GERMANY: POLICE ARREST IS SUPPORTERS, RAID PROPERTIES

Germany

German police have arrested two men suspected of supporting Islamic State and raided properties across the country of another 13 suspected supporters of militant Islamist groups, prosecutors said on Saturday, Oct 17, Reuters reported.

The two men were arrested in the western city of Aachen and identified as a 38-year-old Tunisian, Kamel Ben Yahia S., and a 28-year-old Russian, Yusup G., said federal prosecutors in a statement.

The Tunisian is suspected of providing clothing worth over 1,100 euros and 3,400 euros in cash to Islamic State since July 2013 and of smuggling a 17-year old boy from Germany to Syria via Turkey to join the group. The Russian is accused of helping the smuggling and of being a member of a foreign terrorist organization.

Authorities believe the other suspects supported either Islamic State or Ahrar al-Sham, another Syrian Islamist group, by providing thousands of boots and other military clothing.

The raids took place in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig Holstein and also the eastern state of Saxony.

Germany, along with other western European countries, is struggling to stop the radicalization of young Muslims, some of whom volunteer to become jihadists in Syria or Iraq. Officials worry that they will return to plot attacks on home soil.

German intelligence authorities estimate at least 450 people have left Germany for Syria and around 150 have returned. Many are being criminally investigated.

(Source / 20.10.2014)

Media Workshop Recommends the Establishment of an Independent Media Body

At the end of the three-day meeting held by media experts to revamp the national media outlets, recommendations were made to establish an independent body for the national media outlets that includes television and radio channels, a newspaper, and a periodical in order to reach out to the Syrian citizens and the Arab and world public opinions. The media experts also put forward visions and procedures to address the reality of the Syrian media outlets through identifying the problems facing them and suggested solutions to these problems. Khalid Saleh, head of the Media Office, said that “there is a pressing need to put the suggestions and tips made during the meeting into effect without any delay. Fayez Sara, member of the Syrian Coalition, describes the meeting of media experts aimed at drawing the outlines for the national media outlets as “a necessary step at this stage of the revolution and must have been taken a long time ago. This project aims puts the media outlets of the revolution on the right track in keeping with academic and professional standards. The role of the Syrian Coalition will be limited to providing the necessary tools and means needed to carry out this project. We are also seeking to partner with the Syrian media experts to methodically and efficiently set the guidelines for the revolution’s media outlets.” Hadi al-Bahra, president of the Syrian Coalition, said during the opening of the meeting that “the media battle today is as important nowadays as the military battles waged by the FSA against the Assad regime. The targeted audience will not be limited to the rebels and dissidents, but will also include the few regime supporters as because Syria is for all Syrians without any distinction based on race, sect or belief.” Bahra calls on the media experts “to develop a comprehensive strategy to produce informative, balanced and inclusive speech capable of steering the homeland after the fall of Assad regime. The role of the Syrian Coalition in dealing with the media projects will be limited to supporting media activities and directing them without interfering with the vision and the content of the new media outlets.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 19.10.2014)

Syrian Coalition Stresses the Importance of Revamping the National Media Outlets

Fayez Sara, member of the Syrian Coalition, describes the meeting of media experts aimed at drawing the outlines for the national media outlets as “a necessary step at this stage of the revolution and must have been taken a long time ago. This project aims puts the media outlets of the revolution on the right track in keeping with academic and professional standards. The role of the Syrian Coalition will be limited to providing the necessary tools and means needed to carry out this project. We are also seeking to partner with the Syrian media experts to methodically and efficiently set the guidelines for the revolution’s media outlets.” Hadi al-Bahra, president of the Syrian Coalition, said during the opening of the meeting that “the media battle today is as important nowadays as the military battles waged by the FSA against the Assad regime. The targeted audience will not be limited to the rebels and dissidents, but will also include the few regime supporters as because Syria is for all Syrians without any distinction based on race, sect or belief.” Bahra calls on the media experts “to develop a comprehensive strategy to produce informative, balanced and inclusive speech capable of steering the homeland after the fall of Assad regime. The role of the Syrian Coalition in dealing with the media projects will be limited to supporting media activities and directing them without interfering with the vision and the content of the new media outlets.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 19.10.2014)

KOBANE UPDATE 6: DESPITE KURDS WINNING BACK GROUND, HEAVY FIGHTING IN CITY AS ISLAMIC STATE MAINTAIN THEIR ATTACKS

By Peter Clifford                ©               (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-4/)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

Despite escalated help from US-led Coalition airstrikes and brave resistance from the Kurdish YPG and YPJ (Women’s Protection Force), the fight to clear the Islamic State from Kobane goes on, with no sign that the Jihadists are going to give up their assault.

In the last 2 days, the Islamic State have shelled and re-shelled an area to the north of Kobane city near the border crossing to Turkey and an area around the Al-Haj Rashad Mosque, 16 plus shells falling.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Brave Fighters of the YPJ in Kobane

Heavy fighting still continues around the central “security zone” in the city and on the eastern and southern sides of Kobane.

Last night, Thursday through Friday, Islamic State fighters attacked areas regained by the YPG Kurdish militia 2 days ago and this was followed by 6 Coalition airstrikes on the district of Kani Erban on the eastern side of city.

The Jihadists are also attacking houses controlled by YPG fighters in the street that extends along the western area of the security zone and which was in the hands of the YPG yesterday.

The Islamic State have additionally mounted another attack on Al-Hurreyyi Square.

Latest reports from Kobane on Friday evening say that a new convoy of Islamic State fighters has arrived from the IS town of Manbej in Aleppo province and there is fierce fighting around the border gate area to the north-east of the city.

While spirits among the Kurdish defenders are high after their gains over the last few days, amid reports of hundreds of bodies of dead Jihadists lying in the streets, they are still out-gunned and out-numbered with the Islamic State sending wave after wave of fighters into the battle-zone.

Kobane is clearly far from safe yet.

On Wednesday, Mr. Nassan, deputy head of Kobane’s foreign relations committee, said “Maybe in the few past days [Islamic State] was controlling about 40% of the city of Kobane, but now… less than 20% of the city is under their control”.

Many outside observers would rate that as unduly optimistic, still estimating that between 40 – 50% of the city remains in IS hands, though the situation is much more fluid than before.

West of Kobane, the Jihadists have been pushed back several kilometres from the city limits, though they are using their heavy weaponry to continue to bombard vacated areas. South-west of Kobane the Kurds have also regained territory and a YPG patrol engaged the Islamic State (IS) on the road to Aleppo, killing 8 of them at a loss of 3 of their own.

US Central Command (Centcom), now naming the Coalition operation in Syria and Iraq “Inherent Resolve” (EDITOR: I wonder who thought of that gem of a mouthful? I bet it translates into Arabic “really well”!), bombed IS positions 14 times on Wednesday and Thursday and attacks are ongoing on Friday.

The Coalition tally for the 2 days is given as 19 x IS buildings, 2 x IS command posts, 3 x IS fighting positions, 3 x IS sniper positions, 1 x IS staging location, and 1 x IS heavy machine gun. Centcom adds, “Indications are that airstrikes have continued to slow IS advances, but that the security situation on the ground in Kobane remains tenuous”.

The Coalition have carried out over 100 airstrikes around Kobane since September 27th, while in Iraq Coalition activity has subsided, mainly due to heavy sandstorms affecting flight operations.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Happy Young Kurdish Supporters of the YPG

Following the first direct talks between the US and the PYD (the Kurdish movement’s Syrian political wing) at the US embassy in Paris, it has been confirmed that the YPG on the ground are directly co-ordinating with the Coalition to direct in-coming jets to target specific buildings housing Jihadist units.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is now putting the recorded death toll for Kobane since the 16th September at 662, 374 Jihadists and 268 YPG/YPJ plus 20 civilians, though these figure do not include Islamic State fighters killed in airstrikes – therefore the final toll will be much higher.

Latest reports from Kobane on Friday morning suggest there is an ongoing combined Free Syrian Army (FSA) and YPG operation to retake the radio tower hill knows as Mishtenour, just south of the city.

The BBC Syria news service has a video report from Kobane recorded on Thursday.

There is additionally this morning an unconfirmed report that the senior IS commander known as Hisem Bin Ebdallah has been killed in combat.

If true, then this will be no great loss to the world – Ebdallah has appeared on the Internet physically beheading his victims with a knife.

However, the Kurds are still in dire need of weapons, ammunition and food, though supplies are trickling in despite Turkish intransigence, and the Islamic State has destroyed almost all of their medical facilities.

There was a terrible report from the Turkish border that a Kurdish ambulance was prevented from crossing and YPG fighters could do nothing to help 3 wounded colleagues who slowly died without help or treatment over a 3 hour period who could have, they believe, been otherwise saved. Many Turkish authorities see all Kurdish fighters as “terrorists”.

There have been persistent reports that civilians crossing from Kobane into Turkey in recent days, after the earlier mass exodus, have been detained in secure centres and searched by Turkish troops looking for mobile phone images of YPG fighters.

After returning 72 people to Kobane this week (scroll down – see earlier report below), it is now said that the Turks are planning to return another 170 detained Kurds to the war zone, many of whom have been on hunger strike in protest against the conditions in which they have been held. You can read more about this, HERE:

This and other ambivalent reactions by the Turks to the crisis in Kobane, may be why Turkey yesterday failed to gain one of the revolving seats on the UN Security Council.

Until recently, Turkey was thought to have letters of support from 160 countries in the ballot for the seat, needing only a minimum of 130, but support has clearly faded away in the last few days and in the end Turkey received only 60 votes, the seat going to Spain.

This is a tremendous blow to Turkish pride and prestige. New Zealand, Venezuela, Angola, Malaysia also got elected to non-permanent regional seats, which become active on January 1st 2015. You can read more in Newsweek Syria news.

ISLAMIC STATE JETS SEEN FLYING FROM CAPTURED FORMER ASSAD REGIME AIRBASE:

In a worrying development, there is an unconfirmed report from Opposition activist sources that MIG-21 and/or MIG-23 jets have been seen flying from Al-Jarrah military airbase in Islamic State territory east of Aleppo city.

To avoid detection by radar they are flying at low altitude and not straying far from the airfield perimeter. It is said that the Jihadist pilots are being trained by former members of Saddam Hussein’s air force.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Islamic State Taking to the Skies with Captured Jets?

The Ba’ath Party to whom these airman belong, is currently in alliance with the Islamic State in Iraq and fighting alongside them trying to regain some of the Sunni dominating power it once had under the former dictator.

Witnesses claim that they have seen 3 jets in flight so far, though it is not clear whether they are armed with missiles or not.

The Islamic State also control 2 other airfields in Syria, Al-Bukamal near the border with Iraq and Tabqa in Raqqah province.

Al-Jarrah is just 70 kilometres from the Turkish border and so far US Central Command, asked for a comment, says it has not seen any Islamic State jets in flight.

No doubt, should these reports be confirmed the Coalition, or indeed Assad’s Air Force or missile defence systems will destroy these aircraft as soon as possible.

If they manage to get through to any target with a suicide payload of bombs, the consequences could be catastrophic.

There are also reports that the Islamic State have also executed 2 of the own fighters at Al-Bukamel, one for“banditry and robbing Muslims’ money” and the 2nd for allegedly dealing with the Assad regime” and “putting down electronic chips” so their units could be tracked.

Elsewhere in Syria, the Opposition have launched a new campaign to remove Assad’s checkpoints on the Damascus to Jordan main highway.

The operation began with a fierce attack on the checkpoint at Umm al-Mayadin this morning, Friday, HERE: andHERE:

The Opposition also brought up their heavy fire-power, HERE:

The checkpoints, about 4 kilometres from the frontier, protect the Naseeb border crossing to Jordan, a now remote outpost of the Assad regime. Jordan have now closed their side of the crossing while fighting persists.

In Hama province, heavy fighting continues around Mork, the former Assad tank battalion base changing hands again twice in the last 24 hours, believed currently held by the Opposition.

In Idlib province, the Opposition are attacking Ma’ar Hattat on the highway to Aleppo, HERE: and the good citizens of Kafranbel are determined that the world does not forget that the battle is still against Assad, HERE:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Medical Supplies Reach Yarmouk After A 12 Month Wait

In Deir Ez-Zour city there has been fierce fighting between the Islamic State and the Assad regime in the Hawija district, 9 IS fighters reported killed but a Syrian Army vehicle destroyed and troop losses as the Jihadists advanced.

In Hasakah province 3 civilians, including a child, were reported killed after Coalition planes targeted a oil refining facility at the village of Kabiba in the Al-Shadai area.

In Damascus, for the first time in 12 months, the International Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent were allowed to distribute medical supplies in the Yarmouk Refugee camp in the southern part of the capital.

IRAQ NEWS: LATEST ISLAMIC STATE BOMBINGS IN BAGHDAD KILL 50, 162 DEAD SINCE SUNDAY:

In another wave of bomb attacks in Baghdad, mainly in Shiite areas, yesterday, Thursday, at least 50 were killed and dozens injured.

This brings the total killed since last Sunday in Baghdad alone to more than 162. The map below shows the horror of all the car bomb explosions in Baghdad since the Americans arrived in 2003.

IS have claimed responsibility for yesterday’s deadliest attack in the northern Dolaie commercial area of the city. 2 parked cars exploded simultaneously killing 14 and wounding 34.

Local residents, angry at the failure of the security services to protect them, pelted the police cars that arrived to deal with the blast with stones, forcing them to withdraw.

IRAQ and SYRIA NEWS

 

Map of Every Car Bomb Explosion in Baghdad Since 2003

In the eastern Baghdad district of Talibiyah, a suicide bomber rammed his exploding car into a police checkpoint, killing 7 policemen and 5 civilians. 4 other bombs also went off in Baghdad yesterday or nearby with similar destructive power and results.

In northern Iraq west of Mosul, the Islamic state are reported to have launched another series of suicide car bomb attacks against the Iraqi special forces defending the Baiji oil refinery.

Since the sandstorms over subsided in the last 24 hours over Iraq, the Coalition have made 5 airstrikes on Islamic State targets, mainly in Anbar province where a night-time curfew has been imposed in Ramadi to prevent IS movements in and out of the city.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi, has met with a delegation from Anbar province, which is currently in great danger of being totally overrun by the Islamic State, and attempted to persuade local Sunni tribes to work with the Iraqi security forces to push IS back.

Italy has announced it is joining the Coalition against IS by sending 200 advisers and 3 reconnaissance planes to operate out of Erbil in Kurdish Iraq.

Lastly, like many of us you may be having trouble keeping up with and working out all the complications of the situation in Iraq and Syria.

Despite all the horror, something of an “explanation” to cheer you up over the weekend from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AawCeJREHWw

Syrian Coalition Launches a Project Aimed at Revamping Media Outlets in Syria

The Syrian Coalition has launched a national media industry project in cooperation with senior media figures who will oversee the setting of guidelines for national media outlets. Hadi al-Bahra, president of the Syrian Coalition, said during the opening of the meeting that “the media battle today is as important nowadays as the military battles waged by the FSA against the Assad regime. The targeted audience will not be limited to the rebels and dissidents, but will also include the few regime supporters as because Syria is for all Syrians without any distinction based on race, sect or belief.” Bahra calls on the media experts “to develop a comprehensive strategy to produce informative, balanced and inclusive speech capable of steering the homeland after the fall of Assad regime. The role of the Syrian Coalition in dealing with the media projects will be limited to supporting media activities and directing them without interfering with the vision and the content of the new media outlets.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 18.10.2014)

Has Kobane become vortex of death for ISIS?

As U.S. jets obliterate fanatics from the air and Kurds suck them into street ‘meat grinder’, experts believe jihadists have finally made strategic miscalculation

  • Islamic State militants may live to regret encouraging street battles with outgunned Kurdish forces inside Kobane
  • Barbaric terror group’s tried and tested ‘pincer movement’ has previously forced enemies to retreat or even defect
  • Previously used to seize vast swathes of territory in north Syria and west Iraq, where security forces melted away
  • But Kobane is surrounded by desert, with Turkish border only 200 yards to the north, so Kurdish troops cannot flee 
  • Now Kurdish troops are engaging terrorists in street-to-street battles – a tactic that doesn’t play to ISIS’ strenghs

Islamic State militants have made fatal strategic mistakes in Kobane, allowing American and Arab warplanes to obliterate them from the air and Kurdish forces to suck them into unfamiliar ‘meat grinder’ street battles, an expert has claimed.

During the four-week battle for Kobane, ISIS has used the same tried and tested ‘pincer movement’ it deployed during the rapid seizure of vast swathes of northern Syria and western Iraq earlier this year.

In the majority of those lightning advances, ISIS was able to capture towns and cities with little to no resistance – as the group’s reputation for torture and brutal murder ensured local security forces either defected or abandoned their posts, rather than face certain slaughter at the hands of the fanatics.

But as Kobane is located less than 200 yards south of the Turkish border fences and is surrounded largely by desert, the massively outgunned Kurdish fighters there have had nowhere to flee, encouraging them to gather in the centre of town and defend the city in furious street-to-street battles.

This is a tactic that does not play to ISIS’ considerable armament strengths and leaves the militants out in the open for lengthy periods, where American and Arab warplanes can easily pick the fighters off.

Blast: A US-led airstrike on a Syrian gas facility in Kobane killed at least eight people this afternoon. It had been held by militants from the Islamic State terror group, who expert Justin Bronk believes has made fatal errors in its attempt to capture the city

Blast: A US-led airstrike on a Syrian gas facility in Kobane killed at least eight people this afternoon. It had been held by militants from the Islamic State terror group, who expert Justin Bronk believes has made fatal errors in its attempt to capture the city

 Flames of war: An American airstrike destroys an Islamic State target inside Kobane, sending a massive column of fire into the air

Flames of war: An American airstrike destroys an Islamic State target inside Kobane, sending a massive column of fire into the air

The claim that ISIS may have made serious tactical errors in Kobane came from Justin Bronk, a research analyst in the military sciences program at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Kobane is a ‘very unusual operation’ for ISIS as the pitched battles they forced by giving the Kurdish troops nowhere to run have left them particularly vulnerable to airstrikes, he wrote in an opinion article for CNN.

(Source / 18.10.2014)

15 dead in regime air raids near Damascus: monitor

At least 15 civilians, including three minors, were killed in Syrian regime air raids on a rebel-held town near the capital

At least 15 civilians, including three minors, were killed in Syrian regime air raids on a rebel-held town near the capital on Friday, a monitoring group said.

“At least 15 civilians, including three aged under 18, were killed in eight raids by Syrian military planes on several districts of the town of Douma,” 13 kilometres (eight miles) northeast of Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

On Thursday, regime air strikes killed 20 people, including two children and two women, in Jisrin to the east of Damascus, and two others in nearby Saqba, according to the Observatory.

Closing in on Douma, a town of 200,000 residents, the army has seized control of Mleiha and Adra and has set its sights on Jobar and Ain Tarma, all towns to the east of the capital.

(Source / 17.10.2014)

Regime’s Siege of Al Waer and East Ghouta is Tantamount to Genocide

Nora al-Ameer, vice president of the Syrian Coalition, said that the suffocating siege regime forces have been laying on East and West Ghouta, Al Waer district and Al Houla in Homs province is tantamount to a genocide and is not less atrocious than the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians. The silence of the international community towards Assad’s crimes is seen by Syrians as a direct involvement in these crimes and would undermine what remained of the Syrians’ confidence in the international community. Moreover, this dubious silence towards the unethical political blackmail practiced by the Assad regime which uses starvation as a weapon of warfare to bring the Syrian people to their knees is a crime against humanity. We therefore call for the international community to assume its responsibility and pressurize the Assad regime to comply with the UN Security Council resolution No. 2139 and allow unfettered access of aid convoys to all besieged areas. According to the UN resolution, the delivery of relief aid to besieged areas does not require the consent of the Assad regime, an outright recognition of Assad’s deliberate hindering of the delivery of relief aid to the trapped people in the besieged areas. Unfortunately these UN resolutions have so far amounted to nothing more than ink on paper as they were not supplemented by a UN resolution to punish the sides that violate or hinder the implementation of the previous international resolutions.” Al Ameer cited the children’s death during the vaccination campaign as not the result of human error, but also of the consequences of the crippling siege imposed by regime forces on the rebellious populations.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 16.10.2014)

Foreign fighters flow to Syria

An estimated 15,000 militants from at least 80 nations are believed to have entered Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad according the CIA and studies by ISCR and The Soufan Group. Many of these fighters are believed to have joined units that are now part of the Islamic State. Western officals are concerned about what these individuals may do upon returning to their native countries.

Map: Flow of foreign fighters to Syria
International Center for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ISCR), The Soufan Group, CIA. Gene Thorp, Julie Tate and Swati Sharma. Published on October 11, 2014, 6:44 p.m.
(Source / 15.10.2014)

Dutch biker gang cleared to help Kurds fight Islamic State

Mourners flash the victory sign as they sing a nationalistic Kurdish song at a cemetery in Suruc, Turkey, during the funeral of two Syrian Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) ** FILE **

Mourners flash the victory sign as they sing a nationalistic Kurdish song at a cemetery in Suruc, Turkey, during the funeral of two Syrian Kurdish fighters

The Dutch public prosecutor on Tuesday declared it legal for bikers from the No Surrender gang to continue fighting alongside Kurds in northern Iraq against the Islamic State group.

“Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable; now it’s no longer forbidden,” public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin told the Agence France-Presse. “You just can’t join a fight against the Netherlands.”

His comments come after reports that Dutch bikers had joined the Kurds in fighting Sunni militants that have gained a stronghold in Iraq and Syria.

Dutch citizens could not, however, join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), because it is labeled a terrorist organization by much of the international community, AFP reported.

Dutch citizens fighting on the Kurdish side will still be subject to prosecution if they committed a crime abroad, Mr. De Bruin said.

“But this is also happening a long way away, and so it’ll be very difficult to prove,” he added.

The Netherlands has been cracking down on citizens trying to join Islamic State fighters, confiscating would-be jihadists’ passports before traveling and threatening prosecution should they return, AFP reported.

(Source / 14.10.2014)