German firms sent weapons-grade chemicals to Syria despite sanctions — report (Deutsche Welle)
A report by Swiss media reveals that the German chemical wholesaler Brenntag AG supplied the Syrian regime with chemicals that can be used in making sarin gas, despite EU sanctions.
“Although the chemicals can be used to make pharmaceutical drugs, they can also be used in the production of chemical weapons and nerve agents such as VX and sarin gas.
Sarin gas, in particular, has been used in attacks carried out by the Assad regime during the war. The United Nations found that sarin gas used in an attack in 2017 was made using isopropanol. The attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people.”
The Syrian-Turkish border: The closed open door (Al-Jumhuriya)
Muhammad Jalal writes about the difficult, and often deadly journey of crossing the Syrian border into Turkey. Turkey closed the border in 2015.
“From 2016 on, assaults against Syrians detained by the Turkish gendarmerie and military have multiplied, especially in Idlib Province. A video circulated on 30 July, 2017, depicts members of the gendarmerie beating and insulting young Syrians in a manner reminiscent of Assad regime forces. The video sparked great anger, until the Turkish authorities claimed to have suspended the gendarmes in the video.
Worse, there have even been documented cases of killings of Syrians by the Turkish gendarmerie, a phenomenon that has thus far gone unmentioned by the Turkish government and media."
Al Qaeda’s Master Terrorists Are Still on Facebook and YouTube (The Daily Beast)
Michael Weiss and Moustafa Ayad tracked down Jihadi Propaganda online and found that videos by preachers like Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and Anwar al-Awlaki, who are the masterminds behind lone-wolf attacks, are still available on Facebook and YouTube. These videos had a significant number of views despite all efforts to remove terrorists' indoctrination materials available online.
“The videos we uncovered are primarily speeches given by Rubaish, Suri, Wuhayshi and Awlaki over the last several years, all devoted to jihadist strategy and theology, spread through individual users as well as public pages and groups. All told, the 105 videos have garnered more than 190,000 views. Of the al Qaeda quartet only one still has a dedicated Facebook page with 46 videos uploaded for public viewing.”
Faces of war: Kurdistan’s armed struggle against Islamic State (The Guardian)
Through powerful portraits, this photo essay by Joey Lawrence highlights the experiences of Kurdish guerilla soldiers during their fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
“You are welcomed back by familiar faces wearing a palette of earth tones interrupted by a brightly coloured scarf – probably given to them by their mothers. Conversations over cigarettes and tea with much too sugar often drift to conspiracy theories about the entire world plotting to destroy their cause. Oddly, these discussions begin to make sense. The guerrilla’s secretive hierarchy vanishes because of its compartmentalisation, and you find yourself among Kurds who left their families with the intention of defending their culture and way of life. We had once again entered the world of the Kurdish guerrilla.”
ISIS's Second Comeback: Assessing the Next ISIS Insurgency (Institute for the Study of War)
This in-depth report argues that although the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has lost all its territories, it has not been totally defeated. The report attempts to predict the group’s next steps towards a new insurgency.
"ISIS’s insurgency will grow because areas it has lost in Iraq and Syria are still neither stable nor secure. In Iraq, ISIS has systematically eliminated village leaders and civilians who cooperated with anti-ISIS forces. Its goal is to weaken resistance and to fuel the population’s distrust of the Government of Iraq. It has re-imposed taxes on local populations in its historical support zones, displacing civilians and de facto controlling small pockets of terrain in Iraq. In Syria, ISIS is waging a three-front insurgency against the U.S.-backed SDF, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Its campaign degrades governance structures and halts reconstruction efforts, contributing to the perpetuation of state failure and violence in the Syrian Civil War."
How Russia plans to take part in building Syria's IT sector (Al-Monitor)
Igor A. Matveev writes about the Syrian government’s determination to restore and develop its IT sector despite the on-going conflict, and how this plan has created opportunities for ambitious Russian IT companies.
“The Syrian leadership seems to view the IT sector as a market perspective and a locomotive for the country’s reconstruction, as well as to revive social and economic life, in order to keep and upgrade accustomed Western technologies, bypassing the sanctions, and at the same time get access to selective unique non-Western software solutions — by relying on friendly states, mainly India and Russia.”