Islamic State suicide tank attack on police base kills 37, slows slow Iraq’s Ramadi counterattack

BAGHDAD – A huge suicide bomb attack on an Iraqi police base killed at least 37 people Monday, further slowing an operation to retake the city of Ramadi from Islamic State jihadis. The blast came as U.S.-led coalition members carrying out air raids against Islamic State and providing training and weapons to Iraqi forces prepared to meet in Paris for talks on a string of major battlefield gains by the jihadis in Iraq and Syria. A suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden vehicle at a police base in Iraq’s Salaheddin province, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 30, officers said. “They are mostly policemen,” said a doctor at the main hospital in the nearby city of Samarra where the casualties were taken. Some police officers said the suicide attacker used a tank to muscle his way into the police base, located between Samarra and Tharthar lake, northwest of Baghdad. The area is being used as part of a military operation aimed at cutting off the Islamic State group’s supply lines in Anbar province of western Iraq. Islamic State fighters have in the past year seized a formidable arsenal of military vehicles, weapons and ammunition from retreating Iraqi forces. The jihadis’ latest haul of gear came on May 17 when Iraqi forces fled and they captured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. The debacle of the security forces prompted Iraqi leader Haidar al-Abadi to call in the Hashed al-Shaabi, an umbrella organization that includes Iran-backed Shiite militias that Baghdad and Washington had been reluctant to involve in the Sunni bastion of Anbar. Iraqi forces launched a counteroffensive but...

ISIS claims Baghdad hotel car bombings that killed nine

 BAGHDAD (AFP) – The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group on Friday claimed responsibility for car bombings at two upscale Baghdad hotels that officials said killed at least nine people and wounded dozens. Militants were able to transport the bombs, which exploded just before midnight (2100 GMT) on Thursday and were heard across the city centre, inside the walled compounds of the Ishtar and Babylon hotels in central Baghdad. ISIS – which has overrun swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad since June last year – said in an online statement that suicide bombers had been ready to detonate the bombs but were able to leave them and avoid detection. The blast at the Ishtar – formerly a Sheraton – shattered windows of the recently renovated hotel, turning rows of expensive cars and SUVs into charred, twisted metal....

Huthi rebels kill Yemen capital’s governor

SANAA – Yemen’s Shiite Huthi rebels have killed the capital’s governor in clashes that erupted during an attempt to detain him, his relatives said Friday. Abdulghani Jamil and his nephew Nasr Jamil “died of wounds sustained during late Thursday clashes between the governor’s aides and Huthi militiamen”, the sources said. Jamil was appointed by fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia after the rebels seized power in Sanaa and later advanced on his last refuge in the south, the port city of Aden. The Huthis “demanded Jamil hand himself over” to them.   His refusal prompted a firefight in which both he and his nephew were wounded, the relatives said. The Huthis, allied with renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have been in control of Sanaa since last September despite more than two months of Saudi-led coalition air strikes against their positions across the country. Heavy fighting erupted in southern Yemen near Aden airport on Friday when a Muslim militia attacked Houthi rebels in a push to drive Houthis from the district, residents and fighters said. Saudi-led forces also made four air strikes on a military base near the airport, a source in the southern militia told Reuters. A Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in Yemen on March 26 in a campaign to restore Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. He fled in March, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in September and then thrust into central and south Yemen. Aden is Yemen’s commercial hub. Its airport has been closed since fighting began but its port provides sporadic access for...

Islamic State Jihadists Execute 23 Civilians Near Syria’s Palmyra

BEIRUT:  Fighters from the jihadist Islamic State group on Friday executed 23 civilians, including nine children, near Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, a monitor said. “The Islamic State group executed by gunfire 23 civilians, including nine children, in the village of Amiriyeh, north of Tadmor,” said the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman. He told AFP that family members of government employees were among those killed near Palmyra, also called Tadmor in Arabic, as the jihadists closed in on the UNESCO world heritage site.  ...

Sinai Jihadist Leader Calls for Attacks on Local Judges

 The leader of Sinai Province, a terrorist group in Egypt with links to the Islamic State,on Wednesday called on followers to attack local judges,Reuters reported. The call was made in an audio statement posted on a prominent jihadist website.   It appeared days after six members of the group were executed for an attack on soldiers in Cairo last year, and follows a court’s decision on Saturday to seek the death penalty for ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.   “It is wrong for the tyrants to jail our brothers,” cleric Abu Osama al-Masry was quoted as having said, referring to judges.   “Poison their food… surveil them at home and in the street… destroy their homes with explosives if you can,” he added.   Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the recording.   Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, is a Sinai-based terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the region over the last few years. Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi’s ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai.   The Egyptian army imposed a curfew on Gaza on October 25, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and which were also claimed by the group.  ...

Attacks on Syrians in Turkey increasing

The past few weeks brought an upsurge in protests and acts of violence against the Syrian refugees in Turkey. Most Turks believe that there are far more Syrians currently in Turkey than Ankara acknowledges, because the majority of them are not registered. Public anger is not only being stirred by Syrian beggars becoming permanent features on the streets of cities and towns, but also because the refugees are undercutting already low wages and forcing up rents in mainly lower-income districts because of the increased demand for housing they create. Recent surveys indicate that many Turks still view helping the needy Syrians as philanthropic, but these same surveys also reveal a significant amount of resentment. More and more people think there is a limit to how philanthropic Turkey can afford to be when millions of Turks are also facing unemployment and poverty. Confrontations between local people and the Syrians living outside official refugee camps appear to be inevitable given these large numbers. An angry crowd in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa, reportedly organizing through social media, tried recently to demonstrate against the Syrians, but was prevented from doing so after the city’s governor mobilized the riot police to protect the refugees. A group of 20 youths, angered over the ban, attacked three Syrian passersby, stabbing one in the leg. The Syrians took refuge in a local shop whose owner protected them from what turned into a lynch mob. The police detained 10 people, but such a response is unlikely to deter additional attacks on Syrian refugees. May alone has witnessed violence against Syrians in Izmir, Gaziantep and Hatay. Some incidents are said to have taken place after Syrian involvement in attacks on locals and alleged accosting of local girls. These...