6/25/15, "Turkey accused of allowing Islamic State fighters to cross its border in Kobane attack," UK Telegraph, Robert Spencer
"Kurdish witnesses say Isil jihadists slipped over Turkish border before launching car bomb attack in Kobane."
"Turkey has been accused of allowing Islamic State jihadists to cross its border to attack the Kurdish town of Kobane.
Twin car bombs exploded close to the crossing point with the Turkish town of Mursitpinar, and Kurdish activists and residents claimed they had come across the border, despite its being heavily policed on the Turkish side.
Convoys of cars carrying up to 40 Isil fighters - reportedly using the uniform of Kurdish YPG militia as a guise - then attacked Kobane from three sides in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Kobane became an important symbol in the battle against Isil after the group launched a bid to take it last year. Kurdish forces backed by US-led air strikes waged a four-month battle to repel the group, finally securing the town in January.
Months of fighting prompted a mass exodus of local residents, with some 200,000 fleeing across the border into Turkey. Some 35,000 Syrians returned home a few months ago after Kobane's liberation.
The Kurds and many of Turkey’s Middle Eastern neighbours have regularly accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of sympathising with Isil, or at least allowing it to use Turkish territory to gain access to the fighting in Syria.
"The clashes started at 4:30 am,” said Kali Maho, a local activist told the Daily Telegraph. "A terrorist armed group entered the city, holding explosive belts. They targeted the civilians."
Scores of Kurdish fighters and civilians were said to have been killed in subsequent fighting, which may have involved as few as 35-40 attackers.
Redur Xelil, the spokesman for the YPG, said: “So far, 15 of this group were killed. Three of them managed to escape to Turkey. There are still some elements hiding inside the city."
Isil were also accused of killing 20 civilians, including women and children, in the nearby village of Barkh Botan.
Saif Haj Omar, 53, said that two of his cousins were killed in their house on Kobane’s south-eastern outskirts.
“They entered their house and shot them and their families,” he said by telephone. "According to the injured women, they entered the house and shouted, you are kuffar (infidels) before they opened fire."
Mustafa Bali, a Kurdish activist who lives less than a mile from the scene of the bombing, told the Daily Telegraph: “I could see the smoke of the smoke and hear the sound of the attack." "Two cars blew up on the Syrian side. Most probably the cars came from the Turkish side.
“If they entered from the Syrian side, they would have first come up many more important targets related to the YPG (the Kurdish militia), such as the main headquarters building where there are tens of fighters and leaders, or the local administration HQ.”
It seemed unlikely they would pass these by and then go to the crossing to kill civilians, he said. Syrian state media also said the attackers came from Turkey.
The Turkish deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, rejected the allegation. "The claim that Daesh (Isil) militants passed through the Turkish border is entirely a lie and part of a black propaganda," he said.
The government claimed that the attackers came from the Isil-held town of Jarablus to the west.
However, that did little to appease Turkey's many critics, who claim that the area around Jarablus is the main point of entry to Syria for large numbers of Isil's "foreign fighters".
The YPG - the main Syrian Kurdish militia - won worldwide fame last autumn for its defence of Kobane against a concerted Isil siege.
Since then, they have pressed forward, uniting a long border territory under its rule and coming within 30 miles of the jihadists’ de facto capital, Raqqa.
However, Isil on Thursday showed how it was able to hit back strongly, with a lightning strike on both Kobane and further to the north-east, in the city of Hasakeh.
In Hasakeh, which is divided between areas of Bashar al-Assad regime and Kurdish control, Isil fighters striking from territory it holds to the south managed to seize two government-held districts.
The attack was a new front in an existing tough battle for control of a string of Kurdish- and Christian-occupied villages in the Syrian north-east.
“This is classic ISIS strategy when under pressure - launching diversionary attacks to distract adversaries from inflicting further threats to ISIS' most valuable territories,” said Charles Lister, of the Brookings Institution, a leading analyst of the Syrian war.
Meanwhile, non-Isil rebel groups launched a concerted attempt in the south of Syria to take remaining government-held districts of Dera’a, the city where the uprising against the regime began in March 2011.
The Southern Front, a Free Syrian Army alliance of secular and non-jihadist rebel groups,*** were at the forefront of the attack, said Issam al-Reyyes, a spokesman.
Also joining the attack were the leading members of the Jaish al-Fatah alliance dominant in parts of the north, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and Ahrar al-Sham, a Salafi Islamist group with ties to Qatar." map from bbc. via Free Rep.
***Comment: A "Free Syrian Army alliance of secular and non-jihadist rebel groups" doesn't exist and is a dangerous myth per an American held hostage by them for 19 months (2012-2014). Believing FSA was "moderate" and would save him, a kidnapped American in Syria begged a local, “Take me to the Free Syrian Army right away....This is an emergency.” FSA facilitated imprisonment and torture of the American for 19 months. In one of the American's escape attempts, a Syrian hip to the western FSA myth told him, "Don't worry, I'm FSA, you can relax, you're safe."...Ten minutes later the FSA "friend" returned with 15 terrorists with Kalashnikovs who re-imprisoned and beat the American:
10/29/2014, "My Captivity," NY Times Magazine, "Theo Padnos, American Journalist, on Being Kidnapped, Tortured and Released in Syria"
"The main opposition group, the Free Syrian Army, founded by former Assad generals and considered moderate by many in the West, had taken over the two most important border crossings north of Aleppo.
One afternoon in Antakya, I met three young Syrians. They seemed a bit shifty, but not, as far as I could tell, more militantly Islamic than anyone else. “Our job is to bring stuff from here to the Free Syrian Army,” they told me. They offered to take me with them. Thinking I’d be back in a few days, I told no one, not even my Tunisian roommate, where I was going.
We slipped through a barbed-wire fence in the middle of an olive grove. I looked back toward Turkey. So far, so good. My Syrian friends led me to an abandoned house that I could use as a kind of field office. The next morning, I helped the young men straighten up the place, cleaning the floors and arranging pillows in an orderly row on a rubber mattress. They sat me down in front of a video camera and asked me to interview one of them, Abu Osama. When we were done, the cameraman smiled, walked across the room and kicked me in the face. His friends held me down. Abu Osama stomped on my chest, then called out for handcuffs. Someone else bound my feet. The cameraman aimed a pistol at my head....
That night, I slipped out of the handcuffs that attached me to one of the sleeping men. In the soft sunlight of the Syrian dawn, I sprinted past walls covered in graffiti, through a cemetery and over a median strip, then stopped a passing minibus. “Take me to the Free Syrian Army right away,” I said. “This is an emergency.”
When I arrived at the F.S.A. headquarters, I appealed to the officers in the most desperate terms. They argued a bit among themselves, then took me to an Islamic court, where a judge questioned me and remanded me to a cell that had been converted from a Turkish toilet. There were prisoners in the cells on either side of me. I poked my head through a food hatch. A 10-year-old boy did the same. “What did you do?” I said. He withdrew, and a middle-aged man, his father, I presumed, poked his head out.
“What did you do?” I repeated.
A helpless grin appeared on his face. “We’re Shia,” he said.
“I see,” I said.
Ten minutes later, the F.S.A. officers returned, accompanied by my kidnappers, and I was trundled into a car and taken to an F.S.A. safe house. There I was placed in a hole in the ground. Was I six feet below the surface? Only three? I didn’t know. Officers threw dirt on me, laughing and shouting insults. Someone jumped down and landed on my chest. Someone else beat me with the butt of his Kalashnikov. One officer insisted that I reply to his questions by yelling out, “I am filth, sir!”
A few days later, the F.S.A. transferred me to a group of Islamists, and I had my first lesson in how to distinguish Islamist fighters from the Free Syrian Army: The fundamentalists think of themselves as the vanguard of an emergent Islamic state. They torture you more slowly, with purpose-specific instruments. You never address them as “sir,” because this reminds everyone of the state’s secular military. When the Islamists torture you, they prefer to be addressed by a title that implies religious learning. For the younger fighters, “ya sheikhi!” (“o, my sheikh!”); for the older ones, “emir.”
The F.S.A., it turned out, had given me to the Nusra Front, or Jebhat al Nusra, which was using the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo as a headquarters and a prison....
One morning, I ran into four Free Syrian Army soldiers. How lucky, I thought. If I could get them to promise not to hurt me, if I could persuade them to place me beyond the range of the Nusra Front machine guns, I would be free....
The F.S.A. soldiers were heating up their tea. “Hey!” I said to them. “What’s your news? Peace be upon you.” They returned my salaams. One asked where I was from....
“From far away,” I replied. “How about you?” They were all from around Damascus.
“Have you come to Syria for the jihad?” someone asked.
“No,” I said. “I’m a civilian, a journalist.”
“How long have you been with Jebhat?” he asked.
“Almost two years,” I said.
The four fighters stared at me. They mumbled among themselves, and then the lieutenant in charge told me not to say anything else. He motioned to me to follow him to a place where we could speak in private. When we were out of his troops’ hearing, he fixed me with a serious stare.
“You are American?” he asked. Evidently a rumor had reached him. I nodded.
“During these two years,” he said, “you have been able to speak to your family?”
“Not a word,” I said. He kept staring into my eyes and narrowing his own, as if he was reviewing some painful fact or memory. Did he suspect me of lying? Was he angry at the Nusra Front? I couldn’t tell.
“I studied Arabic for two years in Damascus,” I said. “I love the Syrian people.” He nodded. “And no,” I continued, “no talking to my family for a very long time.” He nodded again, then knit his hands together behind his back.
“May God open the way for you,” he mumbled and walked away.
I returned to the F.S.A. troops. One told me that his unit had recently traveled to Jordan to receive training from American forces in fighting groups like the Nusra Front.
“Really?” I said. “The Americans? I hope it was good training.”
“Certainly, very,” he replied....After a few moments, I asked, “About this business of fighting Jebhat al Nusra?”
“Oh, that,” one said. “We lied to the Americans about that.”...
What if they retired from military life, I asked, went home and promised to obey the Islamic State in the future? Would the group still wish to kill them?
“Of course,” they said.
“Really?” I asked. “But why?” “Because we are Jebhat al Nusra,” they replied....
“Your (FSA) practice of Islam is exactly the same as ISIS — you admire the same scholars and interpret the Quran just as they do?”
“Yes,” they agreed. “All of this is true.”
“And it’s true,” I said, “that when you joined Al Qaeda, in the early goings of the revolution, ISIS did not exist?”
“Yes, this is so,” the fighters agreed.
“And now they’re hoping to kill you?” I asked. They shrugged their shoulders. “Yes.”...
The real issue between the Nusra Front and the Islamic State was that their commanders, former friends from Iraq, were unable to agree on how to share the revenue from the oil fields in eastern Syria that the Nusra Front had conquered....On and on, from week to week, the blood flowed. I knew exactly why these young men were dying: because the commanders said they must. In addition, the fighters told me, both sides believe that 50,000 years ago, Allah decreed that they should die in exactly this way, at exactly this instant in history.
For the moment, however, the Islamic State seemed to have the edge in the recruitment battle. Many of the Nusra Front soldiers told me that over the previous months, their siblings and cousins had been fighting for the Islamic State. The pay was better. And the Islamic State, a stronger army, had won victories across eastern Syria and Iraq....
By the time we reached the outskirts of Damascus...it was clear...that our voyage...was nothing less than an abandonment of the oil fields, the military bases, the prisons and everything else the Nusra Front had worked to control for some two and a half years. We had made a dash for our lives....
One morning in August, when the fighters guarding me were asleep... I tiptoed out....
By this point, I knew better than to seek refuge among the “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army. I asked a passing motorcyclist to take me to a hospital. At the hospital, a dour-looking man greeted me.
“I am a journalist,” I said. “From Ireland. Please, you must help me. I love the Syrian people.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I am the F.S.A.” He admitted me to an inner room. “No one comes in here without my leave,” he said. “You can relax. You are safe.” I asked if I could contact my family. “Of course,” he said. The easiest way, he said, was for me to send an email. But the man with the computer’s password was away. It would take just a few minutes for him to get to the hospital. Did I need tea? Medical attention?
The F.S.A. soldier stepped out. Ten minutes later, he returned, beckoning me with the index finger of his right hand. He seemed to do it in slow motion, as a jailer might summon an innocent prisoner to his execution.
In the front hallway of the hospital stood a group of about 15 Nusra Front fighters, Kalashnikovs dangling from their right hands. No one spoke. A few seconds passed, and then someone said in a barely audible voice, “Come, American.”
They drove me back to the villa. They hit me a bit in the car, and then, on arriving in the living room where the guards had been dozing an hour before, they flung me onto the carpet. The Man of Learning sat cross-legged on a sofa. “Who has handcuffs?” he asked. Someone cuffed my hands. The Man of Learning grinned. “You are a Nazarene liar and a sneak, Bitar,” he said. “This afternoon, I will execute you by my own hand.”
I spent much of the following weeks locked inside a bedroom in the villa....
Assad was bound to slink away into the undergrowth. The battle against his forces was just a skirmish in the great global combat to come, in which the believers would prevail against the unbelievers....
Over the last 22 months, I had stopped being surprised when Nusra Front commanders introduced their 8-year-old sons to me by saying, “He will be a suicide martyr someday, by the will of God.” The children participated in the torture sessions. Around the prisons, they wore large pouches with red wires sticking out of them — apparently suicide belts — and sang their “destroy the Jews, death to America” anthems in the hallways. It would be a mistake to assume that only Syrians are educating their children in this manner. The Nusra Front higher-ups were inviting Westerners to the jihad in Syria not so much because they needed more foot soldiers — they didn’t — but because they want to teach the Westerners to take the struggle into every neighborhood and subway station back home. They want these Westerners to train their 8-year-olds to do the same. Over time, they said, the jihadists would carve mini-Islamic emirates out of the Western countries, as the Islamic State had done in Syria and Iraq. There, Western Muslims would at last live with dignity, under a true Quranic dispensation."...
On August 24, 2014 Padmos was released to US custody.