By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA – IRAQ – NEWS
Few details yet, but a major operation seems to be underway to attack Islamic State (IS) Jihadists around the Tishreen Dam on the Euphrates River south of Sarrin and possibly to capture the dam itself.
Islamic State Fighters at Tishreen Dam
2 convoys of vehicles belonging to the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) have been seen heading for the western part of Kobane Canton and 3 x IS Jihadists have already been killed in fighting south of Sarrin.
Coalition aircraft are reported as bombing IS positions near the Tishreen Dam and the SDF is already engaging them in battle.
There are also reports that the IS Jihadists are installing explosives on the Tishreen Dam in a last stand move.
However, if the dam blew, there would be a wall of water rushing downstream and the most likely major casualty would be the people in the IS Syrian HQ at the city of Raqqah.
If the SDF can capture the Tishreen dam, they would then be in a strong position to move men and weapons for an attack on IS-held Jarablous nearer the Turkish border, though Turkey is likely to object to the presence of the Kurdish YPG fighters, who make up the major part of the SDF force, on the territory between Kobane and Afrin Cantons.
Moving southwards after crossing the dam, the SDF would also be in a position to attack Raqqah from another direction. However, nothing is clear yet and further information is awaited.
Elsewhere in the Rojava area, IS targeted another YPG checkpoint near Sabe’ Zlam in the Mount Abdul Aziz region and a second checkpoint came under fire near the town of Slouk north-east of Raqqah city with YPG casualties reported.
An exploding IS mine in the village of Twal Al-Aba in the northern part of Raqqah province also killed one person and wounded another.
According to the YPG, the Islamic State appears to be more and more in a desperate state. After losing both territory and hundreds of fighters they are sending in “waves of inexperienced suicide bombers” to try and stem the YPG/SDF advance.
Many of the vehicle bombs are exploded prematurely, caught in anti-VIEBD trenches or destroyed by gun or rocket fire.
In many cases the IS units do not seem to have any longer the ability to outflank the YPG/SDF positions “with experienced, hardened fighters capable of sizing objectives and repelling Kurdish counter attacks”.
And in Raqqah itself, according to a family that has fled, the price of food is going up all the time and Coalition airstrikes are “almost constant”.
You can read more in 2 Sky News reports, SkyNews1 and SkyNews2, where there is an interesting slide-show of makeshift oil production in Idlib province and videos in both.
The YPG has declared Tal Hamis in Hasakah province safe after clearing it of booby traps and mines and for the first time in 4 years some of its predominately Arabic population have been able to return. You can read more,HERE:
In Western Afrin Canton the 2nd Mobile Unit of the YPJ, and now part of the SDF, have been protecting the village of Bene. You can read more, HERE:
Their life may be made easier after an agreement was made between the YPG and Jaish Al-Thuwar and Jaish Al-Fatah, not to keep fighting each other near Afrin and the Sheikh Maqsoud Kurdish neighbourhood of Aleppo city.
How long this will hold is anyone’s guess, and there have already been reports of renewed firing on Sheikh Maqsoud district this morning, Monday. The agreement was brokered by the Shura and Conciliation Council in Aleppo.
Leishmaniasis, the skin disease, sometimes fatal, that is carried by sand flies and causes disfiguring pock marks on the face and body, has broken out in north-east Syria in villages near Qamishli and Hasakah.
Previously, a major outbreak had been reported among Assad’s troops near Palmyra. The latest cases have occured after IS fighters were driven out of Abdul Aziz, Tal Abayd and Tal Hamis, suggesting they may have brought the disease from the Palmyra area in the eastern desert of Homs province.
The Kurdish Red Crescent is treating the infections with injections of appropriate drugs. Video footage with English sub-titles, HERE:
Turkey Frustrates Kobane Rebuilding Programme
In Kobane city where reconstruction has been underway for some months now, much of the building work has come to a halt after Turkey once again blocked the supply of building materials coming through the border crossing.
Local Kurdish officials are concerned that unless more houses for people to live in are completed this winter, thousands more as refugees will head for Europe.
VOA has a video report, in Kurdish only, but gives you some good visual footage of the regeneration.
Even worse, Turkey is still preventing the repatriation of bodies of YPG/YPJ fighters to the Kurdish communities in Turkey where they were born.
The family of Meliha Curuk, killed fighting IS near Al-Hawl for the YPJ, has been refused entry to Turkey for 41 days. Her family are reported devastated by Turkey’s cruel and inhuman action.
Bound to upset the Turkish Government further, Russian sources are reporting that the Turkish MP leader of the Kurdish HDP Party, Selahattin Demirtas, is due to meet the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, this week in Moscow.
Vice News has videos of a recent interview with Demirtas with English sub-titles.
Lastly on Rojava, please support the people of the destroyed city of Kobane this Christmas. They desperately need a school bus.
KOBANE CHRISTMAS APPEAL:
An appeal is underway to raise Euros 25,000 to buy a school bus to transport the smallest children to school from around Kobane.
Currently there is only one pre-school in Kobane and many children have to walk an hour each way to attend.
A bus would mean that the number of young children attending school would go up from 150 to 500.
This appeal aims to raise the Euros 25,000 in 25 days. Euros 8,464 so far, – only 7 days to go! Please contribute this Christmas (EDITOR: I have!) to Kobane’s reconstruction, (both USD, Euros and other currencies accepted by credit, debit card via PayPal at a genuine site) go HERE:
Over in Iraq, after US pressure, Turkey has agreed “to continue” its withdrawal of troops near Mosul where it been training Peshmerga and other fighters in battling IS. The Iraq Government, probably egged on by Russia, is insisting they leave immediately.
The Kurdish Peshmerga is claiming that it has killed 250 x IS Jihadists in the last week and also reports a fall in the fighting ability of the quality and ability of Islamic State combatants.
Reports from Mosul city itself say that IS beheaded 10 of its own men yesterday, Sunday, for “high treason” and evacuating their posts when engaged in battles with the Peshmerga. 6 of those executed were identified as Syrians, while the others were of foreign nationalities.
73 of their fighters were earlier executed in November for running away from fighting in Sinjar when the Peshmerga and other Kurdish and Yezidi units recaptured it in just 48 hours.
In preparation for forthcoming campaigns to retake Ramadi and Mosul, the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets on the 2 cities on Sunday.
Civilian residents were advised to leave Ramadi within the next 72 hours as attacks by the Iraqi military and the Coalition will be imminent after that time.
Iraq Air Force Drops Leaflets on Ramadi and Mosul