Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant overruns air defense base in Hama
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one of two al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria, has claimed that it overran an air defense base and ammunition depot in Hama province.
The ISIL said that "hundreds of the men of the Islamic State" attacked the "Air Defense Battalion and the vital depots of 66th Brigade, and tens of checkpoints, villages, and security points that are spread in the eastern countryside of Hama. The group made the claim in an official statement released yesterday on its official Twitter account; the statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The ISIL said that "the soldiers of Allah were able to surprise the enemy from several points in a fashion that it could not imagine, which led to the rapid breakdown of its advanced defenses and the fall of the Air Defense Battalion into the hands of the mujahideen." It claimed that the 66th Brigade's Air Defense Battalion and ammunition depot were overrun after just hours of fighting.
"Its defenses did not last more than a few hours before the total fall of this important site into the hands of the mujahideen of the Islamic State," the group said, according o the SITE translation. The ISIL also claimed that "tens" of Syrian soldiers "fell as dead and wounded and captured in the hands of the mujahideen, in addition to large amounts of weaponry and equipment of different types ...."
The ISIL and the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda's other official affiliate in Syria, have led the charge to overrun multiple Syrian military bases over the past several years.
In early August, the ISIL, while commanding units from the Free Syrian Army, took control of the Minnigh airbase in Aleppo province. The ISIL sent a BMP armored personnel carrier that was driven by a Saudi suicide bomber into the base. ISIL fighters then stormed the base and killed and captured the remaining Syrian soldiers.
"Multiple units affiliated with the Syrian Military Council," a supposedly secular military command backed by the US, were involved in the assault on the Minnigh airbase , McClatchy reported. Also involved in the fighting were the Al Nusrah Front, and the Muhajireen Army, an al Qaeda-allied unit made up of foreign fighters and Syrian Islamists.
The ISIL and the Al Nusrah Front, despite a recent claim to the contrary, are active on all of the fronts in Syria. The two al Qaeda groups have been at the spearhead of the fighting and have conducted suicide attacks on every front. Attacks by the ISIL and the Al Nusrah Front have been recorded in Damascus, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqah, Deir al Zor, Abu Kamal, Daraa, Hasaka, Latakia, Qusayr, and elsewhere.
While the ISIL is leading the fighting in Syria, it also has reignited the insurgency in Iraq. The ISIL is conducting major suicide attacks, bombings, and assaults against Iraqi security forces, government personnel, and civilians on a daily basis.
For more information on the activities of the ISIL and the Al Nusrah Front in Syria, see Thomas Joscelyn's testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security: Al Qaeda and the threat in Syria. Just yesterday, the ISIL killed 32 people in a double bombing outside a mosque in Baqubah. Today, the ISIL killed 21 people in an attack at a funeral in a village just north of Mosul.