The first indications that something unusual was going on in Idlib was a series of tweets from @WithinSyriaBlog late last night. I saw this before I saw Trump’s tweet of “Something very big has just happened!”
Breaking: Several attack helicopters coming from Turkey reportedly attacked several Jihadists' targets in southern Idlib.
2:41 PM – 26 Oct 2019
At first locals said that the helicopters were only flying, later several sources confirmed that they carried out attacks. Some said they responded to AA fire. However, this was also denied by locals.
Locals are saying that the helicopters are of the Turkish military. However, there is a good chance the alleged attack was carried out by US-led coalition helicopters.
Now locals are saying that the helicopters were chasing a convoy of cars, claiming at least two actually landed … Sounds like a well-planned raid.
Summary of what is going on west the town of Barisha in northern Idlib, this thread will be updated:
2:58 PM – 26 Oct 2019
1- Eight helicopters came from the direction of Turkish border, began conducting strikes on targets west of the town of Barisha. Warplanes and UAVs are covering the helicopters.
2-Local sources denied that the helicopters carried out the strikes in response to AA fire. The attack was apparently planned, well planned.
3-At least two of the eight helicopters landed west of Barisha. However, it is unclear if a some special operation is being carried out there now.
4-Additional 4 helicopters joined the force around 15 min into the attack. At least 12 helicopters are now operating west of Barisha.
5-Local sources are talking about an operation to capture or kill a senior Jihadi figure. Unconfirmed reports says that at least one TIP militants has been killed, so far.
This morning President Trump addressed the nation and announced the killing of Abu Bakr al—Baghdadi by US Special Operations Forces. I’m sure most of us either watched this or heard of it by now. More details will surely come out over the next few days. Hopefully not a lot more. Here’s a few details that I find interesting.
1 – A Squadron, SFOD Delta was the primary assault force. A Delta squadron consists of two assault troops and one reconnaissance troop. This may sound like a lot but in my experience a special operations squadron often consists of less than fifty troops. The operation was probably supported by some number of Rangers. That’s a common method of operation.
2 – Photos of 30mm HEDP shells from the raid area are now online. That indicates MH-60L helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Wing were providing support with their M230 chain guns.
3 – Time line for the operation was givens as one hour, ten minutes in, two hours on the ground and one hour, ten minutes out. They could have flown from Incirlik Air Force Base, but I think they flew from the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Battle Group in the Mediterranean. It would have been more secure and would account for more “nap-of-the-earth” flying time across the hills and mountains of Hatay Province.
4 – Barisha is located in Idlib Governorate north of Idlib and west of Aleppo very close to the the major crossing point into Turkey. What was Baghdadi doing there? Barisha is the headquarters of Huras Din. Huras Din was created last February, mainly from senior Non-Syrian members of Hayet Tahrir Sham, HTS (created from Al-Qaida in 2016). It was HTS that provided security for Turkey while setting up its twelve observation posts. This area is critical to both Turkey’s and the jihadi’s goal of retaining control of Idlib. Again, what was Baghdadi doing there?
5 – Vice President Pence said this morning that we had intelligence of Baghdadi’s location earlier last week and more a specific location only Saturday morning. Did Turkey provide this information? I doubt it. Russia and the SAA have been running reconnaissance and spying missions throughout Idlib for quite a while. Between those missions and R+6 SIGINT, I think Russia provided critical information to USI in the lead up to this raid. The coordination between the US and Russia was probably a lot more that just informing them that we were coming in as Trump said in his address this morning.
This is a good day for America, a good day for President Trump and a good day for the R+6. I also think it's a bad day for the jihadis and Turkey. As I said, a lot more will come out in the coming days. Actually, a lot more is already out there. But this is enough for now.
Iraqi Intelligence claims that they were the ones that provided al-Baghdadi’s location to the CIA.
And SDF commander Masloum Kobane (Abdi) said the Syrian Kurds have been participating for five months on a joint intel op that found al-Baghdadi.
Leith, I have no doubt Iraqi Intelligence and the Syrian Kurds have both been looking for Baghdadi. They both wanted Baghdadi’s ass… separated from his head. I know the Kurds have been looking for him since he fled the area around Deir Ezzor.
“Russian defense ministry says has no proof of Islamic State leader’s extermination”
Check this Twitter account as far as how his trail was followed:
The story going around:
INIS managed to capture a relative of Al-Baghdadi, who cracked during interrogation and gave up high-value documents/belongings of Baghdadi’s in western Anbar and helped INIS to pick up his trail (to Barisha) and pass it onto the CIA.
Tonight ( in Syria):
Abu Al-Hassan Al-Muhajir, the Daesch spox & Abu Bakr’s deputy has been killed in the town of ‘Ayn Al-Baydha near Jarabulus in northern Syria.
Interesting that Barisha is just a few kilometers from the Turkish border – and in Turkish controlled Idlib. Seems to me that Turkish MIT has been hiding al-Baghdadi as LJ said. Did they finally consent to give him up?
I tend to believe that the Iraqis passed some leads. But my two cents is that the Syrian Kurds were the ones that pinpointed him. There are former Kurdish villages in NW Idlib, probably Arabized Kurds still live in that area hiding their ethnicity. Some of those villages are within a few kilometers of Barisha: Qalb Lawzah (Qalb Loze), Qurqanya, & Kafr Uruq.
“What was Baghdadi doing there?”
Rhetoric aside, Erdogan’s Turkey has always been on good terms with ISIS. On the Turkish border of Idlib under Turk protection may have looked safe. On the map, Barisha looks to be about five k’s in from the Turk border.
Timing makes me think he was traded for the northeast border of Syria. US gets Baghdadi and Turkey gets the border.
Ah, the terrible Turk!
If these reports are true of the oil tanker smuggling operation, then the Syrian Kurds do not have cleaned hands.
From that BBC guy who misled everyone about Raqqa:
Interesting to note that the best way for an ethnic Kurd to pretend she’s an Arab would be to wear the black abaya.
Erdogan’s Islam veiw appears to be genuine. Rather than terrible Turk, Erdogan is strongly Islamic and taking Turkey from a secular state back to and Islamic state. Turkey put off as long as possible declaring AQ a terrorist organisation. AQ have no problems having the Turk bases through Idlib.
Turkey was buying oil from ISIS earlier in the piece. There was some fighting when Erdogan first moved his jihadis into Syria but large number of ISIS left Manbij once they had nutted out a deal.
Turk border in Idlib may well have been the safest place for Baghdadi to stay.
Who replaces Baghdadi? It will be interesting to see if there was succession planning or if ISIS now crumbles.
All open source info says Lincoln BG is in the North Arabian Sea, not the Med.
Scott, then it can’t be the Lincoln. I don’t know what else we have there. The Truman BG was headed to the region without the Truman as a surface action group. Don’t know what that entails.
Saw that on the Twitter account of a Syrian :
ISIS on today’s statement by Donald Trump.
The militants’ telegram channels express condolences and grief over the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announcing the appointment of Abu al-Suri as the new leader of the Islamic State group
I read that they came from Al Assad Base in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
The Beaver, I’ve seen that, too. I’ve also seen claims of launching from Kurdish territory. Eye witness accounts claim the helicopters came across the Turkish border. I think we’re all guessing.
Thread by journalist Rukmini Callimachi on Baghdadi.
depending on how bad it is for Turkey it’s probably very good for jihadis on a short enough timescale
Serge, please explain.
A Canadian news channel is reporting that Turkey handed a key Baghdadi lieutenant over to Iraqi intelligence, who under interrogation gave up enough information to allow Baghdadi to be located.
Kind of sounds to me like Erdogan and Trump made a deal.
Baghdadi wasn’t the jihadis’ only loss today. Abu-Hassan al-Muhajir, the likely successor to Baghdadi, was blown away near Jarabulus in a US strike. Here’s a couple of tweets about these events:
“So SDF and Iraq shared intel with US on position of ISIS leader Baghdadi – 3.5 miles from border with Turkey. And SDF shared intel with US on the position of ISIS spox Muhajir – just outside Turkish Euphrates Shield city of Jarablus. Doesn’t look *great* for Turkey, have to say”
We believe ISIS spox. Al-Muhajir was in Jarablus to facilitate Baghdadi’s entry to Euphrates Shield area. The two US-led operations have effectively disabled top ISIS leadership who were hiding [in] NW Syria. More still remain hiding in the same area.”
The SAA did well at Kabani… if they can keep it this time. From Al Masdar:
“Led by the 4th Armored Division, the Syrian Arab Army began their attack around 10 A.M. on Saturday, when their troops began to storm the Zuwayqat Mountain and its corresponding hills. Following a heavy battle that lasted for several hours, the Syrian Arab Army was able to take hold of the Zuwayqat Mountain, giving their forces fire control over the remaining hills south of Kabani. The Syrian Arab Army is now trying to push their way into Kabani; however, they are facing heavy resistance from the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP).”
Maybe with Baghdadi’s ass now far from his head, perhaps the HTS and TIP will loose some of their enthusiasm for defending Kabani. They have been tenacious.
Syria related news about the alleged chemical attack on Douma last year. There is a second whistleblower coming forward saying that the evidence didn’t support the claim of an attack.
I don’t know enough to analyze this, but it is huge if true.
This is amusing.
How does one now sell the Western dim-witted audience of the heroic Syrian pro-democracy opposition valiantly holding out against the onslaught of a dictator and the modern re-incarnation of Stalin, when primary ISIS actors hide in their midst?
I’ve always suspected that the distinction between the Nusra Front in Western Syria and ISIS was bogus and a means to distance these two groups from one another, when their ideology and methods are shared.
This video Apparently originating from Anadolu Agency is interesting. It shows a site of a destroyed building, supposedly one demolished in the strike. MSM carry pics of this rubble in Baghdadi stories.
The rubble has been freshly cleared. Earthmover tyre tracks can clearly be seen shortly into the vid.
There is a site marked on wikimapia already as the site of the raid or strike. https://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=36.165865&lon=36.627407&z=19&m=w
Same place on google maps satellite veiw
I would guess the video and MSM pics would be of the site that was destroyed some time before the 2019 sat pics for google maps were taken.
Turkey’s media seems to be controlled to a fair extent so the are putting out state or perhaps Erdogan’s views.
Pics of a building destroyed some time ago being disseminated by Turkey… nothing from Turkey on helicopters overflight for the raid yet that seems the most likely way they would come from.
Russian statements are ambiguous, in that they do not deny a raid took place.
Turkeys involvement re pics and videos of a long destroyed building, acknowledging the raid took place yet nothing on helicopters ect, plus Baghdadi’s vicinity to Turkey and the timing (US draw back and Turk move into Syria) makes me think the intel most likely came from Turkey.
It’s not just the story, it is also what details purposely left out.
re: “Erdogan is strongly Islamic and taking Turkey from a secular state back to and Islamic state. Turkey put off as long as possible declaring AQ a terrorist organisation.”
I think that’s rather accurate. That’s likely also a reason for Saudi problems with Erdogan – he is a competitor for the job as a self appointed leader of sunni islam. Whatever not so nice one can say about Erdogan – he comes along more credible as, say, an MbS.
IMO Turkey has put off declaring AQ a terrorist organisation because they handy against Kurds and were also a cheap way to get (stolen) syrian and iraqi oil, and by the way, they helped to get some relatives of Erdogan in the oil
theft & robbery & smuggling 6 tax evasiontrading business.
As Erdogan once iirc said – democracy is a bus that gets you to your destination, when arived you get out of the bus.
I saw images of the current opposition mayor of Istanbul (may he not be murdered) showing cars that under the former pro-Erdogan mayor had been bought for city employees – 5 & 7 type BMW, E- & S-type mercedes, the more expensive VW (Golf was too cheap) and the like. The cars shown were worth a couple millions.
Well, obviously it is necessary that a city employer checking school food, school book or koran buying gets the necessary and appropiate vehicle for that job – like an S type mercedes or a 5er BMW. On the other hand – rather obviously a lot of school food, school books or koran could be bought for the money spend on the cars. Alas …
IS folks have been useful in getting Kurdish life miserable in northern Syria. Why throw away such a practical tool unused? Erdogan here is a purely practical man.
To get back to MbS – what’s worse, what Erdogan does now in north Syria or the daily bombery, butchery, disease and famine MbS caused in Yemen for a few years?
I think Yemen – but we sadly sort of got used to it. An unpleasant parallel in Yemen there is that MbS also used and supported many islamist types to miserable Houthi and Shia days and nights.
Islamists are the swiss knifes for people like MbS and Erdogan. Well, with a swiss knife one can also cut himself. Overusing it increases that risk.
The snake has no head only a tale.
Sat pics on google maps marked as 2019 are, apparently older and the veiw of the site I could see was the building and compound under construction.
Early morning video also showed the site with rubble untouched. Rubble partially pushed back perhaps mid morning or mid day and pics and video from later in the day show the partially cleared ruble and tyre marks. No picks or video show a wheel loader or any other machinery at the site (apart from a small truck), though I did run onto one video showing a wheel loader working in the distance and claimed to be clearing the site.
as of tonight:
the new Caliph Isis “Sheik Abdul Aziz Salam Al Kurashi”, called “Professor”.
Is it a snake? Or a multi-headed hydra? Is the next guy worse? Outside of Syria and Iraq here is a list of other known ISIS provinces: Libya, Sinai, Yemen, Algeria, Khorasan, West Africa, Central Africa, Caucasus, Somalia.
And then of course there are the two puppeteers behind the various heads of the snake: Erdogan and MbS.
The SDF is a big tent. Those smugglers were Raqqa Arabs, not Kurds. They are the same family or clan from Raqqa that used to buy oil from ISIS Daeshis and sell it to Erdogan’s son-in-law.
You may be right Mina. Dirty underwear? How do you say ‘laundress’ in Arabic? But how did she get a blood sample? No shaving nicks for sure.
Not Bagged…Not Tagged…and somewhere in the World…A Cat will gag on Fish Flavored Cat Food..
Jim, what the hell are you talking about?
A cynic would note that neither Osama who supposedly swims with the fishes so that no martyr’s memorial to him could be made nor Al-Baghdadi who decorates the walls of some tunnel in Idlib will ever be autopsied, bagged or tagged. We will just have to take their words for what happened just like we did when Seal Team 6’s chopper was taken out a few months after Osama was. Not that an autopsy is really any guarantee of truth or even truthiness, one only has to consider Jeffrey Epstein.
Astana meeting today with ministerial reps from Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
Will Lavrov confront the Turks about their attacks against SAA forces south of Ras al-Ayn? And executing an SAA POW? And Turkish fire wounding a Russian MP?
Or will he ask why al-Baghdadi was hiding five clicks from the Turkish border and waiting on transport to the safety of Turkey and Erdogan?
TTG…My Ancestors were Irish Fishermen…I couldn’t help Myself..
The planes took off from Erbil. The snitch was a Syrian Kurd very close to Baghdadi for some time. Whether he reported to the PYD or KRG or directly to the US as one of our assets, I have no idea. It reminds me of the Sufi Rock Stars from the Republican Guard who provided the info on Saddam’s position at one point, but he had just left when we started bombing. I hope this doesn’t turn into a massacre of Kurdish jihadis. By the president’s own speech, he had alerted the Russians and through them, what was coming down, so they should stand down. He also praised the Syrian Kurds and Turkey, so everyone got a piece of the pie. The last thing I think our heroes would do would be to entrust the Turks of anything before it was over.
Erbil is a hell of a long way to herd a lot of helicopters. Ground or air refueling would be necessary. I have my doubts about Erbil. This may be a cover story to protect Turkish political sensitivities. Do you have actual information?
The Erbil launch story comes from a Time magazine article. But it is BS.
Military Times claims it was rehearsed in Erbil and launched from Asad Airbase in Anbar. Or some elements possibly launched from somewhere within NE Syria. Asad Airbase is still too far at 700 to 800 miles round trip. All those birds are capable of refueling during flight, but that would have been a gaggle and a tip-off. Maybe they had some forward refueling point within Syria. The CH-47s could possibly have done it with extended range fuel tanks in their cargo bay, but not the smaller helos.
Oops! Here’s the Military Times link:
Leith, just listened to some Marine General give a briefing on the raid. He said the raid was about an hour flight time away from the target and launched from a base in Syria. Given the lower speed of NOE and low level flying, I think the final flight used a FAARP located in a remote area somewhere outside of Raqqa, maybe far, far outside. I was involved in establishing and running remote FAARPs for the 160th. It’s a common procedure.
TTG, makes sense to me. Even the 47s with extended fuel tanks would have been at the limit of their range envelope if they had launch from Asad Airbase without refueling. It would have been damn hairy though. The SAA deployed to Tabqa and Raqqa two weeks ago. And to get to Barisha they would have had to overfly either SAA or Turkish controlled areas, and/or sneak by Russian, Iranian, & Turkish observation points.
That briefer I believe was CENTCOM Commander, General McKenzie.