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Islamic State Terrorist Group Showing No Signs of Panic as Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Calls for ‘Total War’

Even civilians who have been rescued from IS say there are few signs the terror group is ready to fall apart

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FILE - Image taken from video shows a man purported to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State militant group, delivering a sermon. In an audio recording released late Tuesday, he called on IS fighters in Mosul not to retreat in the face of approaching Iraqi and Kurdish forces. VOA
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Fewer than 5,000 Islamic State fighters trying to hold onto the Iraqi city of Mosul are being urged to fight to the death.

“Know that holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame,” the terror group’s leader and self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi exhorted in an audio recording released via social media late Tuesday.

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“Do not retreat,” he said. “This total war and the great jihad only increased our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that this is all a prelude to victory.”

The message from Baghdadi is the first since last December and comes nearly three weeks into the Iraqi and Kurdish campaign to retake Mosul, which has been under IS control for two years.

U.S. intelligence sources say there is no reason to doubt the audio’s authenticity and agree, based on the content of the remarks, it was likely made recently.

[bctt tweet=”U.S. defense officials say it appears Islamic State Terrorist Group is picking its fights carefully. ” username=””]

IS command and control

A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq said officials there were not yet ready to verify that the voice on the recording was that of the IS leader but acknowledged the message was clearly “an effort to rally the troops.”

Smoke rises from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants in southeast of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 3, 2016. VOA
Smoke rises from clashes during a battle with Islamic State militants in southeast of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 3, 2016. VOA

“This is the type of thing that a leader who’s losing command and control and ability to keep everybody on the same page says,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, Col. John Dorrian told reporters via a video conference from Baghdad.

“We don’t believe that it’s going to work,” he added.

But intelligence officials believe the recording may also be intended to dispel any notions or rumors the reclusive Baghdadi has been killed.

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Some analysts examining the pacing and the rhetoric in the audio message think the significance of the recording could be even greater, suggesting a key shift in the way IS has been fighting up until now.

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s statement is the fastest in tempo and strongest among his speeches,” according to a Tweet by Hassan Hassan, a resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy who has written extensively about IS.

“The new tone/message tells us clearly that ISIS wants the remaining strongholds to be a big show,” Hassan added in another tweet. “It won’t withdraw as it did before.”

Choosing their fights

There are indications that IS fighters are prepared to make such a stand in spite of overwhelming odds.

“They don’t seem to be panicking,” a U.S. official told VOA.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said despite the faster than expected advance of Iraqi and Kurdish forces, IS fighters in and around Mosul were showing no signs of abandoning their training or giving up their well-known tactics.

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U.S. defense officials also say it appears IS is picking its fights carefully.

“In some villages, they slice through them like butter, and there’s very little resistance at all, and ISIL up and leaves,” Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis said Wednesday when asked about the type of resistance Iraqi and Kurdish forces were encountering around Mosul.

“There are others that put up quite a fight,” he added.

Iraqis fleeing the conflict in Kokjali are seen on the road east of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 3, 2016. VOA
Iraqis fleeing the conflict in Kokjali are seen on the road east of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 3, 2016. VOA

Even civilians who have been rescued from IS say there are few signs the terror group is ready to fall apart.

“I spoke to this large group of civilians who had been marched by ISIS north,” said Human Rights Watch senior Iraq researcher Belkis Wille after visiting with civilians at Jeddah camp, near Qayyarah airfield south of Mosul.

“They made it sound fairly organized,” she said. “ISIS came door to door, knocked on each door, told people they had to leave. They had vehicles kind of patrolling the group as they were walking.”

How long?

The question is just how long the group will be able to maintain that type of coherence, with the toughest and bloodiest fighting still ahead.

And while in the past IS fighters have often fled in the face of overwhelming force, that may not be the case for those forces left in Mosul.

“If they’re still in Mosul, given that they’ve known there’s a massive buildup of troops in that area, that means they probably want to fight till the end,” said former CIA analyst Aki Peritz, now with George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.

And with the number of likely escape routes shrinking, IS fighters may not have much of a choice. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)