03 Nov 17. Iraqi Forces Liberate Qaim, Key Border Crossing. Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials congratulated Iraq’s government and its security forces today on their victory against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Iraq’s Qaim district, located in western Anbar province, U.S. Central Command officials announced in a news release.
The liberation of Qaim and the key border crossing with Syria is a significant milestone in the ongoing campaign against ISIS, Centcom officials said. The Iraqis, with the support of the global coalition, have now liberated nearly all of the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq, they said.
“Iraqi security forces have fought hard to reach this point, and their battle-proven troops captured ISIS’s last Iraqi stronghold swiftly and thoroughly,” said Army Maj. Gen. Robert P. White, commander of OIR’s ground forces.
“The threat remains, and there is still hard work to do, but we will continue to stand side by side with the Iraqi government and the [Iraqi forces] to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” White said. (Source: US DoD)
03 Nov 17. Hezbollah-Allied Lebanese President Says Israel “Would Not Win” Next War. Michel Aoun, who was chosen as president of Lebanon and threatened Israel in his inauguration speech last year, said that if there was another war between Israel and Lebanon, Israel “would not win such a war,” The Times of Israel reported Thursday.
“All the Lebanese are prepared to fight against Israel,” Aoun told a Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai. “Yes, we are a small country, but we have reestablished our national unity, and part of that is the united opposition to anyone who attacks our country.”
Aoun was chosen by Lebanon’s parliament as president in October last year, filling the office after more than two years of obstruction by Hezbollah. Hezbollah has subsequently cemented its hold on the institutions of Lebanon’s government by expanding the cabinet and taking control of some of the most important ministries.
In August the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) fought alongside Hezbollah against ISIS in northeastern Lebanon. A Washington Post reporter noted that in areas under Hezbollah’s control “nowhere was there any evidence of the Lebanese state.”
Hezbollah has kept its weapons and operates in southern Lebanon in violation of United States Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and stipulated that the LAF should be the only armed force in Lebanon and should have control of southern Lebanon. Because of Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon, and its tactic of using human shields, the next war between Israel, Hezbollah and Lebanon could lead to mass civilian casualties.
03 Nov 17. Russia attacks Syrian chemical weapons investigation. Key Points:
• The JIM has held the Syrian air force responsible for the 4 April sarin nerve agent attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun
• Russian officials have criticised the investigation as unprofessional and biased
Russia has escalated its diplomatic offensive against the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which is tasked with identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but is still prepared to extend its mandate.
The Russian moves came after the JIM submitted its latest report to the UN Security Council on 26 October. While the report has not been officially released to the public, a leaked version said the JIM “is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April, an attack that killed and injured hundreds of people. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Nov 17. IISS news comment: Risks and opportunities for President Trump on his visit to Asia. As President Trump prepares for his visit to Asia, beginning in Japan on 5th November, IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellows for Asia-Pacific Security, William Choong and Alexander Neill, consider the opportunities the trip prese