By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA – IRAQ – NEWS
The Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) is currently heavily shelling the Islamic State-held town of Arisha, 33 kilometres south of Hasakah.
In the latest heavy artillery and mortar bombardments over the weekend 4 x IS vehicles were destroyed and 15 x Islamic State (IS) Jihadists killed.
At the same, the SDF is already on to its next target, Shaddadi, reportedly making a big advance towards the eastern outskirts of the town yesterday, Sunday.
Over the last 2 months, the SDF Kurdish-Arabic alliance, which includes Syriac Christians, has recaptured 220 villages and towns across Hasakah province.
Syriac Christian women, taking their lead from the YPJ, have even formed their own fighting brigade with around 50 of them completing training so far, HERE:
However, the IS campaign remain relentless with a suicide bomb attack on Suluk north of Raqqah on Friday and major attacks on Ain Issa and Sarrin over the weekend. With the help of Coalition air support both attacks were repelled.
In the attack on Sarrin 4 x IS Jihadists were killed and an ammunition depot destroyed.
In another interesting development, the Kurdish YPG shot down 2 drones over Kobane Canton, both of which were laden with bomb material. One of them exploded, but no injuries were recorded.
IS has also claimed responsibility for the triple truck bomb attack on Tal Tamar last week, which has now killed 25, more dying of their injuries.
The success of the SDF campaign can be seen in this video report from Sky News.
US Central Command (Centcom) reports that on Friday 5 Coalition airstrikes were carried out in Syria, one strike hitting an IS tactical unit at Manbij in Aleppo province and destroying both an IS building and an IS drone.
4 other strikes on Friday hit 4 separate IS tactical units, damaged 4 x IS buildings and wounded 2 x IS fighters.
Saturday’s Centcom report reports 7 strike targets in Syria, with significant damage at Abu Kamal, Raqqah, Ain Issa, Manbij and Mar’a.
In the last few months, the Coalition has moved to attack what the military call “dynamic targets”, moving vehicles in the open desert, including oil tankers, 400 of which have now been demolished.
“When they move now, the Coalition has a better sense where they [IS] will be moving to and by what routes and stopping points along the way, and it makes eastern Syria a far more target-rich environment,” said an analyst. You can read more (and watch latest Obama video on IS) in USA Today.
And on another positive note, the Austrian Parliament has voted to approve a plan to help in the reconstruction of both Kobane in Syria and Sinjar in Iraq, despite the fact that Turkey is almost certain to complain.
Turkey in now in trouble again after it was ordered by the Iraqi Government last week to remove troops stationed at Bashiq to the north-east of Mosul.
The Turkish soldiers were invited there some time ago by the former Governor of Mosul to help train Peshmerga and other fighters for the upcoming battle against IS to retake Mosul city.
Now, probably encouraged by the Russians and the Iranians, the Iraq Government has made a complaint to the UN Security Council about the Turkish “incursion”.
Turkey’s President Erdogan, as usual, is refusing to remove his soldiers, though there were troop movements today, Monday, which suggest they may be located elsewhere, perhaps Iraq Kurdistan which generally has better relations with the Turkish Government.
Reports this morning say that there has been heavy fighting in a western suburb of Mosul over the weekend between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Islamic State, after IS attacked the Peshmerga HQ west of Mosul with 2 car bombs.
Both vehicles were destroyed before they reached their targets. The Kesk suburb of Mosul is 25 kilometres west of the city centre. At least 5 x IS Jihadists were killed in the fighting, with one Peshmerga fighter dying later from his injuries.
IS were also pushed back after they attacked the village of Mashouq and the Peshmerga claim that as many as 50 x IS Jihadists were killed in Coalition airstrikes on the outskirts of Mosul yesterday, Sunday, near the village of Al-Haytham. 15 Coalition airstrikes were reported in Iraq on Saturday.
There is also a report that 3 journalists from Mosul, who have been in hiding for 3 months after being sentenced to death, have escaped to Iraq Kurdistan after they were smuggled out of Mosul, IS subsequently confiscating their houses.
ASSAD’S FORCES RECAPTURE AIRBASE AFTER 3 YEARS IN OPPOSITION CONTROL, AND ISLAMIC STATE ACCUSED OF MURDERING THE DISABLED:
After a month of intense fighting, Assad’s troops backed by Hezbollah recaptured the airbase at Marj al-Sultan just east of Damascus in the Opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta today, Monday.
While Assad’s forces have control of the base, fighting continues in the nearby town where Opposition fighters are holding out.
The price of the capture has been heavy with at least 14 Hezbollah fighters killed here and elsewhere in Syria in the last 48 hours.
The Opposition fighters have had control of the base for the last 3 years, so a serious defeat for them.
On Sunday Government and Russian airstrikes and rocket fire killed 45 civilians, including 10 children, in the Opposition suburb of Douma, also in Eastern Ghouta.
In retaliation, the Opposition continued their bombardment of Government held areas of Damascus sending 50 shells and mortars into Dahiyat Al-Assad, Jaramana, Al Wafidin, Al Malki and Umawyyin Square in the centre of the capital, killing 8 including a child and wounding 35.
In Aleppo province Russian airstrikes targeted the Islamic State in Manbij and East Aleppo as well as the Al Nusra-Front (ANF) and other Islamic groups near Deir Jamal.
ANF however claimed that it had killed as many 80 pro-Assad Shiite mercenaries as they tried to retake the village of Banes south of Aleppo city.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) took out an excavator in the same area belonging to the Shiite militias with a TOW missile, HERE: and also hit Aleppo International Airport and the nearby Nairab military airport with a barrage of rockets destroying vehicles and planes over the weekend.
In the northern part of Hama province the Opposition advanced to take the Zor Al-Heisa barrier between Helfaia and Taibat Al-Imam and captured the village of Al-Buwaydah.
This footage shows FSA fighters taking out an Assad ammunition truck with a TOW missile in an enormous blast on the Ghab Plain, HERE:
While in the northern part of Homs province, Opposition fighters destroyed an Assad 23mm gun with another anti-tank missile, HERE:
Just days after the declaration of a significant ceasefire between the Government side and the Opposition (scroll down – see below) IS triggered a bomb explosion in a Government area of the city killing at least 16 people and injuring many more.
The IS bomber set of his car containing 150 kilos of explosive and set exploded himself with a suicide belt, according to information released by IS.
In Idlib province, the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic groups are starting to show their true colours by issuing an order today, Monday, imposing an austere dress code on women in Idlib city.
The order instructs women to start wearing abayas (long over-garments that cover all of the body) which must be “black, dark brown or blue and bear no decorations or embellishments”.
Men are also forbidden to sell women’s underwear and female manikins must only be displayed inside stores with their faces covered and not outside. The decree was wrapped up in religious language with much mention of “honour and chastity”. You can read more, HERE:
Echoing President Putin’s burbling last week (scroll down -see below), the Chief of the Russian Army General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, was quoted as repeating to visiting foreign military attaches on Monday the assertion that the Russian Air Force is making “30 – 40 airstrikes in support of the FSA every day and supplying them with weapons”.
Later in the day this was contradicted by Vladimir Kozhin, Vladimir Kozhin, President Putin’s aide for military and technical cooperation, who said that Russia does not supply the FSA with weapons. EDITOR: Clearly, pandering to Assad’s whims, the Russians don’t know what the hell they are doing!
Over the weekend, a Russian warship, the Smetlivy, anchored off the Greek island of Lemnos, shot small arms fire at a Turkish fishing boat that came too close, though the Turkish captain of the vessel claimed not to have noticed.
The Turkish military attaché was summoned in Moscow, while Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said Russia’s reaction was “exaggerated” and Turkey’s patience “has a limit”.
The next scheduled summit between President Erdogan and President Putin has also been cancelled.
If the next rather sensational report is true, the Islamic State has sunk to new depths of depravity.
According to the Opposition activist group Mosul Eye in Iraq, IS has issued an “oral fatwa” authorising its members to “kill newborn babies with Down’s Syndrome and congenital deformities and disabled children”.
Mosul Eye says they have been monitoring the birth of children with disabilities and many have been born to women married to foreign fighters. So far they have recorded the confirmed deaths of 38 babies who have been killed with either lethal injection or suffocation. You can read more, HERE:
The same paper, the Mirror, also carries a report of SAS (UK special forces) action near Mosul. Apparently the UK unit were called in to attack a suspected IS bomb factory. As five men in heavy coats, despite the hot weather came out, a SAS marksman shot one of them from 800 metres, triggering a suicide belt explosion that killed another 2. A second shot to the head killed a 4th Jihadist and a third bullet killed the fifth as he ran back inside. (EDITOR: A good story anyway – but hopefully true!).
Lastly, where does all the Islamic State’s oil go? A map, courtesy of Radio Free Europe and an article by NOW Media, explain the detail – it’s all in the middlemen.