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31 DEC: A Hezbollah response to attacks by Israel may come in the form of suicide bombings launched from Gaza. Hamas military wing prepares for suicide bombings inside Israel.
Syrian troops enter Sheikh Maskin near Deraa.
In spite of a deal to end sanctions on Iran, the US administration is preparing new sanctions against that nation. Hopes of a thawing of relations now seem rather forlorn.
Russia’s impressive Syrian campaign using the latest weapons in its arsenal and demonstrating their effectiveness is generating many billions of weapons sales to China, India and other countries.
30 DEC: Saudi King Salman bin Abdulziz Al Saud and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met Tuesday in Riyadh for talks on the future of Syria. Both countries see the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad from power as the key to a long-term solution for the country and the region. Also participating in the meeting were the Turkish foreign, energy and economy ministers and the Saudi crown prince along with the foreign, economy and science ministers.
The US aircraft-carrier Harry S. Truman and other warships entered the Persian Gulf on Saturday
Syrian troops backed by heavy aerial bombardment pushed south to eliminate the Al Nusrah Front Al Qaeda from the Deraa area. On Tuesday the Syrian army said it retook Brigade 82, one of the largest bases north of the mainly rebel-held town of Sheikh Maskin. The army also announced it had recaptured the Al Hesh hills, northwest of Sheikh Maskin.
In the north the American sponsored Syrian Democratic Coalition forces backed by RUSSIAN air support is making substantial gains towards the Islamic State capitol in Syria at Raqqa. The Syrian Democratic Coalition was established by the United States in October of 2015 and unites mainly Kurdish forces with, Syrian rebel militias.
29 DEC: Likud Central Committee approves PM’s proposal to hold leadership vote on 23 February and Haim Katz chosen Central Committee chair.
BAGHDAD – The coming year will see the total defeat of Islamic State in Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Monday in a speech broadcast on state TV, praising the capture of the western city of Ramadi. “2016 will be the year of the big and final victory, when Daesh’s presence in Iraq will be terminated,” he said, using a derogatory Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “We are coming to liberate Mosul and it will be the fatal and final blow to Daesh,” he added.
The Iraqi army on Sunday announced it had liberated the centre of Ramadi from Islamic State, There are still some pockets of resistance in the suburbs which are being mopped up.
Former Israeli PM Olmert to enter jail on February 15. Supreme Court partially accepts Olmert’s appeal against 6 years in prison reducing sentence to 18 months.
Members of the Likud will decide on who will head the Central Committee group. The main candidates for the position are Welfare Minister Haim Katz, David (Dudi) Amsalem, the head of the Internal Committee and Tzachi Hanegbi, the coalition head and head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee who is largely backed by party activists.
The 3,750 active members will vote in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva, Haifa, and Tiberias. The stations opened at 10:00 am and will remain active until 10:00 pm. Afterwards the votes will be counted in Tel Aviv and the results published.
Central Committee members will also vote on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal to advance the party’s primaries by three years to Feb 23, 2016.
28 DEC: In Syria hundreds of extremists are evacuating the town of Zabadani on the Lebanese border under a guarantee of safe passage. This secures the route for Hezbollah fighters to enter Syria unmolested. 300 Shia families trapped in Syrian extremist enclaves near Turkey have been released possibly as part of an exchange deal for the Zabadani releases
In Israel the Internal Likud Court has approved a vote on moving up primaries by three years to Feb 23 if a proper debate is held. To appease the court Likud has called an emergency central committee debate for today so that the vote can be held tomorrow as planned.
Israel has just consolidated its many commando units into one large force for the coming fight against Hezbollah. Nasrallah has announced that he has given orders for a response to the repeated Israeli attacks on Hezbollah, that does not mean that an attack is immediately forthcoming; they will choose their time and place very carefully. It does mean that a confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel seems to be inevitable.
27 DEC: The Islamic State has withdrawn the remains of its main combat force from Ramadi.
The American sponsored Democratic Alliance has captured a village and dam inside Syria only fifteen miles from the IS cap;itol in Syria, Raqqa
Syrian forces attacked a meeting of senior rebel commanders at a farm in Kfar Shams near Deraa killing at last 17 important leaders.
Hiebollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday: “Revenge for the death of Samir Quntar is on the way… The orders have been given and execution is in the hands of resistance fighters on the ground… We are not afraid of consequences and threats. We shall not let the blood of our Jihadi fighters and brothers to be spilled anywhere in the world.
Israel is mobilizing reserves and forces in the north.
The Syrian peace talks planned for early January are being delayed for a few weeks with the UN now planning to start the talks on January 25.
Zahran Alloush head of the Islamist group Jaish al-Islam which is on the US Russia ;list of agreed Islamic Extremist groups, was killed in a Syrian airstrike yesterday.
The Kuweires Military Airbase in northern Syria’s Aleppo province, liberated in early November has been operational and launching aircraft for the past two weeks. In that time Syrian forces backed by attack helicopters from the base have liberated significant portions of Aleppo province from Extremists.
The fight for Ramadi is almost over with final resistance crumbling and the capture of the IS Ramadi commander.
26 DEC: Breaking 12:30 EST:
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi today gave a 26-minute “alternate Christmas message.” The ISIS leader said that the Islamic State would soon be in Palestine.
As the pressure builds the Islamic State is looking to rally all Muslims to them by appealing to Palestinian issues. Attacks on Israel are only a matter of time.
A UN brokered deal will allow ISIS fighters to evacuate southern Damascus. Friday Hezbollah revealed the deal is much broader and includes other Islamist factions, such as al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
All told, the expectation is that the buses will be evacuating some 2,000 Islamist fighters, along with their families, out of areas around southern Damascus. They will have to hand in heavy weapons, but can keep small arms, and will be taken into their respective territories. These fighters have been under siege for months in various pockets around Damascus. This is a huge victory for Syria, securing Damascus and freeing up many thousands of Syrian troops for action elsewhere.
Russia to begin delivery of S-300 air defense system to Iran in January and complete deliveries in February [link loads slowly].
One Gazan killed nine wounded in border clash yesterday. An Israeli military patrol found and dismantled an improvised explosive device at the Gaza border fence opposite Kibbutz Nahal Oz Friday night, encountering this type of device for the first time in months. Three more explosive devices were tossed at the soldiers a short while later. They exploded on the Israeli side of the fence, but caused no casualties. Heavy Israeli return fire caused the Gaza casualties.
Ramadi is expected to be fully liberated in the coming days and after clearing the city of mines and traps and any remaining fighters Iraq will then prepare to liberate Mosul the Islamic State capitol in Iraq. The liberation of Mosul is expected to begin the final cleansing of Iraq of the IS. Meanwhile the US and Russia are coordinating on a final anti Islamic State offensive for next year.
The USA and Russia have agreed on which rebel groups will be attacked as extremist and which will be accepted as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition for the coming Syrian talks.
25 DEC: Indian leader Modi was in Russia to sign a ten billion dollar deal to sell India its most advanced and highly effective S-400 anti ballistic missile air defense system. A similar deal has already been made with China. This has huge prophetic importance as these defense systems will protect much of Asia from the coming attack by the rising New Europe. The new Europe will launch a massive nuclear attack on Asia early in its third year, but the attack will fail and the Asian nations will counter attack. For an explanation of this and much more please get our “Bible Prophecy Tribulation and Deliverance” book. Available at Createspace in the US. Available internationally at your local Amazon bookstore.
Modi visited Afghanistan and will visit Lahore, Pakistan on his way home.
US and coalition warplanes launched dozens of airstrikes against the contested city of Ramadi Thursday, trying to drive ISIS forces back even as Iraqi ground troops move into the central parts of the Anbar capital.
The Iraqi advance is being slowed by hundreds of mines and traps. Statements by the Islamic State claim to have killed more than 30 Iraqi soldiers, with suicide bombs and by detonating hidden explosives inside buildings.
The anti opium Taliban have attacked the American protected opium center at Sangin Afghanistan. The Taliban had almost destroyed the opium production in Afghanistan, which production has revived and flourished under US protection in recent years. Afghanistan backed by US airstrikes and Special Forces has now launched a counter attack and inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban.
24 DEC: Netanyahu is pushing to hold the Likud leadership primary on February 23, three years ahead of schedule. The party’s court will convene on Sunday to rule on the matter after which the prime minister hopes to hold a Likud central committee vote on whether to move up the primary on Tuesday. Gideon Sa’ar said on Thursday he would not run in the expected early primary, implying it is rigged in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favor. At this point Netanyahu would run with no opposition.
Israel breaks Gaza ceasefire again. Israeli forces enter Gaza and bulldoze land. Israel seized 14 Gaza fishermen. Israel has also been spraying defoliants on Gaza crops for the past three days.
Syria agrees to peace talks.
Pope Francis has been working very hard behind the scenes and through the Vatican controlled Catholic Christian Democratic parties in Europe for European unification. (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has been awarded the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen, the oldest and best-known prize awarded for work done in the service of European unification.
Finland to decide on referendum to leave the EU
23 DEC: Israel busts West Bank Hamas cell arrests 25. Two Israelis die in Jerusalem stabbing attack.
American Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited Irbil this morning. Carter received intelligence briefings and operational recommendations from his commanders in the region last week and is conducting a follow up visit.
Ramadi battle enters day 2. Iraqi forces led by US Special Forces along with Shia militias are being coordinated by the Russian headquarters in Bagdad. The liberation of Ramadi is planned to be the prelude to the Mosul offensive [now being planned by Carter in Irbil] and the collapse of the Islamic State in spring – summer.
Iraqi F-16 planes killed dozens of IS fighters including eight senior commanders of Daesh in strikes on Hawija and Anbar.
22 DEC: BREAKING: At 04:00 EST Iraqi forces entered the center of Ramadi in mass, beginning the final phase of liberating the city from the Islamic State.
Syrian president Assad will fly to Tehran for talks with the Iranians. Iran is in the process of withdrawing its Revolutionary Guards from Syria. While Iranian backed Shia militias remain in Syria the IRG forces have been downsized from 7,000 in Oct to 800 today. In response to this and the removal of Iranian nuclear material to Russia this month the US is expediting the lifting of sanctions on Iran.
Ukraine: The EU has approved a six month extension of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. Ukraine is reneging on its 3.5 billion dollar debt to Russia further souring relations.
21 DEC: BREAKING 16:30 EST: Netanyahu has enough support for early primaries and will bring the proposal to a vote in Likud early next week.
In advance of early leadership primaries the Likud party may be splitting further.
After the elections this year the Likud Extremist Settler Movement Manhigut Yehudit faction leader Moshe Feiglin, who placed #36 on the Likud list, announced he would break away and turn the faction into a separate party for the next elections: the “Zehut,” or Identity, party.
Now almost a year and a half after leaving politics, former Interior Minister and senior Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar is mulling challenging Netanyahu for the Likud party leadership, which is prompting Netanyahu to seek to move the party leadership primaries to February to get the leadership settled before Saar has a chance to gain momentum in his Likud leadership bid.
Normally Likud leadership conventions are held six months ahead of the end of an official term, which would not be for several years yet.
Another reason for the possibility of early primaries is to be ready for a snap election at any time due to the extremely unstable coalition.
Meanwhile moderates inside Likud are very upset at any possibility of holding early leadership primaries and Saar is feeling out moderates to split them off from Likud and form a new moderate political party.
Iraqi forces leaflet the remaining Islamic State area in Ramadi giving civilians 72 hours from yesterday to leave before launching an assault on the 300 or so IS people left in the city.
20 DEC: BREAKING 12:40 EST: Three rockets fired from Lebanon land in an open field north of Nahariya after Israel breaks ceasefire: See below. Israeli warplanes bombing Lebanon in response to rockets.
US President Barack Obama on Friday signed a massive $1.8 trillion budget, including $3.1 billion in aid to Israel, another $5 billion in aid to Israel is expected to be supplemantally approved in a few months. The 2016 US budget also includes a huge military appropriation with a large sum earmarked for the next phase of the anti Extremist war. Also on Friday Obama gave his “Year End” press conference and vowed to escalate the war on the Islamic State.
The UINSC has approved a Syria plan that calls for a deal to be negotiated and completed by one July on an interim government for Syria and elections within one year after that.
Netanyahu is telegraphing early Israeli elections by moving his Likud party leadership convention up to February 2016.
An Israeli war on Gaza is expected as part of the coming spring offensive against the Islamic State and other extremists in Syria / Iraq. As the IS comes under increasing pressure, attacks are expected on Israel which will bring an Israeli operation against Gaza likely escalating to include Hezbollah.
With the Islamic Extremists defeated Assad would be in the drivers seat in the Syrian negotiations, however the defeat of Hezbollah by Israel would knock Assad right out of that seat. New governments in Israel and the region after the war would then be ready for a genuine dialogue for peace as per 1 Thes 5:3.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal met on Saturday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. Turkey has now put the Israel rapprochement in jeopardy by demanding an end of the Gaza siege as part of the deal.
Last Thursday 10,000 Turkish troops supported by tanks, planes and artillery attacked the PKK in the South Turkey cities of Cizre, Silopi and Diyarbakir
Syrian and Hezbollah media confirm that Israeli rocket fire from four air force jets early Sunday, Dec. 20, destroyed a building in the eastern Jaramana district of Damascus and killed Samir Quntar, head of Hezbollah networks in southern Syria and the Golan. In addition to Quntar, Issam Sha’alan, a senior commander of the National Syrian Golan Resistance Organization was killed.
This attack is another in a long line of Israeli provocations against Hezbollah.
18 DEC: Lt General Sean McFarland, USA, is the commander, Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to fight ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. McFarland commands a military coalition of 65 nations. He is also commanding general, III Corps, Ft. Hood, Texas. McFarland replaces Lt. General James Terry, USA, though Terry will remain commander, US Army Central (USARCENT). McFarland is subordinate to US CENTCOM, General Lloyd Austin. The Army’s III Corps commands the 1st Armored, 1st Cavalry, 1st Infantry, and 4th Infantry Divisions and the 3d Cavalry Regiment, 75th Fires brigade and 36th Engineer Battalion.
The UN Security Council approved a resolution Friday calling for a cease–fire and political talks starting next month for ending the civil war in Syria. Adopted unanimously, it was the first time Russia and the US have agreed on the political road to a peace process.
Violence has been escalating on the Gaza front this week.
Britain / EU to work on details of British proposals with a view to reaching a deal in February and a British “IN – OUT” referendum in June 2016 with an understanding that the timetable could be extended if necessary.
Russia / US agree on Assad. US will not insist on Assad agreeing to leave as a precondition for talks and Russia will accept Assad leaving as a result of the coming talks.
Former Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab has been chosen to represent rebel factions in Syria talks.
Islamic State forces have been launching pre-emptive attacks against the American sponsored forces preparing for a big anti IS offensive in northern Syria / Iraq. The U.S. military estimated that 180 militants were killed during airstrikes that were launched on Wednesday in response to an Islamic State attack in northern Iraq. Authorities also believe that Peshmerga forces may have killed hundreds more.
17 DEC: On the eve of EU Council talks on British demands, Angela Merkel tells David Cameron no chance of deal on free movement and migrant benefits.
Understanding reached in Swiss meet between Israeli Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen and Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglui have resulted in Israel’s consent to set up a $20m fund for the victims of the Turkish ship boarded by Israeli soldiers two years ago. No more claims against Israel will be outstanding and the two ambassadors will return to their posts in Tel Aviv and Ankara.
Ankara also agreed to ban Hamas official Salah Arouri’s reentry to his base in Istanbul when he tries to return from a visit to Qatar. The two parties agreed to launch negotiations without delay on the sale of Israeli offshore gas to Turkey.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced Wednesday that his country will send 450 soldiers to Iraq to defend the Mosul dam on the Tigris river.
The American sponsored Syrian Democratic Front is advancing on the Islamic State logistics center in the Syrian town of al-Shadadi.
Israel continues its weeks long campaign to round up people on the West Bank in response to the violence.
Israel is preparing for another war in Gaza as attacks are expected by the Islamic State from Gaza and Sinai when the IS falters in Syria Iraq.
The US congress is preoccupied with final touches on the 2016 budget and is not likely to take up the anti IS War Authorization Bill before January. Last night Obama passed a temporary spending bill to extend government funding to Dec 22. The previously reported budget signing was also a temporary Bill.
16 DEC: Russia and the US have agreed on a list of Extremist groups in Syria. In addition the US has agreed not to demand the ouster of Assad as a precursor to the upcoming negotiations in Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry talked at length with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and came out of those talks with a declaration that “the United States and its partners are not seeking regime change in Syria.”
This statement opens the way for Russia to endorse a meeting of seventeen nations in New York on Friday to settle on the wording of a UN resolution endorsing the Syria peace process.
The new American position will also bring on a concerted united effort by both the Russian and the US coalitions to destroy Islamic Extremism in Syria / Iraq.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited Baghdad on Wednesday in order to confer with senior American military officers based in the country on ways of intensifying attacks on Islamic State. Earlier, Carter said the purpose of his visit was to “get their latest reading on the battlefield situation and also very importantly their thinking about ways that we can continue to accelerate the campaign.”
15 DEC: Defense Secretary Ash Carter flew to Turkey Tuesday, to discuss the anti IS war with Turkish officials and US military commanders in the region.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism. The coalition seems to be against Iran and Assad as much as against Islamic Extremism.
Syrian forces have liberated the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus including a major Syrian air base being held by insurgents.
The European Union delayed a decision on whether to renew sanctions against Russia on Monday, after Italy insisted that more discussion was needed. could also push the issue to the agenda of a summit meeting of Europe’s leaders later this week. Unanimity is required; any one of the union’s 28 members can block renewal by signaling its opposition. There are signs in Europe of a wider change of thinking on Russia, given the situation in Syria. Sanctions expire at the end of January and teh discussion is about renewing them for another six months.
Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, with US officials saying the focus will be on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his potential role in any political transition. Will Moscow demand the lifting of sanctions over Ukraine as a quid pro quo for Assad, probably through Europe?
Following yesterday’s attack of a car crashing into a bus stop and injuring one person seriously and another ten lightly Israel will now surround bus stops with concrete barriers.
14 DEC: Obama visits Pentagon today for IS briefing and proposals.
After falling out with Russia, Turkey seeks normalization of relations with Israel desiring access to Israeli natural gas.
Kerry chairs conference of fifteen Libyan militia factions to create common front against Extremists and Islamic State.
Israel is expecting more turmoil as pressure mounts on the Islamic State and will call up and deploy two additional reserve battalions as well as two regular-service battalions. to the West Bank in early January. The army said that further reinforcements will be discussed depending on the assessment of the situation.
A rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area within the Shaar HaNegev regional council. The last rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip fell in an open area with the Eshkol regional council on November 23rd. The Air Force struck several targets inside the strip in response. Rockets fired from Apache helicopters struck a police station in the northwest of Gaza Strip, while another rocket struck the Abu Jarad training site of al-Qassam Brigades in the south.
France’s far right is routed in regional elections after winning 1st round
13 DEC: The Islamic State continues to threaten a mass casualty attack on Times Square New York. Let us hope that any such plan is thwarted, meanwhile it would be prudent to stay away from crowds in the square, especially New Year’s celebrations.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Moscow Tuesday for talks on the Syria peace plan ahead of a conference of the 17 peace plan sponsor nations scheduled to meet in Washington on Friday.
Al Qaeda Al-Nusra Front chief Abu Mohamed al-Jolani rejected the outcome of the Riyadh talks as a “plot” and accused Al-Nusra Front ally Ahrar al-Sham of treason for signing on to the deal and splitting with the Al Nusrah Front.
Aleppo offensive begins. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), National Defense Forces (NDF) and Hezbollah are successfully advancing in the Eastern parts of Aleppo province. The pro-government forces are now closing in on Islamic Extremist positions in the town of Deir Hafer, approaching the town from several directions.
Meanwhile, Russian bombers heavily pounded the terrorists’ gathering centers in the Darat Izza, Bashkoy, Keshtaar, Kafarina and Azaz regions of the province. Dozens of militants were killed. A large number of weapons and equipment was destroyed. The airstrikes also hit terrorist positions in Jarouf, Ein al-Beida, al-Bab and Anadan.
On Wednesday, the Syrian Army killed a senior commander of the “Thuwar al-Sham Brigades” in a strategic town of Khan Touman. Abdul Rahim al-Hamoud was a defected lieutenant colonel of the Syrian Army. The Syrian Army also made important advances in the city of Dara’a. The field reports said that the loyalists are within striking distance of the old Dara’a border crossing with Jordan which is commonly referred to as the Al-Jamrak crossing. Sporadic clashes between the SAA and militants were observed at the outskirts of al-Sheikh Meskeen and Atman.
12 DEC: US on alert after IS agents infiltrate the country.
11 DEC: Report out on the illness and deaths of tens of thousands of Americans in their nuclear programs.
Today the naval forces of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAR took Greater Hanish island, in the strategic archipelago commanding the Strait of Bab al Mandeb. The island controlled by the Houthi and their Iranian backers. The island can be used to control the Yemeni exit / entrance to the Red Sea and Suez Canal.
In a Russian TV address Friday, President Vladimir Putin disclosed that the Russian army now supports the Free Syrian Army. The FSA is the main proxy force of the United States and is part of the group to begin January negotiations with the Assad government under a ceasefire. Putin’s comment revealed another aspect of the broad understanding the Kremlin and the Obama administration have secretly reached for the Syrian conflict.
Reps. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced anti Islamic Extremist war legislation in the House on Wednesday, a companion bill to a measure was tabled in the Senate offered by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). The war authorization would expire after three years unless reauthorized, repeal the Iraq War authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) and be the sole authorization for the war against ISIS. Congress will work to pass the bipartisan and bicameral measure before the Winter Break which begins on 19 Dec, but members may decide to consult with their backers over the break and hold the vote in January.
During a November 23, 2015 visit to Ft. Hood, Texas, Army Chief of Staff (CSA) General Mark Milley He said the Army began weeks ago to re-evaluate the “ways and means” of destroying ISIS. He affirmed ISIS is a “serious threat to USA national security interests” and told the troops, “… You need to be prepared to go at a moment’s notice … You need to make sure your tactics, your techniques and your procedures are at a very high level of readiness. When called, you will be ready to go.”
Coalition airstrikes on Ramadi in support of the government offensive to liberate the city over the last few days have left 350 militants dead.
The western Ramadi district of al-Taamim and the Anbar Operations Command headquarters were liberated on Wednesday
After two days of talks in Riyadh, a conference of rebel groups in Riyadh agreed to a ceasefire and peace talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Abdulaziz al-Sager, who chaired the meeting, told a news conference that an opposition delegation would meet Syrian government officials in the first 10 days of January.
10 DEC: The US Defense Secretary has just announced that the administration is preparing a surge of troops and attack helicopters to Iraq.
09 DEC: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meets US President Barack Obama for the first time since he assumed presidency. Rivlin will also open the Haaretz conference in New York before departing for Israel. Ahead of their meeting, Rivlin outlined his vision for peace in a Washington Post Op-Ed and called on Israel to take proactive steps towards peace, without waiting for a Palestinian partner.
Rebels withdraw from Homs today.
08 DEC: Israel launches airstrikes on northern Gaza Strip in response to gunfire – The Israeli army said it was responding to incidents of gunfire from the besieged enclave. On Friday and Sunday gunshots fired from Gaza caused damage to Israeli army vehicles patrolling the territory. (Maan and Israel Hayom)
Britain’s lower house of parliament voted on Tuesday against cutting the voting age for a referendum on EU membership, potentially blocking any further moves to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote. Lawmakers voted 303 to 253 to reject a move by the upper house, the House of Lords, to lower the voting age to 16 from 18 for the referendum which Prime Minister David Cameron has promised by the end of 2017.
Syrian moderate opposition groups begin three day conference in Riyadh.
07 DEC: Yesterday evening’s Obama speech was key in the process of destroying Islamic extremism in the Syria Iraq region.
1. The president indicated that tens [plural] of thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops had now been trained and were ready.
2. He declared his intention to resolve the Syrian political situation and to destroy the Islamic State.
3. Obama asked congress to pass a war authorization bill and sweetened that request [for the reluctant in congress] with the promise that American troops would be deployed to aid local forces but there would be no large long term combat.
Senior White House officials have told journalists that hundreds [possibly several thousand more troops in all] of special forces are awaiting orders for deployment to Iraq.
06 DEC: Obama to make major terrorism speech tonight. Obama’s rare 8 p.m. ET Oval Office address will pledge to use every available tool to keep American people safe and destroy ISIS, senior administration officials say.
Polls indicate strong far right gains in French regional elections indicate increasing trouble for Hollande in presidential elections now only 17 months away.
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday the next round of talks on the Syrian crisis would take place in New York later this month.
The next round of the international conference will take place after the moderate rebels organize themselves together for talks with Assad at their meet in Riyadh this week. Once they are organized for the talks the international conference will recognize them as the moderate opposition, after that an official ceasefire can be declared and talks can begin with Assad in January. At that point a combined offensive against the Islamist Extremists can go forward.
05 DEC: The US State Department has reported an ‘imminent threat’ against the security of the US
Consulate in Istanbul, asking US citizens to not go there this Saturday.
The Islamic State group’s official radio station has aired a statement saying the mass shooting in California was carried out by two “supporters” of the extremist group. While praising the attack, the group stopped short of claiming responsibility for it. The Al-Bayan report Saturday echoed a claim carried Friday by the IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency.
Speaking yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry told a press conference that it was “possible” for the Syrian rebels to team up with the Assad government in fighting ISIS before Assad is actually removed from power, something he had long dismissed as unthinkable. In fact many moderates rebels are already helping the government against the radical Islamists.
Kerry also said it’s not clear that Assad has to “go” at all if there were assurances on Syria’s post-war future. The idea is to remove all authorities from the president and leave as a figurative head of state, with a prime minister controlling the government as in other parliamentary systems.
An attack on IS could feature a double sided coalition; one in Iraq with America leading the Iraqi’s and another leg in Syria with Russia leading the Syrians; each cooperating with the other.
Putin; Presidential State of Russia Address to the Russian Federal Assembly
Russia is deploying T90 tanks [which are protected from the American TOW rockets possessed by the insurgents] along with thousands of Russian volunteers and heavy artillery to the Aleppo area. Moderate rebels are to leave Homs by the end of the coming week under truce, allowing Syria to secure supply lines north to Aleppo for a major offensive to clear Aleppo and Idlib provinces of the Al Qaeda Islamic militants.
Russia appears to have broken up the Turkish Islamic State oil business.
A pledge for Islamic State by an anonymous woman is now being claimed by the FBI to have been the woman in the San Bernadine shootings. The FBI is looking hard at how it can link the shootings directly to the Islamic State and congress is eagerly awaiting their report before going ahead with a declaration of war.
Investigators have no real evidence Islamic State knew the two alleged shooters in the San Bernardino, California, rampage and no evidence from their home suggests any substantive connection to a foreign terror organization, a US government source said on Friday. The source said there was nothing to suggest the militant Islamic group “even knew who they were.”
04 DEC: A survey conducted in the US has revealed that 37 percent of Americans support sanctions against Israel as a response to settlement-building. Of those, 27 percent support economic sanctions and 10 percent are in favor of even harsher measures. Among Democratic voters the proportion is even higher, with half supporting sanctions. Get our new extensive prophecy book for more about the internal resistance to American backing of Israel. LINK Bible Prophecy Tribulation and Deliverance is available at Createspace, and is also available at Amazon.com.
Officials say female shooter in San Bernardino massacre pledged allegiance to ISIS leader on Facebook.
Obama redefines “boots on the ground.”
Throughout a year and a half of war against ISIS, President Obama’s “no boots on the ground” pledge has been repeatedly revised by officials, initially insisting it meant no troops, then no combat troops, and now, according to President Obama, it simply meant no battlion-level deployments.
Obama now insists he never had any intention not to send combat troops to Iraq and Syria, and that the American people always understood he simply meant deployments would be in small units.
A joint Afghan and US special forces raid freed 40 members of Afghanistan’s security forces from a Taliban jail in the southern province of Helmand last night.
Kerry announces that the Islamic State could be handily defeated within months of a ceasefire between the Syrian moderates meeting in Saudi Arabia next week and Syria. The ceasefire and talks are scheduled to begin in early January. Islamic Extremism in Iraq / Syria is expected to be defeated by early to mid 2016.
Russia is refurbishing two more airfields The first, the Shayrat air base, is southeast of Homs city, and the second, at al Tayas towards the Islamic State-controlled city of Palmy.
Iran has 30,000 troops currently in Syria to fight the IS; 5,000 Revolutionary Guards and 25,000 volunteers.
03 DEC: The leader of yesterday’s attack on a California handicapped center was killed. The man was later named as Syed Farouk, a US citizen. A second suspect thought to be his brother is in custody. The third, a woman later identified as Tashfeen Malik, aged 27, and the wife of Farouk, was also killed.
Farouk reportedly traveled to Saudi Arabia early this year and returned with a wife. Co-worker Patrick Baccari says Syed Farook was gone for about a month and had returned with his bride. The woman he described as a pharmacist joined him as soon as she could. A baby followed.
Bomb squads have been working on defusing three explosive devices left in one of the three buildings of the San Bernadino center after the shooting. The attack wounded 17 persons of whom 14 were killed.
Six RAF planes bombed an Islamic State oil field in Syria early Thursday morning, immediately after the British parliament authorized such attacks. The House of Commons approved the use of force against ISIS by a 397-223 margin after a 10-hour debate, with 66 Labour MPs voting in favor.
The British approval and the San Bernadino attack appears to open the way for an effort in the American congress to approve an expanded US declaration of war on the Islamic State.
Final phase of the liberation of Ramadi to test the US trained Anbar Sunni fighters. Delays in the Ramadi fight were to enable training of the Sunni and deploy them to replace the Shia militias.
Netanyahu furious that his comments to Likud on his rejection of peace were made public.
02 DEC: At a press conference in Moscow today, the Russian Defense Ministry showed never-before-seen videos clearly reveal the Islamic State’s oil processing facilities adjacent to the Turkish border, and convoys of oil tankers moving along the border and crossing it. One of the videos showed the bombing and direct hit of these kinds of facilities. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov alleged that “the Turkish leadership is directly involved in the oil trade with ISIS.” He also claimed that thousands of fighters, hundreds of vehicles and tons of weapons and ammunition are entering Syria from Turkey in support of Islamist Extremists. The IS sells its oil for one half of the current price of petroleum.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that three mosques have been shut down in France since the Paris attacks as part of a crackdown on extremist activities. Cazeneuve told reporters it was the first time mosques are being closed in France “on grounds of radicalization.” France, the United States and other countries are currently working on new laws giving governments the authority to shut down religious institutions they consider contrary to the public interest. These laws will have an impact far beyond Islamic Extremism.
US to deploy at least 150 more special forces to Iraq in addition to the 50 recent arrivals.
Israel holds surprise exercise practicing for an outbreak of violence from Gaza.
01 DEC: Syria liberates Homs. BEIRUT – The governor of the Syrian province of Homs reported Tuesday that local authorities had agreed on a deal which would see armed groups evacuate the last insurgent-held area of Homs city under a ceasefire next week.
The United States is deploying “specialized” troops to Iraq to fight the Islamic State group (ISIS), including by leading raids against the jihadists over the border in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday. Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon chief said that a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” was being deployed in Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces battle ISIS.
The Iraqi military today is dropping leaflets on the city of Ramadi reporting a full-scale offensive will be carried outin the next 24-hours, and are ordering all civilians out of the city.
The House Armed Services Committee will meet on the Islamic State war today; Defense Secretary Ash Carter is scheduled to testify. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Texas Republican who chairs the committee, said in an interview that he would support a greater commitment of U.S. ground forces to Syria and Iraq.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that China’s currency, the yuan, will become an International Reserve Currency. Currently only the US dollar, the euro, the yen and the pound are in the group. The IMF said the yuan “met all existing criteria” and should become part of the basket in October 2016.
Saudi Arabia has issued invitations to 65 Syrian opposition figures to attend a conference in Riyadh to try unify their positions ahead of proposed Syrian peace talks. Asharq al-Awsat and al-Hayat quoted unnamed sources as saying the conference would take place next week.
Asharq al-Awsat quoted Ahmed Ramadan, a member of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) opposition group, as saying that the Saudi foreign ministry had “invited 65 figures to attend the conference in Riyadh”. He reported that 20 members of the SNC coalition, which is based outside of Syria, had been invited, along with seven from the National Coordination Body, an internal opposition group. Another 10 to 15 places were allocated to rebel leaders and 20 to 25 to independents, business leaders and religious figures.