9/23/2014

  • The US and Arab countries began airstrikes within Syrian last night against the Khorasan and the Islamic State.
    • John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said “I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against (Islamic State) terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.”
    • Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates participated in the airstrikes. Qatar sent a jet that did not drop bombs or take an active part in the strikes.
    • 47 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the USS Arleigh Burke and the USS Philippine Sea in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf in the first wave of strikes, most of which targeted Khorasan positions. The second wave included F-22s and F-15s from the coalition against IS positions. The third wave involved F-18s from the coalition that mainly targeted positions in eastern Syria.
    • US Central Command said that the strikes included “fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles”.
      • Many countries who are participating in fighting against the IS in Iraq said they would not carry out strikes against them in Syria out of fear of strengthening the Syrian government.
      • Harakat Hazm, an FSA group, also criticized the airstrikes today.
        • They called it “an attack on national sovereignty that undermines the Syrian revolution” and said “The sole beneficiary of this foreign interference in Syria is the Assad regime, especially in the absence of any real strategy to topple him”.
      • Hezbollah criticized the airstrikes, saying “We are against American military intervention and an international coalition in Syria, whether that is against the regime or IS”.
      • Division 13, an FSA group, said it welcomed the strikes: http://rfsmediaoffice.com/en/statement-by-fsa-division-13/
    • CentComs official release: http://www.centcom.mil/en/news/articles/sept.-23-u.s.-military-partner-nations-conduct-airstrikes-against-isil-in-s
    • 8 airstrikes and a number of cruise missiles targeted the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan group in western Aleppo. Strikes also hit Jabhat al-Nusra positions in Idlib. It is not clear if this was the coalition, since the US made no reference to JaN in its official release, and did not include Idlib in the regions which were targeted.
      • The Khorasan group is a small faction of al-Qaeda members who were identified last week by the US. The US says the group of al-Qaeda members is working within Syria to “conduct external operations against US targets”. They are presumably attached to Jabhat al-Nusra.
      • News organizations have been very unclear over what they are reporting the Khorasan group as. Some are saying it is part of JaN, while others are reporting that it is made of of former JaN members who split off from the group last year.It is also a possibility that the airstrikes hit JaN positions in the mistaken belief that they belonged to Khorasan members.
      • CentCom said “The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned Al Qa’eda veterans — sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group — who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations.”
      • At least 50 fighters were killed, along with 11 civilians in Kafr Deryan, a JaN-controlled town in Idlib. It is not clear how many of the killed fighters were part of the Khorasan group and how many were from Jabhat al-Nusra, which is al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.
        • JaN fights alongside rebels against both the government and the IS, but is officially recognized by the US as a “terrorist organization”.
        • Abu Yousef al-Turki, a prominent JaN sniper and sniper instructor, was killed during the airstrikes in Idlib.
        • It is also not clear how this will affect JaN’s relations with other rebel groups who were not targeted by the airstrikes and it relations with the IS. The fact that the memo said that the airstrikes specifically were targeting Khorasan and didn’t mention JaN, just a week after US intelligence first brought up Khorasan, indicates that the strikes were not targeting JaN as a whole, but this one al-Qaeda group that was working to conduct external attacks.
      • The targets included training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building, and command and control centers.
      • Twitter began deleting JaN accounts a few hours after the airstrikes.
    • Airstrikes were carried out against Islamic State positions in al-HasakahDeir Ez Zor, al-Raqqa, killing at least 70 fighters, injuring 300, and hitting at least 50 targets.
      • Critically wounded members have been evacuated to Iraq.
      • In Aleppo, the IS began to evacuate Manbij, and imposed a curfew on al-Bab
      • In al-Hasakah, 3 airstrikes targeted the IS in the towns of al-Houl and al-Shadadi.
      • In Deir Ez Zor, 22 airstrikes hit IS positions in al-Bukamal. 8 airstrikes also targeted IS positions around Deir Ez Zor city.
        • Civilians were evacuated from homes near IS HQs. The IS frequently establishes their HQs in or near civilian areas, which has caused high civilians casualties in the past during airstrikes by the Syrian government.
      • In al-Raqqa, 20 airstrikes targeted IS positions around ar-RaqqaTal Abyadal-Tabaqa, and Ein Essa.
        • Residents of ar-Raqqa began reporting last week that the IS was evacuating its positions in the city and tying to keep a lower profile after the US announced that it would be conducting airstrikes against the IS in Syria.
        • Residents of ar-Raqqa said the IS was arresting anyone carrying a mobile phone or trying to take photos on charges of cooperating with the US.
        • Airstrikes on Ein Essa also hit the former Brigade 93 base,
        • Airstrikes on al-Tabaqa also hit the former al-Tabqa Airbase.
    • The Syrian government said that US Secretary of State John Kerry had informed them of the strikes several hours beforehand by sending a letter through the Iraqi Secretary of State.
      • The US has said that it will not cooperate with the Syrian government in any strikes.
      • The FSA was also informed of the airstrikes.
    • Russia condemned the airstrikes for violating Syria’s sovereignty.
    • Airstrikes on al-Bukamal:
    • Tomahawk missiles launched from the USS Arleigh Burke: 
    • An airstrike on an IS position northwest of ar-Raqqa: http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=36.387159&lon=38.172013&z=19&m=bs
    • An airstrike on an IS vehicle staging ground near al-Bukamal. I’m not sure if we actually filmed ourselves using cluster munitions, or if these were fired in very close succession to one another: http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=34.450228&lon=40.891929&z=17&m=bs
      •  
    • An airstrike on an IS storage facility near al-Bukamal: http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=34.457858&lon=40.907727&z=18&m=bs
    • An F-15 refueling mid-air during the operation: 
    • A video showing damage in ar-Raqqa: 
    • Videos from Kafr Deryan.
      • A video by an English-speaking JaN fighter:
  • A video showing a group on snipers during training led by Abu Yousef al-Turki: 
    Abu Yousef al-Turki, on the right.

    Abu Yousef al-Turki, on the right.

    Abu Yousef al-Turki.

    Abu Yousef al-Turki.

    An airstrike in al-Bukumal.

    An airstrike in al-Bukumal.

    A photo of the Raqqa Finance Ministry before and after the airstrikes.

    A photo of the Raqqa Finance Ministry before and after the airstrikes.

    An airstrike on al-Tabaqa.

    An airstrike on al-Tabaqa.

    Saudi pilots who participated in the airstrikes.

    Saudi pilots who participated in the airstrikes.

    A saudi pilot who participated in the airstrikes.

    A Saudi pilot who participated in the airstrikes.

    Harakat Hazm's statement on the airstrikes.

    Harakat Hazm’s statement on the airstrikes.

    A statement on the airstrikes by the FSA General Staff.

    A statement on the airstrikes by the FSA General Staff.

    Damage in Kafr Deryan.

    Damage in Kafr Deryan.

    Casualties from Kafr Deryan.

    Casualties from Kafr Deryan.

    Casualties from Kafr Deryan.

    Casualties from Kafr Deryan.

    The remains of the missile that hit in Kafr Deryan.

    The remains of the missile that hit in Kafr Deryan.

    The remains of the missile that hit in Kafr Deryan.

    The remains of the missile that hit in Kafr Deryan.

    A New York Times map of the locations of the airstrikes.

    A New York Times map of the locations of the airstrikes.


  • The Islamic State claimed to have found an unexploded Tomahawk missile in rural Homs.homs is4 9-23-2014 homs is3 9-23-2014 homs is2 9-23-2014 homs is 9-23-2014

  • The US submitted its legal justification for the airstrikes in Syria to the UN Security Council, saying that they were carried out in self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. It also said that Assad no longer has the capability to combat jihadist group within the country that pose a threat to the US.
    • Domestically, the US said that the strikes are legal under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which gives the president the legal authority to conduct military action against groups or organizations related to the 9/11 attacks, or to prevent future acts of “international terrorism”.

  • Khaled Ahmed, the head of the security battalion of Harakat Hazm, was killed by an explosive planted in his car in Marrat al-Naasan in Idlib.
    • Harakat Hazm is a US-backed member of the FSA.
    • This follows a series of assassinations of rebel commanders in Idlib over the last 2 weeks.

  • Jund al-Aqsa executed a man after he confessed to placing chips in buildings to target them for government airstrikes in the city of Saraqeb in Idlib.
  • A man, his wife, and his daughter, and one other woman were killed by barrel bombs dropped on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib.

  • A pro-IS rally in Kafr Nabl in Idlib

  • The Syrian Revolutionaries Front expelled Jabhat al-Nusra from Hafsarjeh in Idlib yesterday.

  • Israel shot down a Syrian jet flying over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which borders Quneitra province in Syria. The pilots were able to eject with their parachutes.
    • One pilot died from his injuries.
    • The jet was hit with a Patriot missile after it flew 800 m over the border, but was back in Quneitra by the time the missile hit it.
    • The jet was bombing rebel positions near the border and apparently crossed into Israeli airspace by accident.
    • The pilots parachuting down: 
      The patriot missile flying towards the jet.

      The patriot missile flying towards the jet.


  • Rebels announced the start of a new offensive in Quneitra to capture the remaining government-held areas in the province.
    • Rebels hold around 85% of the province after conducting another offensive over the last few weeks and are pushing towards Western Ghouta, which would strengthen rebel positions around Damascus.

  • Jabhat al-Nusra said that a guided rocket attack hit the location where they are holding Lebanese soldiers and policemen captive. The men were captured in fighting in Arsal last month, and this week has seen the Lebanese Armed Forces renew their attacks around Arsal.qalamoun 9-23-2014 jan2 qalamoun 9-23-2014 jan qalamoun 9-23-2014

  • The Suqour al-Sham Brigades, a part of the Islamic Front, stormed the HQs of Suyouf al-Haq in Quminas and al-Nayrab in Aleppo after it said the group defected and refused to hand over their heavy weapons.
    • Suqour al-Sham was the group that provided Suyouf al-Haq with the heavy weapons, which included tanks and APCs.
    • The membership agreement with Suqour al-Sham states that when a group defects, it must return the weapons that it had been provided.
    • Last week a Sharia Court that was mediating the dispute ruled against Suyouf al-Haq, saying they could keep their light weapons, but the heavy weapons had to be returned along with 2.5 million Syrian Pounds in compensation for ammunition.
    • Rashed Tiggo, the leader of Suyouf al-Haq, refused to comply with the ruling. Suqour al-Sham said that it then stormed the HQs in order to carry out the ruling.

  • Nawaf Khalil, the spokesman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that the situation around Kobani in Aleppo has improved.
    • The YPG (the armed wing of the PYD) has been facing an assault by the Islamic State on the city over the last few days, which has seen the IS capture large amounts of territory to the south, west, and north of the city. The fighting has also resulted in at least 130,000 refugees who fled as the IS advanced.
    • He said that the YPG was able to push back the IS out of some of the territory that it had captured to the east of Kobani around Suluk, towards Tal Abyad.
    • He also claimed that the fighting in the east and south of Kobani has killed 80 IS fighters, destroyed 4 tanks, 4 armored vehicles, and 5 trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on them.
    • Locals have said that all of the IS operations on the fronts around the city have been stopped after the YPG’s advanced, and after US airstrikes targeted IS positions to the west.
    • The IS fighting as they took control of a radio tower near Kobani yesterday: http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=36.747172&lon=38.299584&z=15&m=b
      • A map of the situation around Kobani.

        A map of the situation around Kobani.

        Children sleeping in the Surcuc bus station.

        Children sleeping in the Suluk bus station.


  • Jabhat al-Akrad fighting the Islamic State in Aleppo

  • Rebels fighting the Islamic State around Mare’a in Aleppo

  • The Islamic Front hitting a government-held building in Aleppo

  • A girl pulled from the rubble by the Syrian Civil Defense after a barrel bomb hit in Aleppo

  • ARA News reported that the Deir Ez Zor Military Airport, which has been facing shelling and attacks by the Islamic State, has recently received 1,500 additional soldiers, as well as heavy weapons, through cargo planes.

  • A report by Zaman Alwsl on the governance on the Islamic State in Syria: https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/6745.html

  • A bus on the road to al-Bukumal in Deir Ez Zor hit by government airstrikes: 

  • Airstrikes yesterday on Rastan in Homs

  • Airstrikes on al-Lataminah in Hamahttp://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.318207&lon=36.624641&z=13&m=b


  • Rebels in Hama have announced an offensive called Drive Back Tyranny, which seeks to reverse government gains which had rolled back the previous gains made by rebels in their Badr al-Sham offensive.
  • An airstrike on Kafr Zita in Hama

  • A murder recorded on the phone of a pro-government Shabbihab fighter: 

  • An airstrike on Ayn Tarma in Rif Dimashq

  • Jaish al-Islam claimed to have destroyed a T-72 tank and capture General Musa Ali in fighting around Adra in Rif Dimashq, where government forces have begun a push to open a new front in the fighting against rebels in the suburbs of Damascus.
    A map of the situation around Adra.

    A map of the situation around Adra.


  • A video of a jet dropping a bomb on Adra in Eastern Ghouta

  • Soldiers fighting in Jobar, next to Damascus

  • An ARA News report on theft in contested areas in Syria: http://aranews.net/2014/09/robbery-sweeps-syrias-contested-areas/
    A photo of Hasiba Square in Douma.

    A photo of Hasiba Square in Douma.


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