March 31, 2017
The third Astana meeting on Syria ended two weeks ago, without any progress after the opposition boycotted the meeting. Russia, Turkey and Iran, guarantors of the ceasefire regime, issued a joint statement in which they underlined the interlinkage between the Geneva and Astana processes and expressed their support for the fifth round of Geneva talks to start on March 23, 2017. They also said that the fourth round of the Astana talks would be held on May 3-4 with preliminary expert consultations on April 18-19, in Tehran.
The Geneva talks started as scheduled on March 23. At the end of the day, UN Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura said that he was expecting neither breakthroughs nor breakdowns. He added that agreement on the agenda was in itself a mark of progress. In brief, rounds of talks are following one another in Astana and Geneva but making little headway. Okumaya devam et →
May 30, 2016
In March, 2013, Free Syrian Army troops and Islamist rebel forces, including al-Nusra captured Raqqa. Soon, however, members and flags of the Islamic State appeared. By early 2014, ISIL had taken complete control of the town. Since then Raqqa has remained ISIL’s stronghold in Syria, capital of the so-called caliphate.
Fallujah lies 57 kilometers (35 miles) west of Baghdad. ISIL captured Fallujah at the beginning of January 2014. Following are passages from Washington Post’s January 3, 2014 account of what had happened:
“A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago…
“… The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War…”
A few days later ISIL captured Ramadi. In June 2014 Mosul and Tikrit were seized. (Tikrit was retaken in March 2015 and Ramadi in January 2016.) Okumaya devam et →