British citizens are facing a level of threat from terrorists not seen since the IRA bombings of the Seventies, the country’s new terrorism watchdog has warned.
In his first major interview since taking the role, Max Hill said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was planning “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians” on a scale similar to those perpetrated by the IRA 40 years ago.
He told The Telegraph that Islamists were targeting UK cities and said there was an “enormous ongoing risk which none of us can ignore”.
Pentagon seeks to expand fight against Al Qaeda extremists in Somalia
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon wants to expand the military’s ability to battle Al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials said.
The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in the struggle against al-Shabab militants in the fragile Horn of Africa nation, the officials said. They said the proposal would give the military greater flexibility to launch airstrikes against extremists that appear to be a threat.
Iran begins navy drill off Strait of Hormuz as US newly wary
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s navy began an annual drill Sunday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, state television reported.
The TV report quoted navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari as saying the two-day maneuver will cover an area of 772,000 square miles in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean near the strait. It showed Iranian warships and helicopters taking part in the exercise.
Nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes through the strait and it has been the scene of previous confrontations between the U.S. and Iran.
But the drill does not involve Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force the U.S. Navy often criticizes for harassing its vessels.
Iran Could Supply Turbines for Crimean Power Plants Bypassing Sanctions
During a media briefing in Abu Dhabi, Chemezov announced that Russia plans to sign a contract with Iran for the supply of turbines for thermal power stations in Crimea.
According to him, negotiations with Iran are at an advanced stage and Rotec expects to install the turbines before the end of this year.
“We have problems with turbines after German and other European countries banned their supply to Crimea. We are now in the final stages of negotiations and we hope that, barring any additional US and European sanctions, we will be able to install these turbines before this year is out,” Chemezov said.
Even though Iran has not recognized Crimea’s reunification with Russia, it is ready to assist Moscow’s efforts to ensure an unfettered energy supply on the Black Sea peninsula.
In an interview with Sputnik Persian, Tehran-based political analyst Shoeib Bahman said that economic cooperation with Crimea could speed up the process of the international recognition of the region as part of the Russian Federation.
The airstrikes in Bukamal, in Syria, were coordinated with Damascus and carried out through a joint intelligence-sharing and command center in Baghdad involving Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia, according to Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Defense Ministry. He said he had no information on whether the strikes also were coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition, which is conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and providing close air support to Iraqi forces fighting the group.
The strikes came as Iraqi forces are reaching the final stages of their operation to oust the group from the northern city of Mosul, its largest remaining stronghold in Iraq.
Russia Could Defeat the British Army ‘In an Afternoon’
February 25, 2017
“Over by Teatime,” blared the headline in the British tabloid The Sun.
Budget cuts have so depleted the army that it could be destroyed by a “competent enemy” such as Russia, according to excerpts of the report published in the British press.
That ominous conclusion comes from the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research (CHACR), a British Army think tank run by the Sandhurst military academy. The report was based on a two-day conference of active-duty and retired officers.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces, Naval Aviation to Get 160 Aircraft in 2017 – Colonel
Russia’s Aerospace Forces and naval aviation will receive about 160 planes and helicopters, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced on Sunday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia’s Aerospace Forces and naval aviation will have their air fleets boosted this year by a total of 160 planes and helicopters, Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced on Sunday.
“The Aerospace Forces are expected to receive around 140 planes and helicopters this year, making up a total of 160 items of new equipment if you count in those reserved for the Naval Aviation,” the chief of the Aerospace Forces told reporters.
Col. Gen. Bondarev said forces in his charge had overhauled most of their air fleet, with new equipment amounting to some 55 percent of the total.
One of Russia’s Most Powerful Tanks Is Coming to the Middle East
Russia has found a buyer in the Middle East for its advanced T-90MS main battle tank. However, while the Russians have apparently signed a contract, Moscow is not disclosing which nation is buying the powerful new tank.
“A large-scale contract was signed with a Middle East country in December. Another contract on this type of military output is expected to be signed soon,” the Kremlin’s industry and trade minister Denis Manturov told the Moscow-based Tass news agency.
Iraqi Kurdish leaders are considering offering territory seized by their forces in the offensive to recapture Mosul from Isis as a bargaining chip in a new push for independence from Baghdad.
As Iraqi forces continue their advance towards key Isis-defended districts in west Mosul, attention is turning to what northern Iraq will look like once the jihadi group is routed. Ministers from the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) believe that one option might be offering to Baghdad land their peshmerga forces have recaptured from Isis in return for self-rule, the pinnacle of Kurdish ambition for decades.
Germany seeks Israeli technology
The North Rhine-Westphalia Economic Development Agency (NRW) will visit Israel next month looking for new technologies.
The North Rhine-Westphalia Economic Development Agency (NRW) will visit Israel next month in order to take part in the annual Axis Tel Aviv conference, where investors, funds, and leading global companies can meet directly with Israeli startups and entrepreneurs. The NRW representatives’ goal is obvious: to encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to add Dusseldorf, Cologne, Dortmund, and Essen to their list of markets.
France sends backup to Niger after 16 troops killed
China-North Korea ties deteriorate
BEIJING — For decades, North Korea could count on China as a loyal ally despite the erratic behavior of the ruling Kim dynasty, as Beijing held its tongue despite its neighbor’s saber rattling, nuclear testing and bombastic threats.
But last week, things may have gone too far, with North Korea unleashing a tirade in which it deployed some of the most damning insults in its playbook, accusing China of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” and “styling itself as a big power.”
Chinese observers of relations between the countries were left in disbelief about how rapidly those ties have deteriorated, particularly after Beijing decided to cut off coal imports that provide badly needed currency for the North’s economy.
“At first many people thought it was a fake commentary,” Cheng Xiaohe, associate professor of international studies at Renmin University, said of the tirade against China, published in the North’s state-run news media Thursday. “It is a big surprise that North Korea has launched such a strong attack against China. I expected an angry reaction — but not this strong.”
Activity at North Korean Nuclear Facility Could Mean Another Test Imminent
Activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility indicates that the country could conduct another nuclear test at any time, a North Korean watchdog warns.
The website 38 North, which monitors commercial satellite imagery for clues to North Korea’s actions, says the continued activity in many areas of the Punggye-ri site shown by images from February 18 indicate that work is underway at many of the site’s tunnels.
“In particular, the shifting of supplies and equipment, as well as additional changes in the texture and pattern of small sections of the tailings pile at the North Portal, indicate continuing work inside the test tunnels,” 38 North said.
“These activities suggest continued preparation and maintenance of this portal for use in a new nuclear test. Should the decision be made to do so, North Korea could probably move forward with a nuclear test in short order but it remains unclear when such a test might take place.”
U.S., S. Korea plan full-scale war games for 2nd straight year
By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO/ Correspondent
The Asahi Shimbun
SEOUL–In response to the heightened threat from North Korea, the United States and South Korea will conduct large-scale joint military exercises for the second consecutive year this spring, rather than biennially.
The decision comes in the face of a combative North Korea, which has been engaged in nuclear and missile development programs, several U.S. and South Korean military sources said on Feb. 25.
The joint military drills have been held annually in the spring to coordinate their operations, including dispatch of U.S. troops for reinforcements.
The Defense Ministry has doubled the number of fighter jets it scrambles when responding to airspace checks by foreign planes, government sources said Saturday.
The Air Self-Defense Force began scrambling four jets for each potential airspace violation last year, they said. The ASDF had previously been sending up only two jets per scramble since it began the practice in 1958.
As China ramps up its military activities around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, scramble intercepts by both sides have been surging in areas nearby where their air defense identification zones overlap. The Japan-administered Senkakus, which lie just off Taiwan, are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
Tokyo and Beijing have yet to set up a communication mechanism that can be used by their militaries to avoid accidental aerial or maritime clashes.
The number of scrambles launched between last April and this January has already eclipsed the annual record of 944 set in fiscal 1984, when the Cold War was in full swing and airplanes from the former Soviet Union were active