Our Peshmerga friends in the Hiza Agre Fire Force Unit 80 just sent these pictures over to us, which The Velvet Rocket audience may find interesting…
A group of suspected Islamic State members detained by Hiza Agre volunteers this morning while trying to sneak across the front lines from the ISIS-controlled territory around Mosul:
The prisoners are searched and then taken to the main base of the Hiza Agre force where they will be interrogated. The prisoners are then passed on to the government in Erbil:
Comprised entirely of volunteers, and operating on a shoestring budget, the Hiza Agre forces believe that the Islamic State is infiltrating sleeper cells into Arab villages in Kurdistan at night. However, lacking any night vision equipment, they are unable to stop such infiltration by the better equipped ISIS fighters who do possess night vision equipment.
Sounds like establishing “hearts and minds” relationships the Arab villages in the control of Kurdish forces would be mandated (I assume that in most cases the Arab villagers are Sunni – and in most cases don’t want to be under ISIS control) and then, having developed assets that could be kept anonymous, the Kurds could do random periodic sweeps through the villages and have “newcomers” identified.
To a degree the British Malaysia approach.
The other option would be to go more hardcore and less “hearts and minds” and use the operational policies outlined in the classic “Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency” by Roger Trinquier.
Either one is effective although the former with some minor modifications by adding in some of the milder aspects of the latter is best for the long run.
High tech is nice (and should be obtained and utilized as much as possible), but HumIntell just can’t be beat.
It’s complicated. The Sunnis (most of whom just want to be left alone by everyone and to get on with their lives) feel trapped between ISIS and the Shia militias. They aren’t sure where the Kurds stand in their loyalty to them and who will end up controlling what.
Well, one can clearly understand that!
The Sunnis in Syria and in northern Iraq IN AREAS CONTROLLED BY AND BORDERING KURDS are in areas that (as I recall) have a Kurdish and Sunni plurality (combined majority)…. with possibly (or probably) the Kurds being the majority in THAT specific region (I’ll have to check that out).
Now in other regions (western Iraq, central Iraq), the big problem is where the local area is majority Sunni but they don’t have sufficient force to defeat ISIS forces and the Iraqi Army is engaged in those areas against ISIS – and have permitted in Shia militia forces (many with very uncomfortably close ties with Iran – also Shia) to also engage ISIS in those Sunni areas. And in those areas the Sunni are indeed between a rock and hard place.
Shia militia forces have been documented with human rights violations, not only against ISIS (Sunni, but fundamentalist radicals), but also against the local Sunni population.
(IMO, this article is overly simplistic and exaggerates an initial problem with the Iraqi Army – which was a real problem – as a continuing major problem; in my research, the ING Army has improved drastically since then, especially with the embedding of American advisers and air support teams… in fact, in a showdown between Shia militias and the ING Army that access to American airpower and heavy weapon supplies, munitions, advanced Intell, etcetera, would be a game changer)
Now there ARE Shia (and Iraqi Shia) militias in Syria.
But then there have been Shia in the Syrian Civil War (and here’s where it REALLY gets complicated!). In Syria there is a war within a civil war! The ISIS campaign to establish a (fundamentalist radical Sunni) Caliphate that originated in Iraq spilled into Syria.
Prior to that, you have Syria’s Assad supported by Iran (which support included a number of “volunteer” Republican Guard combat brigades) and Hezbollah (who have admitted to providing 3000 combat troops, but analysts believe that it is closer to 9000). Both of these forces are amongst Assad’s best combat forces. Then you have the insertion of ISIS which is fighting Assad’s Ba’athist government (Shia though Alawite and related) – and Christian supported (*) – government as well as anyone else opposing the Caliphate. You have a Coalition of Western and Middle Eastern nations actively engaged against ISIS in Syria (some of them also engaged in Iraq against ISIS), but NOT active against Assad – though some of the Middle Eastern countries directly and indirectly support anti Assad forces financially, logistically, etcetera. And then there’s Russia, not a member of the Coalition, but a very close and active ally of Assad who attacks (with airpower) both anti Assad forces and ISIS (since ISIS is also trying to topple the Assad state).
(*) “The Christian militias in Syria (and northern Iraq) are largely made up of ethnic Assyrians, Syriac-Arameans, and Armenians. A CBS report showed that Christians in Syria are largely in favor of the government because they claimed that they believe their survival is linked to a largely secular government”… (Yet in southern Syria and northern Iraq Christian militias have – belatedly – been formed that fight WITH the Kurds. “The Syriac Military Council (going by the abbreviation MFS) is a largely Armenian Christian, with its headquarters in al-Malikiyah. It is the main Christian rebel faction in the North East (Al Hasakah province). It is composed of 3 – 4 Battalions, roughly 1200 strong. The groups has fought with the Kurdhish. The Militia has confronted, with their allies, the Jabhat al-Nusra front in Tel Hamis in 2013, and finally regained the city in late February 2015. Assyrian forces defended Christian villages of the Khabour area from ISIS attacks, also in 2015… ” There are also a number of smaller, local area Christian militias.
And actually, it’s really more complicated that that. For a better understanding of the overall Syrian situation:
Now as the article was in reference to a particular region, I formed my Comment as based on circumstances in that region – not to include areas of Western Iraq, western Syria, etcetera. Possibly I should have emphasized that more so in my Comment.
In any case, because of its Iranian backing, many Iraqi Shia militias will try on occasion to push into Kurdish controlled areas. I seriously believe that the ING Army will not also do so as Iraq knows that the airpower support and military aid pipeline they desperately need will be shut off. And I don’t believe that the Shia militia forces (splintered groups of a few hundred to a few thousand each under control of its own warlord basically) simply – IMO – will not match up well against the Peshmerga.
Note that the first two are recent while the third one was from January.
A good overall site:
But, back to the Sunnis in those areas as this article makes references to (Kurdish areas and surrounding areas now controlled by Kurds), here’s what it would boil down to me (as a mythical Sunni). To the best of my knowledge, the Kurds are very religious and ethnic tolerant – in fact, also having saved Christian and Turkic villages and areas…. and I am not aware of Kurds kidnapping women and teenage and adolescent females for brides and sex slave trade, torturing, executing, and beheading civilian captives (much less on a massive scale such as ISIS has). Plus, with the concerns that I have over Shia militia encroachment, the Kurds are likely my best line of defense (now me personally, for real, if I was a moderate Sunni in that area, I would be preaching up talks between the Kurds and the Sunni villages in those areas that would establish – with Kurdish assistance and aid – Sunni militias that would be allied to and under the operational control of the Peshmerga; similar to how Yazidi and Armenian Christians have done… And if they have not done so, the ISIS persecuted Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Druze, Shabaks and Mandeans populations (for the most part located in, around, near Kurdistan and / or Kurdish controlled areas in Iraq and Syria) should also do so!
Now that is if I am a moderate Sunni.
If I am a fundamentalist radical Sunni, chances are that I join ISIS, become part of a “sleeper cell”, etcetera.