U.S. air strikes over Iraq and Syria; Haftar’s air strike over Libya; Taliban’s key leader killed

PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Your briefly report on December 30 in last twelve hours from BulgarianMilitary.com:

Trump aides call U.S. strikes on Iraq and Syria ‘successful,’ warn of potential further action

U.S. officials said on Sunday that air strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iran-backed militia group were successful, but warned that “additional actions” may still be taken in the region to defend U.S. interests.

The U.S. military carried out the strikes on Sunday against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, officials said.

U.S. President Donald Trump was briefed by his top national security advisers following the strikes at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

“We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after the briefing with Trump.

Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared briefly in a club ballroom to comment on the airstrikes.

Esper termed the offensive “successful,” but said that Trump was informed that a further military response could be warranted.

“We discussed with him other options that are available,” Esper said. “I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran.”

Libya: Haftar attacks threaten to suspend Zawia oil port

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has warned that it may be forced to suspend all operations in the oil port of Zawia (west) and evacuate the Zawia refinery, in case clashes do not stop near its installations.

The Libyan government forces announced that Khalifa Haftar militia warplanes launched on Saturday an airstrike targeting the Institute of Applied Engineering in the city of Zawia.

The NOC added in a statement that it warned of the possibility of suspending operations in the port of Zawia, evacuating the Zawia refinery and pumping inert gas to find a medium to prevent ignition, in the event of the expansion of military operations within the limits of the refinery, following renewed clashes near them.

The NOC also reported the possibility of stopping production in El Sharara oil field (South), whose products of crude oil and its derivatives are exported from the port of Zawia.

The Corporation explained that the sites adjacent to the oil storage areas, which are run by the Zawia refinery, were subjected to airstrikes on Saturday, making it the third time that attacks have been carried out near these installations during the past 48 hours.

Pakistani Taliban’s key leader killed in Afghanistan

A key commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the mother organization of the Pakistani Taliban, was killed in Afghanistan, the group confirmed on Sunday.

Qari Saifullah Mehsud, spokesman for the Hakimullah Mehsud group, was shot dead by gunmen outside the Guloon camp in Khost province, eastern Afghanistan, the group spokesman said in an audio message.

The spokesman didn’t disclose his name in the message and claimed the attack was carried out by the Haqqani network [offshoot of the Afghan Taliban] as they, day earlier, had also killed three militants of Hakimullah Mehsud group in the area.

Founded in 2007 by Baitullah Mehsud – hailing from the powerful Mehsud tribe of the South Waziristan tribal region -, the TTP already stands divided into four groups: the Swat group, Mehsud group, Bajaur Agency group, and Darra Adamkhel group.

Qari Saifullah Mehsud, a notorious leader, was among the terrorists most wanted by Pakistani authorities for his involvement in several terror attacks in the country.

Recently Mehsud claimed in his audio message that his group carried out 75 terror attacks in 2019, mostly targeting the local elders in North and South Waziristan districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a border province of Pakistan with Afghanistan. The claim was not confirmed by local authorities.

Analysts said the killing of Mehsud is a big hit for the TTP as he was trying to unite all the split groups.

“TTP has already split in several groups and Mehsud was trying to unit them, secondly he was the most active militant and was wanted by Pakistan for several terror attacks,” Saboor Khattak, a Peshawar-based senior journalist, told Anadolu Agency.

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Editorial team
Source: Reuters, MEMO, Anadolu agency