An update of the ongoing war against ISIS, in Syria and Iraq mainly.There is a lot of mystery and confusion about USA and Russian airstrikes in Syria at this moment. Map found on Twitter from serious sources could help to understand the conflcit in a better way.
Russia began a large-scale air campaign against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other the terrorist groups in Syria on September 20, for over a month — an intervention in the country’s four-and-a-half-year civil war that the Kremlin insists will boost the capability of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to fight the radical Islamic State (IS) insurgency. Dozens of sorties are carried out by Russian warplanes every day at the official request of the Syrian government according to Russian RT.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) 31 Octobre 2015
However, The militant terrorist group seems to keep gaining ground .
On Sunday, November 1st, IS seized Maheem, a predominantly Christian town in the Homs province, killing 50 government fighters.The advance brings IS within 13 miles of a pivotal north-south highway that links Damascus to Syria’s other main cities: Homs, Hama, and Aleppo.
Despite Russia’s rhetoric, most of the recent attacks by the Syrian army, which is backed by Russian airstrikes and allied fighters from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have focused on other rebel groups rather than IS.
As it has been referred by ALJAZEERA, at least 595 people have been killed by Russian air strikes in Syria nearly a month into Moscow’s military campaign, a monitoring group has said.
Russia’s air wing in western Syria is notable for including several Su-30 fighters that are primarily air-to-air fighters. The Su-30s’ arrival in Syria raised eyebrows, as Moscow insists its forces are only fighting ISIS, but ISIS has no aircraft of its own for the Su-30s to engage.
The frequency of U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria has slowed significantly since the Russians began military operations in the region in early September, Defense Department data shows.
U.S. strikes averaged about seven per day in August, a pace similar to the entire first year of the air campaign in Syria that began last year, DoD data show.
For several weeks, the U.S. and Russia had no operational lines of communication as both militaries flew combat sorties in the same air space, in some cases coming within visual range, officials said.
But on Oct. 20, the U.S. and Russia forged a “memorandum of understanding” that outlined a series of safety procedures to prevent mishaps or misunderstandings.
Weeks after the Obama administration canceled a failed Pentagon program to train and arm Syrian rebels to combat the Islamic State, American officials announced a new effort to equip newly named ground forces in Syria to fight the jihadists.
End of October, President Obama announced plans to deploy dozens of Special Operations troops to support the new alliance. And before that, American officials said 50 tons of ammunition had been airdropped for Arab fighters with the new group.
But already, things have not always gone as planned. Since the ammunition airdrop, American officials have privately acknowledged that the Arab units it was intended for did not have the logistical capability to move it. So, again, the Kurds were called to help.
The U.S. Air Force is deploying to Turkey up to a dozen jet fighters specializing in air-to-air combat—apparently to help protect other U.S. and allied jets from Russia’s own warplanes flying over Syria.
As of 4:59 p.m. EDT Oct. 27, the U.S. and coalition have conducted a total of 7,726 strikes (5,046 Iraq / 2,680 Syria).
- U.S. has conducted 6,059 strikes in Iraq and Syria (3,519 Iraq / 2,540 Syria)
Rest of Coalition has conducted 1,667 strikes in Iraq and Syria (1,527 Iraq /140 Syria)
The countries that have participated in the strikes include:
- In Iraq: (1) Australia, (2) Belgium, (3) Canada, (4) Denmark, (5) France, (6) Jordan, (7) The Netherlands, and (8) UK
- In Syria: (1) Australia, (2) Bahrain, (3) Canada, (4) France, (5) Jordan, (6) Saudi Arabia, (7) Turkey and (8) UAE
As of Oct. 27, U.S. and partner nation aircraft have flown an estimated 60,507 sorties in support of operations in Iraq and Syria. As of Oct. 15, 2015, the total cost of operations related to ISIL since kinetic operations started on Aug. 8, 2014, is $4.75 billion and the average daily cost is $11 million for 434 days of operations.
While world attention since the Syria conflict began has focused on fighting between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, Sunni rebels and the Islamic State, the Kurds have taken advantage of the chaos to carve out an autonomous zone.
Much of that has been done over the last year, as the Y.P.G. — the Kurdish abbreviation for the People’s Protection Units, the dominant Kurdish force in Syria — has closely coordinated with the United States and its allies to seize land from the Islamic State in a long strip along the Turkish border.
Evidence of the Kurdish group’s dominance is obvious in North Syria. The militia runs ubiquitous checkpoints; photos of its “martyrs” adorn billboards; and its fighters hold most of the more than 280-mile-long front line with the Islamic State. Parts of it have come to resemble an international border, with deep trenches and high berms running for miles, lined with bright lights to prevent jihadist infiltrators. The whole line is dotted with heavily sandbagged positions to protect against machine gun and mortar attacks by the jihadists (NYTIMES.COM).
The newest U.S.-backed offensive against the Islamic State in northern Syria suffered a devastating setback when the extremist group detonated an explosive-laden vehicle near a Kurdish-led column of armored vehicles, an Arab militia commander said Monday.
The Islamic State said the suicide bomber, with five tons of explosives, attacked a convoy of 70 vehicles Sunday, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, killed dozens of Arabs and members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
The attack occurred near Al Khatuniya, a village about 25 miles east of Hasaka, the capital of the province by the same name, and about five miles west of the Iraqi border.
Officials said the explosion came after his forces had captured Al Khatuniya and cut the roads to Al Hawl, an oil-producing city outside of Hasaka.
Mosul: In yet another show of barbarity, ISIS militants have beheaded four Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in ‘revenge’ for a a raid by US special forces that rescued 70 Iraqi hostages and killed around 20 terrorists. The group has released a sickening video of the execution whose contents, barring the initial segments are too graphic to be shared on a media platform The revenge video shows an ISIS jihadi with Amrican [sic] accent addressing Obama for US special forces raid that rescued 70 Iraqi hostages and killed 20 terrorists. Three other jihadis – all dressed in black with their faces covered – are also seen holding blades as they stand behind three other Kurds wearing orange jumpsuits. Addressing President Obama, the lead executioner says the beheadings are ‘revenge’ for the raid on an ISIS jail. The slickly-cut 15-minute video, which is too graphic to be shown in full, then shows the English-speaking terrorist pushing the first Peshmerga soldier to the ground and beheading him.
CNN reports that coalition airstrikes and land offensives led by Kurdish forces on both sides of the border are aimed at interrupting ISIS supply lines, retaking territory the group has held for over a year and putting pressure on critical towns such as Deir Ezzor.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces on the Iraqi side of the border – including a brigade of some 5,000 Yazidi fighters – are preparing for what officers describe as an imminent offensive to seize the town of Sinjar. There has been a sharp increase in airstrikes on ISIS-held parts of the town in the last few days.
If ISIS loses Sinjar, it will be more difficult for it to resupply the city of Mosul, the largest it holds.
- ISIS Oil Exports Worth $500 Million a Year ‘Conducted through Turkey’ (RT.com)
ISIS makes about $40 million a month on oil sales, raking in close to $500 million a year, a US Treasury Department spokesperson told the news agency earlier this week.
According to the official, someone on the Turkish side of the border has been making enough money out of it.
“There are too many vested interests involved for it to stop. They greased the right people.
The richest oil fields Islamic State can access are south of Irbil in Iraq, and the most likely direction for the extremists to move oil is westwards through Kurdish territory .IS’ illegal oil trade actually followed the same pattern Saddam Hussein used to defy international economic sanctions. Most of the oil secretly exported from Iraq was moved west through Kurdish territory back then. “[Selling and transporting oil] through Turkey was the way Saddam Hussein for years beat the sanctions regime imposed on him.” The official added that the US should team up with Russia to cut Islamic State’s oil revenue flow.
Two Syrian activists who used video and social media to expose human rights abuses committed by the Islamic State were tracked down by jihadists and killed in their home in a southern Turkish city.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, released a graphic video claiming responsibility for their deaths on Sunday. The clip showed the body of one of the activists, his throat slit, along with a warning to the group’s opponents.
Egypt’s president says ISIS jet claim is ‘propaganda’
Egypt’s president has dismissed claims that a Russian passenger jet was downed by a branch of ISIS as propaganda, after the airline said the crash which killed all 224 people on board was due to “external” factors.
Analysis of the “black boxes”, which could solve the mystery of what happened to the doomed jet, is expected to begin on Tuesday according to Egyptian officials. Russia’s government commission overseeing the crash probe is also due to meet.
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s remarks came as a top U.S. intelligence official said it was “unlikely” ISIS was involved in the crash of the Kogalymavia Airbus A-321 over the Sinai peninsula on Saturday.
“When there is propaganda that it crashed because of ISIS, this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt,”
“Believe me, the situation in Sinai — especially in this limited area — is under our full control” ,Sisi told the BBC.
Libya: Islamic State has formed hubs of activity in the pockets of instability that have been created because of weak state control over territories.
Libya is caught up in a conflict between two rival governments and their armed factions, leaving a security vacuum that has allowed ISIS militants to gain ground. They have secured a base in Sirte. Islamic State’s branch in Libya formed toward the end of 2014 and in a relatively short period of time has been able to have a large impact on the country and its regional and international circles.
The terrorist group entrenched itself in Sirte, which is located in the middle of the coastal Mediterranean strip in northern Libya. This strip is where most of the population lives and is one of the major routes migrants are using to illegally cross in Europe.
By controlling Sirte and its environs, Islamic State is able to recruit from the migrants and even reportedly use them as cover to get sleeper cells into Europe.
A big victory over Islamic State in Beiji here provided fresh ammunition for the many Iraqi Shiites who prefer Iran as a battlefield partner over the U.S., despite indications that Washington could soon intensify its battle against the extremist militants.
Shiite militias and politicians backed by Iran have claimed much of the credit for the Iraqi recapture a little over a week ago of the city and oil refinery of Beiji, about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Militia fighters danced and posed for pictures on tanks and armored cars near the bombed-out shell of the massive refinery there, Iraq’s largest.
UK jihadists reaching Syria via Cyprus?
British jihadists lured into joining ISIS extremists in Syria are being smuggled in through Cyprus, according to British newspaper ‘The Mirror’However, Kalyoncu, the Turkish Cypriot ‘breakaway prime minister’ has said that reports claiming the occupied port of Trikomo, north of Famagusta, is being used as transit point for people who wanted to join the rankings of the ISIS terrorist organisation in Syria are untrue.
Speaking on BRT Television, Kalyoncu said that he spoke with the police general directorate and the “security forces commandership” and that although there are rumours there is no evidence supporting this claim.
A report published in the daily 10 days ago, tells how young Britons lured into the ranks of the Islamic State start their journey on budget flights to Cyprus, making their way into the Turkish-occupied north, where for £1,000 they find fishermen “who are willing to take them across the Mediterranean and drop them on the Syrian coastline under cover of darkness.”
It is very difficult to know exactly how many Britons have ended up in Syria through Cyprus although sources from ‘The Mirror’ estimate around a few dozen.
According to the paper, would-be jihadists first make contact with a man in the Turkish occupied north, known as “the ISIS travel agent” who arranges hotel accommodation, taxi services and their onward travel by sea to Syria.
“Posing as tourists,” the daily continues, “the extremists book flights on carriers such as EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways” to Larnaca or Paphos. The ‘ISIS travel agent’ – in Turkish-held Famagusta – then arranges transport to bring them across in what is described as a quick and simple process.
Kuwait court sentences 5 to prison for ISIS funding
A Kuwaiti court sentenced five people to 10-year prison terms Monday on charges of collecting money for ISIS, the court said, the first verdict of its kind in the conservative Gulf monarchy.
Two others arrested with them in late May were acquitted. All were accused of forming an illegal cell and financing a terrorist organisation. The defendants admitting transferring $400,000 to ISIS, senior Kuwaiti sources said.
The United States and other Western countries have criticized Kuwait for what they have described as a permissive approach to militant financing. Open fund-raising events have been held in Kuwait for jihadist causes in Syria and Iraq.
ISIS Takes Responsiblity for Suicide Bombing at Mosque in Saudi Arabia
A suicide bombing at a mosque in Najran, Saudi Arabia, on Monday left 19 people injured, according to Al Arabiya.
The Islamic State took responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a jihadist watchdog. In May, the Islamic State took responsiblity for a suicide bombing at a mosque in Dammam, a city in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia.
Canada stops airstrikes in Syria
According to Canadian media, Prime-minister-designate Justin Trudeau has promised to end the bombing campaign against ISIS and instead focus on training local troops, something that Canada has done in past conflicts. The timeline for the pullout is unclear, however, and for now, Canadian planes are continuing with the combat mission.
A recent conversation between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama did not delve into the specifics of military strategy and tactics against ISIS, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Both governments have made it clear they will not support the Assad regime.
Al-Qaeda dispute with Isis devolves to name-calling
According to CNN, in a new 26-minute-long video statement, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said the Islamic caliphate declared by Isis was illegitimate, dismissively referring to that militant organization as “Baghdadi’s’ group,” a reference to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The new statement appears intended to rebuke Isis (also known as the Islamic State and IS) for a recent speech by its spokesman Abu Muhammad al’Adnani, who had warned that Sunni Muslims who fought against the Islamic State needed to pledge allegiance to the group or face death. In their statement, AQAP and AQIM accused Isis of “deviation and misguidance” for aiming their fight against fellow Muslims when they should be fighting Jews and Christians.
Current situation in November 2015 in Syria & Iraq. In Grey the ISIS territory, In Yellow the Kurdish controlled areas, in Pink is under respective government controls, in White is controlled by Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda), in Green is controlled by the Syrian Opposition.
Links, Sources and Studies:
- U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
- TASS -Russian News Agency
- The Other Foreign Fighters: An Open-Source Investigation into American Volunteers Fighting the Islamic State
- IRAQ SITUATION REPORT: OCTOBER 27 – NOVEMBER 2, 2015