syrian civil war art

War update in Syria and Iraq as of the 16th of August, 2016

  • Syria

Syrian_civil_war August 2016
Source: Wikimedia
  • Probably we’ll see a joint operation in Aleppo between Russia and the United States.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow and Washington, which back opposite sides in the civil war,Assad and the so-called “moderate opposition” respectively are edging closer to an agreement to defuse the fighting in the contested city.

The airstrikes by the United States so far have been limited to al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups, while Russia has targeted with airstrikes a larger number of opposition groups backed by regional countries. (Al-Monitor)

“Step by step, we are nearing an arrangement, I’m talking exclusively about Aleppo, that would allow us to find common ground and start fighting together for bringing peace to that territory,” he said in remarks carried by Rossiya 24 television.

Russian forces  has been launching airstrikes in support of President Bashar Assad’s forces for nearly a year, and Syrian and Russian warplanes have stepped up their raids in recent days in Aleppo and the rebel-held Idlib province nearby.

The Islamic State group meanwhile claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that struck a bus transporting rebels through a border crossing between Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province and Turkey late Sunday, killing more than 30 fighters (ABCNews)

  • Turkey expects Syrian Kurdish forces to withdraw after Manbij operation as they are afraid of an autonomous Kurdistan near their borders

Turkey expects Syrian Kurdish fighters to withdraw east of the Euphrates river after they and other U.S.-backed forces seized control of the Syrian town of Manbij from Islamic State last week, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.

The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, said on Friday they had seized full control of Manbij near the Turkish border in a significant strategic blow to ISIS. According to Reuters, the operation, in which U.S. special forces played a significant role, marks the most ambitious advance by a group allied to Washington in Syria since the United States launched its military campaign against Islamic State two years ago.

U.S. officials have said that completion of the Manbij operation would create the conditions to move on the militant group’s de facto capital of RaqqaAdnan Abu Abu Amjad, commander of the SDF-led Manbij Military Council announced that at least 4,180 ISIS militants were killed, and 1,724 bodies were confiscated by the SDF forces in the campaign to take Manbij from ISIS. (ARA News)

Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia as a hostile force, an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group that has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s southeast.

  • Russia Conducts Naval Exercises in Mediterranean Near Syria
Russia's military says it has started exercises in the eastern Mediterranean near Syria to test the navy's ability to respond to "crisis situations of a terrorist nature."

Since intervening in Syria’s civil war in September, Russia has kept warships off Syria’s coast, reviving a Soviet-era practice when Soviet warships maintained a permanent vigil in the Mediterranean. Russia’s naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus is now the only such facility outside the ex-Soviet Union.

  • Turkey, Russia and Iran might reach a regional consensus for Syria

On Aug. 14, Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, arrived in Tehran to discuss the region and Syria with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, and Zarif.

After the meeting, Ansari spoke to the Iranian media about Syria. He said that as a result of Zarif’s trip to Turkey, Iran and Turkey reached “a general agreement” on fundamental principles on protecting the territorial integrity of Syria and the formation of a pervasive and national government. Ansari said that while these are general agreements, they can be “the beginning steps of resolving the Syria crisis.”

In response to a reporter’s question on whether or not Russia, Iran and Turkey are forming a new axis in Syria, Ansari said that such a grouping would inflame the sensitivities of the various actors involved in the country. Rather, he said, Iran is pursuing a consensus of the influential countries involved. He said that Iran is not after a closed coalition, but would prefer a “type of understanding of shared principles with other regional and international players.”

  • Russia deploys bombers to Iranian air base for Syria strikes: State’s TV

Russia has deployed Tupolev-22 bombers to an air base in the Iranian city of Hamadan where they will carry out air strikes against militants in Syria, Russia’s state-backed Rossiya 24 channel reported on Tuesday.

The channel, citing Iranian and Arab media, said it was unclear how many Russian bombers had arrived at the base. It broadcast uncapationed images of at least three bombers and a Russian military transport plane, though it was unclear where and when the footage had been shot.

The joint Syrian-Russian military operation has been using incendiary weapons, which burn their victims and start fires, in civilian areas of Syria in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said today. Incendiary weapons have been used at least 18 times over the past six weeks, including in attacks on the opposition-held areas in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib on August 7, 2016.

“The Syrian government and Russia should immediately stop attacking civilian areas with incendiary weapons,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These weapons inflict horrible injuries and excruciating pain, so all countries should condemn their use in civilian areas.”

A Human Rights Watch review of photographs and videos recorded at the time of attack and of the remnants afterward indicates there were at least 18 incendiary weapon attacks on opposition-held areas in Aleppo and Idlib governorates between June 5 and August 10. At least 12 civilians were reported wounded by witnesses and first responders in five of these attacks.

Russia is a party to the incendiary weapons protocol and has acknowledged the “significant humanitarian damage” caused by incendiary weapons in Syria, which it attributed to “improper use,” in a November 2015 letter to Human Rights Watch.

Militants from the FSA-affiliated Shabab al-Sunnah Brigade (Sunni Youth Brigade) in Bosra town have been labeled the culprits of this heinous act, according to local activists.

The group’s notorious leader, Ahmed al-Awdeh  has been accused of kidnapping, blackmailing and stealing artifacts.

According to Redditors leadittror and Chester_T_Molester, the men of the Shabab al-Sunnah Brigade are torturing another militant from a rival militant group called Aahrar Horan. They are filming the torture to taunt Aahrar Hauran to intervene.

The tortured man yells, “I am not regime!” suggesting that since they are both fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad that the militant groups would be on both sides.

Read: Syrian Opposition Guide

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven strikes in Syria as of August 15th:

— Near Albu Kamal, a strike destroyed an ISIL oil wellhead and ISIL-used oil equipment.

— Near Ayn Isa, two strikes struck an ISIL staging area and an ISIL weapons storage facility.

— Near Mara, two strikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and damaged four separate ISIL fighting positions.

— Near Tal Abyad, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL vehicles.

Iraq

Iraq_war_map August 2016
Source: Wikimedia

For the past two years, Kurdish peshmerga, Iraqi army forces, and Shiite militias and some Sunni ones have largely overlooked long-standing differences to confront the menace facing them. Even though, their feuds and grievances — over vital issues such as the distribution of power, land, money and oil — have not been resolved.

According to Reuters, Kurdish Peshmerga forces on Monday said they had secured a river crossing point enabling them to open a new front against Islamic State and further tighten their grip on the militants’ capital Mosul. The Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish self-rule region are gradually taking up positions around Mosul, 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital Baghdad.

More than 3.4 million people have already been forced by conflict to leave their homes across Iraq, taking refuge in areas under control of the government or in the Kurdish region. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army is trying to close in from the south. In July it captured the Qayyara airfield, 60 km (35 miles) south of Mosul, which is to serve as the main staging post for the anticipated offensive.

As operations to retake the militant-held city of Mosul, Iraqi Christians displaced from the area by the Islamic State group say that even if the militants are defeated militarily, the country will not be safe for minorities, including the once-prominent Christian presence in the region.Bomb blasts around Baghdad, however, is very common during the last months.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers will participate in the campaign to free the Iraqi city of Mosul, controlled by the Islamic State since June 2014, the ministry of the Peshmerga reported.

Coalition nations of Operation Inherent Resolve,  that have conducted strikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations that have conducted strikes in Syria include the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

In a new video purportedly released by the Islamic State, ISIS militants in “Wilayat Diyala,” Iraq are shown conducting nighttime raids and executions on Iraqi soldiers. Later, an Iraqi soldier is executed. The video is titled “The Land of Epic Battles – 2” and is a sequel to “The Land of Epic Battles – 1,” which was released on October 11, 2015.

The new video was released on August 14 on ISIS terrorist channels. It comes from “Wilayat Diyala,” sometimes spelled Dayala, which, according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, “is located to the east and northeast of Baghdad, as well as the western Iranian border.” Vulnerable cities in the ISIS-occupied region include: “Ba’qubah, Al-Muqdadiyyah, Hibhib, Al-Khalis, Al-Wajihiyyah, Dilli ‘Abbas, Al-Sa’adiyyah, Jalawla’, Khanaqin, Ashraf City, [and] Buhriz.”

  • ISIS targets fleeing Iraqi families with explosives

Reports by local Iraqi media on Monday said deadly ISIS explosives have targeted civilians in two separate incidents in two areas held by the militant group.

Two civilians were killed and 25 others were wounded after ISIS targeted families with a blast as they attempted to flee the northwest Al-Huwaijeh district in the northern province of Kirkuk, sources told Al-Sumaria News, the Arabic language website for an independent Iraqi TV network.

There are no further details about this deadly incident.Al-Huwaijeh, Al-Rashad, Al-Zab, Al-Riyadh and Al-Abbasi districts in Kirkuk are all under ISIS control since June 2014.

  • Isis ‘decimated’ in Iraq and Syria and could have only 15,000 fighters left, US commander says

The number of Isis combatants in Iraq and Syria has been decimated by military campaigns, leaving as few as 15,000 to fight, according to a senior US commander.

Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland said the total was difficult to accurately measure, but the estimated number of Isis fighters in the war-stricken countries was between 15,000 and 20,000. Mr MacFarland claimed 45,000 enemy fighters are no longer on the front line after US backed operations (The Independent).

Photo Source Credit: Deviant Art

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