In a sign of a shifting policy by the Assad regime, Syrian warplanes bombed areas controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq in eastern Syria, close to the border with Iraq.
Five raids killed at least 16 people and injured dozens in Muhassan, southeast of Deir Ez Zor on the Euphrates River, a day after tribal elders pledged allegiance to ISIS.
ISIS, which has been fighting Syrian insurgents since January, took Muhassan, Albulil, and Albuolmar as they try to control the area on the Euphrates and near the Iraqi border. Syria’s Deir Ez Zor Province has oilfields and grain silos which would support the Iraqi-led group’s attempt to build economic and military strength.
The successes accompany the rapid advance by ISIS, with other Iraqi groups challenging the al-Maliki Government, in the last two weeks in western and northern Iraq.
The Syrian opposition and activists have noted that the Assad regime has avoided attacks on Islamic State of Iraq positions, while bombarding other insurgent-held territory across Syria, as ISIS has battled insurgents.
However, just after the start of this month’s offensive in Iraq, Syrian warplanes ISIS positions in Raqqa, the largest city outside the Assad regime’s control, for the first time.
Israeli Teenager Killed in Golan Heights
An Israeli teenager was killed and two men were wounded in an attack on an Israeli defense contractor’s vehicle in the Golan Heights on Sunday morning.
The death was the first fatality in the area taken by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War since Syria’s uprising began in March 2011.
The Israeli military responded with tank fire on Syrian Army positions, but a spokesman said he did not know whether the attack came from Syria or from insurgents in the Golan Heights.
The spokesman said he did not know whether an explosive device, rocket, mortar, or tank fire was used in the attack,
Obama Continues Shift of Policy Away from Assad and Towards Counter-Terrorism
In Sunday interviews, President Obama has continued the theme of his Thursday statement on Syria, shifting attention from a political transition in Syria towards a fight against “terrorism”.
Obama said the Islamic State in Iraq and as=Sham could spread conflict to neighbouring states and pose a “medium and long-term threat” to the US.
“We’re going to have to be vigilant generally,” the President said. “Right now the problem with ISIS is the fact that they’re destabilising the country. That could spill over into some of our allies like Jordan.”
On Thursday, Obama indicated that any American efforts in Syria would be geared as much to countering ISIS and the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra as towards pressuring President Assad to stop his military operations.
In his Sunday comments, the President denied that US indecision over Syria has fostered the rise of ISIS:
What we can’t do is think that we’re just going to play whack-a-mole and send US troops occupying various countries wherever these organisations pop up. We’re going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy and we’re going to have to partner and train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs as well.