Subscribe to Peter Clifford Online via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 266 other subscribers



International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Online Marketing
Add blog to our blog directory. “I so appreciate your Pulitzer-class reporting on the Kobane and Syrian conflicts and look forward to your updates. This is so much better than the superficial coverage that the major TV networks are providing.” JM.



TIMELINE – 12th OCTOBER 2015 12.12 GMT – UPDATED (scroll down) 19.05 GMT:

Last Friday, the YPG/YPJ carried an operation against an Islamic State tactical unit near Sarrin in the south-west of Kobane Canton while it was preparing an attack.


Female Football Team Training in Kobane

The YPG destroyed an IS armed vehicle, killing one IS Jihadist and wounding another.

Also on Friday, IS shelled Kurdish villages east of the Euphrates, killing a 5 year old boy in Kobane Canton and wounding his father.

In Kobane city itself, the Kurds put together a demonstration on Friday, demanding that Turkey release the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, who has been locked up in a Turkish prison for 16 years now.

There were also pictures released of young girls in Kobane training for football, quite common now in the Western world, but still rare in the Eastern.

The big news released yesterday, Sunday, for the whole of the north of Syria was a joint statement released by a new group, the “Syrian Democratic Force”.

In part the statement reads: “Due to the accelerated conditions in both the political and the military development …….. there must be an establishment of a unified military force to all Syrians consisting of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and all others living in the geographic locations of Syria.


New “Syrian Democratic Force” Formed from Existing Groups

The Syrian Democratic Force is to launch a self-governing Syria [under which] the Syrian people who would be willing to live in freedom, impartiality and dignity with inclusiveness to all for obtaining their legitimate rights.

On this basis, the following military groups have declared to establish the Syrian Democratic Forces:

1. Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC)
– Jaysh Al-thuwar
– Burkan Al-Furat Operations Centre
– Al-Sanadid Forces
– Brigade Groups of Al-jazira
2. The Assyrian Military Council
3. YPG
4. YPJ

The Syrian Democratic Force brings together around 30,000 fighters and according to local sources has not only received the support of the US but was air dropped 110 pallets of arms and ammunition on Sunday night.

This ties in with statements from the US on Friday when they cancelled the failed $500 million Opposition training programme (scroll down – see below) and said they would actively support “effective groups” on the ground.

(EDITOR: Good news indeed – perhaps there is hope for Syria yet?)

This new force may be particularly important for the Assyrians. IS has just vowed to executed 180 Christian Assyrian hostages they took back in February from villages in Hasakah province around Tel Tamar.

Negotiations have been ongoing since February but so far the Assyrian community has not met the ransom demanded by IS of $12 million for their release. Last Wednesday IS released video of the execution of 3 Assyrians that they already held captive.

In Iraq, in the ongoing joint offensive by the YPG/ Yezidi militia and the PKK to the south-west of Mount Sinjar, more gains have been made.

11 x IS Jihadists area reported killed today, Monday, in clashes near the mountain and another 22 were killed yesterday, Sunday. On Saturday a further 4 villages, Sikeniyê, Jiddale, Heyalê and Wardiya, were liberated, though 4 Peshmerga fighters were also killed the same day by IED bombs planted on Mount Sinjar by IS.

Clearly the loss of IS territory at the foot of Mount Sinjar, and in particular the closing of their supply route between Mosul and Syria, has not pleased the Islamic State leaders.

According to Yezidi sources, IS executed 21 of their own fighters yesterday evening, Sunday, in a school courtyard at Baaj, just south of Sinjar city, infront of local tribal leaders, for withdrawing from the area just liberated by the combined YPG, Yezidi and PKK force.

Also on Sunday, the Iraqi Air Force bombed a IS convoy on its way to a meeting of senior Islamic State leaders at Karabla in north-west Iraq.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was once again believed to be travelling in the convoy and possibly injured, though the extent of his injuries is not known.

Al-Baghdadi was thought to have survived an earlier airstrike in February after being severely injured in a similar convoy attack at Al-Qa’im while crossing from Syria to Iraq.

The location of the meeting in Karabla was also attacked, according to the Iraqi military, and a number of IS commanders were killed and injured.

French sources are suggesting that their first air attacks in Syria last week, which apparently hit a training camp for foreign Jihadists near Raqqah, may well have killed a number of French nationals. “We are not interested in which passport they have, ” said a spokesman for the French Ministry of Defence.


Massive battles continue to take place on the northern Ghab Plain and on the borders of Idlib province as Russian jets and Assad’s military pound the Opposition.


Russia’s Latest Combat Helicopter Mil Mi-28 Arrives in Syria

The exact position is not clear, with both sides making claims that are difficult to verify and within a short time may indeed change.

What is clear is that after 6 days, the Assad regime has not made the advances it would have hoped, given its air superiority and massive fire power.

The body bags are starting to fill up and being sent home.

37 bodies of Hezbollah fighters are already reported to have arrived back in Beirut today, including that of leading Hezbollah commander Hassan Al-Haj who was killed in fighting in Idlib province on Saturday.

The biggest danger for the Opposition now is that Putin, having committed himself to shore up the Assad regime, cannot be seen to lose.

Sources in touch with the joint Iraq/Syria/Russia/Iran operations room in Baghdad, report that the Russian air command operation in Syria is saying that they need to “increase the amount of airstrikes in Syria from 60 a day to 200 – 300 a day”. So far, 60 strikes a day is “insufficient to prepare the theatre of war for ground operations”.

In other words, the current air offensive has been testing the capability and resistance of Opposition forces on the ground and so far they have held up too well against the Russian onslaught.

It is only technical issues with the limitation of 2 airfields that prevent the Russian Air Force from increasing their daily strikes. A third airfield is under construction and will be ready within a month. You can read more, HERE:


Citizens of Kafranbel Protest and Burn Russian Flag

In a TV interview, yesterday, Sunday, President Putin said that Russia’s objective was to “stabilise the Syrian Government and create conditions for a political solution” (EDITOR: In Assad’s favour presumably, so he would be in a position of strength).

The Opposition’s political organisation, the Syrian National Coalition, has told the UN that in the face of Russia’s current aggression in Syria, it will not discuss a political solution at all.

Meanwhile, Opposition fighters report that the Russian jets are mainly striking civic buildings and houses, causing civilians to flee the area or left exposed, while the fighters themselves hunker down in an effective routine to hide from airstrikes.

The head of one local council said, “The regime’s planes could bomb maybe one or two buildings, but now a whole district is destroyed [by the Russians]. There is no specific time and we can’t take any more precautions. If you are destined to get killed you will get killed”.

The main result is that more displaced civilians are heading for the Turkish border and Europe.

Weapons for the Opposition are getting through, but the requests for ground-to-air missiles to counteract the Russian bombing are still being met with a “No”. The Guardian has more.

On the ground, the regime has claimed that it has seized the villages of Tak Sukayk and Kafr Nabuda, however Kafr Nabuda, which the Opposition vacated early this morning, appears to have been something of a trap.

The Opposition appears firmly back in command of Kafr Nabuda this evening, Monday, with a lot of fighters happy at their success, (Arabic only), HERE:  and scenes from the fighting earlier in the day before the Assad regime were pushed back out, HERE:


Opposition Fighters in Hama Province

Opposition fighters destroyed a BMP armoured vehicle near Kafr Nabuda, HERE:  and a tank, HERE:

Opposition forces say that they have also captured both a tank and an armoured vehicle in Kafr Nabuda and that clashes around Sukayk continue.

Opposition fighters also destroyed a tank on Tell Othman, HERE:

At Atshan, a Russia Today reporter embedded with Assad’s troops and hiding at the mosque, acknowledges (in English) the heavy fighting and says any gain has been at great cost to the regime, HERE:

There is a similar picture in Latakia, with the Assad regime making gains after intense Russian bombing but then losing ground again.

Opposition fighters took out a 14.5 mm gun mounted on the back of a technical (armed pick-up) while it was still firing in the Jubb al-Ahmar area. The resulting bonfire and chain of ammunition explosions is spectacular, HERE:

An unconfirmed report claims that Opposition fighters took over Doureen village in the suburbs of Latakia city and attacked Assad and Russian military personnel, but further details awaited.

Heavy fighting continues elsewhere in Latakia province, with the Opposition destroying a regime cannon behind a barrier at Khan Arnabah, HERE:

In Aleppo province, the Opposition are claiming that IS has handed over the territory it recently gained north of Aleppo city around the economic free zone to the Assad regime, though this has yet to be confirmed.

In Damascus province, Government troops, military vehicles and Hezbollah fighters have been moved from Zabadani towards the capital. It is believed that a major attack on the Opposition held suburb of Daraya is imminent.

A regime airstrike also destroyed the Al-Kaf hospital in Eastern Ghouta over the weekend, the most important medical facility in the area. Report, (Arabic only) HERE:

Lastly, a little “ray of sunshine” in a very dismal scene as Malak, aged 7, tells her story of escaping Syria to get to the island of Lesbos in Greece, here:


Putin Leaps into the Quagmire



TIMELINE – 9th OCTOBER 2015 13.20 GMT – UPDATED (scroll down) 22.52 GMT:

Islamic State (IS) have continued to attack YPG/YPJ positions in Rojava this week, attacking villages near Ain Issa on both Wednesday and Thursday.


Kurdish YPJ Fighters on Patrol

An attack on the village of Mikhayrim on Wednesday was repelled with the death of one IS Jihadist and a second wounded.

The Thursday attack at 7.00 in the morning was on a YPG security position between the villages of Shergirat and Hashe, IS eventually retreating after making no advances.

A follow-up to to Tuesday’s IS attack on Tal Abyad (scroll down – see below) saw the YPG together with Kurdish security, the Asayish, kill 2 x IS Jihadists and recover a number of weapons and ammunition.

According to the Kobane Council of Social Affairs, as many as 175,000 people have returned to settle in Kobane Canton in areas that have been cleared of mines, in the last 9 months.

250,000 lived in Kobane before the start of the war in Syria, but this swelled to 450,000 as people fled from fighting in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Over in Aleppo city, where the YPG/YPJ have been protecting the Kurdish population in the Sheikh Maqsood district from attacks by the Al-Nusra Front (ANF), the YPG carried out an assault operation on the Bostan Pasha neighbourhood, killing 2 ANF Jihadists. At the same time, ANF put out a video claiming the YPG has “attacked them with a car bomb”.

EDITOR: While I am not convinced by this, as it is not normal YPG behaviour, ANF, who are “masters” at car bombing, killing and injuring hundreds, often just innocent civilians passing by, can hardly complain if their own tactics are used against them.

In Iraq, the YPG, along with the PKK and Yezidi militia yesterday, Thursday, mounted an effective attack on the Islamic State, killing an estimated 30 x IS Jihadists. One Yezidi fighter also died.

Initially the Kurdish/Yezidi force took 2 strategic hills west of Mount Sinjar and then took control of an IS checkpoint at Shilo near Skiniya, south-west of Mount Sinjar, liberating the village of Al-Neban in the process. This move effectively closes the IS route along the road from Mosul to Syria.


Despite continued Russian bombing and a major Syrian Army assault, the Opposition in Idlib and Hama provinces have continued, what activists are calling, the “Assad tank massacre”.


A Kalibr Cruise Missile is Fired from a Russian Warship

At the time of writing, a further 6 tanks or armoured vehicles had been destroyed today.

The Free Syrian Army brigade, Liwa Fursan al-Haqq, took this regime tank today at Ma’an, HERE:  while Jaish Al-Fatah tried to storm the town, situated east of Morek and due north of Hama.

On the Ghab Plain Opposition fighters using more TOW anti-tank missiles blew up a BMP armoured vehicle, HERE:  and a Zell truck at Al-Brika, HERE:

And there goes a Shilka tank at Al-Mughayr, HERE: plus a field cannon, HERE:

This armoured bulldozer met it end in eastern rural Hama, HERE:

2 technicals, armed pick-up trucks, were also destroyed between Atshan and Ma’an and unconfirmed reports say that a helicopter was brought down at Kafr Nabodeh, details as yet unknown.

This technical was destroyed at Al-Mughayr, HERE:

A summary of the previous 2 days of “tank massacres” can be seen, together with stirring music, HERE:

Following yesterday’s story of 26 Kalibr cruise missiles fired form Russian ships in the Caspian Sea (scroll down – see below) reports emerged from the US that 4 of these missiles, which are new and relatively untried, had come down in Iran.

Russia vehemently denied that, while Iran would not “yes” or “no”. In the city of Talsh in Iran’s Caspian region a very loud explosion brought people onto the streets in the middle of the night. Iranian authorities claimed it was an explosion at a “gas cylinder filling plant”.

Some of the Russian cruise missiles were filmed flying across Iraq Kurdistan at tremendous speed, here:

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, said that America had no warning of the missile launches and, “It remains our hope that Russia will see that tethering itself to a sinking ship is a losing strategy”. Without further elaboration Carter also said that Russia can expect casualties “in the coming days”.

If you can stand the ads, CNN has a good video report.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said today, Friday that it’s planes had hit the HQ of Liwa al-Haqq “killing 200 insurgents, including two ISIS field commanders” and another “100 insurgents near Aleppo”. (EDITOR: For a start Liwa Al-Haqq has nothing to do with IS). An estimated 90% of Russian strikes are hitting Opposition positions, not IS, as illustrated in the map below.


US and Russian Airstrikes in Syria

US jets have been told to avoid Russian aircraft in order to not get in a confrontation, much to the fury of US Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Turkey’s President Erdogan, who was in Moscow just over a week ago and told nothing about the upcoming Russian moves, is also angry, threatening to cancel or move gas and nuclear energy supply contracts according to Foreign Policy Magazine.

Saudi Arabia has already said it will up its arms deliveries to Opposition groups in Syria in view of the Russian intervention and “will not rule out sending ground to air missiles”, according to a spokesman.

At the other end of the spectrum for the Opposition, the US today, Friday, announced that it is cancelling the $500 million Opposition fighter training programme, which has been a complete disaster, and will now concentrate on “equipping and enabling” effective Kurdish, Arabic and other groups against IS, with whom it has already been working on the ground.

These groups will be equipped with arms and ammunition, communications equipment and training to co-ordinate with US airstrikes. “The work we’ve done with the Kurds [YPG] in northern Syria is an example of an effective approach,” US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told a news conference in London.

Meanwhile, French jets attacked IS positions around Raqqah last night, Thursday, and Russia has once again been accused of dropping cluster bombs. 5 civilians were killed and 50 wounded at the Nazeheen refugee camp for displaced Syrians in the Idlib countryside after a night time attack.

After Russian jets attacked its positions and bases north of Aleppo, the Opposition has abandoned the hard-fought–for villages of Tel Susayn, Maartiytah, Kafr Qaris, Tel Qarah, and the town of Fafin, as well as the Free Zone and the Cement Factory, all of which are situated in the area to the north and west of the Infantry Military College, which they also surrendered to IS.

The Military College was one of their most important bases in the area. IS made one of their biggest gains in just 24 hours as the Opposition fighters found themselves squeezed between the regime to the south and the Islamic State to the north. This now puts IS on the frontline hard against Assad’s forces and just 2 kilometres to Aleppo city itself.


Situation Map for North of Aleppo City 09.10.15

An early casualty of clashes between IS and Assad’s forces late last night, Thursday, was the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Hussein Hamdani, who oversaw the elite Iranian Quds force in Syria and was a specialist at integrating militias with regular military.

In May 2014, Hamdani boasted in an interview with Fars News Agency that Iran had “built a second Hezbollah in Syria.” He was on sanctions lists in both the US and the EU for “human rights violations”. (EDITOR: So probably no great loss to the decent world then!)

Lastly, from Quneitra province in the south there is a report that the Commander of Assad’s Base 90, under threat from Opposition fighters, has been arrested by Government security services on “charges of cowardice and dealing with rebels”.


Putin Working His Way Towards the Nobel Peace Prize



TIMELINE – 7th OCTOBER 2015 13.18 GMT – UPDATED (scroll down) 20.25 GMT:

Latest reports from Rojava this morning, Wednesday, suggest that the YPG in their campaign around Mount Abdul Aziz have captured no less than 17 villages from the Islamic State (IS).

The Women of Kobane Learning to Defend Themselves

The Women of Kobane Learning to Defend Themselves

Effectively, this means that they have cleared IS completely from the Mount Abdul Aziz region, including the villages of Bidee, Khazaa, Kharaa, Tel Hamam, Jafr Jrada, Hezomiya, Um Bakir, Um Taweel, Um Fakhir and Sfan.

The YPG also claims that they killed 106 x IS Jihadists in the operation and taken 10 of the IS fighters prisoner.

The YPG also acknowledges the help of the Coalition in the campaign and US Central Command (Centcom) reports for October 6th confirms 5 airstrikes near Hasakah, hitting 4 separate IS tactical units and destroying an IS vehicle bomb, 5 x IS buildings and an IS checkpoint.

Two other strikes in Syria for the same day hit an IS crude oil collection point near Deir Ez Zour and a tactical unit near Manbij in Aleppo province, as well as destroying another IS building.

In the report for October 5th, 6 airstrikes near Hasakah hit 7 separate IS tactical units, destroyed 4 x IS fighting positions and 3 x IS vehicles.

There is also a report that IS made another attack on a YPG checkpoint on Tal Abyad on Tuesday night, but were driven back with IS loss of life.


Dead Body of IS Suicide Bomber Found Under Rubble in Kobane

Meanwhile, over in Kobane city, the local Kurdish women are learning to defend themselves, and clearing rubble from a collapsed building has revealed the long dead body of an IS Jihadist, still complete with his suicide belt.

Interesting commentary on Women’s Rights in Rojava, where a new law has proscribed polygamy, except in special circumstances of infertility, and honour killings are to be treated the same as any other type of murder, HERE:

Also the moving refugee story of Fakhria, a lady in her 60’s from Kobane, who following illness on the journey, lost her family with whom she was travelling, in Hungry.

The BBC’s John Sweeney, met her on the way and eventually reunited Fakhria, who barely spoke a word of English, with her son and family in a completely different country. Text and video at the BBC.

Turkey’s reputation around the world slide downwards again last weekend after both still pictures and video emerged of Turkish soldiers dragging the dead body of HDP Kurdish activist around the streets on a rope behind an armoured vehicle in southern Turkey.

At first the Turks tried to claim that it was fake and had been “Photoshopped” and then when that failed they tried to claim it was “normal procedure” to check that the “body was not armed with a bomb”.

Finally, in a begrudging admission of wrong doing, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu promised an investigation, saying, “It is unacceptable to treat any corpse this way, even if it is a dead terrorist”.

“Our interior ministry… will conduct a comprehensive investigation, not into the incident itself, but into the way in which this incident was reflected to the world,” he continued.


Turkish Military Drags Kurdish Man by his Neck Behind Armoured Vehicle

EDITOR: So that’s alright then, it’s “okay” to drag someone round the streets by their neck … but just make sure you control the publicity properly!

It is not known in what circumstances the man, identified as Haci Lokman Birlik, died in the first place but his family is known to have connections with the Kurdish HDP Party which recently won 80 seats in the Turkish Parliament – a situation which Turkey’s President Erdogan would love to overturn.

Hopefully many Turks, not just Turkey’s Kurds, will be sickened by the Government’s behaviour and vote accordingly in the forthcoming elections on November 1st.

Many see the act as racist and deliberately aimed at Turkey’s Kurdish citizens as a warning – “behave or this is what happens to you”.

You can read more in the Huffington Post.


After a week of air attacks it is very clear that the Russian Air Force has no real intention of confronting the Islamic State (just like Turkey) but is obsessed with trying to destroy Assad’s main Opposition forces.

One estimate put the Russian attack rate on the Opposition at 55 to just 2 on the Islamic State.


Russian Weather Girl Gives Analysis of “Perfect Bombing Weather” in Syria

A Russian TV Weather Girl even announced during her broadcast that it was “good weather for bombing in Syria”. More, HERE:

Most of the Russian attacks on the Opposition have been in Hama and Idlib provinces, trying to drive the Opposition fighters back from the borders of Lattakia province.

To this end a regime ground invasion was also launched from 4 directions to follow on from the Rusian bombs. Thousands of civilians have fled the area to avoid the bombing and fighting.

There are reports of bombs hitting hospitals, including the Orient Hospital in Kafranbel, and civilians and the use of free-fall and cluster bombs.

Reports from Russian say that 26 missiles were fired at the “Islamic State” in Syria from Russian naval vessels based in the Caspian Sea 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) away. The terrain hugging Kalibr cruise missiles (known by NATO as Sizzlers) travelled over both Iran and Iraq at a height of just 50 metres above the ground to hit their targets, supposedly within an accuracy of 3 metres.

Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, (EDITOR: Clearly talking out of his backside) said on Russian TV there had been “112 Russian attacks on the Islamic State” since September 30th.

In the now crowded airspace over Syria there is US concern that there will be an accident or clash of Russian and Coalition jets and at least one Coalition aircraft has already been re-routed to avoid a collision. Russian aircraft are reported to have crossed into Turkish airspace on both Saturday and Sunday, causing the Turks to scramble their F-16s.

The Turks have on previous occasions shot Assad’s planes out of the air, but may hesitate with Russian aircraft. This video has emerged of Russian attack helicopters based in Latakia, HERE:


Opposition Capture T-72 Tank in Northern Hama

Despite the Russian heavyweight hardware and judging from the reports flooding in today from Hama and Idlib, the Assad ground attack has so far been a major failure.

As of this evening, Wednesday, Opposition fighters had managed to destroy more than 20 regime tanks alone, just today, and captured another 4.

The Free Syria Army (FSA), Fursan al-Haq Brigade, destroyed 2 regime tanks, both on the move, HERE:  and HERE:

Another brigade destroys a BMP armoured vehicle, HERE: and FSA’s 13th Battalion destroyed another regime tank near Morek, HERE:

The FSA 101st Infantry division destroyed this regime tank, just with mortar fire, HERE:

In addition to that the Opposition have destroyed a regime anti-tank gun, artillery and a number of technicals (armed pick-ups).

So far then a good day for the Opposition despite massive attacks against them.

Russian airstrikes are also reported to have hit the Aleppo suburbs of Darat Azzh and Anadan, HERE:

In Quneitra province, the Opposition continue to make progress and are within 5 kilometres of linking up with Opposition forces nearer Damascus in Western Ghouta, putting the regime-held town of Hadar under serious threat.

Hezbollah is reported to be gearing up to counter-attack the insurgents, with as many as 40 of their vehicles seen entering Assad’s 90th Brigade base which is now almost within firing range for the Opposition Fighters since last week’s gains in the province. You can read more, HERE:

Situation Map in Quneitra province for October 7th courtesy of @archicivilians. A bigger version can be found, HERE: SYRIA NEWS


Islamic State Stands By and Watches On With Wonder



TIMELINE – 5th OCTOBER 2015 13.58 GMT:

Once again on Friday, the Islamic State (IS) launched attacks on positions of the YPG near Mount Abdul Aziz not far from Hasakah, and rained down mortars on the villages of Jafar and Dawoodiyah.


YPG on Mount Abdul Aziz

6 YPG fighters were killed in the attack and another 10 wounded.

The YPG temporarily evacuated the area and Coalition jets attacked IS positions and supply lines near the IS-held town of Shaddadi.

On Saturday, Kurdish forces returned to the area and engaged IS insurgents, killing 28 of them, destroying several vehicles and seizing large amounts of ammunition.

The YPG also repelled attacks on the villages of Bdej, Ghara and Tel Hamam.

Yesterday, Sunday, the YPG had gained 3 new villages and taken 6 x IS Jihadists prisoner.

The Coalition on Sunday also struck at the IS stronghold of Hawija in the eastern countryside of Hasakah province, successfully hitting an IS weapons store.

On Saturday in Kobane Canton, IS also tried to inflitrate the village of Hashe to the east of Ain Issa but fled after a series of minor clashes. 2 roadside IED devices were disarmed by the YPG between the village of Marge and Ain Issa.

Another interesting interview with Sipan Hemo, the General Commander of the YPG in which he explains their current role and aims, HERE:

The important news today for Rojava is that there are unconfirmed but persistent reports that the US has at last supplied arms and ammunition to Burkān Al-Furāt, the “Euphrates Volcano”, joint Free Syrian Army (FSA) and YPG force that effectively defended Kobane city and drove the Islamic State from Kobane Canton.

Opposition sources estimate that Burkān Al-Furāt is currently made up of 25,000 men, 5,000 from the FSA and 20,000 from the YPG.

Their next target is believed to be an assault with Coalition back-up on the IS Syrian “capital” of Raqqah. Watch this space.


Back to School in Kobane – Don’t Be Late!

EDITOR: Over in Kobane city, the new school year began on Sunday.

One young lady from Kobane who won’t be there for the new term is Nujain Mustafa, the 16 year old, disabled from birth and confined to a wheelchair who was attempting with the help of her older sister to get to Europe.

In the last report on September 18th (scroll down – see below), the BBC interviewed her and described how she had got as far as the Hungarian border.

I am very glad to report she is now safely in Germany, where she hopes to receive treatment to improve her disabilities and where she has even brought a “dead man back to life”.

Nujain speaks quite good English, which she had learned from watching the American soap opera “Days of Our Lives”.

When interviewed by the American network ABC, she told them “That’s a great show – But they killed the main character that I loved”.

John Oliver, who hosts “Last Week Tonight” in the US, was so moved by Nujain’s story that he arranged for the dead soap opera character to be brought back to life – just for the brave teenager.

“Nujain has been through enough”, he said. “Any country would be happy to have her.” Live on his show Oliver told his audience, “One final thing we thought we can do… and it is for one refugee. For Nujain, who was saddened by the death of EJ from ‘Days of our Lives.’ We made some calls and it is a surprise that is literally just for you,” he said, addressing the refugee directly.

A special scene then shows EJ knocking at the door of his former “wife”, who opens the door and is awestruck to find him still alive.

“Coming back from the dead, that’s not hard,” EJ says in the scene. “You know what’s hard? Getting from Syria to Germany,” and mentions Nujain’s name.

Nujain posted a YouTube video saying, “In my lucky day, I have something to say. You are stronger and braver than you think. Fight for what you want, and I am sure you will get it.” You can watch her here:

James Scott who played EJ in the series, tweeted after seeing Nujain’s video, “This opened my heart #Nujain Thank you!”.

You can watch the entire manic clip from John Oliver’s programme, HERE:


Nujain Mustafa Safe in Germany



TIMELINE – 2nd OCTOBER 2015 13.15 GMT – UPDATED (scroll down) 17.09 GMT:

On Wednesday morning, the Russian Parliament had authorised the Russian military to intervene in Syria and shortly after the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced that President Assad had formally asked Russia to assist.


Raghad, Aged 5, “Islamic State Terrorist” Killed by Putin’s Jets

A few hours later, under the pretext of “attacking the Islamic State (IS)”, Russian jets attacked the bases of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Army of Conquest (Jaish Al-Fatah), which includes the Al-Nusra Front (ANF), in Hama and Homs provinces.

On Wednesday no IS targets were hit at all.

Lavrov had the neck to put out a statement later saying, “Rumours that the targets of these strikes were not IS positions were groundless,” before the Russian Defence Ministry eventually corrected him.

Then his argument was, “If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?”

5 year old Raghad, pictured right, was one of the victims of Lavrov’s “terrorist” attacks.

Initially, there were 20 airstrikes, hitting 8 different targets, the Russians even releasing video of an “attack on an Islamic State HQ”, which was nothing of the sort.

As usual, most of those killed were civilians. The US was given just 1 hour’s notice of the first airstrikes through its embassy in Baghdad.

Interestingly, US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, put out a call on Thursday, after the Russian intervention, for a “no fly-zone in northern Syria”.

Thursday saw a barrage of Russian air attacks, as many as 50 aircraft making 30 sorties, again exclusively against Assad-Opposition targets.

This time the bombs also fell in Idlib province near Jisr Al Shughour and Kafranbel. The Islamic State have never been in control here and are estimated to be at least 80 kilometres away.

In some cases the Russian aircraft have bombed Opposition brigades supported and armed by the United States, such as the FSA’s Suqour al-Jabal which was trained by the CIA, though US response so far has been muted. 20 missiles are reported to have hit their training camp in Idlib province in 2 separate attacks, with at least 8 men wounded.

One of those killed in Wednesday’s strikes in Homs province was Captain Iyad Al-Deek, a former regime officer who defected to the Opposition early on in the uprising against Assad.

Initial Russia Airstrikes in Syria

Initial Russia Airstrikes in Syria

At Jisr Al Shughour, a mosque was hit killing 5 people and wounding 20, while other targets have been a bakery and a market place. Strikes at Talbisa, Rastan, and Al-Za’farana in Homs province are reported to have killed 30, including 6 children and 6 women.

The Russian jets managed to bomb Shanshrah, a UN World Heritage Site, twice on Thursday. The Byzantine ruins were until recently occupied by displaced Syrian refugees but Opposition groups, who have several checkpoints to protect the area, recently moved people into Kafranbel and other nearby towns and villages.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement that Sukhoi-24M and Sukhoi-25 aircraft had hit an ammunition depot near Idlib, a three-storey “ISIS command centre” near Hama and a car bomb factory in the north of Homs.

There was also a report that a Sukhoi-24 had been shot down near Deir Ez Zour, but this has not been confirmed. ANF and other groups have however announced substantial “rewards” for anyone who captures members of the Russian military.

More Russian strikes today, Friday, say civilians have been killed at Jabal al-Zawiyah, 4 dead including a woman and a child, and attacks on the villages of Al-Rakaya, Kafr Sejneh and Al-Hbait.

There is also a report that Russian jets have now targeted an IS training camp near Deir Ez Zour and another at Al Qaryatayn south of Palmyra in Homs province, though these maybe just a token attacks in the same way that Turkey pulled the wool over the eyes of the US targeting 95% of its airstrikes on the PKK and not IS either.

The New York Times has more.


Opposition Fighters Put Out Fire After Russian Bombing Near World Heritage Site

EDITOR: From where I am sitting the current scenario looks like this:

Recent reports suggest that Iran has put hundreds of troops into Syria in the last 10 days. I think that there has been an agreement made between Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah (and possibly Shia controlled Iraq too after a recent meeting of all of them together in Baghdad to “share intelligence”), to keep Assad in power and to shore up a Shiite power block against the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States supported by the West.

Russia also assembled its air power under cover of “military exercises” in the eastern Mediterranean between the 11th and 20th of September.

This footage (French only) shows Russian aircraft on the ground at Lattakia airport, HERE:

What we are likely to see in the next few days is a move by Iranian and Hezbollah troops, backed by Assad’s Army and Russian air power, to retake all the territory lost in Hama and Idlib provinces to the Opposition. Without this territory under his control, Assad and his regime are very vulnerable to attack in their Lattakia heartland.

The unknown factors here are Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Are they going to stand by and see all their billions of dollars invested in Islamic groups opposing Assad go to waste? My bet is that the latest boost to the Assad regime’s strength will see the Saudis supplying Manpad ground to air missiles to Opposition groups, whether the US likes it or not. We shall see.

There is much video footage of the latest tragic events in Syria, though caution, some of it is disturbing and bloody. This footage shows scenes at the Talbiseh hospital after the Russian air attacks on Wednesday, HERE:

This video shows the recovery of corpses from the rubble of the mosque destroyed at Jisr Al Shughour, HERE:

Some examples of the Lavrov and Assad “Islamic State terrorists” hit by the Russian airstrikes and interviewed by Opposition activists (Arabic only), here:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Syria the fighting continues. Opposition fighters captured Tel Trinjeh in Quneitra province from Assad’s forces just east of the border with Israel, seizing large amounts of ammunition and weapons, HERE:


Over in Iraq this week, the Kurdish Peshmerga in their 4th campaign west of Kirkuk cleared the Islamic State (IS) from another 140 square kilometres of territory.

As before they were helped by Coalition jets which intensively attacked IS positions on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the Kurdish ground assaults.

The objectives of the campaign were to reach the Ghara Heights, located West of Mount Bawita, secure an additional stretch of the Kirkuk-Samarra Highway, push IS militants further South of the river west of Mount Bawita and generally reduce IS’s ability to threaten Iraq Kurdistan.

The ground offensive began on Wednesday morning and by Wednesday afternoon the Kurds had reached Ghara Heights. The Heights overlook several villages south of Mount Batiwa which is still controlled by IS.


Peshmerga Fighters Continue to Push Back Islamic State

Around 3,500 Kurdish troops were involved in the attacks west of Kirkuk and the Coalition targeted 30 x IS positions, destroying 3 Humvees, 3 pick-ups and 1 vehicle bomb.

40 x IS Jihadists were reported killed. 10 Kurdish fighters were reported dead and 16 injured.

Altogether 12 villages were recaptured and the bulk of the IS Jihadists fled towards Hawija.

In response to losing a significant amount of territory, IS published online on Wednesday another execution video, this time showing the cold-blooded murder of 6 Peshmerga prisoners in Mosul.

Vice News has more.

At the same time as the Peshmerga push near Kirkuk, the Yezidi militia and the YPG have launched a mission to clear the route from Al-Hawl in Syria all the way to Sinjar in Iraq of Islamic insurgents.

Some semblance of normality up on Mount Sinjar, where for the new year 13 schools will be open with 40 teachers and a total of 750 pupils.

Back in Syria in Kobane Canton, preparations for the new school year are also complete, with 100,000 school books (now in Kurdish for the first time), 750 teachers and 250 schools or other premises to use for education.

Interesting opinion piece on the “Kurdish Democratic Experiment” in the New York Times.

Repeated reports of Coalition airstrikes around Jarablous on the west bank of the Euphrates and probing attacks by YPG units across the river, but nothing confirmed, other than a clear desire by the Kurds to take the town away from IS and secure the border crossing into Turkey.

On Tuesday, the YPG progressed further south of Sarrin in the south-west of Kobane Canton killing 11 x IS fighters and besieging others in the villages of Bojaq, Hafian, Bir Alabidat, and Almroh.

Further east the YPG has also taken full control of Al-Heisha from IS, a significant town just north of Raqqah.


YPG Prepared to Work With Russians?

The YPG could find itself in trouble with other anti-Assad groups and the Coalition.

This week both Sipan Hemo, the General Commander of the YPG and Saleh Muslim, head of the YPG’s political wing, the YPD, have said that they are prepared to work with Russia to oppose the Islamic State, though they do not think Assad should stay in power.

Optimistically, Muslim believes that Russia, because of its joint defence pact with Assad, will intervene if Turkey steps over the border in the north of Aleppo province. You can read more, HERE:

EDITOR: Perhaps we are about to see another move by the Kurds westwards through Jarablous to link up Kobane Canton with Afrin Canton? The Turks and the local Arabs will be enraged.

Enmity between the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and the YPG continues to bubble in northern districts of Aleppo city. On Wednesday, ANF bombed the Kurdish Sheikh Maksud district again, killing 9 Kurdish civilians, including 2 children, and wounding many more. A number of houses were destroyed.

Clashes had also broken out last Saturday after ANF attacked Kurdish checkpoints, 4 Kurdish civilians were killed, and the YPG lost part of their territory. By Sunday, the Kurds had regained all their territory in Sheikh Maksud, reportedly causing heavy losses among the Islamist forces.



TIMELINE – 28th SEPTEMBER 2015 17.17 GMT – UPDATED (scroll down) 20.20 GMT:

In the village of Bobani yesterday, Sunday, a landmine exploded after a number of children were seen playing with it. 8 children were injured, 5 of them critically.


Kobane Children Play With Bullet Casings

The mines are an ongoing problem in Kobane Canton, some villages uninhabitable until they are cleared.

Effectively, Kobane is still blockaded, with both Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government still limiting access across their borders.

The other border crossings is still held by the Islamic State.

Included in those not allowed to cross are expert de-mining teams with specialised equipment.

Even before Sunday, 48 people had been killed by unexploded mines and booby-traps in the last 2 months.

Abdul Rahman Hamo, the general coordinator for Kobane’s reconstruction, says the YPG tried defusing the mines themselves but lacked the training and equipment necessary to do so without excessive risk. “We lost four of our men,” he says.

Hamo recalls that he attended a conference on reconstructing Kobani which was organised by the EU in Brussels. He listened to speech after speech by government officials promising money and aid, but so far nothing has arrived. The Independent has more on this.

The co-Chair of the YPG’s political arm, the PYD, Saleh Muslim, was in Kobane on Friday, visiting the grave of his son, Shervan, who died fighting the Islamic State for the YPG.

Muslim, in an interview, says that the overthrow of the Assad Government by the Islamic State or other fundamentalist Islamist group would be “a disaster”. He is all for Assad being replaced by a more acceptable alternative, but with extreme Islamist groups now very near to Damascus he thinks they are more dangerous.

This perhaps explains the YPG’s pragmatic approach in city’s like Qamishli and Hasakah, where the YPG is often accused of working with the Assad regime.

In Qamishli there is still a statue of Hafez Al-Assad and pictures of his son, President Bashar Al-Assad, but for the Kurds this is far less of a problem than dealing with both the Turks and the Islamic State (IS).


YPG Parade in Qamishli

“War is a matter of strategy and tactics. You can’t fight on too many fronts,” says Lawand Rojava, a YPG commander and its head of foreign relations in Hasakah,

The Kurds now dominate in both cities with Assad’s troops and administrators confined to  small areas.

Kurdish is now taught in all schools again and books and newspapers in Kurdish appear all the time, though they were previously forbidden.

Many Kurds in fact, are only fluent in Arabic, having grown up in Syria during the “Kurdish learning prohibition” period which did not end until 2011, so even Kurdish papers are printed in 2 languages.

At the same time, Assad’s Government continues to pay salaries to local teachers, many of whom are Kurds.

Hisham Arafat, who teaches English in a secondary school, studied at the University of Latakia. “Arab students couldn’t understand there were Kurds in Syria. They’d ask me what country I was from. When I said ‘I’m Syrian’, they’d be confused. ‘There are no Kurds in Syria’, they would say. It was insulting and hard to forget,” he says.

Now the YPG flag flies everywhere in the north-east – and one day the regime flag will be gone. You can read more in Middle East Eye.

On Friday, clashes broke out in Qamishli among competing arms of the Assyriac Defence Forces, the Sutoro, with 4 men injured. The fighting started after a unit responsible for defending the town of Derik arrived in Qamishli to confront the central leadership.


Christian fighters of Sutoro

Local sources said the dispute was over orders issued from the central command in Qamishli without sufficient consultation or agreement of other units.

The Assyriac force consists of around 1,000 men charged with defending Christian towns and villages in the north-east.

Yesterday, Sunday, IS launched another mortar attack on Hasakah, targeting an Assad regime security checkpoint near the Panorama Roundabout.

3 of Assad’s men were killed in the attack and 2 x IS fighters in the clashes that followed and which lasted into the evening.

The Syrian Air Force launched a number of airstrikes on IS units trying to get into the Geweran district, destroying 3 x IS vehicles.

Fighting also broke out between IS and the YPG near the Abdul Aziz Mountain radio tower on Sunday. More information awaited.

There are also reports of renewed attacks by the YPG on the eastern flank of IS-held Jarablous, just across the Euphrates River. Rumours abound that a major attack will break out soon on Jarablous to drive the IS Jihadists from northern Aleppo province, even that a battalion of Peshmerga have re-entered the Canton to assist the YPG in this campaign – but all yet to be confirmed.

A controversy has also arisen at Tal Abyad where a man called Ayman al- Tahri has died after being arrested by Kurdish security last June for “pledging himself to the Islamic State”. Some Arabic sources are saying he was “tortured to death” by the Asayish while other Arabic sources and the Asayish are saying he died in hospital because he refused to take medication for diabetes.


Both President Obama and President Putin spoke at the United Nations today, Monday, about Syria.

Obama said the US was prepared to work with both Russia and Iran in to find a solution in Syria, “But we must recognise,” he said, “That there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo” in a direct reference to moving on from Assad.

President Putin on his part said it was an “enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face” and suggested a “broad anti-terror coalition” to fight IS as was formed against Hitler in World War ll.

Obama and Putin are scheduled to speak directly together later today. The BBC has summaries of both speeches.

(And Obama’s complete speech is HERE )


Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning

According to Russian sources, the Chinese are also about to get in on the Syria act.

Having recently passed through the Suez Canal, the Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning-CV-16, accompanied by a guided missile cruiser, has now docked at the Tartous in Syria.

The reports say that Chinese military advisers are on board and will be working with their Russian colleagues soon.

CBS News has a recent interview with President Putin (if you can stand the adverts).

France made its first airstrikes in Syria over the weekend, 6 French jets attacking an Islamic State training camp near Deir Ez-Zour.

US Central Command (Centcom) also had to admit late on Friday that its 2nd group of US trained fighters who entered Syria the previous weekend, had also been held to ransom by the Al-Nusra Front (ANF). The group of around 70 fighters, known as the New Syria Force (NSF), were forced to give up 6 armed pick-up trucks and ammunition, around a quarter of its weaponry, to ANF in order to get safe passage.

EDITOR: Clearly this US training programme has been a complete disaster, at a phenomenal cost of $500 million.

This video apparently shows Syria New Force operatives, HERE:

According to a Voice of America report, the agreement between the US and Turkey to allow the use of the Incirlik Air Base, does not allow the US to make airstrikes from there in support of the Kurdish YPG.

The US State Department has several times in the last week said how much it values the work of the Kurdish forces on the ground against the Islamic State. President Erdogan of Turkey hates that and continues to feel threatened by their success.

On Friday it looked as though the arranged truce between opposing sides over Zabadani in Damascus province and Fu’ah and Kafraya in Idlib province (scroll down – see below for details) had collapsed after Assad regime aircraft bombed Taftanaz not far from Idlib city, thereby violating one of the conditions.

However, reports today, Monday, say that 2 seriously injured Opposition fighters from Zabadani have been transferred to Lebanon on Sunday, a day earlier than scheduled, suggesting that the plan is underway. Their transportation was facilitated by the UN who considered their condition critical.

After 2 shells fell in Israel on the Golan Heights over the weekend, probably as a result of renewed fighting between the Syrian Opposition and the Assad regime, Israel retaliated by holding the Syrian Army responsible and its aircraft fired rockets at regime bases at Brigade 90, Nabe’ al-Fawar, Kom Muhaires and Tal Shahem. No word of casualties so far.

Apparently not all is “sweetness and light” in the Assad/Russia relationship. Apparently Russia is not impressed by the ill-disciplined National Defence Force (NDF) militia and has suggested it is brought under military control as soon as possible. You can read more, HERE:

Lastly, an excellent analysis (recommended reading) on the current situation in Syria, “West ‘walking into abyss’ on Syria”, by Charles Lister courtesy of the BBC.


Obama and Putin – “Close Buddies” Get Back Together Again at the UN



TIMELINE – 25th SEPTEMBER 2015 13.20 GMT (scroll down for Rojava 142 report and update) – UPDATED 20.07 GMT:

Fighting between the Islamic State (IS) and the YPG broke out again around Sarrin in south-west Kobane Canton yesterday, Thursday.

In the latest outbreak, the YPG took the initiative and shelled IS positions in the villages of Hawiz, Bir al-Ubaidat and Mirouh. 15 x IS Jihadists are reported killed and 22 wounded.


YPG Attack IS Forces in Southern Kobane Canton

The current moves are part of a campaign to push IS further and further away from Sarrin and to take the battle the Islamic State’s Syrian HQ at Raqqah.

Reports also emanating from the YPG suggest that in the last few days, Coalition aircraft have concentrated on destroying the Islamic State’s heavy equipment and weapons in northern parts of Aleppo province and around Raqqah city.

US Central Command (Centcom) reports 4 airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, 2 near Hasakah destroying 2 separate IS tactical units and an IS motorcycle, one at Raqqah destroying a tactical unit and a vehicle and another at Marea in Aleppo province destroying a towed artillery piece.

Centcom has also confirmed the deaths of Jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Abu Bakr al Turkmani was an IS administrative emir and a close associate of senior IS figures. He was killed in a Coalition airstrike on September 10th.

The other confirmation was of the French Jihadist David Drugeon, described as an explosives expert belonging to the Al-Nusra Front so-called Khorasan group, who was killed near Aleppo in an airstrike on July 5th.

Over in Iraq, it is reported that over 170 x IS Jihadists were killed in concentrated Coalition airstrikes on Wednesday and Thursday on the IS HQ there, Mosul, hitting troop concentrations in the districts of Bab Jdeed, Mansoura and Sinaa Qadimah.

Local sources said 171 corpses were brought into Mosul’s hospitals on Thursday and IS suffered more degradation south of Baiji where the Iraqi Army this week regained ground and villages after heavy fighting. Reports also said IS had buried 60 fighters in a mass grave west of Mosul.

Centcom reports 16 airstrikes in Iraq on Wednesday, 6 around Mosul hitting an IS tactical unit and destroying 2 x IS vehicle bomb-making facilities, an IS fighting position, an IS weapons cache, and an IS bunker, plus suppressing an IS heavy machine gun, an IS light machine gun, and two ISIL mortar positions.

With the Russian presence growing in Syria, there are also reports that Russian military advisers have paid a secret visit to Hasakah in Syria to discuss defence against IS there, meeting both with military representatives of the Assad regime and the Kurdish YPG:


Reports from Latakia province suggest the Russians are setting up more bases in Syria, taking over Assad’s military assets inland to the south-east of Latakia city and another to the south nearer the coast.


Assad’s Air Force Stacks Up in Syria

Satellite pictures are also showing a vast array of Russian air power at the airport near to Latakia city, including, as of Tuesday morning, 12 Su24 bombers, 12 Su25 ground attack aircraft and 4 Su-30 multi-role fighters, 2 types of drones, and 20 helicopters (a mixture of gunships and troop carriers).

Russian drones and jet aircraft have been active over Syria in the last few days, though so far no Russian airstrikes have been confirmed, and as well as the visit to Hasakah (reported above) delegations of Russian officers have also been seen viewing the Ghab Plain near Idlib province and in Damascus.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has some good satellite pictures of the ongoing work in Latakia, (scroll down pdf) HERE:

The sudden up-tick in Russian activity and involvement in Syria seems to have concentrated Western minds on finding a solution to the Syria problem.

Following US Secretary of State John Kerry indicating now that “Assad may not have to leave immediately”, Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Erdogan of Turkey have more or less said the same thing, allowing space for some sort of transition.

Putin and Obama are due to meet on Monday following a gathering at the UN to celebrate it’s 70th anniversary.

From Quneitra province, there are reports of an Opposition attack on Assad’s 4th Battalion base near Trinjeh village and heavy fighting north of Khan Arnabah.

From Damascus province come strong indications that the Iranians have negotiated a truce with the Opposition over Zabadani and the 2 Alawite enclaves in Idlib province, Fu’ah and Katraya.

Under the terms of the proposed deal the Opposition fighters would withdraw from Zabadani with light weapons, giving up the town. At the same time 10,000 civilians would be allowed to go from Fu’ah and Katraya, but some 4,000 pro-Assad fighters would remain.

500 opposition prisoners would also be released from Government jails and wounded from both sides would start to evacuate from today, Friday.

The arrangement would be overseen by the UN for 6 months and during that period there would no attacks on Fu’ah or Katraya or air raids on Idlib.

However, procedures for implementing this are still under discussion and at the time of writing, the Opposition has yet to fully agree. A temporary ceasefire, the 3rd since August, has been extended until Saturday.

In the hills to the north of Damascus, the Opposition group Jaish Al-Islam continues to battle with Assad’s forces, destroying a technical (an armed pick-up), HERE:  and a tank, HERE:

Video footage of the heavy fighting is, HERE:


Kafranbel Warns Russians of the Consequences of Their Invasion

From Idlib province there is drone video footage of Opposition attacks last weekend on Fu’ah, prior to the most recent ceasefire, with a suicide BMP armoured vehicle attack explosion at around 01.45, HERE:

The teenage boy driving that suicide bomb, a member of the Al-Nusra Front, is seen sobbing before he drives off to his death, HERE:

On a happier note, this video shows Eid celebrations for children in Idlib, (Arabic only) HERE:

In nearby Hama province, Opposition fighters blew-up a Zell Government Army truck crossing the Ghab Plain with a TOW anti-tank missile, HERE:

In Homs province, Assad’s Air Force had pounded IS-held Palmyra with rockets and barrel-bombs for 3 straight days this week by Thursday, 32 attacks on Tuesday alone.

Hundreds of residents have fled by bus to Raqqah or are “celebrating” the Eid holiday in underground bunkers and cellars.

Medical supplies in the city are in very short supply and only one small hospital is operational. At least 100 civilians and IS fighters have been killed by bombing in the last week and some unconfirmed reports speak of “hundreds dead” in the last 10 days.

Heavy clashes between IS and Assad’s forces are also being reported at Deir Ez Zour where the Islamic State is making yet another attempt to seize the military airport.

Living in Aleppo continues to be extremely difficult too. Read this excellent article by Zaina Erhaim, who formerly worked for the BBC, HERE:

EDITOR: And I know you will all enjoy seeing Russia’s very latest weapon to arrive in Syria – the Putin Class Attack Helicopter ……


Russia’s Latest Attack Helicopter Arrives in Syria



TIMELINE – 24th SEPTEMBER 2015 13.04 GMT:

Last Monday, the Islamic State (IS) set off 2 suicide car bombs in the industrial area at Seri Kaniye (Ras Al-Ain) near the Turkish border.

Reports on the outcome are varied, but some talk of 5 member of the Asayish (Kurdish security) killed and a number of civilians wounded.


Symbol of Kobane’s Survival Still Standing After 1 Year

In Hasakah, also on Monday, another IS suicide bomber was killed as he tried to drive into the city to deliver his bomb.

South of Hasakah at Tel Brak at the beginning of this week, the YPG and IS exchanged prisoners, 8 people from each side.

The IS prisoners released by the YPG included 2 foreign fighters.

Also set free was by IS was a reporter from the Kurdish media company Rudaw, Massoud Aqeel, who had been held for 10 months.

He was united with his family in Qamishli on Monday evening.

While there has been some criticism of the YPG treatment of prisoners in the past, it is far better than that meted out by IS.

In an attempt to improve matters, the Kurds are including women in the running of their prisons to get a “more compassionate aspect” in the operation. You can read more in VOA.

Fighting between the YPG and IS near Tel Brak in Hasakah province has led to the IS Jihadists evacuating the villages of Tananir and Umm Hajar after heavy Kurdish shelling. According to reports from YPG sources, 7 x IS fighters were killed and many wounded. One IS vehicle was destroyed and a large amount of ammunition seized.

Coalition jets have also been busy attacking IS tactical units at Al-Hawl near the border with Iraq, destroying 2 vehicles and killing several IS fighters.

3 x IS targets at Shaddadi south of Hasakah were additionally targeted by the Coalition yesterday, Wednesday, reportedly killing and injuring as many as 15 Jihadists.

More airstrikes around Jarablous, west of Kobane Canton, and on Minbij and the Marea area were also recorded by local sources on Monday.


Alan Kurdi’s Grave in Kobane

Despite still relatively harsh conditions, around 150,000 people have returned to Kobane, the Turkish authorities opening the border gate on just Mondays and Thursdays for a few hours to let people through.

One family describe their flight and return, HERE:

And not with standing the international attention drawn to Kobane after its survival against all the odds, and more recently over the death of the 3 year old toddler who drowned off the shores of Turkey, Alan Kurdi, aid is still not reaching the city while Turkey continues to obstruct access.

While the Turks let through returning Kurds, eager to get rid of their expensive guests, they are still not allowing aid workers to cross the frontier or re-building equipment.

Around 60,000 tons of rubble has been moved, but that represents only 40% of what needs to be done. Much of the help and equipment needed is coming by the long route from Iraq.

You can read more in Middle East Eye.

Alan Kurdi’s father has also written a heartfelt letter asking for help in re-building Kobane, where those who were born there want to stay, not leave, HERE:

Disillusion with the Turkish authorities has additionally worked its way through very quickly to the 2 members of the HDP, the Kurdish party in Turkey, who were asked to join the Government as EU Minister and Development Minister.

They resigned this week over the Government’s “war policies”.

The ruling party, the AKP, which was forced to form an interim coalition Government until more elections in November, was obliged to ask 2 Kurds to join the administration following the HDP’s gain of almost 13% of the vote at the last election, giving it 80 seats for the very first time. You can read more in the New York Times.

While the US acknowledges that the YPG is “not a terrorist organisation” (despite Turkey wanting everyone to believe otherwise), the United States continues to dither over whether to deliver the Kurds more equipment and give them the backing to finish the job against the Islamic State.

The YPG has made it clear that it is both ready and willing, with a force of 25,000+ men and women, to take part in attacks on Jarablous and Raqqah, but still a 100 pallets of weapons and other equipment destined for the YPG remain sitting on the ground in a warehouse at a US Air Base somewhere in the Gulf.

Kurdish fighters, especially the YPG, are widely credited with recovering around 17,000 square kilometres of territory back from the Islamic State – but still the appropriate support does not come, lost in a minefield of international politics. The Washington Post has more.

Lastly, a video about Hamdi Ulukaya, the Syrian Chobani yogurt billionaire from southern Turkey, who shows you can do good in the world by employing refugees in the United State and giving them a fighting chance, here:


106 comments to SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

  • these opposition fighters on your last posted d picture look very like like ISIS aren’t they?

  • infowarrior1

    Is it just me or is ISIS very shit in terms of fighter quality? Given that their men in fighting seem to die by the hundreds or thousands with few casualties on the opposing side.

    • Thanks for your comment. Given that all armies underestimate their own casualties and overestimate those of the enemy, all for the cause of “keeping up morale”, total YPG casualties are in the few hundreds, not in the thousands, probably because they are well trained, disciplined and don’t take unnecessary risks. IS deaths are certainly in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands, because many of their fighters are raw recruits with little if any basic training and no army mentality to implement tactics and strategy. Also with the “heaven/virgin philosophy” behind them they tend to be reckless with their lives and take unnecessary risk. That would be my assessment. Hope that helps. PC.

      • infowarrior1

        There may be also be possibility that if the flows of fighters are not stopped the Kurds could be eventually worn down. As the Powerful Byzantine Empires and Sassanian Empires were worn down due to long drawn out conflict.

        • Possibly. But that would take an inordinately long time and I think the “attraction” of Middle East Jihad to Moslems will have worn thin to most westerners by then. The YPG recruitment of both men and women continues to increase and embrace other minority ethnic groups too. I am sure IS can be defeated if everyone co-ordinates their opposition to them – and firepower. PC.

  • Wisdom

    hello Peter, just read this “Now, #Iraqi army stormed the center of #Ramadi city, #Anbar, #iraq” on the isis.livemap website.

    What does it imply? What is Daesh’s situation in Fallujah? Also, why are the Russians so aggressive on Deir ez-Zur?

    ps: apologies if I am asking too many questions… but I am hoping Fallujah & Ramadi are retaken by the Iraqi army.

    • Yes, latest reports suggest that Iraqi and anti-IS forces have made progress in the north and western suburbs of Ramadi, but much to be confirmed. Some IS units reported to have fled towards Syria. No change in Fallujah as far as I can see, still an IS hold.

      Russians are attacking IS in Deir Ez Zour for 3 reasons. One, to stop IS capturing the military airfield, which is the only one Assad still holds in the east of the country.Two to stop IS capturing the rest of the city they do not hold, which would give IS another regional capital, like Raqqah, under their control, and 3 having lost all the oil fields in province to IS, it would be extremely difficult to recapture them if they had no base there.

      Hope that helps. And thanks for reading the blog. PC.

  • USA and their western partners ,Saudi Arabia and Gulf States, Turkey, Iran and recently Russia saying to fight and to destroy terrorists,
    so far it looks that only Kurds who really fights them, nobody is too serious about it
    As anti Assad opposition it seems that only others terrorist groups supported by islamic governments are only real fighting force….where is this so called FSA?
    Who will be next to bomb Syria?
    macabre grotesque.
    The alleged “peacemakers” from all the sides actually are warmongers

    • And the behaviour of some of these governments is often “terrorist” in nature – so the word is rather subjective anyway. “Peace” would be great – but we won’t get it until people find it within themselves and stop blaming everyone and everything else for their problems. PC.

      • Yes I agree
        anyway reading a thousands of blogs more than 90% of readers both from West East MEast and elsewhere are strongly praising the actions of Putin it looks than most of people are totally dissapointed with hypocrisy of America and her
        The almost the same numbers of refugees to whom I was talking (even quite a number of Sunnis)
        Prefers Assad than any other opposition including FSA (rather insignificant in numbers compared to Islamic jihadist) they calling the most powerful leader on the world(really?) Obama bin Laden
        what most of the Muslims don’t see the biggest factor of their disasters is its medieval interpretation of Islam
        if USA are serious against murderous dictators what about their great friends of SAbia?
        I highly appreciate the action of people like you but with that approach of West and others world leaders is not possible to do much

  • dutchnational

    What I would like to have is some more analysis on the situation and position of the kurds within Aleppo and Afrin.

    What one can read is mostly propaganda, from both sides, and except for a few articles there is hardly any objective info about what is going on there.

    Would you have something?

    • Thanks, Karel. I have written from time to time about Afrin, though since things calmed down in Kobane Canton information about the Kurds is generally thin on the ground.
      In Afrin there have been several clashes/truces between the YPG and the Al Nusra Front (ANF), clearly some Arab/Kurd rivalry. Having said that the YPG have the Canton quite well defended and prepared for any eventuality. I have written however about the YPG and their Kurdish political rivals, the KDP-S – Scroll down and see my report of 14th September before it disappears off the bottom.
      In Aleppo city, there have been ongoing clashes in the Sheikh Madsud district which is basically a Kurdish area, but very near the Opposition supply route into eastern Aleppo. YPG got on pretty well with the FSA, but again now clashes regular with ANF and other Islamist factions, most recently last weekend. Hope that helps. Will incorporate when I have useful information and sufficient time, PC. p.s. See today’s updated report – 2nd October, last item!

  • Hi Peter!
    By no means I am fan on Mr.Assad but even less of disgusting hypocrisy of western so-called democratic governments
    Of course this man is bad dictator but what about even more obscene dictators
    of Saudi Arabia Qatar Kuwait and some others
    yet our democratic leaders (lol) embrace sweetly (also literally) those oppressors
    of their own people who also bombing civilians and cities of their neighbours also member of Nato
    Turkey of another islamist dictator bombing his own population
    all belong to the same group of genocide perpetrators
    and it seems ironically what more and more is obvious the best option from only ugly options what was left is cooperate with him
    There is not really at the moment any good opposition to Assad only ISIS AL NUSRA
    and other terrorist supported by Gulf States and of course the worst regime of the world SArabia
    So called free syrian army is a myth
    and Kurds deserve to be independent and
    fight for their country not for interest of despicable islamic regimes
    The war in Syria because of cruel manipulation of world elites is nothing else like obscene grotesque full of frightening lies
    Way to nowhere….

    • I agree, Syria is appalling right now and the world is full of oppressive dictators, most of them cynically supported by Western governments for what they can get out of it. The Kurds, especially the YPG, will prevail though – it remains in their interests to defeat IS, both security wise and for the credibility of their cause to have an independent state. PC.

      • Hi Peter!
        I have just read ‘Independent’ interview
        where Mr.Salah Muslim president of PYD in Rojava said that if anti Assad coalition will win (and almost all of them are classified as terrorist or very close affiliate with terror military organisations) it will be big disaster .In his opnion although being opponent to syrian regime its opponents are much more worse
        What do you think about this and where is opposition army suppose to liberate country?

        • As a secular group, I suppose the PYD’s concerns are around extremists like Al-Nusra and other Islamist groups. However, the YPG, his military arm, have worked extensively with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), e.g. Euphrates Volcano group, and know it works well. Pity the West has not armed and supported FSA better, they would have a hard time controlling Islamists as Mr. Muslim implies. PYD work with the Assad regime in Qamishli and Hasakah because that is the status quo, but have no hesitation in pushing them out of districts when they show weakness. When Assad regime eventually falls, the YPG will just assume complete control of those two cities. PC.

    • Miroslav Janko

      democratic leaders do what grants them being reelected. employment, electricity and the ability of people to buy crap are the key questions. If somebody stands up for refugees, people will rather vote for the guys who tell them, they are just illegal immigrants.
      Western countries rather point their fingers at other people and occasionally bomb them or send some troops to show their values. It’s cheap compared to the costs of really solving a problem. In Afghanistan 6000 troops total were sent to Kundus. How many are these per km²?Has there ever been a fair assesment on drone killings in regard to how they help to fight terrorism? Has anyone ever asked how Turkey knows they have killed PKK fighters by dropping bombs at a speed of Mach 1+ or get into a village and shoot at everything that is moving?
      Sometimes they actually defend western values. These are ‘US first’ for the USA and ‘not US, as long as we get the oil’ for Europe. Sometimes it’s ‘National Security’ like for Turkey, which basically means ‘allow an unjust situation to be maintained without having to bear the consequences’. Other examples: Every military US-intervention since WW2, Israel bombing palestinian neighbourhoods where terrorists are. Just look for public international law keyphrase:’inherent right of collective selfdefense’
      Sometimes less privileged countries try to make use of the ‘inherent rights of public international law’ like Assad has been doing for keeping the oilfields he has inherited. Sometimes other entities do it like the PKK. It’s commanders needed a reason to still enjoy the privileges of being commanders after HDP provided sufficient kurdish representation in the turkish parliament. Let’s not forget, the blueprint of Nazi politics was the native american genocide, the blueprint of japanese politics during ww2 was what the USA have done to them some 100 years before.
      How anybody finds it worth the effort to point out, western democracies do not act according to (their own) ethical standards, I just don’t get it.
      Back to the subject: Syrian Kurds do not understand a democratic constitution is a treaty and it is established by consent and equal rights of men and women cannot be established by the use of force. Further concerns risen here: .
      Ofc one can doubt these articles. But on the other hand: What do we know what’s going on there if not from YPG headquaters or pages like raqqa-sl? Nothing. You got it already, didn’t you? No free press in Rojava. Whatever the reasons may be …

      PYD not able to find allies like this. PKK and AKP going after HDP. Russia delivering more weapons. Assad killing ‘terrorists’. (btw did you know there is no valuable legal definition of the word ‘terrorist’? So basically a terrorist is somebody who you want to treat according to anti-terrorist legislation)

      People die and we are discusssing it like last saturday’s football game. Same limited interest, same level of expertise. Local players only have their own interest in mind.There is no hope until PYK leaders learn their responisbility for their own troops with their rusty aks because western states won’t donate weapons to what could as well be another stalinist experiment. And their responsibility for whole Syria: A constitution based on CONSENT could be the base of an alliance of all tribes/local authorities and is the only alternative to Mr Assad regaining power with a helping hand of Mr Putin.

      • Thanks Miroslav for your comprehensive review. I agree with much of what you say. As you know I do have reservations about so-called Western democracies, which are often nothing more than the manipulation of the less wealthy by the wealthy elite. I also take what I see and read with a large pinch of salt, rejecting many of the videos and articles I watch and read each day. The IS “organ” article is a case in point – badly written and/or translated and virtually no evidence. That does not mean it is not happening though, particularly blood taking. Re. YPG, my impression is that they have moved on from “Stalinism” and their current constitution in a good basis for something more inclusive and democratic. Though on several occasions recently I have pointed out where they have violated human rights and democratic values (the US and UK Governments do it all the time as well). Arab attempts to rubbish the YPG are also not very convincing. At the end of the day I have to make, rightly or wrongly, value judgements on what I read and watch and to try and convey a reasonably balanced view on everything to my readers – it is up to them to judge whether I accomplish that.

        My concern is the human family. Discrimination on the basis of colour, sex, race, religion,age, sect or sexual preference, provided none of that is abuse of others, is irrelevant.

  • Wisdom

    Hello Peter, Recently we read that Baghdadi had fled Raqqa. Is that true? More important could Raqqa fall?

    • Hi, Wisdom. There are constant rumours and stories about Al-Baghdadi, so who knows. However, after the US special forces attack on his close associate near Deir Ez-Zour earlier this year, I suspect he does not stay anywhere for very long, but moves constantly. Hopefully they will get him soon. And yes, Raqqah can fall. It will need a well planned assault using Opposition forces plus Kurds YPG plus Coalition aircraft. However, I suspect a plan to clear IS from Jarablous will happen first. Let’s see. PC.

      • Wisdom

        Thanks Peter. I am at Mumbai. I regularly read your updates, and am impressed with the valuable content therein, & your style of reporting. The other site I follow is …for news flashes.

        I think Daesh is the gravest threat humankind has ever seen. They are a Cancer. I hope the forces fighting Daesh are able to exterminate them… and that they do it soon.

        PS: but for this Cancer there would have been no reason I would have been concerned about places like Kobane, Hasakah, Sinjar, Sarrin… but now I truly am; & feel sorry (& helpless) after seeing what the people there are undergoing.

        • Thank you for your kind comments. The other site is also useful, so I have now bookmarked it.

          I agree that IS is grave threat to the whole of humankind – they will have to be destroyed. I hate war but I see no alternative, otherwise all that is good and kind about humanity, including art and music, will be wiped out. We cannot allow that to happen.

          Although there is little you can do from Mumbai, I would encourage you do what you can for human kind there – as you know there are plenty of problems and lots of people, including the young, needing help. Everywhere good act, wherever in the world it takes place, adds to the sum of human decency – while monsters like IS try to take it away. PC.

          p.s. I watched a musical this week by a school for poor children in Mumbai, 1500 of them, – very, very inspiring.

  • Miroslav Janko

    armed ideology, sorry to say but that’s a smoking gun.
    EU also concerned though focusing on ethnic matters:
    my personal opinion: Germany right now keen on delivering those Leopard 2s, if only PYG could be trusted

    • Thanks for your comments, Miroslav. Most of the YPJ manifesto seems pretty reasonable to me. That they make up 40% by charter of YPG forces is impressive and the Kurdish habit of joint male/female senior appointments is useful is addressing the gender imbalance. What they must learn is addressing the acceptance of other religions, political views and groups to the letter. While nothing is perfect, including political structures in the West,frankly, I trust the YPG more than Barzani outfits. PC.

  • David

    Question about airstrikes in Tuz (Iraq) as reported in DoD/Centcom Coalition Airstrike Reports.

    Consistently seeing crazy numbers of fighting positions reported as destroyed in Tuz versus any other city/region. Examples:

    9/7/2015: Near Tuz, an airstrike destroyed 49 ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL tunnels and an ISIL weapons cache.
    9/6/2015: Near Tuz, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 26 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL weapons caches and an ISIL vehicle bomb.
    8/25/2015: Near Tuz, 12 airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and six ISIL staging areas and destroyed 57 ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL vehicles.

    Otherwise, don’t hear this city/region mentioned specifically in any media outlets as a highly contested area/an area with significant activity.

    Anyone have any insight on what’s going on here?

    – David

    • Hi, David, having checked that out, those are high numbers, but no reason to not think they are genuine. Sounds like some very heavy blanket bombing to wipe out that number of positions, but at this stage I do not know why. Also no reason to think it is a mistake. Will keep eyes peeled for any reference to this area. PC.

      • David

        Thanks for the response! I didn’t mean to imply that there was anything fishy about the reported #’s, just thought it was interesting in how much of an outlier it was. But speaking of DoD airstrike reports, here’s a video of the Coalition’s airstrike on a stadium acting as an IS logistics base, just came out today – things escalate around the one-minute mark.

        As a side note, do you know of any precedent of a government/allied group publicly reporting military progress on a daily basis (which has done since ~septermber 2014)? My guess would be no, and that part of the impetus for this daily reporting falls into the first half of the “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL” mission statement (by virtue of constant reporting about airstrikes against IS, which IS has essentially zero means of preventing).

        I continually look forward to your next post, thanks again for the quality reporting.

        • Interesting stuff! Pretty impressive video. I don’t thing much survived that ordinance exploding. Re. the constant reporting, I doubt we have ever had it in such detail and you are certainly right it is done to degrade the moral of the enemy, but also to bolster public support. War PR has a long history, at least from World War 2, though hopefully not as distorted as it was sometimes then. Many thanks for the positive comments. PC.

  • Jim Martin

    The Future of a multicultural Syria – Two Pivotal Minutes

    Pushing Back the Islamic State: The Battle for Rojava (Dispatch 1)
    Published on Aug 6, 2015
    By Vice News

    Text from between Minute 5 and 7; The True definition of a country “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The Kurds with their structure, tolerance and genuine willingness to work with other Syrians are the key, not a problem. If this PYD/YPG/YPJ structure is able to spread thought Syria, then the war is ultimately over and the Syrian regime is not overthrown, but dissolved. The Syrian people will/are effectively solving this problem themselves if we sport its Kurds and other moderate Syrians (who are already working together) to the bitter end, so the bitter end is no longer the end result. Turkish President Erdogan’s hostility towards the Kurds threaten the only way out of Syria’s mess, and would leave it with, unstable extremist fiefdoms. Erdogan’s hostility is no longer welcome in Syria and not representative Turkeys; 78,000,000 people , including its 18% Kurdish minority. Syrian and also Turkish Kurds have to be made as proud to be Syrian and Turkish after 100 years as they are as proud of being Kurdish . Peace in Syria based on the When this point is reached provincial autonomy as a distinct society as valuable contributing members of society in both Syria and Turkey, and Kurdish independence will not only not be necessary, it will become irrelevant. The following penetrating footage from a Syrian Arab officer talking about his Syrian Kurdish brothers and sisters is undeniable


    What was the fighting like here over the past few days?

    YPG Arab Ex SAA Officer

    The Clashes were very heavy. Our Units are now starting to bring Civilians back to their houses


    Obviously you are an Arab Officer. How long have you been in the YPG, and how did you become to join the YPG?

    YPG Arab Ex SAA Officer

    I have been fighting along side them for two years. The YPG is fighting with belief. They protect people. I was working for the (Syrian) regime’s intelligence (services), but when I understood that the regime would not be able to liberate a single area in this country, but moreover, they are after money, the steal, and they loot, I decided to leave them and join the YPG


    Some Journalists that have claimed recently that the YPG have been ethnically cleansing Arabs from from areas they have captured, of Rojava and Hasakah Province, pushing Arabs out. As an Arab fighter in the YPG what do you think of those claims?

    YPG Arab Ex SAA Officer

    First of all these allegations are not true, those saying them are attempting to cause trouble in this country. If the YPG was displacing Arabs, and harming their existence, you wouldn’t see me fighting alongside them right now. I would leave the (YPG) and go support the Arabs. I would go back to fight along side the regime or another Arab section. So, it is a big lie, it was IS mercenaries that displaced people. For example, in this neighborhood, when IS entered, they displaced civilians and cut off their heads, as well as slaughtering women and children.

    Original Vice page

    • Thanks Jim for your information. I did publish that video some time ago. Would be good if the rest of Syria and the ME in general adopted those values – but as yet sectarian prejudice will prevent it, unfortunately. PC.

      • Jim Martin

        Thank you Peter for your comments. While it is working with some in Syria the ex Syrian Army office said quite clearly there are people in Syria who would like to cause trouble and in the middle of this civil war, its actually to be expected, however, the Kurds, Arabs Christians Yazidis and others are already forming together as the video notes. These people who do not represent “gravity”, the future will of 17,000,000 Syria and their desire to end this hellish mess where Sectarian Prejudice will have to be overcome. Bosnians agreed to peace after four years of civil war not only because of the bombing and Dayton, but because all three parties realized there was no exclusive military solution. This was further reinforced when the UNs ORH – Office of the High Representative was given impartial king like powers buy Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats by mutual agreement to keep the stabilization process going. When any party tried to do a number on each other (Like Nouri Al Malkaki in Iraq). the OHR stepped in like a king/impartial referee and dissolved the partisan BS , and no one could object as all three parties agreed to this from the beginning. This worked well until stability took hold and while F BiH has its share of problems since, it no longer involves tracers and artillery and rockets flying across Sarajevo. I wrote a policy paper on this last year for Iraq to apply to Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds and it could work their to rebuild the plans of David Petraeus and others that was ripped apart by the likes of Nouri Al Malaki and others, with painfully predicable results

        In Syria we need a plan as noted above that includes the Kurds working with Arabs and others already happening and it needs to be enshrined by International treaty so the International community finishes what we start. It also must exclude racist Erdogan policies until the Turkish people dump him for good. These policies have no place in the future of 17,000,000 Syrians and 78,000,000 Turkish if they expect to leave a dark past. I say by treaty as the plan has to live past one administration of other international players for a consistent, coherent future for 17,000,000 Syrians

        Its not supposed to be easy but is is the future of 17,000,000 members or our own species. I am reminded of the late President Theodore Roosevelt in the “Man in the Arena” speech in Paris in 1910. This well exemplifies our own beliefs, – the ones we say we value, as a way to inspire others to be better that they believe they can be; and to accomplish achievable goals, sometimes at the very edge of possibility:

        “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”.

        It is exemplified by people such as the Syrian Arab ex Syrian Army Officer, the Kurds, Christians and Yazidis and others who have already formed up and are working together as brothers and sisters: “The YPG is fighting with belief” This is pro Arab, Pro Kurd, and ultimately pro 17,000,000 Syrians for a better future

  • Jim Martin

    I have found that both Peter and Mike’s comments are invaluable in helping for a better understanding. First some good news in that our brothers and sisters in the Turkish Armed Forces and Gendarme as pushing back against Erdogan’s bitter partisan attacks on the Kurds for political gain

    78,000,000 Turkish Citizens are not fringe hostiles, or animals. nor are they as STUPID as Erdogan thinks of them as

    In other news the Turkish Minister of Economy is calling it a “war between Muslims and infidels” . I am talking it that the Kurds are infidels and as the Americans were given only 10 minutes warning before the PKK was bombed in Iraq as Erdogan doesn’t trust them the Americans must be infidels as well? Turkey is a friend and NATO ally, these homicidal bumpkins in the AKP are more like “Frenimies”, like extremists in Pakistan’s government who support Taliban and are responsible for the deaths of Pakistanis and Afghan and NATO ISAF

    Can either of you quote source on Erdogan’s rants about the possible pending fall of Kobani last fall. What did he say and where was it said?

    • Thanks Jim for your comments. Yes, as you say, the Turks are not stupid. I had already posted a video of an army officer whose brother has just been killed by the PKK, blaming the Government for their stupidity in starting another war in the first place, when a peace agreement was not that far off.

      Re. Erdogan’s comments about the fall of Kobane, just put “Erdogan says Kobane will fall” into Google and many articles like this,, will come up.

      Extremists from either edge, left or right, religious or secular, will continue to be a problem. PC.

    • These days when one says “Turkey” they mean “Erdogan”.The erratic,reckless policy style is all his.The challenge for both the Kurds and Turks who value liberal democratic principles is to oppose and survive this man’s rule.That brings us to the election.I do not believe Turks want to return to a state of general civil war anymore than Americans want to refight Vietnam or Russians refight Afghanistan.That will be Erdogan’s fundamental miscalculation in restarting the fight with the PKK.
      Moreover,Erdogan is politically vulnerable for another reason,one he can’t control.Markets have gone bear as the global economy has slowed.A typical five year expansion [from 2010-2015] is now exhausted and the global economy will take a rest for a year or two.”It’s the economy stupid” remains an important paradigm in all elections.Presidents and PM’s rise and fall with bull and bear markets.Erdogan will be hurt be the economic downtrend.
      The secondary challenge is within the AKP.Erdogan needs to be damaged enough to weaken his Svengali grip on the party and allow Gul room to make a move for the leadership.I believe he returned to Turkey to try and moderate Erdogan’s influence.But he’s up against a cult of personality.That must be weakened before Gul can make a run for the top.Turkey will not be safe until Erdogan is out of the top position at the AKP.And Gul would bring the party back to some semblance of normal,responsible behavior.

      I suggest the following piece on Turk attitudes towards Erdogan,the war and the PKK in AL Monitor:

      • Thanks Mike, again good points. The Al-Monitor article is also a good summary – recommended. PC.

      • Jim Martin

        Thanks Mike for the article. A very thoughtful, methodical analysis and I believe a lot Turkey’s people are thinking the same way or heading in that direction. Its obscene to see our Kurdish PKK brothers and sisters facing ISIS in Iraq being bombed by our brothers and sisters in the Turkish Armed Forces and Gendarme. Its a true gift to have PKK forces in Iraq shedding their blood with us, and it is clinically insane to force them back into Turkey to fight Turkish Forces. Who in the hell wants them back fighting in Turkey when they were perfectly happy[y fighting “the dark army from hell” in Iraq? What an obscene waste, like the battle of Gettysburg and Abraham Lincoln’s comments that followed about the definition of a country “of the people, by the people, for the people”. It 2015 in Turkey this means 78,000,000 people and its 18% Kurdish population. If North Americans treated Black minorities, French Canadian minorities, and Hispanic minorities we would be in civil war or outright insurgency. Our multicultural diversity is not a fractured weakness, but the reinforced strength because in any team the sum of the parts and diversity makes us stronger together

        The most sensible comment in this current tragedy came from the PKK leadership who recently told their members not to engage in unprovoked attacks on Turkish Armed Forces and Gendarme. Yes you can say that is good PKK PR, but it also makes a hell of a lot of sense to de-escalate this mess and nothing even close from Commander Erdogan. Makes you wonder why the PKK is not taken off the list of terrorist organizations , and more accurately members of the AKP party are not put on? Hmmnn? We you get AP reports of helicopters fire bombing Kurdish crops and livestock in Turkey it is no longer a “counter terrorist operation” and more like a true war crime, plan and simple. Maybe Erdogan can have Milosevic’s cell in the Hague a the ICC – International Criminal court ?

  • Political opinions cannot be based on rumours.

  • Jak

    There are reports/rumours that Turkey informed Nusra (JaN) of the travel plans of the (American trained) Division 30 fighters that were abducted by JaN. I am not sure of the veracity of the report, but this should be investigated (by independent news organisations).

    I am sad to say though that it would show more consistency with Turkeys other actions in Syria, than with the narrative that they are transparent partners in trying to build a human rights based Syrian legacy.

    • Yes, I was aware of that report, but not sure how accurate it is. There is a temptation to “demonise” Turkey at present and I am trying to resist that. There actions are difficult to understand and confusing, though it appears to me it is mainly down to Erdogan, as his attempts to “demonise” the Kurds may well backfire. PC.

      • I’ve no doubt the MIT would gladly provide all the info and coordinates to the NF.But Division 30 posted vids and info announcing their mission in Syria.That’s why the NF was waiting for them.The real story is Ahrar Al Sham’s rebranding project which continues.Turkey is determined to clean up their rep and make them acceptable to the US.And the only way the US will accept them is if they’re partnered with some kind of FSA.And that’s where the new game is being played out.Turkey wants to control the composition of any new FSA going into Syria.In effect,there’d be no FSA as the US imagined it.Instead a small,puppet group that works for,instead or partnered with Ahrar.Fooled into supporting the sham partnership,the US would then go ahead with coordinated air attacks.
        The only way the US can be sure there’s an actual partnership is by forming a secular political leadership and backing it to the hilt.I suspect that’s the CIA’s project.Regardless,they know Tayyip can’t be trusted but they’re obligated to work with him.

        • I have no doubt Mike that that is a fair assessment of a very complicated situation, though personally I have no way of knowing who is playing what game here! I just hope that at some point it will all sort itself out. You can’t blame any Syrian, whatever their politics, for wanting to escape to Europe and start a new life under the circumstances of 5 years of hopelessness and nothing better to look forward to. PC.

        • Jak

          I agree with the overall sweep of your argument, but the problem with this is that, I would argue that, the US is really not in the driving seat in the ME & the ease with which their projects (as a non-Muslim power) can be spoiled and the factors which suggest that the blame would be placed squarely on the US rather than the ‘spoilers’ and held up as another example of the ‘failure of THE secular’ (used pejoratively of course) value-system.

          I cannot see the US actively working with any salafist political religious group (like Ahrar As-Sham), without some serious hard sacrifices and concessions on their part first would be political suicide on the part of any US administration or party. Lip-service to ‘equality and respect for human rights and self determination’ is easy, but some core tenets would have to be placed on the ‘altar’ (I sincerely hope all here know the swathe of opinion and justification of these groups on issues such as ‘freedom of conscience’, ‘critical thinking’, ‘moral crimes’, ‘legislative authority’ etc), to show any serious intent and the US does not have the leverage to force such a change in philosophy or leadership.

          The conversations I have had in person and over the internet, with people hiding behind an appeal to ‘human rights (and equal rights at that)’ but supporting the very worst human rights abusers, and with a blatantly sectarian motivation or philosophy (I think suggest predictably bad results).

          You can’t blame the Syrian public, but the core issue is if they can see what philosophical strands (and their rooting in culture and religion) contributed to this situation and not rebuild these (psychological, social and political) structures in whatever environment they find themselves.

          Working with unreliable allies, what to give share and what to conceal, building alternative alliances as leverage, and trying to mediate between the interests of those willing to reconcile (even between different Kurdish factions) is an intelligence service’s raison-d’etre. I just hope they don’t get wrong-footed and sacrifice THEIR core tenets, for a short-sighted unsustainable situation and short change their most reliable allies (which at the moment are the various Kurdish factions, both in Iraq and Syria).

      • Jak

        It’s not my aim to demonise Turkey, I just think we need to be more skeptical as to the very limited nature of the shared interest between Turkey and the US’s aims. Sure the AKP party is the most prominent reflection of this, but the philosophy is deeply rooted.

        I respect people as human beings, but I also realise that they would willingly sign up to political projects that would be ruinous to them for any number of reasons: if correctly primed and indoctrinated, lacking critical thinking or skills, overly idealistic- without a serious attempt to balance ‘values and interests’ (one of Obama’s most candid speeches I think) and an attitude of compromise or finding shared interests.

        I think the real story of Turkey are the long-term trends in terms of changes to the education system, the judiciary and law enforcement arms and attempted sectarian (prominent) re-introduction of religion into public life. Democracy is only a shell without separation of powers, (mechanisms to challenge conflicts of interest & abuse of power), an (objectively) informed electorate, freedom of conscience (to exercise their political and social wishes) & civil society with power to put forward a reasoned agenda (freedom of assembly). I think the problems unleashed in Turkey have not even begun to take effect and I see more parallels with the Pakistani direction subsequent to General Zia (and neighbouring Afghan war), than I care to see. The result of the most recent election, heartening as it was, not withstanding. I think populous of that country has some time, but not much, to save itself from strife.

        I understand the restraints placed on national governments engaged in negotiations and with interest, while trying to use ‘soft-power’ to change values, but I think Turkey’s (or Erdogan’s AKP’s) actions are consistent, just not with their ‘stated’ priorities of (primary) concern for a democratic human-rights (UNDHR) driven region.

  • “What’s not sure for sure is if US don’t abandon or even betray Kurds in future like we have seen in the past ..?

    I share Tanto’s trepidations.
    And I certainly agree with Peter that US policy will based on strategic objectives.But there is an important difference between then and now.In the Nixon-Kissinger era Americans knew nothing about the people of Kurdistan.But now they hear about them in the news virtually every day.And there is literally no such thing as anti Kurd press in the United States.Across the board,from left to right,there is unanimous admiration and support for the Kurdish people.There is no independence movement in the world that enjoys such widespread political support in the US.It helps to remember – the US spent great blood and treasure in Iraq.And the KRG is the one,crowning success resulting from that war.The US has a vested interest in the security of Iraqi Kurdistan.
    The question everyone asks in D.C. hearings is how best to support the cause of Kurdish independence? Unfortunately the answer is complicated.And it has to be enfolded in US broader strategic objectives.Nonetheless,I believe it’s safe to say a Nixon-Kissinger type betrayal is highly unlikely.Today any Pres. who did that would be subject to howls of criticism from the public and both sides of the congress.The more specific problem for US policy planners is how to make Kurdish independence work within a broader strategic framework.And that is a much better situation than it was in the 70’s.

    • Yes, the Kurds are in a much better position now than before but how the US balances any support with keeping Turkey happy remains to be seen. Also, the Kurds need to find a convincing level of unity with one objective. With divisions between the PKK and KRG especially that a the moment in unlikely. PC.

      • The American public doesn’t distinguish between the KRG and PYD.But Washington certainly does.The KRG has legal autonomy and that gives the US a more solid basis to support it’s independence.Moreover the US has had time to prepare for the likely dissolution of Iraq.So none of this is ad hoc or on the fly policy making.On the other hand Rojava is just that.It emerged unexpected from the chaos of the civil war.And had it not been for Daesh it would still be fractured and figuring out how to fit into the politics of the civil war as it did the first two years.But Daesh changed everything.Suddenly the US had skin in the game and the YPG were proving the only effective fighting force against them.
        Then came Kobani.That battle evolved from the defense of the city into an ongoing offensive that continues to this day.And the American people are cheering them on every step of the way.So are those who fly in support.Kobani showed the US it had a rock solid,winning partner on the ground.And it cleared up any illusions about Tayyip being a partner in the fight against Daesh.That had lot to do with the sudden increase in US support.
        But it all comes in the midst of political uncertainty.US policy vis a vis Rojava must be ad hoc because there isn’t even a government to negotiate with,Nonetheless,I am confident the US wants to see Rojava gain legal autonomy ala Iraqi Kurdistan.The US knows the Kurds will be reliable friends and that has strategic value.It also knows they’ll have good relations with Israel.These are good strategic opportunities and likely on the US wish list for the end of the civil war.It’s all a question of how to get there from here.

  • What’s not sure for sure is if US don’t abandon or even betray Kurds in future. .like we have seen in the past ,american administration made alliance and still making it of the name…..? Whatever they think

    • I am afraid Tanto, that you can only expect governments, US, UK or Saudi or otherwise, to do what is in their current self-interest. If that coincides with what the majority of local people want, then it is going to be luck more than anything. PC.

  • ” if IS stuck to a moral line that people could aspire to – without being so brutal and careless of people’s lives – then perhaps it would have some merit for those who wish to choose such a lifestyle.”

    In Syria that raises political as well as cultural questions.
    The country has become a laboratory of Islamism.There’s a wide range of concepts about sharia from Daesh’ insanity to Ahrar Al Sham’s efforts to implement much more lenient versions.

    [ I’d suggest checking out the Carnegie Endowment For Peace med east section for in depth analysis of Ahrar Al Sham’s evolution. ]

    And there’s a rarely discussed difference between nationalist Islamists like Ahrar and Jihadists like Nusra Front and Daesh.Ahrar Al Sham and their allies look like they’re trying to establish something like the Islamists in Tunisia IE – A purely nationalist Islamist movement.In that regard they are an emerging model both for the sharia “lifestyle” you refer to and perhaps a serious political entity.Weather or not they can make the full,”rebranding” transition to a serious political organization remains to be seen.But they’re heading that way and evolving into the Islamist group most likely to gain US-NATO acceptance..

    If Tunisia’s democratic Islamist’s are one model for Syria that begs the question: What about the secular opposition? That’s the balance that makes Tunisia’s democracy work.
    That’s where the Safe-Zone might come into play,IF they can create it.There is growing talk of Ahrar defending the zone.And both the GCC and Turkey like Ahrar.But they’re not yet fit for US/NATO consumption.However,if they cooperated with these new FSA being trained in Turkey that could change.In that scenario the FSA only needs a couple of hundred highly trained fighters acting as forward observers for US-NATO air strikes.Then,like the YPG,Ahrar rushes in to battle the remnants.That would be the battle partnership.
    Meanwhile the US-NATO diplomats try and paste together a secular political leadership.And there’s your formula for finishing off Daesh,the NF and creating post Assad governance.
    Chances are Assad is going to keep his western fiefdom.That’s probably a good thing for Rojava.Assad still has pockets of support in the far north east and west corners.A new,confederated Syria in the shape of an upside “L” would include political provisions for those corners and………legal autonomy for Rojava.
    And a new sunni state is created from the rest.
    For the Kurds sake,that’s my hope.I’m concerned that sunni Arab dominance in Damascus would not be good for Rojava’s independence.The Arabs still have too many axes to grind and scores to settle.That’s the problem throughout Syria/Iraq and other parts of the region.I mean that as no aspersion against Arabs.But the breakup of the Sykes-Picot world is still releasing hot emotions.The Kurds are more likely to get what they need from an Assad in retreat than Sunni Arabs on the ascension.

    • Thanks Mike, that’s an interesting analysis. I only wish such a logical froward plan would materialise but suspect reality is going to be a lot more messy! But we can but hope for some form of peaceful coexistence between all reasonable parties eventually. Certainly the level of mass murder we have seen so far and in the last few days cannot be allowed to continue. PC.

      • ” Certainly the level of mass murder we have seen so far and in the last few days cannot be allowed to continue.”

        If I think about the horror on a personal level it’s too much.I try to keep my head clear and focus on solutions.I’m pathetically optimistic by nature.I have to believe the victims are being martyr’d FOR something.And that something is the end of Sykes-Picot,a new middle east created by the millions of progressive young people around the region and ……….Kurdistan.The mullahs freakish ideology will wither and die as young Iranians drag the country into the 21st century.These progressive young people can be found everywhere throughout the region.They are the quiet majority.They don’t make Jihad or violence.We see them only occasionally,in Tahrir,Taksim and the Green Movement in Iran.But they will control the future,not the crazy ones.
        And a generation from now it will be one of the most dynamic regions in the world.

  • Mr Clifford what amazes and terrifies me is how
    it happens that so few liberal leftist traitors of the West are so successful in destroying western culture and democracy?
    that what’s happening in Middle East is off-shot of this
    it looks that orwellian disaster is going to happen

    • I think politicians of all directions (left, right etc) are destroying democracy. It is all about self-interest these days and very, very few actions for the right moral reasons. We need something else. In the Middle East it is sectarianism that is destroying society. As long as self interested politicians and demagogues pursue that there is no hope for peace and stability. They need no “help” from the West. PC.

  • Id strongly suggest reading “No Turkish Safe Zone in Syria on the Carnegie Endowment For Peace site.I agree with this anlaysis.The so called “safe zone ” will never happen.:

    • Yes, I broadly agree with that article Mike. This is not about “safe zones”, but suppressing Kurdish nationalism in general and the PKK in particular. Ironically, the best way to create a “safe zone” would have been to allow the YPG to join Kobane with Afrin. The Kurdish YPG would effectively drive IS out and protect the rights of all ethnic and religious groups under the Rojava Constitution. But sadly not to be for the foreseeable future. PC.

      • Of course.How ironic it was that Kurd and allied Arab brigades came to the rescue of Division 30.And all while Ahrar stood there and just watched.But in the end all that Tayyip will have accomplished is to create a new civil war within Turk borders..I don’t believe he can bomb Iraqi sovereign territory indefinitely.And while I have little confidence in Obama to be a true Kurd ally I do believe he needs the YPG too badly for his ISIS project to abandon them.Obama wants to destroy ISIS before he leaves office because it’s a feather in the cap of his legacy.He wants to get ISIS the way Tayyip wants to get the Kurds.And it was that desperation that lead to this faustus bargain.
        But there’s one thing you can always count on with Tayyip – unfailing ineptitude.Somehow,the Kurds usually benefit from his hysterical approach to foreign policy.In fact one can credit him with helping create Rojava.After all,if it wasn’t for the chaos produced by his support for ISIS the US wouldn’t be there,providing help from above.
        A million thanks for the work you do on the behalf of the Kurdish people.Outstanding.

  • Wisdom

    hi Peter, wanted to know what are the prospects of Daesh getting kicked out of Sinjar, Tal Afar? does it mean that Daesh will lose the Mosul – Raqqa link?

    • Hi,Wisdom, good question. One would have expected Sinjar especially to have fallen by now, but the Peshmerga, unlike the YPG, seem to be indecisive in their campaigns, despite assistance from the Coalition. As for Tel Afar, it is part of the Mosul campaign which was supposed to start during Ramadan, but was put off after Ramadi fell to IS. A lack of determination, grit and skills seems to infest the Iraqi Army, and while the Peshmerga have had some success, they do not seem as able as the YPG/YPJ. PC.

      • I am far away to be as competent in ME affairs and politics as you Peter but seams to me that Peshmerga are in situation when they have to cooperate with Iraqi government and military and the both of Iraqi sides are not well prepared to do so and Peshmerga arestill at least officially part of Iraq (?)
        The example of IS show how big damage determined gang of of generally light armed criminals can do and greatest power on the world says it has no clear policy (willingness it is) to stop this medieval mayhem
        lslamic radicals so thriving in the West are simply result of complacency, stupidity , cowardice of western leaders and political correctness
        people in ME are victims of genocide
        it seems , a rather strangely but only Israel doesn’t look too much frightened compare to rest of others
        yes situation in ME is very complicated but in history of the world nothing new
        there were worse and more dangerous things in the past than IS
        what is scary is that that for quite a few and quite opposite sides Isis is beneficial (horror)
        thank you for your great articles which stand out of this sensational
        rubbish of other press

        • Thanks for your comments Tanto. Re. Peshmerga, I rather think they are under control of Barzani, who has his own agenda. What amazes me is that they have not cleared Sinjar city yet and that they were reportedly ordered to abandon the Yezidi on Mount Sinjar in the first place. Personally I prefer the ethos of the YPG and the Constitution of Rojava which are a much better basis for moving forward.

          There is more to Islamic fundamentalism in the West than you say – and I hope to write about that before too long. I agree, if IS stuck to a moral line that people could aspire to – without being so brutal and careless of people’s lives – then perhaps it would have some merit for those who wish to choose such a lifestyle. However, no-one in their right mind can justify their horrific behaviour which is destroying the lives of others for many years to come. The psychological damage of multiple rapes is indescribable – I know, I work with it every week.

          That the spread of IS will have to be stopped is an urgent necessity. No problem if people choose a philosophy as long as it respects others different choices and IS does not. And any religion or philosophy that says their’s is the only way is wrong by arrogant definition. PC

  • a234

    Erdragon sends airplains on Kurd pozition in Syria. Is friend Erdragon? He wars with Assad and with Kurds too. And FSA is glad. That is very goog. O lala. FSA in Syria … no rule … never. With FSA and Nusra will be Syria new Lybia.

    • Thanks for your comments, Patto. I think Erdogan is full of self-interest and doing whatever he thinks can get public opinion on his side, take away power from the Kurds (HDP) and win him the next election.

  • Mehmet Mert

    if anyone run self brain , can easily see Turkey back to coalition to protect ISIL.
    so, to weaken the apposite (the coalition) of ISIL, Turkey is fighting with them.

  • I have already frightened your holidays would take a lot of time, but since you are back in three days let it be.
    I used to check your reports every time and find them as relevant and in depth overview of what is going on. Many thanks for your efforts.

  • And again thank you for your informed site and all the hard work you put in it . Your love for the syrian people always shows. God bless praying for the day when all your site is about nothing but peace for the syrian people

    • Douglas, thank you kindly for your comments. I always write with humanity, human rights and decency in mind and try to feature things, amid all the horror, that reflect that, so I am glad it shines through. Amen, to your last comment. I look forward to that too! PC

  • Mr Clifford! You are like bright star of truth and facts high above rubbish of most of the media thank a!

  • Hallo friend..Clifford..I guess the Kurds just did big mistake by mess up with isis in Raqqa..the truth isis let the Kurds win in Kobane..because they are is o,k if the Kurds refuse ti join Isis ti fight Assad Alawi.So the Kurds have to satisfied with their past territories..but the Kurds deserve to gain more..they tries to take Raqqa..Isis strong hold..this of course enrage they will not let the Kurds in peace..I guess it is fierce war in Kurds territories and cost more corpses on both side..The Kurds are too Greedy.I see they are wrong from the beginning..Zionist and America is using the Kurds to destabilize the area…it is America and Zionist games in Iraq to destroy both Shiiites ans Sunnis on behalf of Israel in midst of too many Arabs.Limeited weapons to all side and limited air strikes means the war will prolong to decades in future and destroy Muslim unity..and Israel will safe forever in Palestinians soil.These retarded Kurds know nothing a bout world affairs.I guess you agree with me.

    • No, Zabada, I don’t agree with you. As long as you and others are obsessed with sectarian division and conspiracy theories based on rumour and prejudice and not facts, then there will never be any peace or stability in the Middle East and you will get the continuing chaos you have chosen through your divisive rigid opinions. In my view the Kurds have done an extraordinary job in fighting back the Islamic State and deserve all the credit and help they can get. I also see no evidence so far to support “ethnic cleansing” smears, bearing in mind that large numbers of Arabs have lived contentedly in Cizire for years.PC.

  • suzie

    Pls I hope all the good people of Kobani and also especially for the likes of Mr Muhamed Ali who lost his entire family that people all over the world are thinking of them in this shattering hour for the Kurdish people as a whole who have done so much to blunt this evil force that the world has to endure with. My love goes out to you in my heart and prayers. Suzie

  • Zoltan SPIN

    Dear Peter,
    On the map you show today there is an arrow from Jarabulus to Kobane. Is this assuming the trucks had a way to cross the Euphrate ?

    • Hi, Zoltan, thanks for your comments. I asked the same question yesterday. As far as we know the bridge opposite Jarablous is impassable. They may have originally come from the south-west near Sarrin – if the “Turkey theory” does not hold up. Still unclear. PC.

  • paul kohagura

    For awhile I wondered about the general Turkish population since they supported the Erdogan/AKP dictatorship for so long. The recent election means nothing if a government cannot be put together. To deflect from his and his AKP one party dictatorship’s responsibility for ethnic cleansing within TURKEY, Erdogan has accused Lybia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Israel, … and now the YPG/YPJ and indirectly the US led coalition of ethnic cleansing in the Tell Abyad (Gire Spi) area. A tweet says State Department not pleased with Erdogan. Well the fall of ISIS here is a great victory for Rojava!!! I mean a great victory for Arabs, Kurds, Assyrian and others except for those who wanted the Islamic Extremism. Too bad. Extremist intolerance of other beliefs has to be gone.

    • I agree Paul. Sectarianism and intolerance have no place in a modern society. Despite Erdogan’s bluster, unfounded allegations and threat, I hope the Kurds continue to behave responsibly. PC

  • suzy

    This is great reporting again. I wonder when (not if i am sure) Tel Abyad falls to the Kurdish forces if they will be able to take Sarrin and position themself’s to the north of Raqqa. I would love to know the battle plan and see where the lines are drawn in one or two months time.

    • Many thanks for your comments, Suzy. I am not sure how far the Kurds are prepared to go in driving away the Islamic State – they are already outside the boundaries of Rojava and no doubt stretched. On the other hand the Coalition know that the Kurds are the only effective force fighting IS in the Middle East and may persuade them with money and weapons to continue the fight. These are questions, as you say to be answered over the coming months. Hopefully though Assad will be finished by the end of the year. PC.

      • Jak

        I think that the secular parties, representing the Kurds, whether primarily nationalistic or federal in aim, whether in Iraq (PUK, PKK, KDP) or Syria (KDP of Syria, PYD), know that IS is an implacable enemy that considers them as ‘apostates’ for their political agenda and as such will always pose a threat without the weakening and containment. I have argued elsewhere that a greater consideration of effective-governance (in the form of inclusivity and adherence to human rights) should be made over the almost slavish adherence to the concept of national (state) sovereignty. It is this deference to the insecurities of states (primarily Turkey and Iraq) that prevents greater support for the effective Kurdish factions. It would put the US at odds with Turkey, Iraq and many other ME countries.

        I would argue that the Turkish government has not behaved as a real ally to the US/Western nations (though I need to look into more depth at the recent moves to disrupt IS networks by Turkish intelligence) and Iraq has been deeply penetrated by Iran, and Qatar is fully supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. I have to research more about the exact nature of the promotion of the Hanibali/Wahabi-salafist doctrine by the other nations in the ME, but definitely SA has promoted the dominance of this deeply sectarian interpretation. The problem does not end there of course, but acknowledging these Real-politikal positions would make a start.

        In the context of all of this, containment of IS and a parallel (secret) track of consolidation of secular forces is the correct track to follow, though it is difficult to assess whether the US/Western countries are paying adequate attention to facilitating this. This necessarily is done in secret, because to do it in public would likely (unfairly) undermine the legitimacy of said groups.

        Thank you for your informative research and regular posting. Regards.

  • tanto

    The most credible source info of them all
    great job

  • Valentin

    Hi Peter,

    Just wanted to correct a mistake I noticed in one of your posts. In update 91, toward the end of the post you mentioned the Syrian army fleeing Ramadi. I believe that you mean to say the Iraqi army.

    In any case, I love your work, thank you for the time you put into this. It is incredibly informative.


    • Ah! Well spotted Valentin, thank you and now corrected! Perhaps information overload on my part as I handle and sort a lot of material – but still not bad for a 67 year old, I reckon! Glad you enjoy the blog and glad you find it useful. PC.

  • steve

    Once again to hear the news of the advances of the Kurdish forces is like a flicker of hope in this world of ours that seems to crumble daily into more chaos. The song you posted was heart wrenching and moved me to tears of joy to know that real people with real human feelings could are winning rather than the animals they have to face daily with their warped ideologies. This page is the first thing i look for every day and God i hope one day i shall visit and meet these people whom i admire so very much. Bless them all, mu thoughts at least are with you.

    • Many thanks, Steve. Despite these terrible, terrible events, I do try to add a bit of heart and hope to the reports – otherwise I believe that without this humankind is lost. That’s the dark side of the message of IS – so called “spirituality” without humanity, a message without a future which for all our sakes must be defeated.

      Thanks for your continued loyal interest – much appreciated. PC.

  • James


    The replacement for the current President ,should he fall, will be JAN/isis
    who will impose a ‘lifestyle’ like that being experienced in Raqqa ,back to the dark age. A prospect the majority of ordinary Syrians must dread. What began as a freedom movement attempting to bring change evolved into a proxy war between Iran and Saudia Arabia/ Qatar/Turkey( basically Shia versus Sunni) with the Syrian civilians in the middle. The ‘ King’ of Saudi who is partly funding the continuance of this conflict is equally as despotic as President Assad. It will be a change from from one despot who lets the people have every freedom except political choice and another where their is no freedom and no political choice. As I mentioned I visited Syria before this debacle began. It was a nice, pleasant relaxed country. I feel for the Syrian people’s plight. Their is no way I would wish to visit Raqqa or Saudi where freedom is unknown.


    • Got you message James, just been busy with other things, so hence delay in reply. Apologies.

      Well, the outcome after Assad is not assured or clear. It could be what you say or it could be something else. I will be surprised if the Alawites don’t get rid of Assad before long themselves. Yes, in many respects it is a proxy war, just like Iraq, Afghanistan etc but we should still support the centre ground in a chance to find a decent outcome. I too have been to Syria. While on the surface fine, it has never been a “nice, relaxed country” for those imprisoned or tortured or their families or the tens of thousands killed by Hafaz Assad before his son even got started. The ICC for Bashar Assad as far as I am concerned. PC.

  • James

    I agree the Kurdish YPG/J have an enlightened approach compared to the rest of the Middle East. Very similar to the Israeli model but perhaps a little more left leaning. It is hoped they can achieve some autonomy out of this mess. The rest of Syria is now a basket case, being fought over by so called freedom fighters, who , if the Government or what’s left of it falls will prove just as repressive. It’s a case of (or was) better the devil you know.

    • Thanks James for your comments. Yes, the ensuing mess after Assad falls is no guarantee that anything stable will come out of it. However, we must all believe that justice and goodness will eventually prevail – otherwise there is no hope for the planet at all, anywhere. I would, personally, take a punt on getting rid of Devil Assad and see what emerges. PC.

  • paul kohagura

    First, How did your journal/report numbers go from 79 to 90? Did I miss a lot the fighting reports? Second, I like your reports. Third, for JAMES. What makes the YPG/YPJ in Syria so attractive to the real combat veterans in the west is the rise of gender equality within the ranks of the fighters! Islamic extremist try to bully their way into power. The foundation of all religious extremism is the subversion of the female gender, ethnic discrimination, and religious conformity/genocide. The young female YPJ fighters clearly state that they are fighting for gender equality and freedom. A few proclaim they will continue this fight for all humanity. It is easy to over look or dismiss these young girls/fighters. But on a deeper level, gender equality and religious freedom will keep religious extremism at bay and change the middle eastern culture if backed up a female fight force (all female). Armed militia for local self protection and minorities is not a bad idea. When the local situation is fluid as it once was in Israel, they created the Kibutz system to defend and populate the frontier In the Kobani Canton the fighters are young and committed to giving up their lives for equality and freedom. They go into battle willingly and with conviction to succeed. Look at the Barzani and Talibani Peshmerga troops sitting outside Tekrit and Mosel unwilling to go in because it is an arab area. Shingal also stalled maybe because the Peshmergas are not committed to giving up a Kurdish life for a Yuzidi home. Or maybe, the Peshmergas commitment to equality and freedom are really BS like the Turks. The State Department better wake to the new reality of people power in Western Syria. The Central Command certainly recognize the YPG/YPJ fight, but because of the state department idiots and the thanksgiving TURKEY next door, the mission control has to go thru the FSA for air strikes. I have no idea where the YPG/YPJ is getting their ammunition resupply and soon the Kurds in the Kobani Canton will run out of fighters, guns and ammunition to hold on the territory gained.That little surge put on by the extremist fighters put on to link up at the cement plant and the town Sal is a symptom of too much territory and not enough fighters with guns. The synergistic aura arises as one watch the Kobani warriors go into combat and celebrate their victories. Culture and societal change within the YPG/YPJ is thriving. Permanent women fighters and women fighting units will kill the extremist bully and certainly change the female role. As with all bullying gangs (Daesh./ISIS), they will pick on only those to weak to fight back and those unprepared to fight back.

    • Thanks Paul for your comments. The report number was a mistake on my part – it just felt like report 90! It’s been a long time! :) As for the rest of your comments I agree with them entirely. Don’t know if you have read the Rojavan constitutional statement on democracy and equality but it’s very, very good – so good some Western states would have trouble emulating it. All Arab states, and Iraq Kurdistan, are miles away. Sexual equality is probably the key to peace in the Middle East, but until men give up their false belief of superiority and stupid sectarian defensiveness, we won’t be seeing an end to war and fighting any time soon. PC.

  • Joe

    Very rarely is a revolution peaceful – they are bloody, chaotic, desperate times. When viewed from within the turmoil it can seem endless and hopeless, but Assad will fall. It may take a decade and war might rage long after that, but this is a blink of an eye in history. Peace, when it will come and homes have been rebuilt, will be worth all this evil.

  • James

    If the Syrian President falls and his regime disintegrates we will have another failed State like that of Libya and Iraq. No one likes the Dictators
    and their methods but they have to be preferable to what is happening
    now. All the unemployed brainwashed jihadi lunatics from the world over
    given weapons and creating mayhem. Murdering innocents who do not
    conform to their narrow view of how society should be.
    As some Syrians say, we now have Assad but with a beard.
    The ordinary Syrian must deeply regret the Arab spring and wish the clock could be turned back.

    • Thanks for your comments James. While I have no time for the inhuman “brainwashed jihadi lunatics”, who are an extreme danger to us all, I also don’t think we have a right to impose Assad on the Syrian people. He is a murderer of innocents on a vast scale (11,000 children for a start if you have read my latest post) and probably guilty of torturing, imprisoning and killing 200,000 +. The only “state” Assad deserves is a small cell at the ICC. While some Syrians will want to return to the past inevitably, those with a brain who started the fight for freedom will want to see this through until the end. Europe in the Middle Ages was riddled with “failed states”. Although the “Arab Spring” has turned into something of an Arab winter of discontent, it will sort itself eventually, once they abandon sectarianism, though that will take some time. But the right to self-determination is not ours in the West alone – it is everybody’s right. PC.

      • Jak

        While I agree with you, that a leader who pays lip-service to human rights, while running a fascist, dictatorship (complete with secret prisons torture, summary executions etc) is not a potential solution, the analogy with Europe of the Middle Ages, I believe is misleading. Just because Europe was full of states that were dominated by religious (sectarian) power hierarchies (& equal measure of ‘secular’ or ‘religiously inspired’ strongmen) and went through a period of turmoil to come out at the other end with a secular state system (and eventually liberal- recognising and respecting ‘individual rights’- type democracy) is no guarantee that the same is likely or even possible in the Arab or Muslim world.

        With respect Mr Clifford, your comment here has the implication that all religions have the same philisophical constraints, and or methods of replication and that as such the factors determining their place in public life and creating sectarian outlooks are largely similar. I would say that this approach is irrational and inadvertently holds great dangers, and rather each is to be analysed separately. I believe that this extrapolation of the course of Christian religious and application to the Muslim world opens up space for a major threat to the democratic, liberal and/or human-rights values that you espouse.

        I do not know what reading you have done on the faith, but I would be intrigued to find out what reading and research you have done that indicates to you that this path is possible or likely, given the rules laid down by Mohammed in both thought and action, and the precedents set by him as recorded through the quran, hadiths, various treaties and transcribed speeches made by him. I am sad to say that in such cases, I think you will find the alignment with democracy, equality, human (conceived) rights and even secular legal/power system to be dubious at best and highly conflictual at worst.

        ‘Once they abandon sectarianism’, is a huge assumption and does not take into account the forces (from the foundation of the religion to the present day) that are pushing in the other direction (and may even win).

Come on! Feel Free to Say Something!

itizsdewljnwcicpg69m5ud0c99kla647z076rw4rk0s3t5rvo5lr6x0wprs6m8-uvptwq5p-a7f4rhdbbwiwexe5nkae6cbszaj1cu3rbc1l8rqpcpno2nrs3cm2f6o 6a3912c4828bd8bfa72a95c5771e1085