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Forces Backed by America and Russia Make Progress Against ISIS

Next Cold War Roundup 12/28/15

 

Kurds and New Syrian Democratic Forces Coalition Seize Tishrin Dam, Cross Erdogan’s Red Line (The Euphrates River), Poised to Cut ISIS Supply Lines

_ The US-backed coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces, have seized the strategic Tishrin dam on the Euphrates  river, south of Kobane.  The SDF was created after the Pentagon’s “train and equip” program failed and “dominated by the main Kurdish militia in Syria known as YPG, or People’s Protection Units, has become a main force in fighting IS, capturing dozens of villages in northern Syria over the past weeks.”

 

_ The SDF does not intend to stop at the Tishrin Dam. It intends to take Jarablus, ISIS last remaining Turkey-Syria border crossing, which would cut supply lines to their capital of Raqqa:

_ A member of SDF’s military command, Colonel Silo, said:

“Soon, we hope to liberate the entire surrounding areas of the dam, which generates electricity to large areas of Aleppo, Manbij and Kobani,” Colonel Silo added, noting that by liberating the dam, the three ISIS-held cities Raqqah, Manbij and Jarabulus have been cut off.

_ TTG at the Sic Semper Tyrannis blog provides this description of the operation and its importance:

This offensive is well outside the range of artillery interdiction from Turkey and, thanks to the R+6 imposed Turkish no-fly zone, the Turks cannot provide air interdiction for their IS brethren. If the SDF pushes west towards Manbij and the R+6 pushes east from Aleppo, the question of Jarabulus becomes moot.

_ This almost looks like a US-Russian anti-ISIS coalition, doesn’t it? Russia’s Sputnik reports that the Russian air force provided air support to the SDF near Raqqa. They also supplied important indirect support to the Tishrin Dam operation because they’ve made it clear that even if Kurd’s crossing the Euphrates is Erdogan’s red line, if he tries to use his air force against the Kurds again to stop them, Turkish planes will be shot down if they enter Syrian airspace.

“With the support of the Russian aviation group, the Syrian Democratic Forces’ units… are conducting an offensive on the Daesh capital, the city of Raqqa.”

Iraqi Forces Reclaim Control of Ramadi

_ With American air support and the help of US special operations forces, the Iraqi army have retaken Ramadi from ISIS

_ Statement from Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US anti-ISIL operation :

Leader of Twelve Thousand Strong Syrian Opposition “Rebel” Group Killed in Airstrike Near Damascus on Christmas

_ Zahran Alloush was the military chief of the Jaysh al Islam, a major component of the Islamic Front and “was described as one of the most powerful persons in rebel-held Syria.”  Zahran had called for the killing of all Shiites and Alawites and had used Alawites as human shields by placing them in cages on flatbed trucks. Still, Jaysh al Islam was considered to be a moderate rebel group that would take part in the Syrian – Syrian negotiations next year and his death is said to have put those talks in jeopardy now that he cannot be at the negotiating table after being killed by a Syrian air force strike. Footage of that strike was released in which a building where Zahran and five or more other commanders were holding a high-level Jaysh al Islam meeting.

_ The reactions to Zahran’s death, as described here by Moon of Alabama, were mixed and even puzzling.

The ruthless terrorist and sectarian Salafist insurgent leader Zahran Alloush was mourned by the Turkey backed Syrian Islamic Council, the U.S. backedFSA and affiliates, by Riad_Hijab the former Syrian Prime Minister who defected and who now heads the Saudi formed opposition body, by the terrorist groupsAhrar al Sham, Jabhat al Nusra/al-Qaeda and  by the head of Human Rights Watch […]

_ Here is a sampling of the genocidal intentions against Syrian Alawites by two Syrian opposition “intellectuals”:

Russian Defense Ministry Releases More Information About ISIS Oil Smuggling Operation in Syria, Iraq and Turkey

_ The Russian Ministry of Defence provided an impressive, detailed presentation/briefing on recent military operations in Syria with extensive photographic evidence of the ISIS oil smuggling operations, which has been changing in response to Russian air strikes on tankers that transport the oil from Syria and Iraq into Turkey, for later exportation into the international oil market.  “Chief of Main Operational Directorate summed up results of operation carried out by the Russian aviation group in Syria.”

 

Moderate Syrian Opposition Will be Represented by Appointed Prime Minister, According to Reports

Per Al Rai’s Elijah Magnier, a reliable source on the ground in Syria and Iraq, the United States and Russia have selected a new prime minister and have agreed that Assad may run for president in new elections, will be recognized as the legitimate government by the international community and will not be tried for war crimes. According to Magnier’s sources, a businessman from London will be appointed to the prime minister position as representation of the “moderate opposition”. This position will have two important roles: the writing of a new constitution and in the reconstruction of Syria. The U.S. said it needs some time to persuade various “rebel” groups to come together and fight against other groups who reject the ceasefire and reconciliation. Russia said that it will continue military operations against extremists who are still fighting during that time, even if it eliminates them all.

 

Turkey Continues “Anti-Terror” Operation Against PKK Kurds, Rolling Tanks and Killing Citizens in Southeastern Cities

_ Photos of destruction in the Sur District

_ Despite the military operations against Kurdish civilians in the southeast, Kurdish groups held a two-day meeting and issued a statement calling for self-rule, something Erdogan said he would never allow.

“The rightful resistance mounted by our people against the policies that degrade the Kurdish problem, is essentially a demand and struggle for local self-governance and local democracy,” said the final resolution of the meeting, titled “declaration of political resolution regarding self-rule”.

The declaration called for the formation of autonomous regions including several neighboring provinces of Diyarbakir to take account of cultural, economic and geographic affinities.

File: The roof of a mosque in Bristol, England. (Flickr / Nick)
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Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.