers were killed by a drone strike in Jordan, the US responded with strikes inside Iraq and Syria, killing 40. White House national security spokesman John Kirby then told Fox News that the strikes were "just the first round,” making it clear that hegemony is Washington’s only horizon. Meanwhile a related conflict is heating up on the southern side of the Gulf of Aden, triggered by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland, the breakaway state that has been trying to secede from Somalia since 1991 but has not been recognized by any of the UN’s 193 member states or by the African Union.
A new opinion poll conducted in 16 Arab countries shows that Washington's continued support for Israel's campaign of genocide in the Gaza Strip has dramatically hurt its image across West Asia and North Africa, as 94 percent of respondents describe the US position as "bad." At the same time, more than half say the US poses the biggest threat to regional security. Other western states fared almost as poorly, with more than three-quarters of those polled saying the position of the UK, France, and Germany in relation to Gaza is "bad” or “very bad.” In contrast, Iran received a surge in recognition, with 48 percent of respondents expressing a positive view of the Iranian position, while 37 percent held a negative view.
Of all the amateurish moments to arise as the Biden regime conducts its foreign policy, the White House’s official statement as B1–B bombers let loose over Iraq and Syria last Friday may be the taker of the cake. As the ordnance fell on 85 targets in seven locations, many of them outposts of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, our addled president felt compelled to insist, “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.” How many times have we heard this since these latest operations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen began? Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, has said the same thing in the same words. Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary, has, too.
Top Hamas leaders are still debating a US-backed ceasefire proposal that would facilitate a six-week cessation of hostilities for the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza and the release of Israeli civilian hostages. While Qatar claims that Hamas has received the proposal “positively,” key Hamas officials are asking for more concessions, most importantly including a permanent ceasefire, before signing off on the proposal. Most people in Gaza do not have time to wait; the Israeli military prepares a military incursion into Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost district on the Egyptian border, where 1.9 million Gazans are currently sheltering.
The US air force carried out strikes on 85 sites in the border regions connecting Iraq and Syria early on 3 February. US Central Command stated its forces struck targets "belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its allies, in Iraq and Syria" using "long-range bombers launched from the United States." The statement added that US forces "used more than 125 precision-guided munitions in the air strikes. The facilities that were struck included command and control operations, intelligence centers, missiles and missiles, drone warehouses, logistical facilities, and the ammunition supply chain."
Deterrence in defense is a military strategy where one power uses the threat of reprisal to preclude attack from an adversary, while maintaining at the same time the freedom of action and flexibility to respond to the full spectrum of challenges. In this realm, the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah, is an outstanding example. Hezbollah’s clarity of purpose in establishing and strictly maintaining ground rules that deter Israeli military aggression has set a high regional bar. Today, its West Asian allies have adopted similar strategies, which have multiplied in the context of the war in Gaza.
Israeli forces killed at least 165 Palestinians and wounded 280 more in the past 24 hours in Gaza, the Ministry of Health in the small bombarded enclave reported on Saturday, bringing the official death toll since October 7 in Gaza to 24,927, with at least 62,388 more wounded. This number does not include people who are missing and believed to be trapped under rubble, unidentified bodies, people who were buried by their families without going to a hospital, nor people who have died due to illness, cold, or hunger as a result of Israel’s merciless blockade of Gaza. The real death toll is believed by some groups to surpass 32,000.
The brutal war that Israel is waging on Gaza is increasingly becoming a regional conflict. Since October, the United States and Israel have bombed not only Gaza, but also Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Now, the U.S. government is even threatening Iran with war. President Joe Biden sent the Iranian government a private message while the U.S. military was bombing Yemen on January 13. He said threateningly, “We’re confident, we’re well prepared”. While this is happening, South Africa has introduced a case in the International Court of Justice, the top United Nations judicial authority, which accuses Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinian people.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced in the early hours of 16 January that multiple ballistic missiles successfully hit positions of the Israeli Mossad in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) and the headquarters of the anti-Iran Turkestan Islamic Party in Syria's Idlib governorate. “In response to the recent crimes committed by terrorist groups and the martyrdom of a number of our citizens in Kerman and Rask, the gathering places of leaders and key elements associated with the recent terrorist operations that took place in Iran were bombed. In particular, ISIS was bombed in part of the occupied Syrian territory and destroyed via several ballistic missiles,” the IRGC said in a statement.
Over three months into Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza, there is little hope the carnage will stop anytime soon—and with each passing day, the danger of Israel’s war on Gaza spiraling into a larger regional conflict increases. The devastation in Gaza is unlike anything seen in the 21st century, but Israel’s military strikes—like last week’s assassination of Saleh al-Arouri, a top leader of Hamas, in Lebanon—have not been limited to Palestine alone. At the same time, armed resistance groups in Iraq and Syria have launched hundreds of attacks on US bases, confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah has created a simmering northern front along the Lebanese border, and Yemen’s blockade of the Red Sea has created an international crisis for shipping and trade.
For years, this site has warned that Israel, especially Benjamin Netanyahu, have tried to instigate the U.S. into a wider war in the Mideast, particularly with Iran. We’ve also regularly indicted the U.S. mainstream media for ignoring this danger. Today, the threat is greater than ever. And, true to form, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the others continue to cover it up, instead treating Netanyahu as the embattled but honest leader of an Israel that is only trying to defend itself. For more than a decade, Netanyahu’s main aim was to destroy Iran’s alleged (and unproven) program to build nuclear weapons.