Posts Tagged ‘Islamic State’

Images recently uploaded to Twitter by the Free Syrian Amy’s ‘Division 30’ show combatants with US-made arms. In one image, a Mk 14 EBR (enhanced battle rifle) series weapon is visible in the foreground, while another fighter holds what is likely an M16A4 rifle.

The Mk 14 EBR series are self-loading rifles chambered for 7.62 x 51 mm and typically employed as designated marksman rifles (DMR). Originally introduced by the US Navy, Mk 14 series rifles have since been produced for other US service branches and sold to foreign allies. The model pictured appears to have been produced by Rock Island Arsenal, in Illinois. Minor diagnostic details such as the type of optic, scope mount, bipod, and other components distinguish it from other models. It is designated as the M14EBR-RI, and some 6,200 examples were fielded by the US Army. Another photo uploaded the same day shows fighters with a 120 mm M120 mortar system, with one fighter carrying another M16-type rifle.

FSA fighters from Division 30 with an M120 mortar system.

It is not clear how Division 30 acquired these weapons, but it is likely they received them as part of a US-administered train and equip programme. The Mk 14 EBR has previously been seen in Iraq in the hands of IS fighters, as seen below, thought to be captured from Iraqi security forces who had, in turn, received it from the United States. With recent reports that Jabhat al-Nusra fighters successfully abducted members of Division 30, and killed others, there remains a possibility that some of these supplied weapons will yet find their way into the hands of other groups.

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This is an authentic report from an Aleppo resident whose identity is protected for their own security.  They are living through the daily hardships of life in an externally created war zone.  Water and electricity shortages, NATO & US backed terrorists embedded in multiple areas of the city creating random buffer zones where the risk of being sniped or shelled is a daily occurrence. I have retained as much as possible of the original report with minimal editing as its important to maintain the narrative as it is, raw and heartfelt, from someone who sees this ravaged city as home.

Aleppo before the conflict.

“Travelling to the other part of the city

A friendly taxi driver we know wanted to visit his house on the other side of Aleppo.  An area where the terrorists and the so-called “rebels” are in control. He had heard that the Syrian jets attacked the area and bombed a place close to his house. He went in the Eid vacation (17-19th of July) with his wife for 2 days. A trip that used to take 20-30 min from one part of the city to another, took something like 10 hours, because they had to go  25 miles away from the city to make a U-turn and enter from another area  They had to pass through many villages under  terrorist control to reach the eastern part of Aleppo city, and finally their home.
They went in a bus, and he didn’t take his taxi car as terrorists might take it from him by force. He told me that the trip cost them $70-$100 over 2 days (transport, eating …etc), he was complaining because it’s a lot of money for him, equivalent to minimum one week’s full time work. They took most of their clothes that were still there, thanks to their only 2 neighbours who are still living in the building who protected their apartment. The remaining apartments and houses in the quarter had been robbed, broken into or damaged because they had been converted into nesting places for the terrorists.
Many good people are still going from one part of the city to the other. Many people didn’t deserve to be kicked out from their homes, and it wasn’t their choice to stay in one place or become refugees in another place.   Visiting each side is still possible for people, but it’s dangerous and not a risk I would want to take.

Citadel
My understanding is that on the 13th/14th of July, the Syrian army – who are occupying the very strategic acropolis hill of the ancient citadel of Aleppo,  in the middle of the ancient walled city, which is under the terrorist control – knew about a new tunnel that the terrorists were digging and filling up with explosives, very close to the citadel’s borders.  The Army made a counter attack and forced the terrorists out of the tunnel in a hurry.  Unfortunately the terrorists detonated these explosives before they left, and that explosion was enough to destroy part of the ramparts of the citadel. I cant help thinking if the Army hadn’t discovered this tunnel and if terrorists had drilled a longer and deeper tunnel, and armed it with 10 times more explosives, maybe the whole citadel would have collapsed.
Khosrawiyya/Chusruviyya mosque, the first and oldest Ottoman mosque in Aleppo [built in 1544] has been demolished. Same for Carlton Hotel which occupied a century old building as a multi million investment. The Mayor’s town hall, 12 stories high,  has been 80% destroyed. A Memluk or Ayyoubid period small mosque and religious school [700-1000 years old] has disappeared apart from its gate and the little minaret above the gate.

The Traditional/Turkish Bath of Yalbogha al-Nasseri [700-800 years old] is still there, but some of its big domes have collapsed. Another century-old building – that I remember sitting in for 3-4 hours 15 years ago, manually copying some information to use in my graduation project – has been damaged so badly, especially its beautiful double mirrored spiral staircase at the entrance, that it has virtually disappeared without a trace.

Those buildings have all been destroyed by the same terrorist techniques, within the last 4 years of war in the city: digging tunnels, or using ancient existing networks of tunnels under the whole old city of Aleppo.  Filling them up with explosives, to bomb everything above them. While these explosions serve as a distraction, terrorist troops will attack another target, mostly the citadel where the Syrian army is encamped. They failed so far take control of the SAA stronghold, but damage to the citadel is extensive.
Although what I mentioned above is horrible, and I know about other famous areas [markets, bazaars, mosques and churches] that have been sabotaged or destroyed; I was pleased that way more areas and buildings of the old city are still there, as I know them.  Maybe they are not that famous or masterpieces, but they are still there untouched and intact.

The war targeted the symbols of Aleppo [ the same strategy in all Syria, of course]. The bazaar of Aleppo, which has been there since 4th century AD, since the Hellenistic era, is a symbol, and it has been completely torched.  A week of continuous burning, with the smoke permeating throughout the city and this piece of history is reduced to ash on the ground.

The Great / Umayyad Mosque is a symbol, it’s almost 1000-year-old minaret has been destroyed by dynamite. The preaching stage has been dismantled (most of it taken to Turkey), several side walls have been completely destroyed.  They turned the mosque into its original and oldest land use: an Agora [Plaza] in the Hellenistic era. A similar fate for all the other lost places and monuments.
The last symbol left of Aleppo, is the most famous one: the Citadel. I can see part of it from our balcony, but I can see it more clearly from the roof of the building. It’s still there, resisting the terrorists and their funding states. It has been badly injured,  but it’s still there,  dominating the city skyline. It’s where they found the Storm God’s Temple [2nd millennium BC] a few years ago. It has withstood many invaders, including the Mongols and Crusaders. It has been damaged severely several times through history, but it has been rebuilt  over and over again, as an immortal symbol to the inhabitants, of one of the oldest living cities in history. I just pray I don’t live to witness its total destruction as I have seen happen to many of the surrounding buildings.

Souq Khan al Wazeer, Aleppo. Before and after terrorist occupation

Socially

Aleppo city has shrunk to a fifth of its original size, and became so crowded with refugees that fled their areas after they fell into terrorist hands. I walk everyday in the city. I see children, young girls without limbs because of a terrorist mortar  or shrapnel  that targets them randomly and causes  terrible wounds and horrific memories that will never leave them. The girl who lost one leg is standing on her good leg and selling bread, while the little boy who lost one arm is selling chewing gum. Those are the “injured” people who are mentioned fleetingly in the news, just numbers in one line of a report, after each attack from the terrorists. “Injured” doesn’t mean scratched or having a bleeding finger; it means someone lost his eyes or her limbs.