US Airstrike in Syria targeting IRGC


Important Takeaways:

  • US launches airstrike on site in Syria in response to attacks by Iranian-backed militias
  • Two U.S. F-15 fighter jets dropped multiple bombs on a weapons storage facility near Maysulun in Deir el-Zour that was known to be used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, U.S. officials said.
  • “The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
  • A military official told reporters in a call that people were seen at the warehouse during the day as the U.S. military watched the site for hours, but the number decreased to about “a couple” overnight when the strike occurred. The official said the strike triggered secondary explosions, indicating the presences of weapons, but the U.S. believes that no civilians were killed and any people at the warehouse were tied to the Revolutionary Guard or militia groups.
  • The strike, said a senior defense official also on the call, was aimed at “disrupting and degrading the capabilities of groups directly responsible for attacking U.S. forces in the region” by specifically targeting facilities associated with the Revolutionary Guard. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide an assessment of the strike.
  • This is the second time in less than two weeks that the U.S. has bombed facilities used by the militant groups, many operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which U.S. officials say have carried out at least 40 such attacks since Oct. 17.

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IDF airstrike takes out senior Hamas commander


Important Takeaways:

  • o Israeli military releases footage of airstrike that killed senior Hamas commander
  • Israeli Defense Forces released footage of an air strike they say killed senior Hamas commander Hassan Al-Abdullah on Thursday.
  • The footage, apparently taken from an Israeli jet, shows several airstrikes in Gaza. Israel conducted some 250 such strikes on Hamas targets over just 24 hours on Thursday.
  • “IDF fighter jets carried out a precise air strike based on IDF and ISA intelligence and eliminated the Commander of Hamas’ Northern Khan Yunis Rockets Array, Hassan Al-Abdullah,” the IDF wrote in a statement.
  • Al-Abdullah is only the latest senior commander Israeli forces have killed, and he is unlikely to be the last. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that all Hamas members involved in the October 7 attack on Israel will be killed, and that Hamas itself will be “destroyed.”

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Despite tough talk, Turkey caught between U.S. and Russia in Syria

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a ceremony in Bursa, Turkey April 5, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

By Nick Tattersall, Humeyra Pamuk and Orhan Coskun

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish calls for tough action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after U.S. missile strikes on one of his airbases may overestimate Washington’s appetite for deeper involvement in Syria’s war and threaten Ankara’s fragile rapprochement with Russia.

Within hours of the U.S. cruise missile strikes, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described the action as a “positive and concrete step against the war crimes of the Assad regime” and said the international community must do more.

The first direct U.S. assault on Syria’s government in six years of war appeared to vindicate Erdogan’s long-standing calls for Assad’s overthrow. It comes at an opportune moment for the Turkish leader, as he campaigns ahead of a closely fought referendum on constitutional changes to increase his powers.

But it highlights the rudderless nature of Turkish policy in Syria, as Ankara tries to forge stronger relations with both Moscow, Assad’s main backer, and Washington, a NATO ally hitherto reluctant to confront the Syrian leader head-on.

“I think Erdogan can spin this into a win, but it really isn’t one. The U.S. strike is one-off and limited,” said Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think-tank.

“Turkey can’t enact regime change with Russia in Syria, and neither can the United States. The (U.S.) strikes are tactics without strategy, leaving Turkey sandwiched between its only powerful ally, the United States, … and Russia.”

Turkish policy in Syria is in disarray. Assad remains in power despite Turkey’s long-standing determination to see him ousted, Kurdish militia fighters it sees as a hostile force are making gains with U.S. support, and Turkey has been increasingly targeted by Islamic State jihadists from across the border.

Turkey has more recently appeared to accept a transitional role for Assad as it adjusts to the realities on the ground and tries to rebuild ties with Moscow, shattered after it shot down a Russian warplane in 2015, sparking a diplomatic row which cost it billions of dollars in lost trade and tourism.

“There is a struggle for power between Russia and the United States over the future of Syria and Turkey is stumbling back and forth between the two,” said Metin Gurcan, a former Turkish military officer and an analyst at the Istanbul Policy Center.

“Sometimes we are extremely pro-Washington and sometimes pro-Moscow. That could lead to Turkey being perceived as an inconsistent, unpredictable and therefore unreliable actor.”


The U.S. missile strikes targeted an airbase from which President Donald Trump said a deadly chemical weapons attack on Idlib province, near the Turkish border, had been launched.

At a rally in the southern province of Hatay, which borders Idlib, Erdogan urged the international community to go further.

“Is it enough? I don’t find it enough. It is time to take serious steps for the protection of innocent Syrian people,” he said of the U.S. action.

His foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, was more explicit, saying Assad’s administration should immediately be removed.

“If he doesn’t want to go, if there is no transition government, and if he continues committing humanitarian crimes, the necessary steps to oust him should be taken,” Cavusoglu told reporters.

That stance sets Turkey at direct odds with Russia less than four months after the two powers brokered a ceasefire in Syria and peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. Moscow, which has military advisers on the ground supporting Assad’s forces, denounced the U.S. action as illegal.

“Despite differing statements from Turkey and Russia on the U.S. strike, there’s still a communication channel between us and efforts to solve the Syria problem will continue,” said one senior Turkish official, vowing the Astana process would go on.

A second official said Turkey’s disconnect with Russia had “become much more obvious” after the missile strikes, but also said it did not want its partnership with Moscow to be damaged.


Can Acun, a researcher at the SETA think-tank in Ankara, said Russia and Turkey had been moving apart over Syria for some time, pointing to Moscow’s readiness to work with Kurdish militia fighters in Syria and its failure to prevent ceasefire violations by Assad’s forces.

“The chemical attack in Idlib, and Russia’s silence and attempts to defend the Syrian regime, was the drop that filled the glass,” he said. “This will strain Turkey’s ties with Russia and Iran, but in the end, the determining factor will be how decisively the United States acts.”

Despite its quick endorsement of the U.S. action, Ankara has been deeply at odds with Washington in other areas of Syria policy. It has been incensed in particular by U.S. support for the Kurdish YPG militia, which it views as a terrorist group and an extension of Kurdish militants fighting on its own soil.

Just a month ago, Ankara was ruling out compromise with Washington over the involvement of YPG fighters in a planned assault on Raqqa, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq.

The YPG is a key part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance which is receiving U.S. military support.

Erdogan has said Turkey, which hosts warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition in its southern Incirlik airbase, would be ready to support further U.S. action in Syria. But it remains to be seen what that role would be.

“I don’t expect there to be a role for Turkey, other than to continue to host coalition strike assets at Incirlik,” said Stein from the Atlantic Council, pointing out that those assets were primarily used to support the SDF not fight Assad.

“Turkey is where it was on April 6, 2017. A major player in northern Syria, albeit with no good options to escalate.”

(Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Giles Elgood)

At Least 40 Killed in Syrian Attacks on Rebels While Leaders Talk in Vienna

A rebel-held town near Damascus was attacked by missiles and airstrikes sent by Syrian regime forces, resulting in the the deaths of at least 40 people.

In addition to the deaths, at least 200 people have been injured in Friday’s attack, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that government forces fired 12 missiles at the town of Douma, located 10 miles northeast of Damascus.

“Utterly heinous that while world leaders meet for peace in Vienna, attack(s) against civilians continue in Syria,” the Syrian Civil Defence said on Twitter.

Currently the numbers are still being added up as to how many people have been killed and injured due to Friday’s attack. Various news sources are reporting a variety of numbers at this time.

The attack came at the same time as 19 foreign ministers are meeting in Vienna to discuss the Syrian civil war, including the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Associated Press has reported that since the civil war started in March 2011, more than 250,000 people have been killed and up to one third of the population has been displaced.

Russian Air Strikes Kill 45 in Northwest Syria, including Rebel Leader

A rebel commander who previously worked for President Bashar Assad’s army along with dozens of people were killed on Monday after a series of Russian air strikes hit the Northwest region of Syria.

Activists reported to ABC News that the attack was one of the deadliest incidents since Russia began their airstrikes three weeks ago. The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, stated that at least 45 people were killed, including civilians and rebels. Overall, the group states that Russia’s aerial assaults have killed 370 people, and one third of those are civilian deaths, according to Reuters.

The group of rebels call themselves the “Free Syrian Army” and has received foreign military aid from the U.S., including very powerful anti-tank missiles. The group also confirmed the death of Basil Zamo, its chief of staff.

Russia continues to claim that their air strikes are aimed at defeating ISIS but multiple news agencies, including ABC News, report that many of the areas hit by the air strikes have not been occupied by ISIS, but rebels.

The International Business Times reports that medical organizations in the area are accusing Russia and the al-Assad regime of targeting hospitals in the northern province of Syria. Three hospitals have been hit and two of the hospitals were closed. One was closed due to no longer being operational, and the other closed after medical staff decided to evacuate, fearing they would be targeted further by Russian forces.

The conflict in Syria has resulted in the deaths of more than 250,000 people since the civil war began in March 2011, according to ABC News.

8 ISIS Senior Figures Killed in Airstrike; Status of Main Leader Unknown

Eight ISIS senior figures were killed in an airstrike while meeting in a town in western Iraq. Residents of the town and hospital sources reported that the self-proclaimed leader of the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was not among them.

On Sunday, Iraq’s air force led a strike that hit the meeting and the convoy that was bringing Baghdadi to the meeting. After being struck, the convoy drove away with the leader in an unknown condition. So far, Baghdadi has survived a year of U.S.-led airstrikes.

A Twitter account used by the Islamic State said that the “rumors” of an airstrike hitting Baghdadi’s convoy were false. The account then issued another statement saying that if Baghdadi was injured or killed, his self-proclaimed caliphate would survive.

“Do you think we would leave the State of the caliphate and abandon it, oh vile world?,” asked one of his followers. “This is the religion of God, it rose on the skulls of heroes and martyrs and every time one of them is martyred we rise.”

Currently there are still very mixed reports about the condition of Baghdadi. Russian news outlets have stated that Baghdadi was injured and hospitalized in Al-Qa’im, an Iraqi town near the Syrian border. However, Iraqi military officials told Reuters that it’s a very distinct possibility that Baghdadi wasn’t in the convoy at all.

Twice in the past year, Iraqi officials have claimed that Baghdadi was injured in airstrikes. Each time, Baghdadi posted audio recordings on social media days after the airstrikes.

131 Yemeni Civilians Killed in Saudi-led Airstrike

Medical officers reported 131 civilians were killed in a Saudi-led airstrike that hit a wedding party, in what is reported to be the single deadliest incident since the start of Yemen’s civil war.

Yemeni medical officials stated at least 80 women were killed in the attack. The Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition supposedly struck the wedding party by accident. The attack struck a village near the town of Mokha. The region is largely populated by livestock traders and fishermen. It is reported that there is no heavy military presence in the area.

“They struck a wedding, there were only civilians there and most of them died because the Mokha hospital is closed because of supply — no drugs, no fuel, no electricity, no nothing, so the staff left,” said Hassan Boucenine, of the Geneva-based Doctors without Borders. The provincial capital of Taiz could not be used due to ongoing fighting.

Officials of the Saudi-led coalition could not be reached immediately for a comment.

The U.N. reports at least 2,355 civilians have been killed since the violence started in March. The main fight is between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis, who forced Hadi out of the capital of Sanaa in February.

Al-Qaeda Second In Command Killed

The number two man in the al-Qaeda power structure has reportedly been killed in a drone strike in Yemen.

Nasir al-Wuhayshi was called the “leading light” of the terrorist organization and one terrorism analyst told CNN the death is “the biggest blow against al-Qaeda since the death of bin Laden.”

“[Al-Wuhayshi] was responsible for the deaths of innocent Yemenis and Westerners, including Americans,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.

“While AQAP, al Qaeda and their affiliates will remain persistent in their efforts to threaten the United States, our partners and our interests, (al-Wuhayshi’s) death removes from the battlefield an experienced terrorist leader and brings us closer to degrading and ultimately defeating those groups.”

Al-Wuhayshi was notorious for saying that Al-Qaeda needed to “eliminate the cross and the bearer of the cross is America!”

“Nasser al-Wuhayshi was a major global figure among jihadists, even supporters of al-Qaeda’s rival Islamic State viewed Wuhayshi with respect,” Islamic groups analyst Murad Batal al-Shishani said to the Christian Post.

“As well as creating AQAP itself, Wuhayshi also played a major role in forming the AQAP off-shoot, Ansar al-Sharia, in 2011, to appeal to disaffected youth in Yemen at the time of the Arab Spring. AQAP’s leader cultivated good relations with local tribes, which helped his group advance in various places in the south of the country.”

Unfortunately, the man who is replacing al-Wuhayshi is considering a formidable opponent.

“Qasm al-Rimi was considered the brains of the operation,” CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said. “For more than a decade, he’s really been at the helm of the military side of things for AQAP but also planning their large international operations.”

ISIS Member Accidentally Gives Up Command Center Location Via Social Media

While ISIS has been successfully using social media to recruit new members and radicalize those sympathetic to their cause, some members are posting items that undermine their own case.

The U.S. military said a recent post by a “moron” helped them take out an ISIS command and control center.

“These guys that are working down at Hurlburt (Florida), they’re combing through social media. And they see some moron standing at this command and control capability for Da’Esh, ISIL. These guys go, ‘ah we got an in,'” Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said during a Monday speech in Arlington, Virginia.

Twenty-two hours later, the center no longer existed.

“Long story short…three JDAMs take the entire building out,” Carlisle said in the speech to the Air Force Association.

A JDAM is a device that guides bombs to their targets using a global positioning system and internal navigation system.

ISIS has recruited around 3,400 westerners and at least 200 Americans using social media according to Nicholas Rasmussen of the National Counterterrorism Center.

ISIS Second In Command Reportedly Killed

The Iraqi ministry of defense has reported that the second in command for the Islamic terrorist group ISIS has been killed.

Abdul Rahman Mustafa Mohammed, also called Abu Alaa al-Afari, was killed in a strike on a mosque targeted by Iraqi troops according to Brigadier General Tahsin Ibrahim.

Gen. Ibrahim said that dozens of other terrorists were killed in the strike on the al-Shuhada mosque in the town of al-Iyadhiya near Tal Afar.  ISIS took over Tal Afar and the region in June 2014.

The general did not say which nation carried out the air strike.

The Pentagon said they were unable to confirm the death but the Governor of Nineveh said that his contacts had confirmed the death of al-Afari.

Iraqi officials have announced the deaths of ISIS leadership in the past only to have the subject surface alive in new locations.  The U.S. had added al-Afari to their list of designated global terrorists in 2014.