The Middle East Channel

U.S. Strikes Target Oil Refineries in Syria

The U.S. military reported it carried out airstrikes, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, targeting about a dozen small-scale oil refineries in eastern Syria in efforts to severe funding and fuel sources for Islamic State militants. According to the Pentagon, the refineries generated up to $2 million per day in revenue for ...

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. military reported it carried out airstrikes, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, targeting about a dozen small-scale oil refineries in eastern Syria in efforts to severe funding and fuel sources for Islamic State militants. According to the Pentagon, the refineries generated up to $2 million per day in revenue for the militant group. U.S. Central Command released a statement saying initial indications were that the strikes were successful. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the attacks killed 14 Islamic State militants and five civilians. In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to dismantle the Islamic State’s "network of death" and called on "the world to join in this effort." The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution pushing states to stem the flow of foreign fighters to jihadist groups. Meanwhile, clashes continued Thursday between Kurdish forces and Islamic State militants near Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), as Kurdish fighters said they pushed back an Islamic State advance toward the town near the Turkish border. Kurdish forces said they had regained control of several villages, however Islamic State militants were continuing to shell the western suburbs.

Headlines

  • France has opened the door to possibly participating in airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria after French tourist Herve Gourdel was beheaded by militants in Algeria.
  • The Lebanese army has detained about 450 suspected Islamist militants, mainly Syrians, near the border in efforts to prevent fighters from setting up camps in the town of Arsal.
  • Cyprus has launched a rescue mission for an estimated 300 people, believed to be Syrian refugees, stranded on a fishing boat about 50 nautical miles off the island’s west coast.
  • Egyptian courts on Thursday sentenced nearly 100 people to up to 25 years in prison on charges of causing violence during protests in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly for the first such meeting between heads of the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Arguments and Analysis

Wartime sexual violence is not just a ‘weapon of war’‘ (Kerry F. Crawford, Amelia Hoover Green, and Sarah E. Parkinson, The Washington Post)

"Sexual violence has played a prominent role in recent media treatments of wars in the Middle East. In Syria, reports of a ‘massive’ rape crisis strongly suggest that government forces are using rape as a military tactic against communities associated with the rebels. In Iraq, rape by Islamic State forces is said to be used as a weapon of war and as a tool of ethnic domination. These stories are horrifying, but they also serve a political narrative: Forces of evil in the Middle East are using rape as a weapon in terror campaigns against natural allies of ‘the West,’ including ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and anti-regime communities in Syria.

To scholars of sexual violence, these media narratives look typical in three related ways: They are selective and sensationalist; they obscure deeper understandings about patterns of wartime sexual violence; and they are laden with false assumptions about the causes of conflict rape. The narrative in play here carries concrete implications for politics and policy, including the inadvertent aiding of perpetrators and worse outcomes for survivors. Policies that prevent and mitigate the effects of sexual violence require attention to the whole problem – not just one media-friendly subset – and to solid research on wartime rape."

Islamic State attacks test Kurdish-Syrian alliance‘ (Mohammed al-Khatieb, Al Monitor)

"The Islamic State (IS) attack on the area of Kobani – also known as Ayn al-Arab – on the Turkish border north of Aleppo raises a lot of questions about the ability of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to prevent IS from reaching one of its main strongholds, as IS sweeps through dozens of Kurdish villages.

The ongoing IS advance on the ground has also tested the newly formed Joint Operations Room set up Sept. 10 between the YPG and several rebel brigades. According to Amer Hasan, director of the Dawn of Freedom Brigades’ media office, rebel factions there ‘are doing their best’ to support the YPG.

It seems that the new alliance provoked IS to launch a pre-emptive assault against Kobani days following its formation and amid US plans to provide more support for the ‘moderate Syrian opposition’ to fight IS."

— Mary Casey

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