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

BREAKING: Islamic State 2.5 Kilometers From Lebanese Border, Reportedly Planing Attack On Jordan

Today, Islamic State launched a new surprise attack in Syria that brought the Jihadist organization 2.5 kilometers from the Lebanese border, the news site Syria Direct reported.

The lightning attack was launched from the Qalamoun Mountains close to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. It is still unclear if Islamic State succeeded in seizing the border village of Jusiyah from Hezbollah. The fighting is still going on, and Hezbollah denies that ISIS is now in control of the border crossing in Jusiyah.

Earlier, Islamic State supporters had published a report on Twitter claiming the group had seized the border crossing.

Islamic State is close to controlling the city of Baiji in northern Iraq. Baiji is home to the largest oil refinery in Iraq and has been the scene of battles between ISIS and the Iraqi army and Shiite militias for months.

The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that ISIS had tightened its grip on the area of Abu-Jra’a that links the city to the refinery. Islamic State used a number of car bombs in the attack on Abu-Jra’a.

Local militias battling Islamic State claimed that the Iraqi and coalition air force did not respond to requests to bomb ISIS’ convoys coming from Mosul. A militia commander said that the coalition did not do its job and could have easily prevented the arrival of ISIS convoys from Mosul in Baiji.

Other worrying news about Islamic State came from a Lebanese retired army officer who warned that ISIS was now preparing for an assault on Jordan. The officer, Fouad al-Suwaidi, a Druze with connections in Syria, told the Lebanese news site El-Nahsra that “Jordan will likely be the new target of ISIL this time.”

Iranian news agency Fars News reported:

Al-Suwaidi enumerated many reasons that would encourage the ISIL to attack Jordan.

He pointed to the large population of the Salafis in Jordan, and said the Arab country has a great potential for ISIL supporters.

Al-Suwaidi reiterated that the economic crisis, high unemployment rate and large gap between the poor and the rich make Jordan an ideal target for ISIL.

He, moreover, said intelligence sources have revealed that ISIL Leader Abu Bakr al-Baqdadi has ordered his forces to prepare for attacking Jordan.

Most of ISIL’s recruits come from Jordan because of the country’s large Salafi population.

The apprehension (of) over 600 extremist Salafis by Jordan and trial of over 150 of them shows the extent of ISIL’s influence in Jordan.

Jordan has long anticipated an attack by Islamic State and has begun fencing off the border with Syria and Iraq. Jordan also received help from Israel in securing its border with Syria and Iraq. Israeli media reported last month that the IAF had donated 10 Cobra helicopters to Jordan that would be used to patrol the border between the Hashemite Kingdom, Iraq and Syria.

Today, Islamic State supporters called upon Turks to stage an uprising against President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. An ISIS terrorist appeared in a video that was posted on social media and called Erdogan a traitor who will deliver Turkey to “the crusaders”, a reference to the United States. He said that Erdogan had not abided by the laws of God, and called for the conquest of Istanbul, Israel National News reported.

Turkey finally joined the fight against Islamic State last month after President Obama closed a deal with Erdogan that would allow the U.S. Air Force to use the Turkish air force base Incirlik for attacks on Islamic State in exchange for U.S. collaboration with a Turkish plan to establish an ISIS free zone along the border in the area where Kurdish YPG militias want to establish an autonomous entity.

At the same time, Islamic State is on the rise in Libya, where the group crushed a revolt against its rule in the important Mediterranean port city of Sirte. The official Libyan government last week asked the Arab League to intervene and bomb ISIS positions in Libyan cities from the air.

Today, the League convened and called for an urgent Arab strategy to militarily back the beleaguered Libyan government–but stopped short of promising air strikes against Islamic State.

“The Arab League affirms that given the difficult situation, there is an urgent need to quickly put an Arab strategy in place that includes assisting Libya militarily in confronting Daesh’s terrorism,” the Arab League said in a statement.

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

WATCH Unique Footage Of Kurdish Battle Against Islamic State In Syria

There are few Western reporters who are still willing to go to the battle fields in Syria since ISIS kidnapped and decapitated several Japanese, American and British journalists. VICE News has made several movies about Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the past, but now a VICE reporter has made a series of video reports on the war between the Kurdish YPG militia and Islamic State in northern Syria.

The footage offers a unique view on the inside of the battle against Islamic State in Rojava in the north of Syria, where the YPG succeeded in driving ISIS out of the town of Hasakah after the terrorist organization defeated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces at the end of June. YPG is now almost in control of all of Hasakah.

The first VICE video deals with the conquest of Hasaka by YPG forces and contains an interview with an Arab commander of the Kurdish militia who used to work for Assad’s intelligence services. He dismissed the Turkish claims about ethnic cleansing of the areas liberated by YPG and said that the claim is a lie. He said that Islamic State displaced and beheaded members of the Christian and other majorities who live in Rojova.

(Warning: contains some graphic images)

The second video by VICE reporter Aris Roussinos shows a YPG night operation against Islamic State in the Hasaka area. A YPG commander says there isn’t a single night without battles between the Kurds and ISIS. He also says that after liberating the area of Islamic State, the Kurds will unite their lines and advance in the southern direction, something that is strongly opposed by the Turkish government.

The Kurdish commander also shows Roussinos tunnels that ISIS dug to undermine the positions of the enemy and to ambush YPG units. A second commander says that since the liberation of Kobane and Hasaka, the world should know that the Kurds are the only ones who know how to fight against ISIS. The commander says that ISIS is a professional fighting force and that it will take a few days before the last remaining ISIS positions will be conquered by YPG.

The VICE crew filmed the nightly battle against the ISIS units, which were surrounded by the Kurds. The video also shows how in the distance, coalition airplanes bomb ISIS positions ahead of the YPG assault.

(Warning: contains some graphic images)

Finally, the third video shows a female YPG unit that took part in the battle for Hasaka against Islamic State. The Kurdish militia in Syria and Iraq is the only military force in the Middle East that uses female combat units in the war against ISIS. They took this idea from the IDF, which has a female combat unit too.

The video shows new coalition airstrikes on ISIS positions on the outskirts of Hasaka and contains interviews with female YPG soldiers.

One female commander tells VICE News that the battle in Hasaka is for Christians, Armenians, Arabs and Syrians, and not only for the Kurds. She says that ISIS doesn’t know what humanity is.

Another female commander calls upon refugees to return home and to join YPG in the battle against Islamic State.

One of the commanders tells Roussinos that female soldiers had a fundamental role in forcing ISIS to leave Hasaka and that regime forces are abandoning their positions because they understand that there is no place for them in Hasaka.

The Kurdish female soldiers know that for ISIS, defeat at the hands of women is more than a humiliation–it is an unbearable ignominy that demands revenge. They also know what awaits them if ISIS would be able to capture them.

The VICE reporter concludes that the Assad regime is the main loser in this battle.

At the end of the video, Kurdish soldiers can be seen dancing close to the last remaining positions of Assad’s army while corpses of ISIS fighters are decomposing nearby.

This is the reality in Syria, where more than 250.000 people have died since the start of the uprising against Assad. Four million people fled from Syria, and 7.6 million people are internally displaced as a result of the war. Most of the country lies in ruins, and the economy is devastated; 12.2 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

(Warning:  video contains some graphic images)

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

Look What A US Military Source Just Revealed About Obama’s Anti-ISIS Deal With Turkey

American military leaders in Iraq, apparently frustrated with the White House’s strategy in the war against ISIS, decided to reveal what happened just hours after President Obama announced the agreement about Turkish-American cooperation against the Islamic State in July.

An unnamed military source told Fox News that U.S. commandants in the allied headquarters in Iraq were caught totally off guard by the Turkish actions immediately after the announcement of the agreement.

The U.S. command was “outraged” by the sudden Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish PKK positions in northern Iraq, the source told Fox News.

The source recalled how a Turkish officer entered the allied HQ and “announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately.” The Turks didn’t waste time and started to bomb PKK positions in northern Iraq without giving prior warning to the U.S. special forces who are training and advising Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the area.

“We were outraged. We had no idea who the Turkish fighters were, their call signs, what frequencies they were using, their altitude or what they were squawking (to identify the jets on radar),” the source told Sky News.

The Turkish commanders wanted the coalition headquarters to reveal specific whereabouts of coalition planes and forces to avoid bombing them, but the coalition officers refused.

“No way we were giving that up,” the military source said. “If one of our guys got hit, the Turks would blame us. We gave the Turks large grids to avoid bombing. We could not risk having U.S. forces hit by Turkish bombs.”

The revelation by the U.S. military source highlights growing tensions between Turkey and the U.S., wrote Business Insider reporter Natasha Bertrand.

But there is more than meets the eye.

The fact that U.S. Army personnel decided to talk to the media about the way the agreement between Obama and Erdoğan had been implemented points to growing frustration over the administration’s ISIS strategy within the U.S. Army.

The agreement between Turkey and the United States has frustrated the Kurdish war effort against the Islamic State in both Syria and northern Iraq. The Turks have made it clear that for them there is no difference between ISIS and the PKK. This includes the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, which is affiliated with the PKK.

The U.S. military is supporting the YPG and the Peshmerga militia in Iraq, but the Turkish leadership is against coalition aid for the Kurds. Continuing U.S. support for the Kurds will thus further complicate the already fragile strategy worked out between Erdoğan and the U.S. administration.

And there are more signs that Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State is not working.

The pro-Obama paper The New York Times revealed Wednesday that the air campaign to help Iraqi forces in the battle against the Islamic State has not resulted in significant changes on the ground. The paper blames this on the low quality of the Iraqi forces that are not making enough gains in their ground campaign against ISIS.

Ramadi, for example, the major Iraqi city seized by the Islamic State in May, is still under full control of ISIS despite repeated Iraqi promises that retaking the city would take a matter of weeks.

The Times also postulated the lack of progress is due to the complicated communication between the U.S. Air Force and Iraqi ground troops and a lack of combat experience and equipment:

In the new American way of warfare, those partners are not highly trained American troops, with more than a decade of combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan under their belts, communicating directly on the telephone in English with the American pilots overhead.

They are the Iraqi security forces, who tell their Iraqi commanders in Arabic where they need airstrikes. Those commanders then relay that information to command centers in Baghdad and Erbil, where American controllers then call the pilots in the air, in a convoluted game of telephone that can add crucial minutes to the overall enterprise.

Nor do the Iraqi ground forces have the combat engineering equipment that their American counterparts have.

High-ranking U.S. officials and former administration officials beg to differ. They think Obama’s strategy is to blame for the lack of progress in the war against ISIS.

As Western Journalism reported on Monday, Obama’s former head of military intelligence, General Michael Flynn, says that the administration willfully ignored information about the Islamic State that could have prevented the rise of the organization. He also said that Obama lacks strategic vision and only uses tactics in the battle against ISIS.

Earlier, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno took the unusual step of criticizing his own Commander in Chief in the White House about his strategy against the Islamic State. Odierno indicated that the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq had been a serious mistake:

If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it (the rise of ISIS) might have been prevented. I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.

Odierno is an expert on Iraq but was sidelined on all Iraq-related issues by Obama after the U.S. Army pulled out of the country in 2011.

More bad news about the U.S. war effort against the Islamic State came Wednesday when NBC reported that U.S. forces in Iraq apparently suffered a cyber attack at the hands of the Islamic State.

The hacking division of ISIS published on the Twitter account of Islamic State commander Abu Hussain al-Britani the names, emails, passwords, and phone numbers of personnel from the Air Force, the Marines, NASA, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“We are aware of the report but cannot confirm credibility at this time,” a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Ministry told NBS. “The safety of our service members is always a primary concern.”

This was the second cyber attack on the U.S. headquarters in Iraq by ISIS members this year. In January, a group called Cyber Caliphate hacked the YouTube and Twitter accounts of U.S. military commanders in Iraq.

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

Look What A US Military Source Just Revealed About Obama’s Anti-ISIS Deal With Turkey

American military leaders in Iraq, apparently frustrated with the White House’s strategy in the war against ISIS, decided to reveal what happened just hours after President Obama announced the agreement about Turkish-American cooperation against the Islamic State in July.

An unnamed military source told Fox News that U.S. commandants in the allied headquarters in Iraq were caught totally off guard by the Turkish actions immediately after the announcement of the agreement.

The U.S. command was “outraged” by the sudden Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish PKK positions in northern Iraq, the source told Fox News.

The source recalled how a Turkish officer entered the allied HQ and “announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately.” The Turks didn’t waste time and started to bomb PKK positions in northern Iraq without giving prior warning to the U.S. special forces who are training and advising Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the area.

“We were outraged. We had no idea who the Turkish fighters were, their call signs, what frequencies they were using, their altitude or what they were squawking (to identify the jets on radar),” the source told Sky News.

The Turkish commanders wanted the coalition headquarters to reveal specific whereabouts of coalition planes and forces to avoid bombing them, but the coalition officers refused.

“No way we were giving that up,” the military source said. “If one of our guys got hit, the Turks would blame us. We gave the Turks large grids to avoid bombing. We could not risk having U.S. forces hit by Turkish bombs.”

The revelation by the U.S. military source highlights growing tensions between Turkey and the U.S., wrote Business Insider reporter Natasha Bertrand.

But there is more than meets the eye.

The fact that U.S. Army personnel decided to talk to the media about the way the agreement between Obama and Erdoğan had been implemented points to growing frustration over the administration’s ISIS strategy within the U.S. Army.

The agreement between Turkey and the United States has frustrated the Kurdish war effort against the Islamic State in both Syria and northern Iraq. The Turks have made it clear that for them there is no difference between ISIS and the PKK. This includes the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, which is affiliated with the PKK.

The U.S. military is supporting the YPG and the Peshmerga militia in Iraq, but the Turkish leadership is against coalition aid for the Kurds. Continuing U.S. support for the Kurds will thus further complicate the already fragile strategy worked out between Erdoğan and the U.S. administration.

And there are more signs that Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State is not working.

The pro-Obama paper The New York Times revealed Wednesday that the air campaign to help Iraqi forces in the battle against the Islamic State has not resulted in significant changes on the ground. The paper blames this on the low quality of the Iraqi forces that are not making enough gains in their ground campaign against ISIS.

Ramadi, for example, the major Iraqi city seized by the Islamic State in May, is still under full control of ISIS despite repeated Iraqi promises that retaking the city would take a matter of weeks.

The Times also postulated the lack of progress is due to the complicated communication between the U.S. Air Force and Iraqi ground troops and a lack of combat experience and equipment:

In the new American way of warfare, those partners are not highly trained American troops, with more than a decade of combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan under their belts, communicating directly on the telephone in English with the American pilots overhead.

They are the Iraqi security forces, who tell their Iraqi commanders in Arabic where they need airstrikes. Those commanders then relay that information to command centers in Baghdad and Erbil, where American controllers then call the pilots in the air, in a convoluted game of telephone that can add crucial minutes to the overall enterprise.

Nor do the Iraqi ground forces have the combat engineering equipment that their American counterparts have.

High-ranking U.S. officials and former administration officials beg to differ. They think Obama’s strategy is to blame for the lack of progress in the war against ISIS.

As Western Journalism reported on Monday, Obama’s former head of military intelligence, General Michael Flynn, says that the administration willfully ignored information about the Islamic State that could have prevented the rise of the organization. He also said that Obama lacks strategic vision and only uses tactics in the battle against ISIS.

Earlier, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno took the unusual step of criticizing his own Commander in Chief in the White House about his strategy against the Islamic State. Odierno indicated that the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq had been a serious mistake:

If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it (the rise of ISIS) might have been prevented. I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.

Odierno is an expert on Iraq but was sidelined on all Iraq-related issues by Obama after the U.S. Army pulled out of the country in 2011.

More bad news about the U.S. war effort against the Islamic State came Wednesday when NBC reported that U.S. forces in Iraq apparently suffered a cyber attack at the hands of the Islamic State.

The hacking division of ISIS published on the Twitter account of Islamic State commander Abu Hussain al-Britani the names, emails, passwords, and phone numbers of personnel from the Air Force, the Marines, NASA, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“We are aware of the report but cannot confirm credibility at this time,” a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Ministry told NBS. “The safety of our service members is always a primary concern.”

This was the second cyber attack on the U.S. headquarters in Iraq by ISIS members this year. In January, a group called Cyber Caliphate hacked the YouTube and Twitter accounts of U.S. military commanders in Iraq.

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