Islamic State overruns Syrian artillery regiment in Hasakah

The Islamic State, led by troops loyal to Chechen commander Omar al Shishani took control of a Syrian Army artillery base in the eastern province of Hasakah. The jihadist group seized a large amount of military hardware and munitions, according to a video tour of the base.

The Islamic State’s Hasakah Division released an eight-minute video on its YouTube account on Aug. 5 showing Islamic State fighters touring Regiment 121’s headquarters. The video [above] was tweeted by the Islamic State’s Al Bakara News Twitter account and other accounts related to the group.

In the video, the cameraman walks through Regiment 121’s base and documents the Islamic State’s spoils of war. The video shows numerous artillery pieces and crates of shells, trucks for hauling artillery and rounds, a tank, a truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun, and what appear to be BM-21 Grad rocket launchers with several rockets yet to be launched. The vehicles seem to be undamaged and operational, but the Islamic State fighters do not drive the vehicles or fire the weapons.

When the cameraman goes indoors, he shows crates filled with AK-47 assault rifles and accompanying magazines, RPGs and rounds, and what appear to be shoulder-fired anti-tank launchers.

Additionally, a video of Omar al Shishani’s fighters [below] at the base was distributed on YouTube six days ago. His fighters are bantering with other jihadists as fires burn behind them.

Shishani leads what are essentially the Islamic State’s mobile shock troops. Shishani’s forces have appeared at key hotspots in both Iraq and Syria as his forces are considered to be some the best in theater.

Regiment 121 “is considered one of the most important [units] for the Syrian army in the region, and performs an important role of targeting the headquarters and emplacements of militants in Hasakah’s southern countryside, being deployed on high ground, which give it control by fire of large swaths of land,” according to Al Monitor.

The Islamic State considered Regiment 121 to be a threat to its recent gains in Hasakah and Deir al Zour provinces, and launched its offensive to take the base on July 24. The Islamic State claimed it killed more than 100 Syrian soldiers during the fighting, but the group did not display the bodies of any dead soldiers.

The Islamic State has maintained offensive operations in both Iraq and Syria for the past two months. While the jihadist group and its allies have taken control of much of northern and Western Iraq since the beginning of the year, it has also fought the Syrian Army and jihadist and other rebel groups to seize control of most of Deir al Zour and Hasakah provinces, and has advanced into Aleppo and Homs as well.

Omar al Shishani’s fighters at Regiment 121:

Correction: the second video shows fighters loyal to Omar al Shishani; the Islamic State leader was not in the video.

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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  • The fires are tires burning that were set there to create a dramatic backdrop…. from all the footage here it appears there was no battle, no casualties, no nothing…. the Syrians bugged out without blowing the artillery tubes on their way out the back door… the Syrian Army needs to find out what happened if they don’t already know and execute somebody for this sort of dereliction of duty.

  • Gaz says:

    I don’t think the guy in the second video is Omar al-Shishani

  • Shane says:

    I actually agree with you Gaz. The man in the video looks younger than al shishani

  • A Confused Camper says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this. I got the same impression as Kim the fires in the back ground was for dramatic effect and I wonder how many of the guns and launchers are still operational or how quickly they can be made so. I saw some scorching on the tank. There is no denying the shells, rockets, fuses, RPG’s ammo and Ak’s. This was a very nice haul if they can get that stuff out. Somebody head will roll over this one. The base shows no sign of battle none of the tell rail signs. It looks like the Syrian’s just split.

  • James says:

    They should send a special ‘thank you’ letter to the higher ups at YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
    Maybe it should read as something like this: ‘Thank you, thank you Mark Zuckerberg (Chief CEO of Facebook), and the chief CEO’s at YouTube, and Twitter for helping to promote and further our murderous agenda ! ”

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Gaz, I corrected. I miswrote that; those are Shishani’s fighters. He wasn’t in the video.

  • Shexmus Amed says:

    The background footage is real. Those are cotton bales burning. According to Wikimapia there is a cotton depot there, right next to Regiment 121 artillery base. The footage is similar to the scene of another cotton depot getting captured and burnt down by the FSA in the west end of Syria 2 years ago.


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