Daesh reportedly planned attacks on US forces in Kuwait

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 11.04.2017 23:00
Updated 11.04.2017 23:45

Suspected Daesh militants, who have been arrested in Kuwait and the Philippines, were planning to carry out bombings against U.S. military forces in Kuwait, the Gulf country's al-Rai newspaper reported on Monday.

The suspects were also plotting a suicide attack on a hussainiya, or a Shiite Muslim meeting hall, said al-Rai, which has close ties to security services.

Philippine security forces arrested a Kuwaiti and a Syrian for suspected links to Daesh on March 25, three months after they arrived in Manila. Al-Rai said Kuwaiti security forces also arrested a Syrian chemistry teacher suspected being involved in the plots.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait referred queries to Kuwaiti authorities. Kuwaiti security officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kuwait, home to several U.S. military bases, suffered its deadliest militant attack in decades when a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up inside a packed Shiite mosque in June 2015, killing 27 people. Daesh claimed responsibility.

In early March, the U.S. announced to send hundreds of its troops to Kuwait in order to be ready to join the Daesh fight if they are needed. The number would be fewer than 1,000, the official said.

Proponents of the move said it would provide U.S. commanders on the ground with greater flexibility to quickly respond to unforeseen opportunities and challenges on the battlefield.

The troop movements come on the heels of the temporary deployment of some dozens of army forces to the outskirts of Manbij, Syria, in what the Pentagon called a "reassure and deter" mission.

The actual number of American troops in the war-torn country is likely now between 800 and 900, and a U.S. defense official said last month the new plans would allow for up to 1,000 more.

The official said the troops would not be in direct combat, but rather serve in support roles for any additional capabilities the military requires in northern Syria, where a U.S.-led coalition is training and backing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the PKK's Syria offshoot, the People's Protection Units (YPG), to fight Daesh.

Such missions could include additional artillery batteries and the use of rocket launchers known as HIMARS that can provide round-the-clock bombardment in the battle to recapture Raqqa from Daesh.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama was loath to deploy combat troops into Syria and Iraq to fight Daesh, arguing the battle could only be meaningfully won by local forces.

Washington's recent Syria policy has relied heavily on support from the terrorist YPG, the armed wing of the (Democratic Union Party) PYD. That has vexed Ankara, which designates both groups Syrian branches of the PKK terror group.

The SDF is primarily composed of elements of the YPG, which Turkey sees as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK — a group designated as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and Turkey. Washington has refrained from following suit on the YPG, but has insisted that it's training and material support for the SDF does not go to the YPG.

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