Archive for the ‘Redactie’ Category
MASSIVE COALITION AIRSTRIKE ON RAQQAH FAILS TO DETER ISLAMIC STATE WHO RENEW ATTACKS ON YPG POSITIONS TO THE NORTH
By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 111:
The fight for Sarrin continues with the YPG in some of the outer suburbs and advancing towards Islamic State-held (IS) Al-Malha village to the south-west. Once the town can be isolated both from the Euphrates and roads to the south, then it can, given time, only fall.
YPG Fighter Defends Hasakah
However, IS is not giving up without a fight, and reports today Monday say that they have re-entered Bozane, the eastern part of Ain Issa town after heavy clashes with the combined YPG/FSA fighting force.
This Kurdish video report from Ain Issa was released only yesterday, (English sub-titles) HERE:
YPG/FSA fighters are now less than 50 kilometres north of Raqqah and trying to consolidate their position in the province, but this seems to have provoked some desperate retaliation from IS, who must now defend their Syrian “capital”.
10 kilometres east of Ain Issa, IS have also attacked Sharakrak.
The IS Jihadists have additionally unleashed
5 vehicle bomb attacks over the weekend, 3 in Kobane Canton and 2 near Suluk to the east.
On the south-eastern Kobane front at Nur Ali near Sarrin, a truck bomb exploded on Saturday, killing 2 Kurdish defenders.
On Saturday night the YPG/YPJ captured several farms on Kobane’s southern front between the village of Serekaniye (not to be confused with the town of the same name) and Makhareten, with at least 9 x IS Jihadists killed.
Serekaniye itself had been captured on Friday night after a heavy battle in which 18 x IS Jihadists died and 12 were wounded. 3 members of the YPG also died.
IS on Saturday night also attacked the recently gained village of Dali with a vehicle bomb, but the YPG intercepted it before it exploded, destroying it and its suicide bomber occupant.
SW Kobane Canton Situation Map 05.07.15
Near Tal Abyad on Friday night IS additionally attacked the village of Qinetra near the border with Turkey using a vehicle bomb and when that was ineffective IS sent in 4 suicide bombers wearing explosive vests. 2 fighters from the FSA were killed in the attack and 6 from IS.
Dangerously, clashes last night, Sunday, around midnight are being reported between the YPG and the Turkish Army near the border crossing at Tal Abyad. One Turkish soldier was said to have been killed and several other people injured.
The atmosphere is tense after the Turks positioned thousands of troops along the border with Syria over the last week and the Erdogan Government implied it was ready to invade Syria to establish a buffer zone and prevent the creation of a Kurdish state.
Ominously, the Syrian Army’s top commanders have also been summoned to Ankara for consultations. You can read more in NOW Media.
In the countryside near Hasakah city IS detonated another vehicle bomb near Tel Brak and there were clashes near Tel Hamis with losses on both sides. On the main road to Hassakah near Tel Barud, the YPG successfully attacked an IS convoy, destroying a tank, a vehicle bomb and an undefined number of IS Jihadists.
Within Hasakah city itself, despite heavy fighting, the situation once again seems to have returned to stalemate. IS are reported to have regained control of the juvenile prison for a second time and also a electricity sub-station that serves the southern part of the city, as well as destroying on Sunday another electricity sub-station that serves the northern part of Hasakah, with a bomb laden truck.
Fighting in the southern Al-Nashwa neighbourhood is said to have killed 9 members of the pro-Assad forces and 18 members of IS over the weekend, while other battles are ongoing in the eastern part of the city between IS and the YPG.
A report from the YPG says that in June they killed 483 x IS Jihadists at a cost of 63 of their own side, including 2 members of the FSA. 6 x IS fighters were captured alive.
During the same month 17 x IS vehicles and 2 tanks were destroyed and a vast amount of weaponry captured, including 178 AK-47s.
Destroyed IS Bridge Near Raqqah
Significantly over the weekend, the Coalition carried out numerous airstrikes in Syria, 18 of them on and near Raqqah.
On Saturday through to Sunday am, US Central Command reports the destruction of 3 x IS vehicles in Raqqah and 16 bridges in the surrounding area in a deliberate attempt to make reinforcing other areas of Syria and Iraq as difficult as possible. An IS tactical unit was also hit.
Reports from the area say 23 members of IS were killed and a large number injured, though inevitably there were some civilian casualties.
IS have also released a video showing the execution of 2 young Opposition activists in Raqqah who were caught filming IS events and buildings and accused of sending information “abroad”.
The 2 men, aged 20 and 21, wearing orange jump suits, were tied to trees and shot in the head in typical grim IS fashion.
Friday and Sunday am the Coalition also made 11 airstrikes near Hasakah destroying 5 x IS vehicles, 9 x IS fighting positions, 5 x IS buildings, structures or bunkers, and a motorcycle.
2 x IS fighting positions were destroyed at Tal Abyad and 2 more and an IS vehicle in Kobane Canton during the same time period.
Map of Coalition strikes near Raqqah, courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, here:
Coalition Air Attack on Raqqah
Lastly, Danna has released a Song for Syria, “More Than faces”. Beautiful voice. Enjoy!
By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
While several Islamic State (IS) fighters have been apprehended in the vicinity of Kobane over the last few days, the city once again appears to be calm and secure.
YPG Fighters at Tal Abyad
However, there is great deal of anger and pain felt by those whose families were annihilated in last Thursday’s attack, and from some a call for vengeance.
YPG fighters patrol most streets but one confirmed report says that a discovered IS Jihadist was strung up and hung by local people before security services could get to him.
Residents still fear IS sleeper cells.
After the first explosion early on Thursday morning, many citizens went out on the streets to see what was happening and saw a group of men in YPG uniforms coming towards them – except they were IS and not Kurdish YPG.
They went into houses and shot people at point blank range or while they slept.
One Kobane resident said, “I started running, and I could hear them shooting after me.
My neighbour – he was just 14 or 15 – was running beside me. He said he thought he was wounded and when I looked at him he was covered in blood. He died.”
Another young YPG fighter ran back to the house when he realised what was happening to get his gun and managed to fire off about 10 bullets before he himself was hit in the shoulder.
“They were just 15 metres away. They were wearing YPG uniforms. They didn’t say anything,” he said. “Most of my neighbours were slaughtered.”
172 victims of the attack, including 40 children, are, as of yesterday, still in Suruc hospital across the border in Turkey. Many are now too afraid to return.
You can read more in Middle East Eye.
The Kobane administration meanwhile has established a committee to investigate the massacre that took 233 lives and has called on the UN to recognise the massacre as “genocide”. Kurdish security, the Asayish, have established a temporary nightly curfew from 8.30pm in Kobane city.
South of Kobane city, the YPG arrested 2 more IS fighters in hiding yesterday in the village of Hamsawa, as well as one more in the city on 48th Street on Sunday. 4 more IS Jihadists were also killed near Hamsawa on Saturday night and AK-47s recovered.
IS Boats Sunk on the Euphrates
On the south-western Kobane front, a YPG operation concluded on Sunday night near Upper Shiukh village saw 17 more AK-47’s claimed as well as machine guns, grenades and RPG rocket launchers.
Three nights running there have also been attempted IS boat crossings across the Euphrates, but these have been thwarted by both the Coalition and the YPG with at least 8 vessels sunk, some reports saying 10.
Yesterday, Tuesday, the YPG, perhaps reflecting the feelings in Kobane city, have launched a new operation to “avenge the deaths of the martyrs of the June 25th massacre in Kobane”, around Sarrin, also in the south-west of the Canton.
Already, they have captured last night the villages of Sikeyif and Tirkmên and secured several strategic hilltops overlooking Sarrin town. A cache of 13 Ak-47s and ammunition was found in the area. The operation is ongoing.
Over in Tal Abyad, the Islamic State staged another surprise attack yesterday, Tuesday, though the group appears to be very small.
At first they managed to secure a foothold in the eastern part of the city in the Mashur al-Fawqani district, but were quickly surrounded in a school and 3 of them eliminated. 2 were wounded and escaped across the border into Turkey and the sixth was still being hunted in the area. One YPG fighter died in the clashes.
However, there are still IS units in surrounding villages, one of them taking Ber A’sheq village east of Tal Abyad today, Wednesday.
Further south the YPG continue to strengthen their hold over the Raqqh – Tal Abyad road, killing another 2 x IS insurgents.
Over in Cizire Canton, IS carried out an attack on the YPG’s Public Affairs Office in Serekaniye on Sunday but the suspected IS bomber fled the area, exploding his motorbike some distance from the target, but still causing light injuries to 2 YPG fighters.
While searching for the bomber, a 2nd motorbike packed with explosives was discovered and defused.
In Hasakah, after initially losing ground to the latest IS attack, Assad’s forces have made something of a comeback in the last 2 days following a series of Syrian Air Force attacks on IS positions.
IS have retreated from Gweiran Industrial area towards the Al-Zuhour neighbourhood, allowing the YPG to regain all of the eastern Al-Azizyah district, HERE:
In a 24 hour period, IS fired 15 mortar shells into the Salhiyah and Azizyah districts but around half of them failed to explode, but they also exploded a vehicle bomb at Al-Basel roundabout on the outskirts of Gweiran. Casualties are reported on all sides.
Further south, the YPG have captured the IS-held town of Al-Hishah, just 50 kilometres north of Raqqah.
US Central Command (Centcom) reports 9 airstrikes in Syria on Monday through to Tuesday am this week, mainly near Hasakah where they destroyed 4 x IS vehicles, an IS armoured personnel carrier and an IS tank, plus hitting 5 x IS tactical units. The other strikes were near Raqqah and Deir Ez-Zour.
Courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, here is the latest Situation Map for South-West Kobane Canton:
SW Kobane Situation Map 01.07.15
And still worth showing, @ChuckPfarrer’s Situation Map for 29th June, here:
SW Kobane Canton Situation Map 29.06.15
OPPOSITION LAUNCH NEW ROCKET DESPITE STALLED DERAA CAMPAIGN AND YEZIDI TELL THEIR HEARTBREAKING STORIES:
Over the last month, the Coalition has moved part of its bombing campaign further west from Kobane and onto the western side of the Euphrates.
It has been confirmed that 5 of the Coalition airstrikes listed as “Kobane” over the last weekend were in fact on and around the IS stronghold of Jarablous, hitting IS fighter concentrations there.
Another 11 airstrikes in the past month, listed as “Aleppo”, were in fact around Azzaz and Marea in Aleppo province, in support of keeping the Opposition Turkey to eastern Aleppo supply route open.
Peshmerga Fighter Looks Towards IS Controlled Parts of Sinjar City
Opposition sources said the Coalition had hit IS positions in Soran, Al-Bel and Dabiq and also had struck an Islamic State convoy.
All requests for air support go through the Joint Operating Center in Erbil, the capital of Iraq Kurdistan.
While the YPG enjoy a good relationship with the Coalition command centre, the Syrian Opposition groups have yet to develop a similar communication and response arrangement, despite trying.
In Turkey on Monday, at a meeting of the National Security Council, chaired by President Erdogan, no definitive decision appears to have been reached over invading northern Syria and creating a “buffer zone”.
Both the Americans and the leader of Turkey’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, who Erdogan hoped to draw into a political coalition, have both said “no” to such a move. The Kurdish PKK has also threatened to take up arms across Turkey if the Rojavan Kurds are attacked in any way.
You can read more on all the above, HERE:
In southern Daraa province there appears to have been a “bit of a hiccup” in the Opposition “Southern Storm” to take Daraa city away from Assad.
Making the basic mistake of assuming that urban warfare would be similar to what they had already experienced in the countryside, the Opposition brigades were unable to advance and lost a large number of fighters in the attack which started last Thursday morning.
Meeting on Sunday the Opposition commanders have reviewed their strategy and relaunched their battles against Assad’s military.
This video of very heavy fighting at the weekend was published on Sunday, HERE:
The Opposition have also designed and launched a new ground to ground “storm rocket” to spearhead their southern campaign, with devastating results as it hits an Assad command and control post, reputedly killing 40 pro-government personnel, here:
Lastly, over in Iraq, the battle by the Peshmerga and other forces to push the Islamic State out of Sinjar city staggers on with an effective stalemate in place for weeks.
However, in the last 2 days the Peshmerga are reported to have pushed IS back from the centre of Sinjar, especially after the Coalition helpfully wiped out an IS weapons store. This report gives an interesting overview of the current situation, HERE:
For the Yezidi, the loss of Sinjar and the surrounding area, which was very much their heartland, is a major catastrophe. 11 months after being driven out of the homes and with thousands of their young women and girls still in IS hands as enforced wives and sex slaves, the future for the ancient Yezidi faith looks bleak.
In this thoughtful video the Yezidi tell their stories of how they escaped to and from Sinjar Mountain, with footage of the desperate conditions in which they now live. Please make the time to watch it (English sub-titles). All credit to Dr.Hawar Moradi who filmed and edited this while working among the Yezidi as a doctor between August 2014 and January 2015.
EDITOR: It will probably break your heart – it did mine:
KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 108: ISLAMIC STATE FINALLY ELIMINATED FROM KOBANE CITY, BUT 233 CIVILIANS KILLED, WHILE TURKISH FORCES MASS ON THE SYRIAN BORDER
By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
By yesterday, Sunday, the YPG had succeeded in curtailing what had become a bloody Islamic State suicide attack on the citizens of Kobane, although a remaining IS insurgent was spotted by residents in the city and eliminated by Kurdish security this afternoon, Monday.
Just How Much More?
Altogether, the attack, which started in the early hours of last Thursday, claimed the lives of 233 people and injured a further 273. 210 of the victims died within Kobane city itself and a further 23 at Berkhbotan village to the south.
14 members of the Kurdish security, the Asayish, as well as others who took up arms died in an attempt to hold back the IS Jihadists.
Of the Islamic State attacking force, which was estimated to be between 80 and 100, all of them were eliminated apart from 7 who escaped across the border into Turkey.
Of 8 x IS Jihadists who fled towards the south, 2 were killed in the Termik area and the final 6 at Korpîngarê. One IS fighter of Egyptian origin was captured alive, seen surrendering, HERE:
On Thursday, Kobane was in complete chaos and its citizens who thought they had returned to a secure and safe city, found themselves in a place of terror. Imagine is this was your street? (Some disturbing and distressing images), HERE:
The bulk of the fighting ended after the last group of IS Jihadists were cornered at the unoccupied Rash Secondary School and attacked with Kalashnikovs and grenades HERE:
After directing Coalition aircraft to the scene, the school was largely blown to pieces, HERE:
Rudaw Kurdish media has a report from the scene with English sub-titles, HERE:
Clearing IS From the Streets of Kobane
At least 60 x IS Jihadists have been confirmed killed, while further bodies are still being discovered.
YPG sources have confirmed that most of the IS attacking force came from the Sarrin area in the south-west part of the Canton and having shaved their beards and donned YPG/FSA uniforms, they were able to pass through YPG and Asayish checkpoints to reach the city.
Other reports though persist in saying that a smaller number of attackers also came across the border from Turkey.
Several reports also say that some of the attackers were dissident Kurds and spoke the language, possibly originating from Kurdish areas of Turkey or Iraq.
In the west of Kobane Canton local reports suggest that as well as the main attack on Kobane city, the Islamic State attempted several boat crossings across the Euphrates river but these were foiled by Coalition airstrikes and Kurdish artillery.
A build up of IS fighters at Jarablous, on the west bank of the Euphrates was also targeted, as well as IS forces coming from Manbij and heading for the road across the Euphrates above the Tishreen dam.
To the east of Kobane over the weekend, the combined YPG/YPJ and Free Syrian Army force, Burkan al-Firat, consolidated their positions south of Tal Abyad and strengthened their control of the Tal Abyad to Raqqah road.
In clashes with the IS Jihadists, 2 x IS tanks were destroyed and 38 x IS fighters killed, as well as AK-47s, machine gun and rocket launchers captured. 6 Kurdish fighters died in the battles.
Turkey’s Forces Mass on Syrian Border
Of major concern is a build-up of Turkish troops along the Rajavan border.
President Erdogan of Turkey has made it clear that he will not tolerate a Kurdish state along his border separating Turkey from Syria and linking the 3 Kurdish Cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Cizire.
Reports suggest that as many as 18,000 Turkish troops are massing to establish a 110-km long and 28-km wide buffer zone stretching from Karkamış to Öncüpınar, on both sides of the Syrian border.
However, Erdogan’s party failed to succeed in getting an overall majority in recent elections, and both his Foreign Minister and the Turkish military are reluctant to pursue such a plan.
Ostensibly set up as an attempt to fight IS, for which a regular army is ill-equipped in the first place, it could easily turn into a battle with the Kurds and attract international condemnation as well as air attacks from Assad’s air force.
A statement of intent is expected this evening, Monday, after a meeting of Turkey’s National Security Council which convened this afternoon, a day earlier than usual. You can read more, HERE:
A Kobane Canton situation map, courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, is here:
Kobane Canton Situation Map 29.06.15
EDITOR: Perhaps what is most surprising (or perhaps not considering the numbers of people who turn to this blog for Kobane news – now approaching 70,000 visitors a month), is the failure of international media to report on events in Kobane and northern Syria.
Last Friday, when IS struck in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, BBC news reports and other leading channels and press ignored the deaths of 200+ people in Kobane city and just reported these other stories. None the less terrible in their brutality, but no more worthy of coverage than the murder of dozens of Kurdish civilians.
Over in Hasakah the picture of the fight between Assad forces and the YPG, who are both defending the city, and the Islamic State who are attacking them is less clear.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Assad’s forces were losing ground in the south of Hasakah and handing over their positions (and weapons) to the YPG who hold the north of the city.
On Saturday, the Syrian Army was reported to have withdrawn from a number of checkpoints and its headquarters, allowing IS to penetrate parts of the Kurdish districts of Aziziyah and Al-Ghazl. Kurdish units subsequently took control of the National Hospital in the Aziziyah neighbourhood and the nearby School of Nursing.
Pro-regime forces have however been constantly shelling IS positions from the Jabal Kawkab base 10 kilometres east of Hasakah in an attempt to cut off their supply routes from Shaddadi and yesterday are reported to have regained the Nashwa Gharbiya neighbourhood. As a result, the Kurds have also blocked the infiltration of Aziziyah and Al-Ghazl.
IS still controls the Villat Homr area which overlooks the IS-held district of Geweran in the south-east of the city, while Assad’s air force continues to bomb them from the air and 30,000 civilians flee to the north.
Since last Thursday the Coalition has also been very active in the air across northern Syria, US Central Command (Centcom) reporting 51 airstrikes between Thursday morning and today, Monday am.
27 of those airstrikes were in Kobane Canton, 7 near Tal Abayd, 7 near Raqqah, 3 near Hasakah and the rest in Aleppo and Deir Ez-Zour provinces – all hitting and destroying the usual range of Islamic State fighting units, vehicles, weapons and equipment but including 8 x IS boats.
Victims of IS Attack on Kobane June 2015 – RIP
By Jafar M Ramini
“Britain had no moral or political or legal right to promise the land that belonged to the Arabs to another people. The Balfour Declaration was both immoral and illegal.”
KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 107: BATTLE AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE IN KOBANE CITY HAS CONTINUED WITH RISING DEATH TOLL, MAINLY CIVILIANS
By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
As of midday local time today, Friday, the Kurdish YPG were still fighting enclaves of Islamic State fighters embedded in Kobane City.
Smoke Rises Over Kobane Once Again
The death toll had also escalated with as many as 146 dead and 200 injured (some sources putting it even higher), the vast majority civilians including the elderly, and women and children.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) described it as the second worst IS massacre in Syria since they declared their “Caliphate”. Many of the injured remain critical.
Latest reports say that 80 Kurds trapped in the districts of Şehid Moro, Mektele and Kaniya Kurda have now been freed and the last remnants of the IS Jihadist attacking force are holed up in buildings that were damaged in battles last winter.
However, the IS fighters are still holding hostages at 3 locations: a house near Mishtenur Hospital, a house near the town’s cultural centre and a home close to the Mahdathe school.
Some Kurdsih hostages held in a 4th location, a restaurant, have been released and their IS captors killed.
Reports on the original attack are still confused, with many still accusing Turkey as complicit in the attack or allowing it to happen – though there is no definitive proof of that.
The attack started at around 4.40am Kobane local time when 5 vehicles entered the centre of the city from the west and one of them exploded near the Mursitpinar border crossing into Turkey, the site of a similar attack some months ago.
The explosion was captured on CCTV footage from a camera on the Turkish side of the border, here:
The reason that this IS force was able to penetrate into the heart of Kobane is that they had shaved off their beards and were wearing YPG and FSA uniforms. Their vehicles were also decked out with Burkhat Al-Firat, YPG and FSA flags. Burkhat Al-Firat (“Euphrates Volcano”) is the combined force fighting the Islamic State.
Following the primary suicide bomb attack at the frontier gate, the IS Jihadists then attempted to take control of the Kaniya Kurda neighbourhood, the Doctors without Borders Hospital, the Botan district and the Reshad Mosque.
With the Jihadist group were many snipers who then proceeded to shoot randomly at anybody on the street and who also broke into a number of homes wiping out entire families.
The YPG/YPJ quickly surrounded the attacking IS fighters and kill their core group but other individuals and bands of attackers managed to establish footholds in previously destroyed buildings and Mishtenur Hospital.
While fighting was taking place another vehicle bomb was exploded near the frontier gate and there are also unconfirmed reports of a third.
Estimates suggest the IS attacking force numbers 30 or 40 men. There are also unconfirmed reports that 300 Jihadists who escaped from Tal Abyad are now in Jarablous, west of the Euphrates, and some of the attackers may be a remnant of that force.
Many of the civilians wounded in Kobane have been shipped across the border to hospitals in Turkey, while hundreds of others (uninjured) slept on the ground near the frontier, too terrified to return home, here:
Concurrent with the primary attack on Kobane early on Thursday morning, the IS Jihadists attacked the village of Berxbatan (Barkh Butan), at 5.30am on Thursday morning, as reported previously, on Kobane Canton’s southern frontier.
The death toll there is now reported as 33 villagers, many of them having been beheaded, and at least 15 wounded. The nearby village of Zerik and a hill at Sevê were also attacked, but as many as 30 x IS fighters were reported killed in the ensuing gun battles with the YPG in the area.
Many are now seeing the IS attack as revenge for the capture of by Kurdish forces of Tal Abyad and Ain Issa and for getting “far too close” to their “Syrian capital” of Raqqah.
Dr Muhamad Ali Lost His Entire Famly to IS Attackers
(EDITOR: I doubt if the Kurds will be deterred. With the help of the FSA and the Coalition they will, hopefully, be spurred on to wipe this dreadful evil from the Earth.
IS related attacks have also been reported today, Friday, in France, Kuwait and Tunisia.)
Between Ain Issa and Raqqah the YPG have also confirmed that they have control of the main road and have liberated 2 villages near the Belikh water tower.
6 x IS Jihadists were killed and weapons and ammunition captured in the clashes.
France24 has a report and commentary on events in Kobane over the last 24 hours.
In Hasakah city, the Islamic State are reported to have taken control of the “petroleum barrier” to the east of the city as well as the southern districts they took hold of yesterday.
There are also unconfirmed reports that they have been aided by defectors from Assad’s National Defence Force (NDF), who cleared the way for the Jihadists entrance into the city. (Reports of armed conflict between elements of the NDF and Assad’s regular troops have been reported on several occasions.)
Between 50,000 and 60,000 local residents in Hasakah are said to have fled the city, 10,000 of them heading northwards towards the Turkish border. All of which makes a nonsense of the Syrian Government’s claims, published on state media, that “Hasakah is safe” and the situation there is “stable”.
You can read more, HERE:
So far the Coalition has not got involved in helping the Assad regime defend against the Islamic State, but if Government areas in the Hasakah fall, will they come to the aid of the YPG defending the northern Kurdish districts in the city? Time will tell.
WELL EQUIPPED OPPOSITION LAUNCH MAJOR CAMPAIGN TO TAKE DARAA CITY, THE BIRTH PLACE OF THE REVOLUTION:
In the very south of Syria, the Opposition coalition, the Southern Front, have launched a major campaign to try and capture the city of Daraa, where the Syrian revolution began in 2011 when some children were arrested and tortured after putting up anti-Assad graffiti.
Due to have been launched early on Wednesday, it was delayed 24 hours to let more civilians flee the city.
Opposition Tank Shells Assad’s Troops in Deraa 25.06.15
Currently the campaign, called “Southern Storm”, is targeting Assad regime forces inside the city with mortar rounds and artillery and directing heavy fire on troop concentrations near Atma a few kilometres north of the city.
A direct hit on a power station to the north of Daraa has cut electricity supplies.
Assad’s Air Force has retaliated with between 60 and 70 barrel-bomb attacks in the last 36 hours on Opposition-held villages in the province.
3 shells also landed in the Jordanian border town of Ramtha, killing 1 man and injuring 4 more.
Reports yesterday said that the Opposition had taken 5 checkpoints and were very near the National Hospital in Daraa and a key roundabout, but they have met stiff resistance.
34 Opposition fighters and a similar number on the regime side were reported killed in the first 24 hours, including 2 brigadier generals.
However, the Opposition, a coalition of 51 brigades, many aligned to the FSA, seem very well equipped and prepared for a long battle if necessary.
They prepare for battle, [EDITOR: Commander has very nice hair! :)] HERE:
Lastly, more footage of heavy fighting but with the funniest/most over-produced intro of the year! HERE:
Donderdag 18 juni was er een vergadering van de commissie Algemene Zaken van de gemeenteraad Amsterdam over het onderwerp om een stedenband met Tel Aviv en Ramallah aan te gaan. In een eerder artikel is hier al een eerste uitleg gegeven. Dit is deel 2 waar de uitslag van de commissievergadering wordt besproken. Op 1 juli zal er een raadsvergadering gehouden waar het definitieve standpunt wordt ingenomen door de verschillende partijen.
Nadat de rook was opgetrokken van de commissievergadering bleek dat coalitiepartij SP en de oppositiepartijen PvdA, Partij voor de Dieren en GroenLinks tegen de stedenband te zijn. Eerder had de SP aangegeven kritisch te zijn, maar niet tegen te stemmen, echter tijdens de vergadering trok SP-fractievoorzitter Daniël Peters het standpunt in en gaf aan: ‘Op korte termijn is er geen uitzicht op een duurzame vrede. Wat gaan we doen als de raketten straks weer over en weer vliegen? Als Ramallah een Hamas-burgemeester krijgt? Als Israël de bezettingspolitiek doorzet? Wij zijn bang dat deze stedenband meer problemen geeft dan het oplost.’ (tekst AT5).
Ook op de site van SP Rood Amsterdam wordt aangegeven dat de partij geen stedenband wil met Tel Aviv en contactpersoon Sebastiaan Proos laat het volgende neerschrijven: “Een stedenband met het administratieve centrum van een land wat routinematig mensenrechten schendt en schuldig is aan apartheid is iets waar wij als socialisten geen goed gevoel bij hebben.”
Het onderzoek naar de stedenband met Tel Aviv liep al sinds vorig jaar, maar kwam in de koelkast terecht omdat de SP in augustus bezwaar had gemaakt. Maar half juni 2015 kwam het stadsbestuur weer met het nieuws naar buiten dat ze een stedenband aan wilde gaan met Tel Aviv en Ramallah. Heel slim had het bestuur Ramallah erbij getrokken zodat er misschien een meerderheid in de raad zou zijn om de stedenband met Tel Aviv goed te keuren. Volgens De Telegraaf had burgemeester getracht om de linkse partijen te paaien door het voorstel om gelijktijdig een stedenband met Ramallah aan te gaan. Ramallah stond n het voorstel maar geen Gaza. Als de burgemeester ballen had gehad, had hij Tel Aviv en Gaza gekozen. De vraag is of er dan een meerderheid was geweest voor het voorstel.
Maar het bestuur had niet op de SP gerekend, die dus tegen het voorstel zal stemmen, hoewel Daniël Peters natuurlijk in zijn toespraak nog moest natrappen naar Hamas, een democratisch gekozen politieke partij in Gaza, met een opmerking als “… Hamas bestaat ook nog steeds … “ en “Als Ramallah een Hamas-burgemeester krijgt?”
De Telegraaf wist nog fijntjes te melden dat de linkse partijen ongevoelig waren voor het gepaai van de burgemeester, dit mede onder druk van “zo’n 200 luidruchtige pro-Palestijnse actievoerders. Het onderwerp staat over enkele weken nog op de raadsagenda, maar zal daar worden weggestemd.”
De gemeenteraad van Amsterdam bestaat momenteel uit 8 partijen en 45 leden: D66 (met 14 zetels), PvdA (10 zetels), VVD (6 zetels), SP (6 zetels), GroenLinks (6 zetels), Partij voor de Dieren (1 zetel), CDA (1 zetel) en de Partij voor de Ouderen (met 1 zetel).
Als de leden van de commissies het standpunt van hun partij hebben aangegeven, dan zou op dit moment PvdA + SP + GroenLInks + Partij voor de Dieren reeds tegen het voorstel van de stedenband zijn, wat dus inhoudt 23 van de 45 raadsleden. Een krappe meerderheid waarbij geen persoon geen eigenzinnige mening mag hebben of afwezig mag zijn. Voor de actievoerders is het dus nog even tijd om andere raadsleden te benaderen, een echte lobby is dus nodig !
Een van de mogelijkheden zou de VVD deze keer kunnen zijn, daar de VVD de stedenband met Ramallah niet ziet zitten. Volgens fractievoorzitter Marja Ruigrok wil de partij eerst weten wat voor afspraken gemaakt worden: ‘Het moet wel op basis van wederkerigheid zijn, en geen verkapte subsidie worden. Er moet eerst duidelijk worden op welk gebied we precies samenwerken. Dus wij moeten ons standpunt daarover nog in de fractie bepalen.’ (tekst AT5).
Inspreker Jaap Hamburger
De heer Jaap Hamburger was een van de vier insprekers tijdens de vergadering van de commissie. In zijn toespraak gaf Jaap het volgende aan de commissieleden mee: “ … Mijn naam is Jaap Hamburger, ik ben voorzitter van de joodse organisatie Een Ander Joods Geluid, gevestigd in Amsterdam. Mijn organisatie, met honderden sympathisanten, is gekant tegen de voorgenomen stedenband met Tel Aviv … Israël lijkt slechts gebrand op het doorzetten van de eigen politieke agenda, samen te vatten als: annexatie van grote delen van Palestina, versnippering van het overblijvende gebied en blijvende ondergeschiktheid van de Palestijnse bevolking. Een stedenband verhevigt zo de tegenstellingen die rond dit conflict in de stad al bestaan, tegenstellingen waar niet alleen de burgemeester bezorgd over is, maar wij van Een Ander Joods Geluid en diverse Marokkaanse en Turkse organisaties niet minder … Het spijt mij als jood te moeten vaststellen dat het hedendaags zionisme in Israël op alle bestuurlijke niveaus en in alle lagen van de bevolking een politiek voorstaat die Palestijnen in hun rechten en vrijheden beknot, ook als zij inwoners van Israël zijn. Er zijn in Israël zelf meer dan vijftig wettelijke regelingen en voorschriften met discriminerende werking ten aanzien van Palestijnen. De belangrijkste daarvan betreffen stedelijke uitbreidingsplannen, het recht op grondbezit, immigratie, mogelijkheden een partner te kiezen onder Palestijnen buiten Israël in samenhang met woon- en vestigingsrechten. Die discriminerende wetten en regelingen houden geen halt voor de stadsgrenzen van Tel Aviv, meneer van der Laan … Weten de leden van de Cie. eigenlijk hoe dat samenleven ooit is begonnen, in 1948? Ik citeer de voormalige Nederlandse ambassadeur Erik Ader, partijgenoot van de burgemeester, over hoe dat er toen aan toeging: “…mortieren van Etzel, -een van de toenmalige Joodse ondergrondse terreurorganisaties- bombarderen meedogenloos het centrum van de stad Jaffa bij Tel Aviv, en bewerkstelligden de massale vlucht van de Arabische bevolking.”
“Deze tekst’, vertelt Ader, “staat in het Engels op een muur in een museum, gelegen tussen Jaffa en Tel Aviv: Israëlische terreurdaden tegen een weerloze burgerbevolking om etnische zuivering op grote schaal te bereiken, open en bloot bezongen voor ieder die het horen wil, de schaamte ver voorbij.
Twintig ton explosieven regende die dag, 25 april 1948, neer op Jaffa. De 80.000 Palestijnse inwoners vluchtte naar het zuidwesten, naar Gaza. Bij het beëindigen van de vijandelijkheden mochten zij, in strijd met het internationaal recht, van Israël niet terug naar hun huizen en zij strandden in de inderhaast opgezette vluchtelingenkampen … ”
Inspreker Ghada Zeidan
Een tweede inspreker was Ghada Zeidan, directeur van Palestine Link. Uit haar toespraak het volgende: “ … Sinds 2013 overweegt de gemeente Amsterdam op verzoek van Ronnie Naftaniel, de toenmalige directeur van het CIDI, de lobby organisatie voor Israël, een stedenband aan te gaan met Tel-Aviv. Vorig jaar werden de voorbereidingen voor de samenwerking met Tel-Aviv formeel opgeschort vanwege de Israelische aanvallen en invasie van Gaza.
Gedurende 50 dagen werden, nog geen jaar geleden, in totaal meer dan 5000 aanvallen op Gaza uitgevoerd. Daarbij werden 2.200 mensen gedood (waarvan een kwart kinderen en meer dan 11.000 gewonden (waarvan een derde kinderen. 1.000 van die kinderen zijn nu blijvend gehandicapt … Een commissie van de mensenrechtenraad van de Verenigde Naties komt één dezer dagen met een rapport over mensenrechtenschendingen en de oorlogsmisdaden die zijn begaan door het Israëlische leger tijdens die oorlog! In plaats van de verantwoordelijken naar het Internationaal Gerechtshof in Den Haag te ontbieden, gaat Amsterdam op bezoek in Tel Aviv om de vriendschappelijke betrekkingen aan te halen. Palestina is veroverd op de Palestijnse bevolking vanuit Tel Aviv, waar tot 1967 en nog altijd veel belangrijke instellingen zijn gehuisvest. Jaffa, nu geheel omsloten door de stad werd bijna geheel ontvolkt in 1948 door de zionistische milities. De vluchtelingen mochten niet terugkeren. In plaats daarvan namen duizenden joden uit Europa, waaronder Amsterdam die daar ondanks de verschrikkingen van de Tweede Wereldoorlog geen verhaal konden doen, de huizen in van verdreven Palestijnen … Eigenlijk duurt de oorlog nog altijd voort in mijn land. Zoals in het midden van de vorige eeuw vele Nederlanders wegkeken, lijken zij dat nu weer te doen. Men blijkt niet te begrijpen dat het aangaan van goede betrekkingen Israël aanmoedigt haar beleid ten aanzien van de Palestijnen nooit en te nimmer te wijzigen. Een stedenband met een stad die meer dan welke stad in Israël vervlochten is met de machtsstructuren en daardoor met de bezetting, een stad waarvan velen die er werken wonen in illegale nederzettingen in bezet Palestijns gebied, een stad die alle sporen van de oorspronkelijke bevolking probeert uit te wissen, een stad dat vele instellingen en bedrijven huisvest die meedoen en profiteren van de bezetting van mijn land, een stad waar men het liefst wegkijkt van dat wat twintig kilometer verderop gebeurt, … zo’n stedenband is een verkeerd signaal. Zeker nu een rechts radicale racistische regering in Jeruzalem zit … “
Natuurlijk waren er ook voorstanders te vinden voor de stedenband met Tel Aviv, o.a. Esther Voet, de directeur van het CIDI, die moet vertrekken wegens onenigheid met het bestuur. Mevrouw Voet schaamde zich om Amsterdammer te zijn op 18 juni. Het kan gebeuren.
Henny A.J. Kreeft
OPPOSITION ADVANCE IN QUNEITRA, ALEPPO AND IDLIB, WHILE ASSAD DEMOLISHES 500 HOMES TO DEFEND DAMASCUS:
By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
This week, two of Syria’s Opposition groups launched new campaigns against the Assad regime in southern Quneitra province.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) aligned Southern Front has attacked regime positions not far from Quneitra city at Tel Al-Buzaq, Tell Kroum, Jaba and Tel Shaar.
Opposition Southern Front Launch New Anti-Assad Campaign from Their Command Centre in Quneitra
Quneitra city is largely empty after it was abandoned following the 7 Day War with Israel and the Opposition will be turning their attention to Ba’ath city, the new provincial capital, the town of Khan Arnba and the Liwa 90 Army base.
Capturing all of these would effectively remove the Assad regime from the province.
The Syrian Government claims it has beaten back the assault, “killing 200 terrorists”, but this does not square with reports on the ground or from Israel where the Iraeli Defence Force (IDF) are able to watch events from the Golan Heights.
To the north of Quneitra province near Mount Hermon, a second Opposition grouping of Islamic brigades and including the Al-Nusra Front, have surrounded the Druze village of Al-Hadar and captured a nearby hilltop.
After taking control of Tulul Al-Humur the Opposition also gained a stock of regime SA-7 Manpads ground-to-air missile units.
This area of Quneitra is seen as the first line of defence for Damascus city and if the Opposition overrun it, it will mean that it can supply the areas they still control in Western Ghouta, south of the Syrian capital.
In Aleppo city, Opposition fighters have this week captured all of western Al-Rashidin district and parts of the Al Jazira area which surrounds Assad’s Aleppo Military Research Centre. A report from the area, (Arabic only) is,HERE:
Latest reports suggest that the Opposition are also advancing in Aleppo’s western Khalidiya district, HERE: and once again attacking regime positions due north of Aleppo city in the village of Bashkoy.
And in Idlib province the Opposition took the village of Ziyadah Qibliyah earlier in the week from where they are in a good position to attack the regime positions around the Thermal Power Plant on the Ghab Plain, HERE:
In the south-west of Idlib province, this footage shows interesting action with a night-camera, HERE:
FSA Fires Rockets At Assad Positions in Quneitra 17.06.15
In Latakia province, the Opposition made this fine hit on a regime outpost with a recoilless gun,HERE:
While in Damascus there are even more signs that the Assad regime is preparing for retreat from outlying provinces and for the defence of the capital. On Monday and Tuesday around 500 homes in Darraya near the Mezze airbase were demolished.
Activists said the homes were destroyed in the neighbourhoods of Khaleej, Corniche Al-Jadeed and Mashraq and the destruction included the demolition of 5 mosques.
50,000 people used to live in the quarter, where the Al-Sadeq al-Amin mosque and the Sharaf Specialized Surgical Hospital, as well as several nurseries and schools, were.
Residents have been evicted en-masse and sent outside Damascus or have fled abroad.
Darraya district, which is still controlled mainly by the Opposition though under siege for 2 years, is 8 miles to the south-west of the capital and very near a cluster of Army bases. You can read more in NOW Media.
NOW also reports on how the Druze minority in Syria now find themselves, as a Shia offshoot sect, between “ a rock and a hard place”. If they don’t follow Assad’s Shia Alawites who will defend them? If they do follow Assad he is most likely to just use them as “cannon-fodder”. You can read more, HERE:
The BBC reports on how many Afghan families are in distress not knowing what has happened to their loved-ones. Many travel to Iran looking for work but end up being paid to go to Syria and fight Assad’s war – and never return.
At the UN General Assembly yesterday, Thursday, more than 70 countries signed a letter to the UN Security Council demanding an end to Assad’s use of barrel-bombs and in Cairo on Wednesday Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is reported to have told a visiting delegation from Lebanon headed by their Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, to “brace themselves” and be ready “for the fall of Assad”.
(EDITOR: We all sincerely hope so – as soon as possible!)
KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 103: YPG/FSA PUSH ON FURTHER SOUTH TO SECURE ROJAVA, WHILE LINK-UP ALLOWS MAJOR SUPPLIES TO ARRIVE IN KOBANE CITY:
In an operation to make Cizire and Kobane even more secure from Islamic State (IS) incursion, the YPG launched an operation on Wednesday evening from 2 directons going southwards from Silûk to tighten its hold on the M4 highway and roads coming northwards from Ain Issa and Raqqah.
YPJ Fighter Overlooking Kobane City
Yesterday the YPG liberated the village of Qantariyê and further to the west Faraj and another unnamed village.
An IS military vehicle was destroyed in the operation and 5 x IS Jihadists were killed.
Also in the last 48 hours the Combined YPG/FSA force has liberated the villages of Sekhra, Khazuga, Til Tewîla, Ca’fer, Bîr Etîyê, Genterî, Tirwazîye, 15 more unnamed villages and an electricity sub-station on the M4 highway.
25 x IS fighters are recorded killed in these battles and 4 members of the YPG/YPJ.
12 kilometres to the south of Silûk near Nevala Hutê the YPG have also discovered a mass grave of IS executed victims.
IS launched an attack on YPG positions at Sikêniyê, south-east of Tel Berak on Thursday night but after a counter-attack 2 x IS Jihadists were killed and the rest driven back.
Not surprisingly, morale among IS fighters is reported to be low and while they are taking defensive measures, for example digging in along the canals north of Sharakak, it is clear they are not the fighting force they were once thought to be.
The Huffington Post interviewed former residents of Tel Abyad, now resident in Turkey, at least temporarily, about life under the Islamic State and their mixed responses are interesting and worth reading.
In this video an FSA commander of the Liwa AL-Tahrir brigade fighting with the Kurds in their joint YPG/FSA force responds to the accusations of “ethnic cleansing”, (English subtitles), here:
There is also an interview with a YPG commander, Bilal Rojava, on the same subject, HERE:
Al-Monitor has a long but interesting interview with a Turk who got drawn into fighting for the Islamic State but was recently injured and captured by the YPG. He goes into great detail about the whole IS operation, HERE:
Between last Monday and this morning, Friday, US Central Command (Centcom) reports 21 airstrikes in Syria, 14 of them near Tal Abyad, Hasakah or in Kobane Canton.
Armoured Vehicles Captured from IS Arrive in Kobane
Altogether in those locations the Coalition destroyed 4 x IS fighting positions, 6 vehicles and an excavator, 2 x IS tunnel systems, 2 x IS antenna arrays, 1 heavy machine gun, 1 x IS mortar position and an IS weapons manufacturing building.
The Coalition also hit 3 large IS tactical units and 7 others of varying sizes.
The unification of Kobane and Cizire Cantons led to more celebrations and a big parade in Kobane this week, with more YPG fighters meeting old friends from the opposite Canton, HERE:
The clearing of roads between Cizire and Kobane has also led to a convoy of trucks and tankers driving to Kobane city bringing fuel and food supplies, HERE: plus some heavy armoured vehicles and tanks captured from IS in Cizire Canton.
For more excellent photographs by Maryam Ashrafi of the YPJ like the one on this page, go HERE:
Rojava Situation Map for 18.06.15, courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, here:
Rojava Situation Map 18.06.15