New Kurdish Victory Over ISIS In Iraq, But Islamic State Advances In Syria

Kurdish fighters once again proved they are the only ones able to defeat Islamic State.

On Wednesday, Kurdish Peshmerga units in northern Iraq started a new offensive in the area south of the oil city of Kirkuk, Reuters reported. The Peshmerga units have managed to liberate ten villages in the area so far.

Reuters published video footage of the fighting and reported that the Kurdish offensive was supported by coalition airstrikes on Islamic State positions.

It is the first offensive against ISIS by the Peshmerga forces in months. During the summer, fighting in the area was limited to defensive moves and sporadic clashes between the two sides.

Two thousand Peshmerga fighters have taken part in the offensive that has left scores of ISIS terrorists dead and wounded 45 others. The Kurds have no plans to push Islamic State further southwards; their main objective is to safeguard the Kurdish autonomous area in Iraq.

The offensive began on 5 AM Wednesday morning after coalition airplanes bombed ISIS positions in the Kirkuk area and has been completed today, Kurdish media reported. The capture of the villages has taken away the ISIS threat against Kirkuk, Peshmerga commanders said.

The Kurdish News Agency Rudaw published a video that showed there is a huge difference in the treatment of captured POW’s between the Kurds and the Islamist militias in Syria and Iraq. An ISIS terrorist who was seriously wounded in the fighting can be seen kissing the hand of a Peshmerga officer who gives water to the injured man and assures him he will receive medical treatment in a hospital.

The new Kurdish victory over Islamic State was the only good news about the ongoing battle against the Jihadist organization today.

Elsewhere in Iraq, Islamic State killed two top Iraqi commanders and three Iraqi soldiers in a suicide attack near Ramadi, the major Iraqi city ISIS captured in May.

“Killed in the blast were Major General Abdulrahman Mehdi Abu Raghef, who was the deputy commander of the army’s Anbar Operation Command, and Brigadier Safeen Abdulmajeed, commander of the army’s 10th division,” NBC News reported. The suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into a group of Iraqi military personnel, killing five and wounding 10 others.

In Syria, Islamic State succeeded in conquering five villages in an area in the vicinity of the Turkish border. The ISIS advances took place in the area where Turkey and the United States plan to establish an Islamic State free buffer zone, where Turkey plans to relocate Syrian refugees.

Islamic State units also encircled the city of Marea, 20 kilometers from the Turkish border, and have stepped up their offensive against the Al-Nusra dominated Jaish al-Islam Islamist coalition in the northern Aleppo province. ISIS again used chemical weapons during the attack on Marea. “International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Tuesday it had treated a Syrian family from Marea who suffered symptoms of exposure to chemical agents,” Reuters reported.

The ISIS moves seem to be a reaction to the Turkish/American announcement about an imminent “comprehensive” air campaign to drive Islamic State out of the area adjacent to the Turkish border.

The joint Turkish-American offensive against Islamic State in northern Syria is expected to begin soon. A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry told foreign reporters today: “We expect joint operations, flights to start soon.”  He added that other countries are also interested in joining operations, but did not elaborate.

The joint airstrikes from the Turkish air base Incirlik will no doubt increase pressure on Islamic State in northern Syria; but experts say that in the absence of trained and well-equipped ground forces, no miracles can be expected.

“The key ingredient to degrading Daesh (ISIS) is establishing a large, well-trained, well-armed, resilient and preferably cohesive fighting force. This still appears to be a pipe-dream,” one of them told Bloomberg.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Marine Corps Vet And His Two Sons Go To Iraq To Fight ISIS

A 49 year-old Marine Corps combat veteran and his two sons, also Corps combat vets, have volunteered to go fight ISIS in Northern Iraq. They made the decision to go as individuals out of a strong desire to help those in need and take the fight to the enemy.

For security reasons, the three asked Fox News not to report their last names. The plan came together over the last few months. James, 23, the younger of two brothers, served two tours in Afghanistan as an infantryman, but had a burning desire to do more.

Nearly a year ago, he started planning a trip to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq to document the fight as a combat cameraman. After talking it over with his dad, Harry, who served in multiple combat tours including in Iraq, and his brother Josh, 29, who was deployed twice to Afghanistan, they decided they would go together.

“If the military, conventional forces were going, we’d go with them,” said James. “We’d sign back up, no problem. But they’re not. And that’s what it comes down to. They’re not and we’re capable and we’re going.”

The State Department neither approves of, nor forbids, their actions, and told Fox News that others have chosen to do the same. Humanitarian Defense Abroad, headed by another former Marine, is helping fund their mission through donations. It has supported dozens of other veterans desiring to return to the fight.

“ISIS has threatened our nation and us individually,” James explained. “They came out and said every military member needs to watch out because we are coming for you. We are Marines. We are going to bring the fight to them.”

The three plan to join the Kurd Peshmerga forces, which are taking the fight to ISIS in northern Iraq. “We are going to contribute on our level. My brother is a heavy machine gunner, my dad is a sniper, I was a rifleman…we are going to bring that together and present that to the Kurds and aid them in whatever way possible,” James added.

Their families are of course concerned. “Worst case scenario is one or two of us being killed,” the father Harry said. “And we would be fools to think that may not happen. We know that from being deployed. We have already accepted death and we’ve done everything we can to take care of our loved ones in case that happened.”

James agreed the cost of their collective decision could be high: “Obviously, losing my brother or my father would be terrible, devastating. But this is the life we live. We are warriors.”

For Harry, his reasons for wanting to go are simple: “I love my country, I love the ability to debate, I love the ability to worship as I want, I love the ability to pursue happiness and I’m willing to put my life on the line, not just for this country but for complete strangers.”

Josh offered similar sentiments: “My intent is to make my brothers who wear the uniform proud of me again and continue to bring havoc to the enemy and protect my family.” He recalled from his previous combat experience, “It wasn’t the gunfights that made me happy, it was the smiles [of those he helped protect], knowing that we did a good thing…I’m an American and this is what we do.”

Fox News reports that the father and his two sons gave the interview shortly before they shipped out and are now already on the ground in Iraq.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

His Son Stopped A Terrorist Attack…Now The Father Has This EPIC 13-Word Message For PC Liberals

The father of one of the Americans who stopped a potential terrorist attack said the “PC crowd needs to recognize terrorism for what it is.”

Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler were on a train from Amsterdam to Paris Friday when a Moroccan national, Ayoub el-Khazzani, 25, brandished a rifle after coming out of a bathroom as the train was traveling through Belgium, CNN reported. The three were able to subdue Khazzani to the ground and tie him up.

For their bravery, the three childhood friends were awarded the Legion of Honor Monday in Paris by French President Francois Hollande. The award is France’s highest decoration, The Washington Post reported.

“You have shown that in the face of terror, you can resist,” Hollande said before giving each of the men his medal. “So you have given us a lesson of courage, of determination and therefore of hope.”

There were over 500 passengers on that train. Ayoub el-Khazzani possessed over 300 bullets. And we realize now how close we were to a tragedy and a massacre.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Newsnation with Tamron Hall Monday, Emanuel Skarlatos, the father of Alek Skarlatos, told the host at the end of his appearance: “It’s better to die like a lion that be slaughtered like sheep. And this terrorist coward deserved what he got, and the PC crowd needs to recognize terrorism for what it is.” 

The younger Skarlatos and Stone traveled to Germany to receive medical treatment, while Sadler is returning to California to begin his senior year of college.

h/t: Newsbusters

Do you agree with Emanuel Skarlatos? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Husband Claims His Wife Left Him To Join ISIS. The Truth Is Much More Sinister.

A Russian man has been accused of stabbing his wife to death, justifying the act by claiming she had gone to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

37-year-old Shapi Shakhshaev allegedly stabbed his wife, Fatima, to death at their home in Moscow and dismembered her body while their three children were sleeping, The Daily Mirror reported.

[Shakhshaev] then told the cops in June that she had left Moscow with a female friend to go to Chechnya, which has a mainly Muslim population, and from there had travelled to Syria.

But after finding out from her worried family the couple were in the process of getting divorced and she was going to take the children, police searched the flat.

They uncovered the murder weapon and also traces of blood.

“We were suspicious because by all accounts she was devoted to her children and it’s unlikely she would have left them with her husband even if she was leaving,” a police spokesman said.

Fatima’s family said she was unhappy her husband was constantly playing computer games and was convinced he was cheating on her. “He kept saying she was a drug addict, but it just wasn’t true,” Fatima’s mother told The Mirror.

Like his claim about ISIS, he was always talking rubbish. She wanted to get back to our family in Mahachkala in southern Russia, but she did not make it.

He did not allow her to go. Poor kids. She left three kids. Two girls and a boy.

As for Shakhshaev, he is currently in prison awaiting trial.

What should happen to this guy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Islamic State And Jaish al-Islam Close In On Damascus; Assad’s Regime In Danger

“Islamic State has Damascus in its crosshairs” wrote Times of Israel analyst Avi Issacharoff in an analysis that was published this weekend. Issacharoff paints a bleak picture of the future of the central government of President Bashir al-Assad, who faces the slow but steady advances of both the Islamic State and Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) toward the Syrian capital Damascus.

Jaish al-Islam already has strongholds in the two Damascus suburbs of Douma and Ghouta al-Sharqiyah, and Islamic State holds parts of the former Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouk, that has been the scene of intensive fighting that caused most of the population to flee.

Assad has shown that he is willing to defend Damascus at any price. Just last week, his air force bombed a crowded marketplace in central Douma, killing and wounding hundreds of citizens. The Syrian dictator has also used chemical weapons against the population of the Jaish al-Islam strongholds in the Damascus area. In August 2013, Ghouta al-Sharqiyah was attacked with chemical weapons, an incident that almost triggered U.S. intervention in Syria and led to international action to strip Assad of his chemical weapons arsenal.

Despite these war crimes, Assad has not been able to stop the Islamic State and the Islamist coalition from closing in on the seat of his government.

The Islamic State has already advanced to Bir Qassab, 40 kilometers southeast of Damascus.

A map published on August 13, 2015 shows ISIS is moving to strangle the Syrian capital while at the same time trying to cut off the supply routes from Damascus to the coastal plain in Latakia and Tartous, which is home to Assad’s Alawite minority. The grey areas are under the control of the Islamic State, the green fields are controlled by the Nusra dominated Islamist coalition Jaish al-Islam, and the pink areas with the red dots are still under control of the regime. Assad has lost 18% percent of Syrian territory so far this year and is now in control of only five-sixths of the country.

Islamic State is also trying to set up camp at the Lebanese border.  As Western Journalism reported last week, Islamic State is “threatening Hezbollah’s rule in the Qalamoun Mountains in west Syria and reportedly is trying to seize border crossings on the Syria-Lebanon border. These border crossings are the last ones under regime control–all the other border crossings in Syria are controlled by rebels and Islamic State.”

Syrian civil war

The map shows why the Islamic State opened an offensive against Hezbollah’s rule in the border area. If the group succeeds in connecting the areas under its control in this part of Syria, Damascus will be cut off from the coastal plain and the port cities.

Issacharoff notes that Assad’s army appears to be exhausted and that “one major incident, such as the fall of a base or a strike against a leader of the regime or the army, could bring about the collapse of Bashar’s military system and the abandonment of the capital.”

This is precisely what seems to be happening right now. The Jaish al-Islam coalition is battling Assad’s forces at the Abu Al-Duhur military air base in northwestern Syria. The base has been the scene of intense fighting before; but this time, the opposition seems determined to seize control of the air base.

The intensification of the fighting and the looming collapse of Assad’s rule caused the parties to resort to even more brutal tactics. Last week, regime forces beheaded eight ISIS fighters during a battle in the area of the Kweris airbase. Assad’s air force uses large amounts of barrel bombs against not only the opposition but also against the civilian population. The attack on the central marketplace in Douma last week was only one in a long series of such attacks.

Islamic State sank to a new low when it used the outbreak of AIDS among its fighters to develop a new sort of suicide attack. AIDS-infected ISIS members who contracted the disease – as a result of the rape culture in Islamic State – are requested (or forced) to volunteer for suicide attacks that will kill two birds with one stone. The attacks will ensure the spread of the disease among the enemy and ensure that ISIS has enough suicide bombers.

ISIS reportedly also used chemical weapons against its opponents for the first time. Doctors at a hospital in Marea, a city 25 kilometers north of Aleppo (Syria’s second largest city), reported they had treated over 30 people who suffered from suppurating blisters after ISIS had shelled their neighborhood.

“On Friday, (a) US official confirmed that the Isil (ISIS) had used ‘a class-one chemical agent’ against Peshmerga forces in an attack earlier this month. Military sources had previously told American media that the substance was a mustard agent,” The Daily Telegraph reported.

Some observers fear that in the final stage of the battle for Syria, Jaish al-Islam and Islamic State will cut off the water supply to Damascus to ensure the surrender of Assad’s forces. This tactic has been used before, but only temporarily. In July, for example, Jabhat al-Nusra cut off the water supply to Damascus to force Assad’s army and Hezbollah to suspend a military operation against its forces in the area of Zabadani, close to the border with Lebanon.

Analysts of Jane’s Defence told the International Business Times that Assad is now facing defeat for the first time in the devastating civil war. “The bigger picture is that Assad is not going to last much longer,” they said.

Issacharoff doesn’t agree; he thinks the balance of power will not change anytime soon in Syria. But recent developments tend to prove the analysts of Jane’s right.

Assad’s fate, however, will be dependent on Iran and Hezbollah -his main allies- and on the coalition against Islamic State.

The latest news is that Turkey and the United States will soon launch a ‘comprehensive operation’ against Islamic State that must result in an ISIS free buffer zone in Syria. Washington and Ankara completed talks about the joint operation on Sunday.

However, a closer look at the plan reveals that the operation will be limited to the border area between Turkey and Syria and aims to prevent the establishment of an autonomous Kurdistan in Syria by the Kurdish PYD militia.

Last week, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) announced that it had moved to establish autonomous zones in southeast Turkey. The move has further increased tensions in the Kurdish areas in Turkey and Syria and could lead to all out war between the Kurds and Turkey.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth