Monthly Archives: January 2016

Russia can use latakia Governorate to track NATO movements on Turkish border


Russia & Allies Prepare New Decisive Fronts in Syria

Translated by Sufyan Jan for Fort Russ
27th January, 2016
Damascus seeking to claim Latakia “As the first Liberated Governorate”
– Russia is not in a hurry to reach a negotiated settlement in Syria.
– The disintegration of Jaish al Fath (Army of Conquest) is expected soon.
– Russia considers the Kurds as an essential part of Geneva talk despite Saudi Arabia and Turkey rejection.
Russian special forces reinforced by “Howitzer Artillery” and aerial support, collaborating with Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) alongside the National Defense Forces (NDF), participated in fierce battles in and around the cities, heights, and hills of Latakia. The importance of this area is not only down to protecting the Syrian Coastline in which Russian positions and Naval bases are located, Russia can use the Latakia Governorate to track the movements of NATO forces on the Turkish-Syrian border; in case an advance occurs these posts will be to warn the Russians.
Sources inside the joint operation command consisting of Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, confirmed that “The Russian joint chiefs of staff made significant changes to military strategies, by transitioning the Syrian army and its allies from a defensive to an offensive  strategy, to reclaim crucial positions.  Attacking forces are engaged in ten strategically important positions. These are: to the east, south, and north of Aleppo, in the Latakia countryside, Dara’a, and Sheikh Miskeen, on the outskirts of Damascus, Homs, and the Kuweiras Airport. New fronts are expected to be soon engaged against Jahbat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and its allies on strategic fronts.  The battle is prepared to retake also Kinnsaba and Bedama, 8 Kilometers from Bab al-Hawa, as the next imminent target. Moreover, the main crossing point of Bab al-Hawa (Gate of Winds), that is used by Al-Nusra and their allies in the “Army of Conquest” is the aim of the attacking forces to regain in order to cease all logistic support to the Jihadists and their allies. ”
The Source further explains “The Russian forces are using Howitzer artillery, having proven to be more effective than aerial bombardment in killing the insurgents, thus allowing the SAA and Hezbollah to advance from city to city, and from town to town without facing strong resistance from the insurgents. Strategic errors have been made by Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham to conduct a counter offensive in the town of Salma. As these have lost it to the benefit of the Syrian Army, the failure of the counter offensive cost them heavy losses in moral and men. Instead they should’ve fortified their positions that they were in to prevent further advancements by the SAA. These serious military mistakes caused a collapse across the entire front after further aerial and ground shelling, the few who survived fled to other areas in land”.
The source considers “The fall of Rabi’ah and other towns so quickly, is an indication that other fronts will also fall as fast since the highlands of Latakia are the most difficult in this war as one Russian General says.  In Latakia high ground and hills, the insurgents were well established since years and had all the time too get familiar with the entire area,  to dig holes, trenches, and to use caves which are more readily available than in any other area”.
The source continues “the SAA and its allies are advancing in Khan Tuman southwest of Aleppo, waiting for further forces to arrive from the Latakia countryside to encircle the Ghab Plain in the Jisr ash-Shugur area. The  priority lies in taking the highlands overseeing the Ghab plain and Hama’s northern countryside, to be in a better position to besiege other targeted areas. It is expected that, not only Jisr ash-Shugur, but also the Ghab plain fronts to collapse since Al-Nusra are lacking in man power to continue fighting. Al-Nusra alluded to the possibility that it will adopt guerrilla warfare tactics when the disintegration of the “ Army of Conquest” will take place (expected soon), since Al Qaida and Ahrar Al-Sham cannot build nor sustain an offensive made by a regular army backed by its air force, infantry units, and an elite special forces on several fronts. None the less, a guerrilla warfare against an Arab army is futile, because the reaction is usually different from that known to western armies, especially towards citizens and cities that the guerrillas use as a base. So a quick and resolute collapse of the fronts will follow after aerial and ground bombardment”.
The source ends by saying “Russia is not in a hurry to reach a negotiated settlement in Syria because the development on the ground is in its advantage. The military operation will continue regardless the Geneva peace talk until a general cease fire is agreed. Russia  insisted on the inclusion of theSyrian  Kurds into the main body of the opposition along with the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that was formed in Riyadh and other opposition groups who were excluded by Saudi Arabia. Moscow imposed Hatham Manna’a and Qadri Jameel along with others to the Geneva talk. Moscow supports  the kurds and considers these as an essential partner in Syria despite Saudi Arabia and Turkey rejection to their participation to Geneva peace talk. Russian officers are visiting Al-Qamishly, 50 Kilometres away from the  American officers present in Hasakeh as a message to these that they are not welcome, no matter how small and insignificant their number is, because  Syria is now the Kremlin’s backyard”.
Link to published article at @alraimediagroup:

Why Hezbollah is in Syria and until when? Part one.



Hezbollah: Why Hezbollah is in Syria and until when (1)?

24th of February 2014

Iran Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khaminei described Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria and its effect as follow: “Hezbollah has changed destiny. Hezbollah held the regime from falling and is turning the course of the battle from a great defeat into a path of victory regardless of looses”.

This is a strong statement about the involvement of the Lebanese Hezbollah organisation in the war in Syria, with reference to “changing the course” of the ongoing battle and the long awaited Imam Mahdi in Shia ideology (though not explicitly clear in Khamenei’s statement), with Iran’s blessing.

But why is Hezbollah is in Syria and until when? What did Khamenei mean by “Hezbollah has changed destiny”? Whose destiny? Is it only Assad’s destiny?

Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria in support of the Syrian regime was considered by the organisation a survival necessity for itself and for the regime, and this is still true. In 2013, the battle in Syria reached Sahat al-Abbasiyeen, the heart of Damascus. Until that date, President Bashar al-Assad had refused any participation of Hezbollah beyond the front of Sayyeda Zaynab (the sister of one of the 12 Shia Imam Husein Ibin Ali Ibin Abi Taleb and grandson of the Prophet Mohammed), in the suburb of Damascus, a holy shrine for the Shia. The rebels and Takfiris have bypassed another holy shrine, Sayyeda Ruqay’ya, occupied it and were at a demarcation line with the sayyeda Zainab’ shrine. The shrine itself was shelled and Hezbollah fighters, protecting its surroundings, started to suffer casualties.

Assad called the leader of Hezbollah, Sayed Hasan Nasrallah in March 2013. The meeting between the two men was not rare. A secure landline has been created between them and the contact was regular. This is when Assad was in urgent need of an immediate meeting. He wanted Hezbollah’s full involvement in the war.

Nasrallah, before travelling to Iran to meet sayed Ali Khamenei after his meeting with Assad, asked al-Majlis al-Jihadi, the highest military authority in the organisation,  to study the military situation in Syria with the Syrian military commanders. Such an access, now encouraged and authorised by Assad himself, was not permissible until that date.

Nasrallah was in need of religious cover for all his men who are expected to die or remain injured. According to Hezbollah Shia doctrine of Welayat-al-Faqih, Nasrallah needed a religious Fatwa from a higher cleric to whom he has declared loyalty to his doctrine.

By that time, the military commanders in Hezbollah were shocked by the outcome. “Are you asking us to intervene now that Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebels are in Damascus? said a Hezbollah high-ranking commander to Nasrallah, not to decline his instructions but to explain the gravity of the situation. The decision was made and the blessing was given: Hezbollah must consider fighting the Takfiris as a priority higher than fighting Israel. The Takfiris had declared war against the Shia, men, women and children, while Israel was in war against Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’ objective to intervene was not only to save the regime. Hezbollah’s intervention is both ideological and existential. To sum up in Hezbollah’s words: “It is a religious duty, a continuity of military supply, a support to an ally in the “resistance axis”, a protection of its supporters in Lebanon from terrorist acts, a backing for its presence as a main player, a balancing element in the struggle against Israel and finally a war quoted in the prophecy to stop the slaughtering of the Shia in Bilad al-Sham, Jabal ‘Amel (Lebanon) and until the final battle in al-Koufa (Iraq).”

Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria has not worsened the sectarian violence in Lebanon but has accelerated its timing and brought it into the surface. A sectarian struggle in Lebanon was expected to trigger extreme violence between the years 2004 and 2005. It was delayed due to the Israeli war in 2006 but seems difficult to avoid at a certain point. For Hezbollah, fighting the Takfiris in Syria is less costly than facing these in Lebanon, and above all, in Shia controlled areas if they were to win in Syria and to control it.

End of part one

Written on the 24th of February 2014. Revised on the 25th of January 2016.

USA pushes Iran out of Iraq and leaves Syria to Russia



Original article here:

– Will Iraq be divided or it is just putting a U.S pressure on Baghdad?

– Have Iran said its last word and turned a page on Iraq?

– The Americans influence will expand and remain (Baqiya wa tatamaddad) and won’t tolerate competitors

– FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari: “If Turkey does not withdraw from Iraq, all options would be available, including Jihad”.

– An Iranian senior official: “The priority is to finish off ISIS in the first place. After that…”



BAGHDAD – Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai):


The split within the “Shia house” is coming out to public in Iraq adding to dissatisfaction from Sunni toward the central government’s performance. Moreover, the Marjaiya in Najaf is also frustrated with the Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi due to the lack of economical and social reforms. For the Kurds, the will for an independent state is overwhelming. Oil is exported to several countries and natural gas deal is signed off with Turkey without asking Baghdad’s opinion. Last but not least, the Turkish “occupation” troops are still north of Mosul, while Baghdad threatens. “We shall force a pull out, if all diplomatic means are exhausted“, told me the Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Amid all these facts, the influence of the “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) group on the ground is in decline, as well as the Iranian impact among the Iraqi decision-makers in Baghdad for the benefit of the United States of America. The Russian influence in Syria has been acknowledged by the USA. While in Iraq, the Americans made it clear to everyone that its influence will expand and remain (Baqiya wa tatamaddad) and won’t tolerate competitors. Experts on Iraq expressed their views on what is happening in Iraq and the possibility of split in Mesopotamia. Nevertheless, the main question remains: Did Iran said its last word and turned a page on Iraq, accepted to give up on Iraq, and, like Russia, is content with its influence in Syria?

The United States came back to Mesopotamia from the same wide door that was asked to withdraw by the Vice-President and former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that favoured the Iranian influence. ISIS occupation of part of the country and the slow American reaction after July 2014 allowed Iran to increase and expand its influence through arming directly secondary Iraqi groups, and extend its support to Baghdad and Erbil. But the support was not enough to stop the ISIS expansion. Iran soon realised its inability to reach a Shia – Shia, Shia – Sunni and Shia – Kurdish unity or reconciliation. It has failed to stop the tiresome requests for an American intervention in Iraq by the Iraqi administrationIran took advantage of the formation of al-Hashd al-Sha’bi (Popular Mobilisation Units – PMUs). . Iran turned to Russia and asked the Kremlin to intervene in Iraq similarly to its intervention in Syria, to balance the US intervention or slow reaction to ISIS advance.

A common intelligence operational room that includes Iraq, Iran, Russia, Syria and Hezbollah is operational in Baghdad but limited in involvement and action. It is offering intelligence information, which is a key to defeat ISIS”, said the Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

A source in the office of the Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said, “The United States delay of its support to Baghdad was not a coincidence or an unintentional lazy reaction. It was a strategic decision to: Teach Iraq a lesson for rejecting U.S military bases; To observe the Iranian military capability and inability of Tehran to use air power and intelligence gathering to defeat ISIS; To submit Baghdad to its will and dictate its conditions”.

What embarrassed Baghdad further are the Turkish forces breaking into the North of Mosul, in Ba’shiqa, imposing a new De-facto, threatening the unity of the Iraqi territory. At the moment, as the priority is given to fight ISIS, it is obvious that no one but the United States could force Turkey to pull out of Iraq. The U.S has the power to attain the withdrawal of the Turkish forces without the use of force. Moreover, it has the power to close an eye or reject a Kurdish state and a partition of Iraq in three provinces (Sunni – Shia – Kurds).

The USA may turn a blind eye on Syria but Iraq is a red line. “Prominent members of the political administration and military commanders were quick to intimidate us if Russia is allowed to play a role in Iraq similar to the one in Syria ”, said the source.

The United States retained Kurdistan’ possible independency declaration as well as the Turkish presence in Iraq, as cards to play if Washington doesn’t see Iran and its fingers far away from the Iraqi administration. A request to change high-ranking officers and key figures within the Iraqi administration has been clearly formulated to us. We were also asked to keep the PMUs away from Anbar and Mosul. Moreover, in order to reduce any military presence of independent groups, all PMU will be proposed to join the regular security forces otherwise they will be considered outlaws”, according to the source.

That’s not all what is happening in Iraq: There is a sharp division between the Shiite parties that represent the majority in the country, The Majlis al-A’la leader Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim has asked most pioneers members to step down and allow the youth to guide the Majlis leadership, creating a fire-back and serious possibility of split. The Da’wa Party, led by Nuri al-Maliki, is internally struggling between those who support him and others within the same the party who support the PM Abadi. Muqtada al-Sadr has appointed Walid Zamili for ten years as an administrator of the highest political offices giving him full powers but dismissed him after 10 days and accused the inner circle of his movement in the theft and split. Mr. al-Abadi is criticised by both the Marjaiya in Najaf and the Sunni for lack of reforms and improvement of the socio-economic situation. He is also failing to fulfil his financial commitments to Kurdistan.

On the military side, there is a slow advance inside the city of Ramadi, in Anbar province, against ISIS group. The Iraqi Counter Terrorist units recovered al-Soufiyah, north of the city and are engaged in Sajariya. It is far from being over in the Anbar province. Still there is the bordering area west of Ramadi, Fallujah in the East and north toward Hiit to Hawijah before reaching Mosul. Military sources in Baghdad have serious doubt that the northern city of Mosul will be freed soon or even this year.

But the main question remains: Will Iraq be divided?

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told me “Iraq worries about its relationship with the neighbouring countries, but won’t accept the infringement on its sovereignty. If Turkey does not order a total withdraw of its troops, all options will be available. The Iraqi people will defend the country if and when all diplomatic means are exhausted. If Iraqi sovereignty will be at risk, the liberation of Iraq becomes a national and legitimate duty. The Iraqi government did not give any permission or exception to Turkey to break into our territory and violate our sovereignty. As of today, all the rumours about a withdrawal of Turkish forces from Ba’shiqah are untrue. Even the information regarding ISIS bombing Ba’shiqa camp is unfounded and the claim is coordinated with ISIS. All what the Turkish President (Recep T.) Erdogan said is not true“.

Source in the office of the Prime Ministre Haidar al-Abadi told me “Iraq is going through a critical phase tat the country has not seen in a hundred year. Multiple risks are facing the nation. The risk of he Da’esh (ISIS), the internal unity is at stake and the economic burden is heavy on everybody. The Turkish presence is also an important factor and Kurds are enthusiastic about a separation. The United States is not far from what is happening and has enough power to exert on both the Kurds and the Turks, willingly”.

Facts on the ground are showing more than a Kurdish enthusiasm to create a distance from Baghdad. Kurdistan is already building a Kurdish – Turkish natural gas pipeline. Gas will be extracted from the Bay Hassan gas fields in Dibis. It is expected to be constructed in 3 years and 20 billion cubic meters of gas are expected to be delivered into the Turkish market, without Baghdad’ approval.

Joel Wing, an expert on Iraqi affairs said, ” Kurdistan is following its own independent energy policy because it no longer trusts Baghdad to follow through on its promises about the budget and exports. It’s common knowledge that the Kurds want independence and President Masoud Barzani talks about a referendum on the issue all the time. I think the split is still far off but this is another step for the Kurds to build up their own economic base”.

Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, a journalist in Erbil following closely the Kurdish development in Iraq and Syria said “the Kurds are trying to become financially independent from Baghdad by exporting oil and gas independently to Turkey and even to Iran (and other countries). This is one of the main reasons why Baghdad opposes this Kurdish-Turkish natural gas deal.

Kurdistan (KRG) is also building a 440km trench all along its territory, from Zummar to Rabi’a, including contested but also the non-contested areas, like Sinjar.

Joel Wing commented, “This is a strengthening of the Kurdish defenses that already exist in northern Iraq which consistent of a series of trenches and set battle lines with the Islamic State. It also creates facts on the ground for the Kurds to further establish their control over the disputed areas of Iraq, which they claim as historically belonging to them. When the Kurds do declare independence it will probably involve long negotiations with Baghdad over who gets what and this trench will help the KRG with its case that the territory is theirs. The Kurds are thinking about Iraq after IS and have taken the opportunity to take many of the disputed areas that they wish to annex. They have even taken areas that they probably don’t want in the long term, but can be used as bargaining chips with Baghdad in the future. Mosul would be an example of the latter. The Kurds want to be involved in the liberation of the city so that they can use it in future deals with the central government. Kirkuk is a special case because the governor there does not want the KRG to step in and take over and is much more conciliatory towards the different communities in the province”.

Wladimir Van Willgenburg believes “This probably an attempt to demarcate the territories of a possible future independent Kurdistan, or to further entrench the Kurdish positions in the disputed territories for the future. These trenches are also being created in PUK-frontlines in Kirkuk. Baghdad refused to implement article 140 of the constitution, that’s why the KRG moved towards de-facto establishing facts on the ground in June 2014. The alternative? ISIS controlling oil-rich disputed

Territories weren’t good either, since Baghdad was busy defending Baghdad in 2014 and most of its forces fled from the disputed territories (both Iraqi army and police). The Kurds worked with Baghdad and Shia militias to expel ISIS from large parts of Diyala. Its unlikely that Baghdad will regain some of its influence back in the disputed territories, but it must be said that even before ISIS, Kurds dominated most of the disputed areas. Iraq was already sort of ‘divided’, when the Kurds gained control of the three Kurdish provinces in 1991, and established the KRG. However, the KRG is still part of Iraq”.

In regard to the Turkish presence in Mosul and ISIS in Iraq, Wing said “The Turks see Ninewa as being in their sphere of influence and want to be involved in the liberation of Mosul as an outgrowth of that world view. The sending of extra troops to the Ba’shiqa camp was meant to increase their influence in the area and with ex-Governor Atheer al-Nujafi who ran the camp and who is under their patronage. That blew up on Ankara as many of the leading Shiite parties and some Sunni leaders see the Turkish influence as unwanted. The Turks had to pull out the extra troops from the camp but there are still trainers there and Ankara is still focused upon playing a role in Mosul and Ninewa in general despite this setback. The defeat of ISIS is still a very long way off especially with the civil war in Syria not close to any resolution. It’s also important to remember that even when IS loses territory it is not defeated as it has networks throughout Iraq that allow it to carry out insurgent and terrorist attacks every day”.

Van Wilgenburg said, “Historically, in 1923, Mosul was part of Turkey. Since 2004, Turkey worked hard to gain influence among Sunni Arabs, who used Turkey as a counterbalance to the Shia-dominated Baghdad government. When ISIS occupied Mosul in July 2014, Ankara lost its influence. Powerful Sunni Arab politicians – among these the former governor of Mosul Nujaifi – were expelled from the province by ISIS. Moreover, the Turkish options in Syria are now limited due to the Russian intervention backing the Syrian government and hitting its proxies. Therefore, Turkey still considers Mosul as part of its sphere of influence and wants to play a role in the liberation of the city from ISIS. On the other hand, ISIS is not yet defeated. The battle of Ramadi is not over and still many territories to conquer. Yet, there is a possibility that ISIS could be defeated within a year or more. But still the Iraqi army lacks manpower and forces, and Shia militias play a major role”.

But is Iran said the last word and left Iraq to the United States of America?

The highest Iranian official in charge of the Iraqi dossier told me “America’s role is currently dominant, politically and militarily over the Iraqi administration and in Kurdistan. The Iranian influence is in decline at the moment, true. The weaker ISIS becomes, the stronger is the American influence ion the country. President Barack Obama will end his mandate victorious in Iraq with no losses, conducting a very clean war. But Iran has a lot of patience and the ground in Iraq doesn not belong to the Americans, neither they have a society that can protect them in the future. The priority is to finish off ISIS in the first place. After that, like the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid said, when he saw the cloud outside his palace (indicating the vast lands under his control): “Go and rain wherever you wish. Your water will always fall on my land.”


See also:

For Assad defeating al-Qaeda and its allies, rather than ISIS, is a top priority: ISIS is a “marionette”.

And: The confident Baghdadi of July 2014 is surely no longer the same in December 2015.

And: A fine line between journalistic analysis and the “Islamic State” group’ propaganda. … …



For Assad defeating al-Qaeda and its allies, rather than ISIS, is a top priority: ISIS is a “marionette”.




For Assad defeating al-Qaeda and its allies, rather than ISIS, is a top priority: ISIS is a “marionette”.



By Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai


Many speculations have been voiced concerning the reasons why Russia, Syria, Iran and the “Hezbollah” Lebanon attack mainly but not exclusively al-Qaeda fi bilad al-Shan (Jabhat al-Nusra) and its allies among the Syrian opposition rather than attacking the so-called “Islamic state” group, also known as “ISIS”, “ISIL”, “IS” or “Daesh”. For years, numerous Middle Eastern analysts and other academics consciously believed that a sort of “alliance exists between Assad and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”. This sort of ignorance in Middle Eastern dynamic emanates from a long lasting “conspiracy theory” that managed to affect prestigious media and research publications worldwide.

Nonetheless, the Syrian Army’ command, and now its allies, has avoided clashing with ISIS in many occasions, when unnecessary, on several fronts. In few words, ISIS is said to be “much easier and less urgent to defeat than al-Qaeda in Syria”. Also, as key players in the Middle East and the United States of America have all benefitted from ISIS presence and expansion in Syria and Iraq for various reasons, so Assad and his allies did.

The answer to such a strategy comes from one of the highest decision maker of the joint operations room in Damascus that includes Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah Lebanon (3+1 which is different from the one in Baghdad, called 4+1 as it includes Iraq).


“The reasons that pushed the Syrian regime and its allies not to concentrate all efforts against ISIS are multiple and most importantly:

– ISIS is, in theory, the enemy of all countries and organisations. Most decision makers in the region and around the World consider ISIS as a virus that should be uprooted sooner or later. Many regional countries involved in the war in Syria prefer to keep a distance from it and avoid having their name involved with ISIS. Therefore, it is a problem for most.

– ISIS has no regional or international political horizon. Therefore, the group is excluded from any potential settlement in Syria, Iraq or in any country it has a presence. Moreover, ISIS is working hard to attract as many enemies as possible, attacking every one and every organisation that doesn’t accept its governance, even those who have the same identical ideology and creed, like al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan.

– It has no political cover up or umbrella for its existence or doing by any country and no one can support ISIS publicly or in secrecy.

– ISIS is no longer directly financed by any country or organisation. The group is self financed through the resources obtained from the sale of stolen oil and ancient archaeology, the imposition of local taxes, looted banks, access to bank information and data on wealthy people living under its control, on what the group calls “spoil of war” and other income from Zakat (under different forms rather than currencies). Now that ISIS finance is under scrutiny, the greatest of its resources remain and spin within the orbit of its controlled areas.

– ISIS is not getting any training for its fighters out of the region. The U.S, U.K, the Arabs and bordering countries to Syria and Iraq do not offer ISIS any direct military assistance, neither they provide the group with new lethal weapon. ISIS is suffering from lack of military equipment and recruit of forced. It is forced to buy weapons off the black market at a very high price.

– ISIS is not enjoying from the services of different joint military operation rooms, providing intelligence information, planning attacks, guiding its forces on the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, assisting in the updating of a Bank of objectives of enemy forces on the ground to counter attack, and overtly facilitating medical assistance, logistics and movement of the fighters through borders to direct attacks.

– ISIS won’t be affected by any political gains or losses on future negotiating table in Vienna or Geneva or New York.

– ISIS is much easier to defeat because it has no local support and did not manage to integrate itself among the population in Syria. The main ISIS chain of command in Syria is made of non-Syrians, creating a less acceptable image to the population. ”

In the light of the above, the commander added:” At the moment why the Syrian army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah would waste one single unnecessary bullet against ISIS unless it is strategically rewarding? If we see how the Kurdish forces are advancing in ISIS land on the northern front, with the support of the U.S Air Force, we understand that the power of ISIS is more propagandist rather than effective when confronted with an ideological force, determine to fight and hold the ground. The military Kurdish force’ progress occupying land and attacking ISIS in the North of Syria is welcomed by Damascus and doesn’t provoke it. The Kurds are advancing in an Arab area and have all the benefit to establish a harmonious relationship with the local tribes who also are against ISIS. It is engaging ISIS more and dispersing its military effort on several fronts. Moreover, ISIS does not exist in areas considered vital and rich like Idlib, Homs and the suburbs where the population is against the regime and supports the rebels. ISIS controls oil fields in the East and the North of Syria. These can be retaken. It is dominating a population in Raqqa and around it that suffers from its tyranny. The group is due to self disintegrate and return a much smaller underground group and can be defeated when other stronger enemies and serious threat are eliminated first. On top of these enemies is al-Qaeda fi Bilad-al-Sham, or Jabhat al-Nusra”.

“From our side, we want to establish a demarcation line with ISIS and will refrain from carrying out large military operations against the group to spare our forces (the military engagement) for other more strategic fronts. If we look at what happen in the offensive in reef Homs, like Mheen and Haw’wareen, we have retaken the two cities only because ISIS’s presence represents a possible threat to Homs. These were retaken and consolidated by “al-Redha” forces to create a defensive line that can be used in the future for when we decide to advance further in the area. In Kuweiress also, we have enlarged the corridor to create a safe perimeter to the airport so it can be used in the future for further larger military operations. To conclude, everything that ISIS doesn’t enjoy from, is, on the other hand, offered to the rebels and al-Qaeda in Syria”, the source said.


On what happen in Mheen where the Syrian Army pulled out after ISIS counter attacked, the source explained: “When we see a concentration of forces coming together to attack a city or a village or a hill, in many cases it is better to avoid any infantry engagement, pull out forces and allow the air force to decimate or eliminate as many of the attacking groups as possible. We have adopted this plan in many locations and have managed, with little effort, to regain control of lost territories, inflicting a large number of killed among the assaulting forces. The presence of a Russian Air Force accurate bombing is creating a real difference. Therefore, we hold the ground when necessary and possible. We try to reduce the lost of infantry and avoid unnecessary confrontation when there is no need too. ISIS animosity against the Syrian rebels is highly beneficial to us and we take as much advantage as possible from it as long as no alliance or cessation of hostility is reached between Baghdadi and al-Qaeda”.

“ On the other hand, Al-Qaeda in Syria (or the Levant, Al-Nusra Front), Ahrar al-Sham and all the Jihadists salafist who are happy to establish an Islamic Emirates like the “Army of Islam” and the “Army of conquest”, all these get physical, military and training support from abroad. Intelligence and signals information, logistical facilities and lethal new weapons are placed at their service. Not only the regional countries, but also the United States and allies use these forces, directly or indirectly, as a Trojan horse, to hit the Syrian regime. Any conquered land, that was previously under their control, is considered a gain at the political negotiating table”, said the commander.


When the Syrian regime objected to the American, French and British air strikes without coordinating with Damascus, Russia told President Bashar al-Assad:” Let them continue depleting and contain ISIS and you concentrate on fighting al-Qaeda and its allies. The time is not yet ripe for the objection of their doing”. So the military focus was more on the opposition side, hitting vital strategic areas that represent a real danger to the State of Syria like the access to the Mediterranean, and the reefs of Latakia, Homs, Hama, Aleppo and the borders with Turkey.


“Officially, Russia has declared al-Qaeda, Ahrar al-sham and all the salafist jihadists as terrorists, rejecting any presence of these groups at the negotiating table. This is exactly what Mr Assad declared throughout the years of war. Russia is asking from the international community to define those groups considered non-terrorists. For these reasons, the war on al-Qaeda and its allies, wherever these are present on any fronts, and the gain or lost of territories controlled by these groups represent an important factor for the Syrian regime and for the World on the political settlement discussed on the negotiation table. We shall continue making the necessary efforts to concentrate all military power against these and, simultaneously, keep an eye on ISIS, at the moment. The self declared “Islamic State” group is second on the scale of menace as it will not survive for very long as it is in the current size and strength. It is much easier to defeat and its danger is disproportionate”, he concluded.


Politically, ISIS “war on everybody” has been beneficial not only to Assad and his allies – even if the proportions and the comparison is not the issue here – but also to many players in the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan have contributed, directly and indirectly, to the growth of ISIS to reduce the power of the “shia and alawites crescent” (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon), to remove Assad from power (cut the military supply line between Iran and Hezbollah and all facilities offered to Hezbollah in Syria, allow Qatar Gas to transit via Syria and Turkey to Europe instead of the Iranian gas (deal signed with Iran rather than Qatar in July 2011), reduce the danger of the Syrian Army to Israel, impose a Turkish influence over Syria or even reshape the map of Syria) and to give the power to the Sunni majority in the Levant.

The United States have also profited from the growth of ISIS. It has allowed the U.S forces to return stronger than ever to Mesopotamia; benefit from the sale of arms to Iraq; indirectly forced Iraqi key players to carry a peaceful coup d’état against Iran’ favourite candidate the ex-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki; welcomed a friendly new Prime Minister in Baghdad, Haider al-Abadi, created a possibility to the Iraqi Kurds to call for independency from the central command in Baghdad, allowed Turkey to invade Iraq and establish itself in Ba’shiqa north of Mosul to participate to the liberation of the city and claim a share in the North of Iraq; increase its financial and military investment in Kurdistan. The raise of ISIS, indirectly, allowed the U.S to regain a positive military image – shaken in Afghanistan and after the Iraq war – in the Middle East by running a new kind of war with no human losses. Moreover, ISIS is exhausting Iran’s finance that is injected to support Syria with oil and cash to pay salaries and keep the various institutions standing and functioning. For the second time since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran is sending troops abroad to fight in thousands and not only a limited number of tens or hundreds of advisors. Also, Hezbollah Lebanon is fully engaged in Syria where thousands of men have been killed and injured. Iran is also financing all costs. And last, the United States hope that Russia gets more engaged in Syria, “dirty” its hand in one way or another and ultimately fail in fully supporting Assad and its allies to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda and allies. In all that, ISIS is a killing machine, an angry elephant in a Porcelain shop, but also “a marionette”.




Parts of the original article is published here:

‪ …

via @alraimediagroup


See also: The confident Baghdadi of July 2014 is surely no longer the same in December 2015.


And: A fine line between journalistic analysis and the “Islamic State” group’ propaganda. …



The confident Baghdadi of July 2014 is surely no longer the same in December 2015.




ISIS, ISIL, IS,  Daesh, Danish, Islam.


An investigative analysis: Insights into the “Islamic State” group leader speach.


Bullet points:

– Does Baghdadi intend to fight in person in Iraq and Syria?

– Is ISIS army suffering from financial difficulties (jaish al-‘Usrah similar to the “army of hardship” in Tabuk) and begging for financial support?

– Is Baghdadi losing his grip on his men?


Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) –


The leader of the self proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, is, in his last speech, calling implicitly for help by referring to Quranic[1], and historical references. He, like many of his fellow students, acquired his knowledge of Islamic History and the Quran from Baghdad’ university. So, what lies behind Baghdadi’s referencing of Islamic historical events “the Battle of Tabuq” as described in the Surat al- Taw’ba[2]?

Firstly, it must be understood that Baghdadi believes he is speaking in the name of the Muslim “Ummah”, the nation. This means he believes he is acting for Prophet Mohammed or in the waiting of Imam Mahdi, to run Muslims’ affairs and to manage Jihad “fi sabil-Allah” (in the name of God).

Secondly, to understand what Baghdadi is implying, it is important to have further understanding of the history of Islam, in this case, the battle of Tabuq:

On the Muslim month of Rajab, in the 9th year Hijra (Migration / AD630), there was a gathering of forces led by Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor outside al-Madinah to attack Muslims led by prophet Mohammed. It was a period of famine and scarcity. Most fighters, Mujahedeen, had no money to buy weapons, although Mohammed had called for Jihad and a general mobilisation under the given threat. The Prophet faced indiscipline in the city, as some where for Jihad and others against. Those who hesitated and asked Mohammed to change his mind were called Munafiqeen or hypocrites.

Yet, the prophet gathered an army regardless, as generous donations were given to equip it. It was called the army of ‘Usrah (army of hardship). The might of the Muslim Army led by Mohammed intimidated the Byzantine army superior in number. The battle finally didn’t take place as Heraclius withdrew.

The campaign for the battle of Tabuq is used as a key for comparison for ISIS’ objectives. Indeed, as the preparation for the battle of Tabuq began before the conquest of Makkah (Saudi Arabia), in his last voice message[3] in December 2015, Baghdadi invited his followers to conquer Saudi Arabia. Baghdadi duplicates P. Mohammed goals by speaking of creating Dar-ul-Islam in the entire Arabia, extending the influence of Islam to adjoining countries, crushing the Mischiefs hypocrites, asking donors to finance his campaign and preparing the Muslims for Jihad to conquest the non-Muslim world[4]. To keep in mind that the battle of Tabuq never took place while  ISIS is bombed daily and defeated in many cities. Yet, the group leader Baghdadi said in his speech “you don’t dare to come and fight us”, trying to compare what happen (or didn’t happen) in the battle of Tabuq.

To what extend does the comparison hold? Will Baghdadi personally lead his men in the battle of Iraq and Syria? Clearly, the comparison is been used to ask rich Muslims to donate, a campaign launched by ISIS since a month[5]. Scarcity is at bay, as Russia and the U.S hit thousands of oil convoys. The distribution of Zakat[6], as shown on social media, is becoming necessary for many of the poor living under ISIS. Like in Tabuk, fighters in ISIS are asked to participate and buy their military equipment. A way for ISIS to convince rich donators is to show the intent to fight Israel. In his speech, Baghdadi suddenly remembers Palestine and  referred to “Jews” eight times. He also said “we didn’t forget you, Palestine”. Yet, ISIS fighters are on the Israeli borders since four years now, the group “Liwa’ Shuhada’ al Yarmouk” (although denied link to ISIS), has not fired one bullet. Baghdadi is clearly confused and overwhelmed. ISIS claimed its responsibility for few blind rockets. Insignificant…

Is the lack of consistency in Baghdadi strategy causing indiscipline among his leaders? There is a clear confusion between his speech[7] and the ground. Baghdadi said the last battle would be in Dabiq[8] and al-Ghouta (Damascus). Yet, in reality, thousands of ISIS fighters are leaving south of Damascus to Raqqa following a deal with the government of Syria that has granted them clear passage. This is a sign of general weakness and is not a demonstration of the formidable might Mohammed gathered to intimidate Heraclius.

In the Quran, there is a distinction between explicit historical event and conducts that Muslims are supposed to “ hold on to, until the end of time”. The battle of Tabuq, as described in the surat al Tawba, belongs to historical facts. Yet, Baghdadi, as a keen duplicator, presents the battle as a conduct one needs to hold on to until the end of time, offering unwitting insight into the terrorist group. The confident Baghdadi of July 2014 is surely no longer the same in December 2015.



[1] ISIS leader started his message with versus 52 of Quran Surat al-Tawba (9).




[5] Last explicit call from ISIS Aqnaf Beit al-Maqdes asking for donation from rich Muslims to equip ISIS to fight the Jews.


[7] ISIS leader said he is prepared for al-Ghouta (Damascus) and Dabiq (10km from the Turkish borders north of Syria and close to Raqqa) for the last battle.

[8] Dabiq according to the prophecy:


Read also:

A fine line between journalistic analysis and the “Islamic State” group’ propaganda

ISIS suffering lack of foreign fighters, military and medical supplies: The Self proclaimed “Islamic State” has Weapon of Mass Destruction against itself



– The Self proclaimed “Islamic State” has Weapon of Mass Destruction against itself

– ISIS suffering lack of foreign fighters, military and medical supplies



Published article: via @alraimediagroup

By Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) –


With the end of the year 2015, where is the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) present on the map of Iraq, the accomplishments on the battlefield and the possibility of its continuation?

ISIS proved able to breach Muslim social societies around the world. It has success through spreading its aim through ideological thoughts already existing in many defined Muslim schools. But it has attracted horrors and devastation on the Muslim community, in particular the Sunni he claimed to defend.

In Iraq, for example, and since the establishment of the “state” in July 2014, ISIS has lost the South of Baghdad Jurf al-Sakher, Mahmudiyah, Al-Madaeen. On the West, western Abu Ghraib, Ameriyat al-Fallujah and Ramadi (the capital of Anbar is falling out of its control but destroyed by more than 80 percent and its inhabitants are refugees). East and North, the cities of Baquba, Muqdadiyah, Jalawla, al-Khales, Dhuluiya, Dujail, Balad, around Samarra, al-Alam, al-Door, Tikrit, Awja, Baiji (refinery and the city), Amerli, Tuzkhormato, most west of Kirkuk and Sinjar.  It would be shorter to mention the list of territories which are still controlled by this terrorist group. Nonetheless, most cities that ISIS has lost have been destroyed and the inhabitants, mainly Sunni, suffered lost of proprieties and humiliation when displaced.

In northern Syria, the Kurds defeat ISIS, retake vast territory and progress towards Manbej. West of Palmyra, ISIS has lost vast territory, as well as in the northern reef of Aleppo, losing Kuweiress airport and villages around it. In reef Homs, ISIS was pushed out of Mheen and Haw’wareen where the Syrian Redha forces were deployed to face its still present troops in al-Qaryateyn.

The definition of a state is the means of rule over a defined or “sovereign” territory. ISIS has become prisoner of its same motto “remain and expand” (Baqiya wa Tatamaddad), unable to expand in Iraq and is in continuous shrinking. ISIS is still capable of taking initiatives, occupying lands in Syria and Iraq. Nevertheless, it is vulnerable to hold on to most – not all – territories. This shows a short tactical aim to register victories here and there, portray its presence and “conquest” to supporters around the world, especially among youth who can “sing” its heroic and epic military achievement. One thing ISIS has been extremely successful is to convince its followers around the World that all what media reports about losses or “tactical withdrawal” are mere counter propaganda and false information. ISIS fan boys do believe anything defused by ISIS supporters and reject any counter argument. That is the biggest ISIS success and achievement among its own supporters.

ISIS killings and slaughtering on the social networking has its effect on media and audience in the first months or even year of the raise of ISIS. It is no longer the case today. Beheading, hanging, drowning, killing by explosives or rockets, cutting hands, throwing from elevated building are no longer widely defuse and attractive propaganda materials. Most of ISIS publications became possible to predict. ISIS is no longer winning the attraction of the media but it is still a good product to analysts happy to translate its material.

ISIS – according to private information – is facing a challenge in battlefield and struggling from new challenges. A part from a sharp decline in foreign fighters migration in Syria and Iraq, ISIS is suffering from military and medical supplies. Fighters no longer possess heavy weapons or large stock of guided missiles. Moreover, the major blow is the lack of medical team and supplies supporting fighters in the battlefield.  A medium and severe injuries during clashes become fatal. ISIS members who have concluded few weeks’ first aid courses are unable to deal with non-classical human damage. A lower limb injury becomes catastrophic and fatal and is, in many cases, imputed. A lungs injury is lethal, eye damage is a permanent lost. ISIS is struggling in its hospitals to host thousands of wounded of war.

Yes, ISIS is using Weapons of Mass Destruction against itself, fighting with no specific or realistic objective. There is no long term strategic horizon to ISIS and it is clear that 2016 will be a year where ISIS will shrink in Mesopotamia and the Levant.