Terror Group Puts Plan for Syrian Demilitarized Zone at Risk by Raja Abdulrahim – Wall Street Journal
A deal to create a demilitarized zone in Syria’s last opposition stronghold and forestall a regime offensive faces an immediate challenge from terrorist groups there who have signaled their reluctance to abide by the agreement.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, one of the most powerful armed groups in Syria’s Idlib Province, criticized the accord made this week between Russia and Turkey to avert a government offensive. The deal for a demilitarized zone would remove heavy weapons and expel officially designated terrorist groups from a 10-to-12 mile corridor along the front lines by mid-October.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which evolved from the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, sees the plan as a plot to weaken opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It also suggested that abandoning its weapons would be un-Islamic…
Army to Transition Two Brigades to Add Heavy Firepower as it Prepares for Near-Peer Conflict by Corey Dickstein - Stars & Stripes
The Army will convert two of its existing brigade combat teams to add firepower to the service as it prepares for a potential fight with the more advanced militaries of near-peer adversaries, service officials announced Thursday.
The Army will convert a Stryker brigade based at Fort Bliss, Texas, to an armored brigade and convert an infantry brigade based at Fort Carson, Colo., into a Stryker brigade in the next two years, officials announced.
“Converting a brigade combat team from infantry to armor ensures the Army remains the world’s most lethal ground combat force, able to deploy, fight, and win against any adversary, anytime and anywhere,” Army Secretary Mark Esper said in a prepared statement…
The New State Department Report on Terrorism: Rethinking the Numbers and Coverage by Anthony H. Cordesman – Center for Strategic and International Studies
The U.S. State Department issued its latest annual report on terrorism on August 19, 2018. The report updates its past estimates to cover 2017 and provides a separate Annex of Statistical Information that summarizes the global trends in terrorism. The report concludes that,
The total number of terrorist attacks worldwide in 2017 decreased by 23 percent and total deaths due to terrorist attacks decreased by 27 percent, compared to 2016. While numerous countries saw a decline in terrorist violence between 2016 and 2017, this overall trend was largely due to dramatically fewer attacks and deaths in Iraq. Twenty-four percent of all deaths in terrorist attacks in 2017 were perpetrator deaths, down from 26 percent in 2016. This statistic was historically much lower but began to increase in the 2000s, largely due to shifting tactics in Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, in Iraq in the 2010s.
The Annex of Statistical Information also provides a summary graph of the trend in total incidents and deaths by month from 2012-2017 – a period that covers the failed U.S. attempts to disengage its combat forces from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the period of worst fighting against ISIS. This graph is shown in Figure One, and the State Department statistical annex concludes that,
...the global trends in terrorist attacks observed in 2017 are the continuation of an overall pattern of decline that began in 2014 following a rapid increase in terrorist violence. This rapid increase was largely the result of violence carried out by ISIS and allied groups including Boko Haram in Nigeria, as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan. Likewise, the subsequent decline was primarily the product of decreasing levels of violence by these same groups. Despite these patterns, these groups remained several of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world in 2017.
There are good reasons to question both these conclusions and the way in which both the State Department main report and Annex of Statistical Information are structured. Reasons that raise serious questions about the way the U.S. is approaching the very nature of terrorism and its wars against extremism…
Hassan Nasrallah Warns Israel as Hezbollah Boasts of New Weaponry in Syria by Catherine Philp - The Times
Hezbollah’s leader boasted that the group had succeeded in acquiring high-precision missiles in Syria that would change the balance of power with Israel despite strikes aimed at preventing their transfer.
Hassan Nasrallah said that Israel’s efforts to cut smuggling routes through Syria had failed to stop Hezbollah from gaining advanced weaponry and warned they would be used in a future conflict should Israel threaten its bases in Lebanon.
“All your attempts to prevent Hezbollah from possessing accurate missiles are foiled. We have accurate missiles that if used in any future war will change the entire equation,” he said in a speech to supporters marking the Shia holy festival of Ashura…