By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA – IRAQ – NEWS
The Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) have continued their advance and are currently involved in heavy fighting to take the IS-held former Assad Base 121 south of Hasakah.
IS Truck Bomb Contained 20 Barrels of Explosive
Dozens of bodies are reported across the battlefield and experienced Kurdish YPG snipers are hunting down the remaining IS Jihadists. Plans are already in hand to take the next IS stronghold at Shaddadi, which will clear the road towards Raqqah.
Pictures have emerged of an IS armour plated truck to be used as a massive suicide bomb against SDF forces near Al-Hawl. The truck was captured before it could be detonated but estimates of the explosives on board put them at the equivalent of 10 tons of TNT.
Hussein Kocher, a leading Kurdish commander SDF, has been quoted as saying their forces are determined to “liberate the whole Syrian soil from Deash (ISIS) terrorists” and that Opposition groups should link together to carry this out.
Macer Gifford, the English City Finance worker who gave up his job to fight with the YPG has recently been interviewed by CBS in the US. He says that there are now more men from the USA and Europe who are keen to fight IS in Syria and Iraq, especially since the attacks in Paris.
You can watch a video interview and read more at CBS.
In the western part of Kobane Canton, IS once again fired mortars from their positions across the other side of the Euphrates River, hitting the Kurdish village of Bouraz. A father and his daughter were reported killed and the mother seriously injured.
35 kilometres east of Kobane city, the Turkish Army, for reasons best known to themselves, again attacked YPG positions near the village of Sibiqran with heavy weapons from across the Turkish border. No casualties were immediately reported.
South-east of Rojava at Raqqah, the outskirts of the city were hit by 3 Russian cruise missiles.
US Central Command (Centcom) reports 13 airstrikes on Syria on Wednesday, 4 of them hitting Raqqah where they struck 3 x IS HQ buildings and a bivouac. 3 strikes hit IS positions near Al-Hawl, 4 near Hasakah and 2 more struck oil and gas separation plants at Abu Kamal.
Coalition airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq are co-ordinated in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Careful checks are made to avoid hitting their own forces and civilians. You can read more, HERE:
In Sinjar in Iraq, recently recaptured by Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga have found an elaborate system of underground tunnels which IS used to try and avoid being hit by Coalition airstrikes. The Wall Street Journal has a series of pictures.
Sinjar is essentially a Yezidi city but many Yezidi are reluctant as yet to return, especially as IS is only a few kilometres away and the city is still within mortar range. Those that have come back have found there houses destroyed and belongings looted. You can read more in Al Jazeera.
Kurdish Troops Enter Destroyed Sinjar, Iraq
IRANIAN JETS NOW SEEN FLYING WITH RUSSIA OVER SYRIA, WHILE FATAL SKIN DISAESE AFFECTS ASSAD’S TROOPS OUT IN THE DESERT:
A proposed initial 15 day ceasefire between Assad’s forces and Opposition fighters in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, organised by the Russians appears to have come to nothing after the regime pounded the district of Douma with 12 airstrikes on Thursday, killing the city’s only remaining coroner. The 15 day ceasefire was meant to lead to a possible truce.
In IS-held Manbij in Aleppo province, where locals have been demonstrating against the presence of the Islamic State, more trouble brewed when a young man killed an IS Sharia “judge” of Tunisian origin and 2 of his guards, before killing himself.
The “judge” had had 3 members of the young man’s family beheaded, including a brother. Since then IS has increased security, setting up checkpoints throughout the town and imposing a curfew. Several residents taking part in anti-IS demonstrations have been shot and others arrested.
Interesting article in The Daily Beast with the confessions of an IS spy who has now defected.
According to Opposition sources a Russian cruise missile hit the Hayyan industrial area north-west of Aleppo city this morning, casualties unknown.
There are also reports today of a clash between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and IS in Aleppo province near the Turkish border, due north of Aleppo city and north-east of Azaz. Perhaps the start of a new campaign to oust IS from this northern part of Aleppo province against the Turkish frontier.
Turkey has once again been talking to the US about some sort of protected zone along this part of the Syrian/Turkey border. You can read more, HERE:
A 1917 Case of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the Middle East
From Homs near IS-held Palmyra come reports that there is a severe outbreak of leishmaniasis among dozens of Assad’s troops facing up to IS in the desert area. Leishmaniasis is spread by a parasite carried by sand fleas who distribute it with their bite.
Around 2 million people a year worldwide are infected. It has several forms, initially causing skin sores but can also infect the intestines and internal organs. Between 20,000 – 50,000 people die from it each year.
Assad’s soldiers have been pleading for appropriate medical treatment or to be transferred to somewhere where they can receive treatment. At the moment, according to reports, they are corralled together in the desert so as not to infect other military units.
As seen in the photograph from World War l, the disease was known as “Jericho Buttons” by soldiers affected by it around the city of Jericho. You can read more, HERE:
In Daraa province on Thursday the Assad regime bombed an olive oil plant in Sheikh Miskin where local people were processing their harvest. At least 25 people were killed, including children and many others injured.
In Latakia province there are reports that Assad is targeting Turkman villages near the border city of Kasab with the help of Russian airstrikes. Turkey has summoned the Russian ambassador to Ankara to protest against attacks on what it sees as its fellow countrymen.
According to Israeli Intelligence around 55 Iranian military personnel have been killed in recent fighting in Syria, while Hezbollah has lost between 1,000 and 2,000 men over the last two years.
Iranian F-14 Tomcats
Interestingly, The Aviationistmagazine, after analysing video released by the Russian Ministry of Defence, has spotted that ancient Iranian F-14 Tomcat jets were seen escorting a Russian TU-95 bomber over Syria while it was making a strike.
This is the first time the Iranian Air Force (apart from cargo planes) has been seen in action over Syria.
Russia fired a whole new series of cruise missiles yesterday, Thursday, and this morning, Friday, both from long range bombers and ships.
Some landed randomly but others were targeted at Syrian Opposition groups and the Islamic State.
One cruise missile even managed to hit the regime-held village of Khattab in northern Hama.
Others fell on Ariha, Abu Al-Dhuhur, Hish, Basanqul, Mount Zawiya and Joseph in Idlib province, 200 kilometres away from IS-held territory.
One missile hitting Mir’ian village in the province killed 2 children and their mother.
Deir Ez-Zour has also been hit by 50 airstrikes in the last 24 hours, though it is not clear if they are from the Assad regime, the Russians or a combination of both.