The siege of Mosul

Western media have given plenty of coverage to the loss of life and great damage  in Aleppo, as the Syrian government forces aided by Russia drives out rebel fighters. Heart rending pictures of civilian children caught up in the war, of fleeing non combatants and bombed medical facilities has made many ask what can the West do  to help bring the violence to an end and to assist with humanitarian  aid.

At the same time as we watch this tragedy, we see and hear little of the battle for Mosul in Iraq. There the Iraqi government forces, assisted by Kurdish troops and western planes and intelligence are seeking to recapture this large city from Isil and other rebel forces. It is said that around 6000 ISIL fighters are resisting far larger forces, led by the Iraqi Golden division of 10,000 well trained and armed professionals. The battle has been raging for three months now, and forecasts that the city would be back in government hands by the year end look optimistic. More than a million civilians are still living in the city, with reports of ISIL using some as human shields, and other reports of considerable death and damage being wrought by the war. There are especial problems with water supply leaving people at risk of disease from unclean water.

In October the UN warned that “There are real fears that the offensive to retake Mosul could produce a humanitarian catastrophe resulting in one of the largest man made displacement crises in recent years. ” It is I trust good news that there have been no further such reports, though the limited news from the battlefields implies there is still a lot of destruction and loss of life as a great city is fought over intensely. Could our news organisations bring us up to date?  How will the great tensions between Sunni and Shia be contained in the city, as the Iraqi Army aided by Shia forces advances?


  1. Lifelogic
    December 18, 2016

    Indeed news on the BBC and MSM is highly selective, driven by fashion, group think and, to a large degree, the political agendas of governments and the media organisations.

    As an example about one person a week dies at the the hands of people with long term, well known serious mental health issues, who are “cared for” in the community. Yet none of these victims gets so much as 1/1,000 of the media coverage that was given to the tragic murder of Jo Cox.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 18, 2016

      Why is Mrs May so reluctant to curb the power of striking trade unions as is reported today?

      It does rather remind me of the dire, dithering Ted Heath period. A small majority, mainly lefty pro EU MPs, daft proposals like workers on company boards, absurdly high and complex taxes, strikes, enforced gender pay reporting, central wage control laws and lots of waste & white elephant projects like HS2, Hinkley, lagoons, wind farms and the likes.

      With this bonkers expensive & intermittent energy policy perhaps some power cuts soon too. As C Booker says today T May should now revoke the appallingly damaging Climate Change Act, voted for by all but five MP’s in 2008. It would be a huge confidence boost for the UK economy.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 18, 2016

        Also it would suggest that there is actually some intelligent understanding of reality within the Theresa May administration.

        This contrary to nearly all the decisions they have made so far.

        1. Dame Rita Webb
          December 18, 2016

          LL “The week in Westminster” is worth listening to on the iplayer. A hack was drawing the parallels between G Brown and T May as PM. You know this administration is going to be another absolute disaster

          1. Lifelogic
            December 18, 2016

            Indeed, or between Theresa and the soundly rejected dire policies Ed Miliband.

          2. zorro
            December 18, 2016

            I did mention it first here I think…. ?…. She even said that she was ‘getting on with the job’


        2. Antisthenes
          December 18, 2016

          I had my doubts when Theresa May became PM as her track record at the Home office was only brilliant by the fact she could keep her head down and dodge the bullets. Her time as PM appears to be following the same path. It is going to be lacklustre as I believe she is not up to the job. She is certainly more like Heath than Thatcher and at the moment we do need a person like the latter who would be a match for the EU and exploit Brexit fully to the UK’s advantage.

          1. Hope
            December 20, 2016

            LL, Miliband was soundly defeated, but the Tories keep copying his policies! You could not make it up. Perhaps they are EU policies from the true govt and the UK managers introducing them.

            May is going to be a disaster as she was the plan B by Tory remainiacs. They got rid of Thatcher so steering May in their direction is a dead cert. ere is no reason for the six month delay to issue article 50. Ten months come March. All the remainiac civil service, ambassadors still advising apocalyptic warnings, past remainiacs on manoeuvres. We even read Khan hiring Mabdelson for Brexit advice at taxpayer expense!

        3. graham1946
          December 18, 2016

          Does that predictable diatribe actually have any reference at all to the subject in hand?

          I think we’ve had enough cut and paste items from LL. Time to find something else to say LL?

      2. Ian Wragg
        December 18, 2016

        Not only that but on a quiet Sunday Afternoon wind is supplying 1.3gw or less than 3% of demand.
        Now the weather is getting cooler the STOR diesel engines will be in service at 3 times normal cost and the most polluting generation on the planet.

        1. Lifelogic
          December 18, 2016

          Put an decent Cambridge engineer in charge of energy policy instead of Oxford PPE graduates etc. or people suffering from the greencrap/climate alarmism religion.

          1. hefner
            December 21, 2016

            So LL are you candidate for that position?

      3. Anonymous
        December 19, 2016

        Because we would end up with virtually no union rights. Mrs Thatcher’s reforms were extensive.

    2. Lifelogic
      December 18, 2016

      Three cheers for the Daily Mail today for showing us all how Cameron overseas “aid” budget is very often used and hugely abused.

      This while the NHS falls to pieces and many pensioners in the UK cannot even afford to keep themselves warm.

      1. Ed Mahony
        December 18, 2016

        ‘Three cheers for the Daily Mail today for showing us all how Cameron overseas “aid” budget is very often used and hugely abused’

        – Aid isn’t about charity it’s about geopolitics. Similar to a CEO who invests, using sensible risk and creative-thinking to protect company from competitors and to grow.
        Similar to the UK’s geopolitical approach to Europe, using sensible risk and creative thinking to build up Europe for us to have trading partners as well as build up the peace and security of Europe not just to avoid war but also to be a bastion of strength against threats such as Russia, mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East, and terrorism, as well as do things with our European neighbours such as big commercial, scientific and cultural projects that we cannot do on our own.

        1. Lifelogic
          December 18, 2016

          It seem to be about building useless runways in St Helena and generally pissing money down the drain, or paying very high salaries to people doing little of any value for anyone.

        2. zorro
          December 18, 2016

          When has Russia threatened us?


        3. rose
          December 18, 2016

          “but also to be a bastion of strength against threats such as Russia, mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East, ”

          I agree, Ed, that aid is supposed to stem mass immigration, but in practice it has the opposite effect. As people get richer, they think about moving to Europe. When they were really poor, they didn’t.
          Think back a few decades when masses of young fit men were not arriving in boats, well fed and well dressed, with the latest IT, and big money for the people smugglers.

          1. Ed Mahony
            December 19, 2016


            ‘As people get richer, they think about moving to Europe. When they were really poor, they didn’t’

            – I don’t think these people are any richer (foreign aid isn’t new, more importantly, though, there are now far more people in the poorer parts of Africa competing for more land and resources with other poor people than before). I just think digital media, now cheap and accessible, gives these people greater access to what we in the West have and enjoy.

            – Foreign aid is really about facilitating poorer countries to create systems which lead to great political and economic stability as opposed to directly putting more money into individuals pockets. Not forgetting, of course, that poor political and economic infrastructures can help lead to political turmoil and war, leading to mass migration.

            – Lastly, we need to differentiate between the theory and practise of foreign aid. The theory is good, the practise is imperfect because human beings are imperfect – but doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater!

          2. hefner
            December 21, 2016

            Sorry, it should be Ian Birrell.

    3. John Booth
      December 18, 2016

      Hear, hear, well said.

    4. Lifelogic
      December 18, 2016

      The UK may try to stay in EU customs union and there may not be a ‘binary’ decision and continuity is ‘important’ say Liam Fox and I thought he was sound!

      Getting out of the customs union and thus getting rid of the common entry tariffs is vital and a huge benefit. Also being able to do our own trade deals is vital. What is Fox on about?

      Theresa & Hammond pulling his strings in the wrong direction again?

      1. zorro
        December 18, 2016

        It is a fatal error as we will be seen as hanging onto their coattails and dependent on them. TM will still be treated as a 3rd class citizen. If she thinks sucking up to them will get her crumbs from the EU gravy trainshe is dreaming and doing this country a great disservice…..


    5. Horatio
      December 18, 2016

      As Charles Moore pointed out so skilfully in The Spectator, there is little difference between Mosul and Aleppo apart from the biased narrative of the MSM who are still trying to provoke Hillary’s attempted war with Russia.

      1. Mitchel
        December 19, 2016

        When serious investigative journalists and historians eventually come to focus on this conflict,we (the UK,France and pre-Trump USA) are going to look very,VERY bad.All we have down is doubled down and doubled down,no doubt to please our paymasters in the Middle East.

        I’m pleased to see so many on this site get it;take care you’re not all marked down as Russian agents as a result.

  2. Prigger
    December 18, 2016

    Albert Speer, in his autobiography, or perhaps I read his words elsewhere, indicated his proferred opinion which was accepted at the time was that Germany should surrender “before all infrastructure is destroyed”. Failure to do so would have meant the deaths of millions of Germans after an inevitable but lengthy military defeat.
    No such opinion by the rebels in Aleppo was evident in their own case nor advice by the backers of the insurgents: the West.
    It has been a very long battle and if the aim was to utterly destroy the city then that could have been accomplished in less than one week by Russian planes and advanced missiles.
    My sources a week or so ago suggested there were definitely only 10,000 left in Aleppo despite reports to the contrary of much larger numbers. This would seem likely as migrants traipsing across Europe…over a million said they were from Aleppo and, Turkey has even greater numbers “from Aleppo” on her soil as refugees.

    In the case of Mosul; I am glad you have raised the issue JR. The water and food supply was disrupted according to western reports very early on. It was a major crisis within days. No water! Though luckily the river Tigris runs throughout Mosul. Its cleanliness now is anyone’s guess. The objectives of the attacking combatants seem diverse, fragmentary, and the goal is what? Capture of territory? Creating a budding economic zone for Mosul’s population? How? How could it possibly be rebuilt and made permanently safe? Will all those armies stick around after “victory”? What would have happened if ISIL had been left in place? Was the city functioning, working, feeding itself?

    The up-to-date situation is that the leaders of ISIL in Mosul , as Trump indicated, fled as the West gave them plenty of warning they were going to attack. So there are only lower middle and low tiers of ISIL fighters who do not necessarily have the wisdom nor authority to tactically withdraw for the sake of the population’s survival. They do need the population to survive.
    They do not have sure way of knowing the strength or determination of the forces against them. So they will fight on to “victory” hoping their brothers will create mayhem elsewhere as diversions.
    It is the responsibility of the attacking force or “liberating force ” of Mosul to realise their attack , our attack, is going to destroy more souls than if ISIL were left to do its worst there for a century or more.
    We should all give ourselves a medal in the colours of “principle”

  3. JJE
    December 18, 2016

    There are a number of current reports online – just search on “battle for Mosul”
    Reuters, Forbes, and the website all come at the top of my results.

    They highlight the fierce resistance being put up by IS, the futility of expecting a military resolution in the absence of a political settlement, and the environmental damage being done.

    But without your blog I would not have searched for the reports. It’s still the news editors who decide which reports to put on the front pages or at the top of the news websites and this battle seems not to be headline worthy for the Daily Mail etc. Perhaps the Iraqi military are keeping the TV crews and reporters away from the battlefield.

    Or is it that in these days where every online click is measured that they know that their reading public just don’t care enough to read the articles?

    1. Hope
      December 18, 2016

      Cameron was spending our taxes arming rebels who he did not have a clue who they were. Osborne made an empty speech last week using emotion of the tragic sights war causes to somehow justify in his mind why our military should have acted. We read previously how Camerona no Osborne’s strategic thinking and dismist experienced senior military views. Two posh boys out of their depth on all policy fronts, what a worry they got to hold high office. The posh boys having no empathy with ordinary people nor any understanding how we live our lives. Their insight: focus groups!

      We had 2 1/2 percent community charge increase for flood defence that some areas do not receive, on top of an insurance premium increase, now a further 6 percent tax rise in community charge for adult care and a further hike in insurance premium tax! 8and1/2 percent plus insurance tax rises!

      Low tax conservatives who are getting another inflation busting pay rise for a part time job when they do not pay community charge on their homes that we pay for! Where was this in the manifesto JR?

      Still it makes Teresa feel good to waste, literally waste, billions of our taxes on overseas aid rather than look after our elderly! Your party is no longer fit for office we need a Dona or a Nigel.

      1. Hope
        December 18, 2016

        Note to govt: how do we ordinary people, that you label JAM, find the huge hikes in tax rises? We thought the CIL and NHB from the massive house building w going to be used by councils to pay for this stuff. Why give LAs. Ore money to waste without any form of accountabability? Idiotically you are still pursuing Mayors for each large city that the public rejected! Once more, another example how Osborne and your party are not listening to the public. Another layer of expensive bureaucracy with not tangible outcome. All for the EU regionalisation programme that we voted against! Listening, my foot.

  4. Eh?
    December 18, 2016

    “The Ministry of Defence said the former dictator’s complex in Mosul, north Iraq, was a “major” IS HQ and training centre for foreign recruits.
    RAF Tornados used guided bombs in what Defence Secretary Michael Fallon called “emphatic” airstrikes on Monday.” BBCNews online 3rd August 2016

    Good Mr Fallon’s airstrikes were “emphatic” or Mosul would not now be totally liberated and under the watchful benevolent eyes of us lot….and some of that lot and, some of that other lot . He plans ahead.

  5. Pass Go!
    December 18, 2016

    I recall Saddam Hussein fought a last-ditch battle in Mosul. He was defeated!
    So how did the grand coalition fighting Saddam let Mosul slip through their highly technological, highly mechanised, best weaponed soldiers in the world with satellite observation and total control of the air?
    How come they have not retaken it when it was seized relatively easily from Saddam…or did he arrange a retreat? The answer is obvious. Saddam’s Army 5th Corps abandoned the city two days after Baghdad fell.
    If only, if only, Saddam had not been toppled. By comparison with ISIL he was quite the city gent wasn’t he. Mosul is what Blair probably means by “moving into the Centre Ground.” One bets Mr Fallon and Mr Blair together, united, would be demons at playing Monopoly and dominoes

  6. Dame Rita Webb
    December 18, 2016

    JR this is a report direct from Mosul on Dec 15 from a Christian missionary that I support. He himself is an ex US special forces soldier, hence that is why he is brave enough to do this. After Aleppo, I place more credence in independent sources like him than the BBC and co.

    “Now on the campaign against ISIS, the Iraqi Army has a foothold in Eastern and Southeastern Mosul. It is a city of over one million that stretches from the plains of Nineveh to the east across the Tigris River to the low hills in the west. The eastern side of the city is relatively modern but densely packed with two to three story concrete buildings. Across the Tigris to the west is the old city of even more densely packed buildings of concrete and mud within a twisting labyrinth of streets and alleys. This is the first major city that ISIS took during their conquest of parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The people are predominately Sunni and many support ISIS in the face of the injustice they felt from the Shia in Iraq.

    Into the corner of southeast Mosul our team, including our ethnic medics and cameramen from Burma, as well as two Yazidi’s and a Kurd, were taking in baby formula, food and medicine and distributing it in areas recently liberated from ISIS. Even though ISIS has been pushed out of these neighborhoods they still hold most of Mosul and are only one building or one block away from the Iraqi forces. As we began to hand out the food, ISIS attacked us with rifles, machine-guns and mortars. The Iraqi Army held them off and as bullets flew over our heads and smacked into walls we continued to pray with people and give out food. Families would dash from their houses, get the food and medical care and then run back inside. Many have decided to stay in this war zone because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they flee to a refugee camp. They are also afraid they will lose their homes and possessions if they leave.

    The Iraqi Army is pushing ISIS back block by block in bloody street battles using tanks, armored cars, Humvees and coalition air support. But the the Iraqi Army’s main weapon are brave men who risk their lives daily to fight for the liberation of Mosul and take care of each other and the population. This is not just a sacrifice for Iraq but for the whole world. During ISIS attacks Iraqi soldiers shielded the civilians and exposed themselves to direct fire as they attempted to stop the ISIS attack. ISIS launches their attacks from a network of tunnels, rat holes, suicide vehicles and IED’s. They continue to attack day and night with heavily armored trucks full of explosives, which they detonate into Iraqi positions and into civilians. ISIS soldiers attacks on foot through doors, windows and ally ways, pouring down fire on the Iraqi soldiers, those distributing food and the civilians receiving it. In seven of the ten distributions we have done so far, we came under direct attack from ISIS who killed and wounded civilians. Yet people kept coming for food because they needed to eat and there was no other way of getting it. The Iraqi soldiers have done a courageous job of holding back ISIS and taking care of the civilians. This has been wonderful to watch since many of the Iraqi Army are Shia and most of the population is Sunni, many of whom support ISIS. It is my estimation that about 10% of the population of Mosul give direct support to ISIS, 20% to 30% are sympathetic towards ISIS, and the remaining 50% to 60% don’t like ISIS but do not trust the government in Baghdad. All we met were grateful for our food and help but we know that some of them still support ISIS and that many of them still don’t trust us.

    On some occasions after receiving their rations, the small group of civilians who support ISIS would call them from their phones so ISIS would know where we were and attack us. One time two men placed a land mine on the road we used in order to kill us on our way out after a distribution. The Iraqi Army caught them in the act and stopped the attack. We knew this going in, but prayed and felt this was the door God wanted us to go through to share his love in their time of need and to develop new relationships.”

    1. Man of Kent
      December 18, 2016

      Thank you for sharing this .

      A brave group doing the right thing

      Please send them my appreciation and Christmas greetings.

    2. Mark
      December 18, 2016

      Thank you for passing this on. Insights like this are valuable.

  7. Actor
    December 18, 2016

    Christians were given their marching orders by ISIL in Mosul unless they converted to Islam. A definite time they must leave. People generally oblige invading forces in converting. Happened in Spain, Christian to Muslim and back again Muslim to Christian. Eastern Europe: Social democrat to communist, communist back to German Christian Democrat. People like to fit in. Go with the flow so to speak. Here in the UK you have in rock solid Labour areas, Tories in the Labour Party as they would never be able to contribute otherwise, and in Tory rock solid areas Labourites in the Tory Party. All keeping a low profile. Communists and fascists too.
    So what is the “seige of Mosul ” about exactly? Whoever wins the population will be laying down palm leaves in front of them and chanting Hosanna in the Highest. It must be deja vu but one feels one has already seen this movie

  8. Lifelogic
    December 18, 2016

    Are Theresa’s Ministers really banned from even speaking to Nigel Farage?

    What an idiotic stance to take on the issue, but then they are proving to be very good at adopting idiotic positions.

    1. zorro
      December 18, 2016

      Unfortunately, Nigel Farage still has more chance of getting in a TM led government than JR!

      With regards to the media coverage, it is a case of four legs good, two legs bad…..


    2. Lifelogic
      December 18, 2016

      If we must have George Osborne back on the BBC can we at least have him interviewed by someone sensible like Andrew Neil. This rather than the pathetically wet lefty (what would you like to say next Sir) Andrew Marr.

      He once again claimed he is “a passionate believer in free markets and free trade”. Well not in any of his actions, not in pay rates, employment protection, the greencrap rigged energy market, farming, transport, HS2, Hinkley C, the NHS and health care, education, international aid or housing that is for sure.

      In what areas does he think free markets should actually be allowed to operate?

      Why does he say these things when all nearly his actions were against free markets. The man was a complete disaster, a tax borrow and waste, IHT ratter, pension pot/landlord/tenant mugger, a punishment budget threatening, economic ignoramus.

      Had he has his way we would never have been given the EU referendum. Mind you Cast Iron was rather banking on a coalition so he could back out of it again I suspect.

      Could he not just keep quiet and go away please? Taking John Major, Tony Blair, Mr (and Mrs) Clegg, Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Gordon Brown types with him too if possible.

    3. Tim L
      December 18, 2016

      Yet someone like Geldof, who it could be equally argued is devisive and not representative of a large majority of us had Cameron (and others) on speed dial.

    4. Ian Wragg
      December 18, 2016

      More to the point Fox says he will discuss staying in the customs union in private with ministers.
      It looks like a stitch up is being planned.
      One foot in the EU ready to rejoin asap.

  9. Richard1
    December 18, 2016

    Yes the news on Mosul is very thin, likewise we hear very little from Yemen where Saudi Arabia is fighting Iranian backed terrorists using similar tactics to Russia & Assad. It’s complete mess everywhere.

    Good for Michael Gove saying we should make a strong statement of support for Israel, our ally and a highly successful democratic and capitalist state, notwithstanding the state of constant siege the Country is under. Not sure about moving the embassy to Jerusalem as he suggests, but certainly there should be a royal visit, and those on the hard left such as the current clique leading the Labour Party should be called out for (their views ed)

  10. Edward.
    December 18, 2016

    Mr. Redwood,

    Left hand, right hand and no communication.

    We will never know the full extent of the appalling atrocities perpetrated by the so called Islamic state terrorists in Mosul and maybe its better perhaps if, we don’t know.

    What I would like to know.

    How come most of the refugees fleeing eastern Aleppo – most of them walk across to join those western areas controlled by the Syrian army?

    Why does and concerning Aleppo, the UK media only tell one side of the story, could it be that the story line and agenda is choreographed and most purposefully – at that.

    Compare and contrast.

    The hand wringing and sanctimony of the recent debate on Syria in the lower house, with all its virtue signalling of faux outrage over those unfortunates liberated by the Syrian backed by Russian forces?
    The same sort of battle goes on in Mosul, bombing, shelling and tanks, artillery pouring ordnance into civilian areas controlled by the Sunni oppressors and is championed by Westminster, yet the Aleppo situation is seen as a stain on humanity – why?

    It is rather hard not to conclude that the UK media – concerning Syria most, if not all of it is blatantly biased on the side of the rebels who are no altruistic freedom fighters and who do doubtless hate the wast and everything the west represents but no one asks, who puts them up to it?

    Further, at the time in 2011 but with hindsight even more so, was it not an act of obscene perversity to back those wanting to rebel against the democratically elected President of Syria and now in the aftermath of Aleppo, it seems the President of Syria still is calling the shots.

    Other than discombobulated panic at the damning compromise of everything done so far, whither to – now?

  11. Mark B
    December 18, 2016

    Good morning.

    Heart rending pictures of civilian children caught up in the war, of fleeing non combatants and bombed medical facilities has made many ask what can the West do to help bring the violence to an end and to assist with humanitarian aid.

    Which is exactly what it is meant to do. Public support for military intervention is low at best, especially if it brings in the West into conflict with Russia.

    And the reason we hear so little about Mosul, like we hear so little about what is going on in Yemen, is I suspect, is because the Western backed forces are making such a complete Horlicks of it and are quite frankly an embarrassment.

    If the MSM do not dabble in naked propaganda they usually lie by omission – see above. Auntie is especially good at that.

  12. William Long
    December 18, 2016

    Thank you for reminding us that our enemy in the Middle East is ISIL and not, however ghastly he may be, Mr Assad.

  13. Antisthenes
    December 18, 2016

    The Middle East is an area where the medieval and the modern are muddled together and are fighting for religious and political domination. The West doing what they do worst tried to impose modern values on medieval thinking people. The result of which is the conflict we see there now. The progressives bray on about how we in the West are so racist and bigoted. We are nothing compared to the people of this region. They are fighting wars based on whose religion is the best and who is superior to who. Just to spice it up they throw a bit of genocide in. A dry run to the time that they can deliver the same to Israel. When we learn to stop meddling in others affairs and concentrate on our own and let them sort their own problems out in their own way in their own time we will be that much safer at home.

  14. backofanenvelope
    December 18, 2016

    I would like the UK to stop all military action in the Middle East, it has brought us nothing but grief. The Arabs and Persians are fighting a thousand-year long war that is nothing to do with us. We should keep out of it, and keep it out of our country.

  15. Bert Young
    December 18, 2016

    The contentions between the Sunnis and Shias are not confined to Mosul ; the hatred and difficulties between the two factions are , probably , beyond solving . The “West” and outsiders are not in a position to cure the ills of these groups and should not waste lives and money in trying to do so .

    Why there should be so much difficulty between these two factions within the same category of religion is beyond me . Perhaps it is in the understanding of its history that the solution lies . Meanwhile my advice is “stay clear”.

  16. LondonBob
    December 18, 2016

    Depressingly there seems to be little change in our disastrous foreign policies in the MENA region, we look like we will be embarassingly out of step with the incoming Trump administration. With Brexit we need worthwhile friends like the US and Russia, Middle Eastern countries are of no consequences.

    Colonel Pat Lang tells us ‘The Golden Division of the ISF has reportedly lost 50% of its troops in the Mosul battle thus far. Field Marshal Ashton Carter was out there recently to buck up the “fellows.” It must have been an interesting set of discussions. IMO the Iraqis lack the will to take Mosul and the Kurds see it as yet another Sunni Arab city full of people who, like those who are leaving east Aleppo in Syria, are really jihadi supporters. The IS are well dug in at Mosul and it will be necessary to destroy much of the city to re-capture it.’

    The Colonel is more impressed with the SAA. ‘It is cold and wet and nasty out in the field in Syria. That slows everything down. When your clothes are freezing stiff you don’t think about much but getting warm.

    The dastardly propagandists of the Western media continue to suggest that parts of east Aleppo are still in the hands of the takfiri rats, but that is untrue. The government controls the whole city. The jihadis are just waiting for the bus. Part of the agreement for surrender was that the long besieged Shia villages of Kafraya and Fu’a, a few miles north of Idlib City, would be allowed to evacuate their wounded and sick to government lines. The takfiri rats stopped that evacuation and in retaliation Shia militias in Aleppo halted the outflow of jihadis and their dependents. That will be sorted out. I am curious to know how many people actually were in the jihadi enclave at the end.

    I am saddened to learn that the UK government has sent a military mission consisting of 20 officers with ranks up to brigadier to re-establish the military capabilities of escaped and defeated “moderate” FSA unicorns. These unicorns are refugees from the debacle at Aleppo. Well, pilgrims, where are the Brits going to do this training, etc.? Perhaps the unicorn jihadis will be trucked around through Hatay to the area under Turkish Army control between Al-Bab and the Turkish border. There are some SAS types guarding the trainers and in that area they would be fairly secure. OTOH, if they try to do their job inside Idlib Province the UK government should prepare to receive some body bags with full ceremony.’

    It would be much appreciated if you could confirm with the government how true these reports of troops being sent to Syria are? The government must be held to account before we end up in yet another debacle in the Middle East.

  17. David Tomlinson
    December 18, 2016

    I was in Iran recently and amused by the English language daily’s front page headline one day “Iran set to liberate Mosul”. So we know who think they are top dog (as in Aleppo).

  18. forthurst
    December 18, 2016

    “…many ask what can the West do to help bring the violence to an end and to assist with humanitarian aid.”

    Stop arming and training terrorists; in East Aleppo military personal of mainly regional states have been captured who were directing terrorism against the elected government of Syria. Also stop giving co-ordinates of Russian field hospitals to terrorists so they can commit war crimes against non-combatants. Stop pretending that the same bunch of terrorists are good guys in Syria and bad guys in Iraq; nobody believes it, especially when they know that the much quoted, by the ever-reliable MSM, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, is one man living in a semi-detached in the Midlands.

    The terrorists in East Aleppo were not welcome; they were taking such humanitarian aid that they permitted to enter, for themselves, and were using the civilian population as hostages, some of which they tried to smuggle out of Aleppo when they were allowed to leave under the recent truce with the Syrian government. The situation in Iraq is different, however, because, unlike Syria, which remains a secular state whose armed forces contain representatives of all concomitant religions, the West has converted Iraq from a secular state under Saddam Hussein to a Shi’ite regime, hostile to its Sunni population who therefore regard ISIS, containing many trained ex-Saddam military, as their allies.

    Such generous donations that were given from ME regimes to the Clinton Foundation will, presumably, not have a direct effect on US Foreign Policy next year; however, until such time as Western politicians stop taking donations from entitities with an interest in guiding Western policy in the ME, the interests of the millions of people whose lives have been destroyed by Western-backed ‘regime change’ is unlikely to take presedence.

  19. norman
    December 18, 2016

    Its almost 100 years ago that General Allenby (a descendant of Oliver Cromwell) liberated Jerusalem from Ottoman rule, dismounting as he entered the Jaffa Gate. Those were epochal events then, and I believe what we are witnessing today are the events leading up to the final Consummation. What we are witnessing in the Middle East is multi-dimensional. All the other world events discussed on this blog, certainly Brexit, the fate of Europe, America, Russia, and the rest of the world, key into it. The situation appears utterly depraved and beyond hope. However, I’m reminded of the words of a beautiful hymn, the second verse being especially significant. I will understand if you feel you can’t publish this, but I have no doubt that it’s both fitting and relevant.
    Sing we the King who is coming to reign,
    Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain.
    Life and salvation His empire shall bring,
    Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.

    All men shall dwell in His marvelous light,
    Races long severed His love shall unite,
    Justice and truth from His scepter shall spring,
    Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is King.
    All shall be well in His kingdom of peace,

    Freedom shall flourish and wisdom increase,
    Foe shall be friend when His triumph we sing,
    Sword shall be sickle when Jesus is King.
    Souls shall be saved from the burden of sin,
    Doubt shall not darken His witness within,

    Hell hath no terrors, and death hath no sting;
    Love is victorious when Jesus is King.
    Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray,
    Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day
    When this new song Thy creation shall sing,
    Satan is vanquished, and Jesus is King.
    Charles S Horne c. 1910

  20. peter
    December 18, 2016

    “How will the great tensions between Sunni and Shia be contained…” Good question, to which I don’t have a simple answer. This has been going on since Mohammed’s death in the 7th century. One of the many problems with Islam is that apostasy is punishable by death, and all strains of Islam consider other versions to be apostasy. Hence Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, etc – and even the murder of poor Ahmed Shah in Glasgow this year.

  21. Iain Gill
    December 18, 2016

    I will be on some of the big jobless social housing estates in the North of England this Christmas. If only politicians cared as much about those places, if only the obvious problems in these places were front page news.

    Shame really.

    1. Richard1
      December 18, 2016

      They should try enterprise zones. Flat tax of 15% on income tax, CGT, VAT and inheritance tax if you live e.g. 180 days p.a. In an enterprise zone and work or own a business in one. They would then become prosperous and start voting Conservative. Then we can extend the scheme to the rest of The UK (except Scotland which might want to keep high taxes and now has the right to do so).

    2. Northerner
      December 18, 2016

      What big jobless housing estates in the North of England? Most people have jobs except those who can’t. Some have three jobs. Also do up cars fro a sideline. Your information is very much out of date I assure you.

      1. Dame Rita Webb
        December 18, 2016

        I am struggling with this one too. Wythenshawe in Manchester (which once was the UKs biggest council estate) only has an unemployment rate of 4.3%. Yet one of Bristol’s most notorious sink estates, Lawrence Hill, has a rate of 9%. Neither are 1930s rates of unemployment, perhaps if you are looking for deprivation you need to reset your compass to the SW?

        1. Iain Gill
          December 18, 2016

          This would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. So completely clueless are people about what is going on in this country.

          Sad very sad.

          1. Northerner
            December 19, 2016

            Iain Gill: I live on a Northern housing estate. I have done most of my life which is not short. But not the same estate, different ones. Your info is literally decades out of date. So is Labour, full of 1970s rhetoric.

  22. hefner
    December 18, 2016

    So after Boris Johnson, David Davis, now it is Liam Fox who says the UK might have to stay in the customs union.

    Only one thought comes to me: despite the Brexiteer Knights having been at it some since 1973 (JR for example, or Daniel Hannan since 1990, both of them having writing books on the EU and its deficiencies) neither the Leave nor the Vote Leave campaigns nor the other distinguished people within them seems to have had a clue on how to proceed practically.

    It is one thing to say “we will get out of everything EU and get trade agreements with the world”, but then another to be there first supporting Andrea Leadsom as a leader(!), keeping writing nice little blogs of no importance whatsoever and still pretending to have any kind of influence on the events.
    What a joke.

    1. ian wragg
      December 18, 2016

      If we stay in the customs union the Tories will be wiped out at the next election.
      Staying in the customs union is staying in the EU.
      No one will be fooled by such antics,

    2. Ed Mahony
      December 18, 2016

      ‘So after Boris Johnson, David Davis, now it is Liam Fox who says the UK might have to stay in the customs union’

      – Because since the Referendum, they have learned that being inside the EU is an excuse why the UK is failing in exports around the world. Germany is the third largest exporter in the world – exporting 2.5 times more than the 4th biggest Exporter, Japan, even though Japan is 1.5 times bigger than Germany.
      In other words, being in the EU is just an excuse. The real reason is our problem in business / work culture which is why Dr Fox said business executives have to stop playing gold on Fridays and export! And the reason for our decline in GDP, is similar to that of the USA’s and Japan’s, we’re not prepared to work our guts out like the Chinese. And, lastly, technology is having a dramatic effect on putting working class people out of work.
      We need to face up to the real problem with the UK. And we must do so quick, because if we mess around with our economy, we could be in serious trouble as we still have a massive national debt to pay off, and could take years to sign off trade deals, and our less competitive companies could really struggle and flounder trying to trade inside Europe with a poor trade deal with the EU.

  23. Hello, hello, hello
    December 18, 2016

    Inhuman strength, power, and cruelty prevent most journalists and certainly all official news outlets from telling Russia and the West to get their ugly vicious demonic snouts out of other people’s affairs. Stop invading other nations on whatever grounds. As Trump says: stop intervening in other countries and attempting “nation-building” in lands belonging to other people.

    Russia, and China in the background, with the UK/USA/EU have killed so many people, physically injured hundreds of thousands…apart from robbing old people and babies of benefits of infrastructure such as electricity, food, water…causing heart attacks with the very noise of bombs and gunfire..with long marches by people not fit for long walks..cutting their life-expectancy, silently, without fanfare, by decades. Displacing common criminals, murderers, rapists and full-blown terrorists to one day attack us in our own streets and homes as we accommodate them in accordance with the virtue-signalling of the political elite in the UK and elsewhere who at least require OUR vote to continue their massacres abroad.
    Such evil in our own country. So blatant, so in our face, so obvious, like a herd of elephants stood in each of our living-rooms. etc ed

    December 18, 2016

    The news is public office-holders should swear an oath of allegiance to British values. Covering elected officials, civil servants,council workers ,maybe to NHS and BBC staff.

    A good idea. It should not have become necessary. It should be for schools to have our flag in each classroom and for students to swear allegiance each morning to it too.
    I and my generation don’t need it. We have “HM The Queen” running through our being like red “Scarborough” through its seaside peppermint rock. Ours is not to reason why.
    Ms Abbott MP (!?) is said to be “not sure” she would sign such a pledge. There you go.

  25. Barbara
    December 18, 2016

    Anyone wanting to hear the truth about Aleppo could do worse than seek out independent observer Eva Bartlett’s speeches on the subject (there are several on youtube, including one from a UN conference). Her reports (based on iirc 6 visits to Syria, 4 to Aleppo, as opposed to people like Lise Doucet reporting on Aleppo from a long way away in Beirut) differ, ahem, significantly from the MSM’s ‘received wisdom’ version.

  26. NA
    December 18, 2016

    Thank you for reminding us of Mosul, which is being ignored by the broadcast media who seem determined we drown in our own hypocrisy.

  27. Cpt Mannering
    December 18, 2016

    The Donald only told one of his rallies a few days ago that US troops are asked to go places Americans have never heard of, or know where they are!
    I must confess Mosul and Aleppo do not appear to be on or near my bus route to town nor do I hear the Arab equivalent of the Luftwaffe overhead at night.

  28. Fred
    December 18, 2016

    First thing the West could do to stop the violence would be to stop supplying arms to their proxy invaders. Then the press could stop making up stories about how awful Russia and Assad are and start asking serious and difficult questions about why the British government has colluded with it’s allies to start a war in Syria and why the press have been so willfully blind to it.
    Then perhaps Britain would stop it’s centuries old policy of causing trouble in the Middle East.

    December 18, 2016

    Sajid Javid has not gone far enough. Better a formal public declaration available to everyone on request for a modest fee. On the lines in formality and procedure of a wedding ceremony.
    ” Do you hereby swear allegiance to HM The Queen and our British Flag?”
    “I do”

    An Authoritative Certificate should be produced. Can and should be used on every CV for employment and anything and everything.

    1. Ed Mahony
      December 18, 2016

      Patria or Love of the fatherland is a virtue not a vice. This goes as far back as Plato and was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church. Love of fatherland also comes under the same bracket of virtue as love of parents. Patria has nothing to do with love of the state which is a secular, socialist / Marxist concept, at least in origin.
      Of course, we need to be careful that patria doesn’t run into idolatry in both religious and secular sense (I mean atheists shun at the blind nationalism of the Nazi era as much as religious people). But at end of day, we’ve got to get back to the concept of love of fatherland (as well as love for parents and the idea of love for the family / family life in general).

  30. John
    December 18, 2016

    Maybe the coalition need to take training from Putin because he certainly knows how to take an occupied city. War is hell and should be ended as quickly as possible and I am an ex-soldier.

  31. David Tomlinson
    December 18, 2016

    A bit late to post this but a senior Sunday Times editorial executive pointed out to me earlier today that the Times ran a 2 page spread on Mosul by Anthony Lloyd yesterday.

  32. Anonymous
    December 19, 2016

    Had war been decided by plebiscite we would not have invaded Iraq. Newmania saya we can’t decide things this way because Tony Blair is clever and we are not.

  33. ChrisS
    December 19, 2016

    I have immense sympathy for the people of Syria but our elected Politicians voted overwhelmingly to walk by on the other side of the road. Apart from directing Foreign Aid in the direction of the Middle East, there is nothing else we can do, especially as no UN action is possible with the Russians and Chinese prepared to use their veto.

    However there is a massive problem with our Foreign Aid :

    The current budget of £12bn pa put in place by CMD and Clegg is ludicrous :
    an enormous scandal that the vast proportion of the voting public have never supported yet the May Government continues to waste OUR money like it was going out of fashion.

    I support a level of Foreign Aid but, put simply, the current aid budget is so big that it is impossible for the Government to spend it all properly. It immediately needs to be reduced to a figure that the Secretary of State and ultimately Parliament can oversee and ensure that every penny is spent directly on projects that benefit the most needy.

    Are you aware that almost £5bn of the current budget is simply being handed over to other organisations including NGOs, the EU and the UN where we have no control and often no idea what it is to be spent on.

    Whatever cannot be spent wisely and properly can and must be reallocated to be spent at home or just not borrowed at all.

    Surely everyone in the Country must think that spending £1bn on consultants in one year is insane ! Yet there is a deafening silence from all sides of the House of Commons on the subject.

    On the 7th December I submitted a parliamentary petition entitled “Slash the Foreign Aid Budget by at least half”. It had the necessary number of supporters to go forward and is currently “Under Consideration”.

    Unless the Civil Service can find a reason to disallow it, it should go live this week. We only need 100,000 signatures for it to be put forward for a Parliamentary debate.
    Judging by the anger I have seen over this issue from almost everyone I’ve mentioned it to, that number should be reached very quickly.

    Something has to be done to stop this reckless waste of money, all of which has to be borrowed !

    Our elected politicians seem not to care, so, it has to be up to us to do something about it. Some might call it populism, I call it common sense.

  34. Ken Moore
    December 19, 2016

    Why do we go all misty eyed referring to these fighters coyly as ‘rebels’ or ‘moderates’.?

    It’s as if we must all conform to some pre determined default PC position.

    What is ‘moderate’ about the beheading of children ?.
    Do the politicians and media types assume that their cause must be somehow noble and just?. Would they refer to a group wanting to overthrow parliament as ‘rebels’ or terrorists ?.
    Despite Brexit and Trump, the grotesque arrogance and virtue signalling continues..

    Assad – bad
    Putin – bad
    Rebels – good

    We have foreign policy being drafted by fools – do they not realise the level of misinformation spewing out of these places. Even if we wanted to take sides it’s impossible to know the truth.

  35. margaret
    December 19, 2016

    How lovely to see Harry in Africa helping its children grow and flourish instead of murdering its own .. Shame on those criminals

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