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In wake of Soleimani's death, Tehran-backed Hezbollah steps in to guide Iraqi militias

The Japan Times

Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, the Tehran-backed Lebanese organization Hezbollah urgently met with Iraqi militia leaders, seeking to unite them in the face of a huge void left by their powerful mentor's death, two sources with knowledge of the meetings said. The meetings were meant to coordinate the political efforts of Iraq's often-fractious militias, which lost not only Soleimani but also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a unifying Iraqi paramilitary commander, in the Jan. 3 attack at Baghdad airport, the sources said. While offering few details, two additional sources in a pro-Iran regional alliance confirmed that Hezbollah, which is sanctioned as a terrorist group by the United States, has stepped in to help fill the void left by Soleimani in guiding the militias. All sources in this article spoke on condition of anonymity to address sensitive political activities rarely addressed in public. Officials with the governments of Iraq and Iran did not respond to requests for comment, nor did a spokesperson for the militia groups.


Key U.S. general slips into Iraq for talks to salvage relations

The Japan Times

ABOARD, A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT – The top U.S. commander for the Middle East slipped quietly into Iraq Tuesday, as the Trump administration works to salvage relations with Iraqi leaders and shut down the government's push for an American troop withdrawal. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie became the most senior U.S. military official to visit since an American drone strike in Baghdad last month killed a top Iranian general, enraging the Iraqis. McKenzie met with Iraq leaders in Baghdad and then went to see American troops at al-Asad Air base, which was bombed by Iran last month in retaliation for the drone attack. Later, he said he was "heartened" by the meetings, adding, "I think we're going to be able to find a way forward." His visit comes amid heightened anti-American sentiment that has fueled violent protests, rocket attacks on the embassy and a vote by the Iraqi parliament pushing for withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.


Iraq: Anti-ISIS operations with US are resuming

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines for Jan. 30 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Joint military operations between coalition and Iraqi forces against the Islamic State group will resume, the Iraqi military said Thursday, after a nearly three-week pause that saw tensions between Washington and Tehran come to a boiling point. The escalations with Iran began after a U.S. drone strike killed one of its top generals in Baghdad earlier this month. Iraqi lawmakers subsequently voted to expel U.S. troops from the country in a non-binding resolution, a move Iraqi military officials said would jeopardize its fight against ISIS, which had overtaken large swaths of the country several years ago and has since been defeated.


Artificial intelligence to rebuild Iraq via second phase of the UNOSAT challenge

#artificialintelligence

The first phase of the UNOSAT Challenge has just ended. The UNOSAT Challenge is the important Phi-Unet (ESA) contest for UNOSAT (United Nations) in partnership with ESA, RUS COPERNICUS, UNOSAT and with the technical support of CERN openlab. The aim of the contest is to put artificial intelligence and Earth Observation data at the service of a humanitarian cause: support the Iraqi government in planning reconstruction activities. In the first phase, candidates were asked to create an artificial intelligence model to identify urban areas in some Iraqi territories, working on data provided by ESA and the German Space Agency (DLR). At the end of this phase, 5 teams were selected.


U.S. and Iraq resume joint military ops after Soleimani killiing

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The United States on Wednesday resumed joint military operations with Iraq that had been put on pause after the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, The New York Times reported. Two U.S. military officials quoted by the paper said the Pentagon wanted to resume these operations in order to pick up the fight against the Islamic State group. Washington began the pause on January 5 two days after the strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. The same day of the suspension furious Iraqi lawmakers voted to expel the more than 5,000 U.S. troops that are in Iraq. It was not immediately clear if anyone in the Iraqi government had approved the resumption of the joint military operations, the Times reported.


U.S. Says It Won't Discuss Withdrawing Troops From Iraq, as Iraq's Leader Requested

NYT > Middle East

"But as times change and we get to a place where we can deliver up on what I believe and the president believes is our right structure, with fewer resources dedicated to that mission, we will do so," he added. Mr. Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin also announced new sanctions on Iranian officials and on a few companies, including two in China, involved in the production and export of Iranian steel and other metals. The Trump administration had already imposed major sanctions on Iran's metals industry after Mr. Trump's withdrawal in 2018 from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, so analysts said the new sanctions would have little additional impact. Iraqi lawmakers voted on Sunday to expel United States forces after the American drone strike that killed 10 people in a two-car convoy -- Maj. The prime minister has not signed the bill yet, but had been criticizing the American troop presence in Iraq since a series of recent actions by the United States military.


Iraq's legislature calls for expulsion of U.S. troops

The Japan Times

BAGHDAD – Iraq's Parliament called for the expulsion of U.S. forces from the country in reaction to the American drone attack that killed a top Iranian general, raising the prospect of a troop withdrawal that could cripple the battle against the Islamic State group and allow a resurgence of the extremists. Lawmakers approved a resolution asking the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent troops more than four years ago to help fight ISIS. The bill is nonbinding and subject to approval by the Iraqi government but has the backing of the outgoing prime minister. But the vote was another sign of the blowback from the U.S. airstrike Friday that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and a number of top Iraqi officials at the Baghdad airport. Soleimani was the architect of Iran's proxy wars across the Mideast and was blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in roadside bombings and other attacks.


Top Army modernization priorities are 'on track,' says Army Vice Chief of Staff

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 22 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com "----A 1986 graduate of West Point, Martin deployed to Iraq five times including stints as a company commander during Operation Desert Storm, as a battalion and brigade commander during Iraqi Freedom and he commanded the famed 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. Martin also served as the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command during the pivotal Battle of Mosul, a major multi-national offensive that helped the Iraqi government retake control of the Iraqi city from ISIS forces----" From an Army Report --- MARTIN ARMY BIO HERE --- Warrior: There is a lot of discussion about the Army's Top 6 Modernization priorities:...Long Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Lift, Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality…. How are they progressing and what sticks out in your mind?


Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

FOX News

Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., director of Defense Intelligence Agency, gives insight on recent Iranian attacks on tankers and a surveillance drone. EXCLUSIVE – Iran is likely at "an inflection point," and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change "the status quo," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively. "I'd say that they're probably at an inflection point right now," the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency. Director Ashley said, based on their activity over the last several years, the Iranians would probably say they were in a "favorable" position with their influence over the Iraqi government and the likelihood their longtime regional ally -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- will remain in power. But, Director Ashley -- whose agency's mission is to understand foreign militaries and the operational environment -- said the United States' withdrawal from the Iran deal and subsequent sanctions made a major impact on the regime.


Architect designs reconstruction model for Mosul

Daily Mail - Science & tech

An architect hoping to rebuild war-torn Mosul, Iraq, has proposed a series of stunning 3D-printed bridges that would transform city using its own building debris into construction materials. Architect Vincent Callebaut is the brainchild behind'The 5 Farming Bridges', which features 3D-printed housing units in the form of articulated spiders over the Tigris River. Five 3D printers could construct 30 houses per day, or nearly 55,000 housing units in five years spread over the five bridges. The concept was a winning project of the Rifat Chadirji Prize Competition, 'Rebuilding Iraq's Liberated Areas: Mosul's Housing'. Architect Vincent Callebaut is the brainchild behind'The 5 Farming Bridges', which features 3D-printed housing units in the form of articulated spiders over the Tigris River in Mosul, Iraq The concept was a winning project of the Rifat Chadirji Prize Competition, 'Rebuilding Iraq's Liberated Areas: Mosul's Housing' Mosul, Iraq's second city, was retaken from IS in July after a massive months-long offensive that left the majority of the city destroyed and hundreds of thousands left without a place to live.