Earlier this week, a video aired on French television showed scenes of daily life in Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State.
Filmed in secret and at a huge risk by a Syrian woman who hid a camera behind her niqab, the footage shows armed men patrolling the city, a woman carrying an AK-47 into a playground, and an internet cafĂ© where foreign women who traveled to the caliphate phone their relatives back in France, saying they love it there.
The video, like VICE News’Â The Islamic State before it, once again brought the attention of the world to Raqqa, a city where life under the Islamic State is as inscrutable to outsiders as it is terrifying â a reminder of the caliphate’s brutality as much as of its bureaucratic efficiency.
When you go and play in war zones there is a good chance that you will get killed. And so it has come to pass with a New Zealander fighting in Syria getting himself killed.
A New Zealander has been killed while fighting in Syria – the first Kiwi casualty in the civil war.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it is aware of “unconfirmed reports” a New Zealander has died fighting in the Middle East country.
It did not say when the death happened but confirmed the ministry provided consular assistance.
MFAT refused to release any further details, citing several reasons including privacy and a threat to national security.
The Kiwi’s death was also mentioned in a public statement by Syria’s permanent representative in New York, in which he referred to “criminals, mercenaries” from around the world.
“Thousands of innocent Syrians got killed, thousands were wounded, because of so-called cross border terrorists. They call themselves roundly speaking jihadists, they are not.
“For your information some of the terrorists who got killed came from Burkina Faso, some of them came from New Zealand … this is just to let you understand how absurd the issue we are dealing with.”
Andrea Vance reports on Kiwi al Qaeda sympathisers fighting in Syria, or attempting to fight in Syria.
New Zealand passport holders have been identified fighting alongside anti-Government forces in Syria, Prime Minister John Key says.
In some instances, the Department of Internal Affairs had cancelled their passports â some were dual nationality, including Australians, he said.
A small number also had their documents confiscated before they were allowed to leave for the civil war-torn Middle Eastern state, the prime minister said.
Rebel factions have been battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.
Key refused to say how many Kiwis have been fighting, or give any details.
He knew of no prosecutions, saying “it was handled in a different way”.
The revelation comes after weekend reports that Australians were “flocking” to the front line. Across the Tasman, the government fears the fighters will return as hardline radicalised Islamists, ready to launch domestic terror attacks.
“Yes, there is likely to … have been a small number of New Zealanders who have fought with the rebels in Syria,” Key said today.
“There are a small group of people that have gone to Syria to fight. There’s a small group that were going to Syria that we stopped … we have physically stopped some and we are clearly aware of others who are in Syria.”Â Read more »
[The Onion is ] Funny as usual.
However, jokes aside, I think it buys into a misunderstanding about what is going on there.Â The pieces just donât fit the public narrative. Although, I must acknowledge âJohnâs Lawâ âÂ those who think it is a conspiracy donât understand the power of the plain oldÂ fâÂ Â up.
I donât agree with the portrayal of Assad as in the least insane.Â Only a few years ago he was being feted (and, ahem,Â wined and dined)Â by pretty much everyone as a practical reformer, trying to bring Syria out from under his fathers murderous shadow (remember, his father had a whole town liquidated to quell a rebellion).Â Acts of horror abound in the Middle East, where strength and lack of pity are virtues.Â Read more »
I am noting with some irony the left-wing calling for the West (which basically means the US) to “do something” in Syria.
These are the same people who without exception see the US as evil especially over the recent spying furore, and yet they want the US and Obama to “do something” about Bashar al-Assad and the use of chemical weapons.
Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services,Â The CableÂ has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.
But the intercept raises questions about culpability for theÂ chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official toldÂ The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?” Â Read more »
This is one of the perils of widespread immigration where those coming here bring their old country’s attitudes and prejudices with them.
It was not so much a death threat as a declaration of war.
”You wanna go to war, you f—in’ Shia dogs?” the phone message says. ”We’re taking all of you to war, in Sydney and overseas!”
It was 8pm and Jamal Daoud, an aspiring politician from Auburn was having dinner with his wife and children. An outspoken critic of the Free Syrian Army, Daoud is accustomed to abuse but this call was more frightening than most.
‘You wanna kill our brothers and sisters overseas, we’re gonna kill you motherf—ers here,” the caller says.
Foreign Policy has a map of 23 targets that the US should pound if they get involved and institute a no-fly zone in order to protect the Syrian rebels.
View Syrian air force bases in a larger map
There are unsubstantiated claims that Israel has attacked Syrian government forces and weapons stockpiles.
Foreign Policy reports on the awkwardness of this newsÂ for the opposition and inconvenient for the anti-Israel left who have been calling for intervention on the side of the Syrian opposition:
Syrian Facebook pages are reporting a series of massive explosions in Damascus, as are the Syrian regime’s media outlets. A video claiming to be of these explosions can be seen here:
Bashar Hafez al-Assad the imaginary leader of Syria is now hiding off shore on a warship with security provided by the Russians. Assad only travels to the mainland by helicopter for important meetings now, because he doubts that his monkeys can keep him safe. This is akin to a lippy little snot in the school yard hiding behind his big mates when he is losing a fight. If/when his regime falls, he is likely to be given asylum by the Russians.Â Read more »