By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
After a month of fighting, the YPG have declared Hasakah free of the Islamic State (IS), the last remnants of the Jihadists being pushed out of the city on Saturday.
YPG Liberates Hasakah, While Assad Claims the Credit
Last Friday night the YPG pushed on through the Al-Zohour neighbourhood and fought their way up from the Panorama Roundabout to secure a perimeter to stop IS fighters from escaping.
Over the weekend mopping-up operations have continued and the nearest IS Jihadists are now more than 4 kilometres away from the suburbs of the city.
In another operation in the Hasakah area an IS vehicle was destroyed along with its 6 x IS occupants.
In a statement the YPG has said that 386 members of the Islamic State were killed in the fighting over Hasakah, including a number of field commanders, at a cost of 21 of their own fighters. 6 x IS tanks were captured plus many weapons and ammunition.
Syria state media, SANA, said on Saturday that, “The Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with national supporting forces, established full control over the eastern city of Hasaka after eliminating the last gatherings of the Islamic State ….” and conducting “intensive operations against ISIS dens in the Faculties of Economy and Civil Engineering to the east of Al- Zohour neighbourhood”.
In fact, the Kurdish now hold almost all areas of the city and some clashes have been reported between Assad’s National Defence Force (NDF) and the Asayish (Kurdish security).
Not a great deal of news from Kobane Canton other than that there have been some clashes over the last few days with IS on the western front near Jarablous and to the south-west near Sarrin, though in general the area remains a firm YPG hold.
The Coalition is reporting 25 airstrikes in Syria over the last 3 days, 7 in Kobane Canton, 12 around Haskah and the rest near Aleppo, Raqqah and Deir Ez-Zour.
President Obama has also indicated that the Coalition would now be prepared to make airstrikes on Assad’s forces, as well as IS, if they threatened US trained and backed Opposition forces in the northern part of the country.EDITOR: Though as usual don’t hold your breath on this one.
Over in Iraq, Turkey continues its airstrikes on the PKK and seems to have forgotten to attack IS any further.
Aftermath of Turkish Airstrike on Zergele Village
A Turkish airstrike on the village of Zergele on Saturday is reported to have have hit 6 homes, killing 8 civilians and wounding 12.
Turkey is reported to have made hundreds of attacks on PKK in the mountains of Iraq since July 24th and claims to have killed 260 PKK fighters and wounded over 400.
The Turkish state run Anadolu Agency said as many as 28 F-16 jets raided 65 PKK targets in northern Iraq, including shelters and ammunition depots on Friday and 80 jets hit more than 100 targets on Thursday, with many more raids since.
At the same time the PKK has launched a series of attacks within Turkey against soldiers and policemen.
In a suicide blast on Saturday a tractor carrying explosives was driven at a military police station at Karabulak killing 2 Turkish soldiers and injuring 31. These attacks just play into President Erdogan’s, Turkey’s President, hands.
President Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a party far to the right of the PPK, has asked the PKK to leave their territory, though this is unlikely to happen. The KRG generally has good relations with Turkey from whom it imports many goods and exports oil to via a pipeline that was recently bombed.
Selahattin Demirtas, the co-Chairman of the pro-Kurdish HDP party in Turkey, which recently won nearly 12% of the vote in elections denying Erdogan majority government, called for the violence to end.
“I am not saying the state should lay down arms, there would not be a state without arms, the state has to protect itself,” said Demirtas, “But removing its finger from the trigger is another thing … The PKK needs to halt its attacks and the government needs to halt operations”.
Erdogan clearly hopes that by inciting conflict and deaths on both sides he will wreck the support the Kurdish HDP currently has and new elections will return him once again to controlling majority power.
Al Jazeera has a good video analysis of the situation.
Today is also the 1 year anniversary of the Islamic State attack on the Yezidi of the Sinjar region in northern Iraq.
Thousands of Yezidi men were killed and thousands more Yezidi women and girls enslaved. 3,000 are still missing. Let’s not forget but keep them in our prayers and thoughts.
Thousands of Yezidi Women Still Enslaved by Islamic State
ASSAD JET CRASHES INTO MARKET IN IDLIB PROVINCE KILLING AND INJURING DOZENS; US FIRST TRAINED GROUP NOT A GREAT SUCCESS:
Heavy clashes have continued in Idlib province around Jisr Al-Shughour and the Ghab Plain where Opposition advances have been countered by massive bombing raids from the Syrian Air Force.
Syrian and Hezbollah forces are reported to have re-entered parts of Frikka and after heavy bombing the Zeyzoun Thermal Power Plant complex captured by the Opposition a few days ago (scroll down -see below) is said to have been damaged. Serious casualties are reported on both sides.
Ariha Following Assad Jet Crash
Also in Idlib province a Assad jet, believed to be a MIG-23, crashed into the vegetable market at Ariha after experiencing technical problems. The pilot is believed to have bailed out but his whereabouts were unknown.
27 people are reported killed with 70 injured in the disaster, many of them critical, though it is not clear whether they were all injured by the crashing plane or by an earlier bombing raid.
In Aleppo province on Saturday, the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) paraded on video 20 members of Division 30, including the commander and the deputy commander. Division 30 is supposed to consist of the first 60 men trained in the US “train and equip” programme.
So far they aren’t doing very well. Apart from the 20 captured, 5 have been killed and 18 wounded in a second raid and latest reports indicate that the last remaining 17 have now fled their base in the province near Azaz for the Kurdish Canton of Afrin.
This move was followed by Coalition airstrikes on ANF bases near Azaz, killing 25 of their fighters. You can read more, HERE:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says that the Assad regime dropped 266 barrel-bombs and made 487 other airstrikes in Aleppo province alone during July, killing 310 civilians including 53 women and 76 children. However, since the appearance of Turkish jets over Aleppo province, the barrel-bomb attacks, for the moment at least, appear to have stopped.
In Latakia province 2 Opposition factions have scaled up their artillery and rocket attacks on Qardaha, the ancestral home of the Assad family, causing the Syrian Army to close down shops and the entrances to the town. Surrounding Alawite villages were also hit.
The attacks provoked massive retaliation over the weekend from the Assad regime on Opposition positions in Latakia and below the mountains on the Ghab Plain with reports of 75 Opposition fighters killed and 45 on the Government side.
Lastly, IS continues its brutal ways, but a former member who is on trial after returning to Germany say he will tell all during his trial. The 26 year old Tunisian German known as Ebrahim B, says we was imprisoned by IS after being accused of being a spy but managed to escape.
He describes how he had to listen to another prisoner being decapitated and the mutilated body was then placed in his cell with the severed head on top of the torso.
Charged in Germany with being a member of a terrorist organisation, Ebrahim B says,“I prefer jail in Germany to ‘freedom’ in Syria”. You can read more, HERE: