U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis.

Live: U.S. forces in Iraq on high alert as German Bundestag approves extension of military mandate

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The London-based Sharq al-Awsat has published the English version of the op-ed written by Iraqi Prime Minister Sudani.
"We reaffirm our unwavering stance regarding the Palestinian right to establish an independent state with Al-Quds as its capital." This is Iraq's steadfast position, reiterated at the United Nations General Assembly in September this year. It remains the cornerstone of our support for the Palestinian cause, aimed at ensuring the Palestinian people's legitimate rights, peace, independence, security, and sovereignty in their own state.
We are waiting!
Iraqi special forces, in coordination with Kirkuk Operations Command, killed at least two suspected IS militants in an ambush in southern Kirkuk on Wednesday. 

They also successfully detonated a booby-trapped body of another militant, according to a Joint Operations Command statement.
Here is what the military spokesman for the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, Jaafar al-Husseini said during the interview with Al-Mayadeen:

When discussing the tactics and rules of this war, all are considered. Starting today, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has formally entered the battlefield.

The group initiated attacks on two significant U.S. bases: Ain al-Assad and Harir in northern Iraq. This marks the beginning of a campaign against American presence in the region.

This campaign will not cease; it will escalate, with more strikes planned until the bombing of Gaza stops and the siege is fully lifted.

In summary, the Iraqi resistance has publicly and clearly entered this war today, as announced in an official statement. All factions of the Iraqi resistance are participating, and the first casualties have already occurred. The operations will continue until the bombing of Gaza ceases and the siege is lifted entirely.

The military spokesman for the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, Jaafar al-Husseini, has been quoted by Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV declaring that the Iraqi resistance has entered what he terms the "Al-Aqsa Flood" battle, directing its attacks against American bases.

Here is what else the report said: Husseini says that the resistance in Iraq achieved the first casualties, confirming the continuation of operations at a higher pace, and emphasizing the possession of the capabilities to destroy all American bases.
The pro-KDP media outlet Kurdistan 24, considered to be aligned with KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, has published an English-language report on the forthcoming visit of athe newly re-eletced PUK leader to Washington. The report emphasizes Bafel Talabani’s "close ties" to Iran and to Iraqi figures implicated in serious human right s abuses.

The report says that “five dubious individuals attended that conference. Three were Iranian officials, while two were Iraqi figures with close ties to Iran. Notably, both of the Iraqis are under U.S. sanctions. Bafel sat in the front row of the Party Congress between Qais al-Khazali and Rayan Kaldani. Bafel’s friendly ties with them were underscored by the fact that he actually held their hands during the conference.”

This comes as Talabani has voiced plans to improve relations with the KDP in an attempt to ease the escalating tensions between the two parties. The report, available only in English, appears to target U.S. officials specifically. It also suggests a lack of interest on the part of KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani in easing tensions with Talabani.
This is the image of destroyed drone shared by the Kurdistan Region’s counter terrorism forces. The drone said to have crashed in an uninhabited area near Batas village in Harir, Erbil province.
Prime Minister Sudani has penned an op-ed in the London-based, Saudi-backed newspaper Sharq al-Awsat, where his media office has summarized key points. In the op-ed, Sudani emphasizes Iraq's "unwavering stance" on Palestinian rights and confirms his participation in the upcoming international summit on Gaza to be held in Egypt.

Here are the main points:
  • We emphasized the importance of de-escalation, upholding human rights, and exerting pressure on the Zionist entity to cease its aggression in the occupied territories.
  • The international community must take resolute and responsible actions to avert a humanitarian catastrophe that could have profound consequences on the existence of the Palestinian population in their occupied homeland.
  • We promptly sent humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, in collaboration with the Egyptian government.
  • I will attend the Egypt international summit, in order to address the dire situation in Gaza.
  • Using the balanced relations with regional states and the international community, Iraq will endeavor to exert influence to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian population in Gaza and throughout the occupied territories.
«نجددُ على مسامعِ العالم، موقفَنا الواضحَ والثابتَ من الحقِ الفلسطيني في إقامة الدولة الفلسطينية المستقلة وعاصمتِها القدس»...
PM Sudani has chaired the 35th Emergency Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union discussing the war in Gaza.

A statement issued by the PM office said he has “reaffirmed Iraq's unwavering stance on the Palestinian issue, emphasizing the need for immediate support to the Palestinian people, who are facing severe aggression, war crimes, and potential genocide due to excessive actions by Zionist occupation authorities targeting innocent civilians."

The statement added that PM "condemned the ruthless bombing of Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, resulting in the tragic loss and injury of numerous women and children. He decried this heinous violation of international humanitarian law. He urged the international community, parliamentary, and political institutions to support the oppressed Palestinian people, ensuring their legitimate rights to establish a state on their national land."
Recent drone attacks targeting coalition bases in Iraq come on the heels of threats made by pro-Iran militias in the country. 

Ahmad al-Hamidawi, leader of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, issued a statement on Wednesday warning, "Our missiles, drones, and special forces are ready to direct qualitative strikes at the American enemy in its bases and disrupt its interests if it intervenes in this battle. These evil people must leave the country. Otherwise, they will taste the fire of hell in this world before the afterlife."

AFP reports that two officials affiliated with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have confirmed Wednesday's attacks on two bases in the country. According to these unnamed officials, the armed groups are on high alert and prepared to broaden their combat operations against Israel, pending approval from Iran. Some leaders from these factions are currently in Lebanon and Syria, awaiting further orders to engage.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, comprising of armed Shia groups, has taken responsibility for three drone attacks on the Tanf airbase in Syria earlier today. According to a statement from the group, three of its drones struck their targets "directly and accurately."

This is the same group that previously claimed responsibility for a drone attack on Harir airbase in Erbil province on Wednesday.
Earlier, U.S. authorities reported that in western Iraq, U.S. forces engaged with two drones. One was destroyed, and the other was damaged, leading to minor injuries among Coalition forces.
شفق نيوز/ أعلنت "المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق" التي تضم فصائل شيعية مسلحة، يوم الخميس، مسؤوليتها عن الهجوم على قاعدة "التنف" العسكرية التابعة للتحالف الدولي المناهض لتنظيم داعش في العراق وسوريا.وقالت
شفق نيوز
Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr strongly condemns any "plans" to displace Palestinians from Gaza, labeling such initiatives as a "malicious, terrorist idea of the brutal terrorist Zionist entity."

Here's a translation of a portion of the statement that aims to preserve the essence of the original text:

Shame on anyone who condones or even speaks of the displacement of the Palestinian people to Sinai, Anbar, the Negev, or any other location. Anyone who supports this malicious, terrorist idea is, knowingly or unknowingly, aiding the expansion of what he calls 'the brutal terrorist Zionist entity.' Whether this idea originates from 'the stinky Benjamin,' or from 'the senile one' [U.S. President Joe Biden], or their followers in the Middle East, it would signify an expansion and internationalization of the war.

Neither the 'deviant America' nor the 'cranky Zionist entity' have any authority over Sinai, Anbar, or the Negev. I am also confident that the people of Gaza will neither surrender nor enable international terrorism to subdue the resistance factions, contrary to the wishes of those who have sold their consciences in pursuit of what they term 'peace' with Zionist terrorism."

The statement is clear in its vehement opposition to any proposals for the displacement of Palestinians and implicates both regional and international actors in what it portrays as an agenda of terror and expansion.
Germany is a member of the anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition forces with some 250 troops currently stationed in Iraq. The mandate allows for up to 500 German soldiers to be deployed.

The German government earlier explained the duties of its forces in Iraq as:
•    Air-to-air refuelling
•    Air transport
•    Ground-based airspace surveillance and headquarters personnel
•    Participating in the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme
•    Providing the international Anti-IS Coalition and NATO with advisory personnel

In seeking the mandate extension from the Bundestag, Berlin articulated that the mission aims "to enable the Iraqi armed and security forces to guarantee the long-term security and stability of Iraq without external assistance, to promote a process of reconciliation within the country, and to prevent a resurgence of the terrorist organisation known as Islamic State (IS) there." 

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammed Shia Al-Sudani, had earlier this year requested the extension during his visit.

Besides military involvement, Germany also contributes non-military aid to both Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). This support encompasses disaster management, de-radicalization and reintegration initiatives for previously radicalized and internally displaced individuals.

Berlin has emphasized its commitment to aiding the transformation and diversification of Iraq's economy, particularly in generating training opportunities and employment for the country's youth.
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani thanks Germany for extending the mandate of their troops in Iraq.

He says: “We still face a common threat, and together, we will ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS.”

The KRG has also welcomed the approval.
The U.S. Central Command issued this statement on Wednesday:

In the last 24 hours, the U.S. military defended against three drones near U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. In western Iraq, U.S. forces engaged two drones, destroying one and damaging the second, resulting in minor injuries to Coalition forces. Separately in northern Iraq, U.S. forces engaged and destroyed a drone, resulting in no injuries or damage.  We are continuing to assess the impacts to operations.

In this moment of heightened alert, we are vigilantly monitoring the situation in Iraq and the region. We want to emphasize U.S. forces will defend U.S. and Coalition forces against any threat.
IRAQ - In the last 24 hours, the U.S. military defended against three drones near U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. In western Iraq, U.S. forces engaged two drones, destroying one and damaging the
U.S. Central Command
Morning Post

As expected, pressure on the U.S. troops in Iraq is mounting, fueled by pro-Iran Iraqi Shia armed groups voicing strong criticism of Israel's counterstrike in Gaza. Recent drone attacks targeting coalition forces have resulted in minor injuries, although they were successfully thwarted.

In related developments, Germany's Defence Minister Boris Pistorius has announced that the current troop count (250) in Iraq will remain unchanged. This comes as the Bundestag approved to extend the military mandate, which would permit an increase in troop numbers if deemed necessary.

In another update, security forces in Sulaymaniyah province have apprehended a terror suspect. The arrest was executed through a joint operation involving both Iraqi and Kurdish counter-terrorism units.