‘Everywhere Around Is the Islamic State’: On the Road in Iraq with YPG Fighters
16 August 2014 / Vice
The Syrian Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) gathered behind a berm of hard brown sand as they prepared to cross the border — smoking and discussing the route among themselves. From the Iraqi side, trucks loaded with Yazidi refugees streamed through in plumes of fine dust, met by Syrian volunteers handing them cartons of fruit juice, biscuits, and cigarettes.
Up to 3,000 women and girls kidnapped by Islamic State jihadis in Iraq in just a fortnight – and hundreds of men who refuse to convert have been shot dead
17 August 2014 / Daily Mail
These are the faces of six of the thousands of innocent Yazidi children who have suffered harrowing ordeals in Iraq this month.
Up to 3,000 women and girls have been kidnapped by Islamic State jihadis in the north of the country in just a fortnight – and hundreds of men who refuse to convert have been shot dead. The kidnappings appear to have happened in villages where residents took up arms against IS – and the women are being held separately from the men in IS-controlled Tal Afar, east of Mount Sinjar.
Isis: a portrait of the menace that is sweeping my homeland
16 August 2014 / Guardian
Abu al-Mutasim, 18, from a Syrian border town in the province of Deir Ezzor, joined the rebellion against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in early 2012. He left his family home in Bahrain, where his parents worked, and fought for the Free Syrian Army for a few months before joining the hardline group Ahrar al-Sham. Around the end of the year, disillusioned, he went to visit his family. His parents banned him from travelling back to Syria. But last summer he returned to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), now renamed the Islamic State.
Strange bedfellows: terror groups, Kurdish factions unite against ISIS
15 August 2014 / France 24
They were first spotted in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil on August 8, just as US President Barack Obama announced he had authorised airstrikes in northern Iraq against ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria) targets.
In their distinctive khaki-grey uniforms, their ranks including battle-hardened female fighters – a rarity in most parts of the Middle East – they took up positions in and around Erbil, including the Sami Abdulrahman Park, a sprawling green expanse in the heart of the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
How the U.S.-favored Kurds Abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS Attacked
17 August 2014 / Daily Beast
Not the least of the cruelties inflicted by the so-called Islamic State that has conquered large parts of Syria and Iraq is the suspense suffered by its victims before they are shot or beheaded, raped or imprisoned. When the IS fighters arrived in the village of Kucho in northern Iraq a week ago, they told the locals, most of whom are members of the Yazidi sect who follow an ancient faith, that they had 48 hours to decide whether to convert to Islam or die. When the 48 hours passed, the villagers were given another five hours, and that was extended to three days. Then, on Friday, time ran out. At noon — at what would have been the call to prayer for Muslim worshippers — the cell phones that villagers had used to stay in touch with relatives went silent.
Islamic State Commander Says Turkey Instrumental in ‘Success’
15 August 2014 / Asbarez
A senior commander of the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham) has told the Washington Post that Turkey’s support was instrumental in the success of his organization, which now controls great swathes of Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Aug. 12, the 27-year-old commander identifying himself as Abu Yusef explained that the Islamic State received most of its supplies from Turkey and had many of its fighters from Syria treated at Turkish hospitals. Abu Yusef, speaking to the Washington Post in the southeaster Turkish town of Reyhanli near the Syrian border, says much of that has changed as the Turkish government has begun cracking down on IS operations.
WATCH: Every tent holds a horror story
15 August 2014 / CNN
Ivan Watson visits a refugee camp in Derik, Syria that is filled with Yazidi refugees who have fled from ISIS.
Kurds rally in London against ISIS, call on UK to help protect Iraqi minorities
16 August 2014 / Asharq Al-Awsat
Several hundred demonstrators marched in London on Saturday to call on the international community to help protect Iraq’s minorities against the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Kurds from a coalition of organizations demanded the UK government and international community provide greater support for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting against ISIS in northern Iraq and western Syria.
The vast majority of protestors were British Kurds rallying in solidarity with their kin, the ethnically Kurdish Yazidi community that has suffered recent atrocities at the hands of ISIS.
COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
Kurdish women in Turkey move away from independence
16 August 2014 / BBC News
Iraq’s Kurds are battling an invasion from the militant group Islamic State (IS). Together with the Kurds of Iran, Syria and Turkey, they make up the world’s biggest nation without a state. But while Kurds in northern Iraq are planning a referendum that may create an independent state, Kurdish rebels in Turkey are holding peace talks.
Despite decades of repression, the relative stability has enabled women, in particular, to challenge restrictions on Kurdish rights and the region’s patriarchal society.
Turkey: An economy at a crossroads
16 August 2014 / Al Jazeera
Turkey, the strategically-located $800bn economy which straddles East and West, has elected a new president. In the presidential poll, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan won outright with 52 percent of the vote. But his success is rooted in past economic good times and economists reckon Turkey’s economic future under an Erdogan presidency is far from clear. Turkey’s economy remains among the 20 biggest in the world but the IMF says it is not built on a sustainable model. Back in 2013, Turkey was included in a group labelled the ‘Fragile Five,’ economies which – according to Morgan Stanley – were too hooked on foreign cash injections.
WATCH: The Rise of ISIS: US Invasion of Iraq, Foreign Backing of Syrian Rebels Helped Fuel Jihadis’ Advance
13 August 2014 / Democracy Now
The United States is sending 130 more troops to Iraq amidst a bombing campaign against ISIS militants in the north and a political crisis gripping Baghdad. We are joined by veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, author of the new book, “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.” Cockburn addresses the power struggle in Baghdad, Hillary Clinton’s claim that President Obama’s “failure” to support Syrian rebels helped fuel ISIS’s advance, the role of oil in the current U.S. airstrikes, and his fears that Iraq is entering a “new, more explosive era far worse than anything we’ve seen over the last 10 years.”
In Turkey, a late crackdown on Islamist fighters
12 August 2014 / Washington Post
Before their blitz into Iraq earned them the title of the Middle East’s most feared insurgency, the jihadists of the Islamic State treated this Turkish town near the Syrian border as their own personal shopping mall.
And eager to aid any and all enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey rolled out the red carpet. In dusty market stalls, among the baklava shops and kebab stands, locals talk of Islamist fighters openly stocking up on uniforms and the latest Samsung smartphones. Wounded jihadists from the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front — an al-Qaeda offshoot also fighting the Syrian government — were treated at Turkish hospitals. Most important, the Turks winked as Reyhanli and other Turkish towns became way stations for moving foreign fighters and arms across the border.
To Aid Kurdistan, Look Beyond Iraq
18 August 2014 / New York Times
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has forced America to return to the battlefield in Iraq. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered airstrikes against ISIS fighters nearing Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, while insisting that he wouldn’t allow the United States to be “dragged” back into Iraq. If Mr. Obama really wants to ensure no boots on the ground, he will have to rethink America’s policy toward Kurdish nationalism, and recognize the Kurds, and not only Iraqi ones, are his main ally against ISIS.
How Kurdish Militias Have Successfully Fought Off the Islamic State
14 August 2014 / Vice
As the Islamic State has continued its shocking military advances throughout Syria and Iraq recently, much has been written about its seemingly unstoppable battle capabilities. But there’s one force that has scored a number of successes against its forces: the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
Though originally linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most powerful Kurdish political party in Syria, the YPG is now seen as the armed force of all of Syrian Kurdistan. The PYD is also affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a group classified as terrorists by the US, the EU and Turkey, among others.
Interview with YPG Spokesman Polat Can about Yezidi People in Sinjar
18 August 2014 / Civiroglu
Mr. Can, what are the conditions like in Sengal? What happened to the Yezidis that were left behind?
The latest situation in Sinjar is as you know it, and the clashes taking place in the Rabia area are continuing. Up to this point we did not allow ISIS to capture Rabia. The real aim of the fight we’ve put up in Sinjar , Rabia and Sinun is to defend the people that are trapped in the Sinjar area, and to protect and rescue them of course.
We are putting up a great resistance in Rabia and Sinun, these two areas are two important central points.
Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front
14 August 2014 / Open Democracy
The crisis in Iraq is evolving rapidly, two months after the rapid advance of ISIL (now Islamic State) forces from across the border in Syria enabled them to capture the city of Mosul and link the territories under their control.
Most current concern is with the displacement of religious minorities, especially the Yazidis, and the threat to the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The plight of these displaced and vulnerable people has led voices on both sides of the Atlantic to call for more direct military intervention against the Islamic State (see Michelle Tan. “Top U.S. officer in Iraq: ‘We must neutralize this enemy’”, Army Times, 7 August 2014).
Peace in Kurdistan
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