Morning Report: May 9, 2005

US forces strike Iraq insurgents. CNN reports: 'U.S. forces have launched an offensive against "insurgents and foreign fighters" near Iraq's border with Syria, killing at least 75 of them in the first 24 hours of the operation, the U.S. military said Monday. According to the military, coalition and Marine Corps aircraft and forces from the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines are involved in the fighting in Iraq's Anbar province. "The operation is currently on the area north of the Euphrates River, in the Al Jazirah Desert. The region is a known smuggling route and sanctuary for foreign fighters," the military said in a statement.' Debka adds: 'A merger of all Iraq’s insurgent forces is behind the deadly surge of violence that has climbed to 55 attacks per day. US has launched offensive with air support against Iraqi insurgents in Anbar province near Syrian border. US military reports 75 rebels killed in first 24 hours. Targeted are Obeidi sanctuary for foreign fighters who continue to stream into Iraq and smuggling route from Syria. Joint commands and operational units, including al-Zarqawi’s al Qaeda wing, are focusing action on Baghdad area timed for formation of new Iraq government.' (CNN, Debka)

Yemen's ambassador to Syria seeks asylum. Debka reports: 'Yemeni ambassador Syria Ahmed al-Hasani fled to London last week and asked for political asylum. Al-Hasani was Yemeni air force commander during 2000 al Qaeda attack on USS Cole in Aden harbor when 17 US seamen killed, 500 injured. He testified to links president Salah and Yemeni military and intelligence officers maintain with al Qaeda to this day – amid joint Yemeni-US counter-terror combat in Saada region'. Armies of Liberation explains: 'The Jihad in Yemen takes the form of the state attacking its Shia minority. There have been indications that aspects of the Yemeni government, in collusion with some leadership in the opposition Islamic Islah party, are close to al-Qaeda. A recent defector from Yemen, the Ambassador to Syria, says that its very likely that President Saleh was aware of the plans for Cole bombing. Indeed , Saleh refused to investigate the bombing until the US threatened military action. Sheik al-Zindani is on the US’s most wanted list and is a leader of the Islah party. He met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, and became his mentor. After returning from Afghanistan, Zindani became the leader of Islah’s radical faction, and the “Afghan Arabs.” Using state power, today Shia libraries are being trashed, mosques prohibited from preaching the Shia version of Islam, and mass arrests are taking place with thousands held without trial. All Shia schools are now closing. Officials of Saleh’s Sunni government have characterized their teachings as “blasphemous,” “backwards,” and “deviant.” The curriculum of some hard core Wahabbi schools, the greater threat according to analysts, was not addressed in their statements. There is also a very bloody and violent element to the jihad in Yemen. ...' Read the post at Armies for full details and links. (Debka, Armies of Liberation)