Tag: Syria

Syria: Assad, Not ISIS or AQ, Is the Problem

Charles Lister's article today on our epic misreading of the problem in Syria is getting tons of praise from analysts on Twitter. Shorter version: The U.S. is walking into an abyss on Syria. Some quotes:

[T]he US and its European partners remain dangerously disconnected from Syria's realities. The threat posed by IS has become a convenient obsession, while the more complex dynamics in the rest of the country appear all but ignored and misunderstood.

... IS remains a potent force in Syria and must be countered, but it will not be marching on Damascus anytime soon, contrary to some uninformed fear mongering. Al-Qaeda also poses a pressing and more long-term threat, perhaps more so than has been acknowledged. But at the end of the day, the root cause of the entire Syrian crisis is Assad and his regime.

Our efforts in Syria to date: "To label the mission a catastrophic failure would be a generous assessment." [More...]

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U.S. Trained Rebel Defector Gave Equipment to al Nusra

First, the U.S. admitted equipment it provided to the Syrian Rebels it was training ended up with al Nusra, the Al Qaida affiliated group. But it denied knowing or training the person who gave it to them.

The Daily Beast says Centcom then admitted a little more:

The Pentagon, responding to reports in The Daily Beast that a specific U.S.-trained commander had defected along with most of his unit to a group affiliated with al Qaeda, will now concede that an unnamed commander who actually had been rejected by the U.S. as a possible trainee for the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State had somehow acquired access to U.S. equipment that he then handed over to al Qaeda affiliates.

But it gets worse. [More...]

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French Airstrikes Against Islamic State in Syria

France has announced its first independent airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. The airstrikes hit an ISIS training camp in Deir Ezzor. French analysts are not impressed.

[A]nalysts say that by sending fighter jets to Syria, France is mainly seeking to ease domestic political pressure, and remain relevant abroad in the latest scramble for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

"To say that we will prevent terrorist attacks in France thanks to air strikes in Syria is, and I am weighing my words, absolute bullsh*t," said Eric Denece, the director of the French intelligence think-tank CF2R.

Deir Ezzor is one of the places where ISIS established camps for children. No word yet on fatalities.

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The West "Just Doesn't Get" ISIS

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of news site Rai al-Youm and the author of several books on Islamic extremism including this new book on ISIS, has a column today about how the West still doesn't comprehend ISIS.

He says The West and the invasion of Iraq are responsible for the creation and expansion of ISIS. ISIS is a bigger threat than al Qaida ever was, but we cannot defeat ISIS militarily.


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Islamic State One Year Later: Lasting and Expanding

The Islamic State is one year old today. Its long term goal remains the creation of a "lasting and expanding" Caliphate.


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ISIS Child Recruits Train in Raqqa

ISIS yesterday released a new video of kids in Raqqa training to be fighters and snipers. In it, they talk about the Crusaders, defeating opposing forces and threaten to kill President Obama. The physical training is almost the same as in the adult training videos.

What's unusual is that some of these kids these do not appear to be children of ISIS sympathizers, but Syrian kids who were traumatized by the Bashar regime. [More...]

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USAF Finds ISIS Headquarters Via Social Media and Bombs It

Just another reason not to restrict ISIS accounts on Twitter - a careless ISIS member posted a picture of himself standing outside an IS headquarters on an open forum. The U.S. was able to identify it and bombed it.

Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, described Monday how airmen at Hurlburt Field, Florida, with the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, recognized a comment on social media and turned that into an airstrike that resulted in three Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) missiles destroying am Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) headquarters building. “It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” Carlisle said. #8220; Incredible work when you think about.”


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Obama Interview on ISIS, Iraq and Syria

The Atlantic has a new interview with President Obama on ISIS, Iraq and Syria. He doesn't think "we're losing." He calls Ramadi a "tactical setback."

ISIS continues its attacks today. It is also taking credit for a suicide bomb attack at a Shi'a mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday it released Dabiq Issue 9. (John Cantlie provides the last article, the first sign in a while he's still alive.) You can read it here.

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Another Name Floated for Abu Sayyaf

CNN quotes an anonymous U.S. official who tells them the real name of Abu Sayyaf is Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi. Every media outlet seems to be running with the story.

ABC News has been reporting for a while that U.S. officials believe Abu Sayyaf and his wife have information on deceased hostage Kayla Mueller. (I already wrote about all this here.) A congressman today confirmed this is being investigated.

CBS says the raid was months in the planning.

I'm not buying this new identity. It's another name that has not appeared anywhere as far as I can tell.[More...]

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Loss of Ramadi

The New York Times, among many others, say the loss of Ramadi is ISIS' biggest victory of the year. Once again, the Iraqi army fled.

The fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State, despite intensified American airstrikes in recent weeks in a bid to save the city, represented the biggest victory so far this year for the extremist group, which has declared a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast areas of Syria and Iraq that it controls. The fall of Ramadi also laid bare the failed strategy of the Iraqi government, which had announced last month a new offensive to retake Anbar Province, a vast desert region in the west of which Ramadi is the capital.

“The city has fallen,” said Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for Anbar’s governor. Iraq's response today is to vote to send in the Iranian backed Shi'a militia.

ISIS also gained a huge cache of weapons the fleeing Army left behind, that had been sent by the U.S. and Russia to Baghdad. [More...]

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Doubt Cast On Role of Killed ISIS Money Man

Update: Door Number Three: Abu Sayyaf, aka Mohammed Shalabi, is said to be a Jordanian Salafist leader . More here.

Update: The Syrians say it launched a raid at the same place -- the al Omar oil fields in Deir Ezzor -- and killed ISIS' oil minister. The Syrians say he is a Saudi (not Tunisian as the U.S. claims) named Abu al-Taym al-Saudi,.

So both the Syrians and the U.S. launched independent raids at the same time and place and both killed an IS financial leader? This is not making sense.

The U.S. says it didn't coordinate with Syria. And no one has heard of "Abu Sayyaf", the name the U.S. originally provided.

The name Abu Sayyaf has rarely been mentioned in Western reports about the extremist group and he is not known to be among terrorists for whom the U.S. has offered a bounty. The name was not known to counterterrorism officials who study IS and does not appear in reports compiled by think tanks and others examining the group's hierarchy.

Now there are reports he is also known as "Abu Muhammad al Iraqi" and "Abd al Ghani."[More...]

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ISIS Leader Al Baghdadi's New Message

ISIS released a new audio message by leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi today. You can read the English version here (MS Word Document) or here. It's called "March Forth Whether Light or Heavy."

It strikes me as a pep talk and foreign recruitment effort. There's remarkably little about the West. It's mostly a shout-out to fighters in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Khorasan, Indonesia, the Caucasus and Africa and a call for them to join the war. [More...]

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ISIS Attacks Baiji Oil Refinery, Anbar and Hasaka

As the U.S. continues its air strikes, ISIS attacked the the Baiji oil refinery last night. It is Iraq's largest refinery. Control has gone back and forth between ISIS and the Iraqi forces several times over the past 9 months.

Iraq said today ISIS attacked the refinery on three sides but only reached the perimeter and launched a suicide attack. The ISIS photos and videos show they made it further. But more interesting, is this photo of an ISIS "command center" used during the attacks, where the action is displayed on multiple computer screens as the commanders sitting at them instruct the fighters by what looks like radio phones: [More...]

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The So-Called "ISIS Hacking Division"

Many media outlets, including the New York Times reported Saturday that ISIS has released the names and addresses of 100 service members on a website and urged followers to find and kill them. It's far from certain this release has any official connection to ISIS. Instead of "ISIS Urges Sympathizers to Kill U.S. Service Members It Identifies on Website", the headline should be "Group Supporting ISIS Urges Killing of U.S. Service Members Named in Internet Posting."

The release was announced Friday night on Twitter and uploaded to PasteBin, the site used by many groups to post messages. [More...]

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Captured Syrian Pilot Given to al Nusra

The Syrian pilot captured by militants after their helicopter crash-landed in Idlib today has been turned over to Jabhat al Nusra, the Syrian arm of al Qaida. In a rant on video, preacher and Nusra ally Sheikh Abdullah al-Mhaisni stands over the pilot with a gun. [More...]

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