The Fear That Haunts Peshawar


Originally posted on TIME:

Two weeks after a Taliban attack on a local school killed 147 people, 136 of them children, the Pakistani city of Peshawar is still raw with grief and fear.

The capital city of the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (or the North-West Frontier Province as it used to be known) often finds itself in the front line of the 10-year-old Taliban insurgency and has witnessed appalling bloodshed.

But the Dec. 16 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar surpassed even those standards of horror. It was the worst single terrorist attack in the history of a country that, according to the Global Terrorism Index, is the world’s most affected by terrorism after Iraq and Afghanistan.

Authorities have beefed-up security in the face of the school carnage, and in response to threats of similar attacks from the Taliban. Checkpoints have been stepped up on roads into the city. Surprise swoops netted 1,200…

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Civilian Deaths in Iraq Spiked Sharply in 2014


Originally posted on TIME:

The number of civilians killed in Iraq doubled in 2014 from 2013, according to a new report out Thursday.

The public database project Iraq Body Count recorded 17,049 civilian deaths in Iraq in 2014, approximately double its tally in 2013 (9,743), which itself had doubled from the year prior (there were 4,622 civilian deaths in 2012). IBC, which has been recording civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the American and British invasion of the country 12 years ago, attributed the growing violence on the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

The sharp rise in civilian deaths makes 2014 the third worst year for civilians over the entire 12 years of the conflict, after the bloodiest years of the Iraq War in 2006 and 2007.

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U.S. launches heaviest bombardment yet against ISIS in defence of besieged Kurdish town of Kobani


Originally posted on National Post | News:

NORTHERN IRAQ and WASHINGTON — The U.S. air force launched its heaviest bombardment yet in support of Kurdish forces in northern Syria as they began a fightback against jihadists around the embattled town of Kobani.

The Kurds reclaimed a hill west of the town, taking down an Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) flag visible from the Turkish border which had become a symbol of the advances made by the terror group in recent weeks.

They were helped by 21 air strikes over two days, the U.S. military said. “Indications are that air strikes have slowed” ISIS advances, a statement said.

“However, the security situation on the ground there remains fluid, with ISIL attempting to gain territory and Kurdish militia continuing to hold out,” said the statement, using another acronym for the terror group.

“We certainly do not want the town to fall,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “At…

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Iraq urges U.S. to send ground troops as ISIS jihadists close in on Baghdad


Originally posted on National Post | News:

Iraqi officials issued a desperate plea Saturday night for America to provide ground troops, as heavily armed ISIS jihadists came within striking distance of Baghdad.

[np_storybar title=”Conrad Black: Fixing the Middle East, for now and forever” link=”http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/10/11/conrad-black-fixing-the-middle-east-for-now-and-forever/”]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird are certainly correct to support Canada’s traditional allies in attacking the Islamic State (IS). It is such an unspeakably odious organization that it is beyond normal political discourse and as many as possible of its active adherents should be killed or otherwise eliminated as quickly as possible. Further, anything that seems to reactivate the Western Alliance, the most successful in world history, is a good thing. It has recently fallen to a somnolent condition even less fearsome than the former “coalition of the willing,” i.e. we’ll do it if we’re threatened ourselves but otherwise we’ll just be happy with a U.S guaranty of our…

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