Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters - We Are The Mighty
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Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

The Iranian military has denied that its vessels acted unprofessionally after a US aircraft carrier was approached by armed Revolutionary Guard boats in the Strait of Hormuz.


The US navy said up to 20 Iranian vessels approached the USS George HW Bush on Tuesday, in an incident witnessed by The National’s reporter on board the ship.

According to the carrier’s captain, Will Pennington, some of the small Iranian vessels were loading weapons as they approached the ship at high speeds.

At one point an Iranian boat was less than 900 meters away, the US navy said.

Also Read: Is the new Iranian ‘stealth’ fighter a paper tiger?

Speaking shortly after the encounter, Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, the commander of the USS George HW Bush carrier strike group, described Iran’s behaviour as “unprofessional” and “harassment”.

On Saturday, the spokesman of the Iranian armed forces, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, responded, saying: “News disseminated by the US sources concerning unprofessional behaviour of Iranian vessels is not true”.

“We warn again that the US armed forces should change their behaviour,” Brig Gen Jazayeri was quoted as saying by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

He blamed the United States for any kind of unrest in the Arabian Gulf.

Following Tuesday’s incident – in which one of the carrier’s helicopters was also threatened by an Iranian vessel, according to the US navy – Captain Pennington said he saw the main security threat in the Gulf as the “instability and a lack of predictability we currently see from Iran”.

He said this lack of predictability had been growing over the last three or four months.

Last year, there were 527 interactions between US and Iranian naval forces, 35 of which included Iranian activity deemed to be unsafe or unprofessional by US Naval Forces Central Command (Navcent).

Navcent has deemed Iran’s behaviour to be unsafe or unprofessional on six occasions so far this year, including on March 4 when a group of Revolutionary Guard vessels came within 550 metres of a US navy surveillance ship, the USNS Invincible. One of the vessels came to a standstill in the path of the ship and the USNS Invincible was forced to change course to avoid collision, Navcent said.

Revolutionary Guard navy commander Admiral Mehdi Hashemi claimed the US ship had acted unprofessionally, IRNA reported on Saturday.

It “exited from international route and changed its way toward [Revolutionary Guard] navy vessels present in the region and got as close as 550 metres to Iranian vessels”, Admiral Hashemi said.

Tuesday’s incident involving the USS George HW Bush took place as the carrier was on its way to the northern Gulf to launch air strikes on ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Navcent said on Friday that strikes on the group had begun. The carrier also launched strikes on ISIL while in the eastern Mediterranean last month.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US employee in China may have been victim of ‘sonic attack’

The State Department says a US government employee working in China suffered “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” that later led to a diagnosis of “mild traumatic brain injury” — resulting in a warning to all US citizens in the country.

The strange incident recalls a similar spate of reports from Cuba, where US officials reported symptoms consistent with a “sonic attack,” or exposure to harmful frequencies.


“The US government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event,” the State Department warned in a health alert. “We do not currently know what caused the reported symptoms, and we are not aware of any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community.”

The State Department went on to advise: “While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present.”

Emily Rauhala, The Washington Post’s China correspondent, reported that the State Department confirmed the US worker’s ailment was diagnosed as a mild traumatic brain injury, something US officials in Cuba also experienced.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

The Post reports that Chinese and US officials are looking into the matter. Americans working in Cuba suffered permanent hearing loss, severe headaches, loss of balance, brain swelling, and disruption to cognitive functions.

The US originally called the Cuba incidents “sonic attacks” but later backed off that phrasing as medical experts examined the patients and found their symptoms and conditions to be of mysterious origins.

Medical testing revealed the embassy workers in Cuba developed changes to the white-matter tracts that let different parts of the brain communicate, officials told the Associated Press.

But a purposeful attack hasn’t been ruled out as the source of the brain injuries now linked to two countries.

“The unique circumstances of these patients and the consistency of the clinical manifestations raised concern for a novel mechanism of a possible acquired brain injury from a directional exposure of undetermined etiology,” a study about the victims in Cuba concluded.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Pittsburgh Steelers honor WWII Army veteran brothers

Two brothers who served in the Army during World War II were honored during the home opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Seattle Seahawks with the ATI Salute to Heroes Award.

Former Cpl. Theodore “Ted” Joseph Sikora, 99, served in the Battle of the Bulge in France in 1944 and 1945. Former Sgt. Ed Sikora, 95, served in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1943 and later in the Pacific theater of operations.

The brothers expressed thanks for the tribute. “We’re not used to this much recognition, and I’m very grateful,” said Ted Sikora.


Ed Sikora said he was proud to serve. “I cherished the opportunity to serve my country,” he said.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris shakes hands with Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, grandson-in-law of Ted Sikora.

(Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

Although they are natives of Washington, Pennsylvania, both now live in the Pittsburgh area.

Ted Sikora was a crew member on a Curtiss C-46 Commando and Douglas C-47 Skytrain as a member of the 8th Army Air Force. Those transport aircraft dropped much-needed supplies to the besieged American soldiers.

He was stationed in England on D‐Day — June 6, 1944 — and remembers having trouble sleeping because of the noise from the airplanes taking off for France.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

In a historic photo, Ed Sikora poses during basic training at Camp Edwards, Mass.

(Ed Sikora)

He also remembers planes returning damaged and on fire. He said he witnessed a lot of things he will never forget, and that he doesn’t really like to talk about.

After the war, Ted Sikora worked as a machinist. Now, he enjoys working out and taking Zumba classes.

Ed Sikora was on the opposite side of the world, assigned to the 7th Infantry Division 502nd Anti Artillery Gun Battalion.

Although Ed Sikora wasn’t in Oahu when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, he said the Americans were expecting another attack so they were on constant vigil.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

A historic photo of Ted Sikora as a cadet shows him dressed in a flight uniform with a white ascot, black jacket, headgear and goggles.

(Courtesy of Ted Sikora)

In October 1944, he was attached to the 7th Infantry Division, which landed in the Philippines amid bombing by Japanese fighter planes. His unit was credited with downing six enemy planes.

In 1945, Ed Sikora participated in the Battle of Okinawa. His unit was credited with downing 33 Japanese aircraft.

Later in life, Ed Sikora taught high school and college, specializing in industrial arts. He later established a fruit orchard in California.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

Brothers Ed and Ted Sikora, both Army service members, pose for a photo with their rifles crossed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

(Courtesy of Ed and Ted Sikora)

Ted Sikora’s granddaughter, Alia Ann Vollstedt, is married to Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, who participated in the game’s opening ceremony joint-service color guard. Daniel Vollstedt is with 2nd Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division, based in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

Brothers Ed and Ted Sikora pose for a photo wearing World War II veteran caps in October 2018.

(Courtesy of Ed and Ted Sikora)

Daniel Vollstedt said the two veterans have shared some of their stories with him over the years and were proud of his decision to enlist in the Army.

John Wodarek, the Steelers’ marketing manager, said the brothers were selected for the honor because Ted Sikora will turn 100 in March 2020 — which ties in with the National Football League’s 100th-season anniversary being observed this year and next.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of October 5th

This week, airmen all over the world are finally able to don their super cool, super high-speed OCPs. Meanwhile, the Army has just one more year of ACUs before they have to be completely switched to the same pattern. Airmen are loving it, but soldiers have been reacting with a near-unanimous “are you f*cking kidding me?”

The airmen love it because they’re no longer in those ridiculous, tiger-stripe uniform. Soldiers hate it because, well, they’re cramping our style. If the Air Force starts claiming they were a part of the Army during the Pinks & Greens era to get in on that perfect getup (instead of that flight attendant costume), then we might have a problem.

What were we talking about again? Oh, yeah. Enjoy these memes.


Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via PNN)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Dysfunctional Veterans)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme by Inkfidel)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Shammers United)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

MIGHTY CULTURE

The US Navy just threw a birthday cruise for its 222-year-old warship

A 222nd birthday is quite a milestone, and the USS Constitution celebrated in style on Oct. 18, 2019. A cruise through Boston Harbor showed off Old Ironsides, the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy, according to the National Parks Service.

Although the ship isn’t engaged in warfighting anymore, it hosts visitors as an historic site, along with the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Read on to learn more about the USS Constitution’s history.


Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

USS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbor during Constitution’s birthday cruise.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Kramer)

The Constitution started construction in 1794, and first set sail Oct. 21, 1797.

She was built in Boston as one of the US Navy’s first six warfighting ships after the United States gained independence. The Constitution was first engaged during a dispute between the US and France called the Quasi-War, which took place between 1798 and 1800, according to the US Historian.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

USS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbor during Constitution’s birthday cruise.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Kramer)

It wasn’t until the War of 1812 that she earned her nickname.

The War of 1812 involved the US in a trade dispute between Britain and France, which later spiraled into a conflict over national sovereignty, territorial control, and westward expansion by the US.

But during the conflict, the Constitution’s hull was apparently so strong — like iron — that enemy fire couldn’t penetrate, earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.”

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

The Constitution got underway to celebrate the ship’s 222nd birthday and the Navy’s 244th Birthday.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular)

The Constitution still has a full crew, which maintains the ship.

The ship maintains an active-duty commander and crew, who keep the vessel and its gear ship-shape and give tours to members of the public.

Source: US Navy

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

The USS Constitution celebrates its 222nd birthday.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular)

The Constitution attempted to launch into Boston Harbor twice — and failed — before it succeeded on October 21, 1797.

Source: USS Constitution Museum

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

The USS Constitution celebrates its 222nd birthday.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular)

After her lengthy service and legendary survivability in the War of 1812, rumors began to circulate in the 1830s that Old Ironsides would be retired.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the poem “Old Ironsides” to stir public sentiment to save her, according to the USS Constitution Museum. She remained in service until 1853, and was converted into a naval school ship between 1857 and 1860.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

USS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbor during Constitution’s birthday cruise.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular)

In 1925, US school children raised 4,000 to restore the Constitution.

Source: USS Constitution Museum

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

The Constitution cruised around Boston Harbor on October 18, 2019.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Samoluk)

She was designated the US’s Ship of State in 2010 by former President Barack Obama.

Source: USS Constitution Museum

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35s won’t save NATO from a war with Russia

Much of NATO’s hope to remain a relevant fighting force in the coming decades has been pinned on the introduction of the F-35, but a simple look at the numbers shows that one airframe alone won’t turn the tide against Russia.

“If we think we’re going to wait for the next generation to sort the problems out, I can categorically tell you we will fail when next major conflict occurs.” Simon Rochelle, the Royal Air Force’s air vice-marshal, told the Royal United Service Institute’s Combat Air Survivability conference on March 20, 2019.


“In 2030, 80% of the European NATO forces — should one of those situations occur, God forbid — will be gen 4 fighters. You can’t walk away from that,” he continued, referring to pre-stealth jets as belonging to a fourth generation of fighters.

While Rochelle sounded confident in the F-35’s ability to meet current and future threats, he stressed that NATO wouldn’t hit critical mass in its fifth-generation fleets in time for the next big conflict.

But instead of demanding a deeper well of F-35s, Rochelle said the only practical way was to spread the benefits of the F-35 horizontally, to other airframes.

“I need the F-35’s ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) information off boarded,” he said. “We have F-35s and Typhoons, and I have to use those symbiotically. I can’t afford poor interoperability.”

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

(Crown Copyright)

Too little, too late

While the UK has its own fifth-gen fighter planned, the Tempest, Rochelle said the slow pace of fielding the fighters slightly defeated the purpose.

“If both those airframes take 10 years to mature to the next level, they won’t fit the purpose,” he said.

In the meantime, Russia has come up with a slew of new, low-cost, and potentially potent weapons systems meant to down NATO jets.

“The threats, in terms of how it is progressing, [are] significant,” Rochelle said of Russian systems such as the S-400, which has begun to proliferate across the globe with China, Syria, and even the NATO member Turkey looking to buy.

“Those systems are so complex and so capable that a price point for those systems of defense is far cheaper than the long running programs we have in the aircraft to development,” Rochelle said. “We can’t afford not to respond at pace, because our adversaries are responding at pace.”

An S-400 can spot even stealth aircraft such as the F-35 and, using a relatively cheap missile, down a jet that costs many hundred times its own value.

Additionally, Russia may have the even more advanced S-500 system online by the time fifth-generation fighter aircraft hit the front lines en masse.

“They are formidable beasts,” Rochelle said of Russia’s new systems, which include directed energy weapons.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

Eurofighter Typhoon.

(Photo by Ronnie Macdonald)

Think fast

At the Rapid Capabilities Office in the Royal Air Force, Rochelle’s job is to innovate new solutions to these mounting problems and get them done fast.

Rochelle discussed cutting down extensive, sometimes grueling testing requirements for non-mission critical components of fighter aircraft. He also explained how his office was able to get Tornado jets fighting ISIS in 191 days.

When it came to fitting the F-35 into the bigger NATO fight against Russia, Rochelle was full of ideas.

“I want to be able to connect a Rivet Joint, through space, into the cockpit … We need to be thinking in those dimensions,” he said, referencing the US and UK’s standard airborne signals-intelligence plane that can help spot anti-air batteries like Russia’s S-400.

“Ideally, I’d like to reprogram the F-35 in flight” with new information, potentially including things spotted by Rivet Joints and other legacy aircraft.

Essentially, Rochelle knows that Europe won’t have B-21s, F-22s, and F-35s of its own on day one of a conflict with Russia, and has launched a series of programs to make his Typhoons fight harder with the benefit of targeting and threat data pulled from F-35s.

In effect, he’s gunning for a much cheaper, lighter air force that takes the cutting edge of the F-35 and spreads it out across the entire mass of NATO’s jet fighter fleet.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the Army’s billion-dollar robot program

The Pentagon is investing roughly $1 billion over the next several years for the development of robots to be used in an array of roles alongside combat troops, Bloomberg reported.

The US military already uses robots in various capacities, such for bomb disposal and scouting, but these new robots will reportedly be able to preform more sophisticated roles including complex reconnaissance, carrying soldier’s gear, and detecting hazardous chemicals.


Bryan McVeigh, the Army’s project manager for force protection, told Bloomberg he has “no doubt” there will be robots in every Army formation “within five years.”

“We’re going from talking about robots to actually building and fielding programs. This is an exciting time to be working on robots with the Army,” McVeigh said.

In April 2018, the Army awarded a $429.1 million contract to Endeavor Robotics and QinetiQ North America, both based out of Massachusetts. Endeavor has also been awarded separate contracts from the Army and Marine Corps in as the Pentagon pushes for robots in a wide range of sizes.

The introduction of more robots into combat situations is intended to not only make life easier for troops, but also protect them from potentially fatal scenarios.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
The RIPSAW-MS1 demonstrates its off-road capabilities during a lanes exercise at the Fort Hood Robotics Rodeo. The RIPSAW is equipped with six claymore mines, can carry 5,000 pounds and tow multiple military vehicles. The RIPSAW is designed to be an unmanned convoy security vehicle.
(U.S. Army photo)

But there are also concerns about the rapid development of robotic technology in relation to warfare, especially in terms of autonomous robots. In short, many are uncomfortable with the notion of killer robots deciding who gets to live or die on the battlefield.

‘These can be weapons of terror…’

Along these lines, over two dozen countries have called for a ban on fully autonomous weapons, but the US is not among them.

In August 2017, Tesla’s Elon Musk and over 100 experts sent a letter to the United Nations urging it to move toward banning lethal autonomous weapons.

“Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” the letter said. “These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”

In May 2018, roughly a dozen employees at Google resigned after finding out the company was providing information on its artificial intelligence technology to the Pentagon to aid a drone program called Project Maven, which is designed to help drones identify humans versus objects.

Google has reportedly defended its involvement in Project Maven to employees.

America’s use of drones and drone strikes in counterterrorism operations is already a controversial topic, as many condemn the US drone program as illegal and unethical. The US continues to face criticism in relation to civilian casualties from such strikes, among other issues.

Hence, while the military is seemingly quite excited about the expansion of robots in combat situations, there is a broader debate occurring among tech experts, academics and politicians about the ethical and legal implications of robotic warfare.

The killer robots debate

Peter W. Singer, a leading expert on 21st century warfare, focuses a great deal on what is known as “the killer robots debate” in his writing and research.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it is a very real debate right now in international relations. There have been multiple UN meetings on this,” Singer told Business Insider.

As Singer put it, robotic technology introduces myriad legal and ethical questions for which “we’re really not all that ready.”

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
While being dragged, 225th Engineer Brigade Soldier Sgt. Kasandra Deutsch of Pineville, La., demonstrates the power of the Talon robot.
(U.S. Army photo)

“This really comes down to, who is responsible if something goes bad?” Singer said, explaining that this applies to everything from robots in war to driverless cars. “We’re entering a new frontier of war and technology and it’s not quite clear if the laws are ready.”

Singer acknowledges the valid concerns surrounding such technology, but thinks an all-out ban is impractical given it’s hard to ban technology in war that will also be used in civilian life.

In other words, autonomous robots will likely soon be used by many of us in everyday life and it’s doubtful the military will have less advanced technology than the public. Not to mention, there’s already an ongoing arms race when it comes to robotic technology between the US and China, among other countries.

In Singer’s words, the Pentagon is not pursuing robotic technology because “it’s cool” but because “it thinks it can be applied to certain problems and help save money.” Moreover, it wants to ensure the US is in a good position to defend itself from other countries developing such technology.

Singer believes it would be more practical to resolve issues of accountability, rather than pushing for a total ban. He contends the arguments surrounding this issue mirror a lot of the same concerns people had regarding the nuclear arms race not too long ago.

“I’m of the camp that I don’t see as an absolute ban as possible right now. While it might be something that’s great to happen I look at the broader history of weapons,” he said.

Moving forward, Singer said countries might consider pushing for banning the use of such weapons in certain areas, such as cities, where the risk of killing civilians is much higher.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Friday! Just another few hours until that few-hours-long safety brief. In the meantime, check out this memes list.


1. If this happened to you this morning, sorry for bringing it up (via 11 Bravos).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

2. When fighter pilots want in on anti-sub missions (via Pop Smoke).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
They better close those canopies before they dive though.

SEE ALSO: These crazy photos show 30+ ton tanks in flight

3. When your selfie game is on point (via Military Memes).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
This is also how F-35 pilots look behind them.

4. Time to see the world (via Military Memes).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
Individual experiences may vary.

5. It’s a hell of an obstacle (via US Army Brotherhood of Tankers).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
Concertina wire: Not even once.

6. EOD doesn’t have time for your “missions.”

(via 11 Bravos).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
They have boss fights to win.

7. Coast Guard finally gets gun-like objects.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
If they play their cards right, they might even get guns.

8. Rack City for rich yuppies (via Sh-T My LPO Says).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
And yes, we know about the Navy spelling on here.

9. Corpsmen just shove hard drugs down your throat (via Navy Memes).

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

10. Remember to line up in the first few ranks so you can take a knee for the whole thing.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
Also, try to smuggle in some knee pads.

11. When ISIS lines up for a parade …

(via Doctrine Man!!)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
… and gets a fireworks show for free.

 12. The music scene in Baghdad has a lot of low notes.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
Still a crowd pleaser though.

13. “Is the grass going to get too long under the snow, staff sergeant?”

(via Arctic Specter)

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
Guess who’s about to mop snow from the parking lot?

NOW: This video shows the adrenaline rush soldiers feel after being shot at

OR: SEAL Team 6’s plan to surrender and 7 other amazing JSOC tales

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 8 edition)

Reveille! Reveille! Here’s the news you need to know about to start your day fully mission-ready:


Now check this out: 13 professional baseball players who became war heroes 

MIGHTY TRENDING

A new terror supergroup is filling the void left by ISIS in Syria

With up to 90% of its territory lost, ISIS appears effectively defeated as a conventional foe. But while the black flag of ISIS is being lowered, another may soon take its place — the white flag of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

A new report in the Wall Street Journal details HTS’ rise as it consolidates power in northwest Syria. Led by a former Al-Qaeda militant, HTS is mostly based in Syria’s Idlib Governorate and has taken advantage of the US-led coalition’s focus on ISIS in the East, as well as the Syrian government and Russia’s focus on other parts of the country.


HTS came into existence when Jabhat Fath al Sham, previously known as the Al Nusrah Front and Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria until its re-branding in July of 2016, announced a merger with four other islamist groups operating in Syria.

Combined with the other groups, HTS — or the Assembly for Liberation of the Levant — was created.

The reason for its existence, according to its propaganda, is “to unite our banners and to preserve the fruits and the jihad” of the revolution against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, so that it can “be the seed of unifying the capacities and strength of this revolution.”

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters
Bashar al-Assad

The group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, has said that he wants his followers to engage in “a war of ideas, a war of minds, a war of wills, a war of perseverance,” according to the Wall Street Journal, and that he will conquer Damascus — Syria’s capital — and implement Sharia law.

The group announced in February 2018, that it had defeated the remnants of ISIS militants in Idlib, and a month later said that they had taken control of up to 25 villages in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

It has created a religious police force in its territory, similar to ISIS’ Hisbah. They enforce Sharia law, control services like electricity and water, and collect taxes from citizens.

The group has also been fighting forces from the Syrian government in Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. But while the terror group continues to grow and solidify its control, the Syrian government and US-led coalition have their attention elsewhere.

“The area seems to be out of focus for Western powers,” Hassan Hassan, an analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told the Wall Street Journal. “The jihadis are having a honeymoon there.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why it’s raining salt in the former Soviet Union

Large parts of western Uzbekistan and northern Turkmenistan are recovering from a severe salt storm that has damaged agriculture and livestock herds.

The three-day storm hit Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan and Khorezm regions, as well as Turkmenistan’s Dashoguz Province, beginning on May 26, 2018.


The salt — lifted from dried-out former parts of the Aral Sea — left a white dust on farmers’ fields and fruit trees that is expected to ruin many crops.

The storm also caused flights at the Urgench airport to be canceled, made driving hazardous, and caused breathing difficulties for many people.

Particularly hard hit by the storm, which reached speeds of more than 20 meters per second, were the Uzbek regions of Khorezm, Navoi, and Bukhara.

Remnants of the storm were also reported as far south as Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Temirbek Bobo, 80, told RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service that it was the first time he had seen such a harsh storm.

“I’ve seen the wind bring sand before, but this was the first time I saw salt. This event can be called a catastrophe,” said Bobo, who lives in the Takhiatash district of Karakalpakstan. “The whole day there was nothing but salt rain [coming down]. The sun was not visible.”

He added: “Nature began to take revenge on us for [what we have done] to the Aral Sea.”

A representative of the Karakalpakstan’s Council of Ministers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the council had not received any instructions regarding the situation, but suggested that the region’s Agricultural Ministry may have.

RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service was unable to reach Karakalpakstan’s Agricultural Ministry for comment.

Salt storms are common in areas near the Aral Sea, but this one carried salt over a much wider area.

Once one of the four largest seas on Earth, intensive irrigation projects set up by the Soviets in the 1960s led to its desiccation.

The runoff from nearby agricultural fields has polluted the remaining parts of the Aral Sea with pesticides and fertilizers, which have crystallized with the salt.

Inhalation of the salt can cause severe throat and lung problems. The salt also can poison farmers’ produce and cause chemical damage to buildings.


This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian nuclear sub fires intercontinental missile for first time

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it has test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile from its most advanced nuclear-powered submarine for the first time, striking a target thousands of kilometers away.

The ministry said on Oct. 30, 2019, that the missile was fired from an upgraded Borei-class nuclear submarine that was submerged in the White Sea near Arkhangelsk on Russia’s northern coast.

It said the missile carried a dummy payload that reached a test site in Russia’s Far East region of Kamchatka.


Vice Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev said the upgraded model of the Borei-class submarine is scheduled to enter service with Russia’s Northern Fleet at the end of 2019 once it has completed trials that include weapons tests.

Meet Russia’s latest nuclear-powered Borei-class intercontinental ballistic missile submarine

www.youtube.com

The test comes amid tensions between Moscow and Washington following the demise of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty that has sparked fears of a growing arms race.

Global arms controls set up during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check have come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned the deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles.

In August 2019, the United States pulled out of the accord.

Washington said Moscow has openly disregarded the conditions of the treaty, a charge that Russia has denied.

The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, known as the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021.

Signed in 2010, the New START treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia are allowed to deploy.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what the proposed ‘Atomic Veteran Medal’ could mean

Many of the side effects of war go unaddressed by those outside the military and veteran community. Recent veterans have been exposed to deadly chemicals released from burn pits. Vietnam War veterans fought for decades to get recognition of the impacts of exposure to Agent Orange. But finally, there can be some solace for veterans who have been exposed to nuclear radiation.

The first sort of federal acknowledgement of the unfathomable health concerns involved with being in close contact with nuclear waste, radioactive elements, and even nuclear blast testing came in 1990 with the establishment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). Now, with the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, radiation-exposed veterans will be honored with the colloquially named “Atomic Veterans Medal.”


Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

It means that the government is finally saying that being this close to a nuclear explosion is, apparently, “bad for your health”

(US Navy)

H.Amdt.648 to the H.R.5515 requires the Secretary of Defense to design and produce a military service medal to honor retired and former members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to radiation — or, as the amendment calls them, “atomic veterans.”

At first glance, this seems like a paltry concession for someone who has lived a lifetime of hardships stemming from irradiation. It is, in essence, a ribbon, a piece of metal, and a paper that says, “that sucks — we’re sorry that happened!” That sort of thing is of little importance in the minds of atomic vets.

But it means far more in the bigger picture.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

One fire screwed over 16 million vets well over 45 years later.

(Department of Defense)

Federal acknowledgement is paramount. The fact that, according to the House voting record, 408 congressmen agree that this amendment should be included and that the government should do more for atomic veterans is huge.

Care for atomic vets has been an issue swept under the rug for years. That care was made even more questionable after the National Archives Fire of 1973, which saw the destruction of military personnel files for over 16-18 million veterans in a single night. Because of that fire, many cancer-stricken veterans were denied healthcare as it was impossible to prove that they were, in fact, within the proximity of a nuclear blast.

Iran denies it swarmed US carrier in international waters

One hill at a time.

(United States Air Force photo)

The first radiation exposure act gave atomic veterans the ability to receive special, priority enrollment for healthcare services from the VA for radiation-related conditions. The amendment in 2013 allowed even more veterans to be covered by RECA by including veterans who were downwind of nuclear tests. The wording of the medal seems to allow for all veterans who’ve been affected by radiation in some manner.

This alone is a huge win as it now gives treatment for the veterans who’ve long been denied access to medical care. With legislation like this receiving overwhelming support, it’s only a matter of time before Agent Orange veterans and the Burn Pit veterans also get their acknowledgement.

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