At least 16 people died after multiple bombs exploded in mosque during Friday prayers in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. Tolo News reports that three consecutive explosions rocked the building, which was frequented by Shia Muslims, and injured around 40. The Associated Press puts the death toll at 37 and the wounded at “over 70” after witnesses said two suicide bombers struck outside the church before two more suicide bombers entered and walked in. explode.
ICYMI: ISIS claimed responsibility for attack on Shia mosque last Friday which left 46 dead in the northern province of Kunduz. âThe Taliban and IS are Sunni Muslims,â AP reminds us, âbut they are bitterly divided by ideology and have clashed on numerous occasionsâ.
Panoramic: There were at least 17 different attacks on mosques and religious places of worship over a nine-month period ending in July, and those attacks killed around 170 people, according to the Afghan Human Rights Commission. Tolo has more here.
Taliban officials travel to Moscow to talks next week, and Russia is already downplaying all great expectations of this meeting with the main official state media: “We are not expecting any breakthrough.” (By the way, TASS, a state body, calls the Taliban a “radical militant group” which is “banned in Russia.”)
Associated reading: “The violence is undermining China’s plans in Afghanistan, risks drawing it into the quagmire,” US News’ Paul Shinkman reported Thursday.
Pentagon orders Texas contractors to force vaccines on employees, despite governor’s ban // Marcus Weisgerber: The Department of Defense has said that the federal contractor’s vaccine ordinance supersedes state laws.
US Navy lists consequences for sailors who refuse COVID vaccination // Caitlin M. Kenney: Refusers could be stripped of their war credentials, removed from their cantonment, or even dismissed from service.
US military to host biggest robot tank experiment ever // Patrick Tucker: His lessons will inform the Army’s next-generation unmanned vehicle plan to ask tech companies to provide the brains and established companies to deliver the wheels.
âYou are hereby reprimanded! An airman said to begin separation due to vaccine refusal // Tara Copp: The aviators, the sailors who refuse the vaccine are considering consequences on the end of their career. Will the church intervene?
AUSA conference thread: financial preparation // Defense One Staff: The best soldier in the army has plans to help troops sort out their finances.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you haven’t already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do so here. On this day of 2003, China has sent its first manned mission to space, a 21-hour trip by astronaut Yang Liwei. AP has a window on the Chinese space program today, here.
Turkish President Erdogan threatens new military offensive in Syria to fight the Kurdish forces there, and that could happen shortly after the next G20 meeting later this month in Rome.
If the light were green, it would be Turkey’s fourth military foray into Syria in five years; the last time he “seiz[ed] hundreds of kilometers of border strip and push[ed] about 30 km in northern Syria “, reports Reuters, a Turkish official pointing out” the region of Tel Rifaat from which attacks are constantly carried out against us “.
Another Turk pointed to Moscow and Tehran, âNoting that Russia completely controlled the areas from which the recent attacks had originated, as well as certain Iranian elements. This is why Erdogan says he wants to speak to Presidents Biden and Putin on the sidelines of the G20. More Reuters, here.
BTW: Moscow says its navy just “blocked US Navy destroyer of what he described as an attempted intrusion into Russian territorial waters in the Sea of ââJapan “after the two ships passed within 60 meters of each other today, AP reports from the Russian capital. No response yet from the US Navy on the allegations, which relate to the guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee. Reuters has a little more here.
Returning to the United States, a soldier was arrested last week at Fort Bragg for his involvement in the failed insurgency at the United States Capitol on January 6. He had recently completed a four-year stint in the New York National Guard and re-enlisted in active duty as a combat engineer last summer, Army time reported Thursday.
He had already told FBI agents that he had played no role in the riot or violence of January 6; However, camera footage of the police body later revealed him spraying an unknown chemical agent on Capitol Hill officers.
One thing that helped catch him: He wore a helmet with his local union, Local 33 of the Ironworkers of Rochester, New York. (By making him another rioter taken in part because of his distinctive clothing.)
Overview: 75 of the more than 600 people arrested so far since January 6 had military experience, including “70 veterans, two soldiers of the National Guard, two reservists and a member of the active service”, Army time reports. More here.
For the rest of the accused, “guilty pleas are piling up” Zoe Tillman of Buzzfeed reported on Wednesday, recapping “what the rioters admit and what they and the government are taking away from these deals,” here.
And finally: ICYMI this week, “Iraq held elections, which were mostly free and fair”, Fareed Zakaria reported Thursday in the editorial page of the Washington post.
Why this is important: âEighteen years after the invasion of the United States, which ushered in an era of chaos, civil war and the rise of the Islamic State, the Iraqi democratic system has endured,â writes Zakaria. âThe elections have become routine. The political parties clash and bargain. There is even a certain pluralism of the media and an increasingly asserted justice.
A second opinion: “The low turnout and the apparent victory of populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi parliament [sic] the elections reflect a massive lack of confidence in the country’s political establishment, âKersten Knipp argues in the opinion pages of the German newspaper DW.
Associated reading: “The biggest loser in the Iraqi elections could be Iran,” Mina Al-Oraibi wrote in FP on Wednesday.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll meet you on Monday!