Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Iraq / Syria Regional War Updates ( October 6 , 2014 ) -- Airstrikes showing limits of effectiveness as ISIS advances in Anbar ( Iraq ) and Kobane ( Syria ) ....... FBI Director Warns of ‘Khorasan’ Threat Group Could Attack 'Very, Very Soon' ....... Dozens Killed as Hezbollah Battles Nusra Along Lebanon-Syria Border Hezbollah Clashes With Syrian Rebels Along Border ...... Female Kurdish Fighter Suicide Bombs ISIS, Killing Several Attacker Was Commander of Female YPG Unit ..... Tweets of the Day ( Kobane in focus )
In comments on today’s “60 Minutes” program, FBI Director James Comey warned that the Khorasan group is “serious people, bent of destruction” who plan to attack the US “very, very soon.”
Comey insisted the US had to act as if the Khorasan strike was “coming tomorrow,” but conceded that they don’t know whether they plan to attack “tomorrow or three weeks or three months from now.”
Khorasan, as a distinct faction, doesn’t actually exist, and analysts say the term was almost certainly invented by the United States. The term appears to be a way for the US to strike al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, a close ally to its “moderate” rebels, without officially saying they’re attacking them.
The US claimed Khorasan to be a faction of about 50 fighters, and also believes itkilled 30 of them when it began the air war in northern Syria. The slain were al-Nusra members, which fueled considerable anger amongst the rebels, who accused the US war of being primarily to the benefit of the Assad government.
The US assessments of Khorasan as an imminent threat, given they are actually referring to al-Qaeda, undercuts their claims of having made major gains against al-Qaeda worldwide.
The tiny town in the hills outside of Baalbek saw hours of fighting, with Hezbollah reporting five of its fighters slain, and dozens of the Nusra killed in the process. Locals reported large numbers of wounded on both sides.
Al-Nusra has pushed into Lebanon from Syria several times in the past few weeks, but mostly targeting the town of Arsal, further to the north. A brief exchange of fire between Nusra and the Lebanese military was reported again today in Arsal, though no casualties were reported.
Hezbollah has sent fighters into Syria to fight alongside the government against the rebels, which has fueled multiple attempts at retaliation, mostly by al-Qaeda and ISIS. So far, this has been limited to border towns, but has also fueled sectarian tensions between the Sunni and Shi’ite portions of the population.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack killed a number of ISIS fighters, though exactly how many remains unclear. The attacker was a commander in an all-female YPG unit.
Weeks of fighting for Ayn al-Arab have put ISIS on the outskirts of the key Kurdish border town, and have the Kurds increasingly desperate in trying to turn to the tide.
The YPG militias have dominated the Syrian Kurdish territories throughout the civil war, fighting against ISIS along the frontier. It is unclear if this new suicide bombing represents a shift in tactics or is an isolated incident.