A just-published report, Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda, analyzes a cross-section of 114 propaganda sources over two years from the three main Salafi-jihadi groups: ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which sponsored the report, notes that the three groups share near identical ideologies, challenging the concept that “ISIS is more extreme than al-Qaeda.” Built upon distorted Islamic religious principles, the propaganda produces single-minded focus on violent jihad. The report finds explicit references to these principles throughout the propaganda:
Ideological values form the moral basis of the groups’ actions and are present in 80 percent of all the propaganda sources. These include Islamic creedal values in 62 percent, the values of honor and solidarity with Muslim communities in 68 percent, and explicit references to the end of days in 42 percent.
Justifications from the Quran, Hadith or from scholarship appear in 87 percent of the propaganda.
Ed Husain, author of The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw Inside, and Why I Left (2009) and Senior Adviser at the Center on Religion & Geopolitics said:
An initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the Center on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG) presents informed analysis on the interaction of religion and conflict globally, offering policy responses to meet the scale of the challenge through reports, media commentary, events and policy briefings.
This initiative started as a Web resource called Religion & Geopolitics launched in June 2014. In the last fifteen months it has grown and developed and to recognize this change a more suitable name and description is the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG).
We are losing the battle of ideas and urgently need to understand and defeat this global ideology. ISIS, al-Qaeda and others kill in the name of religion. They call for a caliphate of slavery, death and destruction. They justify their evil by abusively citing scripture and creating religious certainty in the minds of angry, eager and obedient recruits.
For too long we have shied away from this truth. It is by rallying the best of religion that we defeat the worst of it. It is the language of religion that will uproot this violent ideology. Civil society, governments, Muslim scholars, technology firms and others all have a part to play.’
World leaders have cited ideology as a key challenge. Speaking about how we defeat ISIS, President Barack Obama said last week “This is a long-term campaign — not only against this particular network, but against its ideology… We have to prevent it from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others to violence in the first place. And this means defeating their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision.”
Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, praised the report: “This is the single best work I have read on the ideological foundations and theoretical underpinnings of the ongoing wave of jihadi violence. Accordingly, it makes a valuable contribution both to the literature on terrorism and radicalization as well as to the measures and efforts needed to most effectively counter the appeal of the jihadi message.”
— Read more in Emman El-Badawy et al., Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda (Tony Blair Faith Foundation, October 2015)
Islamic State – Iraqi security forces say they have struck the convoy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, in an air strike near the country's border with Syria. "The Iraqi air force carried out a heroic operation targeting the convoy of the criminal terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," Iraq's security forces said in a statement on the 11 Oct 15. "His health status is unknown," it said. Pentagon officials said that they could not "corroborate or confirm the Iraqi government claim of striking or killing Baghdadi at this point". Iraqi security sources have previously claimed several times that Baghdadi had been injured or killed in strikes, but the claims were either never verified or later denied. The army statement said Iraqi aircraft struck Baghdadi's convoy as it was "moving towards Karabla to attend a meeting of the Da’esh terrorist leaders". Karabla is located on the Euphrates river barely five kilometres from the border with Syria. The statement did not make clear when the strike was carried out. The statement said the operation was conducted in coordination with Iraq's interior ministry intelligence services and the joint operation command centre that includes military advisers from the US-led coalition. ISIL supporters said on Twitter on Sunday that even if Baghdadi has been killed, his self-proclaimed caliphate will survive. "Does the entire world not know that even if, hypothetically, our Sheikh al-Baghdadi, God save and protect him from all evils and dangers, was martyred, do you think the State of the Caliphate would end? Do you think we would leave?" said a tweet from a supporter. An ISIL fighter told a news agency on the phone that he could not confirm whether Baghdadi had been in the convoy that was struck, but he said the group would fight on whatever his fate: "Even if he was martyred then it will not affect the Islamic State. We will lose a leader, but there are a thousand Baghdadis. "Every minute a leader is born in the Islamic State."
Islamic State – The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s spokesman confirmed on the 13 Oct 15 the killing of the militant organization’s second in command in a U.S. air strike earlier this year. “America is rejoicing over the killing of Abu Mutaz al-Qurashi and considers this a great victory,” Abu Mohamed al-Adnani said in an audio recording posted on militant websites. “I will not mourn him... he whose only wish was to die in the name of Allah... he has raised men and left behind heroes who, God willing, are yet to harm America,” he added. Adnani did not say, however, in what circumstances Qurashi died. But the White House, in an announcement on the 22 Aug 15, said that Qurashi, whose real name is Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was killed on the 18 Aug 15 in a U.S. air strike near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It said the strike targeted a vehicle and also killed an IS “media operative” known as Abu Abdullah. The U.S. National Security Council said at the time that Hayali was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s senior deputy. The White House described Hayali as a member of the ISIS ruling council, and “a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria.” In its August announcement the White House also said that Hayali “was in charge of ISIL operations in Iraq, where he was instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the ISIL offensive in Mosul in June 2014,” using another name for ISIS. Like many senior Iraqi militants, before joining the ISIS group, Hayali had been a member of Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi faction. He was reportedly a former Iraqi officer from the era of Saddam Hussein. ‘Holy war’ against Russians. In the same audio message, al-Adnani called on Muslims to launch a “holy war” against Russians and Americans over what it called their “crusaders’ war” in the Middle East. “Islamic youth everywhere, ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims,” al-Adnani said.
Islamic State/Russia/America – In an audio message on the 13 Oct 15, ISIL urged Muslims to launch a "holy war" against Russians and Americans. "Islamic youth everywhere, ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders' war against Muslims," said Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, ISIL spokesman. The United States and Russia were due to hold another round of military talks on the 14 Oct 15 as the two Cold War adversaries seek to avoid an inadvertent clash during their bombing campaigns over Syria. "Our talks there are very professional, they're very constructive, and I expect them to lead in very short order to an agreement," Ash Carter, US defence secretary said at a news briefing. The US military said on the 13 Oct 15 that two US and two Russian aircraft had "entered the same battle space" over Syria on the 10 Oct 15, getting within miles of each other. The location marks the western edge of the defensive line along which the rebels have stationed a dozen anti-tank missile launch platforms, said Ahmed al-Seoud, head of the 13th Division, a foreign-backed faction fighting under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. “They are highly effective. They are breaking the Russian-Iranian and Syrian army," he said. "The situation in terms of ammunition and weapons with the Syrian opposition is excellent." Foreign states opposed to Assad have supplied the TOW guided missiles to a number of rebel groups via an operations room in Turkey, one of the states in the region that wants Assad gone. Rami Abdulrahman, Observatory director, said the rebels were using significant numbers of TOWs. "It increased in the last days, and it has proven its effectiveness," he said. The rebels are hoping for more military support from Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia, which has warned Russia its intervention will escalate the war and inspire more foreign fighters to go to Syria to fight. An alliance of insurgents targeted by Russian air strikes said on the 13 Oct 15 it was starting an operation to recapture Hama. The Army of Conquest, which captured most of the neighbouring Idlib province in May, includes al-Qaeda's Syria wing, Nusra Front, the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham faction and groups including Chechen and central Asian fighters. But it will struggle to advance in the face of the Russian air strikes and Syrian army assault, Mr Abdulrahman said.
Bahrain/Iran – Bahrain has accused Iran of waging a campaign of “state-sponsored terrorism” aimed at overthrowing the country’s pro-Western ruling monarchy it was reported on the 14 Oct 15. Bahraini security officials claim Iran is providing sanctuary and financial support for terrorists planning attacks in the kingdom, and say that scores of Bahraini citizens have received training in various terrorist techniques in camps operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Speaking during a visit to London on the 13 Oct 15 Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Barhain’s Foreign Minister, claimed Iran had embarked on “the path of conquest and power projection” against neighbouring Gulf states. “We are fighting state-sponsored terrorism,” said Sheikh Khalid. “There are cells operating in Bahrain that report directly to their superiors in Iran.” Since Iran signed its controversial nuclear deal with the West in Jun 15, Bahraini officials say they have identified a significant increase in Iranian-backed terrorist activity in the sheikhdom. In Jul 15 two Bahraini policemen were killed and six others injured after a bomb attack carried out by terrorists the Bahrainis claim were trained by Iranian-backed militiamen. Bahraini security officials have also intercepted attempts by the Revolutionary Guards to smuggle weapons and ammunition into the kingdom by sea. Sheikh Khalid said that, while the Western powers regarded the nuclear deal as heralding a new era in relations between Iran and the outside world, the agreement has had no impact on Iran’s aggressive attitude towards its neighbours in the Gulf region. Apart from sponsoring terror cells in countries like Bahrain, the Iranians were also backing attempts by Houthi rebels in Yemen to seize control of the country from the democratically-elected government. “We need to address Iran’s relations with its neighbours in the Gulf,” said Sheikh Khaled. “This was not included in the nuclear deal, and this is a serious impediment to Iran having a more normal relationship with the outside world.” Claims that Iran is backing attempts to destabilise Bahrain will be greeted with deep concern by Britain, which regards Bahrain as a vital ally in maintaining security in the oil-rich Gulf region. The kingdom is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Britain recently signed an agreement to establish a permanent Royal Navy base in Bahrain. But the country has been beset by sectarian conflict since anti-government demonstrations erupted four years ago, with Shia protesters involved in violent clashes with security forces loyal to Bahrain’s Sunni royal family. While the Bahraini government has been heavily criticised for its heavy-handed response, Bahraini officials claim Iran has been encouraging Shia extremists to attack the government. Now Bahrain fears Iran will use the billions of dollars it is due to receive when the sanctions are lifted to embark on a massive arms build up designed to intimidate its neighbours in the Gulf. "Iran’s strategy appears to be on of saturation,” said Sheikh Khalid. The Iranians are “stockpiling vast quantities of rockets to the level that can overwhelm any missile defence system in the Gulf. "We fear that funds diverted to the Revolutionary Guards following the lifting of sanctions will be utilized to further increase the threat of Iran’s missile programme.”
Iraq – Blasts killed at least 24 people in one of Baghdad’s main Shiite neighborhoods on the 3 Oct 15 when suicide bombers tried to breach a checkpoint in an attack claimed by ISIS. “Three suicide bombers tried to cross the checkpoint at Adan Square” in the Kadhimiyah neighbourhood, said Baghdad Operations Command spokesman Saad Maan. The attack took place at around 1730 hrs local on the square, one of the main access points for the Shiite shrine of Kadhimiyah, which attracts many visitors on Saturdays. Saad Maan said security forces at the checkpoint engaged the attackers and shot dead one of them, while the other two blew themselves up. The ISIS affiliate tweeted that two bombers, Abu Hudhayfa and Abu Aisha, detonated their explosive belts, one after the other, at Shiite gatherings in Kadhimiyah, according to SITE Intelligence Group. According to figures released by the United Nations Mission in Iraq on the 1 Oct 15, a total of 717 Iraqis were killed and another 1,216 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in September. The Baghdad governorate alone accounted for 257 of the deaths.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on on the 4 Oct 15 announced that Baghdad's "Green Zone" was open to the public for the first time in 12 years, albeit with many remaining restrictions. The roughly 10-square-kilometre (four square miles), heavily fortified area in the heart of Baghdad is home to the country's top political institutions and embassies. "The prime minister opened the Green Zone to public passage and people in their vehicles came in droves," a statement from Abadi's office said. "The opening of the Green Zone is one of the measures we promised the people and we are opening it now," Abadi was quoted as saying in the statement. The measure offers limited access to the vast area, with most streets still requiring a special badge, but it is likely to be popular nonetheless and ease traffic in the city. The International Zone of Baghdad was already the seat of government power under former president Saddam Hussein and became known as the Green Zone after the 2003 U.S. invasion. The area, nestled in a bend of the Tigris, was then sealed off to the public and became the headquarters of Iraq's new rulers. Its foreign residents still sometimes refer to what lies outside as the "Red Zone". The Green Zone is home to the offices of the president, the prime minister, to parliament, the country's top courts, as well as the U.S. embassy, which is the world's largest. 361 COMMENT: This is the second time that the Green Zone has been opened to the public. The first time was back in the late eighties and soon became a bit of a tourist attraction and many Iraqis came to see what it was like and the result was a grid lock with traffic and the consequences was that it was closed down again.. With the amount of dignitary and high profile buildings in the area it will be interesting to see how long it will be before the Islamic State sets its first bomb off. They will either target known politicians, foreigners, high ranking military personnel. Preferred targets will be also looked at to see if they are caught up in traffic queues as this will be an ideal time to strike. Security in the area from individuals will need to be looked at especially at peak times. COMMENT ENDS
Iraq may request Russian airstrikes against ISIS on its soil soon and wants Moscow to have a bigger role than the United States in the war against the group, the head of parliament’s defence and security committee said on the 7 Oct 15. “We might be forced to ask Russia to launch air strikes in Iraq soon. I think the upcoming few days or weeks Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch air strikes and that depends on their success in Syria,” said Hakim al-Zamili.
Israel – Violence intensified in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank on the 4 Oct 15 after Israelis were targeted in two stabbing attacks and a Palestinian was killed in a clash with Israeli troops, officials said. A Palestinian man stabbed and wounded an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem, just hours after another knife-wielding attacker killed an off-duty Israeli soldier and a rabbi, nearby in the walled Old City, police said. Officers shot dead both Palestinians, a police spokesman said, and Israel’s government announced it was barring Palestinians from entering the ancient district for two days, apart from people who lived there. Later in the day, an 18-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, medics and Palestinian police sources said. Huzeifa Othman Suleiman is the first Palestinian to be killed in a fresh outbreak of violent clashes in the West Bank after a Palestinian attacker killed two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City on the evening of 3 Oct 15 prompting Israel to tighten security. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met security chiefs on Sunday to discuss more action to tackle rising violence in Occupied East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, and the West Bank, areas that Israel captured in a 1967 war. In broadcast remarks, Netanyahu said the new measures would include speeding up the razing of homes of Palestinian attackers. Tensions have been further inflamed by frequent clashes between Palestinian and Israeli security forces at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound. Palestinians have said they fear increasing visits by Jewish groups to al-Aqsa compound, revered by Jews as the site of Biblical temples, are eroding Muslim religious control there. Israel has pledged to maintain Muslim prayer rights at al-Aqsa but has frequently banned young Muslim men from entering the area on security grounds. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.
Israel/Gaza Strip – Israel has carried out an air strike on the Gaza Strip early on the 5 Oct 15 in response to a Palestinian rocket attack from the territory, an army statement said. "Israel Air Force aircraft targeted a Hamas terror site in the northern Gaza Strip," it said. The rocket was fired into southern Israel late on the 4 Oct 15 but hit open ground, the army said. No casualties were reported on either side. The military said that so far this year, 16 rockets have been launched at Israel from Gaza. On the 30 Sep 15 Israeli aircraft hit four training camps of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave that was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system. The camps were empty at the time and nobody was injured. Militants claiming links to the ISIS have said they were behind recent rocket fire from Gaza, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all such incidents. 361 COMMENT: With recent tensions high due to the problems with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, this will not help matters. However, Israel does need to show that it has the ability to respond to attacks. Judging by the statement issued both sides incurred no deaths or injuries but had Israel done so what would have been the retaliation from the Palestinians? The other problem here is if true and the rockets were fired by members of the ISIS it would seem that the ruling party have no control over who does what in its enclave. The Palestinian flag flew outside the United Nations recently Palestine maybe attempting to goad Israel into carrying out a military operation. This would fall into the hands of the Palestinians and attempt to put further pressure onto Israel with Palestine using the UN for leverage. COMMENT ENDS
The Israeli government has ordered the deployment of hundreds of soldiers to cities across the country to help police combat a rise in stabbing attacks. The army deployed six companies on the 14 Oct 15 to the country's urban areas, two weeks since the latest tensions between Palestinians and Israelis turned violent. The move is the first implementation of measures decided upon by Israel's security cabinet to combat a series of Palestinian shooting and stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. The cabinet met late and released details of the new measures early Wednesday morning. Steps approved include allowing police to seal off Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. "The security cabinet decided several measures to combat terrorism, notably authorising police to seal off or impose a curfew on parts of Jerusalem in case of friction or incitement to violence," the security cabinet said in a statement. Speaking on the deployment of soldiers the country had never formally moved to deploy troops in Israel proper. This is unprecedented in many ways, to actually deploy formally Israeli soldiers on the streets alongside police officers. This is a conscript society; people are used to seeing people in uniform with guns walking through the streets. However the formal nature of this, the fact the government has formally asked the Israeli army to provide companies is going to strike the Israeli psyche very much. The deployment came as Israeli police announced they had started setting up checkpoints in areas of East Jerusalem. A police spokeswoman said they were being set up at "the exits of Palestinian villages and neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem." Most stabbing attacks against Israelis have been by people who came from within Jerusalem or its surrounding villages. Violence between Palestinians and Israelis has surged since the start of the month sparked in part by Palestinian worries about increased visits by hard-line Jewish groups to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Palestinians fear the visits mark the first stage of an eventual plan to partition the compound into Muslim and Jewish sections, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to maintain the current status quo. The Americans have labelled the attacks as acts of terrorism.
Jordon/Da’esh – Security bodies have reportedly foiled an attempt to assassinate one of the Jordanian pilots whose name was mentioned in the video released by the Da’esh terrorist organisation last year showing the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath Al Kasasbeh. According to a report published on the 13 Oct 15 in Al Rai newspaper, the two suspects arrested in the case were Syrians who have been residing in the Kingdom since 2013. One of them is a juvenile who was referred to the Amman attorney while the other, in his 20s, was referred to the State Security Court, which already held a first hearing on the 12 Oct 15. The suspect faced charges of plotting to carry out terrorist acts and using the Internet to promote the ideology of a terrorist organisation. The two suspects are friends on Facebook and Skype and were found to be supporting Da’esh's military operations in Iraq and Syria. The adult suspect used his Facebook account to follow news and videos of Da’esh's military operations and to build contacts with people affiliated with the terrorist organisation. Following Da’esh’s release of the video showing the burning alive of Kasasbeh in Feb 14 the adult suspect contacted a member in the ultra-radical group, calling himself “Al Shamil Al Shami” to check on the authenticity of names of Jordanian pilots mentioned at the end of the grisly video, to kill one of them and win the 100 golden liras Da’esh put as a prize for that. After succeeding in building contacts within Da’esh, which promised to secure them the prize of 100 golden liras, the two suspects agreed to assassinate one of the Jordanian pilots mentioned in the video. The two suspects then agreed to reside in a house next to the pilot’s residence, allegedly waiting for a $15,000 payment from Da’esh to buy weapons for the assassination.
Syria/Iran – Iran reportedly deployed hundreds of soldiers to Syria starting on September 21 in order to participate in a major ground offensive in north-western Syria backed by Russian airstrikes. Anonymous U.S. defense sources confirmed that several hundred Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fighters led by IRGC-Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Suleimani arrived in Syria to conduct an operation alongside forces from the Syrian regime and Lebanese Hezbollah. Lebanese sources quoted by Reuters asserted that the Iranian troops were not advisors but combat troops and suggested that the coming offensive may be focused in the countryside of Idlib and Hama Provinces. The alleged operating areas for the operation suggests that this effort will be directed towards bolstering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by seizing areas of north-western Hama Province and south-western Idlib Province - including the al-Ghab Plain and the city of Jisr al-Shughour - that have been captured by rebel forces led by Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) over recent months. These positions would remove the direct threat that recent rebel advances posed to the regime heartland of Latakia Province and provide a buffer zone against future attacks. If confirmed, this development marks a major step change in the Syrian Civil War and highlights the deepening rapprochement between Iran and Russia after their announcement of a "united front" in Syria. Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'a proxy forces may constitute part of the Iranian ground force in question. A prominent Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'a militia Katai'b al-Imam Ali posted videos of its fighters in a garrison environment in Syria on September 21 and 28, naming one of its leaders as the commander of the group's operations in Syria. Katai'b al-Imam Ali also claimed it deployed forces to Syria on the 5 Aug 15. The group is affiliated with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an advisor to MG Suleimani who was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a leader of a terrorist organization in July 2009. In Iraq, Katai'b al-Imam Ali is mostly active in northern Salah ad-Din province where it has been fighting ISIS at least since August 2014. Together with MG Suleimani and the IRGC, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali's involvement in ground operations in Syria demonstrates that designated terrorist organizations and entities are likely conducting the ground offensives in Syria supporting Russia's airstrikes.
Syria/Russia – Russia has pledged to intensify its air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, saying the bombing has significantly weakened the militants a report in the BBC said on the 3 Oct 15. A Russian military official said "panic and desertion" had started among the militants and some 600 "mercenaries" were trying to escape to Europe. However, Britain said Russia's strikes were supporting its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The West says Russia is also hitting non-IS rebels. Moscow denies the claim. There have been reports that a number of Syrian civilians have been killed in the Russian air strikes, which began on 30 Sep 15.
A wave of Russian air strikes in western Syria on the 7 Oct 15 was being accompanied by a ground assault on at least four insurgent positions, a group monitoring the war said. The ground attacks were being carried out by "regime forces" the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, a term it uses broadly to describe the Syrian military and allied local and foreign militia. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were also heavy surface-to-surface missile bombardments. Russia has courted controversy since their first wave of airstrikes hit Syria as they have been accused of attacking moderate rebels and civilians instead of fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. Russia said they were targeting hard-line Islamic State militants. Russia's Wednesday strikes targeted the towns of Kafr Zita, Kafr Nabudah, al-Sayyad and the village of al-Lataminah in Hama province and the towns of Khan Shaykhun and Alhbit in Idlib, the Observatory said. Most of Idlib province is held by an insurgent alliance that includes al-Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front and other factions and that have put pressure on the Syrian military. 361 COMMENT: Syria’s Assad has claimed for years that all those that oppose him are terrorists; it matters not whether they are the al-Nusrah Front, affiliates or the Islamic State. The Russians will target them all showing no indifference as they are all enemies of Assad. COMMENT ENDS
Syria/Turkey/Russia/Da’esh – Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on the 7 Oct 15 that Russian air strikes in Syria were weakening the fight against ISIS and warned that Turkey would not compromise on border security after Russian warplanes violated its air space. Russian aircraft twice entered Turkish air space at the weekend (3/4 Oct 15) and Turkey says an unidentified MIG-29 harassed its jets on the 5 Oct 15, prompting the foreign ministry to summon the Russian ambassador three times in protest. NATO on the 6 Oct 15 rejected Moscow’s explanation that its warplanes had violated alliance member Turkey’s air space by mistake and said Russia was sending more ground troops to Syria and building up its naval presence. “The crisis in Syria is not a Turkish-Russian crisis and must not be ... We don’t want this to turn into a Russia-NATO crisis,” Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul, but made clear Turkey would not tolerate further incursions. “We will not compromise in any way on our border security or the security of our air space.” Davutoglu said only two of Russia’s 57 air strikes in Syria had hit ISIS militants, while the rest had been against the “moderate” opposition forces. “The moderate Syrian opposition right now in the north is almost the only force against ISIS on this side of the Jarablus corridor ... If (the Syrian regime) weakens the opposition, it will strengthen ISIS,” he said, warning of the risk of a new refugee flow. The foreign ministry meanwhile said Turkey was open to the idea of meeting with Russian military officials in Ankara to discuss measures to avoid a repeat of the air space violations. A spokesman for the ruling AK Party said Turkey would take further violations of its air space as a threat, but viewed a Russian offer to meet and discuss the issue positively. “We find Russia’s request to ‘come together and explain’ positive. Russia is a friend but if the repeated incursions continue, we will perceive it as a threat and not as friendly behavior,” Omer Celik said.
Syria/Russia/Da’esh – The British newspaper the Daily Telegraph reported on the 14 Oct 15 that thousands of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join the regime's military forces and Hizbollah allies to launch a ground attack against insurgents in Aleppo, two senior regional officials have said. Control of Aleppo city and the surrounding province in the area near the Turkish border is divided among the Syrian government, insurgent groups fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that controls some rural areas near the city. "The big battle preparations in that area are clear," one of the officials said. "There is a large mobilisation of the Syrian army ... elite Hizbollah fighters, and thousands of Iranians who arrived in stages in recent days." ISIL and other insurgents, including groups backed by Assad's foreign enemies, have been fighting each other north of the city in an area of territory where Turkey and the United States have been laying plans to crush ISIL, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq. The offensive, which both officials said would begin soon, would expand on a ground attack by the same alliance last week that is targeting rebels in Hama province farther west. The officials said thousands of Iranian troops had arrived to take part in the offensives in support of Assad. Earlier on the 13 Oct 15 rebel commanders said Syrian insurgents were deploying extensive supplies of anti-tank missiles provided by their foreign backers to counter ground attacks by the Syrian army and its allies, supported by heavy Russian air strikes.
Yemen/Da’esh – Yemen's government vowed on the 7 Oct 15 to stay in the country's temporary capital Aden despite a deadly ISIS attack on its headquarters which lightly wounded several ministers. Two bombs targeted the government's temporary headquarters in Aden's Al-Qasr Hotel, lightly wounding several ministers although Prime Minister Khaled Bahah escaped unharmed. Two guards were reportedly killed. Two more bombs hit military installations used by the Arab coalition troops. ISIS claimed the attacks and published the names and photographs of the four suicide bombers it said had carried them out. It was the first time that the extremist group had claimed attacks on government and coalition targets.
Previous attacks had targeted Shiite mosques frequented by the militias. The Yemeni government "insists on continuing its national and historical role during this exceptional phase from the temporary capital Aden until all parts of the country are liberated," said a statement issued after Tuesday's cabinet meeting.