Skip to main content

Fake News? US-backed Forces Blast Through 8th Century Syrian Wall to Fight ISIS

ISIS’s last holdout in Syria is in Raqqa; its forces have been backed into an ancient wall that surrounds the old city of Raqqa on three sides. The Rafiqah Wall, first constructed in the 8th century by the Abbasid dynasty, is reported to be over 12 feet high, over a meter thick and stretches over 3 miles around the old city.
Fake News? US-backed Forces Blast Through 8th Century Syrian Wall to Fight ISIS
FILE IMAGE
While the wall had been described as an important fortification for ISIS, the advancement of Syrian troops made the wall a trap that could have allowed the ISIS fighters to be completely wiped out. According to a July 3, 2017 TIME article(1), ISIS fighters had taken positions there “to defend the city [sic]” and planted explosive devices at what the article described as “breaks in the wall.” Under the circumstances, the point to planting explosive devices in the wall would only have been to create escape routes. It was apparent from the next day’s news, however, that the “breaks in the wall” were not adequate for escape.
The US-backed forces, fronted by the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)”, appeared to come to ISIS’s rescue. On the night of July 3rd, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), claimed that SDF had “found a way” through the historic wall at “the most heavily-fortified portion of Raqqa”; two 25 meter-long breaches had been blasted through it. Laughably, the article claimed that the two “small” — almost 100-foot — gaps “will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-meter wall”: now US-backed forces might not need to totally demolish the 1300-year old wall.
While Brett McGurk, described as the US envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, tweeted that the operation was “a key milestone” in the campaign to “liberate the city”, it is evident what was really being liberated.
Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why States Still Use Barrel Bombs

Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb over the city of Daraya on Jan. 31.(FADI DIRANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary
Barrel bombs are not especially effective weapons. They are often poorly constructed; they fail to detonate more often than other devices constructed for a similar purpose; and their lack of precision means they can have a disproportionate effect on civilian populations.

However, combatants continue to use barrel bombs in conflicts, including in recent and ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and they are ideally suited to the requirements of resource-poor states.

Analysis


Barrel bombs are improvised devices that contain explosive filling and shrapnel packed into a container, often in a cylindrical shape such as a barrel. The devices continue to be dropped on towns all over Syria. Indeed, there have been several documented cases of their use in Iraq over the past months, and residents of the city of Mosul, which was recently …

Russia Looks East for New Oil Markets

Click to Enlarge


In the final years of the Soviet Union, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began orienting his foreign policy toward Asia in response to a rising Japan. Putin has also piloted a much-touted pivot to Asia, coinciding with renewed U.S. interest in the area. A good expression of intent was Russia's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012 in Vladivostok, near Russia's borders with China and North Korea. Although its efforts in Asia have been limited by more direct interests in Russia's periphery and in Europe, Moscow recently has been able to look more to the east.

Part of this renewed interest involves finding new export markets for Russian hydrocarbons. Russia's economy relies on energy exports, particularly crude oil and natural gas exported via pipeline to the West. However, Western Europe is diversifying its energy sources as new supplies come online out of a desire to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

This has forced…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.

Analysis


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…