Posted by Matthew Barber on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Souriatna is a rebel newspaper distributed in rebel territory. In a recent issue they printed a full page “je suis charlie” poster (viewable here, page 9: http://issuu.com/souriatna/docs/souriatna_173). Nusra found out about it and started knocking down doors to find the place that published it. They attacked the Radio Fresh station in Idlib where Hadi al-Abdallah, the guy from the Qussair battle, was working. They accused him of insulting Mohammad and beat him, then realised that they got the wrong guy and apologized. They then proceeded to raid a women’s center across from the radio station and beat the women there and insulted them for not wearing hijab. Then they realized again that they got the wrong people and apologized and left. Post from the newspaper about the events here http://www.souriatnapress.net/?p=8905# . Subsequent video purports to show Ahrar al-Sham burning Souritatna and three other magazines, saying they’re now banned for supporting Charlie Hebdo.
Mapping of the recent and continuing 3-way conflict between Kurdish YPG, Syrian regime, and IS in Hasakeh from Agathocle de Syracuse:
The clashes started on January 17; reports Loyalists attempted to set-up checkpoints near the industry area and in the north entrance following YPG reinforcement in the city. YPG initially seized industry & silos area as well as police station, capturing 30 Loyalists forces members. Heavy clashes followed in the city center, near Assyrian church and Pullman garage, Marsho round-about, and along the control line in Mufti and Azizieh neighborhoods. Mutual shelling forced people to flee from Tall Hajar, Mufti and Kashman areas. On Jan 19 in the morning, a cease-fire was agreed although sporadic clashes continued
These regime-Kurd clashes started last Saturday: Kurds Battle Assad’s Forces in Syria, Opening New Front in Civil War – Reuters
…violence broke out when army soldiers and allied militiamen took control of buildings in an area that both sides had agreed would stay demilitarised, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said...
…Syrian Kurds, who say they suffered years of marginalisation under Assad, had on occasion fought with the president’s loyalists in territorial disputes, but never in sustained clashes…
Iraq: New German and French Weapons Reach Peshmerga on Frontlines – BasNews
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi claims that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been injured in airstrike in Syria: ISIS leader Baghdadi injured, stays in Syria – al-Arabiya
Iraq: First ground combat between IS and Western forces: Canada Special Forces Clash with IS in Iraq – The Daily Star
…Ottawa: Canadian special forces exchanged gunfire with Islamic State fighters in Iraq in recent days, in the first confirmed ground battle between Western troops and IS, a senior officer said Monday.
“My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometers behind the front lines,” Canadian special forces commander Brigadier General Michael Rouleau said. “When they moved forward to confirm the planning at the front lines in order to visualize what they had discussed over a map, they came under immediate and effective mortar and machine gunfire.”
The general said the Canadians used sniper fire to “neutralize both threats” and there were no Canadian injuries… Canada has some 600 troops in the region participating in airstrikes against the Islamic State…
…UN reports published in December appear to vindicate the regime’s arguments that Israel is involved with the southern rebels.
According to a UN report covering the period from March to May 2014, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) detected contact between rebels and the Israeli army across the Golan cease-fire line, particularly during fierce clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels. The report also confirmed that the UN forces spotted rebels transporting 89 wounded across the cease-fire line into the Israeli occupied zone, where they were handed over 19 people who had received medical treatment in addition to two dead. The UN forces also noted that the Israeli army delivered two boxes to rebels on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Communications increased between rebels and the Israeli army before the eruption of the southern front in Daraa and Quneitra in September, according to Quneitra opposition activist…
ISIL threatens to kill Japanese hostages – al-Jazeera
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group has released a video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive $200m in 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom from Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, during his visit to the Middle East…
We are Failing the Children of Syria and Lebanon. This Tragedy is Avoidable – Guardian – Gordon Brown
That Smallest Victims: Syria’s Children – Mashable – Cengiz Yar Jr.
U.S. Policy On IS:
IS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes – Daily Beast – Tim Mak and Nancy A. Youssef
Western Intervention Can Only Strengthen Jihadis – Daily Star – Fareed Zakaria
Hammer and Anvil – Foreign Affairs – Robert Pape
…Defeating ISIS requires a new strategy for retaking Sunni territory. The strategy should incrementally build on the current hammer-and-anvil approach that has successfully blunted ISIS’ expansion into Kurdish and Shia areas. The conditions are ripest for a Sunni anvil in Nineveh and Anbar provinces in Iraq, so these areas should be the focus of a new plan with four components…
Explaining the Turkish Military’s Opposition to Combating ISIS – The Washington Institute – Ed Stafford
Hezbollah in Syria:
Israel Strike Underscores Security Concerns in Syrian Beyond ISIS, Upping Stakes for U.S. – Huffington Post – Akbar Shahid Ahmed
This is not your Father’s Hezbollah – Foreign Policy – Susannah George
Corruption in the ranks. Spies in their midst. Discipline problems. How the Syrian war is changing Lebanon’s most infamous militia…
Are Hezbollah and Israel on the Verge of Open War? – Al-Arabiya
The Clear Banner: Tajik Fighters in Iraq and Syria – Jihadology – Lemon
Syria Calling: Radicalisation in Central Asia – International Crisis Group
Recent from Aron Lund: Russia Fails to Sway the Syrian Opposition – Carnegie – Aron Lund
…The bar seems to have been set very low, with Russia not even attempting to bring onboard the armed rebels that actually matter for the outcome of the conflict...
Recent from Tamimi:
Special Report: Northern Storm and the Situation in Azaz (Syria) – MERIA – Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Does the Islamic State Pose a Threat to Morocco and Jordan? – Nick Heras & Amanda Claypool
Nearly Killed for Satire, Syrian Cartoonist Stands Proud – CNN – Amanpour
Syrian Christian Women in Sednaya Take up Arms to Defend their Community – Channel News Asia
Ideology and a Conducive Political Environment – Oxford Press Blog – Shadi Hamid
…In this sense, the question of whether ISIS enjoys much popular support in the Muslim world — it doesn’t — is almost beside the point. ISIS doesn’t need to be popular to be successful. In June, around 800 militants were able to defeat an Iraqi force of 30,000 in Mosul, the country’s second largest city. Ideology, morale, and, crucially, the willingness to die are force multipliers. But ideology can only take you so far without a conducive political environment. ISIS itself was perhaps inevitable, but its rise to prominence was not. It has benefited considerably from the manifest failures of Arab governance, of an outdated regional order, and of an international community that was unwilling to act as Syria descended into savage repression and civil war…