Monday, December 16, 2013

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: The Reign Of Terror In Iraq Continues - Suicide Attacks, Car Bombs Leave 54 Dead Across Iraq!

December 16, 2013 - IRAQ - Suicide bombers and gunmen killed at least 54 people in Iraq on Monday, medical and police sources said.

Iraqis gather around a burning car at the scene of an explosion in the district of Baghdad on December 8, 2013.
(Photo: AFP / STR)

Al-Qaeda-linked militants have intensified attacks on the security forces, civilians and anyone seen as supporting the government in Baghdad, tipping Iraq back into its deadliest levels of violence in five years.

In Baiji, 112 miles north of Baghdad, four men wearing explosive belts took over a police station after detonating a car bomb parked outside, police sources said.

Two blew themselves up inside the station, killing five policemen. The other two did the same about an hour later as Iraqi special forces counter-attacked, the sources said.

"We believe the attack was aimed at freeing detainees who are being held in the building next door," said Major Salih al-Qaisi, a police officer at the scene.

"All the militants were killed before they reached the police department building where the detainees are held."

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but suicide bombings are the trademark of al-Qaeda's Iraqi wing, which merged this year with its Syrian counterpart to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

Two hours later, three suicide bombers seized the local council building in Tikrit, 95 miles north of the capital, after setting off two car bombs outside, security sources said. At least three people were killed.

Security forces surrounded the building, where the militants were thought to be holding hostages, and imposed a curfew on the city, the sources said.

The Interior Ministry put the toll for the attacks in Baiji and Tikrit at 11 dead, including the suicide bombers, and three wounded.

A spate of car bombs and roadside bombs in Baghdad also killed at least 27 people and wounded scores, police and medical sources said.

In Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, militants in a car intercepted a bus carrying Shia pilgrims to the shrine city of Karbala from the northern town of Tal Afar, and shot 12 of them dead, police said.

This year has been Iraq's most violent since 2006-7.

Hundreds of Iraqis were killed last month, figures from the United Nations and the Iraqi government showed.

ISIS has targeted government buildings and security headquarters since the start of the year with apparently coordinated attacks involving suicide bombers on foot, car bombs, rockets and gunfire several times a month.

Earlier this month, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a police intelligence headquarters and a nearby shopping mall in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing 11 people and wounding 70. ISIS claimed responsibility for that assault. - Alakhbar.

ICE AGE NOW: "Historic" Snowstorms Spread Havoc And Misery Across The Middle East - Worst Since 1953; Causes Chaos In Israel And The Palestinian Territories!

December 16, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East was hit with its heaviest snow storms in 60 years yesterday, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Syria and forcing Israel to allow emergency aid into Gaza.

A Palestinian worshiper prays outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the
Old City of Jerusalem

The storm, named Alexa, extended from Turkey to Egypt, with parts of Cairo reportedly experiencing their first recorded snowfall for years.

Several inches of snow fell in the Sinai Peninsual, usually an arid desert region, while authorities were forced to close the port in the coastal city of Alexandria – which saw relatively light snowfall – after a third consecutive day of bad weather and high winds.

In Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley – where there are an estimated one million Syrian refugees are crowded into 250 camps – relief agencies handed out warm clothing, blankets, bedding, heating equipment in refugee camps as snow fell relentlessly for the second day running.

Syrian refugee children stand outisde their tent in Aarsal town in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region (REUTERS)

A Lebanese security official said that a three-month-old Syrian baby died on Friday in the northern town of Akroum.

A Lebanese man holding a umbrella walks past abandoned Israeli cannons during a snow storm in the
southern village of Khiam, on the Israeli-Lebanese border (MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP)

In Syria’s contested northern city of Aleppo, soldiers and rebels took a break from fighting as a thick layer of snow blanketed deserted streets. One anti-government activists said it had been quieter than it has been in more than a year, since the storm began late on Tuesday.

Military authorities in Israel were driven to show rare leniency towards the Gaza Strip after UN officials expressed fears that the snow was leading to widespread flooding in the tiny coastal enclave - already in the grip of prolonged power cuts due to a chronic fuel shortage.

COGAT, the Israeli government agency in charge of the occupied Palestinian territories, said it had ordered the opening of the Kerem Shalom to allow the transfer of tanks of heating gas into the strip, which has been subject to a tight Israeli blockade for several years. Four water pumps were also to be transferred to address flooding, COGAT said.

Gaza's Hamas rulers said 60 homes had been evacuated since storms began on Wednesday.

Members of the Palestinian civil defense evacuate people after their homes were flooded

 The emergency aid effort coincided with the establishment of a joint Israeli-Palestinian command centre to tackle severe traffic problems and power cuts in the occupied West Bank.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said it was working "round the clock" to hand out food parcels, mattresses and blankets in the worst-affected areas.

The growing sense of crisis was mirrored in Israel, where authorities struggled to cope despite significantly better infrastructure and resources.

People carefully make their way through a snowy back street in Jerusalem (GETTY IMAGES)

Up to 15 inches of snow blocked many streets in Jerusalem, where thousands of residents endured power cuts that started on Thursday night. Several trees in the city were felled by high winds during the early hours of Friday morning.

Main roads into the city, which is 2,600 feet above sea level, remained closed on Friday as snow storms continued late into the afternoon. Highway One, the main road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was blocked off while schools were also closed for a second successive day.

Hundreds of cars sit stuck during a snow storm on one of the two main highways to Jerusalem

 Police warned motorists to stay off the roads unless they own four-wheel drive vehicles.

Around 1,000 people were being held in make-shift accommodation in Jerusalem's International Conference Centre on the outskirts of the city after being stranded in their vehicles. Some drivers reported being stuck in their cars for up to 10 hours before being rescued by hastily-assembled emergency teams.

"We are battling a storm of rare ferocity," said Nir Barkat, Jerusalem's mayor, who called the snow fall "historic" and a "tsunami". He added: "Only when the storm has eased can we start clearing roadways. We are at the moment using all means to rescue those caught in the storm."

However, there was criticism of the response from police and municipal authorities, who seemed to be caught off guard, despite forecasts of extreme weather earlier in the week. The wintery outbreak seemed all the more for severe after several weeks of record-breaking high temperatures in November and early December.

The havoc spread far beyond Jerusalem to the north of Israel, where the towns of Metula, Upper Nazareth, Amuka, Mitzpe Hila, and Kerem Ben Zimra were without power. There were also power outages in Haifa, the main city in the north, and in Safed in the Uper Gallilee.

Yitzhak Ahronovitch, Israel's public security minister, said it would take several days to repair the damage caused by the storm. - Telegraph.