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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Update for Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Haider al-Abadi has once again claimed victory in Mosul, but fighting continues. "Plumes of smoke rose into the air Tuesday as IS mortar shells landed near Iraqi positions, and heavy gunfire could be heard on the western edge of the Old City."

Amnesty International says Iraqi and coalition tactics in Mosul violated international law  and may amount to war crimes. "The rights group said in a report the Islamic State militant group had also flagrantly violated humanitarian law by deliberately putting civilians in harm's way to shield their fighters and impede the advance of Iraqi and coalition forces." Although the government forces  faced an impossible situation in trying to avoid civilian casualties, AI particularly criticizes use of "Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions (IRAMs), weapons with crude targeting capabilities that wreaked havoc in densely populated areas."

Iraq's elite Counterterrorism Service suffered 40% casualties in the Mosul battle, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Iraqi spokesmen say that figure is exaggerated. (This includes soldiers lost to injury, as well as combat deaths.)

The generally reliable Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is indeed dead.

An IS leader in Hawija proclaims himself "emir." This report suggests likely infighting within the remnants of IS following Baghdadi's death. However, the IS news service has yet to confirm the report that he is dead. Infighting is also reported in Tal Afar. The latter city is believed to be the next target for Iraqi forces.







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