Monday, October 13, 2014

Iraq/Syria: Update--Fierce Fighting in Both Iraq, Syria

According to CNN, the battle for a key Syrian city on the Turkish border intensified Monday (October 13) as IS militants continued their push for control of Kobani [also known as Kobane] while also scoring a victory in neighboring Iraq, taking a strategically important military base in Anbar province.

A fighter from the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) CNN's Arwa Damon that the battle in Kobani concerned the main border crossing into Turkey. If IS takes control, he said, "it's over."

The Kurdish fighter said that the Kurds had pushed back an attempted advance by IS on Monday morning, but that it would be "impossible" for them to hold their ground if current conditions continued.

Should they take Kobani, the militants would control three official border crossings between Turkey and Syria and a stretch of the border about 60 miles (97 kilometers) long.

Monday has been one of the most violent days in Kobani since IS launched its assault on the Syrian city, with sounds of fierce fighting, including gunfire and explosions, CNN staff on the Syria-Turkey border said.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh described seeing a mushroom cloud rising about 100 meters (nearly 330 feet) above the city in an area targeted by at least four blasts, generally after the sound of jets overhead.

"However, it remains unclear who is gaining the upper hand," Walsh said. "Distribution of the airstrikes does not immediately suggest the Kurds are retaking the center so far."

The US military said it and its partners had attacked IS positions on Sunday and Monday, launching four airstrikes southwest of Kobani, three northeast of the city and one northwest of Raqqa, which is in Syria.

"Fighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia participated in these airstrikes. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely," the military said in a statement.

COMMENT: Even though it seems clear that Turkish forces  will expose their forces to hostile action ONLY if US and its coalition partners do the same.

"They have said that their facilities inside Turkey can be used by coalition forces, American and otherwise, to engage in activities inside Iraq and Syria," NSC Chief Susan Rice told NBC's "Meet the Press."

However, Turkey's semi-official Anadolu Agency quoted the country's foreign minister as saying Monday: "Turkey has not made any decision on whether to open its Incirlik airbase" to coalition forces in the fight against IS. 

Despite airstrikes by the United States and its allies in Iraq over the weekend, reports suggest IS has continued to gain ground in Anbar province and has encircled Haditha, the province's last large town not yet under its control.

Provincial security force sources told CNN on Monday that Iraqi forces had abandoned a strategically important base in Anbar after heavy fighting with the militants.

The Iraqi military still controls the Ayn al-Asad military base, which helps defend Iraq's second-largest dam and the provincial capital of Ramadi.

On Sunday, the leader of US military efforts to fight IS in Iraq said the militants reached 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from  Airport.

Should all of Anbar fall, the Sunnis of IS would rule from the perimeter of Iraq's capital to Raqqa in Syria, at least, according to the deputy head of the Anbar Provincial Council, Falleh al-Issawi, which means that IS would control a swath 350 miles (563 kilometers) long.

The Iraqi government has been adamant that it does not want US forces on the ground, and President Barack Obama has not shown any intention to deploy US troops.

In new violence on Monday evening, three explosions rocked three predominantly Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and injuring 59 others, security and medical sources told CNN.

In the first, an IED  detonated in Sadr City, killing six people and wounding 24. A suicide attack at the entrance to the Khadimiya neighborhood in northern Baghdad left nine dead and 29 injured. In a third blast, a car-bomb attack in northern Baghdad killed two people and wounded six others.

on Monday, a motorcycle with explosives was detonated in front of a restaurant in Kirkuk. One civilian and two police officers died in the explosion in the northern Iraqi city's al-Qadissia section. 

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