Category Archives: Syria

U.S. Won’t Admit to Killing a Single Civilian in the ISIS War

Nancy A. Youssef reports for The Daily Beast:

Civilian deaths, a keystone metric of the last war in Iraq, has now become the statistic no one wants to talk about.

Five months and 1,800-plus strikes into the U.S. air campaign against ISIS, and not a single civilian has been killed, officially. But Pentagon officials concede that they really have no way of telling for sure who has died in their attacks‚—and admit that no one will ever know how many have been slain.

“It’s impossible for us to know definitively if civilians are killed in a strike. We do everything we can to investigate. We don’t do strikes if we think civilians could be there. But we can’t have a perfect picture on what’s going on,” one Pentagon official explained to The Daily Beast.’

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U.S. Defense Secretary Doubts State Deptartment Claim of 6,000 ISIS Killed

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The State Department’s key talking point on the ISIS war today is that everything is going swimmingly. Secretary of State John Kerry declared ISIS’s momentum ‘decisively halted” while other officials bragged of 6,000 ISIS fighters, and half of the ISIS leadership, killed in their air war.

The State Department was claiming the death toll was based on a private tally kept by Centcom, though Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed serious doubt about the figure.’

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ISIS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes

Tim Mak and Nancy A. Youssef report for The Daily Beast:

150113-mak-syria-map-jan-embed‘ISIS continues to gain substantial ground in Syria, despite nearly 800 airstrikes in the American-led campaign to break its grip there.

At least one-third of the country’s territory is now under ISIS influence, with recent gains in rural areas that can serve as a conduit to major cities that the so-called Islamic State hopes to eventually claim as part of its caliphate. Meanwhile, the Islamic extremist group does not appear to have suffered any major ground losses since the strikes began. The result is a net ground gain for ISIS, according to information compiled by two groups with on-the-ground sources.’

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Who Should Be Blamed For Muslim Terrorism?

Andrew Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.

When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.

The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.

Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.’

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2015: The Dangers Ahead

Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech—It Was About War

Editor’s Note: This article seems to be causing quite a stir on social media. It’s certainly worth a read.

Asghar Bukhari writes for Medium:

[…] The truth is, this awful attack can not be explained in a vacuum, absent of the context around it. It has to be seen through the prism of events that are going on around the world. With eyes firmly fixed on the wars going on from Palestine to Pakistan.

A global view spreading across the Muslim world, is that the West is at war with them (propagandists say this is due to hate preachers — nothing to do with more bombs being dropped on Iraq alone than were used in the whole of the first and second world war).

This anger sweeping the Muslim world, is solidifying in the consciousness of millions, re-enforced by daily bombings, kidnappings and of course wars that the West has initiated and engaged in. These policies have lead to many Muslims abandoning the belief that they could bring any change peacefully — cue the rise of men taking up arms.

I argue, that we are creating extremists in the bucket load and have done so exponentially, since we declared this endless war of terror . Our policies are hardening views on all sides.’

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How France became Syria’s enemy No. 1

Mirella Hodeib reports for The Daily Star:

‘The gory attack Wednesday on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo came at critical time for France: Its traditional sway in the Middle East is steadily declining and more than ever its foreign policy marred by confusion. Those very miscalculations are the topic of journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot’s polemic book “The Roads to Damascus: The Black Dossier of French-Syrian Relations.” The duo – who rose to fame after their kidnapping in Iraq in 2004 – trace in their latest book the details of almost 30 years of French-Syrian ties – relations that have greatly deteriorated at the onset of the Syrian uprising in 2011.

Lebanon being the bone of contention between Damascus and Paris; the authors also go into great lengths describing the major milestones that have shaped the peculiar relationship between the three countries. From the 1981 assassination in Beirut of French diplomat Louis Delmare, including the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri, the 2006 war with Israel and more recently Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war, Lebanon has always been the catalyst of Syrian-French relations.’

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Blowback in Paris

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

‘[…] A kneejerk response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre would be familiar: crackdowns, monitoring and curbs on Muslim communities, including racial profiling; wild promises of “punishing” the attackers and taking decisive action to root out terrorists once and for all; ramping up military intervention in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or elsewhere to increase the heat on the terrorists at source, and teach them a lesson.

The problem is that these are tried, tested, and failed strategies that serve largely as useful recruiting sergeants for terrorist networks like IS and al-Qaeda. We are so obsessed with these strategies, despite their abject failure, that while getting rightly worked up at the horrifying atrocities against the West like that just committed in Paris, we are incapable of mustering a similar emotional response to the reports of dozens of civilian casualties due to US-led airstrikes.

Such so-called collateral damage, which includes the “mass destruction of civilian homes” by western bombs according to rebel eyewitnesses on the ground, is not even an accident, but a result of Obama’s deliberate loosening of “near certainty” standards previously adopted to minimise civilian deaths: and is already driving locals into the arms of IS.

We must not fall into the trap of the terrorists themselves – the inability to recognize the suffering of the Other, their wholesale demonization, the acceptance of their indiscriminate destruction as a necessary means to a “greater good.” The only way forward is for people of all faith and none to stand together in rejecting the violence perpetrated in our name, whether by state or insurgent.

Recognising that the Paris atrocity is predictable blowback which is likely to worsen as we insist on narrow, reactionary militarised solutions, does not absolve the perpetrators of responsibility for their terrible crimes; but it might help us find a path to safety based on co-existence, renunciation of violence, and unity in adversity.’

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Charlie Hebdo attack: Violence that was bound to spread to western Europe

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

‘[…] In this widening sea of violence, regardless of who carried out the Paris massacre, it would be surprising if Western European states remained unaffected. One of the characteristics of the modern jihadi movement has been to commit highly public atrocities both as a method of intimidation and as a demonstration of the religious commitment of those carrying them out.

This was a feature of 9/11, suicide bombings in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and the ritualised murder of journalists and aid workers on camera. An added benefit from the jihadis’ point of view comes if they can tempt the government into an overreaction that helps spread their cause.

Thus George Bush and Tony Blair played straight into the hands of al-Qaeda by responding to 9/11 by sending armies in. The prison wardens of Abu Ghraib, by mistreating prisoners, and the CIA by torturing them, acted as recruiting sergeants. The counter-effectiveness of that strategy is demonstrated by the growth of al-Qaeda-type jihadi movements 14 years after 9/11.’

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War with Isis: The West is wrong again in its fight against terror

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

Islamic State (Isis) will remain at the centre of the escalating crisis in the Middle East this year as it was in 2014. The territories it conquered in a series of lightning campaigns last summer remain almost entirely under its control, even though it has lost some towns to the Kurds and Shia militias in recent weeks.

United States air strikes in Iraq from 8 August and Syria from 23 September may have slowed up Isis advances and inflicted heavy casualties on its forces in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. But Isis has its own state machinery and is conscripting tens of thousands of fighters to replace casualties, enabling it to fight on multiple fronts from Jalawla on Iraq’s border with Iran to the outskirts of Aleppo in Syria.

In western Syria, Isis is a growing power as the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad loses its advantage of fighting a fragmented opposition, that is now uniting under the leadership of Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Yet it is only a year ago that President Obama dismissed the importance of Isis, comparing it to a junior university basketball team.’

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76,000 Estimated Killed in Syrian War in 2014

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-rebel mouthpiece based in London, has issued an assessment of the annual death toll in the nation’s ever-growing civil war, estimating 76,021 killed nationwide.

The Observatory broke down their figures by faction, as well, showing that no group was particularly spared in the conflict, finding 22,627 killed were soldiers or members of pro-government militias, with some 17,000 hardcore Islamists slain, 15,000 from more moderate rebel factions, and 17,790 civilians.

The breakdown is likely to be far more controversial than the overall toll, as different factions inevitably have wildly different definitions of civilians, and auxiliary militias stuffed into those figures are often really just able-bodied men seen as supportive of a faction.’

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Syria’s ancient sites were already damaged by war. Now they’re being looted.

Hugh Naylor reports for The Washington Post:

‘Syria’s vast archaeological sites have suffered extensive damage because of bombing by government warplanes and the demolition of religious shrines by Islamic State militants. But there is an increasing, perhaps more menacing problem: old-fashioned plunder.

A new report has found evidence of “widespread looting” at locations that Syria has nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Under threat are the remains of a Mesopotamian trading post and a 4,500-year-old city that housed thousands of cuneiform tablets, as well as an ancient town with a chapel known for containing the world’s oldest depictions of Jesus, according to the report, released this past week by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.’

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Interview with Reese Erlich on Western intervention in Syria

Reese Erlich, award-winning author and journalist, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about Syria. He believes that the original groups involved in the uprising against Assad had a lot of popular support, and when it turned to violence, Britain, America and Saudi Arabia ‘got involved in arming groups.’ For a long time Britain and Israel saw Assad as stable, and ‘were reluctant to see him go,’ but as the uprising continued, they decided to call for his overthrow. He thinks US and Britain ‘exaggerated’ claims of a chemical weapons attack in order to justify intervention, and in his book he points out that it is perfectly possibly that rebels used some chemical weapons, including sarin, in March, but it is still unclear who was responsible for the big attack in August.’ (Going Underground)

U.S. providing little information to judge progress against Islamic State

Editor’s Note: Essentially, the U.S. has launched over 1000 air strikes, some of which have missed their intended targets by nearly 100 miles. Also, the Islamic State controls pretty much the same territory it did before the U.S. intervention, give or take a border village here and there. At least the weapons companies are happy.

Nancy A. Youssef reports for McClatchy:

‘The American war against the Islamic State has become the most opaque conflict the United States has undertaken in more than two decades, a fight that’s so underreported that U.S. officials and their critics can make claims about progress, or lack thereof, with no definitive data available to refute or bolster their positions.

The result is that it’s unclear what impact more than 1,000 airstrikes on Iraq and Syria have had during the past four months. That confusion was on display at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing earlier this week, where the topic – “Countering ISIS: Are We Making Progress?” – proved to be a question without an answer.

“Although the administration notes that 60-plus countries having joined the anti-ISIS campaign, some key partners continue to perceive the administration’s strategy as misguided,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the committee’s chairman, said in his opening statement at the hearing, using a common acronym for the Islamic State. “Meanwhile, there are grave security consequences to allowing ISIS to control a territory of the size of western Iraq and eastern Syria.”

The dearth of information by which to judge the conflict is one of the difficulties for those trying to track progress in it. The U.S. military, which started out announcing every air mission almost as soon as it ended, now publishes roundups of airstrikes three times a week. Those releases often don’t specify which strikes happened on what days or even whether a targeted site was successfully hit. McClatchy has discovered that in some cases, the location given for bombings has been inaccurate by nearly 100 miles.’

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Going Underground Interview with Seymour Hersh

Editor’s Note: The interview with investigative journalist Seymour Hersh begins at 2:56

New Evidence Suggests Israel Is Helping Syrian Rebels in the Golan Heights

Samuel Oakford reports for VICE News:

‘Israel continues to interact with Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights and allow them to cross the border, according to a new UN report corroborated by a VICE News team that visited the area in November, uncovering additional incidents beyond what has been described by the UN.

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the Six-Day War in 1967, when it captured it from Syria. In 1974, a UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNDOF, was established to police a 50-mile-long disengagement zone between the Israeli “Alpha” and Syrian “Bravo” lines. At the disengagement zone’s narrowest southern points, the distance between the two lines can be less than a kilometer.’

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Syria Complains to UN After Israel Attacks Damascus Airport

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Syria has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations about the attack [in and around Damascus airport], saying they believe the Netanyahu government attacked to try to distract attention from the early elections. Syria’s Foreign Ministry is pushing for immediate sanctions.

What was attacked is still a subject of no small speculation, as the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it was conceivable the sites were Hezbollah arms dumps, though they appeared to have no evidence supporting that.

By contrast, Lebanese TV was reporting that the sites hit were “crucial intelligence-linked locations” that Syria’s military was letting Iran use. Syrian state media said Russian anti-aircraft defenses were attacked, and Israel is refusing to either confirm or deny the attacks.’

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Private military contractors ready for battle against Islamic State

Jennifer Koons reports for Tribune News Service:

‘President Barack Obama has stressed that the U.S.-led coalition fight against the Islamic State can be won without “boots on the ground.” But it depends on who’s wearing the boots.

Thousands of private security contractors, who played critical, below-the-radar and at times controversial roles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are being asked to consider joining this latest battle against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria and possibly elsewhere in the Middle East. What specific jobs they will fill, and which departments or countries will be paying for their services, remains to be seen. But the demand for their considerable and varied expertise is expected to be high, and that’s welcome news for both the contracting companies and politicians, according to policy advisers and industry experts.

“I think Obama’s promise not to send ground troops to Iraq and Syria, combined with the threat there, incentivizes the administration to turn to contractors because there are such fewer political risks,” says George Washington University law professor Laura A. Dickinson, author of “Outsourcing War and Peace: Preserving Public Values in a World of Privatized Foreign Affairs.”’

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The Syrian Labyrinth: A review of Reese Erlich’s new book ‘Inside Syria’

Conn Hallinan recently reviewed Reece Erlich’s new book ‘Inside Syria’ for Foreign Policy In Focus:

InsideSyria‘Reese Erlich’s informative and insightful book Inside Syria (Prometheus, 2014) brings to mind the Greek myth of a vast maze under the palace at Knossos, with one exception: King Minos’ labyrinth on Crete concealed a single Minotaur, whereas Syria is teeming with the beasts.

Erlich has spent almost three decades reporting from the Middle East, and he brings his considerable knowledge of the region into this analysis of the Syrian civil war. A winner of the Peabody Award and the Society of Professional Journalists’ explanatory journalism award for his radio documentary “Inside the Syrian Revolution,” Erlich combines on-the-ground reporting with an encyclopedic background in the region’s history. It is a combination that is particularly useful for a subject as complex and nuanced as the current war—one that has gradually drawn in Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, along with the United States, France, and Britain.

The mainstream media generally considers history an afterthought, which explains why it does such an awful job reporting on the Middle East. Journalists like Erlich, Robert Fisk, and Patrick Cockburn understand that the history of the region and current events are one and the same—a sort of paraphrase of William Faulkner’s observation that history is as much about the present as the past.’

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US Statements, Actions on Syria Starkly Different

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Vice President Joe Biden spent four hours today in private meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The topic: how to impose regime change on Syria, Turkey’s war-torn neighbor to the south.

Publicly, the US has been in favor of regime change for years, and had been backing “moderate” rebel factions on and off in hopes of installing one of them.

Since entering a direct war with ISIS in Syria two months ago, the US war focus has been on ISIS and other rebel factions, strikes which the US concedes are benefiting the Assad government.

Over the past few weeks, the US has been reiterating, over and over, that their policy is regime change, but their actions in the ISIS war are supporting the exact opposite, and when asked point blank, President Obama conceded earlier this week that no actions were being taken to try to remove Assad from power at this point.’

SOURCE

Antiwar Voices Absent from Corporate TV News Ahead of U.S. Attacks on Iraq and Syria: Interview with Peter Hart

‘A new analysis of corporate TV news has found there was almost no debate about whether the United States should go to war in Iraq and Syria. The group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that of the more than 200 guests who appeared on network shows to discuss the issue, just six voiced opposition to military action. The report, titled “Debating How — Not Whether — to Launch a New War,” examines a two-week period in September when U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria dominated the airwaves. The report also finds that on the high-profile Sunday talk shows, out of 89 guests, there was just one antiwar voice — Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation. We speak to Peter Hart, activism director at FAIR.’ (Democracy Now!)

Top US Military Officer Predicts ISIS War Will Last up to 4 Years

Brendan McGarry reports for Military.com:

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin DempseyThe chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates the U.S.-led fight against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria will last up to four years.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey made the estimate on Wednesday during an interview at Atlantic Media’s Defense One conference in Washington, D.C. about the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

The U.S. started launching airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria to thwart the organization’s advances in some areas, though the militants still control vast parts of northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria.

Under Secretary of Intelligence Mike Vickers later agreed with Dempsey’s estimate warning about the time it will take to train a force inside Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS.

Dempsey first mentioned the timeline in regards to the challenges the military faces in funding the many conflicts across the globe. He listed the deployment of more American troops to Europe and Africa, as well as the “protracted probably three or four year campaign in the Middle East.”‘

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  1. Joint Chiefs Chairman Predicts ISIS War Will Last Four Years
  2. Joint Chiefs Chairman: Ground Role for Troops in Iraq Likely
  3. Panetta Predicts ’30-Year War’ Against ISIS

If You Thought the ISIS War Couldn’t Get Any Worse, Just Wait for More of the CIA

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

As the war against the Islamic State in Syria has fallen into even more chaospartially due to the United States government’s increasing involvement there – the White House’s bright new idea seems to be to ramping up the involvement of the intelligence agency that is notorious for making bad situations worse. As the Washington Post reported late Friday, “The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases.”

Put aside for a minute that the Central Intelligence Agency has been secretly arming Syrian rebels with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and antitank weapons since at least 2012 – and with almost nothing to show for it. Somehow the Post neglected to cite a front-page New York Times article from just one month ago alerting the public to the existence of a still-classified internal CIA study admitting that arming rebels with weapons has rarely – if ever – worked.

The Times cited the most well-known of CIA failures, including the botched Bay of Pigs invasion and the arming of the Nicaraguan contra rebels that led to the disastrous Iran-Contra scandal. Even the agency’s most successful mission – slowly bleeding out the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s by arming the mujahideen – paved the way for the worst terrorist attack on the US in its history.’

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Global terror attack deaths rose sharply in 2013, says report

Helier Cheung reports for BBC News:

GTI2014‘The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says.

There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added.

The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths.

Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, the report said.

The report by the Institute for Economics and Peace says that nearly 18,000 people died from terrorist attacks in 2013.

“Not only is the intensity of terrorism increasing, its breadth is increasing as well,” it notes.’

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Study finds little opposition to attacks on Iraq, Syria in U.S. media

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting reports:

Debate, corporate media style:  Two pro-war guests go at it. While Congress may soon debate the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Syria, a new FAIR study shows that at the critical moments leading up to the escalation of US military action, mainstream media presented almost no debate at all.

The study of key TV news discussion programs from September 7 through 21 reveals that guests who opposed war were scarce.

The study evaluated discussion and debate segments on the Sunday talk shows (CNN’s State of the Union, CBS‘s Face the Nation, ABC‘s This Week,Fox News Sunday and NBC‘s Meet the Press), the PBS NewsHour and a sample of cable news programs that feature roundtables and interview segments (CNN‘s Situation Room, Fox News Channel‘s Special Reportand MSNBC’s Hardball).’

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Syrian ‘hero boy’ video faked by Norwegian director

Anne-Marie Tomchak and Charlotte McDonald report for BBC News:

A film being shot in a desert settingMillions of YouTube viewers have been captivated by the ‘Syrian hero boy‘ who manages to rescue a little girl while under gunfire. Now a group of Norwegian filmmakers have told BBC Trending they are behind it. They say it was filmed on location in Malta this summer with the intention of being presented as real.

Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director based in Oslo, wrote a script after watching news coverage of the conflict in Syria. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

“If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope,” he said. “We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator,” Klevberg said. “The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta.”‘

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ISIS Chief Returns, Calls For ‘Volcanoes of Jihad’

David D Kirkpatrick and Rick Gladstone report for the New York Times:

AP MIDEAST ISLAMIC STATE I FILE IRQDispelling rumors of his injury or death, the leader of the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State issued a new call to arms on Thursday in a 17-minute speech, belittling President Obama’s plan to send more soldiers to Iraq and urging disciples to “erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere.”

An audio recording of the speech by the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was distributed online, along with Arabic, English and Russian transcripts. It was first reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, a jihadist monitoring organization.

Mr. Baghdadi’s speech appeared to end days of rumors that he had been killed or grievously wounded in an airstrike carried out in northwestern Iraq on Saturday by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.’

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Isis and al-Qaeda agree ‘to end fighting and join against their opponents’

Kashmira Gander reports for The Independent:

Militant leaders from the Isis and al-Qaeda terrorist groups have agreed to stop fighting each other in order to join against their opponents.

Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State (Isis), and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, have been engaged in bitter fighting for more than a year in an attempt to dominate the bloody rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The accord set between the extremists groups in northern Syria last week could spell problems for the US-led coalition in its fight against Isis, as it complements its air strikes by arming “moderate” rebel factions to fight on the ground.

Now, if the two terrorist groups fulfil their agreement and unite as one force, this would further weaken US-backed rebels – who are viewed as relatively disorganised.’

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Survey: 85% of Arabs hold negative views of Islamic State

Middle East Monitor reports:

ISIS terrorist in Raqqa, Syria (file)A new survey conducted by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies at the Doha Institute shows that 85 per cent of Arabs polled hold negative views of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The survey results also suggest that while the majority of Arabs, 59 per cent, support the aims of the international military campaign against ISIS, only 22 per cent of the respondents expressed “unqualified confidence in the ability of the US-led coalition to fulfil its mission”.

According to As-Sabeel newspaper, the survey is considered to be the first of its kind regarding ISIS and took a wide-ranging look at the phenomenon.’

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Nine-year-old Aleppo girl is star of YouTube show on Syria war

Rana Moussaoui reports for AFP:

A nine-year-old girl has become the star of a YouTube comedy that depicts with bittersweet humour the harsh reality of everyday life in rebel-held areas of Syria’s Aleppo.

Rasha plays the role of “Umm Abdo al-Halabiya”, a housewife who must make do in a city devastated by more than three years of violence, despite daily bombings and severe shortages.

The 30-episode eponymous show, shot on location in the city which was once Syria’s economic hub, stars only children playing adult roles and has been viewed by tens of thousands of Internet users.

Umm Abdo rants against President Bashar al-Assad, takes swipes at insurgents who have been trying to oust him and also mocks Syria’s often overbearing social norms.’

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