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Cat : Terrorism
Date : 22/05/2015                      Reader : 81



A)Ramadi’s fall opens ISIS road to Baghdad. Jordan warns US air strikes won’t stop the terrorists’ advance

B)US Special Ops raid killing five ISIS chiefs had to be coordinated with Syria and Russia

C)First US ground operation in Syria kills ISIS oil chief - as Islamists advance on three new fronts



E)Islamic State Gains New Leverage in Syria



Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned the Obama administration in an urgent message that US air strikes alone won’t stop the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria and, what is more, they leave his kingdom next door exposed to the Islamist peril. ISIS would at present have no difficulty in invading southern Jordan, where the army is thin on the ground, and seizing local towns and villages whose inhabitants are already sympathetic to the extremist group. The bulk of the Jordanian army is concentrated in the north on the Syrian border. Even a limited Islamist incursion in the south would also pose a threat to northern Saudi Arabia, the king pointed out.
Abdullah offered the view that the US Delta Special Forces operation in eastern Syria Saturday was designed less to be an effective assault on ISIS’s core strength and more as a pallliative to minimize the Islamist peril facing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf emirates.
DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that US officials refused to heed Abdullah’s warning and tried to play it down, in the same way as Secretary John Kerry tried Monday, May 18, to de-emphasize to the ISIS conquest of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province.
At a news conference in Seoul, Kerry dismissed the Islamists’ feat as a “target of opportunity” and expressed confidence that, in the coming days, the loss “can be reversed.”
The Secretary of State’s words were unlikely to scare the Islamists, who had caused more than 500 deaths in the battle for the town and witnessed panicky Iraqi soldiers fleeing Ramadi in Humvees and tanks.
Baghdad, only 110 km southeast of Ramadi, has more reason to be frightened, in the absence of any sizeable Iraqi military strength in the area for standing in the enemy’s path to the capital.
The Baghdad government tried announcing that substantial military reinforcements had been ordered to set out and halt the Islamists’ advance. This was just whistling in the dark. In the last two days, the remnants of the Iraqi army have gone to pieces – just like in the early days of the ISIS offensive, when the troops fled Mosul and Falujah. They are running away from any possible engagement with the Islamist enemy.
The Baghdad-sourced reports that Shiite paramilitaries were preparing to deploy to Iraq's western province of Anbar after Islamic State militants overran Ramadi were likewise no more than an attempt to boost morale. Sending armed Shiites into the Ramadi area of Anbar would make no sense, because its overwhelmingly Sunni population would line up behind fellow-Sunni Islamist State conquerors rather than help the Shiite militias to fight them.
Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who arrived precipitately in Baghdad Monday, shortly after Ramadi’s fall, faces this difficulty. Our military sources expect him to focus on a desperate effort to deploy Shiite militias as an obstacle in ISIS’s path to Baghdad, now that the road is clear of defenders all the way from Ramadi.
In Amman, King Abdullah Sunday made a clean sweep of senior security officials, firing the Minister of Interior, the head of internal security (Muhabarat) and a number of high police officers. They were accused officially of using excessive violence to disperse demonstrations in the southern town of Maan.
The real reason for their dismissal, DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources disclose, is the decline of these officials’ authority in the Maan district,  in the face of the rising influence of extremist groups identified with Al Qaeda and ISIS, in particular.


B)US Special Ops raid killing five ISIS chiefs had to be coordinated with Syria and Russia


The US Delta Special Operations raid that killed ISIS oil chief Abu Sayyaf Saturday, May 16, could not have taken place without prior US coordination with Damascus and Moscow, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan announced after the raid: “The US government did not coordinate with the Syrian regime, nor did we advise them in advance of the operation.” But that statement did not preclude a possible US notice of the coming raid to Moscow, which then passed it on to Damascus.
The operation therefore fixed more than one new Middle East landmark: Not only did the US put its first boots on the ground in Syria, but the US, Russia and the Assad regime seem to be pulling together for the first time against the Islamic State - much in the same way as Washington is funneling its cooperation with Iran against ISIS through Baghdad.
Our military sources note that the area of operation - Al-Amar some 20 km southeast of Deir El-Zour in eastern Syria - is bristling with Syrian air defense units, while Russian air defense facilities cover the distance from there to Damascus.  How likely is it that they all missed the helicopters which dropped US troops?
It is even more unlikely, given the details of the operation coming to light Sunday, May 17. It now appears that Abu Sayyaf was not the only target, but that 32 ISIS fighters were killed in the same compound including four more of its leaders – all them Moroccans. American sources identified one of them as the group’s military chief, Abo Omar al-Shishani.
The daring Delta raid can said to have failed in one important respect: None of the five high-value ISIS leaders was caught alive - or any of their 27 bodyguards. The main object of the mission was to catch five top Islamist State leaders to demonstrate America’s long arm against its enemies, as well drawing from them every scrap of intelligence under questioning.
Alternatively, they would have served as bargaining chips for saving the lives of any more Americans taken hostage by the Islamist terrorists.
The commanders of the operation can congratulate themselves on two feats: The entire raider force returned unscathed – was one; and, two, it captured a large cache of digital and other documentation which should offer up precious data on ISIS’s finances and its command hierarchy.
With the technology available today, Abu Sayyaf, aka Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi or Abd al-Ghani, could have been liquidated by pushing a button from a US drone base in Jordan, Iraq or an aircraft carrier on the Mediterranean, and saved risking US troops by dropping them deep inside an ISIS military compound.  One or more drones armed with laser-guided bombs could have hovered overhead.
On the other hand, only a large group of elite combatants (estimated at 70-100), dropped on target by V-22 and Black Hawk copters, could have penetrated the offices and homes of the Islamic State’s financial chief and stripped his computers and other digital storage units of documents recording the movements of personnel and money.
To carry out its mission, the Delta force must have had back-up from hundreds of fighting men in the first and second circles of response, as well as medical, logistics, electronic warfare, intelligence and communications personnel and also air cover.
UAVs overhead would have fed the unit intelligence in real time.
The only way the elite US unit could have operated without fear of being cut down by massive ground-to-ground missile fire from Syrian forces close to the scene was if prior directives were handed down to the Syrian and Russian air defense units to hold their fire. Those batteries are equipped to identify any object taking to the sky in the Middle East. Without their cooperation in turning a blind eye to the unusual US military activity during a “working window” of a few hours, the helicopters carrying the raiders to target would have entered a missile death trap and suffered great loss of life.
It is more than likely that this arrangement was secretly set up when US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 12. It may be assumed that the Russian leader quietly approved the operation and acceded to Kerry’s request to give Damascus a heads-up.


C)First US ground operation in Syria kills ISIS oil chief - as Islamists advance on three new fronts


America’s first ground operation in the five years of Syrian war was directed against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIS.  US sources report that Special Operations forces mounted a raid Saturday, May 16, on an ISIS house in the Deir a-Zour district of eastern Syria, and killed senior Islamist commander and oil and gas chief, Abu Sayyaf, when he resisted capture. His Iraqi wife, Umm Sayyaf, was taken to Iraq for interrogation by the US troops, all of whom returned safely.
Abu Sayyaf’s importance for the Islamist group cannot be overrated as the man in charge of its commandeered oil fields in Syria and Iraq. He also managed their overseas sales in a thriving black market, netting an estimated $5million a day for bankrolling the group’s wars.
Catching him alive was the preferred object of the raid. Under interrogation, he would have been a valuable source of information on the working of the group’s illicit oil and gas trade, how it was managed, the identities of its customers and routes of payment to the ISIS war chest.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US raid was staged from Jordan, not Iraq. In normal circumstances, the Jordanians don’t permit US ground or air operations to be staged directly from their territory. However, a joint 10-day US-Jordanian war game, Eager Lion, was in progress in the Hashemite Kingdom. Some 10,000 troops from various countries, including the US, were practicing special operations against ISIS. And so the US unit was ready to hand a short distance from a high-value target at Deir a-Zour.
DEBKAfile adds that the operation came just two days after the Arab Gulf leaders’ summit convened by President Barack Obama ended at Camp David Thursday, May 14. The war on ISIS was a key item on their agenda.
Sources in Washington disclose that the order for the raid came directly from President Barack Obama on the advice of national security council heads in the White House. The troops landed in the middle of a hotbed of fighting between the Syrian army and ISIS. They were no doubt lifted in and out of the scene at speed by helicopter.
The Islamists are in full momentum on three Syrian fronts (as well as the same number in Iraq). The group has overrun Al-Sina’a, Ar-Rusafa and Al-Omal in this district, as well as seizing Saker Island in the middle of the Euphrates River north of Deir a-Zour, from which it is shelling the largest Syrian air base in eastern Syria.
Islamist fighters are also advancing on Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmor). This is a 2,000-old desert site with precious remains of antiquity, but also home to Bashar Assad’s infamous Tadmor prison, notorious for torture and summary executions.
ISIS targets near this ancient town are the biggest Syrian air base in central Syria and more oil fields. Most of the Iranian and Russian air transports delivering military equipment for the Syrian army and Hizballah land at this base.
The Islamists are additionally targeting Syrian military positions in eastern Homs.


E)Islamic State Gains New Leverage in Syria



Islamic State militants have entered Syria’s historic city of Palmyra, a UNESCO landmark, after gaining full control over the city, a monitoring group said Thursday. The extremists now control more than 50 percent of Syrian territory, it adds.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP that overnight IS seized most of the city, including an army intelligence outpost, a military airport and a prison.

“IS fighters are in all parts of Tadmur [Arabic name for Palmyra], including near the archaeological site,”Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The militants confirmed on Twitter that they gained full control over the ancient city, Reuters reported.

The remains of Palmyra, once one of the world’s key cultural hubs, stand in the middle of the desolate Tadmorean Desert in Syria.

The monitoring group says that this is the first time the jihadists have taken a large population center directly from Syrian pro-government forces. The group is already controlling wide areas in Syria’s north and east.

Many fear that after falling into jihadists’ hands, Palmyra would suffer a fate of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, Iraq, which they devastated earlier this year.

Syrian state TV said pro-government fighters had withdrawn from the city.

On Wednesday hundreds of statues were moved from the city to locations safe from IS militants, Syria’s Director of Antiquities Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters.

“Hundreds and hundreds of statues we were worried would be smashed and sold are all now in safe places,” Abdulkarim said. “The fear is for the museum and the large monuments that cannot be moved,”Abdulkarim added. “This is the entire world’s battle.”

Also on Wednesday the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) evacuated civilians from the area, state TV reported.

UNESCO describes Palmyra as a city of “outstanding universal value,” an “oasis in the Syrian desert”northeast of Damascus.

“From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.”

“The terrorist attack [by IS] on Palmyra is to take revenge on Syrian society and civilization,” Syria’s antiquities chief told Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

Abdulkarim earlier said that “If IS enters Palmyra, it will spell its destruction,” and if the ancient city falls,“it will be an international catastrophe.”

“It will be a repetition of the barbarism and savagery which we saw in Nimrud, Hatra and Mosul,” he added.

In March, IS militants destroyed a historic Assyrian city of Nimrud, which dates back to the 13th century BC. The ancient site is near the IS-controlled city of Mosul in northern Iraq. UNESCO has slammed the destruction, calling it a ‘war crime.’

The extremists also destroyed a museum in Iraqi city of Mosul, which they captured in June. The group posted video online showing militants destroying ancient statues and other artifacts, saying they are symbols of idolatry. Some of the objects date from the 7th century BC.

In February, the jihadists blew up the Mosul Public Library using homemade bombs. The previous month, the militants took all the books from the Central Library of Mosul, leaving only Islamic texts.





Islamic State fully captured the Syrian city of Palmyra and its ancient archaeological treasures on Thursday, providing the extremist group with a strategic base from which to advance on key Syrian state-held areas.

Moving in after government troops fled, the Islamic State fighters also seized a nearby oil field, a military airport and the notorious Palmyra prison, where Syria’s government has held and tortured political prisoners for decades. Syrian activists, a U.S. intelligence official and Islamic State all concurred...

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