Daesh Launches Offensive on Kurds in Aleppo After Alleged Coalition Airstrike

 

 A Syrian Kurdish militia member of YPG patrols near a Turkish army tank as Turks work to build a new Ottoman tomb in the background in Esme village in Aleppo province, Syria, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015

   Daesh terrorists have launched an offensive on Kurds’ positions to the North of Aleppo following alleged airstrikes by US-led coalition aircraft, Kurdish militia told Sputnik.

   “Daesh terrorists started attacks on the positions of Kurdish fighters in Hassajek after US-led coalition airstrikes. The attacks were repelled, but fighting to the south of the village continues,” a source in the Kurdish militia said.

   According to the representative of the Kurdish militia in Hassajek, the Free Syrian Army units attack the village from the north.

     “Turkish artillery covered the Free Syrian Army’s offensive on Hassajek from the north. At least 30 artillery volleys were conducted on Hassajek and nearby suburbs,” the source told Sputnik.

   The Russian center for Syrian reconciliation said Tuesday it had received local reports of an airstrike on Hassajek that killed six people and wounded at least four. According to its bulletin, Russian or Syrian aircraft did not operate in the area at the time of the strike while air traffic control systems detected two F-16 fighter jets of the Air Force of the Kingdom of Belgium at the time of the strike.

   On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the US-led counterterrorist coalition to condemn the deadly airstrike in Syria by one of its allies.

This is Why the Turkish Operation in Raqqa Will Serve Russian Interests

 

 Turkish armoured personnel carriers drive towards the border in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016

   If Turkey take part in an operation to liberate Raqqa it will play in the hands of Russia because Moscow’s primary goal in Syria is destroying the self-proclaimed Daesh caliphate, experts said.

Turkey is ready to join the United States to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed Daesh caliphate.

“Raqqa is an important center for Daesh… [US President Barack] Obama particularly wants to do something together about Raqqa. We have told him that this is not a problem for us… What can be done there will become more concrete after talks,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists Wednesday.

   He added that Turkey must show that it was present in the region and had no option of taking a step back on Syria and countering terrorism.

   Raqqa has been under control of terrorists since 2013. The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Army have made attempts to liberate the city but failed. However, the balance of power changed after Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria on August 24.

   Turkey’s involvement in Syria could be a turning point in the crisis as Ankara is becoming the key player for a ground operation against Daesh.

   It is reasonable to assume that in exchange for military support to liberate Raqqa Erdogan may demand from Washington a blank check to resolve the Kurdish problem. Preventing Kurdish autonomy is crucial for Ankara,” an article on the Russian analytical website Svobodnaya Pressa read.

   At the same time, for Washington, siding with Turkey would mean correcting its policy in Syria. The US has relied on Kurdish forces in Syria but now Turkey could become Washington’s main ally in Syria.

   As for Russia’s reaction to such a scenario, Moscow is unlikely to criticize Turkey because Ankara’s engagement in Syria could also serve Russia’s interests, experts say.

“Turkey normalized ties with Russia. And it seems like Moscow unofficially authorized Turkey’s participation in a local military campaign at the Syrian border,” Stanislav Tarasov, head of the Middle East-Caucasus think-tank, told Svobodnaya Pressa.

On the one hand, Turkish involvement in Syria can facilitate a solution against Daesh problem. On the other hand, it complicates the diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis, the analyst pointed out.

According to Tarasov, the operation has created problems for dialogue between Ankara, Washington and Moscow.

   “Turkey is part of a US-led international coalition. Erdogan may join forces with the US to liberate Raqqa. At the same time, Ankara and Washington understand that Russia has its interests too,” he said.

   The analyst also suggested that the Turkish operation in Syria will not deal a blow to Moscow’s and Washington’s positions in the region but poses the risk of dragging Turkey into a serious military conflict.

   “Turkey will not upset Russia’s plans if Turkish forces liberate Raqqa. Russia’s main goal in Syria is defeating Daesh terrorists. And the liberation of Raqqa would play into the hands of Moscow,” Mikhail Alexandrov, a military and political expert at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, pointed out.

   Moreover, Ankara restored ties with Moscow which means that Turkish control over Raqqa is a much better scenario than if Raqqa was liberated by the US, he added.

“Moscow would agree to this scenario. I can’t rule out that Erdogan and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin discussed it during their meeting in China,” he concluded.

Iraqi Military Kills 700 Daesh Militants During Liberation of Area Near Ramadi

Iraqi soldiers

 

The Iraqi troops have killed 700 Daesh terrorists during the operation to liberate Khalidiya Island in the Anbar province.

 The Iraqi forces have killed 700 Daesh militants since the beginning of an anti-terrorist offensive on Khalidiya Island located 14 miles east of Ramadi in the western Anbar province, the commander of Anbar Operations said.

“Security forces so far has killed 700 ISIS [Daesh] members since the beginning of Khalidiya Island liberation battles. Khalidiya Island has been liberated two weeks ago,” Maj. Gen. Ismail Mahalawi said, as quoted by the Iraqi News outlet.

The final anti-terrorist offensive on Khalidiya Island started in late July. In early August, Iraqi media reported that Khalidiya Island had been fully liberated from terrorists.The city of Ramadi was occupied by Daesh militants in May 2014. The government forces succeeded in retaking the city after weeks of fierce fighting from December 2015 to February 2016.

Daesh is a terrorist group mainly operating in Syria and Iraq. The jihadists have also claimed responsibility for attacks in Europe. The group is outlawed in many countries around the world, including Russia and the United States.

US, Allies Likely to See Return of Daesh Fighters Allowed to Flee Manbij

An Islamic State (IS) group flag is seen on a road in the jihadist's group bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria (File)

 

The United States and its allies in Syria are likely going to face the hundreds of Daesh fighters freed during the recapture of Manbij on a different battlefield in the future, US State Senator from Virginia and former Marine pilot Richard Black told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON , Leandra Bernstein — On Tuesday, US Defense Department spokesman Col. Chris Garver confirmed that an Daesh convoy of several hundred fighters was allowed to flee the city of Manbij after US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured the city.

The Defense Department reported that the decision to give the disarmed Daesh convoy safe passage was made by the SDF because of the large number of civilians intermixed in the convoy. The convoy was reported to be heading further west into Daesh-controlled territory.

“From a military standpoint, as someone who has dropped well over a thousand bombs myself, I would have taken it out. I would have destroyed the [Daesh] convoy and avoided having to fight them in another place at another time,” Black said in an interview on Wednesday.

Black, who earned a Purple Heart serving as a pilot in the Vietnam War, stated he was “uneasy” about “letting your enemy out the back door so they can go fight another day.”

The battle to retake Manbij, a critical Daesh transportation and smuggling hub, began three months ago. Black anticipated that in the next six months or so, the United States and its Syrian allies will refocus on another Daesh transportation hub, al-Bab, to the west of Manbij.

“So the people who escaped, we will fight once again in al-Bab,” Black said.

Manbij had served as a critical hub where the Daesh was able to smuggle fighters and supplies into its territory, and direct foreign fighters out of Syria across the nearby Turkish border.

Richard Black is the elected representative for Loudoun County, Virginia and personally met with Syrian President Bashar Assad during an April visit to the country.

Six Russian Tu-22M3 Bombers Attack Daesh Positions Near Raqqa

Tu-22M3 bomber

 

On Thursday, six Tu-22M3 long-range bombers which took off in Russia attacked Daesh in areas south-east, north and north-east of the city of Raqqa in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“On August 11, six Tu-22M3 long-range bombers which took off in Russia carried out a concentrated high-explosive ammunition attack on targets of the Daesh terrorist group in areas south-east, north and north-east of the city of Raqqa,” the statement said.

The aircraft destroyed ammo and oil depots, a chemical weapons factory and a major training filed dealing a heavy blow to the terrorists’ facilities and manpower.

Su-30SM and Su-35S jets were covering the bombers. After accomplishing the combat task all Russian planes returned safely to their airfields.”

Russia has been conducting a counterterrorist campaign in Syria since September 30, 2015, at President Bashar Assad’s request. On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to withdraw the bulk of the Russian military contingent from Syria.

‘Terrorists Stand No Chance Against Assad’ as Turkey Sides With Russia on Syria

Rebel fighters from the First Battalion under the Free Syrian Army take part in a military training on June 10, 2015, in the rebel-held countryside of the northern city of Aleppo

 

Ankara has long supported radical groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad, but following a failed attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey’s upper echelons of power have had a change of heart, siding with Russia when it comes to the Syrian conflict, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.

The online newspaper pointed to the fact that Turkish authorities closed the country’s only official border crossing with the rebel-held province of Idlib, Bab al-Hawa, after the botched coup as evidence of a foreign policy U-turn.The media outlet further noted that this decision could be interpreted as Ankara having closed its border with the neighboring war-torn country, something that the international community has long called for.

Radical groups, including Daesh, al-Nusra Front and the like have used Turkey’s porous border with Syria to smuggle fighters, weapons and supplies in and out of the battlefield. But it appears to have become increasingly hard to do so.

“Mercenaries, who until recently received support [from the outside], hardly stand a chance against President Bashar al-Assad,” the media outlet noted.

Earlier this month, Turkey signaled that it wanted to improve its relations with Syria.

“It is our greatest and irrevocable goal: Developing good relations with Syria and Iraq, and all our neighbors that surround the Mediterranean and the Black Sea,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on July 13. “We normalized relations with Russia and Israel. I’m sure we will normalize relations with Syria as well.”These comments and other remarks made by Turkish officials came as a sharp contrast to Ankara’s previous stance on the embattled Arab country. In the months following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Erdogan and his supporters provided assistance to groups trying to overthrow al-Assad, once an ally of the Turkish president.

Syrian government forces secure a street as civilians come back to the neighbourhood of Bani Zeid, on Aleppo's northern outskirts on July 29, 2016
© AFP 2016/ GEORGE OURFALIAN
Syrian government forces secure a street as civilians come back to the neighbourhood of Bani Zeid, on Aleppo’s northern outskirts on July 29, 2016

Turkey’s new strategy in Syria has “greatly contributed” to Moscow and Damascus’ efforts to push the militants from Aleppo, one the most populous city in the country, DWN asserted.

In the last 24 hours, Daesh and al-Nusra Front fighters shelled several areas in Aleppo, including the Kostello trade center, as well as the neighborhoods of al-Zahraa, al-Khalidiyah, Leramon and Sheikh Maqsood, the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic reported on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 169 civilians and 69 rebel fighters who agreed to lay down their weapons have left Aleppo through four safe corridors opened by the Syrian Arab Army as part of a major humanitarian operation launched by Moscow and Damascus.

“We are feeling good now because we are under the protection of the army, may God protect them. We suffered a lot in order to be able to come here,” the Associated Press quoted a Syrian woman as telling state TV.

Syrian Army Wrests Control Over Strategic Heights in Al-Badiyah (VIDEO)

Syrian Army. File photo

 

The Syrian Army and its allied national defense forces have managed to flush Daesh militants out of a number of strategic hills outside the village of Tell al-Tut from where the terrorists controlled all other villages near the desert of al-Badiyah.

The Syrian armed forces are now poised to continue their advance to liberate more populated areas in the Syrian desert, the main stretches of which a strategic oil pipeline runs through.Backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces, the Syrian Army has made significant advances towards the Daesh-held city of Raqqa, killing scores of terrorists.

Meanwhile, in northern Syria, government forces have cut off all supply routes into the eastern, rebel-held part of Aleppo, which has been under siege since July 11.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad recently tightened their control of the only route into the strategic city.

Syrian Army Regains Control of Strategic Pipeline From Daesh

Syrian army

 

The Syrian Army has taken control of strategic points along the line of an oil pipeline in al-Badia.

The Syrian Army troops and units of the National Defense have jointly continued to move eastward into the desert area of al-Salamiyah, taking control of strategic points along the oil pipeline, which was under the control of Daesh terrorists.In recent days, in the east of the city, fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and Daesh was ongoing.

The battle raged for the opening of the front to the east of al-Salamiyah, after government forces drove the Daesh militants from Palmyra and al-Sukhnah.

Syrian army
© Sputnik/ Khaled Al-Khateb
Syrian army

The government forces headed to the villages of Uqayribat, where Daesh forces were present at large.

A local source told Sputnik Arabic, that the Syrian Army and its allies were able to defeat Daesh militants around al-Salamiyah, which caused the terrorists to leave the villages of Tal At-Tut, al-Mufakker, Aqarib and al-Ayna.

The source also confirmed that Daesh sent suicide bombers from the eastern part of the district, near al-Badia, but the Syrian Army prevented these terrorist attempts, managing to neutralize four cars in front of the road leading to the strategic points of the pipeline through the villages of al-Mufakker and Akareb, where militants tried to regain strength and reorganized themselves after losing the battle for Palmyra.

Syrian army
© Sputnik/ Khaled Al-Khateb
Syrian army

It is believed that the triangle, including the western part of al-Raqqah province and the eastern part of al- Salamiyah, along with having access to the administrative border of al-Tabqah, is the  sector with the most dangerous fighting right now.

Syrian army
© Sputnik/ Khaled Al-Khateb
Syrian army

That is due to unfolding fighting between Syrian troops and Daesh for liberation of strategic points along the oil pipeline to make their way into the city of Tabqah, where there is still a large force of militants.

US-Backed Forces in ‘Fight Like We Haven’t Seen’ Against Daesh in Manbij

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (File)

 

The Daesh terrorists ignored an 48-hour ultimatum to leave the city of Manbij, a key pipeline for the terrorist organization with the rest of the world and what some are now calling the jihadists headquarters.

Daesh terrorists clashed on Saturday with US-backed fighters in the Syrian town of Manbij, a town that US Defense Secretary Ash Carter described as the terror organization’s pipeline to the rest of the world, engaging in a fierce defense of the jihadist stronghold and ignoring a deadline to evacuate.The jihadists refusal to abandon Manbij has led to growing fears for the safety and wellbeing of civilians trapped in the city which has long served as a supply route for Daesh from neighboring Turkey and a territory that some US military analysts are now referring the terror organization’s “caliphate” or land controlled by the self-proclaimed prophet and Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as opposed to Raqqa.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), composed of joint-efforts by the Syrian Kurdish YPG and certain factions of the so-called Free Syrian Army, penetrated the town one month ago, but have been unable to seize the territory and remain locked in a blood-stained struggle against the terrorists.

The Manbij Military Council, a key SDF member, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Daesh calling on the Jihadists to evacuate if they want to save their lives.

“The 48-hour period is over, and there will be no more opportunities like this one for Daesh,” a commander from the council told AFP on condition of anonymity. Daesh has “not responded” to the SDF’s offer and instead continued to “attack our positions” said the commander.

The ultimatum comes in the wake of a tragic US-led airstrike that killed at least 56 civilians, including children, near Manbij on Tuesday. The strike that led to scores of dead civilians was followed up on Wednesday by a separate French airstrike that left at least 120 dead in the village of Toukhan Al-Kubra.

Daesh terrorists may believe that NATO forces struggling to deal with the fallout of the tragically failed airstrikes and with limited capacity in the wake of the attempted coup in Turkey that the SDF is not in a position to back up its warnings to leave or die.

The Syrian government condemned the United States and France for the attacks issuing a formal complaint to the United Nations and calling on NATO to cease and desist its airstrikes which Damascus believes are illegal because the Assad government has not called on the US for support.

Although thousands of civilians have already fled Manbij, which is in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, it is believed that there are hundreds if not thousands of civilians who may be in the line of fire if the Syrian Democratic Forces choose to try to repel Daesh by overwhelming force.

“It’s a fight like we haven’t seen before,” said Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Chris Garver. The Colonel explained that battle has intensified as SDF units move deeper into the town “which is sort of different than what we saw in Ramadi and what we saw in Fallajuh.”

The spokesman confirmed concern of civilian casualties making note that Daesh is using residents “as human shields and as bait.”

Since the conflict erupted in 2011, more than half of Syria’s population has been displaced and at least 280,000 people have been killed.

Kosovo’s Daesh Camps Act as Creche for Young Terrorists

A Daesh training camp in northern Iraq

 

There are at least five Daesh military training camps in Kosovo, located in remote areas near the self-proclaimed republic’s border with Albania and Macedonia, a source close to the intelligence services told Sputnik.

In an interview with Sputnik, a source close to the intelligence services singled out at least five Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) training camps, located in remote areas near Kosovo’s border with Albania and Macedonia.The largest camps are located in areas adjacent to the towns on the Urosevac and Djakovica line as well as the Decani district, the source said, adding that the smaller camps were tracked in the Prizren and Pec regions.

A total of 314 Kosovo Albanians along with Daesh terrorists are now fighting government troops in Syria and Iraq, among them 38 women, according to the source.

As for the recruitment, it takes in two stages; the first is conducted by non-governmental organizations that operate in Kosovo and at numerous private schools, the source said.

Police officers look towards the Macedonian mountain village of Gosince from a police check point set near the northern Macedonian border with Kosovo. file photo
© AP Photo/ Boris Grdanoski
Police officers look towards the Macedonian mountain village of Gosince from a police check point set near the northern Macedonian border with Kosovo. file photo

“The future Daesh terrorists are ‘brainwashed’ there and they also learn Arabic and study the Koran, something that is followed by so-called ‘combat practice’ training, headed by former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). They typically teach the rookies to wage guerrilla warfare and handle guns, among other things,” according to the source.

“In addition, each camp has several Daesh terrorists who decide on sending the rookies to the war or preparing them for the role of suicide bombers,” the source said, citing about 70 Kosovo Albanian families who decided to join Daesh.

The source also warned of the possible spread of such camps to Macedonia and in Bosnia, where about 800 jihadists arrived during the wars in the 1990s. As far as Macedonia is concerned, the country is just beginning to grapple with the problem, the source said, referring to Macedonian villages which were earlier KLA centers and which have already been turned into Daesh training camps.

In 2013, the Western Balkans Security Issues news website warned of the territory of Kosovo and Albania being used for Daesh training camps, something that was recognized by Kosovo authorities only a year later.

Meanwhile, the source has told Sputnik that the training process dates back to 1999, when al-Qaeda terrorists were involved in training the KLA militants in Kosovo.

In a separate interview with Sputnik earlier this week, Fadil Lepaja, director of the Center for Balkan Studies in Pristina, shared the view that with Kosovo’s borders with Albania and Macedonia existing only on paper, tracking Islamists’ training camps is almost impossible.He noted that tackling Daesh supporters is a global problem, rather than one limited to Kosovo and Albania. Even though NATO’s mission in Kosovo (KFOR) and all relevant services keep a watchful eye on those who have returned from the war in Syria, it is hard to foresee everything, according to him.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after spending several years under UN administration. It is recognized by Washington and many EU member nations.