North Korea: Military crews fired three short range rockets or missiles into the Sea of Japan today. News outlets speculated they might have been new cruise missiles.
Comment: It is normal for North Korea to test rockets and missiles, especially new weapons. South Korean press reported this was the tenth episode of firings this year, which is much higher than in most years.
The North recently has chosen to use rocket and missiles launches to display its displeasure with South Korea or the US or both. It said so in propaganda statements. Thus, today's launches could be the start of another complaint over South Korean or US training.
Afghanistan: A spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense said that fighting in Sangin District of Helmand Province has nearly ended, but that operations continue in Nawzad, Musa Qala and Kajaki districts. He admitted that Taliban fighters still control a region in Sangin.
Comment: Open sources contain few details of the fighting, but it is an important test of the capabilities of Afghan forces. They could use air support, which was essential to the safety of US and NATO forces. Air power is the one capability of which the Taliban remain afraid and for which they are defenseless.
Iraq: Security. Lieutenant General Ata said today that Iraqi security forces cleansed the University of Tikrit from the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) elements and raised the Iraqi flag on the university building. He said that this took place following a heli-borne assault by Iraqi special forces. He said that scores of terrorists were killed in this operation. At least one Iraqi helicopter crashed during the assault.
ISIL claimed to have taken control of major natural gas fields in northern Iraq today and of another town southwest of Baghdad.
A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt killed at least seven and injured 36 others in a Baghdad neighborhood.
Comment: The counter-attack at Tikrit is the most salient of recent signs of an emerging counter-offensive. Iraqi forces are taking advantage of ISIL's over-extension which degrades its ability to defend territory beyond Mosul. ISIL might have lost its opportunity to execute a terror attack in Baghdad.
Politics. The new Iraqi parliament will convene its first session on 1 July.
Iraq-Russia: Prime Minister al-Maliki told the press today that Iraq has bought used fighter jets from Russia and Belarus to battle Islamist militants. He said the aircraft should arrive in two or three days.
"God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he said.
Comment: Al-Maliki did not disclose the numbers or types of aircraft or other arrangements, such as technical support, spare and repair parts, ordnance supplies and training assistance. He did make clear, however, that he went to the Russians and Belarus for assistance because US aid takes so long to arrive.
Provided the Russians and Belarus can deliver what they promise on time, both will have stolen another march on the US. As in Afghanistan, air superiority is the antidote to the terrorists' ground mobility.
In his press interview, al-Maliki confirmed the reports of Syrian air strikes inside Iraq. He denied requesting the Syrian air strikes, but indicated he welcomed any and all help. He said, "They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours, and the final winners are our two countries."
Syria: The Syrian air force on 26 June carried out an airstrike 138 kilometers (85 miles) west of Mosul, in the Rabia border area, targeting elements of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,
Comment: The Rabia border crossing point is in far northwestern Iraq, just south of the Turkey-Iraq-Syria tri-border point. It is on a main highway and the railroad line that runs from Mosul to Turkey, via northeastern Syria.
Cameroon: Defense forces killed 10 Boko Haram terrorists in three clashes in northern Cameroon near the border with Nigeria since Sunday.
Comment: These are the only ten Boko Haram members reported to have been killed by security forcesthis week. Nigeria managed to capture two, but killed none.
Two of the clashes occurred at small villages in northern Cameroon. Cameroonian defense forces killed the attackers and drove them away with no reported casualties for the forces of order and civilian populace. Somehow Nigeria cannot do what Cameroon does regularly to defend villages.
End of NightWatch
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