Women, children and the elderly just got in the way of an ISIS advance, the Guardian reports, so they were slaughtered, as ISIS kept up its violent campaign in northern Syria. Fifty Syrian Government troops died in the multi-fronted attack, as ISIS seized control of the town of Deir ez-Zor. The Syrian government fought back with air-strikes in the nearby town of Raqqa, but ISIS troops used suicide bombers and artillery to lay waste to Beir ez-Zor. ISIS massacred the remaining residents execution style upon entering the town, creating their greatest civilian massacre in some time. The Syrian Regime has been accused of many atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons, but in this instance they pointed a finger at other nations they assert fund the terror that rocks their nation. Wael al-Halqi, the Syrian Prime Minister, said that Sunni nations who fund the radical Islamic warriors of ISIS are to blame for the carnage, and analysts would contend that a great deal of the funding for ISIS comes from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations who fund the radical elements. For whatever reason, unfortunately, Syria has become torn apart by the radical elements of ISIS, and peace loving citizens often become the victims of the radical Islamic orgainzation, which seems to place little or no importance on the value of human life.
President Recep Erdogan takes his war against the Kurds seriously, so much so that when Turkish academics signed a petition urging peace with the Kurds they were arrested for “terrorist” propaganda. Only twelve have been arrested so far, the BBC reports, but many more of the 1,000 or so that signed it might follow them to jail. Such actions bring about fears of a lack of freedom of speech in Turkey, and Erdogan has requested that Turkish courts take further action against his critics. Their contention that the Turkish Army’s actions against the Kurds in Iraq should come to an end and peace talks ensue immediately apparently touched a raw nerve with the country’s President, who vows not to be deterred in his campaign against them. The Kurds, one of the largest ethnic populations in the world without their own state, have a long running conflict with Turkey, a nation that has had no sympathy for their lack of a homeland. At present, the Kurds have been an instrumental force in the war against ISIS in Syria, but this has not lessened Erdogan’s campaign against them. Turkish military forces have fought against the Kurds and supported forces who want to unseat the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, despite recent Russian military intervention to keep him in power.
The Iraqi Armed Forces recently took back the city of Ramadi from ISIS, a city where hundreds of Americans previously died taking the city from Al Qaeda, Fox News Reports. Most of the ISIS stalwarts fought to the bitter end, well, almost all of them. The ones who did not fled to Mosul, the other major Iraqi city controlled by ISIS, and they were burnt alive as punishment for not seeing out the fight until the bitter end. This is not the first time such a draconian punishment has been meted out by ISIS, as they did the same thing to fighters defending Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikirt when it fell to Iraqi forces. In Mosul, the soldiers were made to stand in a circle where they were doused with gasoline and burned alive for everyone to see in the center of town. This mass execution of their own members is meant to spark fear into their ranks lest some of them retreat before death in the upcoming battle of Mosul, the next city where Iraqi forces are predicted to launch an attack to retake the city. Like the unfortunate pilot from Jordan who was burned in a cage for the world to see on social media, the cost of resisting the rule of ISIS is very stiff indeed. Their fighters in Mosul will certainly think twice before retreating before death and dishonor.
Ruqia Hassan was executed in September, the Guardian reports, and had a history of sending internet messages of hope to the people who did not enjoy the prospect of continued rule under Sharia Law there. Previously she had aligned herself with the Free Syrian Army, and shared their opposition to what she regarded as the oppressive government of Bashar al- Assad. When ISIS took over and declared Raqqa the capital city of their supposed Caliphate, however, things got even worse. Internet cafes were closed down and freedom of speech seemed to be a thing of the past, as the authoritarian regime began to kill off the people who opposed their rule. As this was occurring Hassan posted messages to her followers on Facebook, trying to give them hope that their might be alternatives to such oppression. There will no longer be such messages after her death, and she is not the only one to die for speaking her mind. Analysts contend that five other female journalists have been done in by ISIS, but their identities are not clear. Five men were recently executed as spies by ISIS, and their forced confessions asserted that the men had run internet cafes and sent pictures of Raqqa to Turkey.
The White House won’t say who they are, Fox News reports, fearing a backlash against their release. Many of the countries to whom they will be transferred will be taking former Gitmo prisoners for the first time, yet none of these nations have been identified. The White House asserts that Gitmo is a prime reason for the recruitment of radical Islamic terrorists, yet independent analysis shows little evidence that such is the case in propaganda distributed by ISIS and other terrorist organizations over the last two years. In a previous prisoner transfer, Usama bin Laden’s former cook, Ibrahim al Qosi, was sent to the Sudan, but subsequently fled to Yemen, where he is now rejoined the fight against the West as a member of Al Qaeda. After the transfer of the seventeen there will be ninety inmates left in Gitmo, and they are the worst of the worst, whose captivity cannot be ended for any reason. There is fierce opposition to transferring these inmates to prisons in the United States, which would be necessary if the Administration were to be able to achieve its long term goal of closing Gitmo for good.
Records of the hated Vichy regime of Marshall Petain are being released, now that it has been seventy-five years and the documents lose their classified status, BBC News Reports. Most interested are the Jewish community of France, many of whom feel that the Vichy government did little or nothing to interfere with Hitler’s atrocities, as 76,000 Jews were deported to Concentration Camps, many of whom were children. Also curious are former members of the heroic French Resistance, who want to know why one of their leaders, Jean Moulin, was so easily arrested, a man who died after being tortured by the Nazis. The citizens of the city of Vichy, however, want to clean up aspersions about the guilt of their city, which has long had the dark cloud of suspicion of collaboration with the Nazis hanging over them. It was the politics of the government of Petain, they maintain, not the city of Vichy who were to blame. Many patriotic French citizens feel that Petain should have ordered his men to join the Resistance rather then, as they feel he did, allowing the Germans to have their way with France and create even greater atrocities.
Possibly Sarin Gas, the Mideast Monitor reports, according to the symptoms reported by victims at local hospitals. President Assad has resumed the bombing of the suburbs of Damascus that had prompted President Obama to previously threaten action against Syria for the use of chemical weapons. CBS News reports that four were killed and thirty injured in the attacks, the victims of which can be seen in death defying struggles to breathe after inhaling the poison gas. The State Department is somewhat startled by the attacks, given the fact that they have occurred at the same time that they are negotiating agreements with Syria and Russia to end the fighting there. Diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed, it seems, are insufficient to prevent the Assad regime from taking drastic steps to stifle its opposition.
He hasn’t forgotten the Russian jet that they shot down, International Business Times reports, and he’s going to keep reminding them and penalizing the nation of Turkey for it. Making fun of Turkish efforts to retaliate by suggesting that a ban on tomato export was negligible, Putin made his reminder a major part of his annual state of the nation speech. He added that Russia would not have a hysterical reaction to the affront by Turkey, but cited current economic sanctions Russia has imposed as evidence of the long term economic consequences of their actions. Turkey has long been dependent on Russian oil, which Putin has cut them off from, while accusing Turkey of illegally importing oil from ISIS. That source of oil might be taken away, one might assume, during Putin’s recent intervention in the conflict in Syria. There Putin seeks to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a man who Turkey has long sought to overthrow. Turkish military involvement in western Iraq and Syria, including their recent attempts to help the Iraqis regain control of Mosul, might very well be affected by Russia’s increasing involvement in that theater of war.
Just about every fighter in Syria sympathizes with ISIS, a think tank has declared, meaning that if ISIS is gotten rid of, there are plenty more to take its place. Al Qaeda and its affiliate organization al-Nusra, are but two of the fifteen militias in waiting, the Guardian reports, and they would be happy to take the place of ISIS as the leading terror organization should they be marginalized. The think tank is called the Center on Religion and Global Geopolitics, and it is part of the Tony Blair Foundation. They contend that the West could be making a big mistake by focusing its attention solely on ISIS, but should rather include all organizations of a jihadi bent, of which there are many. This report runs counter to a United Nations recommendation that there should be negotiations between the Syrian Government of Bashar al-Assad and the opposition groups of Syria who seek to unseat him. The think tank, it seems, has come to the conclusion that Syria has become a hotbed of terrorism, with a melange of groups who want to destroy the Western way of life as we know it.
ISIS attacked Kurdish peshmerga forces with suicide bombers and mortar rounds, CNN reports, near the western Iraqi city of Mosul. Turkish forces are also involved in the area, training Sunni forces in hopes of recapturing the city of Mosul from the control of ISIS. NBC News reports that ISIS launched a seventeen hour long assault on Kurdish peshmerga forces in the area, at the same time that American Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was travelling nearby. Around one hundred ISIS fighters were involved in attacking three locations outside of Mosul, assaulting with truck bombs, machine guns and suicide bombers. The attacks were repelled with the help of coalition air strikes, involving US, British and French planes. The air strikes went on for six hours, and it appears that they quelled ISIS attempts to crush the forces who hope to retake Mosul.