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Russian Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel stands with Russia after deadly metro bombing.

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Russians in St. Petersburg on Tuesday paid tribute with flowers and candles to the victims of a deadly blast at a metro station a day earlier, which killed 14 people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended his condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying “the people of Israel stand with Russia on this difficult day”. In an action of solidarity with the victims of the bombing, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality lit up the facade of city hall with the colors of both the Russian and the Israeli flags. Nethanyau said that for him this gesture is a really beautiful thing. Also  Nir Sadan, a resident of Tel Aviv said that “Here in Israel we know this kind of problem and I feel sorry for Russia that this terrible thing happened”. Russia has been on alert against attacks on its soil in reprisal for its military intervention in Syria, where Moscow’s forces have been supporting troops loyal to President Bashar Assad. The Islamic State group has repeatedly threatened revenge attacks.

 

U.S delegation including Trump's son-in-law meets Abadi in Baghdad.

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Kushner, along with the Chairman of the U.S. Military Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., flew into Iraq  for a first-hand assessment of the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) from U.S. commanders on the ground and to meet with Iraqi officials. The Iraqi premier’s office released a statement on Monday saying the offensive to liberate Mosul and the U.S. and the Coalition’s support for the Iraqi army was discussed. The U.S. delegation reaffirmed support for the Iraqi government in the fight against terror, the statement added. The delegation also met with Iraqi Defense Minister Erfan al-Hiyali in Baghdad and discussed the fight against ISIS militants in Iraq and the liberation of Mosul. The trip comes at a critical time for Kushner, who is making his first visit to Iraq, as Trump examines ways to accelerate a U.S.-led Coalition campaign that U.S. and Iraqi officials say has so far been largely successful in uprooting ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. The visit appears to demonstrate the far-reaching portfolio of Kushner, 36, who is part of Trump’s innermost circle and who has been given a wide range of domestic and foreign policy responsibilities, including working on a Middle East peace deal.

 

 

SDF kills three ISIS north of Tabqua

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The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had killed three Islamic State terrorists after clashes northern of Tabqa district. Sources confirmed that intense clashes between the SDF and ISIS resulted in killing three terrorists as well for destroying their cars. Hundreds of civilians fled on Thursday from the Syrian city of alTabqa, which is still held by the Islamic State terror organization, amid intense fighting between the ISIS and SDF. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that hundreds of families left al-Tabqa and its surrounding areas and headed to the SDF-held area of al-Suidia Kabira, located to the north of al-Tabqa Dam.

The Egypt-US meeting it will be an important time in their common relations

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The Egypt-US meeting previous on Monday, it will be an important time in their common relations. Indeed US relations with Egypt since the Arab-Spring had been cold. It will be the first official visit of President Al-Sisi to the White House. During his meeting with Trump, Al-Sisi is expected to make the case for the US government listing the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliate organisations as terrorist groups, a step which would in itself help to end global terrorism. This taking of position will obligate European countries to do the same. For Trump, it will be the occasion to find an ally to fight IS and terrorism.

US secretary of state due to visit Turkey with ‘interim zone of stability’ on agenda.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will pay a visit to Turkey on March 30 to discuss the case of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup, and the U.S.-led offensive to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The secretary of state also plans to discuss an “interim zone of stability” in Syria based on cease-fires. Tillerson will discuss “interim de-escalation zones based on cease-fires or other means” with Turkey, a State Department official said March 27. The deal there is that Turkey has an agreement, a commitment to deliver elements of the opposition, and critically, Russia has a commitment to deliver the regime to make sure that these cease-fires hold”, the official said

PYD leader: After ISIS, Raqqa can be part of federal project in Syria.

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Even before the expected battle for the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa, a politician from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has said that Raqqa could be a part of a “democratic federal” system in northern Syria. “We in al-Raqqa Civil Council thank SDF that fulfilled its promise of liberation, and today we see that a big part of al-Raqqa countryside has been liberated by virtue of the martyrs’ sacrifices and the heroic resistance of SDF with all its factions”, a statement from RCC Co-Chair Layla Mostafa read. The YPG, the PYD’s military arm, is one of the groups fighting ISIS under the SDF banner in northern Syria. No decisions have been announced about what force will ultimately enter the city of Raqqa, ISIS’s so-called capital and the largest city it still controls in Syria. The spokesperson for the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS spoke to Rudaw TV in mid-March about Raqqa operations. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in February the local Raqqa population should be supported by the international community, while “Turkey, US, and other elements can give logistic support to this city,” according to Anadolu Agency. Raqqa “should not be left in the hands of other terrorist organizations”, he added, referring to YPG.

 

ISIS is broke and unable to pay its fighters, former finance minister says.

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Iraq’s former finance minister Hoshyar Zebari said. Sky News reported that Zebari had said that ISIS had gone from earning $5 million a day to going broke, and now the group cannot pay the fighters under its command. “They were a very, very rich organisation. Now, I think they are on the retreat and they are broke. Also they are losing ground, so this battle in Mosul is decisive to end their caliphate – to end their so-called Islamic State”, Zebari said. The funds allowed the militant organization to recruit fighters with the lure of a monthly wage – foreign fighters in particular were paid well. However with shrinking territory in Syria, and on the verge of losing their former Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, the militant group is on the decline, unable to hold on to territory and recruit and pay fighters to defend their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Syrian Democratic Forces liberates two villages from ISIS in west of Raqqa

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Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated two villages from Islamic State (ISIS) control during the third phase of the Operation Wrath of Euphrates to isolate the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa. The two villages are situated near Swediyah al-Kabirah to the west of Raqqa. The SDF are currently advancing towards Raqqa on three fronts, and while progress during the third phase has been rapid, some fierce clashes have broken out as ISIS militants look to stem the SDF’s advance. After cutting several strategic roads, the SDF are moving closer to their aim of surrounding and isolating the Syrian city entirely, in anticipation of an operation to liberate the city from the jihadist group. That operation is believed to start within the coming weeks. The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters who have been successfully fighting ISIS in northern Syria, has been steadily moving in on the jihadist group in Raqqa for the past five months. The operation to isolate the ISIS-stronghold of Raqqa began on November 5, 2016.

Kurdish leader: Syria's Raqqa expected to join Kurdish-led federalism.

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The northern Syrian city of Raqqa is expected to join a decentralized system of government being set up by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies once it is freed from Islamic State, a leading Kurdish politician told Reuters on Monday. The political project is causing deep alarm in Turkey, which sees the YPG and its political affiliate, the PYD, as an extension of Kurdish groups that are fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil. Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, said it would be up to the people of Raqqa to decide their future once the city is freed from Islamic State, but he thinks the city will join the “democratic federal” system. He added that Raqqa needed to be in “friendly hands” otherwise it would form a “danger to all Syria, particularly northern Syria, the federal system of northern Syria, the areas of self administration”.

U.S. general: Coalition takes Iraq civilian deaths allegations seriously .

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U.S. Brigadier General Matthew Isler, Deputy Commanding General Operation Inherent Resolve, said he could not provide details of the military investigation into civilian deaths in western Mosul on March 17. The U.S. military said on Saturday a U.S.-led coalition strike had hit an area where residents and officials say as many as 200 civilians may have been killed as result of an air raid. The Iraqi military denied on Saturday reports that a U.S.-led coalition air strike resulted in mass civilian casualties in an area of ISIS-held Mosul, instead accusing the militant group of responsibility. Iraq’s military said on Sunday that 61 bodies were recovered from a collapsed building that ISIS had booby-trapped. An Iraqi military statement said investigations launched by an expert team found no sign showing the site of the collapse was subjected to an air strike.

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