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[VIDEO] Military Operation of the Peshmerga and US Troops in Hawija 

US soldiers and ‎Peshmerga forces have freed 70 hostages in the ‎Kurdish region of North ‎Iraq.. The Pentagon says they were being held by ‎Daesh in a village near the city of Hawija. A spokesman says at least 20 Daesh(isis) militants were killed in the raid. One US soldier also died. It was the first American combat death since the US’ withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

Read Jim Geraghty‘s item about this here, at The Corner

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Random Violence, Legitimate Grievances, and High Horses: ISIS Burned Up To 40 People Alive, Says Iraqi Official

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(CNN)Reports that ISIS burned alive up to 40 people near the town of al-Baghdadi in Iraq’s Anbar province are true, an Iraqi official told CNN on Wednesday.

Anbar provincial council chairman Sabah Karkhout said he was advised by his field commanders near the al-Baghdadi front line that ISIS militants killed at least 40 police officers and tribesman, and that most of the victims were “burned to death.”

Burn Kids

ISIS seized control of most of the town last week. It’s just nine miles north of the Ayn al-Asad airbase, where some 400 U.S. military personnel are stationed to train Iraqi pilots in the fight against ISIS.

CNN cannot independently confirm that the people were burned to death.

Iraqi Security Forces have given accounts in situation reports obtained by CNN that speak of Iraqi forces and tribesmen killed by ISIS, but it was not clear whether their bodies burned before or after their deaths.

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ISIS has not published any images of the reported killings as they have frequently done in the past.

At a news briefing Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said he’d heard about the reported killings, adding that the United States had purported images of the incident that were being analyzed. Read the rest of this entry »


Fashion Retailer H&M Forced to Apologize for ‘Kurdish Female Fighter’ Jumpsuit

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Peshmerga style?

“The jumpsuit in question is made in a light and comfortable material and is a part of a larger collection consisting of many garments in khaki green, which also is one of the trendiest colors this season.”

Al Arabiya News reports: Top fashion retailer H&M has been forced to apologize after being accused of releasing a new khaki jumpsuit similar to those worn by female Kurdish soldiers currently battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

[Also see: Al Arabia Reports on Ceylan Ozalp Story; Verification Remains Elusive]

Social media was used on Monday by “dozens” of Kurds to protest the Swedish retailer’s jumpsuit design when it was released in its Autumn/Winter collection earlier this month, according to the Daily Mail.alleged-ozalp-img

“We are truly sorry if we have offended anyone with this piece, this was of course never our intention.”

— Ida Ståhlnacke, H&M’s global press officer

The olive green garment was modeled with a high-waist belt and military boots.

[Also read: Kurdish female fighter ‘killed herself’ to avoid being ISIS hostage]

It appears in the collection as one of its standout pieces. Many have spotted its similarity to the loose-fitting military attire worn by female fighters of the Kurdish People‘s Protection Units (YPG), who have been fighting alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga.

[More: Kurdish Fighter Ceylan Özalp Reported Alive; Contradicts Earlier Unsubstantiated Claims]

“At times like these, they choose to capitalise from the brave kurdish fighters in Kurdistan. They should be ashamed of themselves!” one Facebook user named Arwin Banirad wrote on Facebook, adding that the move was “disgraceful.”

HM-Storefront

Another user, Ali Najat Barzinj, described the piece as his country’s “traditional uniform,” adding that “it is not for everyone. [sic]”

Another social media user suggested that H&M should consider giving some of the proceeds from the jumpsuit sales to the Kurdish fighters and their families, according to the Daily Mail.

In an apology, the retailer said it was “never” in its intention to mimic the Kurdish military style. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Al Arabia Reports on Ceylan Ozalp Story; Verification Remains Elusive

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The reports of her suicide, which follows the beheading of seven men and three women by ISIS in Kobane earlier this week, took social media by storm and appeared in several Turkish news websites such as the daily Radikal.

editor-commen-deskUPDATE: Readers familiar with our coverage of the Ceylan Ozalp story will note that while our efforts to find credible sources to confirm whether Ceylan is dead or alive have yet to produce any new information, we’ve begun to build up a list of references and links as the media’s interest in the story continues to develop momentum. We were among the first news sites to pick up the Ceylan Ozalp suicide story and stick with it, with the aim of verifying it.

Mostly it’s been an internet myth. The lack of good information is problematic. Some sites and social media outlets simply circulate the story as-is, noting that it’s not confirmed, and include a direct link to where they found it. Other sites are less skeptical. Some are opportunistic, with an agenda to promote, and understandably have less regard for facts or useful attribution. This ismusissue unfortunate. One site in particular undercut the effort to verify the Ceylan Ozalp story by posting text copied (from LIVELEAK) with a headline nearly identical to oursremoving the link to LIVELEAK’s original source (this site) then posting it, with uncorrected, misleading quote attribution, and no direct links anywhere. Their defense for a practice that’s closer to propaganda than journalism? Claiming it’s “reader submitted”.

Because it’s an advocacy (“educational purposes”) site run by self-described “human rights activists”, there’s a different standard at work. Disassociating content from sources, suggesting the content arrives to them as provided by “the public” (whatever that means) anything goes. Neglecting to make an effort to verify a rumor or credit sources happens frequently on advocacy sites, so this isn’t unusual. Since the internet is a global (mostly) open marketplace of ideas and information, readers are aware that false or incomplete information goes with the territory. Skeptical readers can take into consideration the nature of unconfirmed reports, and the chaotic and propagandistic reality of warfare, when they explore stories like this.

This story is unusual because a lot of readers are searching, and often finding the same incomplete information. Or perhaps misinformation? Since the majority of the traffic involves sites that aren’t in English, western readers have indirect or secondary exposure to the media storm.

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The question remains: Is the Ceylan Ozalp story true or false?

We don’t claim to know. We’re interested, but skeptical. If you see a site that unquestioningly promotes the image of Ceylan as a “brave fighter” and heroic martyr, (and there are many) you’re likely reading propaganda. Or if you see a site, or a tweet, that claims the story is false, you might also be seeing the flip side of a disinformation campaign. Or, it might simply be a healthy challenge to the current media slant, the unquestioned rumor of Ozalp’s suicide.

Legitimate news sites are uniformly guarded about the veracity of the alleged Ceylan Ozalp battlefield suicide report, as it makes its way from social media outlets to more mainstream news outlets. Which brings us to the most current crossover news story by Al Arabiya.

When we first reported last week the story was little more than an internet rumor circulating in social media. In the past several days, it’s been picked up in Germany’s BILD magazine, The International Business Times UK, and now, several hours ago, this appeared in Al Arabiya.

As described above, our view remains a skeptical one. Is Ceylan Ozalp a brave fighter who killed herself rather than fall into the hands of ISIS? Or is Ceylan’s merely an image that’s being used by unreliable or self-interested international actors as a fictional propaganda puppet?

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Some of the photos of Ozalp show her in fighting poses (like this one) or heroic, scenic poses that could be staged, or could be real. We simply don’t know yet.

As we see in the story below–like all legitimate mainstream media reports–responsibly include this important disclaimer:

“Al Arabiya News Channel could not independently verify the authenticity of the report on her suicide.”

Go here for the full text of the following news story.

By Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Syrian Kurdish female combatant, who appeared on a BBC report in September, shot herself with a last bullet during fighting with militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last week, according to media reports.

Ceylan Ozalp, 19, was reportedly surrounded by ISIS fighters near the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane also known as Ain al-Arab. After she run out of ammunition Ozalp said “goodbye” over the radio and spent her last bullet on killing herself.

Also read: Biden apologizes to UAE for remarks about ISIS

The reports of her suicide, which follows the beheading of seven men and three women by ISIS in Kobane earlier this week, took social media by storm and appeared in several Turkish news websites such as the daily Radikal.

But other reports suggested Ozalp, also known as Diren –which means “resist” in Turkish, never left the northern Syrian town of Jezaa, which is still under the Kurdish control, according to International Business Times.

Al Arabiya News Channel could not independently verify the authenticity of the report on her suicide.

During her interview with the BBC last month, Ozalp said: “We’re not scared of anything…We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by IS (ISIS).”

“When they see a woman with a gun, they’re so afraid they begin to shake. They portray themselves as tough guys to the world. But when they see us with our guns they run away. They see a woman as just a small thing. But one of our women is worth a hundred of their men,” Ozalp told the BBC. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: German Magazine BILD Features Ceylan Özalp Story — ‘Peshmerga Fighter: Suicide Out of Fear of ISIS Rape’

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Peschmerga-Kämpferin: Selbstmord aus Angst vor ISIS-Vergewaltigung – Politik Ausland – Bild.de

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This appeared online about an hour ago, the first I’m aware of the Ceylan Özalp story being picked up by traditional print media. Until now, we’ve only seen it in social media, and blogs. Note that BILD concludes, rather than begins, with the familiar disclaimer:

“The source for the fate of Ceylan Ozalp was not conclusively verify their validity is, however, the descriptions appears authentic.”

Though it’s a less-than-ideal Google translation from German to English, we can see that it remains an “as is” story. However, it includes graphics, maps, a video, and a little more background. Does BILDs confidence in its authenticity give it more credibility? Perhaps so. We’ll let the readers decide.

Turkish and French sites occasionally have references, and the BBC has coverage of Kurdish women fighters, but information about Ceylan Özalp is elusive, adding to her increasingly mythic status.

Since this particular European tabloid is the first mainstream news organization to put any effort into telling the story of Ceylan Özalp, I offer it here with minimal interference (other than this introduction) with the German-to-English translation errors untouched. To see it at BILD in the original formatting, go here.

[Do you have a source, or more information about the fate of Ceylan Özalp? If so, drop us a line]

The Kurdish soldier Ceylan Ozalp said to have shot herself after they had no more ammunition to fight against ISIS

When the terrorists had surrounded it to Ceylan Ozalp adopted by radio, took her gun and shot himself. Afraid of being raped by the jihadists like so many women before.

“To the Bitter End”: Peshmerga women fighting against ISIS

For days warriors deliver the terror militia Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria (ISIS, also IS) violent struggle for Kurdish enclave Ain Al-Arab (Kurdish: Kobane) and the surrounding villages. Already 300 villages are in the hands of terrorists, Ain Al-Arab have them surrounded from three sides. Only two kilometers – then they are in town!

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The embattled border town of Ain​​-al-Arab

The Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim told the news agency Reuters: When the ISIS-fighters should arrive in the city, “they will destroy everything and the people slaughtered.” Within a few days the decision would be like.

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[click image to go to video at BILD]

The brave Peshmerga fighters

Still trying fighters of the Kurdish people’s defense units, the jihadists to stop. With poor facilities face young, old and women terrorists in the way. Read the rest of this entry »


In Memory: Ceylan Ozalp, Kurdish YPG Fighter

Ceylan-Ozalp

 See – The Mystery of Ceylan Ozalp

UPDATE 2: German Magazine BILD Features Ceylan Özalp Story — ‘Peshmerga Fighter: Suicide Out of Fear of ISIS Rape’

UPDATE 3: IBTimes Reports on Alleged Battlefield Suicide of YPG Fighter Ceylan Ozalp

UPDATE 4: AL Arabia Reports on Ceylan Ozalp Story; Verification Remains Elusive

Ceylan Ozalp (19), known from the BBC report about Kurdish YPG Women fighters led today with several comrades in the northern Syrian Kurdish city Kobani resistance against the ISIS terrorists.

In Kurdish areas of northern Syria, fighters have been battling Islamic State – or ISIS – for two years – and unlike Iraq’s kurdish forces, they get no help from the west. Gabriel Gatehouse has been northern Syria to meet some of those taking on the jihadists.

“We’re not scared of anything. We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by ISIS.”

— Ceylan Ozalp

Surrounded on all sides and set under attack, she lost all her friends. She fought alone against the supernumerary terrorists. When she had no more ammunition and recognized the hopeless situation, she said goodbye over her radio and killed herself with the last bullet so that she don’t to fall into the hands of the rapists. Read the rest of this entry »