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#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON:Dec.20 – Pentagon reports that U.S. and coalition air strikes have killed multiple senior and mid-level Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leaders since mid-November, it was reported Thursday.  

A U.S. official confirmed the deaths of at least two senior leaders and a mid-level leader that was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. 

Between Dec. 3-9, U.S. airstrikes killed Abd al Basit, the “military emir” of ISIS, and Haji Mutazz, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s right hand man, the official confirmed. 

“We believe that the loss of these key leaders degrades [ISIS’s] ability to command and control current operations against Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including Kurdish and other local forces in Iraq,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement Thursday. 

In late November, another strike killed a mid-level commander, Radwin Talib, ISIS’s governor in Mosul, the official confirmed.

“It is disruptive to their planning and command and control, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Journal in an interview Thursday. “These are high-value targets, senior leadership.”

The deaths reflected some progress in the four-month long fight. The top U.S. commander in Iraq told reporters Thursday that the coalition was seeing “initial successes” in the fight. 

“My assessment is that Daesh has been halted [and is in] transition to the defense, and is attempting to hold what they currently have,” Army Lt. Gen. James Terry said at a Pentagon briefing, using a derogatory Arabic name for the terror group.

The U.S. has deployed 1,600 troops to Iraq, and the U.S.-led coalition has conducted 1,361 airstrikes against ISIS, Terry said. 

The general added that ISIS was unable to launch broad offensives, which hurts the group’s propaganda and outreach. He also said ISIS was having a harder time commanding and communicating with their forces in battle and resupplying fighters.

“We will continue to be persistent in this regard and we will strike Daesh at every possible opportunity,” he said.



#AceNewsServices – SCOTLAND:Dec.20 – Scotland’s top prosecutor has reaffirmed Abdelbaset al Megrahi’s guilt in the Lockerbie bombing following an appeal by victims’ families to have the late Libyan’s name cleared.

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said no Crown Office investigator or prosecutor has raised concerns about the evidence linking al Megrahi to the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Al Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent who died in 2012, was convicted in 2001 of the murder of 270 people, including 11 people on the ground in the small Scottish town.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi

Al Megrahi was returned to Libya in 2009

His role in the deadly attack has been called into question in a series of books, documentaries and testimony to Scottish Parliament.

In June, victims’ relatives joined politicians and members of al Megrahi’s family in launching an appeal against his conviction. 


#AceNewsServices – A story just breaking say that police have shot dead a man who stabbed three officers in a police station in central France Sky News reported.  

The 20-year-old reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) as he carried out the attack in Joue-les-Tours, near the city of Tours, on Saturday.

He ran into the station and pulled out a knife and stabbed three officers who tried to calm him down, Le Figaro newspaper said.

He wounded a female police officer, injuring her cheek and ear, and then stabbed two other officers.

A police officer pulled out a gun and shot him twice, killing him instantly, the newspaper reported.

Other reports said he was shot by two officers.

The Burundi-born man had a criminal record and was known for his “radical Islamic views”, Le Figaro said.

Anti-terror investigators are probing the incident, a source told AFP news agency.

The source said the man “shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ from the moment he entered until his last breath”.

He was not on any terror watch lists run by France’s main domestic intelligence service, the General Directorate for Internal Security.

But the source said his brother was known to security agencies for his radical beliefs and had at one point planned to travel to Syria.

“The investigation is leading towards an attack on police forces on radical Islamist motives,” another source told AFP.

A police spokesman said the three officers are in a stable condition.

More follows…



#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON:Dec.20 – Four Guantanamo Bay detainees have been released and sent home to Afghanistan, the Pentagon has revealed.

From top left: Shawali Khan, Abdul Ghani, Mohammed Zahir, Khi Ali Gul

From top left: Shawali Khan, Abdul Ghani, Mohammed Zahir, Khi Ali Gul

The men, who were held at the US military prison for over a decade, were flown to the Afghan capital Kabul overnight on a US military plane.

Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir were then handed to Afghan authorities who are not required to further detain them.

The Department of Defence said the men, all Afghan nationals, were freed after a thorough review of their individual cases.

“As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force,” a Pentagon statement said. 

Their release follows the transfer of six Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay for resettlement earlier this month.




#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON:Dec.20 – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) heads into the next Congress newly empowered by her feisty opposition to a year-end spending package that outraged her caucus Mike Lillis reported. 

Although the California Democrat was ultimately on the losing side of the debate over a $1.1 trillion government-funding measure, her decision to take on President Obama and side with a vast majority of House Democrats won across-the-board accolades from her troops at a time when many are grumbling about their party’s future.

Big banks are unnerved by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) rise in Democratic circles, which is raising the prospect of her running for the White House Kevin Cirilli reported. 

Supporters who have launched campaigns to push her into the race as a rival to Hillary Clinton launched a protest in Warren’s name outside Citigroup’s Manhattan offices on Thursday, which only added to the industry’s anxiety.



#AceNewsServices – BRUSSELS:Dec.20 – The Italian ambassador to the EU, Stefano Sannino, is a busy man EUobserver reported  

And yet on Tuesday (2 December) evening, Sannino made time for a soft-policy event at his private residence: the launch of an inter-institutional women’s caucus to promote gender equality in the EU institutions.

“We’ve seen it with the formation of the EU commission that it’s still difficult and that there is still work to be done on gender balance,” Sannino said at the launch, in reference to the months-long horse-trading between Jean-Claude Juncker and national governments to send him more female candidates. In the end, only nine out of the 28 commissioners are female.

In practice, the caucus will pool female MEPs, EU commission officials and staff from the EU council and national embassies in Brussels, who will meet and try to promote more women inside and at the top of these institutions.

As for concrete proposals the new caucus will push for, Italian Socialist MEP Mercedes Bresso said that in her committee on constitutional affairs, there is already talk about changing the rules of how EU commissioners are appointed, so that each member state sends three candidates, male and female.

The caucus builds on an existing network of female parliamentarians from around the world – Women in Parliaments – championed by a former German MEP, Silvana Koch-Mehrin.

Mehrin said the gender gap in politics is higher compared to any other sector – 80 percent – hence the need to involve all female politicians and policy-makers at EU level.

EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva will be the lead person for the commission. On Tuesday, however, she could not be present as she was stuck in the aforementioned budget talks.

Finland’s ambassador to the EU, Pilvi-Sisko Vierros-Villeneuve, who oversees about 100 staff, out of which only 36 are male, spoke about the pioneering role of her country in Europe, as it was the first to grant women voting rights and has now reached parity in the public sector among men and women.

“We used to have a female president and boys in Finland would ask their parents ‘Can a man actually become president?’. We recently elected a male president, so I guess they are less worried now,” she quipped.

The ambassador of Rwanda also gave the example of his country – the only one in the world where female MPs outnumber male colleagues (64%).

This goes back to the genocide when lots of men were killed, but also further back in Rwandan history, when society was a matriarchy.



#AceNewsServices LUXEMBOURG:Dec.20- An opinion issued on Thursday (18 December) by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg says the EU’s accession to the convention is incompatible with EU law under the terms outlined by a draft agreement.

  • Judges at the EU court ruled against plans for the EU to accede to the convention of human rights (Photo: European Commission)

    Judges at the EU court ruled against plans for the EU to accede to the convention of human rights (Photo: European Commission)

The verdict is likely to be seen as a gain for UK-based eurosceptic parties who oppose the EU judicial structures to begin with.

But for the European Commission and the human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, it is a set back.

Both had drafted the accession treaty, which was then adopted by the Strasbourg-based Council in 2013.

The convention is enforced across all 47 states in the Council, including the 28 EU member states.

The negative opinion further complicates the EU’s legal obligation to join the convention as required by the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

But the judge’s opinion does not rule out the EU’s accession to the convention itself.

“It may well be that all those [problems] can be solved by a future draft agreement,” a contact at the ECJ told this website.