PHOTO: Islamic State picture of captured Syrian troops, posted on Sunday



Syria & Iraq Audio Analysis: Getting Realistic About the Islamic State’s Threat

Claims are circulating, including in mainstream media, that the Islamic State has slaughtered hundreds of Syrian forces and civilians after its capture of the historic city of Palmyra last week.

Syrian State media asserts, citing “reliable local sources”, that up to 400 civilians have been slain since the militants defeated regime forces in a week-long offensive in Homs Province and occupied Palmyra, famed for its Roman-era ruins. It said the victims, including dozens of State employees, “were killed on charges of loyalty to the Syrian government and disobedience to the ISIS”.

The assertion is a sharp change in the regime’s line: the Syrian military and State media said last week that all civilians had been evacuated by Assad forces before the Islamic State took control of the town.

See also Syria Daily, May 22: Civilians Trapped in Palmyra After Islamic State Takeover
Syria Daily, May 21: Islamic State Takes Control of Ancient City of Palmyra

An activist with the Palmyra Media Centre modified the claims, saying most of those killed were captured Syrian forces:
“Shabiha [pro-Assad militia], including men and women, were the ones targeted and killed,” he said.

So far the only claimed photo of Islamic State executions, spread last week, was that of several men shot in the head and lying in the street.

On Sunday, the Islamic State circulated a picture of 20 captured Syrian soldiers in uniform.

The activist said no civilians are being allowed to leave or enter Palmyra, and “water, electricity and phone landlines have been cut off there”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi used the claims to denounce countries supporting Syrian rebels, saying that they were “backing terrorism responsible for the barbaric atrocities”.

Al-Halqi insisted that “Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and some Western states” were providing financial and military support to the Islamic State, as well as groups who are trying to remove President Assad from power.

The pro-Assad al-Masdar News declares that “hundreds of soldiers” from the Syrian Army and militia have begun “the arduous task of retaking the ancient city of Palmyra2.

The claim is unsupported by local reports so far.

The Start of a Rebel Offensive on Aleppo?

More evidence of a looming rebel offensive against the regime-held sections of Aleppo city….

Activists report that rebels have taken control of the villages of Rashadiyah and Sheikh Mohamed, near Khanasir, southeast of Aleppo.

Khanasir is along the ring road which the regime uses to move supplies and men from Hama into the western sections of Aleppo city that it holds.

Yesterday rebels took the Sheikh Sa’id junction & bridge, further to the west on the ring road between Nayrab airbase and Ramouseh:

If the ring road is cut, in particular separating regime forces in Aleppo from those in as-Safira to the southeast, the Syrian military will have to rely on alternative dirt roads that it has constructed.

Aleppo has been divided since insurgents moved into eastern sections of the city in July 2012.

Explosion in Building in Latakia — Bomb, Drone Crash, or Misfired Missile?

Various claims are circulating about an explosion in a building in Latakia in western Syria on Monday morning, killing four people including at least one child.

The Syrian military initially thought the residential complex was hit by a bomb. However, they are now saying that an unmanned reconnaissance drone crashed into the building.


Syrian authorities have not said to whom the drone belonged.

Other activists on social media are speculating that a misfired regime missile may be the cause of the explosion. A pro-rebel Facebook page claims that two rockets were launched, one of which exploded and one which failed to detonate.

Latakia is considered one of the bases for support of President Assad, whose family come from a nearby town.