Jason Ditz / AntiWar.org & Oliver Holmes / Reuters – 2015-03-02 00:59:04
Pentagon Scraps Spring Attack on Mosul;
Iraqi Troops Not Ready
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.org
(March 1, 2015) — After weeks of hyping their planned “spring offensive” against ISIS in Iraq, capped off with the capture of the major city of Mosul, the Pentagon is now said to have taken the plan entirely off the table on the grounds that Iraqi troops probably wouldn’t win.
“We don’t want to do anything until they are ready and can win decisively,” one Pentagon official explained, “they cannot now.” Apparently, CENTCOM announced the intention to carry out this attack before considering if it was winnable.
The CENTCOM announcement was met with a flurry of opposition from Iraqi and Kurdish officials, who noted they weren’t nearly ready for such a battle. Concern about another massive refugee crisis being created by the attack likely also played a role.
Pentagon officials are now saying that the invasion is being pushed back until at least autumn, though even that is tentative, and likely based on extremely optimistic timetables for getting the Iraqi military back into fighting form.
US-backed Syria Rebel Group
Dissolves Itself after Losses
Oliver Holmes / Reuters
BEIRUT (March 1, 2015) — One of the main western-backed rebel groups announced on Sunday that it had dissolved itself and joined a larger Islamist alliance, weeks into a battle, which saw it lose ground and men to more powerful al Qaeda insurgents.
Hazzm is one of the last remnants of non-jihadist opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in northern Syria, much of which has been seized by the Nusra Front and Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda that controls roughly a third of Syria.
The statement posted online said its fighters would join the Shamiyah Front, an alliance of Islamist brigades in Aleppo, to prevent further bloodshed.
The decision comes after heavy weekend fighting between it and the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s official Syria wing. Both Hazzm, which is part of the Free Syria Army collection of mainstream rebel groups, and Nusra fight the government.
Hazzm has received what it describes as small amounts of military aid from foreign states opposed to Assad, including US-made anti-tank missiles. But it has lost ground to better armed and financed jihadists.
On Saturday, the Nusra Front drove Hazzm out of a strategic northern Regiment 46 base in Aleppo province and killed around 30 of its fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict.
The weakness of the mainstream Syrian opposition has complicated diplomatic efforts to end the conflict that has killed around 200,000 people.
United Nations peace mediator Staffan de Mistura met with Syrian officials on Saturday and Sunday to discuss a freeze in the fighting in Aleppo.
De Mistura has said Syria has expressed a willingness to halt all aerial and artillery bombing in the city for six weeks.
He said Damascus would announce the start date of the local ceasefire. His office said on Sunday a mission had been sent to Aleppo to ensure humanitarian aid could increase significantly once the freeze was announced, and to monitor any violation of the freeze.
Routed by al-Qaeda, US-Backed Syria Rebels Dissolve
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 1, 2015) — The first of several US-armed Syrian rebel groups to show off their newly acquired heavy weaponry to the CIA, the Hazm Movement, has today announced its dissolution.
The Hazm fighters had been a target of al-Qaeda in recent months, with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front targeting them in retaliation for US airstrikes. The group had lost virtually all of its bases and is now simply giving up outright.
The statement says that what fighters remain and intend to continue their involvement in the rebellion will be joining the Shamiyah Front, which is an alliance of several Islamist factions active in Aleppo.
What happened to the anti-tank missiles the CIA gave the Hazm Movement is totally unclear, but as with other US arms shipped to Syria they likely ended up dispersed among factions, both friend and enemy, long ago.
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