Senior US officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on US and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than previously estimated. \nWhen foreign fighters and the network of a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are counted with home-grown insurgents, the core of the resistance numbers between 8,000 and 12,000 people, a tally that grows to more than 20,000 when active sympathizers or covert accomplices are included, the officials said. \nThese estimates contrast sharply with earlier intelligence reports, in which the number of insurgents have varied from as few as 2,000 to a maximum of 7,000 fighters. The revised estimate is influencing the military campaign in Iraq, but has not prompted a wholesale review of the strategy, officials said. \nIn recent interviews with the New York Times, military and other government officials in Iraq and Washington said that the core of the Iraqi insurgency now consists of as many as 50 militant cells that draw on "unlimited money" from an underground financial network run by former Baath Party leaders and former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's relatives. \nTheir financing is supplemented in great part by wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities that funnel large sums of cash through Syria, according to these officials, who have access to detailed intelligence reports. \nOnly half of the estimated US$1 billion the Saddam government put in Syrian banks before the war has been recovered, Pentagon officials said. There is no tally of money flowing through Syria to Iraq from wealthy Saudis or Islamic charities, but one Pentagon official said the figure is "significant." \nUS military and Pentagon officials continue to argue that as Iraqi security forces increase in numbers and effectiveness, they will be able to gather even more detailed and timely information, an important consideration if the insurgency is to be stifled. The critical variable, these officials note, remains the large segment of the Iraqi population that has still not decided whether to actively support the new government. \nIn further violence yesterday, US and Iraqi forces left a mosque they were raiding in search of suspected insurgents in Mosul after coming under fire, witnesses said. \nUnarmed worshippers prevented the intruding forces from entering the mosque itself. The US troops then sparked an uproar when they entered the women's section of the mosque, the preacher, Sheikh Rayan Tawfiq said. \nInsurgents later attacked US vehicles parked outside the mosque with rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses said. \nThe US-Iraqi force then withdrew, amid jubilation among the worshippers inside the mosque. \nMeanwhile, all three Macedonian contractors missing in Iraq since August have been killed, a Skopje official said yesterday, citing experts from the Balkan country who reviewed footage of the Macedonian hostages broadcast by an Arab television station. \nThey were part of a group of Macedonians employed with the Baghdad-based Soufan Engineering construction company.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
IN PROTEST: The US’ top diplomat said the WHA had been deprived of Taiwan’s scientific expertise, while Tsai said political factors should not be put above health US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan. Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year. Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA,
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced no new cases of COVID-19, adding that a ban on mask exports would be lifted soon under three conditions. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 401 people from among the nation’s 440 confirmed cases have been removed from isolation. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day that no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan, and the 37th day of no new domestic cases. “As our local communities have gradually become safe, we should not become careless,” Chen said. “We should continue to take personal protective measures