Tagged: ISIS

Chinese troops arrive in Syria to fight Uyghur rebels

(JERUSALEM CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS) — By Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

The Syrian conflict has an endless capability to surprise analysts as seemingly every other day a new element, unprecedented in the Syrian civil war, comes to the surface.

Such is the case with the arrival of the first Chinese Army special forces unit, “the Night Tigers,” to Syria’s Tartous port on the Mediterranean, according to reports in Arab media close to the Assad and Tehran regimes (the Al-Mayadeen TV channel).2

The Night Tigers were dispatched by Beijing to fight the Uyghurs, the Muslim Chinese ethnic group fighting with the rebel forces against the Assad regime.

According to these press reports, Beijing planned to send two units from the Special Operations Forces – the “Tigers of Siberia” and the “Night Tigers” – to assist Assad’s regime against Chinese Uyghurs fighting with radical Muslim organizations in Syria. However, unlike the news reporting about the arrival of the “Night Tigers,” no confirmation has been received yet on the second unit.

According to the Syrian ambassador to China, some 5,000 ethnic Uyghurs from China’s Xinjiang province are presently in Syria. President Assad stressed the “crucial cooperation” between Syria and Chinese intelligence against Uyghur militants last year. Following the visit of Chinese Admiral Guan Yufi mid-2016 to Syria, the Chinese military has been present in Syria to train Syrian forces on Chinese-made weapons, intelligence gathering, logistics, and field medicine.3

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria and Iraq, Uyghurs have flocked to the Middle East and joined the rebel forces fighting the Assad regime and the Iranian-backed Shiite regime in Iraq. The Uyghurs joined various jihadist militias, suchJabhat al-Nusra Front, Hayaat Tahrir el-Sham, as the and ISIS.

The first reports that Uyghurs returned home to Western China from Syria emerged in July 2013, revealing that Uyghurs were present in the combat areas long before. The Chinese government has alleged that “more than 1,000” Xinjiang separatists have received terrorist training in Afghanistan and claims to have arrested 100 foreign-trained terrorists who made their way back to Xinjiang.4

Fearing the irredentist currents provoked by the separatist Uyghurs and facing the increased violence in Xinjiang Province, the Chinese central government has pursued a policy meant to neutralize the separatist tendencies in that region of China.

It is obvious that the Chinese government has not succeeded in containing the Uyghur separatist threat in the Xinjiang province. The measures adopted against the Uyghurs have boomeranged to such an extent that more terrorist attacks occurred in the provinces and outside China since the end of 2016. Moreover, as reported in July 2016 by New America, a U.S. think tank, Chinese religious restrictions on Muslims in Xinjiang may have driven more than 100 to join ISIS.5

The attacks perpetrated by the Uyghurs follow almost the same patterns as those conducted by Islamic radicals (ISIS and others) in other places worldwide such as car-ramming, suicide bombers, and knife-wielding attackers. But, unlike other places on the globe, the attacks are not publicized by the Chinese government, which keeps a tight grip on the information. As a Reuters correspondent put it: “The government has delayed reporting some previous incidents in Xinjiang, and limits on foreign journalists working there make it almost impossible to reach an independent assessment of the region’s security.”6

The defeat of ISIS in Iraq and the recent successes of Assad’s troops in Syria against the rebels seem to have created a crisis to which Beijing is trying to find solution before hundreds of Uyghurs fighters return home after fighting in the ranks of the rebels, fully trained for guerrilla warfare. Their experience may have a great impact in the manner the separatist Uyghurs are waging their war today. Added to the latest Uyghur threats to“shed blood like rivers,”7 one can anticipate that the Uyghur problem has grown to a dimension unknown in the past.

With this in mind, these exceptional circumstances may have pushed Beijing to deploy its elite troops to Syria to contain the possible flow of Uyghur fighters back to China. In parallel and as a quid pro quo, Beijing has expressed to the Syrian regime its interest in participating in the reconstruction effort of Syria and its readiness to invest billions of dollars to that effect.8

[READ MORE ]

Trust no one: Scholar risked all to document Islamic State

(NATIONAL POST) — By LORI HINNANT and MAGGIE MICHAEL

The historian carried secrets too heavy for one man to bear.

He packed his bag with his most treasured possessions before going to bed: the 1 terabyte hard drive with his evidence against the Islamic State group, an orange notebook half-filled with notes on Ottoman history, and, a keepsake, the first book from Amazon delivered to Mosul.

He passed the night in despair, imagining all the ways he could die, and the moment he would leave his mother and his city.

He had spent nearly his entire life in this home, with his five brothers and five sisters. He woke his mother in her bedroom on the ground floor.

“I am leaving,” he said. “Where?” she asked. “I am leaving,” was all he could say. He couldn’t endanger her by telling her anything more. In truth, since the IS had invaded his city, he’d lived a life about which she was totally unaware.

He felt her eyes on the back of his neck, and headed to the waiting Chevrolet. He didn’t look back.

For nearly two years, he’d wandered the streets of occupied Mosul, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. He grew out his hair and his beard and wore the shortened trousers required by IS. He forced himself to witness the beheadings and deaths by stoning, so he could hear the killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes.

The blogger known as Mosul Eye kept his identity a secret as he documented Islamic State rule.

He wasn’t a spy. He was an undercover historian and blogger . As IS turned the city he loved into a fundamentalist bastion, he decided he would show the world how the extremists had distorted its true nature, how they were trying to rewrite the past and forge a brutal Sunni-only future for a city that had once welcomed many faiths.

He knew that if he was caught he too would be killed.

“I am writing this for the history , because I know this will end. People will return, life will go back to normal,” is how he explained the blog that was his conduit to the citizens of Mosul and the world beyond. “After many years, there will be people who will study what happened. The city deserves to have something written to defend the city and tell the truth, because they say that when the war begins, the first victim is the truth.”

He called himself Mosul Eye . He made a promise to himself in those first few days: Trust no one, document everything.

Neither family, friends nor the Islamic State group could identify him. His readership grew by the thousands every month.

And now, he was running for his life.

[READ MORE]

Death toll now 305 in Egypt mosque massacre, including 27 children

(UK TELEGRAPH) — At least 27 children were among the 305 people killed during a terrorist rampage at a Sinai mosque on Friday, the Egyptian government said as it updated the grim toll of one of the bloodiest attacks since September 11th.

Egypt’s attorney general said that up to 30 gunmen had taken part in the slaughter and that they carried the black banners of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) as they gunned down worshippers during Friday prayers.

Relatives of the victims told The Telegraph that some households in the village of Rawda had lost every single male member of their family. “There is no one in the village who didn’t lose at least one of his relatives,” said Mohammed Sleem, a university student who lost two cousins. .

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but suspicion has fallen heavily on Isil’s Egyptian affiliate, known as Sinai Province, which has carried out deadly attacks against Egyptian troops and Christians in the area.

The Egyptian military carried out airstrikes in north Sinai in response to the killings but it was not clear if they were acting on specific intelligence or simply trying to make a show of force to reassure the public.

Investigators said Saturday they were still finding bodies in the toilets and other areas as they combed through the grounds of mosque.

The village of Rawda is home to around 2,500 people and with almost all of the men at the mosque for prayers nearly every home was in mourning on Saturday.

“Some women lost all their male family members,” said Abdel Qader Mubarak, a village elder. “One woman lost her husband and two sons, and another lost three of her sons. There is no home in Rawda without a martyr. At least 100 families have at least one martyr or at minimum a wounded person.”

Mr Mubarak was outside the village on Friday but relayed what happened from what he had heard from survivors.

“It was during the Friday sermon, where all men were inside the mosque. About 20-30 armed men surrounded the mosque from outside and some of them entered the mosque. They shut the door behind them. They started to open fire with machine guns and hand grenades. Some of them shot through the windows of the mosque. It was random shooting. Then they left and wandered in the village, whoever was found in the village was shot, then they returned back to the mosque, whoever was found still alive was shot again,” he said.

[READ MORE ]

At least 235 killed in terror attack on Egypt mosque

(ECONOMIC TIMES) — At least 235 worshippers were killed and 109 others injured when heavily-armed militants bombed a mosque and opened fire on people attending Friday prayers in restive North Sinai region of Egypt, in the deadliest terror attack in the country.

The militants launched a targeted bomb and gun attack on the al-Rowda mosque in Al-Arish city during the Friday prayers, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

After the bomb ripped through the mosque, the gunmen on four off-road vehicles opened fire on the worshippers who tried to escape from the site after the explosion, it said.

At least 235 worshippers were killed and 109 others injured in the attack, Ahram Online said.

Pictures from the scene show rows of bloodied victims inside the mosque.

The blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque, the website said.

One report said the target appeared to be supporters of the security forces who were praying at the mosque.

Local people are also quoted as saying that followers of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, regularly gathered at the mosque.

Islamist jihadist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS), see Sufis as heretics.

About 50 ambulances were rushed to the attack site to shift the injured to hospitals.

[READ MORE ]

In Syrian Christian town, ISIS executed 116 people before Assad’s army closed in

(NEWSWEEK) — By Jack Moore

Evidence has emerged of another Islamic State militant group (ISIS) mass execution, this time in the Syrian Christian desert town of Al-Qaryatain.

The militant group killed at least 116 civilians in executions committed in the days before the Syrian regime recaptured the town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based monitoring group with an extensive network of contacts in Syria.

“ISIS has over a period of 20 days executed at least 116 civilians in reprisal killings, accusing them of collaboration with regime forces,” SOHR chief Rami Abdelrahman told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

ISIS regained control of the town three weeks ago, and then the killings began. Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air power, arrived and liberated the town on October 21 after dozens of ISIS fighters retreated, at which point the remains of the victims of the mass execution were found.

“After the regime retook it, the town’s residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives,” Abdelrahman said.

“Most of the ISIS fighters who attacked the town a month ago were sleeper cells…. They are from the town, know the town’s residents and who is for or against the regime,” he said.

A Syrian government official told the Associated Press that it was a “shocking massacre” and that government forces are continuing the search for victims in the town.

Another activist group, known as the Palmyra Coordination Committee, identified 67 civilians killed in Al-Qaryatain and said that figure could increase.

[READ MORE]

Trump: ‘End of the ISIS caliphate is in sight’

(CNN) — By Miranda Green, CNN

President Donald Trump said Saturday that the United States would soon transition into a “new phase” of involvement in Syria after US-backed forces drove ISIS members from Raqqa, the city they deemed their capital.

“The defeat of ISIS in Raqqah represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House. “With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.

“We will soon transition into a new phase in which we will support local security forces, de-escalate violence across Syria, and advance the conditions for lasting peace, so that the terrorists cannot return to threaten our collective security again,” Trump said.

The US and its allies would support diplomatic negotiations to end the violence, to allow Syrian refugees to return to their homes, and to make way for “a political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people,” the President added.

US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Raqqa announced this week that “major military operations” in the city have ended and that the terrorist group has lost control of its self-declared capital.

[READ MORE]

Raqqa: Isis completely driven out of Syria ‘capital’ by US-backed forces

(UK INDEPENDENT) — By John Davidson

US-backed militias have completely taken Isis’ de facto capital, Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Tuesday, in a major symbolic blow to the jihadist group.

The fall of Raqqa, where Isis staged euphoric parades after its string of lightning victories in 2014, is a potent symbol of the movement’s collapsing fortunes. The city was used as a base for the group to plan attacks abroad.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by a US-led international alliance, has been fighting Isis inside Raqqa since June.

SOHR said 3,250 people were killed in the five-month battle, including 1,130 civilians.

A witness said fighting appeared to be almost at an end with only sporadic bursts of gunfire.

Militia fighters celebrated in the streets, chanted slogans from their vehicles and raised a flag inside Raqqa stadium.

An SDF spokesman said the alliance would capture the last Isis areas in the city within hours.

Save The Children has warned that the humanitarian crisis in northeast Syria is “rapidly escalating”, with 270,000 people who have fled the fighting in “critical need” of aid and camps “bursting at the seams”.

On Saturday a deal was brokered for the last remaining local fighters in Raqqa to leave the city.

SDF spokesman Talal Silo said then that any fighters who were not signed up to the deal would be left behind “to surrender or die”.

The jihadists’ last bases in the city, a stadium and a hospital, were captured earlier on Tuesday, the SDF said.

A local field commander said no Isis fighters remained at the two central points where militants had been best entrenched and where the SDF said fighting on Monday night and early Tuesday was focused.

“We do still know there are still IEDs and booby traps in and amongst the areas that ISIS once held, so the SDF will continue to clear deliberately through areas,” said Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the coalition.

In a sign that the four-month battle for Raqqa was in its last stages, Col. Dillon said there had been no coalition air strikes there on Monday.

It is now hemmed in to a tiny bomb-cratered patch of the city around the stadium that was being pounded from the air by a US-led coalition and encircled by SDF fighters.

[READ MORE

Inside ISIS’ suicide bomb-making factories where fanatics painstakingly create deadly explosive and ball-bearing-laden vests

(THE SUN) — By Patrick Knox

CHILLING footage of ISIS bomb-makers painstakingly creating powerful suicide vests has been released on social media.

Photos of the factory, said to be close to Baghdad in Iraq, show masked bomb-makers assembling devices designed to kill or horribly maim as the doomed death-cult plots a last ditch murder campaign.

Wearing latex gloves, the ISIS jihadis are seen laying out plastic explosive and ball bearings as shrapnel before binding it up and stuffing it into a camouflage vest.

Another shot shows a room with several finished bombs.

A picture then shows a fighter fitted with the deadly cargo and what appears to be two triggers on the vest.

Last week it was revealed the terror group is on the run across the Middle East, according to the US led-coalition.

Col Ryan Dillon said: “ISIS is losing on all fronts, and they are losing their grip on their few remaining strongholds in both Iraq and Syria.”

The coalition and its partners on the ground – the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces – remain committed to defeating the enemy, he said.

“But make no mistake,” Col Dillon added, “we fully expect fierce fighting in the days ahead.

“And while these terrorists remain a dangerous and desperate enemy, our ISF and SDF partners have proven they are up to the task.”

Iraqi forces have made significant progress in the fight, Dillon said.

“Our Iraqi partners have fought a long, bloody war and have sacrificed a great deal to liberate their people and clear terrorists from cities and villages,” he told reporters.

More than 26,000 square miles in Iraq have been cleared and more than four million people are now free from ISIS control, the colonel said.

“ISIS is on the run, and we must remain focused on delivering a decisive defeat in their few remaining holdouts in Iraq,” he added.

[READ MORE]

ISIS persists in Vegas claim, dubs shooter ‘Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

After federal officials announced today that they saw no nexus to international terrorism in the Las Vegas Strip massacre, the Islamic State doubled down with their claim that Stephen Paddock was theirs — even granting the Mesquite, Nev., resident a nom de guerre.

ISIS claimed through their Amaq news agency this morning that the “Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting coalition countries.” They claimed he had converted to Islam recently.

They issued the claim in various languages, without evidence to back it up.

The special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Las Vegas, Aaron Rouse, told reporters, “We have determined, to this point, no connection to an international terrorist group.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said authorities still don’t know the motive of Paddock, 64, who killed himself before SWAT officers accessed his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a perch he used to unleash automatic weapons fire on an open-air music festival kitty-corner from the hotel.

“We don’t know what his belief system was at this time,” Lombardo said.

Yet ISIS persisted, issuing a longer official communique that called Paddock “Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki” — the American.

The new statement claims Paddock, specifically answering the call of ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, conducted the attack after “accurate monitoring of crusaders” in the venue. It offered no further proof.

The “soldier of the caliphate,” the communique says, “equipped with machine guns and ammunition” fired on the concert with “600 between killed and wounded until the soldier’s ammunition was finished and he became a martyr.”

[READ MORE]

Dozens of Al-Nusra, ISIS-affiliated jihadists entered Germany posing as refugees

(RT) — Several dozen Syrian extremists linked to both al-Nusra Front and ISIS, who committed “numerous massacres” of civilians and captives, have sought asylum in Germany, Der Spiegel reports.

Some 60 members of a Syrian militant group called Liwa Owais al-Korani or the Owais al-Korani Brigade arrived to Germany as refugees, Der Spiegel reports, citing sources within the German security services.
Read more

The Owais al-Korani Brigade initially fought on the side of the Free Syrian Army but then switched sides and joined al-Nusra Front (now self-styled Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) – Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the weekly says, adding that the group also fought alongside Islamic State(IS, former ISIS/ISIL) in the Raqqa province for months.

The group’s fighters were involved in “numerous massacres of captured civilians and Syrian soldiers,” the report says, adding that at least 300 people died at the hands of the militants.

One of the Owais al-Korani Brigade former commanders identified as Abdul Dschawad al-K., who came to Germany in October 2014 and was granted asylum, took part in the mass execution of civilians and prisoners of war.

During the massacre that happened near the Syrian town of Tabka in March 2013, the Owais al-Korani Brigade militants killed 36 policemen, administrative workers and militia fighters who supported Syrian President Bashar Assad. Some of the massacre victims were beheaded.

Less than half of group members identified so far

The German state security service, the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV), established a special task force to deal with the group members who came to Germany, according to the Spiegel report. So far, the investigators have successfully identified 25 former Owais al-Korani Brigade fighters who sought asylum in Germany.
Read more

Some of the group’s members have already been charged with war crimes and will stand trial in late September. Abdul Dschawad al-K, who is also among those charged, not only took part in massacres in Syria but also reportedly planned to carry out a terrorist attack in the German city of Dusseldorf in the name of Islamic State.

[READ MORE]