The British Parliament has just voted by a majority of 174 for airstrikes to be extended to Syria, so seeing the UK in a war that many believe may have no end. It is clear, however, that the UK has no cogent military strategy, nor understanding of the different cultures in Syria, nor any knowledge of the manifold opposition forces to either Assad or ISIS, nor any coherent diplomatic strategy or indeed any other strategy, apart from staking its claim in future spoils. Consequently, anti-ISIS forces, such as the Kurds/SDF will no doubt regard any promises made by the UK (and their allies) with extreme caution. On the Labour side, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, argued that airstrikes would not be the way to crush ISIS; Hilary Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, argued that the war against ISIS is a war against fascism (and he drew a parallel to the International Brigade’s efforts against Franco). Meanwhile, here is the reality of the frontline war against ISIS (part of a series of ongoing frontline reports)…
BREAKING: News has emerged of how a French air strike on a water treatment plant in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo last Thursday cut water supplies to some 3.5 million people, and while pumping has been partly restored, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that 1.4 million still have reduced supply. The air-strike hit the al-Khafseh water treatment plant.
- The YPG see the plans for a safe zone between parts of the Turkish border with Syria as an effort by the Turkish Government to use allied Syrian rebel factions – mainly Turkmen, sympathetic to Ankara – to block its advance along the border. Instead, the YPG is still waiting to see if the US will follow through on its demand to Turkey that the Syrian-Turkish border be sealed (this would then provide an opportunity for the Kurds to link its cantons south of the Turkish border).
- Over the past two days, Kurdish forces, backed by allied rebel group of the al-Thuwar Army, have recaptured several villages near Aleppo, following fierce clashes with Islamist armed groups, during which casualties fell on both sides. YPG forces, backed by rebels of al-Thuwar Army, were able to take full control of the villages of Miremin and Anab in the countryside of Afrin in Aleppo province after clashes with Islamist fighters. The Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria) have seized these two villages several days ago before the Kurdish fighters and allies expelled them again. The battles left casualties on both sides.
- At least 23 fighters were killed in the fighting between the Kurdish-led SDF alliance and the Islamist rebels who include al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front. Fifteen fighters from Al-Nusra and its allies were killed Sunday, along with at least eight members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The clashes in the northern province of Aleppo began Thursday, when the Islamists attacked posts belonging to Jaish al-Thuwwar, an Arab rebel group allied with Kurds. The assault, near the Turkish border region of Azaz, prompted sporadic fighting that drew in the SDF (syrian Democratic Forces) and also saw Al-Nusra and its allies fire rockets at a Kurdish district of Aleppo city. The Kurds accuse Turkey of backing some of Syria’s Islamists and Ankara has often warned it will not allow the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region on its border. However, the YPG, the main Syrian Kurdish armed group, has played a key role in fighting the Islamic State jihadist group in north and northeast Syria.
More reports to come…