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BREAKING: Russian Military Plane Carrying 91 ‘Disappears from Radar’

airplanes

Moscow (AFP) – A Russian military plane carrying 91 people has disappeared from radar after taking off from the southern city of Adler, local news agencies reported the defence ministry as saying Sunday.

The ministry said that there were 83 passengers and 8 crew members on board, and that search and rescue groups had been dispatched to locate the missing Tu-154Read the rest of this entry »

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Syrian Regime Says it Has Taken Full Control of Aleppo

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The Syrian regime says it has taken full control of Aleppo, marking a major turning point in the nation’s five-year civil war. Syrian government forces and their allies are now in control of eastern Aleppo, ending more than four years of rebel rule in the area. The government made significant territorial gains in eastern Aleppo after forces backed by airstrikes entered rebel-held areas in late November. An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed and more than 4.81 million have fled the country since the war began in 2011, according to the United Nations….(developing)

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Austrian ‘Poster Girl for ISIS’ Jihadi Bride Beaten to Death After Trying to Escape ISIS

Chris Perez reports: One of the two teens who fled Austria last year to become a “poster girl” for ISIS has been beaten to death after trying to escape the group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, reports say.

A Tunisian woman who had been living with Samra Kesinovic, 18, says the young girl was killed by Islamic State extremists after she tried to flee recently, according to The Local Austria.

Kesinovic and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, made headlines in April 2014 when they ran away from their homes in Vienna and shacked up with militants in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Raw: French Jets Takeoff for Raqqa Airstrike

The original video posted here is no longer available. (it appeared here as a broken link) As a substitute, the above video is of fighter jets taking off from France, en route to Raqqa.

Aftermath footage of 30 airstrikes conducted by France targeting the outskirts of IS controlled Raqqa


Syria Crisis: ISIS Deadly Return to Kobane

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The ISIS attack on Kobane began with militants detonating a car bomb, followed by an assault from dozens of fighters from a number of directions.

Islamic State fighters have attacked the Syrian city of Kobane, months after being driven out in a symbolic battle that made international headlines.

They detonated car bombs and launched an assault. Kurdish media say at least 50 civilians have been killed, including 20 in a nearby village.

ISIS has recently suffered a string of defeats to Kurdish forces.

But in another attack on Thursday, it seized parts of the key north-eastern city of Hassakeh.

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The apparent two-pronged IS offensive came as Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) cut a major supply line for IS near Raqqa.

Raqqa is the de facto capital of the caliphate whose creation IS announced a year ago after it captured large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

Kobane still matters to ISIS. It was never important strategically, but this latest attack shows that its loss, after five months of heavy street-to-street fighting and coalition aerial bombardment, still hurts ISIS.

The injured have been brought to hospital in Kobane

The injured have been brought to hospital in Kobane

As was the case last November when a huge vehicle bomb exploded at the same spot, questions are being asked if the attackers made it in from the Turkish side, and if so, why Turkey didn’t stop them.

Thursday’s assault is a reminder, too, that ISIS, despite recent losses in the area, is still very much active and capable of offensives. Overnight they also attacked Hassakeh to the east, a far bigger prize.

[Read the full text here, at BBC News]

Despite the narrative of the last few weeks, ISIS is far from being on the back foot.

Smoke rises over Kobane

Smoke rises over Kobane

The ISIS attack on Kobane began with militants detonating a car bomb, followed by an assault from dozens of fighters from a number of directions. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] After Seizing Ancient City of Palmyra, ISIS Now Controls Over Half of Syria

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Islamic State now controls more than half of Syria after the extremist militia seized the historic city of Palmyra, a monitoring group said on Thursday.

Russia is ready to supply weapons to Iraq, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, as the country struggles to halt advances by Islamic State militants.

Speaking ahead of talks in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Lavrov told reporters Moscow would make every effort to help the Baghdad government push back the militants.

Hundreds of artefacts from Palmyra have been taken to Damascus, Syrian authorities say

Hundreds of artefacts from Palmyra have been taken to Damascus, Syrian authorities say

“The jihadists on Wednesday fully seized Palmyra, home to ancient ruins listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.”

Islamic State insurgents overran the Iraqi city of Ramadi last weekend in the most significant setback for the Baghdad government in a year, exposing the weakness of Iraq’s army and the limitations of U.S. air strikes. On Thursday the group seized full control of Palmyra in neighboring Syria.

Australia plans to strip citizenship from Australian-born children of immigrants who become Islamic State fighters in its crackdown on homegrown jihadis.

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“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State rules around 95,000 square kilometres, or more than 50 per cent of Syria’s total geographic area.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Sydney Radio 2GB on Thursday that his government wants to change the Citizenship Act to make fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq a reason for losing citizenship,.He says the government also wants to adopt the British legal model by revoking the citizenship of extremists who are Australian-born children of immigrants or an immigrant, forcing them to take up citizenship in the birth country of their parents, or parent.

Palmyra rose to prominence under the Romans but its rulers later created a rival empire of their own

Palmyra rose to prominence under the Romans but its rulers later created a rival empire of their own

Islamic State now controls more than half of Syria after the extremist militia seized the historic city of Palmyra, a monitoring group said on Thursday.

The jihadists on Wednesday fully seized Palmyra, home to ancient ruins listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: ISIS Kidnap at Least 90 People from Christian Villages in Syria

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Sources say at least 90 have been abducted – mainly women and children. Up to 3,000 people are said to have been ‘displaced’ as a result of the raid

Julian Robinson reporting for MailOnline: Islamic State militants have kidnapped at least 90 people from Christian villages in Syria, it has been revealed.

The abductions are said to have taken place after ISIS seized two Assyrian villages from Kurdish forces in the northeast province of Hassakeh.

ISIS parades 'Kurdish Peshmerga' fighters in cages before mob

ISIS parades ‘Kurdish Peshmerga’ fighters in cages before mob

Dawn raids are reported to have happened on Monday in villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near the town of Tel Hmar, a mainly Assyrian town, in the western countryside of the city.

The kidnappings were revealed by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The latest offensive coincides with a push by Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border since Sunday that had compounded losses for the militant group in Syria.

Brutal: The raid comes Isis murdered 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya

Brutal: The raid comes Isis murdered 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya

Sources are reported to have told the human rights watchdog that jihadists swooped to abduct dozens of civilians from the village of Tal Shamiram.

Initial reports put the figure at 56 – but others said the number was much higher.

The International Business Times quoted Nuri Kino, founder of A Demand for Action (ADFA), as saying the Syrian villages had been attacked at 5am with 3,000 people ‘displaced’. Read the rest of this entry »


After Liberation Of Kobane, Kurdish Battle With ISIS Is Not Over

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 reports: Kurdish forces in Kobani reportedly chased the Islamic State group militants from the Syrian city on Monday. This is an immediate win for the Kurds, both strategically and symbolically, but it doesn’t signal a complete ISIS defeat, nor does it signal the end of the Kurdish battle against militants — in Kobani and elsewhere.

The Islamic State militants “are still in the Kobani area, just outside of the city,” said Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.  “So the fight is hardly over if the YPG [the Kurdish People’s Protection Units] wants to regain the autonomous canton [province] it once had. The YPG is the immediate winner but things still look very bleak for Kobani. The town is destroyed.”

“What we are going to see in Kobani is Islamic State being forced back, and then a withdraw to consolidate. This is a natural phenomenon of war — you lose some and you win some and the same applies to the IS.”

— Jasmine Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium

Nearly four months long, the battle for Kobani (sometimes spelled Kobane) has been a huge focal point in the anti-ISIS campaign. Around 80 percent of the U.S-led coalition airstrikes since September have been in or around Kobani. Iraqi Kurdish forces and some Free Syrian Army brigades banded together to help Syrian Kurds push back militants. While this now appears to have been a successful campaign, ISIS is still present in Kurdish territory and isn’t likely to halt its efforts to consolidate territory in northern Syria.

YPG Commander and official Spokesman Polat Can announces the liberation of Kobane via Twitter

YPG Commander and official Spokesman Polat Can announces the liberation of Kobane via Twitter

“What we are going to see in Kobani is Islamic State being forced back, and then a withdraw to consolidate,” Jasmine Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, recently told International Business Times.  “This is a natural phenomenon of war — you lose some and you win some and the same applies to the IS.”

ISIS fighters still control 350 towns and villages surrounding the city, where they can retreat and regroup.

“Soon the YPG will start clearing the villages,” said Kurdish analyst Mutlu Civiroglu. “They are technically under ISIS control but not really.”

“Kurds think that regime is trying to break out a civil war between Kurds and Arabs. Some Arabs are with Kurds … some Arabs are with the regime. The regime is trying to appeal to people’s nationalistic feelings to rebel against the Kurds.”

However, Kurds are facing another threat just miles away in Hasakah, the last city in the Kurdish area of northern Syria with a significant regime presence, and a major energy and agricultural hub. In the last month, the YPG have had to battle the Syrian regime’s National Defense Forces, made up of local Arab tribesmen and Iranian reinforcements.

“Kurds think that regime is trying to break out a civil war between Kurds and Arabs,” Civiroglu said. “Some Arabs are with Kurds … some Arabs are with the regime. The regime is trying to appeal to people’s nationalistic feelings to rebel against the Kurds.”

This month, ISIS has been quietly redeploying fighters to Hasakah, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Hasakah is just hours away from Iraq’s Ninawa province, making it a strategic launching point to attack Sinjar, where ISIS killed thousands of Yazidis this summer, and engage the already thinly stretched Iraqi peshmerga (Kurdish) forces in another battle. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: Kurdish Female Suicide Bomber in Kobane Killed Dozens of ISIS Militants

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With Kurdish fighters under increasing pressure from the ISIS militants seeking to seize Kobane, this is the first time a suicide bomber has been used by Kurdish forces in the conflict. Her name in Kurdish was Dilar Gencxemis but she went under the nom-de-guerre of Arin Mirkan

SURUC, Turkey — Kurdish fighters battling ISIS militants for the Syrian town of Kobane employed a new tactic when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in an attack claimed to have killed dozens of militants. The young woman, a full-time fighter with the Syria-based Kurdish rebel group the People’s Protection Units (YPG), killed herself in the attack on Sunday, Kurdish sources said.

tribune ‏@tribunegr  23h22 hours ago #YPJ fighter #ArinMirkan carried out a suicide bomb attack on an #ISIS tank close to #Kobane

Source: Twitter — tribune ‏@tribunegr 
#YPJ fighter #ArinMirkan carried out a suicide bomb attack on an #ISIS tank close to #Kobane

Her act struck a chord with Kurds and others supporting the opposition to ISIS in Kobane, with #ArinMirkan becoming a popular hashtag on Twitter.

Her name in Kurdish was Dilar Gencxemis but she went under the nom-de-guerre of Arin Mirkan, the YPG said in a statement. She was from the Syrian town of Afrin in the Aleppo province of northern Syria, just south of the Turkish border.

“I don’t know her exact age but she was above 20. She was a fighter from the YPG. “She threw many grenades at ISIS insurgents. After that, she blew herself up.”

With Kurdish fighters under increasing pressure from the ISIS militants seeking to seize Kobane, this is the first time a suicide bomber has been used by Kurdish forces in the conflict. “I don’t know her exact age but she was above 20. She was a fighter from the YPG,” said Mustafa Bali, a Kurdish official in Kobane told in the Turkish border town of Suruc.

“The woman blew herself up for me, for the Kurds and for Kobane.” 

— Mustafa, one of the estimated 186,000 people from the Kobane region who fled the fighting into neighbouring Turkey

“She threw many grenades at ISIS insurgents. After that, she blew herself up,” he said, adding that dozens of ISIS fighters were killed in her assault.

“She killed dozens of gang members and demonstrated the YPG fighters’ determined resistance. If necessary, all YPG fighters will follow her example, and the gangs will not be allowed to achieve their aim of taking Kobane.”

— From a statement issued by the YPG, carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency

The Britain-based Britain-based group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria, also confirmed the attack by the female suicide bomber. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATED: Cache of Surface-to-Air Missiles? Islamic State Captures Major Government Air Base in Northeast Syria

REPORT: Militants seize cache of surface-to-air missiles…


FACT CHECK: Obama’s Syria Case Still Lacks Proof

John Merry watches President Barack Obama deliver a speech about relations with Syria from McP's Pub, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013,  in Coronado, Calif.  Obama said in a nationally televised address Tuesday night that recent diplomatic steps offer "the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons" inside Syria without the use of force, but he also insisted the U.S. military will keep the pressure on President Bashar Assad "and be ready to respond" if other measures fail. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama voiced his conviction Tuesday night that Syrian President Bashar Assad was to blame for deadly chemical attacks against civilians, but again he offered no proof. A look at his remarks to the nation, seeking support for a military strike against Syria, and how they compare with the facts as publicly known:

OBAMA: “We know the Assad regime was responsible. … The facts cannot be denied.”

THE FACTS: The Obama administration has not laid out proof Assad was behind the attack.

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