By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA NEWS IRAQ NEWS
In an interview, Sipan Hemo, General Commander of the YPG has responded to the Amnesty International report released last Monday (scroll down – see below) in which the Kurds were once again accused of “ethnic cleansing” and “destroying villages”.
YPG Fighter Observes the Islamic State From Fortified Position
Hemo pointed out that so far the YPG/YPJ have liberated 1500 Arab villages and perhaps 4 or 5 were damaged.
The vast majority of the Sunni Arabs, some of whom had been resettled in Rojava by the Assad regime, were living in peace and no attempt had been made to remove them.
Hemo also said that around 30% of the YPG was made up of men of Arab origins and he was quite sure they would not tolerate their Arab compatriots being abused. He invited an independent enquiry into the allegations.
Hemo also thought the timing of the release of the report was “suspicious”, coming at a time when the YPG and its Arab and Christian allies were about to launch another big campaign against the Islamic State and they had just received significant supplies of arms from the Coalition.
The YPG Commander confirmed that they had military plans for Raqqah and Jarablous, but for obvious reasons would not disclose detail.
He also reiterated that the newly formed Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) included most of Syria’s major communities, the Kurds, the Arabs, the Assyrians and the Turkmen people’s.
“We hope this becomes a new start, a new step,” he said. “At the same time we call upon everyone who believes in democracy for Syria, who believes in the Syrian nation, to join SDF for the sake of democracy and to stand against and fight extremist forces like ISIS and give a calm country back to Syrians.” You can read the full interview,HERE:
The Ruspîs Assembly of Arab Tribes in Cizîre Canton has also issued a denial of the Amnesty allegations today, indicating that if people have been moved by the YPG, it is for their own protection against IS attacks. You can read more, HERE:
Interestingly, in Washington, the US was busy backtracking on whom the 50 tons of weapons and ammunition dropped on October 11th were delivered to after complaints from the Turkish Government to the US Ambassador in Ankara.
Further suspicion about the timing of the Amnesty report arises when you realise that the US is legally prohibited from “supplying arms to groups that have committed human rights abuses” (EDITOR: Though that probably includes most of the world’s armies, including the US and the UK, and almost all armed groups)
One senior US military official said yesterday, Thursday, that the Pentagon “could not rule out the possibility some air-dropped arms may have gone to Kurdish forces”. YPG sources confirmed that they had received the weapons and indicated that they had been safely air-dropped onto territory firmly under their control.
The Syrian Democratic Force also held their first meeting in Hasakah on Thursday, apparently to decide how the air-dropped weapons were to be distributed.
East of Hasakah in the countryside, heavy clashes also broke out yesterday between the Islamic State (IS) and the Assad regime, over the Government controlled base at Mount Kawkab.
5 of Assad’s troops were killed in an IS mortar attack on Thursday afternoon and fighting continued until midnight when the IS Jihadists retreated to their base at Shaddadi.
Kawkab is the largest military base still held by the regime in Hasakah province. Coincidentally, there are also reports of Coalition airstrikes on IS positions at Shaddadi.
Latest reports from US Central Command (Centcom) say that they made 13 airstrikes in Syria on October 14th, 15th and 16th, hitting IS tactical units and destroying IS vehicles and weapons near Raqqah, Al-Hawl, Manbij, Tal Jibben, Al-Bab, Aleppo, Mar’a and Washiyah.
The YPG have released this video of an operation to detain some possible IS activists and also a truck which appears to have explosives hidden behind a newly welded and hidden panel, HERE:
Meanwhile, a senior Russian General Staff official, Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, claimed today, Friday, that Russian aircraft carrying out 600 sorties since the start of their campaign in Syria had “bombed more than 380 ISIS targets”.
As almost 90% of the attacks appear to be outside areas where IS are known to operate, the Colonel clearly doesn’t know his IS Jihadist from his elbow – and looks rather foolish.
Similarly, President Putin, speaking in Kazakhstan today said Russian airstrikes had “destroyed dozens of command posts, munitions depots, hundreds of terrorists and a large amount of military hardware”.
The Drone That “Refused to Respond to 3 Warnings From Turkey”
Turkey is also reported to have shot down an unidentified drone flying over its territory, possibly as it was trying to monitor Syria Opposition fighters in Idlib province this morning.
The drone was shot out of the sky after it refused to respond to “3 warnings to turn away” from a Turkish F-16 on patrol along the border, and came down 3 kilometres inside Turkish territory.
However, by all accounts we are not talking anything very sophisticated here like an armed Predator, more a glorified large scale model aircraft like a Russian Orlan 10 UAV surveillance drone or another type used in Ukraine. Russia says “all its aircraft have returned safely”.
Over in Iraq, 15 Coalition airstrikes completely destroyed an IS convoy travelling from the Nasser neighbourhood into Sinjar city yesterday, Thursday, and the Yezidi network managed to release another Yezidi women held prison by IS, bringing to around 2,000 the number now rescued.
The Coalition have carried out 54 airstrikes against IS in Iraq in the last 3 days.
Reports from the Iraqi Army say that they have also recaptured Baiji Oil Refinery, which has now been fought over and out of commission since June 2014.
The key refinery is west of Mosul and 250 kilometres north of Baghdad.
The Iraqi Army, backed by Shiite militia, took both the refinery and the nearby town of Siniya, though there is currently no word on the town of Baiji itself.
There are also reports that a large Kurdish PKK unit arrived on Mount Sinjar yesterday, Thursday, to strengthen their forces fighting IS to the south-west of the mountain and inside Sinjar city itself.
Baiji Oil Refinery on Fire Again 14.10.15
REGIME LAUNCHES 3 NEW FRONTS AT HOMS, ALEPPO AND QUNEITRA, BUT RUSSIANS MANAGE TO DISASTROUSLY BOMB ASSAD’S TROOPS:
This morning, Friday, the Assad regime backed by its allies, including Russian air fire power, opened 3 more major fronts, one south-east of Aleppo city, another north of Homs city and a third south of Damascus in Quneitra province.
The fighting near Aleppo is 35 kilometres from the Turkish border and 12 kilometres from Aleppo city in the Jebbel Azzan region. The attack began with Russian jets targeting Opposition positions near the main highway that leads south to Damascus.
The Syrian Army is said to have re-captured the village of Abtin and a tank battalion base near Sabiqiya but Opposition fighters have hit back destroying 3 Army tanks, a technical with a mounted 23mm gun and a rocket launcher. Other Opposition units have said they have sent more TOW anti-tank missiles to the area to stem the Government advance.
US sources have suggested that as many as 2,000 Iranian supported forces are taking part in the Aleppo operation, consisting of Iranian troops, Iranian funded Shia militia and Hezbollah.
Interesting article on how water, which comes from the Euphrates controlled by IS, passes through Opposition held areas to a pumping station run by the Assad regime, is used as a weapon of war in Aleppo, HERE:
The attacks by the regime north of Homs began with Russian air attacks on Teir Maale, Tabilseh, Ghantu and other villages, with 60 killed including 30 women and children and 17 Opposition fighters.
Russian Suhkoi Jet Takes Off From Lakakia
There are also strong reports that Russian jets struck the wrong targets killing a number of Syrian troops including Brigade General Ibrahim Kaddour and Lieutenant Alaa Issa Canaan.
Opposition activist reports said the Russian jets mistakenly attacked regime troops at the “Aatoun checkpoint, the Mulouk base, the Military College in Al-Waer, a gathering of [militiamen] near the Al-Kamm junction and the area around the Division 26 [base] to the south of Teir Maalah, as well as a regime column near the [town’s] grain silos.” You can read more, HERE:
The death was also announced of regime General Maan Dib who was killed near Homs and was possibly heading the Homs offensive which seems to be designed to open the road between Homs and Hama.
Al Jazeera has a video report.
Yet another offensive has also been launched in Qunietra province by the Assad regime with heavy Hezbollah backing. Despite recent Opposition gains, the large Government force has recaptured the Amal Farms area, Mount Tel Ahmar and the UN Hill at Tel al-Qaba’a.
An opposition spokesman said they had lost ground because they had failed to shore up their positions with sufficient defences after their recent advances.
In Latakia, there was a report that 38 members of Assad’s forces were killed at Beit Yashout near Jableh city when a bus carrying them overturned.
There is also reported tension in the Assad family home town at Al-Qerdaha, where not for the first time fighting broke out between local Shabiha warlords and the Police. In a shoot-out, the Shabiha leader Ali Ismail and his bodyguards died and 2 policeman were also killed.
A former US State Department employee and a Syrian foreign exchange student reflects on the mess that is Syria,HERE:
And even in the better parts of Damascus, the pro-regime middle classes are getting tired of the war and want out, says Foreign Policy magazine.