This Week in the Middle East: Daesh attacks, Russia and Iran escalate conflict with Israel, Kurdish leader alive and well
This Week in the Middle East is a bi-weekly column edited by Revan Filiaexdeus and published on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We draw our information from a wide network of citizen reporters who are often the very ones fighting these conflicts. Our reporting aims to be as objective and fact-based as possible. The opinions expressed herein belong solely to the author.
A note on terminology: We refuse to use any such terms as "Islamic State", "the Caliphate", "ISIS", or "ISIL" when referring to the terror group. Instead, we use the derogatory term Daesh, an abbreviation from the transliterated Arabic.
A factory was seized from Daesh forces today on the outskirts of Damascus suburb al-Hajr al-Aswad. While some dispute whether the factory itself was ever under Daesh control, satellite imagery available to ZFM shows that the terror group had set up a network of trenches as a defensive position against advancing SAA / SDF forces.
Since the invasion of Kurdistan and Syria by Turkish forces in early 2018, the terror group has been able to take advantage of the greater confusion and chaos as the multifaceted war rages on.
Earlier today, Daesh released propaganda imagery from one of it's bases in Afghanistan. In April of 2017, President Trump became the first American Commander-in-Chief to utilize the large-yield GBU-43/MOAB weapon, commonly known as the "Mother of All Bombs". It is one of the most powerful non-nuclear ordinances in the United States arsenal with a blast yield of approximately eleven tons of TNT.
Daesh was also reported as having attacked lightly defended Iraqi-funded Shia militia positions in Euphrates Province (Wilayat al-Furat), Iraq. The terror group regards Shia Muslims as heretics and targets both civilian and militant Shias indiscriminately.
The terror group killed dozens of militants on all sides of the conflict in Western Syria, along the Euphrates River, and deep in Iraqi-controlled territory throughout the week.
Israel, recently threatened with "catastrophic consequences" for it's ongoing participation in the war, has vowed to strike S-300 missile defense systems shipped to Bashar al-Assad's government forces in Syria.
In a recent interview, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "One thing should be clear - if someone fires on our planes, we will destroy them. What's important to us is that the weapons defense systems that the Russians transfer to Syria are not used against us. If they are used against us, we will act against them."
Russia has continued to supply weapons and munitions to Assad's government. The United States, already in a state of international tension with the superpower, has continued to arm Kurdish YPG/YPJ forces and deploy ground and air forces within Kurdish territory in solidarity with already-present British and French forces.
Iranian shipments to Assad's government has continued to concern American intelligence officials as well. Earlier this month, Israel warned that Iranian participation in the war would warrant defensive military action by Israel against Iranian forces.
Kurdish YPG forces killed twelve Turkish-backed rebels and Turkish soldiers in the ongoing struggle to liberate Afrin, traditionally a Kurdish city, from aggressive Turkish control.
Kurdish forces also released photos of Kurdish leader Sherwin Darvish. An Islamic militant group claimed to have had assassinated him some days ago, but the militant leader appears to be alive and well and was pictured smiling happily with his children.
Revan Filiaexdeus is a freelance journalist and social activist who has been following the Syrian Civil War since it's origins in the Arab Spring of 2010. He is passionately dedicated to an objective covering of these events and works with organizations such as syriancivilwarmap.com and southfront.org