Sinjar Was Only the Beginning—by Matthew Barber

Sinjar Was Only the Beginning


Matthew Barber 3by Matthew Barber

The calm is slowly unraveling in Kurdistan, and a growing, pervasive anxiety is beginning to afflict us all.

We know that the fighting between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Islamic State jihadis continues to develop and move from place to place, but we’re never exactly sure what’s happening, where the fighting is occurring, or who has the upper hand. News—both local and international—has proved highly unreliable since this crisis began on Sunday.

If it’s not happening on your block, you probably don’t really know what’s going on.


The Case of Shariya

The Yazidi town of Shariya, located a few miles south of Dohuk, is a “collective village” created by Saddam Hussein during his Arabization program in the 1970s. Saddam bulldozed countless Yazidi towns until there was nothing left but gravel, and then forcibly moved their former inhabitants into collectives situated in locations that served his strategic interests. Shariya lies in the center of a valley ringed by hills, along the bases of which were originally a number of Yazidi villages. Saddam destroyed all of these villages (fearing that their proximity to the mountains would facilitate the harboring of Peshmerga fighters) and huddled all the villagers together in the center of the open plain between the mountains, where they would be much easier to keep an eye on.

A view of Shariya with hills behind—photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment

A view of Shariya with hills behind—photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


Shariya had a population of 17,000 until Sunday’s crisis in Sinjar began compelling families to flee for the Dohuk governorate. By Wednesday, Shariya had a population of over 80,000 people.

When I visited the community on Monday, it was already bursting at the seams, and it wasn’t even close to the peak it reached on Wednesday.

The road leading into Shariya was a non-stop caravan of vehicles transporting more passengers than one would have thought possible: small trucks carrying dozens, packed into the truck beds like livestock; small cars with 3, 4, 5 people crammed into the trunks—all having traveled like this for hours, or even overnight due to the bottlenecking effect that the sudden flight of more than 200,000 (perhaps closer to 300,000) had on the road from Sinjar.

Yazidis flee Sinjar in overcrowded car, barefoot—photo: Matthew Barber, Syria Comment

Yazidis flee Sinjar in overcrowded car, barefoot—photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


Yazidis flee Sinjar in overcrowded car, barefoot—photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment

Yazidis flee Sinjar in overcrowded car, barefoot—photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


On our way to the village, a friend and I stopped and helped transport Yazidis from Sinjar that we noticed were just sitting on the side of the road, unsure how to reach Shariya.

Inside the little town, thousands thronged about, trying to secure food, water, and shelter. I saw entire families sleeping on the floors of stores, offices, school buildings, a hospital-cum-motel, and the roofs of houses. The local residents worked like bees to coordinate aid to all of the families. The KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) sent in trucks loaded with food and water, and Muslim families from neighboring communities brought deliveries of food to distribute among the displaced Yazidis.

People began to come up to me, wanting to talk about what had happened. Uncertainty and bewilderment clouded each face. (I was told only yesterday that no foreign journalists visited Shariya; aside from some observers with Amnesty International and HRW, I was the only foreigner to visit the community.)


A man approached me and asked if I worked with the UN. “No, I don’t, but I may write some reports about the situation here,” I replied. “Can I talk to you?” he asked. “Certainly,” I said.

“Well, if you don’t mind, I would like to tell you about what happened to me—”

As he finished his sentence, his voice broke and he burst into tears. Unable to suppress a brief wail, he buried his face in the crook of his arm and, seemingly ashamed, quickly walked a few paces away, put his face against the wall of a nearby building, and stood sobbing. I walked over, put my hand on his shoulder, and stood by silently while his grief found its much-needed release. When he had regained his composure, a Kurdish friend and I brought some chairs and sat to listen to his story.

His name was Osman. He recounted how the day before, when IS jihadists attacked his home village in the Sinjar mountains, he was out working. “My two daughters were our relatives’ home. I couldn’t get to them and they left by a different way.”

In the moment of crisis, when Peshmerga lines broke, people fled in all different directions. There was no time to coordinate an escape; in this way many families became separated from each other.

Devastated at not knowing what transpired for his two girls, ages 3 and 7, Osman continued: “I don’t think they made it out of Sinjar; I think they are trapped there with the others. I don’t know if they are alive or not.”

While fleeing, Osman saw bodies along the road that had been shot by IS fighters. People recounted seeing the corpses of women shot on the roadside, and one even described coming upon a stranded vehicle containing the dead bodies of a mother and her children, shot to death inside it.

In my conversation with Osman, it struck me that I was encountering the pain of just one man among several hundred thousand new refugees in the Dohuk governorate, each with a unique story.

When our conversation ended, Osman said, “I ask the world for help, not for myself, but for those still stuck in Sinjar.”


For a few years, the Yazidis of Shariya have been working to rebuild their nearby destroyed villages. The partially-completed houses are often just cement shells without windows or doors, but the residents of Shariya tried to settle the fleeing families inside of them, after the homes of Shariya itself were overwhelmed by the new guests.

This is photo of one of the rebuilt villages in-progress, taken some time before this crisis. Many families have taken shelter inside such structures:

A Yazidi village, previously destroyed by Saddam Hussein, in the process of being rebuilt

A Yazidi village, previously destroyed by Saddam Hussein, in the process of being rebuilt—Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


To transport large numbers of people amidst this chaos, creative means was employed, such as carrying them in dump trucks:

Yazidi refugees from Sinjar riding in dumptruck in Shariya

Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


The New Crisis

When I visited Shariya on Monday, it looked like this:

Yazidi IDPs from Sinjar in Shariya, Dohuk

Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


By Wednesday, volunteers had registered over 63,000 displaced individuals (more had arrived and not registered). This was just one of several primary destinations for Sinjar’s refugees. I was informed by local relief coordinators that the needs of the refugees were beginning to exceed what the KRG and NGOs were able to provide.

But when I returned yesterday, something unbelievable had happened. Shariya was almost a ghost town… as silent as the grave.

Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment

Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


I found a few lingering volunteers and asked, “What happened here?” They replied, “Everyone fled this morning—the refugees as well as the local population of Shariya. Of approximately 80,000 people living here yesterday, only a couple hundred remain.”

This unbelievable second exodus is the result of a sense of panic that is washing across the Dohuk governorate. I had begun to sense it on Tuesday, while receiving panicked calls from Yazidis fleeing to Turkey. What initially prompted the stampede was the decision of many Yazidis in villages near Mosul—close to the further limit of Peshmerga-controlled territory—to leave and move northward, anticipating IS attacks in their area. Though IS hadn’t broken through Kurdish lines and no Yazidi villages had been infiltrated, fighting was taking place (and continues until now) between the Peshmerga and IS near the Mosul Dam and along the “border” with Mosul, and many Yazidis in those locations became fearful that what had just taken place in Sinjar might transpire in their areas as well.

Witnessing the ethnic cleansing of Sinjar, and sensing that an intentional campaign of extermination was being directed against them, Yazidis no longer felt secure about Peshmerga defensive capabilities and decided not to take any chances.

As waves of people from the southernmost villages began to arrive in villages a little closer to Dohuk (including Shariya), rumors began to circulate that Kurdish defenses had already been breached. I witnessed what verged upon mass hysteria as the local residents of villages near Dohuk decided to flee to Turkey. Those with passports and visas left; others tried to go as far north as possible, if they knew people who would take them in.

Map of Yazidi villages by Bluebird ResearchThis helpful map image, created several years ago by “Bluebird Research,” shows the Yazidi villages of Sheikhan & Dohuk (in blue) and of Sinjar (in red—“Sincar” on the map). It is useful to see these communities in relation to each other, Erbil, Mosul, Dohuk, and the Syrian border. Access the map directly to zoom and see the location of individual villages (including Shariya).


Families prioritized the departure of their female members, with some men staying behind in case the need to defend arose. A number of reports have emerged of IS fighters kidnapping large groups of women and carting them off in trucks. On Tuesday I encountered one woman in tears after her friend received a call that a kidnapped woman in Sinjar managed to make from inside one of the trucks. She was able to keep her phone with her and apprised her family of what was happening. Throughout the course of the Syrian conflict and its recent expansion into Iraq, accusations have frequently surfaced regarding women taken as a kind of religiously-sanctioned booty. Jihadists deny this, claiming women are taken prisoner as bargaining chips. Regardless, documentation exists of the occurrence, during the Iraq War period of al-Qaida violence targeting Yazidis, of Yazidi women being kidnapped, forced to convert, and forced into marriages with Muslims. That this precedent exists obviously makes the community very sensitive to the current situation.

The panic was unsettling, but I couldn’t confirm any reports of IS incursions into Kurdistan. But the Yazidi rationale was: We need to get out now before something bad happens and people storm the border, prompting the Turks to close it. These fears were justified: the Turks have allegedly closed the border crossing near Zakho at 8:00 pm last night after receiving a huge influx of fleeing people.

But few of the many thousands of refugees from Sinjar have the means to travel abroad.

Last night, sitting in the quiet dark of Shariya, I asked community leaders where all the refugees—plus the town’s own population—could have disappeared to. “Into the mountains, north to Amadiya, to Zakho, to Erbil, to anywhere.” Nobody really knows. But the humanitarian crises that engulfed Shariya for several days will merely be transplanted elsewhere. When the people were concentrated in one place, it was possible to coordinate relief efforts. Now that people are spreading across the governorate and beyond in panic, it will be even more difficult to meet the humanitarian need.


USAID being distributed in Shariya, Kurdistan—Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


Dohuk Yezidis

Water bottles discarded in Shariya in the wake of Sinjar IDPs’ second flight, Aug 7, 2014—Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


Though you could hear a pin drop in Shariya last night, I had a nagging feeling that the exit of refugees wouldn’t work. Where else would they be able to find the same kind of organized relief efforts that were performed in Shariya? Sure enough, beginning this morning, the same refugees that fled Shariya yesterday have started to stream back in. What we’re seeing now is the frantic movement of people from one place to the next, running in circles like a panicked hiker lost in the woods.

This fear is affecting more than the Yazidi community; many Christians are also trying to leave the country. Since the first day ISIS entered Mosul, refugee movement into Kurdistan has not ceased, and eventually all of Mosul’s Christians fled here after being expelled. Compounding the tragedy for Christians, IS yesterday attacked the Christian town of Qaraqosh, leading to another mass-displacement of many thousands. Add to this the displacement of Sinjar’s population, and increased fighting in Tel Kayf near Mosul: It’s understandable why I’m hearing Christians echo one consistent sentiment: “I don’t want to live here anymore.”

I’ve followed terrorism-related issues for years, but this environment has schooled me anew in the realities of terror. The local contagion of fear demonstrates what a potent weapon terror is, when instrumentalized by an entity like IS.

However, the current attitude of many Muslims here differs significantly from that of the minorities. In fact, it amazes me the degree to which separate communities here, living side by side, can exist in such strikingly different mental space. I have found that my own mental reality here is greatly determined by those with whom I spend time. After half an hour chatting with Muslims, I’m comfortably convinced that Dohuk is safe, Erbil will remain impenetrable, Peshmerga are making advances by the hour, and overall there’s nothing to worry about. After a half hour chatting with Yazidis or Christians, I find myself furtively glancing up and down the streets expecting IS jeeps to appear, planning my escape route out of the country, and generally anticipating the imminent end of the world.

Today I spoke via telephone with Christians who are so terrified that they will not leave their houses to even move about Dohuk. I later went out and interacted with Muslims, who were nonchalantly conducting business as usual, and who were happy to discuss the day’s news with me, emphasizing the imperviousness of our location.

The divergence of perspectives between the communities is striking. How can Kurdish Muslims feel so at ease while Christians and Yazidis tremble with so much fear, the same place? It can be explained as the intimate knowledge of a kind of virulent personal enmity intent upon erasing one’s kind from the planet. When you know that an enemy’s sworn purpose is to kill you and wipe out yours—not merely over profit or resources, but because you are inherently wrong—a sense of vulnerability develops that others, who do not share the experience, cannot relate to.

Though the safety of Dohuk has remained integral until now, it wouldn’t be correct to frame minorities as those who are the most disconnected from reality. That Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian city, was taken over by IS yesterday (or at least attacked, if not fully occupied—conflicting reports), displacing another 50,000 – 100,000 Christians (reported numbers conflict), this time to Erbil, fully validates the kind of infectious trepidation that’s afflicting the minorities. And yet, for some Muslims I’ve spoken to in the city, it seems like a non-item. I don’t mean there’s a lack of compassion—we’ve seen plenty toward Yazidis, and perhaps these kinds of events are by now just too ordinary for some—but this is a significant event. Qaraqosh is southeast of Mosul, inside Kurdish-controlled territory, in the direction of Erbil. As in Sinjar, IS again broke through Peshmerga defenses and displaced a minority. It’s no surprise that Christians and Yazidis can now be frequently heard saying “I no longer have confidence in the Peshmerga.” Not only is that kind of breach scary and serious, the number of new refugees (going with the higher estimate) is close to half of those displaced in Sinjar. For residents to shrug this off as irrelevant to Dohuk is to disengage from reality to at least the same degree as those running wild with exaggerated fears.

Final stragglers flee Shariya at night, Aug 7, 2014—Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment

Final stragglers flee Shariya at night, Aug 7, 2014—Photo: Matthew Barber/Syria Comment


What Comes Next?

At dusk in Shariya last night, while discussing rumors that Obama would take action to save those stranded for days without food or water in Sinjar, I glimpsed two military helicopters some distance away flying south. When I pointed them out to my Kurdish companions, there were reactions of elation. “They are taking supplies to Sinjar! And maybe bombing Da’esh too!” It’s interesting to be in the Middle East and witness a joyful reaction to the prospect of US action—not a typical experience.

But this morning, hopes do not seem to have improved among Yazidis. Rather, many reports have apparently come in overnight of people dying in large numbers in Sinjar. The entrapment of the populations there, without foodstuffs or hydration, began on Sunday, and it is no surprise that many would be dying four days later. Though action on the 5th day was welcomed, some fear it is too late, and I am hearing expressions of anger toward Obama from some Yazidis. There may have been some supply drops earlier, but it is not clear how many people were able to be reached with aid.

Others are encouraged by Obama’s decision to carry out airstrikes against jihadists attempting to invade Kurdish-controlled areas, though reports have varied—and conflicted—about exactly what places have seen US airstrikes today, aside from Sinjar.

Regardless of whatever progress the airstrikes in Sinjar can accomplish, the battle has heated up in areas north of Mosul, east of Mosul, the area between Mosul and Erbil, and areas between Erbil and Kirkuk, in addition to ongoing fighting over the dam.

The problem for all of us here is the inability to receive timely, accurate notification about developments in the fighting, even within areas not too far from us. The poor quality of reporting (by both Kurdish and international media) in this situation has been surprising. On Monday, all major international media were reporting that the Mosul Dam had been taken by IS. I sat with a friend who called dam employees—working on site at the dam—who told us “We are here, working at the dam right now, and the Peshmerga are in control of it.” It never fell out of Peshmerga hands, even though IS has been battling them in the town of Wana, 7km south of the dam, to gain control of it. Yesterday morning, new reports that the dam had fallen (presented as a “first-time event,” not acknowledging the same reporting a few days earlier) began appearing again. We called again and were told that the dam was under Peshmerga control. Today there are—once again—fresh reports that IS has taken the Mosul Dam. I haven’t called anyone yet; maybe they finally did take it after all. Local people are as in the dark as anyone else, unless they can make a call to someone at the locus of activity.

I will venture to say that it is very unlikely that IS has the dam.

Compounding the problem is that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have been blocked in Kurdistan since yesterday afternoon. The sense is that this was a measure to prevent Peshmerga positions from being given away ahead of a major military response to IS, presumably underway now with the aid of the American air force. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult for us to know what is happening here, because we cannot share information with each other easily, nor can we inform people outside as to what is taking place. Though unable to tweet since yesterday, this post will—hopefully—convey a sense of what the atmosphere in the Dohuk governorate has been like.

How good or bad is the situation? As bad as the minorities fear or as good as the majority maintains? The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. One thing is certain: Sunday’s events in Sinjar now mark the beginning of an unfolding saga, leading toward an unknown conclusion.

Comments (53)

Joshua said:

Matt, Wonderful reporting. Cannot thank you enough for this brilliant depiction of what it is like to be there.

August 8th, 2014, 3:15 pm


ALAN said:

the Beginning and What Comes Next?

Why do you skimp to give us an information accumulated in the offices of the intelligence directorates of the United States about Iraq? And Iraq’s oil? And Iraq’s money? And US allies in Iraq from terrorists and politicians and arms dealers and clients and about Mossad activity in Iraq and Kurdistan?
Are you going to be daring and tell us about the scenario for the next six months ,to come and say that Iraq, according to the American plan should begin the phase of partition? Do not you want to tell us that the beginning should be from Kurdistan, where Barzani ally of the US-Israeli is waiting pounce on? Why do not interfere in the depth of the content of Iraqi issue and only throwing light on the surface and the apparent? Do you think that readers need to enjoy image of water, dumped from the air on scapegoat of your CIA ? Can you imagine that we, ignorant readers need tourist guide service in Iraq?
Thus writes about the surface and the virtual and keep silent for the next deep planned , is dishonest.

August 8th, 2014, 4:16 pm


Ingemar Hof said:

Very interesting indeed. And important!

August 8th, 2014, 4:17 pm


sami said:

I second Joshua’s sentiment. Analysis and reporting like this is what makes SC what it is.

Stay safe out there Matthew.

August 8th, 2014, 4:17 pm


Jasmine said:

Matt is the messenger and he is doing his journalist duty diligently and my heart goes out to his girlfriend and his parents.
It is going to be drones time very soon and more drones to come,arm sales is expanding to a new minority group(the Kurds ),someone is getting richer and Erdogan is not going to like it at all.
I still think that they should bomb ISIS in raqa on their way to Iraq.

August 8th, 2014, 4:44 pm


ALAN said:

The throw dirty bombs on Syrian territory is an act of aggression and should deter by available possibilities.
I have no another words, what can be used for justification! the SAAF must bring down the American planes.
Inviolability of the Syrian territory , and
sovereignty are non-debatable (Tabu)

August 8th, 2014, 5:05 pm


Jasmine said:

I understand your point about the sovereignty of the Syrian territory,but in this case I think that international defence unit should be formed urgently to fight the expansion of ISIS or the north of Syria will be lost for ever.
Do you think that Russia is willing to contribute?

August 8th, 2014, 5:15 pm


ALAN said:

On the United States and it allies to STOP the cholera transfer into the Syrian territory only and no more than that. The rest is not their business! They must respect the Syrian sovereignty and not interfere in Syrian affairs! It is not allowed for the United States to participate in the national security of Syria.
Russia has the possibilities appropriate to help Syria in restoring security in the north and east of Syria! Syria is not a failed state, and never will be.

August 8th, 2014, 5:54 pm


ALAN said:

If Obama was going to bomb someone to prevent genocide he would be bombing Israel right now for what they are doing in Gaza.

Iraq’s oil will be sold for the Ruble and the Yuan….. Obama: Try the taste of chili pepper.

see pls this farce:

August 8th, 2014, 6:37 pm


Observer said:

Syrialover no amount of bombing is going to wipe out ISIS or ISIL or IS.
The main problem is that the seeds of the ideology have sprouted. The seed was planted by a depiction of the early struggle of the Muslims as they were being persecuted as akin to what is happening to Muslims today. The narrative goes like this: The West in Collusion with the Authoritarian Regimes is Killing the Very Essence of Islam by Various Means. The Very Premises of the Western Discourse of Human Rights, the Rule of Law, Representative Government, and Separation of Powers is an abomination as God’s Sovereignty has been Replaced by Man. This is Shirk or Association with God and therefore is illegitimate and to be destroyed.
The Ideology is similar to that of the Puritans who came to America for them fleeing Authoritarian Church/State Diktats was to Preserve their Faith and their Salvation in the Thereafter. Likewise, the current ideology is a circular argument whereby any discussion that does not fully accept that God’s Sovereignty has Absolute Jurisdiction is considered an Apostasy and is not subject to any debate or quid pro quo.
Once you enter into this absolutist ideology you find that there is no way that you can defeat it except by two methods:
1. A valid counter ideology that people believe and espouse and fight for.
2. Complete annihilation of the forces on the ground and by keeping a standing army for a very long time, meaning one or two generations until a new ideology takes root.

Both of those methods in my opinion require solid institutions and complete elimination of graft, corruption, abuse of power, and an economic plan that allows for the poor countries to become rich. That is NOT OPENING THE MARKETS TO THE WORLD ECONOMY WITHOUT MAKING SURE THAT THERE ARE PROTECTION AND TARIFS AND AN EFFORT TO BUILD AN INDUSTRIAL BASE.

That is do what China India and South Korea did and not what immediate post Soviet Russia did.

This is a very tall order. For example, the crisis in Iraq HAS NOT FOCUSED THE MINDS OF THE IRAQI POLITICIANS that the fate of millions and of the country lies in their rising up to the task. THEY HAVE REMAINED LOCKED IN THEIR SECTARIAN THINKING and in this I put the blame fully on Mullahstan as they seem not to understand that their rigid clinging to their Shia interpretation of Islam has locked them into an eternal sectarian based thinking with which they will destroy everything.

This seed of extremism was created in the dungeons of despair of the Arab Regimes, in the torture chambers, in the arbitrary rule, in the sect based and clan based rule, in deep seated corruption, in tribalism, and in repeated defeats in 1920, 1925, 1936, 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1979, 1982, and now since 2000 there is a new breed that came out of this seed: the breed that is no longer fearful, the breed that is cherishing dying standing even for a twisted fanatic ideology rather than continue to lay down, for a breed that is not afraid anymore.

If the regime in Syria or in Iraq or in Tehran thinks that the US is going to fight their wars then they better think again. Likewise, Hamas has chosen to continue to fight rather than have the politicians impose a one sided solution on it. It has nothing left to lose.

Bibi is stuck and not even the US will come to help him.

Now for Passerby his nom de guerre is apt for I pass by his comments even I noticed my name in one of his I did not even bother to read let alone respond.


August 8th, 2014, 7:58 pm


Observer said:

I must add of course that the KSA Wahhabi Alliance has been equally as bad as Mullahstan.

In my opinion we have now what I call Zionisation of Islam. It pretends that some Muslims are true Muslims and that the rest of all humanity will have to either convert or be put to the sword. This ideology is similar to that of the Chosen People that were permitted to commit horrendous acts of barbarism in evicting the Canaanites and others from the Promised Land. Today, where the Chosen Ones can get away with murder and ethnic cleansing they do it. Sinjar or Gaza there is no difference.

August 8th, 2014, 8:09 pm


ALAN said:

10. OBSERVER : Zionisation of Islam
Wawoooo observer, begin to repeat my terminology! progress! 🙂

August 8th, 2014, 8:24 pm


Ghufran said:

Petrodollar and wabbaism with the oppression and the corruption of Arab regimes have created a monster that wants to eat everybody. Isis has no future but until this islamonazist movement is defeated a lot of blood will be shed and many lives will be shattered.
NATO was a an unwilling partner in this tragedy when it invaded Iraq and tolerated evil regimes in the region and provided cover for Israel since 1948. Bush will be remembered as an incompetent president who allowed the neocons to dictate US middle east policy to the detriment of Arab nations and the US long term interests and Obama tried to ignore the problem on hand and follow the direction of another group of ” advisors” who were unable to break from the old school of thought that the US mission in the region is to support Israel and the GCC sheikhs regardless if that was moral or not or good for US or not.
Isis is using American weapons and stealing oil from Syria and Iraq to build an evil empire that points its guns at the people in the region with the exception of Israel and the GCC but if Isis is not stopped those guns will change their targets again. Notice how the boneheads of NATO and the CIA waited until Isis started to threaten the Kurds to move against Isis, this clearly means that Isis dirty work did not bother the West that much as long as Isis was focused on destroying local communities and killing people in Syria and Iraq. If Isis agrees to stop the NATO half hearted bombing campaign will stop also. Obama team believes Isis is a domestic and localized problem that does not require an agressive response as long as Israel, Kurdistan and the GCC are spared. This view is not just morally wrong, it is foolish too.

August 8th, 2014, 8:37 pm


Passerby said:

You’re a good man Matthew, be careful.

August 8th, 2014, 9:14 pm


Passerby said:

Hint for the totally clueless:

There are no large oil companies owned by Americans. If you think you know of one, I DEFY you to point out any evidence of it.

And yeah, I’m laughing at you.

So much for that tinfoil hat/spaceship behind the meteor view of the world,

August 8th, 2014, 9:27 pm


Passerby said:

Now they’ve extended the Sunday deadline for replacing Maliki to Monday, the heck with any constitution, or serial mass murdering fiends at the gate.

What a sewer.

Well, after they eventually get around to replacing Maliki, assuming Baghdad isn’t under 30 meters of water etc by the time they get around to it, that’s when we find out if our “JV in Laker Uniforms” clueless buffoon president has anything in mind other than poking the serial mass murdering, revenge obsessed fiends with a pointed stick to see if it has any effect on them.

August 8th, 2014, 9:44 pm


Passerby said:

Yep, the calm before the storm…

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s authorization for limited military action in Iraq could eventually include more military support to Iraqi security forces working to repel Islamic State fighters once the country forms a new “inclusive” government, the White House said on Friday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said initial U.S. support will be on military strikes to protect American personnel working in Iraq, and to address the urgent humanitarian situation on Sinjar mountain.

But the United States also has a third goal “related to our belief and commitment to supporting integrated Iraqi security forces and Kurdish security forces as they unite the country to repel the threat” posed by Islamic State fighters, he said, reiterating that any U.S. support will not be “prolonged” and will not involve sending U.S. troops to the country.

What a lying sack of ****, “US Troops” are there in the country, pointing lasers as we speak. You are supposed to say “combat troops” when you tell that deliberate lie, since when they are all by themselves, with no one to rescue them, they aren’t “combat troops” and our clueless buffoon president doesn’t have to admit he was wrong. Speaking of sewers.

August 8th, 2014, 9:58 pm


Jasmine said:

Russia should do more to save the north of Syria.
The only way to fight the ISIS Pandemic is to find a way for birth control in the Middle East.
They have enough ideologies and religions,they need to go back to socialism to fight poverty and run their countries like the Chinese for a decade at least,they need to work harder and talk less and learn to use their resources and import only the necessary technology to help them.
sanctions has helped Iran to rely on its self and they did well.
A sizeable Middle class will emerge only when ignorance and poverty are erased,and this is the only hope for a well balanced and stable country economically and religiously.

August 9th, 2014, 12:58 am


Passerby said:

Read the papers, Russia wants ISIS to exterminate the religious minorities. It condemns any bombing of ISIS to prevent it.

And they support the Assad/ISIS coalition in Syria and always have.

August 9th, 2014, 5:45 am


Passerby said:

And they always supported the Saddam Regime, who controls ISIS.

There’s a reason they act like an army, it’s Saddam’s generals.

And the horrifying Attila the Hun violence, precisely what Saddam did to maintain control, they are acting exactly like Saddam.

August 9th, 2014, 5:48 am


Passerby said:

…If al-Maliki were to step down, he has reportedly demanded immunity from prosecution for himself, his family and his inner circle, and a massive security detail, paid for by the state. Given the number of enemies he has accrued over his time in power, and the well-documented instances of human rights abuses, torture and extrajudicial killings under his watch – not to mention wide-scale corruption at the highest levels of his government – many believe he would be immediately under threat of arrest or assassination, were he to leave office without guarantees of immunity and protection.

“Maliki knows if he steps down, virtually he is a dead man,” said Ali Khedery, a former US official in Iraq, who over the years has advised five US ambassadors and several US generals, and was once close to al-Maliki…

Sewer rat.

August 9th, 2014, 6:23 am


Observer said:

Zionisation of Islam has followed the Zionisation of Secularism and the two are twins of each other. The automatic death sentences of the So Called Secular Regimes in Syria and Iraq are textbook mirror images of the Wahhabi and Zionist Exclusivist Ideology.

As Juan Cole said: there goes a fourth American President who is going to intervene in Iraq; the Graveyard of American Ambitions.
Spending 100 billion dollars per year to bring the Muslim world from the 12th to the 13th century is not going to work.

They have to get their act together. The Arab Revolt means that they have to do their duty towards themselves. This is something that is clearly dawning on all of the young Arab generations: their current leaders are useless.

The wall of fear is down forever.

August 9th, 2014, 9:09 am


Alan said:

Can you inform us better about your point of view? What Russia can do in case of north Syria ? In details one,tow,three…?

August 9th, 2014, 9:09 am


Jasmine said:

First It would be wonderful and final solution if they can bomb Saudi Arabia and Qatar and erase them to the ground to stop ISIS growing,and then send some arms to the Kurdish region in the north of Syria accompanied with more bombing to their Centre.

On a more realistic approach,a proper invasion to the north to finish them for good and ask for an international help to seal the borders between Syria and Iraq,this should happened with a combined effort from USA in Iraq.

August 9th, 2014, 9:45 am


Alan said:

First it would be wonderful and final solution if US can bomb Israel for all it criminal wars in Palestine to bring dignity and freedum to Palestinians! Then to send all support to Iraqi government and help it to fight Mossad tools in all Iraq and not only in one region ! The invasion in Gaza will be defighted . No any perspective to any cowboy”s invasion in our time. JAsmine: you are false . seems that you have Israeli roots.

August 9th, 2014, 10:22 am


Jasmine said:

This is a cheap insult to me.
Are you testing my loyalty to Syria and Palestine?
I suspect that you are not Syrian.
Are you Russian?
Russia is helping Syria because it is looking after it’s own interest.
Syria has been a playground for all evils on earth for nearly 4 years,and only Syrians have suffered and now it is moving to Iraq.
Syria has accommodate Palestinians for the last 65 Years with no thanks from any one.
Syria has been the heart of Arabism for too long,it is about time to be separated from them.

August 9th, 2014, 11:09 am


Passerby said:

“Zionisation of Islam has followed the Zionisation of Secularism and the two are twins of each other.”

It would be so much more informative, and goodness knows, concise, if you just listed the things NOT controlled by the Great Jewish Conspiracy. Apparently a good sentence would take care of that.

I mean, if you are trying to communicate your ideas.

August 9th, 2014, 11:25 am


Passerby said:

So much for the Sunni Tribes being able to rise up just because Maliki is replaced…

Lined up and executed, their severed heads put on display as a warning to others: Horrific new photographs of ISIS atrocities

Sunni tribesmen marched into desert, made to kneel and shot in the head
Tribe made deal with ISIS to be left alone but agreement collapsed

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Last time there were 150,000 of the world’s best soldiers helping enforce it. Saddam’s Al-Qaeda in Iraq/ISIS/IS will obliterate any Sunni tribe that tries.

August 9th, 2014, 12:01 pm


Passerby said:

REUTERS – Islamic State insurgents who seized Iraq’s biggest dam in an offensive that has caused international consternation have brought in engineers for repairs, witnesses said on Saturday, as nervous Kurds stocked up on arms to defend their enclave nearby.

Yep, got all kinds of engineers, scientists, etc. working for them now. Got all kind of Saddam Regime generals running the army too. They built the dam, why would they blow it up unless they need to?

August 9th, 2014, 4:44 pm


Passerby said:

Uh oh…

..The Peshmerga have long been considered the fiercest fighting force in the region.

Since ISIS began its rampage through Iraq in early June, both the U.S. and Iraqi governments have tacitly bet on the Kurds’ ability to repel ISIS advances in the north. But betting on the Peshmerga to hold the line now looks like a riskier proposition after ISIS broke through Kurdish defenses and set in motion the current crisis.

In truth, it was never that safe of a bet. Since early June, representatives of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government have warned the United States that the Kurdish Peshmerga were not positioned to protect the Yazidi and Christian minorities in the Kurdish region.

“We have significant interests and assets in the region,” one senior Kurdish official told The Daily Beast in June, describing the message to the U.S government. “But also more worryingly, we have a Yazidi and Christian populations that are gravely under threat right now.”

At the time, the Kurdish Peshmerga did take up positions in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, where they remain to this day. But in the case of Kirkuk, there was a strong Kurdish interest in repopulating the city with Kurds who were driven from it by Saddam Hussein.

The consensus among ex-CIA analysts, former military officers, and Iraq veterans who spoke with The Daily Beast is that the Peshmerga’s abilities were overrated. No one questions the Kurds’ willingness to fight, but their military prowess appears to have degraded in the years since the U.S. military stopped training them and withdrew from Iraq.

Douglas Ollivant, a former Army officer who advised Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq and served under two presidents in the National Security Council, expressed a view common among military and intelligence officers: “I think the general consensus among the American military people in country is that the Kurds just aren’t any better than any other military force in Iraq, and we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re having the same lack of success as the rest of the Iraqi army.”

A former Special Forces officer in Iraq who maintains extensive contacts among the Kurdish forces points out another factor affecting their performance. “The Kurds’ biggest weakness is the size of the border they have to protect from ISIS and the imperative they are under to yield nothing,” he said. “ISIS can give up territory, but the Kurds cannot.”

Air strikes against ISIS targets can weaken the group, buy time, and prevent it from massing on Kurdish forces, but according to military and CIA veterans, air power alone will not be decisive.

“The advisors need to be pushed out, if they haven’t been already,” said Nada Bakos, a CIA veteran who led the team analyzing the terrorist network that was ISIS’s predecessor in Iraq. The advisors she referred to are the special operations troops who have so far stayed away from the battlefield, offering intelligence and advice from headquarters in areas remote from the fighting.

A former Special Forces officer and Iraq veteran described how the troops currently on the ground, some 800 elite special operations soldiers, could impact the battle: “If SOF [special operations forces] advisors moved to the front, they would be able to help organize and plan the maneuver of Peshmerga, provide up-to-the-minute intelligence to protect line units, and give greater speed and fidelity to close air support. It would also give a tremendous morale boost to Peshmerga units under fire.”

That could be a great boon to the Peshmerga, but not without costs. Moving U.S. special operations forces onto the battlefield, even as advisors, “greatly raises the profile of American involvement and will eventually lead to highly visible American casualties,” according to the Special Forces veteran.

President Obama made his political career, in part, on his opposition to the Iraq war. Those casualties are something he is desperately trying to avoid. But the situation on the ground in Iraq may leave him no choice.

August 9th, 2014, 4:59 pm


sami said:

I am not sure if someone is trying really hard to troll or suffers from written diarrhea…

August 9th, 2014, 5:13 pm


Ghufran said:

Imodium to the rescue

August 9th, 2014, 5:20 pm


Alan said:

Where are your pink democracy ? Where are all your efforts in f—n regime change ? What kind of results have you ?

August 9th, 2014, 5:31 pm


Sami said:

Vice News has shown yet again why they are changing news. So far just two episodes has been uploaded and more to come.

The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced their intention to reestablish the caliphate and declared their leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.

Flush with cash and US weapons seized during recent advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.

Elsewhere in territory it has held for some time, the Islamic State has gone about consolidating power and setting up a government dictated by Sharia law. While the world may not recognize the Islamic State, in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group is already in the process of building a functioning regime.

VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings. In part one, Dairieh heads to the frontline in Raqqa, where Islamic State fighters are laying siege to the Syrian Army’s division 17 base.

Second Part which looks at IS grooming children for their despicable ideology:

August 9th, 2014, 5:52 pm


Alan said:

بعد ان وصل الجيش الالماني الى مشارف موسكو ، و كان جوزيف ستالين ينظر الى عدادهم و عتادهم بالمنظار لم ينتحر كما فعل هتلر عندما استجمع ستالين قواته و وصل الى برلين
Glory for Syrian Arab army . long live Syria .

August 9th, 2014, 6:00 pm


Passerby said:

“I ran for office in part to end our war in Iraq,,,As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”

—Totally Clueless—

“Within hours of U.S. military jets and drones conducting a strike on ISIS artillery that had been used against Kurdish forces defending Irbil, ISIS supporters called for retaliatory attacks against the United States.

“It is a clear message that the war is against Islam and the mujahideen. The mujahideen must strive and seek to execute proactive operations in their own home, America, to discipline America and its criminal soldiers,” Abu al-Ayna al-Khorasani, an administrator of Shumukh al-Islam, the top-tier forum for ISIS propaganda, wrote on his account Friday, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence group.

Other ISIS supporters railed against the United States using the Twitter handle #AmessagefromISIStoUS, posting images of the wreckage of the twin towers. “Don’t forget 11 Sept .. Maybe US citizens want more like that,” one extremist tweeted. In June after ISIS captured Mosul, its supporters had warned against strikes in a Twitter campaign #CalamityWillBefallUS.”

I wonder how their WMD program is going. Obama, Saddam Regime, WMD, the irony, the blinding incompetence.

August 9th, 2014, 6:57 pm


Matthew Barber said:


Any time I have a chance to glance through the comments, if I notice “all manner of bigotry” I definitely shut it down. That’s why there are a lot of people missing who used to abuse others here. Majedkhaldoun was definitely warned beforehand. He left a long time ago–surprised you’re only noticing this now.

Warning are always given. For example:

Passerby, I see you’ve now posted 1/3 of all the messages in the thread. This is a place for discussion; if no one’s responding, perhaps the approach needs adjusting. I request that you reduce output a bit. Alan, you’re also often on thin ice in this regard—please show restraint.

August 9th, 2014, 10:32 pm


Uzair8 said:

Alan on thin ice?

I always suspected he was in Siberia.

Anyway. I wonder what’s happening to Putin? Following some crazy policies. Is Gerard Depardieu advising him?

August 10th, 2014, 3:51 am


Uzair8 said:

So Asma al-Assad’s birthday is almost upon us. I suspect she’ll be celebrating quite a few more birthdays in a bunker. Considerably more.

August 10th, 2014, 3:55 am


omen said:

43. Matthew Barber said: I miss him too.


anybody who valued Majedkhaldoun’s commentary would have recognized the good by far outweighed the bad. doesn’t make sense to punish someone with a permanent ban for a momentary failing. none of us are perfect. consideration should have been given taking into account history & quality of contribution. you cant expect someone as proud as khaldoun to beg like a dog for forgiveness.

August 10th, 2014, 7:25 am


Ghufran said:

Bombing Isis from the air as essential as it is now will not break Isis back. Indeed Isis will start using the bombing as a recruitment tool. What can make a real difference is a unity government in Iraq and the end of Maliki rule. Without drying up support among Sunni for Isis , this terrorist organization can survive and thrive. In Syria, the war may not end any time soon but if national reconciliation is still the objective, Assad needs to depart and leave the post he inherited from his dad, when polarizing figures cling to power the whole nation suffers, syria still needs a unified army but it is a myth that the only Syrian who can lead the army is Assad.

August 10th, 2014, 10:58 am


Ghufran said:

Isis is following the steps of the ottomans when they committed the Armenian genocide and the steps of the Hulagu the Mogul when he burned Baghdad. Muslims who side with Isis are determined to tarnish the name of Sunni Islam and make non Muslims see it as a violent cut that hates everybody and wants non believers to either die or become slaves, lip service from few Sunni sheikhs are not enough, there are already questions about where Isis received its money before it occupied Mosul, only ordinary Sunni Muslims can defeat Isis, GCC sheikhs will only move if Isis threatens their thrones.
I refuse to believe that a culture that extends 1400 years can end on the hands of Islamist terrorists but I am not sure how serious countries like Turkey and KSA, and even Iran, are in ending the cancer named Isis. The loss to Muslims as a whole will be tremendous if Isis is not stopped, the stigma will stain your children and grand children for generations.
The last report from a Caldaean iraqi leader indicates that Isis beheaded kids, raped women and hung men, it also murdered 500 Yazidi men and took 300 women as slaves.

August 10th, 2014, 2:28 pm


ALAN said:

with “some Suitable supplies” Syrians can mow the lawn across the eastern and northeastern territory of Syria on pure 100%, and the purity can include new lawn growth in record time! Hands off Syria!

August 10th, 2014, 3:29 pm


omen said:

as long as you dont advocate the genocide of gays, alan, you’re good to go.

August 10th, 2014, 5:19 pm


ALAN said:

From the first year and you’re promoting a comprehensive siege ( Embargo) on the Syrian people can not remember our conversation. Who advocate the genocide? You are trying to shake the air vainly

August 11th, 2014, 1:22 am


ALAN said:

6. ALAN said:
The throw dirty bombs on Syrian territory is an act of aggression.

August 11th, 2014, 5:34 am


habib said:

This is the best post on Syriacomment for years,

August 11th, 2014, 9:46 pm


Austin Michael Bodetti said:

I wonder whether American airstrikes will change the situation.

August 12th, 2014, 8:19 pm


ALAN said:

The Islamic State (IS) is a covert intelligence operation by the United States which aims at setting a predicate for further escalation in Iraq, Francis Boyle, a constitutional scholar and law professor at University of Illinois, told RIA Novosti.
“All the implications so far in the public record are that ISIS [IS] is a covert US intelligence operation,” Boyle told RIA Novosti Tuesday. “Head of ISIS Abu Bakr Baghdadi spent five years in an American detention facility, and also three of the four military commanders were also in detention by the US forces. So, my guess is that ISIS is indeed a covert US military intervention to set precedent for US escalation in Iraq.”
Last Thursday, US President Barack Obama authorized American airstrikes against the positions of IS militants. He has also approved humanitarian aid to the Yezidis. Several airstrikes have been carried out over the past several days.
It is very clear that the IS had advanced sophisticated military training that was provided by Pentagon and the CIA, the professor stated.—Law.html

August 13th, 2014, 4:21 pm


Roland said:

One question that occurs to me is, “why don’t the Yazidis and Christians have their own local militias?” The IS forces are not very numerous, according to most accounts, and IS doesn’t have an air force or armour, and not much artillery. A local militia equipped with ordinary rifles, machine guns, mortars and RPGs should be able to hold out.

I agree with others here that this article is very good on-the-spot reportage.

August 14th, 2014, 3:09 am


Mina said:

When you see that the kidnapping of 50 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram has not led to any international reaction, you really feel afraid for the people abducted by the pseudo-Caliphate

August 17th, 2014, 12:41 pm


Evron G. said:

The Yasidi not staying in one place is starting to be used as political fodder in the US.

Go to 2:20.

His son is a presidential hopeful in the Republican Party.

August 19th, 2014, 11:45 pm


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