By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) - Islamic State militants launched two suicide attacks on U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near the border with Iraq, leaving at least 12 dead in the fighting and many wounded, rebel sources said on Sunday. They said eight Islamic State fighters and four of their own men died. An attack at midnight on a heavily defended base near the al Tanf border crossing involved at least one explosive-laden vehicle that rammed an entrance to the base. At least two U.S.-backed rebels were killed and scores wounded, a rebel source said. The militants also staged a suicide attack on a convoy of rebel fighters from the Western-backed Osoud al Sharqiya rebel group, who had sent reinforcements from their outpost near the Rukban refugee camp further south west. Two of the fighters in the convoy were killed in the ambush. Islamic State "staged a suicide attack and there were clashes inside Tanf. Two were killed and several injured. They also attacked our convoy but it's over and matters are under control," said a senior rebel source from Osoud al Sharqiya who requested anonymity. Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency said two suicide attacks were conducted by its fighters near Tanf on "positions of Syrian groups supported by America." It gave no details. U.S.-led coalition planes were involved in the operation to track down the militants who staged the hit-and-run attack and apparently fled, a rebel commander involved in the operation said. The Pentagon estimated between 20 and 30 Islamic State fighters, some wearing suicide vests, were involved in the ground assault. "Coalition and partnered forces defended against the ISIS attack with direct fire before destroying enemy assault vehicles and the remaining fighters with multiple coalition air strikes," the Pentagon said in a statement. Both Tanf and Rukban are near the joint Syria-Iraq-Jordan border. Osoud al Sharqiya, one of the main groups in that area fighting Islamic State, is part of the Free Syrian Army of rebels financed and equipped by a Western coalition. Jordan, a U.S. ally, backs the moderate rebel groups aligned with the so-called Southern Front supported by an Arab-Western coalition, who are trying to prevent opposition-held southern Syria from falling to Islamic State. The rebels took the border crossing of Tanf last year from the ultra-hardline militants and tried unsuccessfully to drive the militants out of the Syrian border town of Bukamal on the Euphrates, further northeast, a major supply conduit for Islamic State between its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. In recent weeks, the militants in the Syrian desert near the Jordanian border have regrouped further north to reinforce their Raqqa stronghold, after major defeats in Syria and Iraq. The attacks were meant to show the militants were still capable of waging hit-and-run operations against the Western- backed rebels who have recently seized a swathe of territory stretching from the town of Bir Qasab, some 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Damascus, all the way to the borders with Iraq and Jordan, a desert area known as the Badia. "Their message is we are still present in the area and have not withdrawn and we still target the FSA," Said Seif, a rebel official with the Western-backed Shahid Ahmad Abdo group that operates in the area, told Reuters. Western intelligence sources have worried for months that militants fleeing from their main urban strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq could find a safe haven in the region. A Western intelligence source told Reuters that U.S. and British special forces are expanding the Tanf base to use it as a major launching pad for operations in coming months to oust militants from Bukamal, a major militant stronghold. Diplomats say plans are under way to stage new coalition strikes on Islamic State fighters in the south, including an area to the west of the southern city of Deraa. Militants entrenched in the Yamouk River Valley near the Israeli border have recently made gains. (Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba in Cairo and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Editing by Stephen Powell and James Dalgleish)
- Yahoo News
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki described a multipronged approach to combating domestic extremism.
- The Telegraph
A Republican congresswoman is facing calls to resign over reports that she helped to spread falsehoods about the Parkland school shooting. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly agreed with a conspiracy theory about the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Facebook screenshots showed a discussion about why a police officer had not rushed into the building, and someone claimed that the mass shooting was a "false flag planned shooting." Greene replied: “Exactly!" The social media giant later removed the posts after they were reported to them. Cameron Kasky, a former Parkland pupil who co-founded the group Never Again MSD, said: "She should resign. She can apologise. I don’t think anybody will accept it.” The congresswoman was elected in Georgia in November, backed Donald Trump's claims of election fraud, and has previously expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Fred Guttenberg, who's 14-year-old daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, said: "Your feelings on gun laws are irrelevant to your claim that Parkland never happened. You are a fraud who must resign. Be prepared to meet me directly in person to explain your conspiracy theory, and soon." The comments by the politician were first reported by Media Matters for America. In a statement Ms Greene accused Media Matters for America of being "communists' and "fake news". Meanwhile, US Capitol Police were investigating an incident in which a Republican congressman was found carrying a concealed gun while trying to enter the floor of the House of Representatives. Andy Harris, a staunch gun-rights advocate, set off a metal detector going through security on his way to the House floor . Metal detectors were installed outside the chamber to beef up security in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan 6.
- Associated Press
Libya’s coast guard intercepted on Friday more than 80 Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the North African country, the U.N. migration agency said. The migrants were returned to Libyan soil, said the International Organization for Migration. “So far this year, some 300 people, including women and children, were returned to the country and ended up in detention,” said the IOM.
- Yahoo News
“100 million shots in 100 days” won’t be enough to end the pandemic. Can Jeff Zients do better?
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit
- The Independent
Judge denies release for 26-year-old accused of taking part in the deadly Capitol attacks then returning to Washington on Inauguration Day
America may not have won World War II and landed on the moon later if not for the contributions of a brilliant Chinese scientist named Qian Xuesen. Fearing communist presence after the war, the U.S., however, deported Qian to China, clueless that he would eventually spearhead programs that would target American troops and eventually propel China into space. Born to well-educated parents in 1911, it was evident from an early age that Qian had superior intellect.
- Associated Press
The three National Guard members killed when a helicopter crashed in an upstate New York field this week were experienced pilots with past deployments to Afghanistan, officials said Friday. Killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda, 54, of Rochester, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial, 30 of Rochester, according to the National Guard.
- The Independent
‘There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open’
- The Week
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) set off a metal detector on Thursday as he tried to enter the House chamber while carrying a gun, HuffPost reports.Reporter Matt Fuller witnessed Harris set off the metal detector and then stand as an officer used a wand to scan him. It was then discovered that Harris' suit coat was concealing a firearm. Harris was refused entrance to the Chamber, Fuller reports, and he asked Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) to take the gun so he could go onto the House floor for a vote. Katko responded that he didn't have "a license" and would not take the weapon, Fuller said.Speaking to other lawmakers near him, Harris complained that he asked his staff to remind him about the metal detectors, and they had failed to do so, Fuller reports. Harris left, and upon his return 10 minutes later, he did not set off the metal detector. A Capitol Police spokesperson told Fuller the situation is under investigation.The metal detectors were installed after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Several Republican lawmakers have tried to go around the metal detectors to avoid being scanned, and on Thursday, Fuller said he saw Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) refuse to be wanded down after setting off the metal detectors. Boebert earlier boasted that she will always have her gun on her while in D.C.Members of the House are not permitted to carry firearms onto the floor, and Fuller tweeted that a person "who would have a good sense of this situation" told him there are "a lot more members than we think who go to the floor armed."More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit
- Yahoo News
Counterintelligence official Michael Orlando joins a growing chorus of voices on both sides of the political aisle who point to China as a major national security threat, particularly in terms of technology and cybersecurity.
- Associated Press
Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran's power grid.
- The Independent
Former first daughter and husband will not live in Florida like Donald Trump
The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara's human rights record. Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
- National Review
Biden Admonishes Reporter for Questioning Whether Vaccine Goal Is Ambitious Enough: ‘Give Me a Break’
President Biden pushed back on a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday, who questioned whether the new administration’s coronavirus vaccine goal is ambitious enough. Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office. During the press conference, Biden called the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure so far,” warning that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” However, the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus vaccine doses administered to Americans currently sits at 912,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. (On Wednesday alone, 1.6 million doses were administered.) This indicates that the Biden administration is not far from its goal of vaccinating one million Americans per day. On Thursday, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden responded. “It’s a good start, a hundred million.” Internal projections from the Trump administration showed that the U.S. could administer at least 170 million doses by the end of April, two Trump administration officials told Bloomberg. During the press conference, Biden also announced that he would invoke the Defense Production Act to “accelerate the making of everything that’s needed to protect, test, and vaccinate and the care of our people.” Biden warned that the death toll from coronavirus infections would hit 500,000 in February. Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.
- Yahoo News Video
A woman facing charges that she helped steal a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol will be released from jail, a federal judge decided Thursday.
- The Week
Seven Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Thursday, asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether they coordinated with leaders of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally that took place immediately before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.In a letter, the Democrats — Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Tina Smith (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) — said the committee "should also offer recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered."Prior to the rally and attack on the Capitol, Hawley and Cruz said they would object to the vote counts in several states lost by former President Donald Trump. This "amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country," the letter stated, adding that Hawley and Cruz "touted their plan to challenge the electors to drum up campaign contributions."The Democrats said the question that must be answered is whether Cruz and Hawley "failed to 'put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or government department' or engaged in 'improper conduct reflecting on the Senate' in connection with the violence on Jan. 6."Hawley and Cruz have both defended themselves by saying they believed they were protecting the integrity of the election.More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit
- Architectural Digest
800 feet up in the sky, the Dreamy 6,000 square foot space offers panoramic views from the East River to the HudsonOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities on Thursday ended the search for remaining victims and debris from a Sriwijaya Air jet that nosedived into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board. Transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said retrieval operations have ended after nearly two weeks, but that a limited search for the missing memory unit from the cockpit voice recorder will continue. The memory unit apparently broke away from other parts of the voice recorder during the crash.
- The Independent
Michael Flynn’s brother reveals he was involved in Capitol riot response after Army denied it, report says
Apparent U-turn by Pentagon officials could pose questions about police response