Sunday, 31 May 2015

North African fighters in Syria

The number of North African fighters

Intelligence services and counter terrorism units have information which could be accurate or close enough to accuracy, especially those countries that are affected or follows the Syrian or Iraqi conflict. Turkey is most knowledgeable regarding this issue since they record all those fighters nationalities, figures and their entry date to the Syrian territories since they all came to Turkey either from its airports or ports. Many of them enter Syria illegally by the help of Syrian smugglers at the Syrian-Turkish borders. Unlike Shiite militias that fight alongside the Syrian government forces like Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite factions and Hazara Afghans enter to Syria in coordination with the Syrian Government and Iran across many border points like Syrian-Lebanese border and Syrian-Iraqi borders and Syrian airports.

There is no exact figure for the number of North African fighters in Syria, whether they are part of Nusra Front, ISIS or any other factions. According to many counter-terrorism centres like International Center for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence [ISCR] and Paris-based Centre of Strategic, Security and Military Studies on Syria [CSSMS] there are more than 5,300 fighters located in many areas across Syria and present in many jihadist groups.

Fighters from Harakat Sham Islam / Twitter 

The Number of Tunisian fighters are around 3,000 -4,000 fighters in Syria and they are leading the number of foreign fighters in Syria, most reports suggest that 90% of them are with ISIS while the rest are with other Jihadist groups such as Nusra Front.

The Moroccans comes second with number of 1,500 – 2,000 fighters including the European nationals of Moroccan origins especially from countries with large Moroccan communities like France, Belgium and Netherlands. Unlike other North African nationalities, The Moroccans have their Independent Jihadist group named “Harakat Sham al-Islam” that was established in August 2013 by three Moroccan detainees who had been released from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Ibrahim bin Shakran, Ahmed Mizouz and Mohammed Alami, this group has participated in many major offensives in Syria.  

The number of Algerian fighters are between 200 – 1,000 fighters including the Europeans of Algerian origins and around 15% - 20% of them have been killed in various forms and in different battles and 10% of them are wounded. Many of them decided to leave the war in Syria and return home for various reasons.

The Libyans were the first North Africans to join the fight in Syria and they are known for their military experience which has made them ready for the war, they created an Independent jihadist group named “al-Battar” which later they swore allegiance to ISIS and they are part of it until now. The Number of Libyan fighters have decreased since The Libyan civil war started in 2014 between Haftar forces and ISIS has encouraged many Libyans to return back to Libyan to fight, there is no more than 500 Libyan fighters left in Syria and most of them are with ISIS.

Recruiting

The fundamental problem in those people especially the youngsters is that they are easily convinced or brainwashed, most of them are being recruited online through Social Networking sites like Facebook convincing them by misinterpreted religious texts from the Quran and Hadith which is considered the strongest tool of propaganda used by ISIS and since most youngsters have a basic understanding of Islam especially the Europeans of North African origins who lives in Europe they are most likely to believe it.

International Community has failed to intervene and to protect the civilians in Syria that are massacred by Syrian government forces and Shiite militias on daily basis, the images and videos of massacred Syrian people has encouraged many of them to pack up their bags and go there to help the Syrian people in their fight against the Syrian Government without knowing who are the other groups in the battlefield.

Houla Massacre / Al Jazeera.com


Most of the people who are recruited online fly to Syria individually sometimes as groups, So when they arrive in Turkey [Istanbul] they mostly head to cities that are close to the Turkish-Syrian borders like Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep and Adana where there is a large Jihadist recruitment network [ISIS, Nusra front and Jund al-Aqsa] that sends those North Africans and other nationalities to Syria. Main Opposition forces in Syria like Free Syrian Army and Islamic Front has not made any announcement or call for the foreigners to come and fight in Syria.  


Reasons for Joining the Syrian war

Deteriorating economic situation has also played a key role in pushing a lot of people towards extremism, for example the unemployment rate in Tunisia after the Tunisian revolution in 2011 has reached up to 30% in poor areas which created a lot of frustration and disappointment among the Tunisians youth. Also successive Governments of Tunisia has failed to improve social and economic conditions of the country.

Under the deteriorating economic situation in North Africa the Salafist\Wahabi ideology has managed to spread rabidly among the people. The rise of extremism in North African countries like Tunisia has pushed many of them to go to Syria and to join Jihadists groups for ideological reasons.


Tunisian salafis protesting /sasapost.com 


The features of that North African fighters is they are generally strong physically and do not show any softness in their behavior, many of them do carry out suicide attacks like the Saudi fighters in the ranks of ISIS, Nusra Front and other jihadist groups. North African fighters are present in many Jihadist groups like 85% of them are with ISIS and 15% of them are with Nusra Front, Ansar Deen Front, Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar Sham. Most of them are operating in Aleppo suburbs, Idlib Suburbs, Latakia Suburbs, Raqqa and Dier Zour depending where each Jihadist group is operating.

Tunisian salafi rising Liwa Flag / Facebook 


The majority of the reports indicate that the Libyans have the least presence in Syria compared to neighbouring countries like Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Ennahda Party which is affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood is responsible for easing around 3,000 Tunisians to go to Syria and for realising all Islamists from the prisons after the fall of President Ben Ali which created a lot of chaos and terrorism in Tunisia and other countries like Syria and Libya. 

References:



SASAPost, The Increasing numbers of fighters from North Africa in Syria (Arabic) - [http://www.sasapost.com/isis-tunisien-and-morrocan/]

Sunday, 24 May 2015

2015 Qalamoun Offensive

On 4 May, Nusra Front and allied Syrian revolutionaries launched a pre-emptive attack against Syrian army and Hezbollah forces by deployed thousands of fits ighters who took up positions overlooking Hezbollah and Syrian army outposts in the towns of Wadi Barada, Al-Kfeir, Zabadani, Serghaya and Hreira near the Lebanese border and by the next day captured several positions. The Syrian revolutionaries and jihadists crushed Hezbollah held towns and checkpoints with rockets, surface-to-surface missiles and mortar bombs.


Jaysh al-Fateh Qalamoun logo / twitter 


In early May the Army of Conquest expanded into Qalamoun region, forming "Jaysh al-Fateh al-Qalamoun" consisting of Nusra Front, Islamic Front [Ahrar Sham], Gathering of Wa Atasimo Bihablillah, and Free Syrian army brigades. Most of the 3,000 Syrian revolutionaries and Jihadists in Qalamoun Mountains are locals from Qalamoun and Qusayr. Approximately 1,000 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] maintained a position in the region's rough terrain led by Emir Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi, ISIS has been allied with Nusra Front in Qalamoun since its presence there but not until recently when ISIS started attacking Nusra Front’s bases and checkpoints which resulted in heavy clashes between the two factions.




Nusra Front fighters during training / twitter 

Nusra Front has managed to defeat them successfully and capturing many of their bases including two Emirs [Abu al-Baraa and Abu Balqis al-Iraqi], 47 fighters and killing 90 of them later 27 of them were realsed since they did not participate in the attack according to Jaysh al-Fateh. The reason for the attack is to block opposition’s transport routes and to distract them from the main battle against Hezbollah and Syrian Army.

Jaysh al-Fateh statement declaring war on ISIS / twitter

Jaysh al-Fateh realising 27 ISIS fighters / twitter 



On 9 May, Hezbollah and Syrian army launched attacks against “Jaysh al-Fateh” capturing three villages in the Jour Al-‘Anib area and then later it continued its offensive by capturing Al-Barouh hill on 11th of May.  

On 13 May, Pro Hezbollah TV al-Mannar and Syrian Government Channels claimed that Hezbollah and Syrian Army has captured Tallat Mussa completely after capturing at least nine opposition positions during heavy exchanges of artillery and rocket fire along the ridge between Al-Juba, Ras al-Maara and Assal al-Ward. Earlier in the day, Hezbollah backed by Syrian Army troops, seized half of the outskirts of Ras al-Maara and advanced toward the highlands of Jabal al-Barouh which is linked to Tallat Mussa. Opposition fighters were pushed back towards the outskirts of Arsal. According to SOHR 36 opposition fighters, 18 Hezbollah and 13 NDF fighters were killed during the fighting.

Hezbollah Fighter on Tel Musa / al-Mannar


On 16 May, Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah has claimed to have made significant progress in the ongoing battles in the Qalamoun mountain range on the Syrian-Lebanese border by capturing Tallat Mussa, Jabal al-Barouh & Ras Al-Marra with minimum casualties, but warned that the battles are far from being over.

Nasrallah revealed that 13 Hezbollah fighters and 7 Syrian soldiers were killed in the recent battles, which started approximately weeks ago. He said he was doing so in order to reveal what he called lies being perpetrated by opposition media channels who have claimed up to 120 Hezbollah fighters [including 7 commanders] and 32 Syrian soldiers had been killed. Recently Hezbollah has been recruiting many Lebanese Shiite youths from Beqaa villages in order to fight in Syria or as they claim to defend Lebanon’s east border.

Hassan Nasrallah / AlJazeera


Former Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Subhi al-Tufayli declared that the intervention of Hezbollah in Qalamoun is the fear of collapsing of the Syrian army so they wanted to defend the mountain borders due to its close location to the Shiite Beqaa villages of Lebanon.  Al-Tufayli has also warned the consequences of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war and its effect that could reflect on Lebanon, he suggested Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria in order to save Lebanon from further problems.

Many analysts say Hezbollah's claim on Qalamoun battle is more of a media campaign than a real battle on the ground. It was an attempt to cover up for the losses caused on the militant group in recent months, not just in Syria, but in Iraq and Yemen as well.

The Battle of Qalamoun is not important for the Syrian government but for Hezbollah since Syrian coast [Latakia and Tartus] and Damascus is considered to be the most important places for Syrian Government. Qalamoun is also considered a strategic area for both Syrian revolutionaries and the Hezbollah/Syrian army alliance, as it links Capital Damascus to Homs and the Syrian coast, as well as it provides key supply routes.

References:

The Daily Star: Hezbollah assault on Qalamoun ruled out (English) – [http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/May-05/296837-hezbollah-assault-on-qalamoun-ruled-out.ashx]

Al Jazeera: Nasrallah declares victory in Syria's Qalamoun (English) – [http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/nasrallah-declares-victory-syria-qalamoun-150516192033488.html]

SOHR: Hezbollah advances in al- Qalamoun area, while the clashes re- erupt in al- Yarmouk camp (English) – [http://www.syriahr.com/en/2015/05/hezbollah-advances-in-al-qalamoun-area-while-the-clashes-re-erupt-in-al-yarmouk-camp/

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Zionist and Safavid projects in the Arab world

Let’s all agree that Iran has the right to try applying its model in the Arab world via the Shiite minorities that are scattered throughout the Arab countries, will the majority [Sunni Muslims] accept the Iranian Shiite model? No they would reject it! Also they would be ready to confront it by any means like we see now in Iraq and Yemen. The process will become a recipe for a sectarian war raging within the Arab countries that were infiltrated by Iran.

Iran uses the Shiite minorities as a Trojan horse within Arab world, if not just a fuel for the Iranian destructive project to the region. What does Iran want from its Shiite proxies in the Arab countries apart from internal sectarian conflicts? Does that sound familiar with other projects like the Western and Zionist projects that have the same goal which is to create endless conflicts that will continue for many years? There is no doubt that dividing the Arab countries and turning them into conflicting mini-states would strategically serve Israel’s national security.

 
Iranian and Israeli flags /Iranbriefing.com


According to “Kivunim” document which was published in February1982, it mentions clearly that from the interest of Israel is to divide the Arab world into many small conflicting states based on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. There is also a familiar document called “Blood Borders” which was written by a US army officer and a military strategist Ralph Peters kept an article “Blood Borders” that was published in “Armed Forces Journal”, it is similar to the Israeli map but it’s considered to be more dangerous because its objectives is not only to divide the Arab countries but also to create internal bloody wars which will last for a long time. There is no need to explain that there are some American orientalists who wrote about the necessity of creating civil wars in the Middle East.

Blood borders map / brusselstribunal.com


The Safavid project which refers to the Iranian expansionist project, there would be some questions about why is Iran intervening in many Arab countries?  Is it doing the same actions like the Westerns and Zionists which is trying to create chaos in the Middle East? As long we disagree with British-French secret agreement of “Sykes-Picot” which divided the Arab world into many States during World War I, but the danger now is much bigger now since Iran started to intervene in the Arab world. Iran is working on dividing the Arab countries by spreading the Shiite faith among the Sunni population and creating governments that are loyal to Iran through its proxies, for example for what is happening now in Yemen and Iraq were Iran is publicly supporting its Shiite proxies like Houthis which led a coup against the Yemeni government then started to attack all cities that refused to accept their control. Ali Riza Zakani, a member of the Iranian parliament [Majlis] who is close to Supreme guide Ali Khamenei, said "Three Arab capitals have today ended up in the hands of Iran and belong to the Islamic Iranian revolution". He also noted that Sanaa has now become the fourth Arab capital that is on its way to joining the Iranian revolution. Later in September 2014, Houthi fighters captured the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, overthrowing Hadi's government.

Houthi fighters lifting Khamenei image / elaph.com



The Iranian interventions has led for what is known in the Arab media as “Shiite Crescent” Starting from Yemen up to Iraq, it clear that Iran is trying its best to take over Arab countries by installing Shiites as the governors protecting the Iranian interests in the region. For example Saddam Hussein’s regime was oppressing the Shiites in Iraq during his period for more than 30 years this was the excuse for the Iranians to intervene in Iraq in the pretext of “protecting the Shiites” then later After the US invasion of Iraq, Iranians have installed Shiites as the main officials in the Iraqi Government by Majority excluding the other minorities like Sunnis, which led to many protests then to a sectarian civil war from 2006 until today were many experts believe that Iraq might be divided into many states if this sectarian conflict continues.

Shiite Crescent map / aliraqnews.com


Iran has supported the 2011 protests in Bahrain against the Bahraini regime and it continues to support it in order to overthrow the Sunni led Government so Iran can annex it since it claims that Bahrain is historically part of Iran. In Syria the picture is much clear, Iran has publicly supported Assad regime financially and militarily in order to crush the Syrian revolution. This unlimited support to Assad regime by Iran has many reasons and the main one is because of its Sectarian background. There is no doubt that Iran knows that the vast majority of the Syrian people do not follow Shiite sect, and therefore they cannot accept Iran's influence in Syria so Iran are ready to divide Syria if other Superpowers agrees on that aswell because it would benefit Iran more since they need the Syrian coast [Latakia and Tartus] to be safe so they can secure the supply route to Lebanon in order to support its proxy the Shiite Lebanese militia Hezbollah which they declared many times that they politically follow Iran before the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah fighters / journal-neo.org

References:

“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East (English) - [http://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815]



Iranian Project (Arabic) – [http://aawsat.com/home/article/16976]