The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Update for Thursday, October 20, 2016

Iraqi and Kurdish forces launch separate offensives, with Iraqi special forces advancing from the south to Bartella and peshmerga forces advancing from the northeast near Bashiqa. Booby traps, suicide car bomb attacks, and dug in IS troops continue to slow progress but PM Abadi says progress is faster than expected.

Conditions in the city of Mosul are growing desperate and it is impossible for civilians to flee.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on the phone from inside Mosul, Abu Yazan, 36, who didn't want his real name used fearing reprisals from the group also known as ISIS, said fleeing the city was "not possible" at this stage. "There is no way out for us as families. Even if we think about fleeing the city, that is not possible at the time being. We are being held hostages; ISIL took the whole city of Mosul as hostage," said the father of three children.
IS commanders are reported to be fleeing the city.

French president Hollande appears to confirm this  and is concerned that IS fighters are escaping to Raqqa. He makes his remarks at a meeting in Paris of members of the U.S.-led coalition to discuss plans for stabilization after Mosul is recaptured.

However IS claims that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will remain in Mosul after a failed coup attempt. There are conflicting reports that he has already fled, but Iraqi deputy PM Hoshyar Zebari says he is indeed still there.

Enslaved Yazidi women are said to have been moved from Mosul to Raqqa.

Update: U.S. service member killed by roadside bomb in northern Iraq "near Mosul." No further information as of now.



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