News Round-Up

Frontline Developments:

 

From a friend:
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:

Hasakah

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…

First Peshmerga killed in Kobane fighting – Rudaw

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…

Are Israel, Jabhat al-Nusra coordinating on attacks in Syria? – al-Monitor

…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…

Strike on IS-held village kills dozens – BBC

Refugees/Children:

 

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.

Syrias-Children-Cengiz-Yar-Jr-03b

U.S. Policy On IS:

 

IS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes – Daily Beast – Tim Mak and Nancy A. Youssef

150113-mak-syria-map-jan-embed

Pentagon to Deploy 400 Troops to Train Syrian Rebels – Reuters

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…

Robert PapeRobert Pape 2

Turkey:

 

Escape to Syria of Charlie Hebdo Suspect Shows Turkey’s Role as Jihadi Highway – McClatchy

Dutch opposition says has documents proving Turkey sent arms to Syrian jihadists – Today’s Zaman

Turkish Military Says MIT Shipped Weapons to Al-Qaeda – Al-Moniter

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…

Israel on high alert for possible Hezbollah retaliation – WP

Hezbollah Chief Threatens Israel Over Syria Strikes – AFP

Israel Strike Kills Son of Top Hezbollah Commander – CNN

Hezbollah Says Israeli Helicopter Strike Killed 5 Fighters in Syria – NYT

Are Hezbollah and Israel on the Verge of Open War? – Al-Arabiya

Tehran Threatens to Open the Golan Front in Response to Israeli Strike – Al-Akhbar

Russia and Iran sign military cooperation deal – AP

 

Foreign Jihadis:

 

The Clear Banner: Tajik Fighters in Iraq and Syria – Jihadology – Lemon

Syria Calling: Radicalisation in Central Asia – International Crisis Group

British Jihadist who Faked Death Admits Terror Offences – BBC

 

Miscellaneous:

 

French source on opposition (National Coalition)

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

The Impasse in Iraq: Part 1 (The Shi’a Side); Part 2 (The Sunni Side)

Aspects of Islamic State (IS) Administration in Ninawa Province: Part I & Part 2

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…

Iraq Situation Report: January 17-18 –ISW:

ISW 2015-1-17-18 High -01

Comments (9)


1. Observer said:

Today Cham Press admitted the bombing of a market place in Hasaka.

So, the method is exactly that of IS. You do not follow my command, I make the population pay with barrel bombs.

Of course the situation is stable, I am talking about the situation in the US.

I love this map, this is a great map of how this is a family based sectarian state with no reality on the ground. From a state with some institutions, we have now a gutted country.

Why should we intervene is beyond me. This is preposterous and it is giving those so called Syria experts a forum they do not deserve.

Let them duke it out fully

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January 21st, 2015, 8:09 am

 

2. ALAN said:

/I love this map, this is a great map/
Is it a new map?
Is the extremist group expand its ‘caliphate’, despite more than 800 airstrikes hitting Objectives in ISIS-controlled areas since last summer?
The map, created by the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS), shows just how much land has fallen to ISIS – which now has a third of the country under its control.
Before the summer, the militants controlled just half that.
The following is the map that was created by the Coalition for a Democratic Syria. As you can see, ISIS is now much closer to Damascus than when U.S. airstrikes first began…
It is funny how the U.S. military keeps making “mistakes” by air-dropping weapons right into the hands of ISIS. The following is just one example of this phenomenon…
US have the most sophisticated military on the entire planet and yet America drop weapons into the hands of the enemy by mistake?
Obama adminstration is not even afraid to use al-Qaeda to achieve its twisted foreign policy goals.
So, Barack Obama actually trying to help ISIS take over Syria!

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January 21st, 2015, 3:18 pm

 

3. Uzair8 said:

Not been a good week for hezbo in Syria.

Reminds of the words of a Syrian Scholar from May 2013:

“Hezbollah was born in Lebanon, fostered in Iran; and will soon be buried in Syria.”

Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi

https://www.facebook.com/shaykhabulhuda/posts/10151616537317580

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January 21st, 2015, 8:14 pm

 

4. Ghufran said:

Most people realized from September 2014 that USA will not be able to stop Isis. No war can be won by sporadic bombing and since that is the only type of bombing available and doable Isis will continue to exist and survive. NATO refused to work with the syrian army for political reasons and is not about to commit troops on the ground and has not been able, or even willing, to neutralize Turkey, the main Isis supporter now, that leaves the region with few choices. Without a cease fire and the mobilization of local tribes and ordinary Syrians who are ready to consider fighting Isis this war can continue for years and its outcome will be uncertain. Isis and nusra are today in every Syrian province taking advantage of the multi prone military conflict which brought nusra and Israel to bed and allowed Turkey to continue its dirty anti Kurd and anti Syrian policy.
Talking to opposition parties that have little influence on militias is not likely to affect this war especially that the issue of a real political change is not on the table today after the West made containing Islamist terrorists as their primary focus. Another factor is the new situation in the USA where Obama’s second term is coming to an end at the same time when pro Israel politicians increased their grip on power in the congress. Israel wants confronting Iran to be a top priority and most GOP politicians are likely to follow because they see Israel as their only friend in the middle east and they accepted the principle that to get elected they have to listen to BB of Israel instead of their own president !!

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January 21st, 2015, 9:50 pm

 

5. Badr said:

“GHUFRAN”: “. . . conflict which brought nusra and Israel to bed . . .”

What is your reliable source (weblink) for this tidbit, or have you based it on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

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January 22nd, 2015, 2:23 pm

 

6. Ghufran said:

The death of Saudi king is not likely to change anything in the middle east, keeping things the same in ksa is essential for the West and Israel. What is needed to move the region closer to peace is an agreement between Iran and the USA and that will not be easy with Obama being a lame duck president and the pro Israel lobby taking full control of the congress. Israel managed to neutralize egypt in 1977 and since then we have not seen any credible effort to end the Palestinian- Israeli conflict especially after the Islamic revolution in Iran which gave Israel another excuse to dodge the long overdue obligation to give Palestinians their legitimate political rights. Notice how the critical question of a Palestinian state was placed on the back burner and was replaced with a campaign to confront Iran as the new designated enemy , instead of Israel, then the so called Arab spring and now Islamist terrorism. I do not know for how long Israel can escape judgement day but for now Israelis can sit pretty and keep others busy beating multiple targets until there is no strength left to pay attention to the Zionist state.
يا أمة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

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January 22nd, 2015, 11:46 pm

 

7. Badr said:

I can buy the claim that Israel prefer al-Nusra to Hizb as a neighbor in Syria, but not that the help is direct in form of weapons and training.

Israel’s Syria Strike: Is it trying to Help al-Qaeda vs. Hizbullah & Iran?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment)

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January 23rd, 2015, 5:30 am

 

8. Ghufran said:

The Arabic version of what came out of the meeting in Cairo between members of the opposition. As known to most, rebels and islamists did not take part in the meeting, that led many to believe the meeting is not likely to reduce violence in Syria but may increase pressure on others to participate in future dialogue.
1- الهدف من العملية التفاوضية هو الانتقال إلى نظام ديمقراطي ودولة مدنية ذات سيادة، وأن الحل في سورية هو حتماً حل سياسي وطني.

2- الاتفاق على عقد اجتماعي وميثاق وطني مؤسس لدولة ديمقراطية حديثة تؤصل الحريات السياسية والحقوق المدنية وتقوم على مبدأ المواطنة والمساواة بين السوريين في الحقوق والواجبات والمساواة بين الجنسين وضمان حقوق كامل المكونات القومية للشعب السوري في إطار اللا مركزية الإدارية.

3- يحتاج أي حل سياسي واقعي الغطاء الدولي والإقليمي الضروريين، والاحتضان الشعبي الواسع، الأمر الذي يتطلب تسوية تاريخية تجسد طموحات الشعب السوري وثورته وتبنى على أساس “بيان جنيف” وبضمانات دولية واضحة مع الترحيب بالجهود الدولية المختلفة للتسوية.

4- إن عدم اتحاد جهود المعارضة كان عاملا سلبياً و سببا من أسباب استدامة النزاع، لذلك نرى أن وحدة موقف المعارضة واجبً ومطلبً وطني.

5- إن انطلاق العملية السياسية يحتاج إلى إجراءات ضرورية تتطلب من كل الداعمين لإنجاح الحل السياسي العمل المشترك للإفراج عن جميع المعتقلين والمعتقلات، والمخطوفين والمخطوفات، والتعهد باحترام القانون الدولي الإنساني، بوقف جرائم الحرب وقصف المدنيين وحرمانهم من شروط الحياة الطبيعية، ووصول الاحتياجات الغذائية والدوائية والإغاثة إلى كل المناطق المحاصرة، ورفع العقوبات الاقتصادية الجائرة التي تمس حياة المواطنين، وتأمين الشروط الضرورية لعودة النازحين والمهجرين.

6- لا بد من اتفاق مبدئي بين كل الأطراف السورية لإنهاء مختلف أشكال الوجود العسكري غير السوري من أي بلد أو طرف جاء ولأي طرف انضم، باعتبار وجود المقاتلين غير السوريين، ضاعف من حجم الكارثة ودمر وحدة النسيج المجتمعي السوري وحرم السوريين من مباشرة حل مشكلاتهم بأنفسهم.

7- إن إنجاز الحل التفاوضي سيفرض على جميع الأطراف الالتزام بمبدأ حصر حمل الدولة للسلاح. الأمر الذي يتطلب إعادة هيكلة المؤسسات العسكرية والأمنية، ودمج القوى المعارضة العسكرية المشاركة في الحل السياسي، مما يضمن تحول مهمة هذه المؤسسات إلى حماية استقلال وسيادة الوطن وتوفير الكرامة والأمان لكل السوريين.

8- مطالبة الشرعية الدولية بتحمل مسؤولياتها القانونية في تجفيف منابع الإرهاب. ومطالبة جميع الدول باحترام قرارات مجلس الأمن الخاصة بمكافحة الإرهاب، وبشكل خاص القرارين رقم 2170 و 2178.

9- إن الحل السياسي الذي يضمن التغيير الديمقراطي الجذري الشامل ويجرم العنف والطائفية هو الشرط الموضوعي لاستنهاض وتعبئة السوريين في محاربة التنظيمات الإرهابية التي انتشرت في سورية مهددة حاضرها ومستقبلها.

10- التحضير لمؤتمر وطني سوري يعقد في القاهرة في الربيع المقبل وتشكيل لجنة تتابع الاتصالات مع أطراف المعارضة السورية للتحضير للمؤتمر والمشاركة فيه، والترويج لمخرجات لقاء القاهرة بالتواصل مع الأطراف العربية والإقليمية والدولية للمساهمة بالوصول إلى الحل السياسي المنشود وفق بيان جنيف.

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January 23rd, 2015, 7:59 pm

 

9. Observer said:

These are coffee house resolutions followed by a good smoke and a backgammon game.

My foot could have come up with resolutions like this.

Sharia law is coming, it is a question of time. Houthi troops have a badge on their shoulder, death to America Death to Israel and damnation on the Jews and Glory to Islam.

Why for God’s sake are we spending money and treasure on a region that is trying to go back to the seventh century is beyond me.

Najaf is the only place on earth that will go to Haven. Azhar clerics declare Sissi the leader of the faithful, the King is dead and another moribund 79 year old sclerotic is appointed and first things first he appoints his son as defense minister.

“cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war”

Let them duke it out. I am praying for a major retaliation by HA and hopefully Iran directly on Israel.

Let them sort it out without our interference

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January 23rd, 2015, 8:22 pm

 

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