Islamic State Militants Execute Syrian Soldiers As U.S. Seeks International Campaign

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Islamic State militants executed dozens of members of the Syrian army who they had captured after seizing the Tabqa airbase Sunday. Unverified photos and a video posted online appeared to show 135 men held by the Islamic State running through the desert at gunpoint. The United States ...

Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images
Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images
Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Islamic State militants executed dozens of members of the Syrian army who they had captured after seizing the Tabqa airbase Sunday. Unverified photos and a video posted online appeared to show 135 men held by the Islamic State running through the desert at gunpoint. The United States is seeking to build an international coalition to counter Islamic State fighters, including partners for a possible joint military action. Australia's defense minister has signaled a willingness to contribute to airstrikes in Iraq, though Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there must be clear goals and "an overall humanitarian objective." While Britain said it had not received a request from the United States, Prime Minister David Cameron is working on plans for an emergency action to present at a NATO summit next week. President Francois Hollande said France would call an international conference to deal with the threat posed by Islamic State militants, though he ruled out working with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, Syrian Islamist rebel fighters, including members of al-Nusra Front, have seized the Quneitra crossing near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.  

Headlines

Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be sworn in as Turkey's new president Thursday in a ceremony boycotted by the main opposition Republican People's Party. French President Francois Hollande called for "exceptional" U.N. support for Libya to restore order a day after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution calling for a cease-fire. Egypt has raised new charges against ousted President Mohamed Morsi over allegations of involvement in the leaking of secret documents to Qatar through Al Jazeera television. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory over Hamas in the Gaza conflict, however an Israeli poll found no clear winner. Iran is redesigning its Arak reactor to limit plutonium production in efforts to allay Western concerns over its controversial nuclear development program.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Islamic State militants executed dozens of members of the Syrian army who they had captured after seizing the Tabqa airbase Sunday. Unverified photos and a video posted online appeared to show 135 men held by the Islamic State running through the desert at gunpoint. The United States is seeking to build an international coalition to counter Islamic State fighters, including partners for a possible joint military action. Australia’s defense minister has signaled a willingness to contribute to airstrikes in Iraq, though Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there must be clear goals and "an overall humanitarian objective." While Britain said it had not received a request from the United States, Prime Minister David Cameron is working on plans for an emergency action to present at a NATO summit next week. President Francois Hollande said France would call an international conference to deal with the threat posed by Islamic State militants, though he ruled out working with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, Syrian Islamist rebel fighters, including members of al-Nusra Front, have seized the Quneitra crossing near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.  

Headlines

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be sworn in as Turkey’s new president Thursday in a ceremony boycotted by the main opposition Republican People’s Party.
  • French President Francois Hollande called for "exceptional" U.N. support for Libya to restore order a day after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution calling for a cease-fire.
  • Egypt has raised new charges against ousted President Mohamed Morsi over allegations of involvement in the leaking of secret documents to Qatar through Al Jazeera television.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory over Hamas in the Gaza conflict, however an Israeli poll found no clear winner.
  • Iran is redesigning its Arak reactor to limit plutonium production in efforts to allay Western concerns over its controversial nuclear development program.

Arguments and Analysis

Let’s Keep ISIS in Perspective‘ (Wayne White, LobeLog)

"ISIS is dangerous, but its nature and the threat it represents must be defined accurately. A bizarre characterization of ISIS was made by Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey last week when he said ISIS has an ‘apocalyptic, end of days strategic vision.’ This concept relates more closely to the Biblical New Testament Book of Revelation, reflecting mostly Christian, not Islamic, thinking. In fact, ISIS’s strategic vision, in historical terms, is rather pedestrian, albeit infused with barbarism: a quest to establish its version of a state, reinforce its power, defend or expand its present conquests, and lash out at its enemies."

Backdrop to an Intervention: Sources of Egyptian-Libyan Border Tension‘ (Frederic Wehrey, David Bishop, Ala’ Alrababa’h, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

"Although the current focus is on the threat to Libya’s capital, the roots of Egyptian intervention and the current unrest stem from security concerns over the eastern border.

Multiple press reports and United Nations investigations have long singled out the Egyptian-Libyan border as a major entry point for weapons and militants destined for the Sinai, Gaza, and onward to Syria. Most of the traffic occurs by land; from Benghazi’s environs, the goods move east across the border to the Egyptian port of Marsa Matrouh and onward to the Sinai. Sea routes originate in Benghazi with weapons often transferred to smaller boats moving between the Gulf of Bardi in Libya and the Gulf of Salloum in Egypt. In Egypt, there are five main routes for smuggling weapons-two passing through Marsa Matrouh; two through Siwa, an oasis city; and one that moves goods via fishing boats from Marsa Matrouh to northern Sinai. The Egyptian town of Salloum is a major site of weapons seizures, but there is also significant activity to the north and south of the town and along the road connecting Marsa Matrouh and Salloum."

The Many Ways to Map the Islamic "State"‘ (Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic)

"But to say that ISIS controls territory stretching from Aleppo to Falluja and up to Mosul is not to say that it controls all of that territory equally. The New York Times‘s August 20 depiction of the self-proclaimed Islamic State looks less like a state-sized chunk of land than a network of roads.

The ‘caliphate’ here is not so much a coherent territorial entity like Jordan or Belgium as a series of spreading cracks in existing states. There is no state-like border corresponding to the Aleppo-Mosul-Falluja perimeter."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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