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, Albu 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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • donowen says:

    It is obvious that the Qaeda/ Iran associated forces could probably isolate Damascus within 6 months. This assumes the supply lines through Iraq that provide the necessary supplies and troops to overpower Assad are left open. Without outside airlift and commando type raids eliminating individual Qaeda units quarding these supply lines etc. Assad is lost. The Qaeda/ Iran boys will continue to do the heavy lifting until checked. They will also continue to take very heavy casualties.
    Russia has actually setup the collapse of Assad by guaranteeing that it will not provide assistance in the field. Qaeda could care less if a few international observers are killed guarding chemical depots.
    We will continue to supply and train the Free Syrian Army for the following war that does affect our national interests. The choice of when to begin that war- Free Syrian Army stepping in to take Damascus and immediately attack the Qaeda/ Iran forces-with foriegn help taking out supply lines-is obviously critical. This will in all probability result in an attack on Iran and its nuclear facilities and terrorist supply network as Iran attempts to protect its gains. Russian equipment such as air defence will be useless as this article indicates- a rapidly changing ground war will always trump fixed assets.

  • Jassem says:

    >Just yesterday, the ISIL killed 32 people in a double bombing outside a mosque in Syria.
    Baqubah is Iraq.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks, Jassem, I have corrected the error, it should have read Baqubah and not Syria.

  • blert says:

    You must be following another war on another planet.
    AQ is the (Sunni, yet anti-Wahhabist!) master franchiser, al Nusra is one franchisee, as is ISIL…
    All are totally committed to the downfall of Assad and his Alawite/ Shi’ite crowd.
    Iran is the master franchiser (Shia), the Hez is their primary franchisee, al Quds is their (primary) Special Operations Force, …
    From time to time, the mullahs dupe the Sunnis into carrying their water. Zarqawi was one of their (indirect) ‘assets.’ While tearing up the Iraqi nation with the apparent objective of Sunni superiority, this butcher triggered reprisal attacks so profound that Baghdad was purged of Sunnis — to a remarkable degree. This strategic op was a classic Persian gambit: all the dead would be Iraqi Arabs. At the end, it was inevitable that the Americans would ‘wrap up the loose end’, terminating Zarqawi with extreme result.
    Given enough time and leads, the CIA and the Pentagon concluded that the trail of support led back up to Tehran. Iran knew him to be a ‘social missile’ (a one-man WMD) who would unify the otherwise factional Shi’ites. In sum, he was exactly the kind of tool/ fool/ dupe they needed. (The out-takes from his propaganda videos are a hoot. They prove that he didn’t even know how to fire an automatic weapon! How smart could he have been?)
    Of late, there has been some weird conflation of AQ and Assad. That’s like conflating the Jews with the Nazis. They are extreme opponents, instead.
    Because of the devious nature of Persian gambits, it gets confusing for the slow of wit. The Zarqawi gambit is an exemplar. It took the Americans y e a r s to figure out that Iran was enabling him. For every (Iraqi Arab) Shia that he murdered in a big show, reprisals killed three to five. Better yet, the consequent terror caused Sunnis to flee Baghdad en masse; de camping to al Anbar.
    This internal mass flight was duly reported here in the Long War Journal, from time to time. It was so steady and for such a long period of time, that it did not make it through the MSM filter.
    This displacement casts a long shadow: no nationally ranked Sunni politician now feels it’s safe enough to conduct business in Baghdad! Maliki has anointed various Sunnis to his cabinet — but they never attend! They don’t even show up at their own offices! Functionally, the entire state apparatus is being run by the Shia.
    This oddity is not much remarked — other than when the MSM alludes to Maliki operating like a dictator. He gets his power because of (indirect) terror. This is compounded by his pen. He drafts accusations — often absurd — that have all rivals fleeing the capital. Now that’s some democracy!
    This Iraqi fission is entirely fused into the ‘Syrian civil war.’ Assad is the patron of Iran — and the Sunni lands are to the east and south.
    Taken together, this is a retread of the Thirty-Years War. Sectarian factionalism drives everything. So there is absolutely zero chance of AQ/ al Nusra/ ISIL ever hooking up with Assad/ al Quds/ Hez/ Shi’ites.
    To complete the confusion: AQ hates Wahhabists/ the royal Saudi family with an extreme passion. The feelings are reciprocated. Somehow this dirty open secret keeps falling off the table — for the MSM. Persian – Arab political emnities are too complicated for sound bites — and the faculties of the talking heads.
    Lastly, there is no such thing as the FSA — for it’s not free. It’s a cobbled up concept — built to be sold to the West — and pitched in our MSM.
    No-one in the field pays any (military) attention to the ex-territorial bozos standing in front of the microphones. It’s sole function is to permit the West a rationale for financial support and quixotic faith in an Arab variation on Jeffersonian democracy.
    In reality, (see the Long War Journal back files) every anti-Assad fighter salutes the al Nusra crowd — and pleads for them to join them — across the land — so as to spearhead local attacks.
    There have been precious few anti-Assad successes without al Nusra being front and center — usually supplying the suicide troops! (Bipedal smart bombs)

  • blert says:

    O’Bagy has been exposed elsewhere (Pajamas Media) as a PR hack for the fanatics.
    “O’Bagy was fired by the Institute for the Study of War earlier this week for falsely claiming that she has obtained her Ph.D. She is still affiliated with the Syrian Emergency Task Force. At the beginning of this week, the SETF had four staffers in Washington including O’Bagy. Walid Shoebat says that SETF’s numbers are down to two. Without explanation, its communications director has been scrubbed from its web site.
    The departed comms director is Cassie Chesley. She was still listed on the SETF’s website as of September 10, but is gone now.
    Chesley’s unexplained departure follows the unexplained departure of Research Associate Ahmad Soliman, who has ties to the Islamist Society of North America and the Muslim Student Association, both Muslim Brotherhood fronts.”

  • Gaz says:

    Donowen? Iran and al Qaeda are on opposite sides in this conflict…

  • gb says:

    @Dow Owen Iran is currently aligned with Ass ads forces, and of course with the Russians as well. I get the sense that Russia and Iran will do what ever is necessary for the current regime to remain in power. I’ve always found it curious that Iran, is investing national treasure and providing boots on the ground to sure up Assad. It will be interesting to see how these dynamics evolve , especially if Assad is ever forced to abdicate…


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