|Saudi Forces Arrest Armed 'Extremist' after Gunfight|
|[AnNahar] Saudi forces have a heavily armed "extremist" after wounding him in an exchange of gunfire in the kingdom's conservative central heartland, the interior ministry said early Thursday.|
The man had embraced the group's "ideology" and was found to be in possession of a machine gun, a pistol and multiple rounds of ammunition, the ministry said in a statement.
The man in al-Bukhariya city was also wearing what appeared to be an explosives-laden belt, state-run al-Ekhbariya television reported.
The incident comes as the kingdom prepares to host the annual hajj pilgrimage from August 19-24.
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|DOJ's Bruce Ohr wrote Christopher Steele was 'very concerned about Comey's firing -- afraid they will be exposed' (video)|
|[FOX] A collection of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr's emails, texts and handwritten notes, reviewed by Fox News, reveals that he was deeply connected to the unverified Steele dossier as well as its author and, during the presidential election campaign, the alleged government surveillance abuses involving a Trump campaign official.|
The dossier, which was used by federal officials to justify the surveillance of a top Trump aide, Carter Page, was created by Fusion GPS and paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Ohr wrote that Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who wrote the salacious dossier, was "very concerned (abt) about [former FBI Director James] Comey's firing -- afraid they will be exposed."
The Ohr documents shed more light on Steele's activities before the presidential election. While Steele shopped the dossier to multiple media outlets, he also appeared to ask Ohr for help with a Russian oligarch -- Oleg Deripaska -- after rumors the U.S. might impose sanctions.
Ohr had a conflict of interest during the presidential campaign and transition, congressional investigators say, because his wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS. Steele, an ex-British spy, was a key source cited by the FBI and Department of Justice to obtain a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant to monitor Page.
FBI INCORRECTLY TOLD FISA COURT FOUR TIMES THAT STEELE WASN'T SOURCE OF REPORT USED TO JUSTIFY CARTER PAGE SURVEILLANCE
After the FBI dropped Steele as a source in November 2016 over his contacts with the media, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee found that Steele had maintained contact with government officials by effectively using Ohr as a back channel.
During recent congressional testimony, now-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok confirmed that "the FBI received documents and material from Mr. Ohr."
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|Brennan saying Trump colluded with Russia may be an 'intelligence breach,' top Republican says|
[Washington Examiner] "Director Brennan's recent statements purport to know as fact that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power," Burr said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "If Director Brennan's statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn't he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017? If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach."
Burr was referring to the January 2017 intelligence community assessment which determined Russia was behind an effort to interfere in the 2016 election which got Trump elected to White House. The North Carolina Republican went on to say Brennan using the media as an outlet to lash out at Trump may not have been a wise choice.
"If he has some other personal knowledge of or evidence of collusion it should be disclosed to the Special Counsel, not the New York Times," Burr continued, alluding to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the federal Russia investigation. "If, however, Director Brennan's statement is purely political and based on conjecture, the president has full authority to revoke his security clearance as head of the Executive Branch."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced the move to revoke Brennan's security clearance on Wednesday and read a statement from Trump, citing the "risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior" as the impetus for the move.
Related: Wash Examiner - The pathetic omission in John Brennan's New York Times op-ed on Russia
|7 suicide bombers arrested by the NDS operatives in Jalalabad city|
|[KhaamaPress] The Afghan Intelligence, (NDS), operatives have a group of seven s during an operation in province.|
Provincial governor’s Ataullah Khogyani confirmed that the suicide bombers were arrested from the vicinity of Jalalabd city.
He did not disclose further information in this regard with the anti-government armed yet to comment regarding the report.
In the meantime, the provincial government media office, in a statement said the Afghan forces have discovered and destroyed a vehicle-borne improvised in Surkh Rod district.
The statement further added that the was discovered late on Wednesday night Kakarak area of the district.
According to the provincial government, the were looking to detonate the in the vicinity of Jalalabad city, either to target the Independence Day or Eid celebrations.
Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces since the fall of the regime in 2001 but the anti-government armed have been attempting to expand their foothold in this province during the recent years.
|Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in US airstrikes in Helmand|
|[KhaamaPress] The Talibs have suffered heavy casualties during the s conducted by the US forces in southern province of Afghanistan.|
The provincial government media office in a statement said the US forces carried out airstrikes targeting Talibs in Nad Ali district.
The statement further added that the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Chah Anjir area of the district, leaving at least 13 dead.
According to another report, the US forces carried out an airstrike targeting the in Tarikh Nawar area as they were attempting to carry out attacks on Afghan security posts, the provincial government said.
At least 14 were killed and 7 others were during the same airstrikes, the provincial government added in its statement.
Helmand is among the relatively volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan where the anti-government armed are actively operating in some of its districts and often carry out terrorist related activities.
|Ghazni Siege Cost Private Sector $50 Million|
|[ToloNews] Ghazni’s private sector sustained an estimated $50 million in losses during the four-day siege of Ghazni over the weekend, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said following a preliminary investigation.|
Their probe found that markets have burned down, along with some buildings and shops as well as all the goods inside.
The in Ghazni started in the early hours of Friday morning and ended on Tuesday ‐ although are still ongoing on the outskirts of the city.
One analyst said the city was a small trading hub which has been reduced to a heap of rubble.
The trade centers and markets are in PD2, in the center of the city, where many government buildings are located. The area was on the first line of battle and bore the brunt of the .
"The war was carried out in a trading area," the ACCI deputy head Khan Jan Alokozai said. "More than five big markets around the PD2 Police Headquarters have burnt down."
Ghazni Provincial Council estimates the damages were however much higher and has called for government to assign a team to assess the financial losses sustained.
"The damages of war in Ghazni are much higher (than $50 million). A probe team should be assigned to the province. The losses are over $100 million," said Hamidullah Nawroz, a member of Ghazni Provincial Council.
Ghani shares borders with eight other provinces and most goods destined for these provinces transit through Ghazni.
Lawmakers from Ghazni also said they have asked government to send a team to assess the situation.
"We call on government to send a delegation to Ghazni province in order to assess the damages and compensate the people. Government is requested to allocate a budget for reconstruction of the damages in the province," said Shah Gul Rezaee, an MP from Ghazni.
ACCI officials said the damage inflicted on Ghazni City in just four days has had a serious impact on the city, and that it will take a long time for the city to be restored to its former state.
|Attack On NDS Training Center Ends After 6-Hour Battle|
|[ToloNews] Kabul police chief's Hashmat Stanekzai said on Thursday that shortly after 10am stormed a building close to a (NDS) military training center in Qala-e-Wazir in PD5 in Kabul city.|
Just after 4pm, Minister of Interior Wais Barmak confirmed the attack had ended.
He said three had been involved - all of whom were killed.
Police said earlier three people had been in the 6-hour clash.
Gunmen reportedly entrenched themselves in a building that was under construction and used this as a vantage point.
Security forces however immediately cordoned off the area after the attack was launched and evacuated residents in the immediate area.
At least two s were heard, which residents said had been rockets.
This was yet another attack on a military facility this week.
On Wednesday, a police source in Baghlan said that at least 35 Afghan National Army (ANA) officers and ten were killed when the launched an attack on a military base in Baghlan-e-Markazi district on Tuesday night.
The head of Zabul provincial council also confirmed that the Taliban launched an attack on an army check post in Qalat city on Tuesday night. He said over 400 Taliban fighters took part.
Police forces were also targeted in Kandahar this week, in Arghandab district.
These incidents came close on the heels of the Faryab incident on Monday which saw Afghan troops surrender to the Taliban after their base - Chenayeeha - in Gormach district, fell to the s.
The base had reportedly been under Taliban siege for 48 hours.
According to local officials, over 40 security force members surrendered after they received no help nor ammunition supplies despite repeated requests.
In this weekend's crisis in Ghazni, Taliban fighters also targeted a military facility, this time the city's police headquarters - which appears to have been compromised as reports indicate seized military equipment during their raid.
|Syrian army retakes control on the last Islamic State bastion, east of As Suwaida|
|Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The Syrian army forces have resumed its progress in the vicinity of Telul al-Safa region in the countryside of As-Suwaida, cordoning the last stronghold of , media channels reported.|
"Syrian army forces have resumed progress, cordoning off Telul al-Safa region, which is the last bastion of Islamic State at the borders between the countryside of As-Suwaida and Rif Damascus," the Russian Sputnik news agency said on Thursday.
"Ongoing shelling was carried out against the group’s besieged locations. The Syrian army jets carried out, over the past few hours, targeting the s, which left tens of them killed and weapons destroyed, including a truck loaded with ammunition. The on board were killed," the report added.
The besieged s, according to Sputnik, "are trying to infiltrate toward the Syrian army forces to start confrontations, depending on its snipers and ers, however, all their attempts failed. 20 were killed over the past few hours."
On Sunday, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that Syrian army achieved an advance against the group as they managed to besiege them in Telul al-Safa area, near the eastern borders of Rif Dimashq.
Islamic State carried out an attack last month against As Suwaida, leaving more than 250 victims.
|Bomb blast leaves two paramilitary personnel injured, northeast of Diyala|
|Diyala (IraqiNews.com) Two fighters of the pro-government paramilitary troops in a , northeast of Diyala, a security source said on Thursday.|
"A bomb, placed north of Muqdadiyah town, went off while security personnel of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) were passing, leaving two of them injured," the source told Baghdad Today website.
Security services rushed to the accident spot, according to the source who preferred anonymity. The injured were taken to hospital for treatment.
|Six citizens injured in two bomb blasts, north of Baghdad|
|Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Six civilians in two s, north of Baghdad, police source said on Thursday.|
Speaking to AlSumaria News, the source said "a bomb went off targeting civilians in al-Jaza’er district in al-Shaab region, leaving four people seriously injured."
Moreover, two other civilians as a bomb in a bus, north of the capital.
"A bomb, placed in a bus in al-Sho’ala region, north of Baghdad, went off leaving two citizens injured," the source said.
Security troops, according to the source, who preferred anonymity, cordoned off the blast scene and prevented approach, while the injured were taken to hospital for treatment.
|Kirkuk: Kurds removed from 47 posts since October 16|
|[Rudaw] Kurdish officials have been removed from 47 posts in the Kirkuk administration since the events of October 16. |
The Iraqi government has removed Kurdish officials from local government and security positions in the disputed areas, replacing them with Arabs and Turkmen.
Most government positions in Kirkuk had been occupied by Kurds.
On October 16, 2017, the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi forces returned to Jalawla, Khanaqin, Makhmur, and Shingal, which are defined as disputed areas in the Iraqi constitution. Kurds consider them Kurdistani areas outside the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s remit.
The Iraqi government began removing Kurdish officials soon after the takeover. The first position to change hands was Kirkuk governor. Up to 50 Kurdish officials have since been removed from their posts.
The withdrawal of Peshmerga forces from the disputed areas has created security gaps, which are being exploited by ISIS remnants.
"People now want the Peshmerga to return. They consider the Peshmerga more important than positions of power," said Samir Mohammed, head of the Khanaqin town council.
"People have forgotten about posts previously occupied by Kurds because they are having a bitter life due to the absence of the Peshmerga," he added.
Following the events of October 16, councilors of towns of Qaratapa, Jalawla, and Mandali were removed. The Iraqi government was gentler on Kurdish officials in Khanaqin ‐ possibly because they are mostly Shiites.
Meanwhile in Makhmour, Rizgar Ismael, the town’s mayor, has flatly denied any Kurdish officials had been removed.
Shingal, Sinune, and Giruzer have all seen new appointments. Hashd al-Shaabi, a majority Shiite paramilitia, appointed three officials to run government affairs in these towns. The governor and provincial council, however, continue to deal with the removed officials ‐ not the Hashd appointees.
Mahma Khalil, mayor of Shingal, said he is the legitimate official in his town and that Nineveh provincial council and the governor deal with him.
The three Hashd appointees are Yazidi Kurds associated with Hashd.
"We do our work daily. Last month, 33 provincial council members called on the governor to make a decision so that we return to our places," Khalil added.
A secret interior ministry order ‐ number 17240 ‐ was allegedly issued on February 18, 2018 commanding authorities reappoint positions in Kirkuk.
The order bears the signature of Dr Aqil Mahmud Khaz Ali, the Iraqi deputy interior minister. The order led to the removal of some Kurdish officials from their positions.
Brigadier General Khatab Omar, director of police in Kirkuk province, and Colonel Afrasyaw Kamil, police spokesperson, were allowed to remain in their positions.
"Nowadays, Baath party laws have returned to Kirkuk," Ahmad Askari, member of Kirkuk provincial council, told Rudaw.
"Neither the constitution nor the law has value in Kirkuk. They can do anything they want. They refill these positions with Arabs and Turkmen because they see that the KDP and PUK officials are not returning to the city. But they also remove Kurds who are still there in their positions," he added.
Askari said it is not only KDP officials who do not want to return to their positions in Kirkuk.
"There are even PUK officials who have not returned. Kirkuk’s health director is PUK and he has not returned. That is why an Arab national has been put in his place," he said.
Amir Khwakaram, mayor of Daquq, who has also been removed from his position, said he was removed for raising the Kurdish flag and participating in the Kurdish independence referendum.
In Saladin province too, Hashd al-Shaabi removed the Kurdish mayor of Tuz Khurmatu and replaced him with a Turkmen.
"In the absence of Peshmerga forces there, we can do nothing, and no one would listen to us," the removed mayor of Daquq said.
|Turkey strikes YBS vehicles in Shingal, killing local PKK leader|
|[Rudaw] war planes struck YBS-held areas of Shingal on Wednesday, killing local PKK head Zaki Shingali.|
Khal Ali, a former YBS commander and a current Hashd al-Shaabi official, confirmed the killing of Zaki Shingali, the leader of all PKK forces in Shingal.
He added four YBS fighters were killed and Haval Mazlum, the general commander of YBS in Shingal was .
The military confirmed a joint operation between it and national intelligence carried out a joint operation on Wednesday in Shingal against the PKK and KCK, killing Ismail Ozden, also known as Zaki Shingali.
Acting Snune Mayor Khudaida Chuke told Rudaw that the jets targeted checkpoints of the Shingal Protection Units (YBS).
Qasim Shasho, a Peshmerga commander in Shingal, told Rudaw forces targeted a convoy of four YBS vehicles.
A Yezidi activist group tweeted they were "very worried" about "more than five s."
The YBS, with ties to the PKK, has previously said it would only incorporate locals.
Snune is a sub-district of Shingal, located in northwestern Iraq in the Kurdistan Region. The Shingal region is the Yezidi homeland.
A Yezidi organization's executive director, Yazda co-founder Murad Ismael, tweeted that ISIS survivors were in the southern Shingal town of Kocho to mourn four years after the genocide.
The YBS convoy had returned from the fourth anniversary of the Yezidis massacre in Kocho village while they were targeted in the Sikne area near Snune, according to Shasho.
The bombing came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Ankara where he met President Abadi had said in his meeting with Erodgan that Iraq would not allow any group to threaten neighboring using Iraq's territory.