Just hours after ISIS scored a significant victory in Iraq when it captured the town of Ramadi over the weekend, the first Iraqi town that had been actively defended by the US as opposed to just Iraqi troops, overnight ISIS also captured the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, which the mainstream media promptly concludes was proof that the Islamic State's momentum was growing.
Around a third of the 200,000 people living in Palmyra may have fled in the past few days during fighting between government forces and Islamic State militants, the U.N. human rights office said on Thursday.
That's not all: according to Reuters, "extending its reach in the region, fighters loyal to the Sunni Muslim group have also consolidated their grip on the Libyan city of Sirte, hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
"ISIL has reportedly been carrying out door-to-door searches in the city, looking for people affiliated with the government. At least 14 civilians are reported to have been executed by ISIL in Palmyra this week," Shamdasani said in emailed comments.
The capture of Palmyra according to the known UK propaganda outlet and distributor of fabricated "chemical attack" tapes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is really just one guy, Abdul Rahman of Coventry, means that ISIS "now controls more than half of Syrian territory."
Not really, no.
But the facts are irrelevant when one needs soundbites.
So what is really going on? Simple: all these latest developments and the unexpected and successful ISIS "offensive" is merely another attempt to justify a US land incursion into Iraq (and of course Syria), this time "appealing" to the populace not using fake chemical attack YouTube clips as "evidence", but with a noble crusade to save an ancient cultural artifact.
The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO describes the site as a historical crossroads between the Roman Empire, India, China and ancient Persia and a testament to the world's diverse heritage.
"We may have different beliefs... different views, but we have to protect such incredible vestiges of human history," UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova told Reuters Television.
The Observatory's founder Rami Abdulrahman said Islamic State fighters had entered the historical sites by early on Thursday but there were no immediate reports of destruction.
"This is the fall of a civilization," Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters. "Human, civilized society has lost the battle against barbarism."
Alas the battle is only just beginning because as Reuters also noted, "the twin successes pile pressure not just on Damascus and Baghdad, but also throw doubt on U.S. strategy to rely almost exclusively on air strikes to defeat Islamic State."
After weeks of fighting, Ramadi’s fall on Sunday delivered the jihadist group control over a strategic highway linking Iraq and Syria, and a haul of weapons abandoned by Iraqi forces. Three days later, the al-Qaeda breakaway group overran Syrian government troops to seize Palmyra, home to the ruins of a 2,000-year-old city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world.
With the first anniversary of the declaration of its caliphate a month away, the victories put the militants on the front foot at a time when their leaders are seeking to dispel any sense of weakness after recent defeats. In Syria, it now controls half of the country’s territory and most of its oil and gas fields, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based group that monitors the conflict.
“The fact Islamic State is still on the offensive is important, and the timing is important,” said Charlie Winter, a researcher at the counter-radicalization group Quilliam Foundation in London. Pushed into retreat, “it loses power and all the things that drive people to join it.”
Enter a casual strawman:
The group’s supporters are already touting its latest feats, Winter said, posing the question on social media: “Last year it was Mosul, this year it’s Ramadi, and where will it be next year?”
And like that the stage is again set for the following scenario: unwilling to lose any more territory, and face, the Nobel peace-prize winning US president will sit down with his security council in the next few days and decide that, as much as he hates to do it, he will dispatch [X],000 US troops to support the Iraq government in their losing fight with the resurgent ISIS. Troops which will promptly enter Syria and then make sure Assad is quietly eliminated.
Which brings us to a different point: see on the map above how ISIS in Syria is clustered by the border of NATO-member Turkey? There's a reason for that.
As Reuters also reports in an exclusive piece, Turkey's state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, according to a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers seen by Reuters.
As Reuters observes, the witness testimony contradicts Turkey's denials that it sent arms to Syrian rebels and, by extension, contributed to the rise of Islamic State, now a major concern for the NATO member.
In other words, a NATO member and a nation very close to the US, has been instrument in the rise of ISIS. Worse, unlike running speculation that ISIS was created by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, there is now documented evidence that ISIS is indeed a "western" creation.
More from Reuters:
Syria and some of Turkey's Western allies say Turkey, in its haste to see President Bashar al-Assad toppled, let fighters and arms over the border, some of whom went on to join the Islamic State militant group which has carved a self-declared caliphate out of parts of Syria and Iraq.
Ankara has denied arming Syria's rebels or assisting hardline Islamists. Diplomats and Turkish officials say it has in recent months imposed tighter controls on its borders.
Testimony from gendarmerie officers in court documents reviewed by Reuters allege that rocket parts, ammunition and semi-finished mortar shells were carried in trucks accompanied by state intelligence agency (MIT) officials more than a year ago to parts of Syria under Islamist control.
Which in turn explains the news from two weeks ago that "Turkey, Saudis Form Alliance To Topple Syria's Assad As US Starts Training Syrian Rebels."
And just to make sure Obama's upcoming offensive against Assad, pardon ISIS' al-Baghdadi is successful, Reuters finally reports that contrary to previous reports, not 1000, but 2000 anti-tank weapons are being sent to Iraq. Wait, ISIS has tanks? Well no, that would be Syria, but when fabricating a narrative suicide bombers are as durable as tanks. Also from Reuters:
The Pentagon said on Thursday the United States would deliver 2,000 AT-4 anti-tank rockets to Iraq as early as next week, 1,000 more than announced on Wednesday, to help Baghdad combat suicide car bombings by Islamic State.
Spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said the delivery would help Iraq defend against approaching suicide bombers driving vehicles packed with explosives, attacks used by Islamic State militants last weekend to help them seize Ramadi from Iraqi forces.
"This is a good counter to that (type of bombing)," Warren said. Warren said the anti-tank weapons would allow the Iraqi forces to destroy approaching suicide car bombers at a distance. Relying on small arms requires disabling the engine or killing the driver, which can be difficult, he said.
It's an even better counter when staging an offensive operation, aka an invasion, against the Syrian army and not just from one side but two sides: the east, via Iraq, and north, via Turkey, with the occasional bombing run by Saudi Arabia (with Jordan just waiting to enter from the South and "liberate" Damascus).
So gun to our head, this is what happens next: a couple of the good ole' "chemical attack" false flag YouTube clips once again emerge just around the time Obama announces it is time to send a tactical, contained group of troops in Syria to retake the "cultural heritage" that is Palmyra, at which point the war against ISIS morphs into what it has been from day one: the western attempt to crush and topple the Assad government, and to hand over control of Syria to Turkey and Iraq, just so the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar can control what happens behind the scenes, by which we mean finally allow that long overdue Qatari gas pipeline to traverse the nation and sideline Russian gas deliveries to Europe.
(Why does already wealthy beyond compare Qatar need to kill thousands of innocent people just so it can sell its natgas to Europe? Just so its former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani can buy many more $179 million Picasso paintings, and many more NYC and London apartments).
We expect this scenario to start unfolding within the month as the US economy desperately needs an official war to avoid sliding into a recession.