Friday, August 24, 2012

DOD Identifies Units For Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

DOD Identifies Units For Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

             The Department of Defense today identified three major units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan.  The scheduled rotation involves three brigade combat teams (BCT) -- one Infantry brigade combat team with roughly 2,800 personnel; one armored brigade combat team with roughly 4,000 personnel and one infantry brigade combat team with roughly 2,870 personnel -- to rotate in winter 2012.  The deploying units include:

            Brigade Combat Teams:

            1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

            1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

            2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

            DoD will continue to announce major deployments as they are approved.  For information on the respective deployments, contact the following: 1st IBCT, 101st Abn. Div. (Air Assault), contact the 101st Abn. Div. (Air Assault) public affairs officer at 270-798-9962.  1st ABCT, 1st Armored Div., contact the 1st Armored Div. public affairs officer at 915-744-8406. 2nd IBCT, 10th Mtn. Div., contact the 10th Mtn. Div. public affairs officer at 315-772-7634.
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Twin Iraq blasts target prayers

(Reuters) - Twin blasts in Baghdad on Friday, one exploding beside a pulpit during prayers, killed at least three people and wounded six, a Reuters witness and police sources said.

The attacks are the latest in a wave of violence that underline Iraq's struggle to overcome a stubborn insurgency eight months after U.S. troops left.

The first bomb detonated beside the pulpit, while a preacher was leading prayers at an outdoor mosque in the mainly-Shi'ite Sadr City neighbourhood. Moments later, a second device, that had been hidden under weeds amid the worshippers, exploded.

"When the explosions happened, the worshippers stood up, but (the preacher) talked to us, asking us to stay in our places and keep quiet," Abu Ahmed, a 34-year-old worshipper, told Reuters at the scene.

Iraq's local al Qaeda wing has claimed attacks on Shi'ite neighbourhoods and security forces as a revival of its campaign to provoke the Sunni-versus-Shi'ite sectarian violence that drove the country close to civil war four years ago.

Heightened tension between Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds in the coalition government since U.S. troops withdrew has raised fears of a return to sectarian violence of the kind that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war a few years ago.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem; Writing by Barry Malone; Editing by Alison Williams)


BAGHDAD | Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:00pm BST
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Turkish troops kill 21 PKK militants in clashes

PKK fighters stand near the Qandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkish border. — File Photo by Reuters
DIYARBAKIR: Turkish soldiers killed five Kurdish rebels who attacked state buildings in a town in southeast Turkey on Thursday evening, bringing to 21 the number of militants killed since they launched a deadly bomb attack on an army convoy a day earlier.
The clashes underscore a growing cycle of violence in the remote, mountainous province of Hakkari bordering Iraq and Iran, a development which Turkish officials and analysts are linking to the conflict in nearby Syria.

Security officials said Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels launched simultaneous raids on Thursday on two military posts in Hakkari’s Semdinli district, the scene of frequent clashes between rebels and government forces over the last month.

At least one soldier had been killed in those attacks.

Later on Thursday evening, the PKK attacked a police station and state offices in the centre of Semdinli and five militants were killed in those attacks, the officials said.

The attacks came only hours after government officials said Turkish troops had killed 16 PKK fighters in an offensive targeting militants who killed five soldiers and wounded seven on Wednesday in a bomb attack on their convoy in Semdinli.

Officials said the army had sent in troop reinforcements and helicopter gunships after Wednesday’s attack.

In a sign of Ankara’s concern over the violence in the mainly Kurdish region, the commander of the military’s land forces arrived in Hakkari on Thursday. General Hayri Kivrikoglu said the army’s operations would continue “without pause”.

“We always stand by our people. Our people should not worry.

The Turkish armed forces will continue in its duty to protect the security of the people and the region,” Kivrikoglu was quoted as saying on state media Anatolian’s website.

It was not immediately clear whether Kivrikoglu was still in Hakkari when the militants launched their latest attacks.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and Turkish forces since the militants launched their insurgency 28 years ago with the aim of carving out a separate state in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey.

The PKK has since scaled back its demands to political autonomy and more cultural rights for Turkey’s estimated 14 million ethnic Kurds.

Since June last year, nearly 800 people have died in the conflict, including about 500 PKK fighters, more than 200 security personnel and about 85 civilians, according to estimates by think-tank International Crisis Group.

The conflict is focused in the mountainous region bordering Iraq and Iran, but the PKK has also carried out attacks in Turkish cities. Officials blamed it for a car bombing on Monday which killed nine people in the city of Gaziantep, near Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has denied involvement in that attack.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of backing PKK fighters and has warned of military intervention in Syria if the group uses Syrian territory to threaten Turkey.

Although the Turkish southeast is a frequent scene of Kurdish rebel attacks, Wednesday’s bombing that killed nine people in previously unaffected Gaziantep city has sparked national fury, as well as suspicions of a Damascus hand behind the incident.

“It’s known that the PKK works hand in hand with Syria’s intelligence organisation Al-Mukhabarat,” claimed ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chairman Huseyin Celik following the blast, referring to the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “is inclined to see Turkey’s enemy the PKK as a friend on the basis that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend,’” he told the daily Hurriyet.

The Kurdish separatist movement has denied charges that it was involved in the bombing that left civilian casualties, including four children, but Ankara insists it reflected the handiwork of the rebels.

Assad is orchestrating the PKK attacks to send a “warning” to the Turkish government to reconsider its policies of assisting his own enemies, columnist Deniz Zeyrek wrote in the daily Radikal.

Another columnist, Asli Aydintasbas of the daily Milliyet, also suggested that the PKK targeted Gaziantep in a blow at the Turkish government’s Syria policy.

Speaking to the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet in early July, Assad rejected claims that his regime was using the PKK to undermine Ankara, while making it clear that it was angry with Turkey.

from DAWN
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Taliban ambush NATO supply convoy in Farah killing 2 guards

file photo (KHAAMA)
According to local authorities in western Farah province of Afghanistan, Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of the NATO troops supply in this province killing at least 3 private security guards escorting the convoy.

The officials further added the incident took place Thursday night in Dasht-e-Bakwa and at least 12 NATO supply containers were also torched following the attack>

In the meantime a spokesman for the Afghan police forces in western Afghanistan Abdul Rauf Ahmadi said at least two security guards of Arya Security Company were killed and another one was injured during the clashes.

He also said Taliban militants suffered casualties during the clashes however he said the exact number is unknown.

Mr. Ahmadi also confirmed at least 12 NATO oil tankers were also damaged following the Taliban militants ambush.

Taliban militants group yet to comment regarding the incident.

By Sajad - Fri Aug 24, 1:16 pm

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6 Afghan civilians killed following blast in Kandahar province

Map of Afghanistan with Kandahar highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Kandahar highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to local authorities in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, at least 6 Afghan civilians were killed following a roadside bomb explosion in this province.

Provincial Security chief Gen. Abdul Razaq said Afghan women, children and men are among those killed following the blast which hit a motorcycle.

The incident took place around 4:00 pm local time on Thursday evening in Spin Boldak district.

No group including the Taliban militants has far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Local security officials blame Taliban group for such incidents since Taliban fighters frequently use improvised explosive device and roadside bombs to target Afghan and coalition security forces which normally leads to civilians casualties.

By Sajad - Fri Aug 24, 11:50 am

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Al Qaeda front group claims 43 attacks in Iraq

BAGHDAD: Al Qaeda’s front group in Iraq claimed it carried out a series of attacks, mostly on security forces, in the western province of Anbar in June and July, a statement posted on jihadist forums said.

The 43 attacks purportedly carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) were largely in the form of bombings and shootings against Iraqi soldiers, police and anti-Qaeda militiamen known as the Sahwa, according to the statement, which was posted on Wednesday.

It comes after ISI declared a campaign last month to retake territory it had abandoned in the years since the peak of Iraq’s sectarian bloodshed between 2006 and 2008.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is regarded by Iraqi officials as significantly weaker than at the peak of its strength in 2006 and 2007, but it is still capable of spectacular mass-casualty attacks across the country.

The group claimed a wave of attacks on July 23 that killed 113 people nationwide, the deadliest violence to hit Iraq in more than two and a half years.

from DAWN
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Aug. 24., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Evening Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Aug. 24, 2012) — An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents and seized multiple weapons and ammunition during an operation to arrest an al-Qaeda associated Taliban leader in Andar district, Ghazni province, today.

The Taliban leader acquires weapons and directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the region.

During the operation, two armed insurgents attacked the security force. The security force returned fire, killing both of the attackers. No civilians were harmed in the exchange.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


In Baraki Barak district, Logar province, an Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Haqqani leader today. The Haqqani leader directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Baraki Barak and Pul-e ‘Alam districts.

An Afghan and coalition force detained several suspected insurgents in an operation to find a Taliban leader in Muhammad Aghah district, Logar province, today. The Taliban leader controls a group of insurgents, and plans and directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
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Aug. 24., 2012. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition detained two and cleared twelve improvised explosive devices during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Aug. 23.

Ghazni province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED in Giro district.

Logar province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained an insurgent while clearing two IEDs in Charkh district. The IEDs were cleared and the detained suspect was transferred to a base for questioning.

Paktika province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared eight IEDs, one in Mata Khan district, two in Sharan district, two in Yosuf Khel district and three in Jani Khel district.

Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained an insurgent during an engagement in Sharan district. The detained suspect was transferred to a base for questioning.

Wardak province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared an IED in Sayyidabad district.

Operations in RC-East are still ongoing.

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US drone strikes kill 12 in North Waziristan

At least 12 people have been killed when suspected United States drones dropped missiles on three areas in northwestern Pakistan on Friday.

"Five people were killed in the attack on Makki Ghar area, four in Andara and three in Darai Nishtar," in Shawal valley of North Waziristan, an official said.

The region is thought to harbour several militant bases of the Haqqani network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, who launch raids across the border on national and international troops in Afghanistan.

The identities of those killed was not known, the official said.

The strike came a day after Pakistan summoned a US diplomat to lodge a formal protest about the recent drone attacks, which it called "unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty", a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Pakistan has also said the attacks bolster anti-US sentiment.
Washington insists they are necessary to target rebels in the lawless region, considered largely beyond the effective control of the Pakistani security forces.

from several agencies:
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R.I.P. - Sgt. Louis R. Torres

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Sgt. Louis R. Torres, 23, of Oberlin, Ohio, died Aug. 22, in San Antonio, Texas, of wounds suffered when he encountered an enemy improvised explosive device, Aug. 6, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

            Torres was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

            For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the I Corps public affairs office at 253-477-3048 or 253-370-9861.

By Tonya Sams
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012, 9:09 PM     Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2012, 10:29 PM

OBERLIN, Ohio — A 23-year-old soldier from Oberlin died Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas, after being injured Aug. 6 while on duty in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Louis R. Torres was injured by "an enemy improvised explosive device," according to a news release from the Department of Defense.

"He was very outgoing, very much a leader," said his mother, Armanda Ellis. "He loved fighting for his country."

The decorated soldier joined the Army in June 2008 after graduating from Lorain County Joint Vocation School in Oberlin. While at JVS he played football and took classes in law enforcement and security.

"I knew something was up," said Ellis, referring to his interest in the military while in high school. "During his 12th-grade year, I kept getting calls from the Army and Marines. I kept hanging up on them."

Ellis remembers that even as a 5- or 6-year-old Torres loved to play with military men. He was also a history buff, sitting in front of the television watching the History Channel, learning about various wars and battles.

Two weeks after graduating, Torres told his mother that he needed his birth certificate because he had joined the Army.

Torres immediately started training at Fort Benning in Georgia. By October 2008 he was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

He was deployed to Iraq from August 2009 from June 2010. He deployed with his brigade to Afghanistan last December, according to Department of Defense. He had just more than a month remaining on his tour.

Torres had just visited his family in Oberlin at the end of June. He returned to duty July 2, a few days before his birthday on July 5.

Ellis said that her other son, Alberto Torres, 24, who was also stationed in Afghanistan, was told by officials that his brother had been injured. He accompanied Torres to Germany before being transferred to San Antonio. Military officials awarded Louis Torres a Purple Heart after he arrived in San Antonio. He had already won a number of honors, including Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

"He was a leader, not a follower," his mother said. "He was very kind-hearted and a great son. He was always thinking of me. He made sure that I was on Facebook so he could tell me Happy Mother's Day and Valentine's Day."

He wanted to wait before starting a family.

"He was trying to do it right," his mother said.

Besides his mother, older brother Alberto and father Alberto Torres Sr., he also is survived by his brother, Andre Ellis, 18, and a sister, Ayanna Morrison, 14.

A memorial service will be held at the hospital in San Antonio. He should return to Oberlin next week with services to possibly be held Friday, Aug. 31.

"I'm very proud of him," said Ellis. " He was so dedicated. He was good at what he did."
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