ISIS threat is still strong

Submitted by AWL on 4 November, 2014 - 5:27 Author: Simon Nelson

ISIS (Daesh, the “Islamic State” movement) now governs over six million people across Iraq and Syria and despite an apparent slowing of new foreign fighters coming to join them they have maintained a large group of fighters and a formidable military capability.

The Albu Nimr tribe, a Sunni group in Western Iraq, had continued to fight ISIS in Anbar province despite Abadi's Baghdad government failing to provide arms. ISIS has now executed almost 400 members of the tribe as a punishment for its resistance. ISIS is now closer to the Haditha Dam and the largest airbase in Anbar. The Iraqi army and Shia militias still cannot consistently drive ISIS back.

The Kurdish forces under the control of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Syria are now been joined by 150 Iraqi-Kurd peshmerga troops who carry heavy weapons and have been granted passage into Kobani through negotiation between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). These troops join small numbers of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters who now fight alongside the PYD-controlled People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The FSA has been allowed to cross the border from Turkey where their leadership is based. Limited collaboration between Kurdish forces and the FSA has increased in recent months. The FSA leadership had previously shunned the Kurds and accused the PYD of working with the regime to guarantee the three cantons that now make up Rojava, the Kurdish region of Northern Syria which includes Kobani.

Even now, an FSA commander has said that with Assad continuing to attack in Syria, including around Aleppo, the FSA cannot afford to spare fighters to go to Kobani.

According to the Guardian, the Syrian-Kurdish PYD maintains that all political groups and military units in Rojava they must take their direction from the YPG. The KRG maintains that the peshmerga will remain under their control whilst providing heavy artillery and other assistance.

The Peshmerga have been greeted warmly by Kurds in Turkey who lined the streets as they entered Syria; however the PYD says that its primary demand remains more weapons and not more fighters. PYD spokesman Polat Can says: “one should not forget that with 150 people you cannot even form one unit. They will not have a big military impact.”

Turkey is still opposed to assisting the PYD or any group affiliated to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). It prefers to see the peshmerga of the Iraqi-Kurdish government, with which the Turkish government has relatively good relations, in control of heavy weapons, and will not allow arms to flow directly into the area.

Turkish prime minister Erdoğan publicly dismisses the case for support for Kobani. His government continues to claim that: “there are now no people in Kobani except for 2,000 fighters.” Other ministers in the Turkish government have expressed the wish for Daesh to continue to fight the PKK and rid Turkey of a continual threat to its stability.

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