Sources: Former Guantanamo detainees suspected of joining ISIS, other groups in Syria

397ISIS_20141030_083658Fox News, By Justin Fishel, Jennifer Griffin, October 30, 2014:

As many as 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees released within the last two to three years are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria, Fox News has learned.

The development has cemented fears that the U.S. military would once again encounter militants taken off the battlefield.

The intelligence offers a mixed picture, and officials say the figures are not exact. But they are certain at least some of the released detainees are fighting with the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the ground inside Syria. Others are believed to be supporting Al Qaeda or the affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria.

A number of former detainees also have chosen to help these groups from outside the country, financing operations and supporting their propaganda campaigns.

Sources who spoke to Fox News were not able to provide the identities of the fighters.

Senior Defense and intelligence officials say the vast majority of detainees released from Guantanamo don’t return to the fight — and of those who do, relatively few have made it to Syria.

Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.

Of those 180, sources say 20 to 30 have either joined ISIS or other militants groups in Syria, or are participating with these groups from outside countries. Officials say most of those 20 to 30 are operating inside Syria.

The development underscores just one of many long-running complications for efforts to shutter Guantanamo Bay, a promise President Obama made within hours of taking the oath of office in 2009.

Nearly six years later, that effort has run aground, complicated by problems with relocating prisoners, by concerns about fighters returning to the battlefield and by Congress’ resistance to allowing any to be detained on the U.S. mainland.

A majority of the jihadists released to their home countries tend to stay and fight locally. Afghans who return to the battlefield, for instance, tend to stay in Afghanistan.

But these officials said the former detainees who have joined ISIS in Syria have migrated from the European and African countries which agreed to receive them from the United States.
Egypt and Tunisia, as well as six European countries, are among them.

According to a source, there are 149 detainees still at Guantanamo Bay, almost 90 of them from Yemen.

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. 

Al-Qaeda issues call to support Isil in new threat to American strategy

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra pose for a picture at a checkpoint at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing in Syria Photo: MOLHEM BARAKAT/REUTERS

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra pose for a picture at a checkpoint at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing in Syria Photo: MOLHEM BARAKAT/REUTERS

Al-Qaeda branch calls on group to support Isil in blow to American-led coalition, as monitoring group reports that Isil has been able to fly three Russian fighter jets

By Richard Spencer:

Al-Qaeda’s leading terror franchise has presented a new challenge to the American-led coalition in Syria and Iraq by calling on the group to back Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant despite the two groups’ fierce rivalry.

The call by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is doubly significant because its leader is believed to have been appointed as “general manager” or chief operating officer and deputy to Al-Qaeda’s overall head, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In the past year, Zawahiri and the head of Isil, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have clashed openly and the two groups have fought each other in Syria. But America’s decision to bomb not only Isil in Iraq and Syria but also a group of Al-Qaeda fighters accused of planning an attack on the United States has drawn the two rival jihadi organisations closer together.

“We urge all Muslims to back their brethren, with their souls, money and tongues, against the crusaders,” a statement released on Friday said. “We call on anyone who can wear down the Americans to strive to do so by military, economic or media means.” The American decision to bomb an outpost of Al-Qaeda’s official faction in the Syrian Civil War, Jabhat Al-Nusra, caused outrage in the rebel cause.

Many rebels were already angry that after refusing to intervene militarily on their side against the Assad regime, the US was nevertheless prepared to bomb Isil positions. The attack on Jabhat Al-Nusra, which had fought closely alongside other rebel factions, including pro-Western ones, was seen as an outright betrayal of the anti-Assad cause.

Now the United States is having difficulty finding rebels to train and arm in accordance with the broader plans outlined by President Barack Obama to support the “moderate” cause in the war.

Read more at The Telegraph

Also see:

Thomas Joscelyn:

No explicit denunciation of the Islamic State

“Resurgence” republishes a statement by Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, from earlier this year. Omar says that all American and Western forces must be withdrawn from Afghanistan, and he calls on the entire Islamic world to denounce Israel for its supposedly “savage aggression” against “oppressed Palestinians.”

In “Resurgence,” as in other al Qaeda messages and statements, Omar is called “Amir ul Mominin,” or the Commander of the Faithful, a title that is usually reserved for the leader of an Islamic caliphate. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State, has attempted to usurp this title for himself.

In its propaganda, al Qaeda has taken a subtle approach to responding to the Islamic State’s claims. The group has pushed its allegiance to Omar, and his presumed role as the rightful caliph.

“Resurgence” does not include any specific denunciations of the Islamic State. But it does reproduce a quote from Zawahiri explaining how a proper jihadist caliphate will be built. After arguing that jihadists are an inseparable part of the ummah, or community of Muslims, Zawahiri writes, “The Islamic State will be established – by the help and will of Allah — at the hands of the free, sincere and honorable Mujahideen. It will be established with their sacrifices, generosity, consent and collective choice.”

This could be read as a thinly-veiled critique of the Islamic State, as one of the pro-al Qaeda jihadists’ chief criticisms of Baghdadi is that he has tried to impose his caliphate on all other Muslims, eschewing the type of consensus that al Qaeda believes is necessary to form first. In the context of their rivalry with the Islamic State, senior al Qaeda leaders have reproduced similar quotes from Zawahiri throughout the year.

Another piece in “Resurgence,” written by Zawahiri’s son-in-law, Muhammad bin Mahmoud Rabie al Bahtiyti (a.k.a. Abu Dujana al Basha), urges Muslims to support the mujahideen in Syria, but also says nothing about the Islamic State. Al Bahtiyti released an audio message warning against the Islamic State in late September. Even though al Bahtiyti clearly sought to undermine Baghdadi’s group, he did not explicitly name the Islamic State in that message either.

ISIS threat: What Team Obama doesn’t want you to know

oliver northFox News, By Oliver North, Oct. 22, 2014:

The vaunted Obama “National Security Team” tells us their “broad-based coalition” is “succeeding” against the savages who variously describe themselves as ISIS, ISIL, IS or “The Caliphate.” That’s according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest in press briefings on October 14 and 15. Don’t believe it.

Here – from friends with “boots on the ground” – are facts about what’s really happening that the Obama administration either doesn’t know, doesn’t want you to know – or both:

First, the number of ISIS “jihadis” in Iraq and Syria is much greater than we are being told. According to multiple sources in Baghdad, Irbil and elsewhere “down-range,” there are upwards of 40,000 IS fighters in Syria and an equal or greater number in Iraq.

The very visible fight for Kobani on the Syria-Turkey border is a “diversion” – a military distraction – created by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the “Islamic State’s” self-proclaimed “caliph.” He is a vicious butcher, but no fool. He and his underlings understand their neighborhood and our western media.

Expecting reporters to come – and they have – he sent 4,000 ISIS fighters to assault the Kurds in Kobani – while holding another 5,000+ in reserve – with orders not to cross the nearby border with Turkey. Western media outlets flocked to the frontier and lined up their cameras next to Turkish Army tanks and armored vehicles.

American pundits ask, “Why aren’t the Turks intervening to save the Kurds? Al-Baghdadi knows the Kurds desperately holding on in Kobani are predominantly affiliated with the PKK – the Kurdistan Workers Party – against which Turkish governments have been waging bloody civil war for three decades. In Ankara, the Erdogan regime isn’t about to further the cause of an independent Kurdistan – or prevent a sanguinary end for the Kurds in Kobani.

Meanwhile in Iraq, where the real battle is being fought – there are no western cameras to record the serial defeats ISIS is inflicting on the Shiite-led government of Haider al-Abadi. All but unnoticed, Anbar Province – the heart of Iraq’s “Sunni Triangle” – has fallen to highly mobile IS units.

During the past month, while we focused our lenses on Kobani, Al Baghdadi’s terror army killed, captured and murdered more than 3,500 Iraqi soldiers – all those unable to flee. Now, ISIS is poised to seize Haditha Dam, source of nearly one third of the nation’s hydroelectric power and Al Asad, the Iraqi government’s last remaining airbase west of Baghdad.

ISIS forces have invested Baghdad on three sides and Sunni jihadists are conducting near daily suicide bomb attacks in the capital city’s Shiite neighborhoods. One U.S. officer told me, “These SVBIEDs (Suicide Vehicular-borne Improvised Explosives) in Baghdad are ISIS probes and rehearsals for the attack they plan to launch on the U.S. embassy.”

“Worse yet,” says a retired senior intelligence official, “nobody in Washington seems to comprehend this is all part of the bloody ‘holy war’ between Sunnis and Shiites that’s been going on since the seventh century. ISIS is gaining ground, recruits and military prowess because al-Baghdadi has succeeded in portraying himself as the ‘protector of Sunni Islam.’ He claims his ‘Sunni Caliphate’ will prevent Shiites from establishing a hegemon from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. His propaganda not only shows IS fighters as brutally victorious, it also depicts the U.S. and the ‘Obama coalition,’ as allied with the Shiites in Baghdad, al-Assad’s Alawite dynasty in Damascus, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Ayatollahs in Tehran. That’s why al-Baghdadi continues to attract Sunni militants by the thousands from every part of the planet – including the United States.”

All with whom I have recently communicated about these matters agree it’s unlikely ISIS can seize and occupy Baghdad – at least for now. But they also say too little attention is being paid to the risk of an attack on the largest U.S. embassy in the world; that “ISIS ethnic and religious cleansing” cannot be stopped by undirected airstrikes alone; and “the Kurdish Peshmerga are not receiving sufficient help to make a difference.”

Meanwhile, Americans here at home are preoccupied with whether we can “defeat” Ebola as if a pandemic was about to sweep the nation. Though the virus has killed fewer people around the planet this year than ISIS has murdered in Syria or Iraq this month, it’s clear the O-Team wants us to believe Ebola is our greatest peril.

Commander-in-Chief Obama has already dispatched nearly 4,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to battle Ebola – almost four times as many as he has sent to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. We can only pray none of those committed to the “Ebola Battle” become infected or get taken hostage by Boku Harum terrorists.

POTUS and fellow travelers in the so-called mainstream media keep telling us Ebola is our most imminent threat. But Defense Secretary Hagel is more concerned about a more lethal adversary. In a speech on Monday, Oct. 13 to the “Conference of Defense Ministers or the Americas” in Peru, Mr. Hagel described “Climate Change” as our primary enemy.

Confused? You’re not alone. So is our president. On October 14 he attended a mini-military “summit” at Joint Base Andrews. After 2 hours at this “How To Fight” gab-fest with “more than 20 leaders of the Anti-ISIL Coalition” cameras were allowed in so POTUS could inspire us by saying, “…There will be days of progress and days of setbacks.” He was apparently speaking without the aid of a Tele-Prompter.

News flash, Mr. Obama: The barbarians are at the gates of Baghdad. They are coming for us.

Oliver North is the host of “War Stories” in FOX News Channel, the bestselling author of Counterfeit Lies and founder of Freedom Alliance a 501(c)(3) organization providing college scholarships to the children of military personnel killed in the line of duty.

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In Reversal, Turkey to Open Passage to Kobani for Kurdish Fighters

Turkish Kurds watch airstrikes Saturday on the Syrian town of Kobani from neighboring Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border. KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Turkish Kurds watch airstrikes Saturday on the Syrian town of Kobani from neighboring Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border. KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

By JOE PARKINSON in Istanbul, SAM DAGHER in Dohuk, Iraq and RORY JONES in Beirut:

Turkey said Monday it would allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross its territory to reinforce the embattled Syrian city of Kobani, reversing its long-standing opposition to such aid hours after U.S. airdrops of weapons and ammunition to the city’s Syrian Kurdish defenders.

Speaking in a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu didn’t offer details how Turkish authorities would enable the transfer Kurdish Peshmerga fighters across Turkey or whether Syrian Kurdish authorities would accept additional forces.

“We are aiding the transfer of Peshmerga forces to Kobani for support. Consultations on this matter are ongoing,” Mr. Cavusoglu said.

The announcement that Iraqi Kurdish fighters would be allowed by Ankara to transit through Turkish territory to Syria followed by hours the start of U.S. airdrops of weapons and supplies to Kobani’s defenders, despite public opposition from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Erdogan said Saturday he wouldn’t allow U.S. arms transfers to Kurdish fighters through Turkey and equated the Syrian Kurdish fighters with Islamic State.

Turkey’s government is wary of the Syrian Kurdish militia, which is loyal to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which Ankara has fought in a low-intensity war for three decades.

In a telephone conversation Saturday, President Barack Obamainformed Mr. Erdogan about the airdrops to Kobani, which demonstrated that Turkish objections wouldn’t stop Washington providing weapons to the Syrian Kurds and protecting the credibility of campaign it is leading against Islamic State.

Three U.S. C-130 cargo planes dropped 27 bundles of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies in the northwest of the city, U.S. officials said.

The aid traveled first to Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, which controls the Peshmerga force and is headed by Massoud Barzani, Kurdish leaders said. From there, it was transported to Kobani.

Leaders of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, the Syrian Kurdish political group whose fighters are leading the battle against Islamic State in Kobani, praised the U.S. move.

“This is a turning point that will set the foundation for better ties in the future,” Aldar Khalil, senior leader in the Social Democratic Movement, an umbrella group for Syrian Kurdish parties that includes the PYD and is tied to the PKK.

“This is a huge deal,” Mr. Khalil said.

There were no signs early Monday that the fresh aid had affected fighting between Kurdish and Islamic State forces, Ferhad Shami, a freelance Kurdish journalist accompanying a Kurdish militia unit inside Kobani, said by telephone.

The militant group was using more sophisticated weaponry, such as tanks, field artillery and Humvees, than the Syrian Kurdish forces, Mr. Shami said.

Read more at WSJ

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Obama Throws the Free Syrian Army Under the Bus

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, October 16, 2014

For the past three years, the Obama administration has hailed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as the saviors of Syria — the “vetted moderate” force that was going to topple the butcher Assad. Because of that, the administration provided training, money and weapons to prop up the FSA (the word is they sent lawyers too).

But according to a report last night by Hannah Allam at McClatchy, Obama is now throwing the FSA under bus:

John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.

“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.

That was perhaps the bluntest answer yet to the question of how existing Syrian rebel forces might fit into the U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State. Allen said the United States’ intent is to start from scratch in creating a home-grown, moderate counterweight to the Islamic State.

For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front.

Last month I reported here at PJ Media about the coordination of the “vetted moderate” FSA with Jabhat al-Nusra and even ISIS. That coordination was later confirmed by a senior FSA commander.

Those reports came just as Congress was considering a vote to spend another $500 million to train their administration’s “vetted moderate” partners. That funding wasapproved by both the House and the Senate before Congress left town for the election break. With Obama cutting the FSA loose less than a month later, those who voted against the funding are going to look like geniuses.

Now that the FSA is safely under the bus it remains to be seen exactly who Obama is going to enlist to train and fight. Most of those who can fight are already in the fight. What are they going to do now, put out an ad on Craig’s List?

As one observer noted last night, Syria watchers should keep an eye out for the following ad showing up in the help wanted section of Middle East newspapers:

Wanted, Multicultural, non-sectarian, Jeffersonian democrats interested in military careers. English a plus. Drug test required.

Under Obama’s bus must be getting crowded…

Islamic State Commander Key Figure Behind Recent Military Gains

Omar al-ShishaniBy Bill Gertz:

A Chechen jihadist is emerging as a key Islamic State military commander credited with a series of recent military gains in central Iraq that has left the capital of Baghdad increasingly vulnerable to attack.

Abu Umar al Shishani, a former Republic of Georgia soldier turned jihadist, conducted what security analysts are calling brilliant battlefield maneuvers, involving feints and encirclement, that helped the Islamist forces seeking to take over Iraq win key battles against Iraqi government forces and anti-Islamic State militias in recent weeks.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said Shishani is one of the Islamic State’s (IS, also known as ISIL and ISIS) most capable military commanders.

“He seems to have a strong following among rank and file fighters and has shown on the battlefield he understands how to blend strategy and tactics,” the official said. “There are multiple ISIL attacks that have his fingerprints all over them.”

Last month, Shishani-led IS forces succeeded in trapping an entire elite Iraqi military unit in central Iraq, and killed up to 300 of its fighters, a major setback for Iraqi government efforts to retake parts of the country controlled by the Islamic State  since a June incursion from Syria.

Analysts of the conflict say Shishani has skillfully directed IS forces in eastern Anbar province during an offensive there that prevented Iraqi forces from retaking strategic towns along the Euphrates River, including Anah, Haditha, Hit, and Fallujah—all key locations on a route leading to Baghdad.

“Umar al Shishani appears to be central to ISIL’s Anbar offensive,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a Washington-based counterterrorism analyst.

The IS commander is using tactics far different than those used by IS fighters elsewhere in the region, he said.

“The group, in the majority of areas, has fought like a conventional military, but Shishani has emphasized speed and agility, and his tactics have several layers of complexity, including regularly utilizing feints and harassing attacks to try to force his opponents to chase him and thus place themselves in a vulnerable position,” said Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The battlefield successes led by the IS leader in Iraq contrast sharply with those used by other IS forces in northern Syria, where the group has been fighting to take control of the ethnic Kurdish town of Kobani near the Turkish border.

As a result, Shishani’s military style combining insurgency and traditional military tactics will likely be adopted by other IS units, or the group’s current military offensive risks stalling, Gartenstein-Ross said.

Pro-government Iraqi military troops are struggling against IS forces, which were bolstered by the capture of two Iraq army divisions and their arms and equipment in June, after the Iraqis fled rather than fight.

U.S. defense officials said IS continues to make gains in Anbar province where the fighters are currently located on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Ramadi.

A senior U.S. defense official described the Iraqi army hold on Anbar, a gateway to Baghdad, as “tenuous.”

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

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Turkish President Declares Lawrence of Arabia a Bigger Enemy than ISIS

1413221153467.cachedBy Jamie Dettmer:

In a stunning speech, Erdogan railed against Western “spies” and journalists and seemed to endorse the ISIS plan to redraw the region’s borders.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took on the iconic Lawrence of Arabia Monday in a furious anti-Western diatribe.  The Turkish president compared the outside meddling in the region now to the role the renowned British army officer played during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans during World War I. And Western diplomats here say the tirade bears a rather striking resemblance to some of the propaganda that has come out of the so-called Islamic State, widely known by the acronym ISIS or ISIL.

Last week, stung by Western criticism of Turkey’s conspicuous absence from the U.S.-led air combat against the terror organization, and the refusal of the Turkish government to rescue the besieged town of Kobani, just across the Syrian border, Erdoğan insisted he had no sympathy for the jihadists.

But on one very important point of history and geography it now appears there’s a serious convergence of views between ISIS and Erdoğan. In his speech Monday at a university in Istanbul, the Turkish president blasted the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret understanding (signed behind Lawrence’s back) that divided up the Middle East after World War I between British and French spheres of influence. That deal opened the way for a British vow to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine and led to borders drawn by the European powers that created modern Syrian and Iraq. Historian David Fromkin summed up the mess that resulted in the title of his book The Peace to End All Peace.

“Each conflict in this region has been designed a century ago,” said Erdoğan. “It is our duty to stop this.”

In point of fact, T. E. Lawrence was opposed to the secret Anglo-French agreement, because it reneged on promises given the Arabs by London in a bid to persuade them to revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule. He tried mightily to sabotage the deal. But Erdoğan is either unaware of that or sought to simplify history.

ISIS, meanwhile, has done some simplifying of its own, and on similar lines. Its militants say explicitly they are out to erase the borders that Sykes-Picot established across most of the modern Middle East. In the summer, after sweeping in from Syria to seize Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, they produced a video called, yes,  ”The End of Sykes Pico,” in which they blew up a border outpost and leveled part of the earthen barrier on the Iraqi-Syrian border. They declared triumphantly they would bulldoze other Western-imposed borders as well.

The Erdoğan speech was suffused with an angry anti-Western narrative—he also tilted at Western journalists, accusing them of being spies—and will no doubt thrill some of Erdoğan’s supporters. In southern Turkey, some local officials in his Justice and Development Party (AKP) express sympathy for ISIS. But it will ring alarm bells in Western capitals at a time coalition officials are redoubling their efforts to try to persuade a reluctant Turkish government to play a forward-leaning part in the American-led war on the jihadists.

Turkey is considered crucial if President Barack Obama’s war aim to “degrade and defeat” ISIS is to be accomplished. The country has been the main logistical base for the Islamic militants, the main transit country for foreign fighters to enter neighboring Syria and a key source of it’s revenue from the smuggling of oil tapped in captured oil fields. In his determination to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, Erdoğan has been accused of at best turning a blind eye to the rise of ISIS and at worst actively encouraging it.

Read more at The Daily Beast

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Turkey agrees to let U.S. planes use its bases for attacks on Syria

Turkish armored vehicles patrol the border on Oct. 12 near the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish armored vehicles patrol the border on Oct. 12 near the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Times, By W.J. Hennigan:

Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. warplanes to use its air bases for bombing missions in Syria, as well as provide rebels there with light arms and train them with infantry tactics for the ongoing battle against Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said Sunday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke Sunday with Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and thanked him for aiding in the fight against the Sunni extremists, who have seized vast swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

“Both leaders have stressed the need to continue taking a comprehensive strategic approach to the threat posed by ISIL and other extremist groups,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Hagel was en route to the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru, which brings together 34 defense ministers. The event Monday is the culmination of a six-day trip including talks with top leaders in Colombia, Chile and Peru.

The developments with the Turkish government come after John R. Allen, a retired Marine Corps general and the special envoy coordinating the U.S.-led international effort against Islamic State, arrived in Ankara, the Turkish capital, last week to persuade the government to take a more active role against the Islamic State.

The Pentagon does not have an effective partner on the ground in Syria and is not in close communication with any militia group. Officials hope to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels as a proxy force against Islamic State.

The U.S. military and its coalition of European and Arab allies have waged war against the extremist fighters through aerial bombardments. In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen limited effectiveness from the targeted airstrikes, particularly at the Syrian border town of Kobani.

The U.S. military has carried out an aerial assault for a week, yet Islamic State militants are still threatening to take control of the town.

Turkey’s willingness to host warplanes and train and equip Syrian fighters strengthens the alliance between the U.S. and Turkey. It also brings U.S. military jets closer to the fight in Syria, which shares a 500-mile border with Turkey.

One of the bases includes Incirlik in southern Turkey, which is within 100 miles of the Syrian border, according to U.S. defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private talks between the two governments.

Turkish officials have been asking the U.S. to provide a buffer zone along the border to stem the flow of refugees and stop the spillover of violence. The country also wants the U.S. to establish a “no-fly” zone, in which fighter jets would regularly patrol the border and shoot down any Syrian military aircraft that breach it.

The U.S. government has repeatedly said it isn’t considering either proposition.

”We don’t see it at this point as essential to the goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we’ll continue to talk to the Turks and entertain any specific proposals that they may have.”

Military officials from U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command will arrive in Turkey this week to discuss other opportunities for collaboration.

TURKEY ‘PROVIDING DIRECT SUPPORT’ TO ISIS

kurdish-fighterWND, By Aaron Klein:

TEL AVIV – NATO member Turkey is providing direct intelligence and logistical support to the ISIS terrorist organization, according to a senior Egyptian security official speaking to WND.

The official said Egypt has information Turkish intelligence is passing to ISIS satellite imagery and other data, with particular emphasis on exposing to ISIS jihadists the positions of Kurdish fighters and the storage locations of their weapons and munitions.

The official confirmed reports that Turkey released ISIS terrorists from jail in a sweeping deal with the jihadist organization that saw the release of 49 hostages from the Turkish embassy in Mosul who were being held by ISIS.

While some news media reports say Turkey may have released at least 180 ISIS terrorists in the deal, including two British jihadists, the Egyptian official said the number of ISIS terrorists released by Turkey was closer to 700.

Tensions between the Turkish government and its Kurdish population have been high as Kurds have sought autonomy for three decades and have faced mass ISIS attacks.

Kurdish forces have been leading a military campaign targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday, Kurdish protesters demanding help in the fight against ISIS clashed with police in Turkey, leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured, according to reports.

The Egyptian information about Turkey’s alleged role in providing support to ISIS seems to bolster accusations against Turkey and Arab allies made last week by Vice President Joseph Biden.

It was reported Biden last weekend apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for “any implication” that Turkey or Arab allies had intentionally supplied weapons to ISIS or helped in the growth other Islamic jihadist groups in Syria, according to the White House.

One week ago, Biden told an audience at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that ISIS had been inadvertently strengthened by actions taken by Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Arab allies who were supporting the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Biden further implied Turkey, the UAE and other Arab countries were supplying weapons to al-Qaida and its offshoots in Syria, including the al-Nusra front.

“They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad,” Biden told students. “Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.

“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” Biden said.

Regarding Turkey’s alleged role, Biden said, “President Erdogan told me, he’s an old friend, said, ‘You were right. We let too many people (including foreign fighters) through.’ Now they are trying to seal their border.”

Erdogan told reporters he vehemently denied making such a statement.

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Washington’s VICE: Supporting Islamists

vice newsCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

VICE News recently produced a revealing documentary highlighting the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist Syrian rebels. Embedded with Tawhid Brigade fighters in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the documentary maintains a generally unquestioning and supportive tone, but nonetheless is informative. Within the first five minutes, the narrator affirms the Tawhid Brigade’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the role of Qatar in supporting and backing the Islamic Front is repeatedly emphasized throughout the hour-long program. In a segment with the Islamic Front Sharia court, the judges vow to implement Islamic law in a manner not much different from the Islamic State (ISIS), although stressing that ISIS should have waited until Syria was fully liberated and Assad beaten. The VICE video does not mention, however, the Islamic Front’s ties to Al Qaeda, through the AQ-linked Ahrar Al-Sham unit of the Front, whose connections have been ably documented by jihadist monitoring website, the Long War Journal.

While perhaps news to the general public watching VICE News, these sorts of facts are well known. They were certainly known even before the push by elements of the foreign policy community in Washington to highlight the Islamic Front as the kind of rebels that should be supported in Syria. One piece for Foreign Affairs in January of 2014 referred to the Front’s Ahrar Al-Sham as “An al Qaeda–Linked Group Worth Befriending.” One of the authors of that piece, William McCants, works for Brookings Institute, a think tank revealed by the New York Times to have received $14 million over four years from the government of Qatar. The Qataris themselves had arranged for Ahrar Al-Sham to meet with Western diplomats in November 2013 just three months prior to the Foreign Affairs piece. Of course, Brookings would have us believe that their support for Qatari-backed rebel groups, and their own backing from Qatar are unrelated. And of course, it is unsurprising that Qatar would back a Muslim Brotherhood-linked rebel group, considering the strong support Qatar has expressed for the Brotherhood in the past.

Not all those who wished to put the U.S. into bed with an Al Qaeda-Muslim Brotherhood alliance in Syria have financial interests as potential motivations. For some, that support is likely ideological- as they have, like the Tawhid brigade, ties to the Muslim Brotherhood themselves.

Consider the repeated calls by the Syrian Emergency Taskforce for U.S. support for the Islamic Front, even after the U.S. was rebuffed by the group. According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, an intelligence digest focusing on the Muslim Brotherhood, four of the seven named board members of the SETF have ties to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations. The executive director of SETF, Mouaz Mustafa, was responsible for arranging Senator John McCain’s meeting with the Northern Storm rebel group. Northern Storm has been accused of playing a role in the abduction of journalist Steven Sotloff. Sotloff’s fixer for the trip, who was also kidnapped by ISIS but released, was affiliated with the Tawhid brigade, which Northern Storm later joined.

Another group, the Syrian American Council (SAC), has also attempted to position the Islamic Front as appropriate U.S. allies. Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, the group’s director of government relations accused the United States of bombing Islamic Front targets in an article entitled, “In Syria, the United States is bombing friend and foe alike.” Ghanem has publicly praised the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief shariah jurist, Yusuf Al Qaradawi, a man who called for jihad in Syria, and called for the 2004 killing of Americans in Iraq. The Syrian American Council has sponsored a speaking tour of the United States featuring a known radical cleric named Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi who supported Palestinian suicide bombings. Another cleric Sheik Osama al-Rifai, who raised funds for the Syrian Sunrise Foundation (which shares board members with the SAC), has publicly supported the Islamic Front. Among the places where Rifai raised funds was the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview, Ill., whose two founders have Muslim Brotherhood ties according to documents released by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation trial.

All of this background is part of what makes the VICE documentary so revealing. What VICE stated openly is an unassuming factoid that can, in fact, be found on Wikipedia. But its unstated significance explains much regarding elements among those who support the Syrian rebels, and their fixation on involving the U.S. with the Islamic Front. The Front’s sharia judges openly, and without slick editing, stating their case for sharia law, including beheadings for “criminals,” is something that people outside of Washington will see and comprehend, even if those who should know better continue to push for relations with the Islamist group.

It seems for many in Washington, support for Islamists is a vice they are unable to quit.

*******

Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length)

Published on Sep 30, 2014 by VICE News

 

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Obama Betrays the Kurds

pic_giant_093014_SM_Kurds-GNational Review, By Robert Zubrin:

In his speech to the United Nations last week, President Obama pledged to the world that the United States would use its might to stop the horrific depredations of the terrorist movement variously known as the Islamic State, ISIS, or, as he calls it, ISIL.

“This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria,” the president proclaimed. “Mothers, sisters, daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been dumped in mass graves. Religious minorities have been starved to death. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world.”

“No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions,” he said. “There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death. . . . We will support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities. We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL. We will train and equip forces fighting against these terrorists on the ground.”

These are brave words that well and truly denounce evil for what it is. Unfortunately, the president’s actions since then have been anything but consistent with his pledge to stop the terrorism.

As these lines are being written, some 400,000 Kurds in and around the town of Kobane in northern Syria, on the Turkish border, are being besieged and assaulted by massed legions of Islamic State killers armed with scores of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery. Against these, the Kurdish defenders have only AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The Kurds have called on the U.S. to send in air strikes to take out the jihadist forces. In response, the administration sent in two fighter jets Saturday, which destroyed two Islamic State tanks and then flew away. The Kurds are begging for arms. The administration has not only refused to send arms, but is exerting pressure both on our NATO allies and on Israel not to send any either. Over 150,000 Kurds have fled their homes to try to escape to Turkey, but they are being blocked at the border by Turkish troops. Meanwhile, Turkey is allowing Islamist reinforcements to enter Syria to join the Islamic State, while Islamist elements of the Free Syrian Army, funded and armed by the United States, have joined forces with the group in the genocidal assault on the Kurdish enclave.

According to Kurdish sources, the Turks are massing troops on their own side of the border, with the apparent plan being to sit in place and allow the Kurds to be exterminated, and then move in to take over the region once they are gone. This is the same plan as Josef Stalin used when he allowed the Nazis to wipe out the Polish underground during the Warsaw rising of 1944, and only afterward sent in the Red Army to take control of what was left of the city. If anything, it is even more morally reprehensible, since it could be pointed out in Stalin’s defense that his forces were at least pummeling the enemy elsewhere while the Warsaw fight was under way. In contrast, the Turks are doing nothing of the sort. For an American administration to collude in such a mass atrocity is infamous.

If we are to win the war against the Islamic State, we need ground forces, and the Obama administration has rejected the idea of sending in any of our own. The Kurds, who have demonstrated both their bravery and their willingness to be friends with America, are right there, and already engaged in the fight. If supplied with adequate arms and backed by serious U.S. tactical air support, they could roll up ISIS as rapidly as the similarly reinforced Northern Alliance did the Taliban in the fall of 2001. Done right, this war could be won in months, instead of waged inconclusively for years.

The administration, however, has rejected this alternative, and has instead opted for a Saudi-Qatari plan to allow the Syrian Kurds to be exterminated while training a new Sunni Arab army in Saudi Arabia. Given the Saudi role in the new army’s tutelage and officer selection, the Islamist nature of this force is a foregone conclusion. At best it might provide a more disciplined replacement for the Islamic State as an Islamist Syrian opposition at some point in the distant future (current official administration estimates are at least a year) when it is considered ready for combat. Meanwhile the killing will simply go on, with the United States doing its part to further Islamist recruitment by indulging in endless strategy-free bombing of Sunni villages.

So now, to paraphrase the president, “Mothers, sisters, daughters will be subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Innocent children will be gunned down. Bodies will be dumped in mass graves. Religious minorities will be starved to death. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings will be beheaded, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world.”

Surely we can do better.

— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of The Case for Mars. The paperback edition of his latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, was recently published by Encounter Books.

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Why U.S. Should Avoid Sending Its Ground Troops to Fight ISIS

US Navy U.S. Army Sgt. Mark Phiffer on guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in Southern Iraq in 2003

US Navy U.S. Army Sgt. Mark Phiffer on guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in Southern Iraq in 2003

BY RYAN MAURO:

A new poll shows that 45% of Americans would support sending ground troops to Iraq to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and 37% are opposed. Despite the majority opinion that  boots are needed on the ground to uproot ISIS, but there are grave dangers for a strategy where those boots are American.

President Obama has ruled out a combat role for U.S. soldiers in Iraq, but the question is what constitutes a “combat role.” The Deputy National Security Advisor says a combat role is “where Americans are on the ground leading the fight.”

About 1,600 American troops have already been sent to protect diplomatic facilities and to advise the Iraqi and Kurdish forces. As I wrote when Obama’s Islamic State strategy was first announced, there’s a realistic possibility that these non-combat troops will find themselves in a combat situation.

The White House is open to the possibility that American advisors could be in “forward-deployed positions” to help Iraqis in combat without engaging in combat themselves. President Obama is understandably hesitant to take that step.

He rejected the advice of General Lloyd Austin, who leads the military in the region as commander of Central Command. Austin wanted a “modest” amount of troops, mostly special operations forces, to become advisors in the battlefield.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey,testified to Congress that requests for U.S. advisors to join Iraqi soldiers in combat were denied. However, President Obama told him that he’d consider each individual request. Meaning, he has not did not ruled it out.

It is unclear if raids on high-value targets by the CIA or military special operators qualify as a forbidden “combat role.”  It is very possible that a target like the Islamic State’s “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, could be located and sharing the intelligence with Iraqis deemed too risky. If an airstrike is not possible, then a raid must commence.

The Obama Administration is right in its avoidance of a military role in Iraq similar to what existed before December 2011 when the withdrawal was completed.

From the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 to the ending of combat operations on August 31, 2010, a total of 4,409 U.S. troops and 13 Defense Department civilians were killed and 31,925 troops were injured.

Even after combat operations ended and Operation New Dawn took place from September 2010 to December 2011, 66 U.S. troops were killed and 295 were wounded. This does not count the psychological damage to the U.S. soldiers and the personal toll their families faced.

In addition to the prospective casualties, there are seven reasons to believe that such a role would not be worth the cost and could actually be counterproductive to the goal of destroying the Islamic State.

Read more at Clarion Project

Congress’ Support of Syrian Rebels Fraught With Danger

A free Syrian Army fighter runs to avoid sniper fire (Photo: © Reuters)

A free Syrian Army fighter runs to avoid sniper fire (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

The U.S. Congress has approved the Obama Administration’s plan to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State terrorist group. The plan is fraught with danger and the Congress must ensure that five steps are taken to minimize its risks.

1. Create a Secular-Democratic Force

The U.S. must recognize that every existing rebel group, including the much-touted Free Syria Army, includes an Islamist component. It is against Western interests to support Islamist radicals and they are not worthy of American taxpayer money.

The bill “requires that opposition groups be vetted for associations with terrorist groups, Shia militias aligned with or supporting the government of Syria, and groups associated with the government of Iran, including, but not limited to: ISIL [the Islamic State]; Jabhat al Nusrah; other al-Qaeda related groups; and Hezbollah.”

The weak standard is that rebels must not be linked to the Assad regime (which Syrian rebels are not by definition) and Al-Qaeda affiliates, which presumably includes Ahrar al-Sham whose leadership has had high-level Al-Qaeda ties.

Over a dozen of Ahrar al-Sham’s leaders were killed in a suicide bombing recently, presumably carried out by the Islamic State. Leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Front, a coalition of Syrian Islamist rebels,  mourned them.  Its new leader previously led a Free Syria Army unit.

So who can the U.S. pick as an ally?

In April 2013, the New York Times reported, “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” As of June 2013, 10 of 12 rebel groups were Islamist.

The most obvious candidates are the Kurds who have proven so reliable and effective in Iraq. They have defeated Al-Nusra in battle. Kurds also fought Islamist Kurds aligned with Al-Qaeda (the Islamic Kurdish Front), Ahrar al-Sham and the Qatar-backed Ahfad al-Rasoul militia.

“We as Kurds are usually secularists, and the reason for that is the injustice that we suffered through Islamic history, and certainly we would be against any new Caliphate project,” said the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria.

Kurds are only about 10% of the Syrian population so their reach is limited. Other non-Kurdish groups must be assessed.

Read more at Clarion Project

The History and Capabilities of The Khorasan Group

AQ-2ISIS Study Group, Sep. 27, 2014:

There’s an article from the National Review written by Andrew McCarthy stating that the al-Qaida (AQ) cell known as the Khorasan Group (KG) “doesn’t exist.” We disagree with that on the grounds that many of our staff have served in Afghanistan’s RC-E battle space and have personally been involved in intelligence operations regarding this organization. Hundreds of other 35-series personnel and 18Fs have deployed to this part of Afghanistan and have been tracking the group since they first started to pop up in reporting in 2010 – not 2013 as Mr. McCarthy alleged.

The Khorasan Group Does Not Exist -

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/388990/khorosan-group-does-not-exist-andrew-c-mccarthy

This group is very much real, although their numbers are small with reporting that suggest their strength is between 50-100 personnel. KG started out as an intelligence apparatus for AQSL (Al Qaeda Senior Leadership) tasked with identifying individuals in the local populace suspected of being an asset for western intelligence services – even individuals within the AQ and Taliban ranks have been targeted if they were deemed “suspect.” This is made possible through the deep ties they’ve cultivated with the local tribes on both the Afghan and Pakistani sides of the border. It’s been implied that they may have a separate HUMINT network in the Middle East from members of the group that are of Arab ethnicity.

They eventually evolved into a special operations entity that refined IED TTPs (Techniques, Tactics and Procedures) for use in complex attacks. In fact, they reportedly trained the Taliban on the construction and implementation of 200-400 lbs explosive devices. That’s one of the reasons the Taliban (and Haqqani Network) became more effective in the P2K region, (Paktiya, Paktika and Khost Provinces) which was one of the primary areas KG operates in. Nangahar and Konar are other areas that have seen reporting of KG activity.

They’re greatest success has come in the form of performing a supporting role in joint operations with other jihadist groups such as the Haqqani Network (HQN) and Taliban (to include Pakistani Taliban or “TTP” [Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan]-not to be confused with Tactics, Techniques and Procedures). Despite the reporting we’ve seen throughout RC-E (Regional Command-East), the group was never very successful in their attempts at launching high-profile attacks themselves. Even with the assassinations, most of the incidents proved to have been the work of others. They’re a great support element, but as the main attraction? Not so much.

Indeed, we’ve been seeing open source reporting for some time on them over the years, although sporadic. It comes down to the American MSM not paying attention until the US government finally started talking about them sending personnel to Syria. Another thing to consider is that this particular AQ cell are supposed to be the “executioners,” so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that they’re not into propaganda videos. Truth is they’ve been sending personnel to Syria since last year for the purpose of assisting al-Nusra in identifying potential defectors to the Islamic State (IS) or western intelligence assets. They’re secondary task was to assist in the training of al-Nusra personnel on the above-mentioned TTPs in IEDs and executing complex attacks. At no time was this cell ever “absorbed” into al-Nusra. They remain to this day a separate entity that reports to the senior leadership in Pakistan.

It’s also important to note that this small cell is currently spread thin throughout Syria and the AF/PAK region. They’re in Syria to help identify the intelligence leaks and potential defectors to IS. In the AF/PAK region, they’re tasked with countering IS efforts at establishing a foothold in South Asia – which is AQSL’s back yard. The fact that the KG contingent sent to Syria is also reported to have experienced some defections themselves to IS has only further degraded their capabilities. The recent AQIS (Al Qaeda in South Asia) hijacking of the Pakistani warship – which in itself was an extremely bold operation – is an indicator of resources and personnel being stretched thin.

AQ remains a viable threat to the American people, but KG is primarily a threat to US military personnel stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. As stated previously, this group is not an “imminent threat” to the American people living inside the US. All the over hyping of the group that’s coming out of the Obama administration is the result of lazy analysis, failure to listen to the analysts on the ground and for simply being in over their heads. Remember, most of the people placed in DoS (Department of State) and in key positions in the Intelligence Community don’t have much experience outside of academia or whatever politically appointed position they had previously.

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The Defense of Kobani

Published on Sep 27, 2014 by Carrie Allison

 

Gloria Center, By Johathon Spyer, Sep. 27, 2014:

Jerusalem Post, 27/9

This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) city in northern Syria. Kobani is one of three autonomous enclaves maintained by the Kurds in Syria.

As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted; they have not moved forward in the last 24 hours. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in freezing the advance.

Yet Islamic State has captured around 60 Kurdish villages in this latest assault, and its advanced positions remain perilously close – around 14.5 km. – from Kobani city. Around 100,000 people have fled Kobani for Turkey, from the enclave’s total population of around 400,0000.

Islamic State employed tanks, artillery and Humvees in its assault, according to Kurdish sources. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have no comparable ordnance. However, their fighters were assisted by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas who crossed in from Turkey, and appear to have played a vital role in halting the advance.

Whether the current situation will hold is not yet clear. But the commencement of US and allied bombing on Islamic State in Syria probably means the jihadi forces will have more pressing issues to attend to for the moment.

The assault on Kobani indicates that Islamic State is turning its attention back to Syria. The Kurdish enclave has long been a thorn in the side of the jihadis; the Kurdish-controlled area interrupts the jihadis’ territorial contiguity, separating Tel Abyad from Jarabulus and making a large detour necessary from Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa city to the important border town of Jarabulus.

For this reason, the jihadis have long sought to conquer the area. Abu Omar al-Shishani, the much feared Chechen Islamic State military commander, is reputed to have made the conquest of Kobani a personal mission. With the weapons systems captured in Mosul now fully integrated, and with further progress in Iraq impeded by the presence of US air power, it appears Islamic State is now making its most serious effort to achieve this goal.

The Kobani enclave has long been an isolated, beleaguered space. This reporter visited there this past May; at the time, Islamic State was trying to block the supply of electricity and water into the city. Skirmishes along the borders were a daily occurrence.

Particularly notable also were the very strict border arrangements kept in place by the Turkish authorities to the north – in stark contrast to the much more lax regime maintained facing the areas of Arab population further west.

As of now, a determined Kurdish mobilization appears to have stemmed the jihadi advance. Unless the picture radically changes again, Kobani looks set to remain a thorn in the side of Islamic State.

Perwer Mohammed, 28, an activist close to the YPG in Kobani, sounded worried but hopeful when speaking from the city on Monday: “They are now on the outskirts of Girê Sipî [Tel Abyad].

But they will have to pass through our flesh to get to Kobani, and they are no longer advancing from the east.”

A variety of forces contributed to the mobilization; 1,500 PKK fighters arrived in Kobani city to reinforce the YPG there, according to Kurdish sources.

In addition, forces loyal to both the Kurdistan Regional Government of Massoud Barzani and to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are set to arrive in Kobani.

The PUK forces, according to the organization’s website, are currently on the Iraq-Syria border, waiting to deploy.

The YPG itself, meanwhile, is trying to push forces through from Ras al-Ain to Tel Abyad on the eastern edge of the enclave. A concerted Kurdish military effort is under way.

Suspicions remain regarding possible collusion between Turkish authorities and Islamic State. The Kurds have long maintained that at least in its initial phase, Islamic State was the beneficiary of Turkish support. Evidence has emerged of Turkish forces permitting Islamic State fighters to cross back and forth across the border during early clashes with the YPG.

The subsequent picture remains shrouded in ambiguity, as Turkey officially denies any relationship with Islamic State. But the release of 49 Turkish hostages by the terror movement this week under unclear circumstances has once more cast a spotlight on the possible complex connection between the two.

If the situation in Kobani holds, this will offer proof of the limitations of Islamic State forces. In Iraq, their advance has been stopped by the coordination of US air power with Iraqi and Kurdish forces. In Kobani, as of now at least, the jihadis appear to have been stalled by determined resistance on the ground alone. Yet the last chapter remains to be written.

Should Kobani fall, large-scale massacres of the type which befell the Yazidi communities in the Mount Sinjar area in August would inevitably follow; this is likely to result in a massive new refugee problem. Moreover, an Islamic State victory would consolidate the borders of the jihadi entity considerably.

The clash between Islamic State and the Kurdish autonomous areas also has broader ramifications than merely tactical military significance – it shows the extent to which “Iraq” and “Syria” have become little more than names.

In Kobani, two successor entities to these states are clashing. The Kurds have organized three autonomous cantons stretching east to west from the Syria-Iraq border to close to the Mediterranean coast. The Sunni jihadis, for their part, have organized their own “state,” going southeast to northwest.

Kobani is the point at which these two projects collide. Hence, the outcome of the current fight will indicate the relative strength of these two very different projects.

Yet the clash itself offers a broader lesson regarding the shape of things to come, in the ethnic/sectarian war now raging across what was once Iraq and Syria.

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