Overview on the situation in SouthEast Turkey – Hakkari, Mardin & Sirnak provinces – Turkey’s campaign against PKK

Overview on the situation in SouthEast Turkey – Hakkari, Mardin & Sirnak provinces – Turkey’s campaign against PKK

The Turkish/PKK conflict had started more than 30 years ago, as ceasefire and truce agreements were signed several times during this ongoing conflict. After the bomb attack (by ISIS) against Kurdish movement in the city of Suruc near the Syrian borders, PKK militants launched an attack in the city of Ceylanpinar, killing 2 Turkish policemen. The Turkish government considered this actions as an end for the truce agreement, and launched new campaign against the PKK and their allies in South East Turkey and Northern Iraq (KRG).

HAKKARI Province

Kurdish armed groups (mainly HPG / PKK) are controlling large parts of Daglica Mount, which is considered as their stronghold in Hakkari province. In September 6, a Turkish military convoy was ambushed by HPG fighters in the area, killing between 15 to 30 soldiers, as “Hurriyet” (Turkish source) confirmed that 16 were killed, buried in Van city in September 8.

The Turkish army sending reinforcements to Hakkari’s countryside (mainly near Yuksekova, Semdinli and the border town of Cukurca), trying to secure the roads between those cities, especially after the recent HPG’s ambush. Several areas were attacked by airstrikes. Tensions still taking place time by time in both of Hakkari and Yuksekova cities.

Reports about surprise attack by PKK from the Iraqi’s KRG borders in the past days, followed by clashes between PKK fighters and Turkish Jandarma forces for few hours; the Turkish Jandarma forces were able to secure the city later.

Semdinli city is controlled by the Turkish security forces, as clashes taking place in the near mountains.

MARDIN Province

Both of Mardin and Kiziltepe cities are controlled by the Turkish security forces. Kurdish armed groups (mainly PKK) were able to launch several attacks in the past days and weeks against the Turkish police, leaving many deaths among policemen and civilians.

Clashes are taking place in the countryside of Mardin, as some vehicles of Turkish security forces were ambushed near the city of Mardin by Kurdish armed groups (mainly HPG / PKK), number of Turkish soldiers reportedly killed.

Tensions taking place in and around the border city of Nusaybin, since the city is almost controlled by Kurdish armed groups (mainly YDG-H / PKK). YDG-H fighters are digging trenches in the streets of the city, in order to prevent the Turkish security forces from entering the neighborhoods. No recent clashes reported in the city so far.

SIRNAK Province

Sirnak city is almost controlled by the Turkish security forces, as few clashes reported in the past weeks and days between policemen and YDG-H fighters.

Reports in the past days about several attacks by Kurdish armed groups (mainly HPG / PKK) against governmental buses and trucks, and army vehicles on the road between Sirnak and Cizre.

Kurdish fighters from YDG-H (PKK) are controlling some areas in the city of Cizre, and launched several attacks in the past weeks. YDG-H fighters are using barriers and digging trenches in order to prevent Turkish security forces from entering their areas. The situation in the city of Cizre has calmed recently (mainly in Cudi, Yafes and Nur neighborhoods), no clashes reported so far.

The situation in the city of Silopi is very similar to Cizre, as YDG-H fighters are also launching attacks against Turkish security forces vehicles.

*Thanks to Yuunus Kurdistani (from Stêrk TV) for providing some information about the latest movements in South East Turkey.

Best Ways To Celebrate The 4th of July

July 4th is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States. It is a popular time for the citizens to gather up and learn about the history and the struggles the country has undergone to give all the citizens the freedom they enjoy as well as the democratic space envied by all the nations of the world.

Indeed, the holiday usually throws the entire country into a happy and celebratory mood, and all you have to do is identify how best you would want to celebrate the heritage and the freedom of the greatest nation on earth. Here are our recommendations of the best ways you can celebrate the 4th of July, and the good news is that none of them will compel you to break the bank. They are all fun-filled and extremely affordable, with some not requiring you to leave the comfort of your home.

Ways to Celebrate The 4th of July

Enjoy a traditional barbecue

How nice would it be to spend time during the holiday with a traditional barbecue at the comfort of your home? Whether or not you are invited to a party, this is one thing you can do to not just pass time, but also break the normal routine of how you eat at home. With barbecue costs going down at around this time due to the increase in demand, all you have to do is a dash to the nearest convenience store and get your supplies and come and make them as you wish right at you home. One other thing you will enjoy about having a barbecue on this day is that it is something you can do when you are alone, with a few friends or with the entire family.

Watch a movie under the stars

There are many great films about the 4th of July. If you haven’t been watching them, then perhaps this would be the ideal time to give them a shot. Everyone is talking about what happened on that date hundreds of years ago and there is no better way to learn the history and understand more about the country than watching 4th of July movies under the stars. If possible, you can get a projector and an outdoor screen and probably invite a few neighbors and friends so that you can enjoy the movies together. This would be a good time to make some barbecue and have a great time with everyone around.

Watch the fireworks

Fireworks is one of the most pronounced features of the celebration of 4th of July. Irrespective of where you are, there will always be fireworks going on and even if you may wish to avoid them completely, the shuttering sounds they produce will make you want to go and see them live. And so this is the other thing you can do to mark your celebration of the day. All you have to do is find out where the fireworks display will be in your area then make it there in time to share the celebrations with the other patriots. But as you watch the fireworks, it is imperative to be cautious about your safety since it seems as if fireworks-related deaths are on the rise. For instance, about eight people lost their lives and over 11,000 people got injuries occasioned by fireworks accident in 2016.

Drink at American-themed bars and restaurants

It is a day for the citizens as well as the businesses to express their love for their country and demonstrate just how much they love America. Many bars and restaurants will be donning American colors and if you are a true patriot, then this would be a great time to have some nice drinks and fine foods in such places. This is especially true if you are an expat in another country or you are celebrating the day when you are miles away from home. In most of the big cities around the globe, you will have many bars joining hands with the Americans to celebrate the day and you can visit them to give you a slight feeling of being home away from home.

Attend a 4th of July event

Again, if you have to celebrate the day in another country, one of the best thing you can do to show your patriotism is to attend a 4th of July event. Such events are normally organized by US embassies and Consulates and they are the perfect places to meet with fellow citizens in another land and share all you can about your mother country. The events at the embassies and the consulates are usually by invitation, but if you fail to get an invitation, Expat networks featuring Americans will always organize similar gatherings to bring together the citizens.

Make fun decorations at home

There are lots of fun cut decorations you can make without spending much time or a lot of money. This is a very enticing form of celebration if you have kids and you wish to have them fully involved in the celebrations of 4th of July. Some of the things you can think about to inspire your decorations include blue, white and red stars from construction papers, garlands with red, blue and white pipe cleaners and much more. A simple search on the internet about “4th of July decorations” will give you more ideas for decoration that you can never make in one day.

Get all the fun from the free activities

There are lots of events happening on the Fourth of July, and if you didn’t want to go anywhere or spend your money on some fancy celebrations, a little search in your area would reveal to you myriads of activities you can engage in for absolutely free on that day. Some of the incredible sources of free entertainment and activities you can think of include live music, parades, decoration contests for kids, free dance competitions and much more. If you are lucky enough, you may also get treated to lots of free foods and drinks in some of these activities, but also it won’t be a bad idea if you packed a few drinks and snacks for the activities so that you won’t have to spend a dime if there are no refreshments offered by the organizers.

Go camping on 4th of July

Camping is another fun way you can choose to celebrate the 4th of July. Being American, you are blessed with lots of wonderful national parks and camping sites and you would be literally spoilt for choice on where exactly to head to. It is also pleasing to observe that the weather around the Fourth of July is usually forgiving in most parts of the country and this favors a lot of outdoor activities. In addition to camping, you can also include other outdoor events such as hiking so that you can get the most of the outdoors and enjoy the day to the fullest.

Spend the time alone or with a loved one

There is nothing wrong with taking the time on Fourth of July to spend time alone or with a loved one. Since there will be lots of activities going on everywhere around you, it makes a good time to escape the noise and be alone or with a loved one. As the country reflects upon the gains made since independence, you can also take the time to reflect on your individual life, review your goals, plan for the future and have some serious discussion with yourself about the current state of your life.

Give back to the society

If you think that the country has done enough for you, then maybe the 4th of July would be a nice time to show your philanthropic side and give back to the society. There are many groups of people who would use anything you can spare for them. This is not just about money and material items to the less fortunate in the society but may also include donating your time and skills to help make a difference in the society. Think about what you can do or give to children homes, the homeless in the streets, veterans and other groups of people. Use the day to share the love and let everyone know that you are a compassionate patriot.

Dress like a patriot

There are several attires you can have on the Fourth of July as part of the day’s celebration. With the power of the internet, you can find lots of quality 4th of July attire which will help you demonstrate your love and commitment to being an American. You can also make some of the attires on your own. For example, you can get lots of bandanas in white, red and blue then cut each into four squares. Then fold each square to form a rectangle before ironing it so that it can form sharp creases. Then attach several triangles to a long ribbon in sequence as the colors in the American flag. Next, drape the finished bandana and you will have a patriotic bandana banner to fly.

These are just a few of the suggestions on how you can celebrate the 4th of July. Of course, the final choice will depend on a number of factors, including personal preferences, but this is a good list to start with, especially if the day is fast approaching and you have no idea of where you will be or what you will be doing.

Roads to Damascus

ROADS TO DAMASCUS | archicivilians

What’s coming up in the summer?

President Assad once said that the Rebellion would end within 2014.  Nonetheless; it’s been really noticeable to see 2015 starting with Rebels (Syrian Opposition Forces) advancing from the south all the way to Damascus and taking-over major cities like Sheikh Maskin and Bosra, along with Nassib border crossing (which is considered the most important border crossing in Syria), and ending up controlling around 70% of Daraa province and half of the provincial capital.

A similar situation is also ongoing in the North of Syria, where Rebels ended 2014 by taking-over Wadi al-Dayf military camps and were able to launch offensives during March & April of 2015, taking control of the provincial capital of Idlib province and Jisr ash-Shughur city, forcing Assad forces to flee to Hama and the coastal areas, mainly to Assad strongholds.

However, the situation in Damascus is different, since it is the capital of Syria. Rebels stormed Damascus in 2012 and took-over half of the city and the surrounding areas, mainly through random offensives by many independent Rebel groups. Rebels made a lot of strategic mistakes in their offensive on Damascus in 2012, by controlling the populated areas before securing the supply lines. Assad Regime campaign in 2013 had started in Damascus, by retaking many areas they lost and forced Rebels to sign truce and ceasefire agreements after besieging them all the areas they took inside the city.

Today, fighting abilities and military capacities of these groups have drastically improved; bearing in mind their on-going engagements in well-organized and managed intensive training camps, mingling with other rebel groups, and having been involved in plenty of battles and clashes since 2011; it’s fair to say that their overall military abilities and experience have been progressing day after day.

Some example of these groups:

It’s becoming apparent that Assad is giving up on efforts to maintain the so called local followers and supporters to continue to be on his side and fight to his favor.  The situation is pretty much thought to be so as the field on Assad’s side today is filled with Iranian and Afghan mercenaries along with Hezbollah from Lebanon who have been overly so far the most powerful amongst Assad troops.  Furthermore, majority of battles and attacks these days are being led by IRGC (Islamic Republican Guard Corps – Iran) and Hezbollah.

So the question that stands out now, why is Assad losing?

Assad Regime campaign which started in 2013 by re-taking over the areas gained by Rebels in 2012 has just ended. Assad army reached a new stage in this war; lack of fighters with large amounts of arms and ammunition ending up with Rebel’s possession.

The situation in southern Syria is worsening for Assad fighters (the Syrian Arab Army and the National defense forces), since Hezbollah and the IRGC are leading Assad troops and mostly have been fighting instead of them (Afghan fighters from Fatimiyun Brigade which is linked to the IRGC). Recent reports and documentations by the Syrian Opposition indicate hundreds of foreign fighters (linked to Assad) have been killed in Southern Syria front lines since the beginning of 2015. The latest offensives launched by Assad Regime have all failed; Rebels changed the situation of Assad from an offensive to defensive strategy.

Rebels proved their ability to advance and achieve significant wins while fighting with no air-cover unlike Assad army and troops. The small and independent Rebel groups have recently been joining the larger Rebel groups, which played an important role in the Rebel groups new strategic movements and offensives.

Rebels just did a huge military parade near Damascus city in Eastern Ghouta; less than 5 Km from Assad palace, signaling for a huge offensive to be launched soon on Damascus city. An indication that the summer of 2015 will unfold some surprises.  This somewhat goes in line with what the Southern Syria Rebels are also promising the Revolution followers for new offensives to take place to advance further until they reach the western and southern sides of the capital.

Worth noting that Southern Syria Rebels have the much more advanced military equipment and weapons compared to Rebels in the surrounding areas of Damascus. This was based on their clear success seizing  large amounts of military weapons and ammunition in 2014 and early 2015 during  their huge campaign after they took the most important army bases in the South, including Tall al-Harrah, Brigade 61 base, Brigade 82 base, Brigade 112 base and dozens of hills including air-defense bases. Furthermore, Southern Syria Rebels own dozens of the US-made TOW missiles (anti-tank).

“Major changes regarding the situation in and around Damascus will take place in the summer of 2015”, pro-Rebel activists says.

Recommended article: Overview on Military Situation in Damascus City – The Capital of Syria

Documentation: 44 foreign fighters killed fighting for the Regime in Syria

Documentation: 44 foreign fighters killed fighting for the Regime in Syria | archicivilians

As shown, most of the fighters (18) are Afghans from Fatimiyun Brigade, a militia that was formed by the Iranian IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps), that contains Shiite Afghan fighters who are living in Iran, and the same thing for the Shiite Pakistani fighters.

The top leaders in Fatimiyun Brigade were killed in the battles of Southern Syria, against Syrian Rebels:

Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement, the small battalions who became the most powerful Rebellion group in Syria

Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement, the small battalions who became the most powerful Rebellion group in Syria | archicivilians

Ahrar al-Sham It was one of the first armed groups to be formed at the beginning of the armed revolution in Syria in early 2011. Ahrar al-Sham is a Sunni Islamic movement, formed by Hassan Aboud. Hassan Aboud was born in al-Ghab plain in the north west of Hamah province in northern Syria. He used to be an English teacher and an Islamic scholar before he was detained by the Syrian Baathism Regime. At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, Hassan was released from Saidnaya Prison in northern Damascus after the general presidential pardon for all crimes committed before June 20, 2011. Later, Ahrar al-Sham movement under Hassan Aboud has been rising as one of the most powerful armed groups, independent from the Free Syrian Army.

*Note: Most of the Syrian Rebellion groups (including Jaysh al-Islam factions, The Levantine Front factions and others) were all under the Free Syrian Army command.

Ahrar al-Sham participated in many battles in northern Syria since they have strong presence in Hamah and Idlib provinces. They used to be one of the most powerful groups in eastern Syria (Raqqah, Hasakah and Deir Ezzor provinces) before the rise of Daesh (Islamic State organization). Ahrar al-Sham movement has formed the Islamic Front with other Rebel groups including Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham Brigades, Tawhid Brigade and other groups. Local activists who have very close relations with the Islamic Front Rebels said that it was a failed step, since there is no real unity between those groups who agreed to form the Islamic Front in November of 2013.

In September 2014, a bomb attack targeted Ahrar al-Sham top leaders while they were meeting in Ram Hamdan city in Idlib province, killing more than 40 leaders including Hassan Aboud, the head of Ahrar al-Sham. It was a historical event in the Syrian war, the majority said that Ahrar al-Sham movement is over and their fighters will end up joining the other Rebellion groups. Hashim al-Sheikh was chosen to be the head of Ahrar al-Sham after the death of Hassan Aboud, they announced that they will complete as they started and will reach their main goals as they seek for the liberation of Syria by fighting the Baathism Regime and Daesh (Islamic State organization) till the end.

At the end of 2014, Ahrar al-Sham led the battle of Hamidiyah military camp in participation with Nusra Front who led the battle of Wadi al-Dayf military camp, taking control of those two military camps (with all the villages in the area) which were known as the largest military camps in northern Syria.

In the December 2014, two major groups from the Islamic Front (al-Haqq Brigade and the Kurdish Islamic Front) announced to join Ahrar al-Sham movement. Suqour al-Sham Brigades also announced to join Ahrar al-Sham in March of 2015, yet Ahrar al-Sham has been one of the largest groups in Syria, with a size of more than 25,000 fighters.

It was a major change in March 2015 when Ahrar al-Sham with participation with other six groups (including Faylaq al-Sham and Nusra Front) formed Jaysh al-Fateh military operations room and were able to take the provincial capital of Idlib in less than 4 days, to be the second provincial capital out of Assad rule since the beginning of the war in Syria.

After 4 years of the war in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham proved to be rising as one of the most powerful groups in Syria, as they have strong presence in 10 out of 14 provinces in the country. Ahrar al-Sham owns large amount of military equipment (mostly seized from the military bases in Syria) and fighters. At the same time, Ahrar al-Sham has very good relations with all groups in Syria, as activists said that they are very welcomed by civilians to control the populated areas, mainly in northern Syria.