The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham Expands Into Rural Northern Syria

In the previous post, Aymenn al-Tamimi discussed developments in the relationship between two primary al-Qa’ida affiliates operating in Syria: Jabhat al-Nusra, and the ISIS. Through his analysis he concluded that in some areas the distinction between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is blurry, while in other areas the two seem to visibly operate as distinctly separate groups. He also believes that though a “grand ideological clash” between the two groups is not impossible, it is premature to point to one at present. Now, in part two, Aymenn delves into the growth of ISIS power in specific communities and discusses the plausibility of predicted FSA – ISIS confrontation.

 

The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham Expands Into Rural Northern Syria

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimiby Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi for Syria Comment


Introduction

In a post for Jihadology a few weeks back, I identified how the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) was playing an important role in the fighting on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo and in the surrounding countryside. Since that time, it has become apparent that the group has been seeking to expand outwards and to consolidate control over outlying towns in both the Aleppo and Idlib regions, particularly those of strategic importance along or near the border with Turkey.

Azaz

This initiative has already served to foster division. For example, in the town of Azaz, which is in close proximity to the Turkish border, a protest ocurred on July 1 against ISIS’ entry into the town and its attempt to establish headquarters there. Yet on July 5, Azaz saw a counter-rally in favor of ISIS featuring a slogan common for such demonstrations—‘Labbayka ya Allah’ (‘I am at your service, God’)—accompanied by conspicuous numbers of ISIS flags.

It should be noted that this pattern of division—between those members of Syrian society who support ISIS vs. those who do not—is also observed in the city of Aleppo itself, where ISIS supporters have generally held separate rallies from those of other demonstrators. (I have found one notable exception: a rally on June 4 for the then-besieged city of Qusayr in the area of al-Firdus, featuring both ISIS and Free Syrian Army [FSA] flags).

Resentment over the ISIS presence in Azaz grows. One notable outlet for this disapproving sentiment is a youth activist Facebook page called ‘The Youth of Aleppo—Azaz’ which posted the following status: ‘We ask the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham to establish their state from Iraq [meaning ‘in Iraq’?] since the system of prostitution [there] has not yet fallen.’

The group has also circulated an alleged statement from a local council in the town of Tel Abyaḍ in Raqqah Governorate claiming that the ISIS has confiscated internationally-donated generators intended to provide drinking water for the residents of the town.

On the other hand, ISIS is attempting some outreach to the locals of Azaz, offering Qur’an and Sunnah recitation competitions—among other religious activities—for the population during Ramaḍān.

Jarabulus

As for other towns, here is a photo of the ISIS headquarters in the northern border town of Jarabulus. The banner reads: ‘The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham: Province of Aleppo. Emirate of Jarabulus.’

ISIS headquarters, Jarabulus, Syria

Another photo shows the flag of ISIS flying over Jarabulus:

ISIS flag flies over Jarabulus, Syria

One activist page on Facebook called ‘Jabhat al-Nusra does not represent me’ claims the following to give context to the first photo: ‘Photo from Jarabulus following the seizure of it by al-Qa’ida after battles with the FSA. It is said that ISIS then killed scores of civilians, among them children, during al-Qa’ida’s attempt to occupy the town.’

In a similar vein, on June 15, the Arabic news outlet al-Waie News claimed to cite a local source in Jarabulus on clashes between ISIS and a rebel battalion known as the ‘Family of Jādir,’ which uses the FSA flag.

The source claimed that the clashes started after a member of ISIS was wounded during a round of celebratory gunfire that followed a concord reached between the two groups, giving rise to a renewed violent battle between ISIS and the Family of Jādir for fifteen hours, resulting in ISIS’ seizure of the town, as well as the killing of one ISIS fighter and several from the Family of Jādir.

On 13 June, the leader of the Family of Jādir—Yusuf al-Jādir—released video testimony in which he claimed that ISIS launched an attack on the home of Ahmad al-Jādir and then began shooting at dozens of innocent civilians, resulting in the deaths of several children: among them, Mahmoud Kerkaz, Sheikho Shawish, Ibrahim al-Ahmad, and a young Kurdish girl. He continues by documenting other alleged acts of ISIS aggression in the town.

It thus appears that ISIS seized control of Jarabulus by force. One thing that is important to note from the opposing testimony is the issue of naming. The source for al-Waie News from Jarabulus merely sees ISIS as a new name for Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) in the town, and Yusuf al-Jādir likewise deems the two names interchangeable.

Thus, even if my formulation for the city of Aleppo itself—that ISIS and JN are two separate entities—applies here, the perception of at least some residents of the town nevertheless differs. As in Raqqah, the two may well be interchangeable in Jarabulus.

The concept of interchangeability could make sense here in light of the fact that JN has had an active presence in the northern Turkish border areas in the past (cf. clashes with Farouq Battalions in April on the border in Raqqah Governorate). Certainly, Jarabulus has been known for a JN presence in the past: here is a video of a JN-led rally in Jarabulus from December 14, 2012, featuring the chant of ‘We are Anṣar Allah.’

In this context, one should also note a revealing report from the Damascus Bureau, which actually visited Jarabulus. The reporter, Youssef Shaikho, explains that Jabhat al-Nusra in Jarabulus supported the announcement of ISIS, and most of its fighters in the town are native Syrians, providing a notable exception to the media narrative of ISIS as a group solely composed of foreign fighters.

Further blurring the lines of group-alignment and public sentiment, not all those who, like al-Jādir, use the FSA flag in Jarabulus are necessarily opposed to ISIS’ ideological vision. For example, here is a Facebook activist page from Jarabulus that uses the FSA flag. Yet it has put up a status that laments the loss of the Khilafa (Caliphate) and denounces the UN and its decision-making as a mere front for occupation.

In any event, ISIS is now said to be operating an active Shari’a court in Jarabulus, which has allegedly executed three young men recently on charges of rape and murder. ISIS is also accused of detaining the son of a prominent martyr from the Family of Jādir known as Abu Furāt.

In terms of the reasons behind the Jādir-ISIS clashes, one should be cautious about presenting them as a simple ideological battle. It rather seems to have been a power struggle for control of an important border area. The Kurdish PYD, as the Damascus Bureau notes, also has a small activist presence in Jarabulus, yet it has been left untouched and tolerated by ISIS.

At the same time, ISIS is trying to counter the allegations put out about its conduct in Jarabulus by emphasizing local support in the town for the group, including children.

al-Bab

Another town in rural Aleppo where ISIS is establishing its presence is al-Bab. On July 5, the outlet Saḍa ash-Sham al-Islami put up a set of photos of a meeting for Dawah  held by the ISIS in al-Bab. [Da’wa means “invitation” and often refers to proselytism—the inviting of others to join Islam. In this case, it refers to outreach to Muslims to strengthen their faith.]

Da'wah meeting in al-Bab

In contrast to what appears to have been a more aggressive approach in Jarabulus, ISIS seems to be engaging in an active outreach effort to the population of al-Bab. Thus, the local outlet al-Bab Press reported that ISIS is running school bus services for children who have seen their education disrupted for many months by Assad regime bomb attacks. A local FB page in al-Bab also gave an account last month from an ISIS fighter of clashes between ISIS and Assad regime soldiers aided by Hezbollah fighters in the wider Aleppo area.

Manbij

The town of Manbij offers a case contrasting with that of al-Bab. Recently, Manbij has seen a protest rally against ISIS. The demonstration was sparked by two grievances against ISIS: first, ISIS is accused by some local activists of destroying works of art in Manbij, and second, of kidnapping a local sheikh. Protests continued into Friday of last week, on which day ISIS had been holding a daw’ah meeting in Manbij featuring a number of locals in support of the group, as per the photo below.

ISIS holds dawah meeting in Manbij, Syria

Prior to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s announcement of the formation of ISIS in early April, Manbij had been known for an active JN presence in alliance with Ahrar ash-Sham, who together took on the Farouq Battalions in violent clashes in the town at the beginning of the month, resulting in the expulsion of the Farouq Battalions from Manbij.

The clashes began after Ahrar ash-Sham had arrested a certain Abu Khaldun, a friend of the leader of the Farouq Battalions in Manbij. Ahrar ash-Sham and its allies justified the arrest on the grounds that this man had been one of the leading criminal figures in Manbij and had to be put on trial by the Shari’a committee in Aleppo, while emphasizing that there was no fundamental conflict between them and those under the banner of the FSA.

Following the defeat of the Farouq Battalions, Ahrar ash-Sham held a victory rally in Manbij on 6 April with dozens of supporters and allies, featuring the al-Qa’ida flag and a banner reading ‘The Ummah wants an Islamic Khilafa.’ The person who uploaded the video described it as being held in celebration of the expulsion of ‘gangs of thieves’- a common charge leveled against the Farouq Battalions in the north, which unlike the Ikhwaan-aligned Homs division lack ties to any major Islamist groups.

On a side note, the rally itself should illustrate that those who posit a strict dichotomy between supposedly ‘nationalist’ Salafists in Ahrar ash-Sham as opposed to transnational jihadists are mistaken. This rally in Manbij and Ahrar ash-Sham’s statement on JN’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qa’ida show that concepts of the transnational ummah that supersedes “artificial borders” and the nation-state of Syria are often blurred in Ahrar ash-Sham’s ideological thought.

Of course, one also must not generalize in the opposite direction and portray all of Ahrar ash-Sham as bent on an international Khilafa. Yet whenever non-Islamists protest against groups like ISIS, as a rule Ahrar ash-Sham can be expected to side with the latter (cf. the case of Raqqah which I documented last month).

In the context of Manbij, therefore, one should not be surprised about a blurring of distinction between Ahrar ash-Sham’s support base and what is now known as the ISIS presence. Indeed, it is also apparent that there is another virtual mirror front of ISIS active in Manbij: namely, Ansar al-Khilafa, which is composed of a mix of native Syrians and foreign fighters, though exact proportions are unclear.

Ansar al-Khilafa is most prominent in rural Aleppo and Latakia. In the April rally led by Ahrar ash-Sham, it is likely that there were Ansar al-Khilafa supporters among the crowd. Here is a recent mural put up in Manbij in support of the group:

Ansar al-Khilafa mural in Manbij, Syria

ad-Dana

The final case we come to on the subject of ISIS’ expansion is that of ad-Dana in Idlib, near the border with Turkey. Here, a protest rally is said to have taken place against ISIS (though no video footage of it has emerged so far), sparking violent clashes. Yet it is the only case where we have a mainstream media outlet allowing ISIS to give its full side of the story thanks to an al-Jazeera English report (H/T: @khalidelmousoui) from the town. In the report, ISIS fighters claimed that those denouncing their presence were actually agents of the Assad regime.

However, it appears that this testimony is contradicted in an account given by pro-ISIS activists in Idlib, who denounced the clashes as ‘the work of some of the apostates of the Free Army.’ Meanwhile, a pro-ISIS Twitter user complained at the time of the clashes that the ‘malicious Free Army’ was besieging ISIS and expressed concerns about the beginnings of a ‘Sahwa’ movement against ISIS.

As of now, the al-Jazeera report says that ISIS is the only remaining armed group in the town. This is corroborated by local Idlib activist testimony that there are now no armed clashes in the town and reconciliation initiatives are underway. At the same time, claims that ISIS executed dozens of supporters of those identifying under the banner of the FSA—stemming chiefly from an ad-Dana rebel leader’s testimony were denied.

That said, both the rebel leader whose testimony is given by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the al-Jazeera report corroborate each other on the ISIS fighters as being from outside Syria.

Now in control of the town, ISIS is running a school for the children, and the ISIS presence as reported by al-Jazeera is corroborated by a video that has now emerged of ISIS fighters manning the entrance into ad-Dana.

Conclusion

In short, these various cases illustrate ISIS’ growing power in the north of Syria. ISIS is clearly not a force to be dismissed as marginal without any real support on the ground, even as its presence is undoubtedly sparking backlash in many areas. Above all, these recent developments as regards ISIS’ expansion vindicate to an extent my prediction in March in a guest post for Syria Comment about the emergence and establishment of jihadist strongholds in the north and east of Syria.

In terms of the future, one needs to be skeptical of the narrative being put out by Supreme Military Command (SMC) supporters of a looming, grand-scale FSA effort to take on ISIS in the north of Syria in a fundamental clash of ideologies. Resentment at the ideological level is more to be expected from civilian protestors rather than armed rebels.

One should particularly note my distinction here between SMC supporters and those in general who go by the banner of the FSA. While SMC supporters would like to portray all of those under the banner of FSA as opposed to ISIS, the evidence speaks otherwise, exemplified in this recent statement by an FSA military council in Aleppo denying rumors of clashes between their ‘brothers’ in ISIS and JN.

SMC supporters are likely the source of at least some of the allegations against ISIS, including the recent claim that ISIS is planning to declare a wider northern state after Ramaḍān: plausible in light of ISIS’ expansion in northern Syria but as of now uncorroborated in pro-ISIS circles.

Other rumors likely originating from pro-SMC sources include an alleged statement by JN distancing itself from ISIS (not released through JN’s official channel al-Manārah al-Bayḍā, so therefore suspect) and claims that ISIS killed Abu Furāt of Jarabulus, when his funeral actually took place a few months before ISIS was announced.

In particular, the reports attempting to portray JN in open conflict with ISIS are building on a narrative stemming from a Reuters piece in which JN was portrayed as a group of native Syrians disillusioned with the machinations of the foreign fighters of ISIS, hinting at the possibility of JN teaming up with other rebels to take on ISIS.

The motivation for spreading rumors about ISIS is quite apparent: namely, the SMC’s bid to secure Western arms, which will then be supposedly used to take on what Western nations like the UK perceive to be the number-one threat emanating from Syria.

In any case, the current PR war between SMC supporters and ISIS supporters will continue. Feeling the pressure, the latter have recently announced the formation of a new forum intended to counter purported media disinformation about the group. Thus can the exchange of claims and counter-claims be expected to intensify. Ascertaining the full truth short of getting on the ground will remain elusive.

 

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University. His website is http://www.aymennjawad.org. Follow on Twitter at @ajaltamimi

Comments (491)


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51. SANDRO LOEWE said:

30. majedkhaldoun

Never think US can do anything to help defense syrian populations under attack from Iran, Russian and Hezb-zbelle forces.

They all are the same. They are just liers trying to show their humanity by words while they do nothing. They decided 2 years ago to let Syria be destroyed by the same forces that destroyed Irak.

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July 19th, 2013, 1:48 am

 

52. SANDRO LOEWE said:

The US foreign policy is 100 % designed from Tel Aviv and in total coordination with HA and Assad’s interests. US people has nothing to say in this whole conflict, they are under instructions from Israel militar intelligence.

All of them have decided to destroy Syria in a 10 years process. Assad has agreed with the only condition to remain in power.

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July 19th, 2013, 1:52 am

 

53. SANDRO LOEWE said:

The death of Mohammad Jammo is the first pill of the medicine the syrian criminals and supporters will taste from now on.

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July 19th, 2013, 1:53 am

 

54. SANDRO LOEWE said:

People of Jaraboulus, Manbij and Al Bab are people from bedouin origins. These towns were medium to large villages only 15 years ago. In this period of time they have become cities due to the urbanization of tens of thousands of (arab – nomad and sedentarian bedouins). They are very poor in terms of education, not to mention in terms of political complexity. They were very baddly hitten by reform taken by Assad Government when it cancelled all subsidies to agriculture and then poverty skyrocketed. The people of northern Syria have nothing to lose, they come from the dust and will fight for their dignity without limitations.

The fact of Nusra or other primary political structures leading the revolution is not strange. Only when a normal state emerges than can help people in their bussiness and lands then they will be under control again.

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July 19th, 2013, 2:13 am

 

55. SANDRO LOEWE said:

According to my sources Assad/Makhlouf mafia own 20 % of Dubai luxury real state. This is the result of methodical stealing from the syrian people for long decades… while syrian children starve at their homes under Assad Scuds.

Congratulations to the supporters of this mafia !!!

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July 19th, 2013, 2:15 am

 

56. SANDRO LOEWE said:

REVENIRE

You do not write now because you are sleeping. And why are you sleeping because you are living in the US. This is your paradox and your hipocrisy. You are beneffiting from the west welfare and defending the syrian people torture and massacre by an illegitimate dictator.

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July 19th, 2013, 3:01 am

 

57. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

GHUFRAN SAID
The list of intellectual thugs keeps growing on this forum, I have no respect for anybody who justifies the murder of political opponents who did not commit a crime punishable by death, the assassination of Jimmo and other non violent political activists , as wrong as they might be, is what made it next to impossible for this uprising to win wide public support, people have realized that rebels are worse than the regime and that they failed to unify or come up with any credible plan to save Syria.

FROM FACEBOOK

في يوم واحد، هو الخميس 18 تموز 2013

أكّدت القيادة القطرية لحزب البعث السوري: إن اغتيال المجموعات الإرهابية المسلحة الاعلامي محمد ضرار جمو ومن معه في لبنان يعكس الطبيعة الإجرامية والحقد غير المسبوق والتفكير البدائي الإقصائي الذي يحكم بنية وطبيعة وثقافة تلك العصابات ومن يدعمها ويحتضنها ويوفر لها البيئة الحاضنة والتغطية على جرائمها، في حين أن وزراة الإعلام اعتبرت بأن الجريمة تعبر عن حقد القوى المتطرفة، أمّا صفحة الهيئة العامة للإذاعة والتلفزيون فأطلقت عليه: شهيد الفكر وكلمة الحق.

أما كل القصة ومافيها، فقد كشفتها التصريحات الرسمية اللبنانية الأولية عن دوافع جريمة القتل العائلية الجنائية، بأن زوجة المغدور هي التي حرّضت شقيقها وابن شقيقها الثاني على قتل جمو بعدما شكّت بعلاقة زوجها مع امرأة أخرى، وأنها اتفقت مع شقيقها وابن شقيقها الآخر على وضع حدٍ لحياة زوجها. وقد تم إعادة تمثيل الجريمة من قبل المنفّذين بعدما اعترفا بذلك. يعني في الحقيقة طلع المغدور شهيد علاقة نسائية أغضبت زوجته، وأن المجموعات الإرهابية الإقصائية هي زوجة جمو وأخوها وابن أخيها وآخرون من العائلة الكريمة.

There is foolishness, and it is often akin to fake undignified elitist self righteousness

And then one has to wonder how delicious sour are someones own bitter words when swallowed.

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July 19th, 2013, 3:20 am

 

58. apple_mini said:

So the rebels beloved by the opposition brutally murdered Jimmo because he had vehemently defended the regime through speeches, talk shows, public debate and writing.

Apparently this contradicts what the opposition has been righteously claiming they are fighting for: human rights, political freedom and most of all against the brutality by the regime to oppress general public and silence dissent.

It did not take long before the opposition no longer could hide their hypocrisy and gloat the death of Jimmo. We did not even need to prod them or set a trap. It is just a matter of time to catch them red-handed.

To me, the opposition have turned into a complete sham and quite disgraceful. Those true progressive and moderate opposition members either have been sidelined long time ago or have retreated from the destructive organization.

No good news for the rebels. No one and nothing in the opposition can earn slight respect from Syrians. What a mess!

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July 19th, 2013, 4:50 am

 

59. Mina said:

“Le Monde” has important moral lessons to give:
http://www.lemonde.fr/a-la-une/article/2013/07/17/egypte-les-apprentis-sorciers-de-tamarrod_3448677_3208.html
The journalist calls “apprentis sorciers” the Egyptian guys who have launched the Tamarod petition! (it is in French rather pejorative, with a strong “irresponsible” connotation)

But they keep supporting groups in Syria who are worse than irresponsible and are even enemies of each other!

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July 19th, 2013, 5:19 am

 

60. SANDRO LOEWE said:

58. apple_mini

The contradiction is only apparent. We want civil rights and freedoms and will get it by peacefull means when democracy is operating and we can chose who rules and who holds the army.

But when dictatorship is in power massacring its own population democracy rules are not applied only jungle rules and those criminals will be eroded from earth as well as all the jonkies promoting the with words or facts the massacre of syrian villages, towns and cities.

In your opinion Assad and HA bulleting peacefull demonstrations merit all the respect from syrians. Let me laugh at you.

HA HA HA

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July 19th, 2013, 5:20 am

 

61. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Al Nusra and those small jihadists groups are child games in comparison to Assad Tortures Chambers in the city centre of Damascus and of every city and town of Syria.

Obama should do well to destroy Assad centres soon before all information about Guantanamo prisoners being sent to Assad torture centres sees the light.

All those defending the Assad mafia where have you been living? Have not you ever been in Syria? Have not you ever tasted the sour taste of detention centers for ideollogical crimes?

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July 19th, 2013, 5:42 am

 

62. Badr said:

“The Syrian revolution is a baby – it needs nourishment”

Ewa Jasiewicz of the New Statesman reports on the plight of the relief efforts in Syria.

We discuss the idea of a joint news-behind-the-news project that can profile struggles that mainstream media ignore. . . ‘It’s a good idea but we do not have the capacity. We literally do not have the people on the ground. Too many Syrian activists are outside in Turkey or Lebanon. They need to be here’.

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July 19th, 2013, 5:46 am

 

63. majedkhaldoun said:

Apple mini wrote
So the rebels beloved by the opposition brutally murdered Jimmo

Is she living in this world? she is obviously completely out of touch, did she not know that his wife and her brother killed him and the rebels in Syria has nothing to do with this murder?,it amazes me how she talks like the world is stupid, who is really the stupid,the hateful,the lier? she should fix her brain and check the news before she makes such lies.

Sandrow
Ghufran is always quick to blame the opposition before knowing the truth,how could a person do that and makes a fool of himself is beyond any imagination, he should be ashamed of himself if he has dignity, he should appologize , but Ghufran being so pro regime and pretending he is not is no diferent than apple Mini who after everyone knew the truth yet they still lie and blame the rebels for such murder, it is amazing, they are not normal and it is very very silly.

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July 19th, 2013, 6:48 am

 

64. Akbar Palace said:

The Blame Game

52. SANDRO LOEWE said:

The US foreign policy is 100 % designed from Tel Aviv and in total coordination with HA and Assad’s interests. US people has nothing to say in this whole conflict, they are under instructions from Israel militar intelligence.

All of them have decided to destroy Syria in a 10 years process. Assad has agreed with the only condition to remain in power.

Sandro Loewe,

I think your heart is in the right place, however, your post slips into the usual arab conspiracy realm, which is unfortunate.

I agree with you that the US and the rest of the world have failed to help people suffering around the world, especially in Syria.

Why is it arabs like you only call out the US and Tel Aviv? Why should Israel risk another war? Where were arabs when Syria’s Lebanese goons were sending thousands of rockets into Israel? And where exactly is the Arab League? Doesn’t Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt have a military?

Anyway, here’s what Russia and China have done in the UN, yet they receive no criticism from you. The US can’t police the world by herself. And that’s just the truth.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/un-security-council-failed-to-move-on-syria-us_862977.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/02/us-syria-crisis-un-idUSBRE95100G20130602

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/19/us-syria-crisis-un-idUSBRE86I0UD20120719

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July 19th, 2013, 6:55 am

 

65. Akbar Palace said:

Here is the main reason, IMHO, why there isn’t peace in the ME. Too much reliance of Islamists by the arab street and their use by arab despots and “leaders”:

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=2508

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July 19th, 2013, 7:10 am

 

66. SANDRO LOEWE said:

65. Akbar Palace

I loved this video about ALYAHUD, it is nice. But the issue is not so simple minded. I am blaming US for the following facts that make US different from any other country in the world:

* US is the only super power with vetoe than can be called a democracy

* US is main responsible for the mess in Irak. If it was a mistake they must now amend it by acting when the street is asking to, like is the case in Syria. If it was not a mistake then they must complete the job instead of leaving the whole middle east in chaos and fire.

* US is declaring they will help the rebels but at the same time they know perfectly they will not because it is completely against Israel and US strategy in the middle east. They are cheating the world opinion.

* For the first time in history US was expected to defend a popular movement for the good of freedom and democracy in the arab countries and they failed cowardly or strategically.

* US is not “another one”. US is until now (probably not in the future) the only hope for people under dictatorships because despite all abuses commited by US Army they still represent a better political system than that of Iran, Russia, China and many more and owns the army to destroy any dictatorship.

If US refuse this responsability then just let Obama declare US is not the country to rely on the UN doctrine of defending populations from dictatorships abuses. Many in Syria discovered this reality in the first months of the Revolution, the rest is discovering it now.

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July 19th, 2013, 7:35 am

 

67. SANDRO LOEWE said:

In the current balance of powers it is not possible to envision an end to the syrian crisis. It can take 10 years until Syria is totally destroyed, their population reduced to half of what it was and the rest outside the country and probaly the national territory divided in three or four autonomous or independent countries.

Another option, more dramatical even, could be the clash of powers with the total destruction of Damascus, and the eventual use of chemical or even nuclear weapons in Damascus and countryside by Iran and / or Israel.

In any event we must not forget to congratulate the great God/Prophet Assad II of Syria. Without him none of these achievements would have been possible.

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July 19th, 2013, 7:54 am

 

68. Akbar Palace said:

I loved this video about ALYAHUD, it is nice.

Sandro Loewe,

Thanks. The video is quite sad, but true.

I hear what you are saying, and again, I am ALSO disappointed with the US, but you are putting waaaaay to much of the onus on the US gov’t. Yes we are a superpower, but the UNSC has more than one seat. Russia and China are obviously thwarting what the rest of the world wants to do for Syria.

And when you (or others) talk about Syria, mentioning Israel is futile. Israel has no preference for who “wins”. The winner in this Civil War will not be pro-Israel. The opposite. Israel is sitting on her hands, watching with binoculars, and helping a few injured Syrians. What is going on in Syria is a violent war where arabs and muslims are killing each other. Certainly, not the first time this has happened.

So in summary, the US gets criticized for everything. As I mentioned to Mr. Majedkhaldoun many moons ago, the ME is a region where “Good Deeds never go Unpunished”. You are asking the US to “do an Iraq” in Syria, save a country, so that the US can be blamed in the future when people continue getting killed. And of course, when the US stays out of Syria, the US gets criticized as well.

That’s part of being American and Jewish: you always get criticized. Russia, China and the Arab League? I envy them! They never get criticized!

Have a nice day Sandro Loewe.

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July 19th, 2013, 8:07 am

 

69. SANDRO LOEWE said:

AKBAR PALACE

Most westerners living under democracy systems commit the mistake of blaming populations under dictatorship of using the Blame Game. It is very easy to say this qhen your rights and life are guaranteed. You seem to ingore that when you are under a dictatorship that has lasted 40 years like that of Gadafi, Assad or many others with the suppoort of western countries you cannot get rid of it by peacefull demostrations but you need the help of those who supported the dictator like it was clearly showed in Lybia.

I think it is very easy to undertstand, and you do not need any example since history is happening in front of you day after day.

Yes there is blame and there is a responsabilty on those who supported Mubarak, Assad, Saleh, Gadafi, and all those motherfxxx. And specially critical responsability on those who call themselves “democracies”.

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July 19th, 2013, 8:08 am

 

70. SYRIAN HAMSTER said:

From FB
Mrs Jimmo makes an excellent role model for athma….

Z.M.

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July 19th, 2013, 8:29 am

 

71. revenire said:

Sandro what I glean from your posts is this: you have realized the “revolution” is done for and can never win.

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July 19th, 2013, 8:35 am

 

72. Akbar Palace said:

Yes there is blame and there is a responsabilty on those who supported Mubarak, Assad, Saleh, Gadafi, and all those motherfxxx. And specially critical responsability on those who call themselves “democracies”.

Sandro Loewe,

OK. But please recall, the US Gov’t never “supported” Gadafi or Assad. We supported Mubarak, but frankly, I don’t know if he was “that bad”, and he stepped down after a month or two. He wasn’t a “Muqawamista” (hat tip, QN).

Democracies are countries that are free and their representatives are elected. This doesn’t necessarily require that the US govt enter agreements with only countries that have similar governments. Be that Saudi Arabia, China, or Brazil. But the US should strive to do so.

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July 19th, 2013, 8:48 am

 

73. revenire said:

Does anyone know why US-Libya relations turned sour in the first place?

Libya nationalized their oil and the US didn’t like that.

1969

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July 19th, 2013, 9:03 am

 

74. zoo said:

Panic in Turkey from the consequence of its short-sighted Islamist policy toward Syria

PKK state at border

http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-321324-pkk-state-at-border.html

Turkey has been greatly disturbed by a recent statement from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — a political offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria, which announced that it will declare autonomy in the country’s north.

Such a development would mean Turkey being neighbors with the PKK, with which it is trying to make a settlement to end decades-long terrorism in the country. Most Turkish columnists on Friday allocated their columns to the likelihood of the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish state in Syria’s north and how such a development will influence the course of the settlement process.

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July 19th, 2013, 9:06 am

 

75. zoo said:

Can the opposition still hope for a ‘game-changer’ other than Geneva II?

– The FSA undermined by Islamists is no more a force to reckon.
– Qatar, the major supporter of the opposition has stepped aside
– Egypt, another valuable supporter, has turned its back
– The SNC amputated from its Moslem Brotherhood members is dying from slow death
– Turkey is faced with a renewal of the PKK threats on the border
– the UK and France are backtracking on sending weapons
– the USA priority is no more the toppling of Assad but the containment of the Islamist extremists and the chemical weapons
– The SAA is gradually winning back ‘liberated’ area

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July 19th, 2013, 9:22 am

 

76. Syrian said:

Mohamad Mansour
(اغتيال ضرار جمّو جريمة عائلية: زوجتـه قتلته بسبب سـوء معاملته وبخله). هذا العنوان ليس لصحيفة أو موقع سوري معارض يشهر بكل من يؤيد الأسد حياً كان أم ميتاً… بل تصدر جريدة (الأخبار) التابعة لحزب الله ونشرته مواقع إلكترونية تابعة للنظام. يوردون هذه التفاصيل المسيئة ليس لأنهم إعلام يقول الحق ولو على مؤيديه، بل كي يقولوا أنه لا يوجد خرق أمني لمناطق حزب الله كما تقول جماعة 14 آذار والمعارضة السورية.. لكن أهم ما يقوله هذا السلوك أنه: لا كرامة لبوق لدى نظام المافيا الأسدية لا حياً ولا ميتاً!

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July 19th, 2013, 9:27 am

 

77. zoo said:

Behind the lines: Wars within wars in northern Syria

By JONATHAN SPYER 07/18/2013 23:45
http://www.jpost.com/Arts-and-Culture/Arts/Behind-the-lines-Wars-within-wars-in-northern-Syria-320345

Amid reports that they plan to declare an Islamic state, jihadi rebels have clashed with FSA and Kurdish fighters, and provoked a civilian backlash with their oppressive brand of Islam.

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a UK-based researcher who monitors jihadi statements and activity in Syria for the Jihadology website, said that he had found “nothing on ISIS pages to corroborate the idea of a planned declaration for a northern state in Syria after Ramadan,” as asserted by the FSA official.

Tamimi, however, did not rule out the possibility that ISIS could be planning such a move, given its “expansion” in northern Syria and its rule in certain areas.

It is possible that the release of these claims forms part of a prelude to retaliatory action by FSA elements in Syria against the jihadis. Certainly, sources close to the rebels confirm that they view such a clash to be an eventual inevitability.

It should also be noted that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are themselves involved in a lengthy feud of their own, over who is the authentic representative of al-Qaida in Syria.

Therefore, in northern Syria, in addition to the war between the Assad regime and the rebellion, there are at least three additional, discernible conflicts taking place.

The al-Qaida-supporting jihadis are fighting the Kurdish defense organization.

The jihadis are also engaging in the killing of other rebel leaders, and anti-jihadi oppositionists are organizing against them in the areas they control.

Lastly, the jihadis are also in dispute with one another, though not (yet) violently.

It is also possible, given the Assad regime’s track record and its interests, that some among the jihadi ranks are linked to the regime.

Thus, in addition to metastasizing beyond its borders, the Syrian civil war is also giving birth to a variety of new conflicts within the country itself.

It is wars within wars – and no end in sight.

The main victims of all this are, of course, the people of Syria.

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July 19th, 2013, 9:38 am

 

78. Akbar Palace said:

Does anyone know why US-Libya relations turned sour in the first place?

Reverse,

A quick google search and my fuzzy memory recalls a couple of Libyan terrorist events: the Berlin discotheque bombing and, of course, the Pan Am 103 bombing. May also have been Gad-fly’s obnoxious wardrobe.

Billy Carter doesn’t count.

At least Bashar wears nice suits.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya%E2%80%93United_States_relations

See, all you have to do is put in a few keywords, and voila, you have an answer!

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July 19th, 2013, 9:41 am

 

79. revenire said:

Akbar it was in 1969 when Libya nationalized her oil. The Idrissid monarchy was overthrown in a bloodless coup and oil production was nationalized. That preceded any other events you mention.

You posted a link that corroborates what I just told you in #73.

“After Muammar Gaddafi’s 1969 coup, U.S.-Libyan relations became increasingly strained when Gaddafi nationalized the oil companies[5]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libya%E2%80%93United_States_relations#Libya_under_Gaddafi_.281969-2011.29

Do you even bother to read the links you post?

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July 19th, 2013, 10:18 am

 
 

81. don said:

Pro Morsi Islamist regime protest today was dubbed “Second Ramadan Friday”

VIDEO: BROTHERHOOD RALLY FUELS FEAR OF VIOLENCE IN EGYPT

http://english.cntv.cn/program/africalive/20130719/104831.shtml

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July 19th, 2013, 10:43 am

 

82. Uzair8 said:

Some updates posted on Yalla Souriya from about an hour and less ago:

A battalion of the FSA announcing that it has now joined and will fall under the command of the elite Tawheed..

[Video]

**********

NuffSilence
#Daraa: regime border checkpoints keep falling one after the other like dominoes

[Video]

**********

THE_47th
Assad Forces arrest famous Syrian painter Yousef Abdelke https://www.facebook.com/youssef.abdelke.artist Here are some of his amazing works https://www.facebook.com/youssef.abdelke.artist/photos_albums

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July 19th, 2013, 11:04 am

 

83. don said:

From Turkey with love: Another Israeli attack on Syria?

What Happened in Latakia?

Just when it began becoming apparent that the US and its allies were facing serious regional setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa, reports began circulating about an explosion in Latakia. Unverified reports, originating from anonymous sources in Israel in early July 2013, began claiming that Tel Aviv had launched an attack against the Syrian port of Latakia that caused a massive explosion. As the rumours began to circulate in the media, it was dubiously claimed that the Israeli attacks were launched against shipments of Russian-made S-300 air defence systems that were in the process of being delivered to Syria by the Kremlin. US officials would enter the picture by deliberately leaking more information about what happened in Latakia by claiming that Israel used its air force to bomb the port there to destroy a military depot filled with Russian-made Yakhont land-to-sea anti-ship missiles.

Then, on July 15, RT’s Paula Slier would report from Tel Aviv that Israel had attacked Latakia by using a Turkish military base. This would upset the Turkish government, which would deny it and say anyone making the claims was involved in an “act of betrayal.” In response to the Russian report, Turkish officials would up the ante by claiming that the Russian anti-ship missiles in the Syrian port were destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon and that the US and Israel had coordinated the attacks by holding meetings in Turkey with the anti-government militias operating inside Syria. Uzi Mahnaimi would complicate the matter by reporting through the British press that the Israeli attacks were launched from a German-built Dolphin from the sea, which essentially vindicated Turkey by refuting the claim that a Turkish base was used by the Israelis.

What has to be understood is that countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia conceal their collaboration with Tel Aviv due to the heavy opposition against the Israeli occupation of Palestine among their respective societies. What is also important to note is that a Turkish jet was downed in 2012 by Syria when it was following a route that was used by Israeli jets near the Syrian-Turkish border. The use of this aerial route by Tel Aviv has never really been challenged by Turkey. It is also part of an important pattern that shows how close the tactics used by Israel and Turkey against Syria are.

http://rt.com/op-edge/israel-attack-syria-turkey-313/

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July 19th, 2013, 11:05 am

 

84. Uzair8 said:

Apparently that (in)famous shabeeha, the one with the amazing ability to appear on the scene of many a incident, has been arrested by the regime.

http://www.zamanalwsl.net/readNews.php?id=39803

[Came across it on Yalla Souriya – a tweet by THE 47th]

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July 19th, 2013, 11:09 am

 

85. SANDRO LOEWE said:

82. Uzair8

Thanks UZAIR8. Please keep informing. It sounds good news.

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July 19th, 2013, 11:29 am

 

86. SANDRO LOEWE said:

The worst think about US position is that they not only have stopped helping FSA and Syrian Coalition but probably are working behind the scenes with Russia and Assad Mafia to find a middle sollution to protect their interests that have nothing to do with syrian people’s interests. Consequently absolutely ignoring sovereign syrian people’s demands.

I hope I am wrong.

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July 19th, 2013, 11:33 am

 

87. don said:

Egypt’s economy is doing great

Egypt’s tourist industry badly hit by political unrest

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23371370

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July 19th, 2013, 11:36 am

 

88. don said:

Bummer! No UK chemical attack protection for Egypt!

UK revokes Egypt export licences after civilian deaths

The licences revoked by the UK include components for armoured personnel carriers, radio equipment, machine gun components, components for tracked armoured infantry vehicles and communications equipment for tanks.

Mr Cable said he had taken the decision after getting advice from the Foreign Office.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation in Egypt and the events which have led to the deaths of protesters.

“All licences for exports of controlled goods to Egypt have been assessed on a case-by-case basis against a range of internationally agreed, stringent criteria which take into account the circumstances at the time the licence application was made.

“However, as a result of the changing situation in Egypt we have conducted a review of UK export licences to this country.

“Whilst we have no reports of British equipment being used in the unrest in Egypt we have taken the decision to revoke five licences.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23381025

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July 19th, 2013, 11:55 am

 

89. don said:

Ramadan kareem

Rebel infighting in Syria undermining revolt

The rivalries _ along with the efforts by extremist foreign fighters to impose their strict interpretation of Islam in areas they control _ are chipping away at the movement’s popularity in Syria at a time when the regime is making significant advances on the ground.

The infighting, which exploded into the open in the country’s rebel-held north in recent days, is contributing to a sense across many parts of Syria that the revolution has faltered. It threatens to fracture an opposition movement that has been plagued by divisions from the start.

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/jul/19/ml-syria-rebel-against-rebel/

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July 19th, 2013, 12:04 pm

 

90. don said:

Better late than never

UK Bans Syria’s Al-Qaida-Linked Nusra Front

Many Western governments have expressed concern that the Syrian conflict is serving as an incubator for Islamist terror.

Last week senior British lawmakers warned that jihadists in Syria “currently represent the most worrying emerging terrorist threat to the U.K. and the West.”

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uk-bans-syrias-al-qaida-linked-nusra-front-19711902

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July 19th, 2013, 12:08 pm

 

91. Ziad said:

مظهر شاهين لـ«الإخوان»: معكم «أوباما» ومعنا الله.. وتقديسكم لمرسي «شِرك»

قال الشيخ مظهر شاهين، إمام مسجد عمر مكرم، إن غياب العدل والقانون هو السبب في سقوط دولة الإخوان، موجهًا رسالة لجماعة الإخوان: «أنتم تقولون معنا أوباما، ونحن نقول معنا الله، وتتفاخرون بدعم أمريكا لكم، والشعب المصري لا يخاف من أمريكا ولا يخاف من أي شىء إلا الله»، على حد قوله.

وأدان خلال خطبة الجمعة، ما زعمته جماعة الإخوان أنهم سيعبرون العبور الثاني لنصرة الوطن في ذكرى العاشر من رمضان، الجمعة، متسائلاً: «إذا كان الجيش المصري عبر يوم العاشر من رمضان لقتال إسرائيل، فهل يشبه الإخوان الشعب المصري في التحرير والاتحادية بإسرائيل؟»، على حد قوله.

ووصف «شاهين» تقديس جماعة الإخوان المسلمين ومؤيديها الرئيس المعزول محمد مرسي وتقريبه من منزلة الأنبياء، بأنه نوع من الشرك بالله، على الرغم من ادعائهم الإيمان.

وشبه «شاهين» الرئيس المعزول بـ«الفرعون»، لأنه فرق الشعب المصري إلى فرق وأحزاب وشيع كما فعل «فرعون».

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/1962366

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July 19th, 2013, 12:31 pm

 

92. habib said:

Loool!

“The group has also circulated an alleged statement from a local council in the town of Tel Abyaḍ in Raqqah Governorate claiming that the ISIS has confiscated internationally-donated generators intended to provide drinking water for the residents of the town.

On the other hand, ISIS is attempting some outreach to the locals of Azaz, offering Qur’an and Sunnah recitation competitions—among other religious activities—for the population during Ramaḍān.”

Yes, we take their water, but we give them the opportunity to recite the Sunnah instead!

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July 19th, 2013, 12:37 pm

 

93. zoo said:

“Options on the table” are narrowing for the USA and the West in Syria: Watch Al Qaeda expand and create a Islamists haven in Syria or accept that the Syrian Army is the only warrant that this will not happen.

U.S. Stakes in Syria Grow as Radicals Rally to the Fight

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-19/u-s-stakes-in-syria-grow-as-radicals-rally-to-the-fight.html

The war in Syria increasingly threatens U.S. interests in the region and may spawn future terrorist attacks against the U.S. and European allies, a top U.S. intelligence official said.

The war is providing both a rallying point and a training ground for radical Islamists from other nations, according to Matthew Olsen, director of the government’s National Counterterrorism Center. Their numbers are increasing and the radicals, such as those joining the al-Nusra Front, an offshoot of the terrorist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, are now “the most capable fighting force within the opposition” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said.

Olsen and other speakers yesterday at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, pointed to growing stakes for the U.S. in Syria, even as President Barack Obama has been reluctant to get more involved. The U.S. has a national security interest in seeing the war end soon in a way that doesn’t empower Islamic radicals, if that’s possible, they said.

“Syria has become really the predominant jihadist battlefield in the world,’” Olsen said. “We see foreign fighters going from Western Europe and, in a small number of cases, from the United States to Syria to fight for the opposition.”

Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has long sought to gain control of territory as the terror group had in Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion, said McLaughlin. One of al-Qaeda’s stated goals is the re-establishment of a caliphate across the Mideast and North Africa as there was in the early days of Islam.
Terrorist Dream

“Wherever he’s hiding right now, he’s probably looking at Syria and saying ‘this is my dream come true,’ because probably one part of Syria is going to end up in the hands of people like that,” McLaughlin said, referring to Zawahiri.

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July 19th, 2013, 12:55 pm

 

94. Ziad said:

Syrian flag hoisted on the sumit of Kilimanjaro by Shadi al Qadamani.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=428722460574501&l=39865dfd8c

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July 19th, 2013, 1:13 pm

 

95. Ziad said:

Desparete Rebel in Homs Crying and Complaining About SAA, Hezbollah

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July 19th, 2013, 1:18 pm

 

96. SANDRO LOEWE said:

It is really strange how supporters of Assad are very optimistic and positive about the sitaution in Syria. Taking in consideration that Syria is very near to disappear and that Assad will be killed sooner or later it sounds at least curious.

They do not know that by destroying the opposition they destroy Syria’s options to survive.

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July 19th, 2013, 1:23 pm

 

97. Uzair8 said:

So we’re ten days into Ramadan and the regime ‘victories’ seem to be drying up (perhaps it’s only me but we aren’t hearing much from that front).

So presumably, while the regime is bogged down in it’s Homs offensive, elsewhere the rebels are advancing in the south (I posted yesterday – Nawa City) and also in Aleppo [again see yesterdays comment]. The Tawheed brigade (Aleppo) seems to be strengthening (as I posted a few comments back) so it’s worse news from the regime point of view vis a vis the Aleppo state of play.

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July 19th, 2013, 1:29 pm

 

98. don said:

*Your comment is awaiting moderation.*

UK ARMY CHIEF: Invading Syria Would Be The Only Way To Topple Assad

http://au.businessinsider.com/uk-army-chief-invading-syria-would-be-the-only-way-to-topple-assad-2013-7

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July 19th, 2013, 1:30 pm

 

99. don said:

Why bother?! They’re doing a great job killing each others! hehehehehehe!

97. Uzair8 said:
So we’re ten days into Ramadan and the regime ‘victories’ seem to be drying up (perhaps it’s only me but we aren’t hearing much from that front).

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July 19th, 2013, 1:34 pm

 

100. Uzair8 said:

What’s this about?:

hhassan140
The report tells him Jabhat al-Nusra’s leader is suspected to be a mukhabarat stooge. He replied he met Al Joulani many times. He said: “Al Joulani is from a prominent Damascene family and a top-notch jihadi. He is charismatic and you immediately admire him if you meet him”.

http://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/hhassan140-the-report-tells-him-jabhat-al-nusras/

************

Also what about this? Is it a new video (brigade formation)?:

Syrian_Scenes
Only Syria could make you think Sufi militarization was a step up:

[Video]

http://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/syrian-scenes-only-syria-could-make-you-think/

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July 19th, 2013, 1:38 pm

 

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