Update for Sunday, March 13, 2016

Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar says his Hezb-e-Islami group will join peace talks. For those who don't know, he has a long history, going back to the anti-Soviet resistance in which he received funding from the CIA. He then became Prime Minister of Afghanistan, until he was driven out by the Taliban to exile in Iran. After 9/11, he declared support for al Qaeda and the Iranians kicked him out. The U.S. tried to kill him with a Hellfire missile but missed. Currently he is believed to be hiding in Pakistan. He isn't much of a force on the battlefield but he did try twice to murder Hamid Karzai.

Police chief in Ghazni says many districts in danger of falling to Taliban and demands reinforcements.

Salman Rafi in Asia Times analyzes the Afghan conflict.  He sees China and Pakistan as aiming for complete withdrawal of U.S. forces and Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban as continuing until this end is achieved, hence the insistence on U.S. withdrawal as a precondition for peace talks.

A child is killed and 3 other civilians injured by IED in Helmand, while 2 civilians, including a 12 year old boy, are killed in a drive-by shooting in Kandahar apparently targeting somebody else.

In Iraq, IS continues to lose territory, abandoning a town in Anbar. upate: This turns out to have been a feint. IS forces returned to the town after 24 hours.

IS attacks in Salah-u-Din province are repulsed.

Investigators conclude IS used mustard gas in attack on a Turkman town near Kirkuk in which a child died.  (However, this is clearly not a very sophisticated or powerful form of a chemical weapon. While there were many injuries, most were not serious.)

The Saudi delegation walks out of an Arab League meeting after Iraqi delegate Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari defends the role of Shiite militias in the fight against IS. "Morocco said last month that it would not host the 2016 Arab League meeting as scheduled, saying it wanted to avoid giving a false impression of unity in the Arab world."

I should note that the U.S.-led coalition flies about 20  sorties every day in Iraq and Syria. Since this  is a routine occurrence I don't normally bother to link to it, but I don't want people to forget that it is happening. Turkey also continues to attack PKK positions, at least a couple of times a week. But as the Kurdish Regional Government has repudiated the PKK, this does not have any wider repercussions.

Source : warnewstoday[dot]blogspot[dot]com
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