Charles Lister Profile picture
Oct 6 13 tweets 17 min read
NEW - U.S. special forces launched a helicopter-borne raid in #Assad-controlled territory ~15km south of #Qamishli in NE #Syria overnight, killing a senior #ISIS leader & capturing several others alive.

That’s the 1st op in regime-held areas since Abu Ghadiya in Oct 2008.
Some local sources claim at least 2 of those captured alive were members of a local pro-#Assad militia — but that remains unconfirmed.

Not clear if the deconfliction line with #Russia was used. #Russian aircraft & personnel are stationed at #Qamishli airport, not far away.
The #Qamishli area is an old stomping ground for #ISIS since AQI days, where #Assad’s Military Intel ran a ‘clearing house’ for AQI foreign fighters heading to #Iraq & for a time, a paramilitary training base.

From ‘03-‘08, 1,000s of AQI foreign fighters passed through the area.
From ‘03-‘08, ~87% of #AQI/ISI foreign fighters arrived in #Iraq via #Syria — most ferried to the border on #Assad government buses from #Damascus & #Aleppo airports.

90% of AQI/ISI suicide bombers came via #Syria, waved through border crossings by #Assad’s ‘border guards.’
When U.S. SOF crossed into #Syria to kill #AQI/ISI ‘Emir of the Borders’ Abu Ghadiya on Oct 2008, they were targeting a jihadist who worked wholly in coordination with #Syria Military Intel.

Abu Ghadiya’s favored HQ was in a large house in #Zabadani near the #Lebanon border.
It was in that home in #Zabadani that Abu Ghadiya played host to meetings convened by #Assad’s intel chief Assef Shawkat to plan AQI/ISI bombing campaigns aimed at crippling #Iraq’s government in #Baghdad.

Those meetings involved AQI/ISI, #Iraq Baathists & #Syria intel leaders.
The extensive history of #Assad’s relationship with #ISIS & its predecessors is well-documented — I devote a large chapter to it in The Syrian Jihad, entitled ‘#Syria’s Flirtation with Jihadism.’

It’s a history all too often forgotten — but absolutely central to #ISIS’s history.
The deep & complex history between #ISIS & #Assad’s regime should cause serious concern about the “detainee dilemma” we’ve been facing since #ISIS territorial defeat in early-2019:

- The #SDF holds ~11,000 #ISIS fighters in ~20 makeshift prisons & ~56,000 women & kids in camps.
It's in fact quite likely that the overnight raid was the result of intel gleaned from a recent weeks-long #SDF raid of al-Hol camp.

The main target has been ID'd as Rakan Sa'ado al-Shammari (aka Abu Hayil) -- pictured here.

x2 pro-#Assad NDF militiamen were captured alive.
.@CENTCOM confirms the overnight raid outside #Qamishli -- targeting Rakan al-Shammari & describes him as an #ISIS weapons & personnel smuggler.

the x2 "associates" detained were ID'd locally as pro-#Assad militiamen.

The op was almost definitely from al-Hol linked intel.
NEW - A U.S precision airstrike in NE #Syria today killed #ISIS’s deputy emir for #Syria (described as “top 5” leader), Abu Ala’a & Abu Muwad al-Qahtani, another senior #ISIS leader.

Lots of new intel leads in #Syria lately — stacking up into a string of significant operations.
UPDATE - @CENTCOM statement confirms earlier airstrike in “northern #Syria” that killed #ISIS #Syria deputy leader “Abu Hashum al-Umawi” (aka Abu Ala’a) and another “senior official.”

@CENTCOM @CJTFOIR @SOJTF_LEVANT 2 targeted ops against #ISIS in 24hrs are significant achievements, countering #ISIS's clear effort to prioritize #Syria in its attempt to recover.

The airborne raid near #Qamishli was done *without* deconflicting with #Russia.

My comments to @nytimes:…

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More from @Charles_Lister

Sep 21
#Putin's call for a "partial" mobilization is the clearest sign yet that his #Ukraine invasion has been a pitiful failure.

That flights from Russia to its immediate neighbors are now selling out at 100mph tells you everything you need to know.

We *must* keep the pressure on. Image
#Putin's nuclear threat, meanwhile, should be taken even less seriously than 6 months ago -- anyone who actually says "this isn't a bluff" has already lost his/her own credibility.

Following through on the threat would kill off his few remaining friendships -- chiefly #China.
On days like this, the "we must give #Putin an off ramp ASAP" camp will speak up -- but such a gut response only benefits #Putin & repeats our mistakes of the past.

If #Putin wants an out, he has to be the one to ask (or plead) for one. It's actually happened before, in #Syria.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 5
2 children on the boat have died in recent days -- and the health of others are deteriorating.

To ignore such a tragedy, just off #Malta's coast, represents an unspeakable lack of humanity.

Time for someone to step up, @MaltaGov.
@MaltaGov That Syrians are still fleeing for #Europe is no surprise, particularly those in #Lebanon where authorities are preparing to *illegally force* them back to #Syria.

5+ million #Syria refugees remain in neighboring states & polling suggests ~0.5% would consider an eventual return.
@MaltaGov Why do almost all #Syria refugees refuse to consider any future return to #Syria?

The answer is obvious when you glance across basic facts -- see this thread from last week:

Read 12 tweets
Aug 31
NEW -- reports of a possible #Israel airstrikes hitting #Iran-linked targets in the western edge of #Aleppo International Airport as well as a section of the runway.
Here's video filmed showing #Aleppo International Airport in the distance -- showing multiple successive explosions.

Reports now coming in of possible airstrikes in #Latakia too.
*Highly* unusual to see #Aleppo International Airport targeted, or the Neirab Airbase next-door -- it speaks volumes about #Israel's perceived need to respond to #Iran's activities in #Syria.

Note -- #Israel hit #IRGC shipments at #Damascus International Airport in June.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 30
ICYMI -- for the 1st time since 2011, #Idlib's Christian community gathered on Sunday at the Church of St. Anna in al-Yacoubiya, near Jisr al-Shughour, #Idlib to celebrate the Orthodox St. Anna's Day.

#HTS leader Jolani met with the Church's Bishop Luay al-Bisharat in July. ImageImageImage
Since #Jolani's visit to al-Yacoubiya in July, rumors have swirled around #HTS's agenda for #Idlib's Christian minority.

There are reports that #HTS has communicated with Syrian Christians in #Germany, inviting residents/property owners to return & re-assume property ownership.
Until now, no discernible 'return' has been noted in al-Yacoubiya & nearby al-Jadida & al-Quniya -- but some say Sunday's celebration at St. Anna's was a "confidence building measure" (i.e. a test).

Bishop Bisharat has suggested more announcements may be forthcoming.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 29
Local sources say 12+ killed in #Baghdad today.

Despite curfew, heavy gunfire & explosions heard in #Baghdad -- multiple security offices attacked. Green Zone on security alert & U.S. Embassy sirens sounding off.

In #Mosul, security forces say they foiled a major #ISIS attack.
The situation in #Baghdad is deteriorating fast -- mortars, rockets, RPGs & heavy machine guns all reportedly in use, including within/targeted at the Green Zone. Many casualties; grisly images emerging.

#Basra also in a very bad place -- heavy fighting too.

#Iraq spiraling.
Heavy fighting outside #Iraq's Parliament tonight, as pro-#Sadr & pro-#Iran factions confront.

Dutch Embassy personnel have just evacuated to #Germany's Embassy.

2 soldiers & 20+ protesters dead -- dozens more injured.

Read 5 tweets
Aug 1
Wow -- #Zawahiri killed in a U.S. drone strike in the #Kabul area over the weekend -- the 1st strike since the #Taliban's takeover of #Afghanistan in August 2021.

BIG blow for #AlQaeda's central leadership, but huge questions about how he was located (or who sold him out).
In Nov 2020, I wrote about #AlQaeda's looming "succession crisis" -- as the group's most likely No.2 (Sayf al-Adel) is based in #Iran, a location that for most AQ affiliates, has resulted in deep distrust.…

AQ's decentralization will only increase now.
For years, #AlQaeda has been under a self-reinforcing process of decentralization (& localization) -- whereby the central leadership remained a key guide, but an increasingly irrelevant source of strategic command.

More on that, in this lengthy piece:…
Read 14 tweets

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