Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2015
Fighting Intensifies in Homs, Al-Nusra Loses Al-Qalamoan, Abu Ala Al-Afri, Successor of ISIL Leader, Killed in a US Air Strike
May 14, 2015
2nd top IS leader killed in air strike in northern Iraq
BAGHDAD, May 13, 2015 (Xinhua) --
The number two leader of the Islamic State (IS) group on Wednesday believed to have been killed in a U.S.-led coalition air strike in northern Iraq, said the Iraqi Defense Ministry.
"Based on accurate intelligence reports, the U.S.-led coalition carried out an air strike on the second man of IS, Abu Ala Afri, and a large number of members of criminal gangs while they were holding a meeting at al-Shuhadaa mosque in the town of Tal Afar," the ministry said in a statement.
The attack occurred in the IS-held town of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Nineveh's provincial capital city of Mosul, which itself located some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Earlier, unconfirmed reports claimed that top IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, believed to have been severely injured in an air strike, and that Abu Alaa al-Afri is his temporary successor while Baghdadi is recovering from his wounds.
Battles in Syria's Homs kill 28 Syrian soldiers, 20 IS militants
DAMASCUS, May 13, 2015 (Xinhua) --
At least 28 Syrian soldiers and 20 Islamic State (IS) fighters were killed during intense clashes in Syria's central province of Homs, a monitor group reported Wednesday.
The battles flared near al-Shaer gas field and other areas in eastern countryside of Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UK-based watchdog group said the IS militants were advancing in the town of Sukhneh, adding that 100 fighters from both sides were wounded in the battles.
Violent clashes also erupted around military checkpoints near the town of Sukhneh and Hajjaneh military post, as well as Syrian officers' housing units in east of Palmira in Homs countryside.
The clashes were coupled with airstrikes carried out by Syrian air force on the militants around al-Shaer gas field.
Meanwhile, the state news agency SANA said Syrian warplanes destroyed many positions of the IS group in north of Palmira and Sukkar Valley in the countryside of Homs.
The Syrian troops also killed many of IS terrorists in the countryside of southern province of Sawaida.
Successor of ISIL Leader Baghdadi Killed in Ninewah
The No. two man of the Islamic State was killed in the Iraqi province of Ninewah on Wednesday.
Abu Ala Al-Afri, the successor of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Leader of the ISIL group, was killed in a (US) air strike in Nineveh province on Wednesday.
Earlier reports said that gaps have widened among ISIL commanders over the successor of the group's leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi who reportedly succumbed to his fatal wounds in April, informed sources said on May 5.
The IS leaders refrained from accepting Abu Ala Afri as Al-Baghdadi's successor, FNA learned from news sources.
Leader of IS group Ibrahim al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been temporarily replaced with Afri who was Al-Baghdadi's deputy and a former Iraqi physics teacher after the ISIL leader was critically wounded during a joint attack of the Iraqi army and popular forces on March 18.
In late April, some Arab media reports said al-Baghdadi had died and members of the group in Iraq had already sworn allegiance to Abu Ala Afri as his successor.
The (group's) leader was targeted in an airstrike in Western Iraq on March 18.
Al-Youm Al-Thamen quoting intelligence sources said ISIL had earlier recorded several videos of its leader months before the March airstrike and after the first time that he escaped lethal injuries around a year ago to prove that he is alive until the group can introduce a universally accepted new leader.
The sources added that the members of the group operating in Iraq have already pledged allegiance to a new leader called Abdul Rahman al-Sheijlar, alias Abu Ala Afri, as Baghdadi's successor.
There were also unconfirmed reports that internal disputes have erupted and gaps among a number of ISIL factions in Syria and Iraq are widening over the appointment of the new leader, as the ISIL branch fighting Syria has rejected Afri's leadership and are dithering over Baghdadi's successor.
The Spanish-language Hispan TV television also released a report on April 25 in which it confirmed the death of the IS leader Baghdadi.
A report released by the Guardian on March 21 said Baghdadi suffered serious and "life-threatening" injuries during an attack in March.
The report added that Baghdadi has survived his wounds.
Baghdadi’s wounding led to urgent meetings of IS leaders, who initially believed he would die and made plans to name a new leader.
An Iraqi official confirmed that the strike took place on 18 March in the al-Baaj a district of Nineveh, close to the Syrian border. There had been two previous reports in November and December of Baghdadi being wounded, though neither was accurate.
Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi official who advises Baghdad on IS, said, "Yes, he was wounded in al-Baaj near the village of Umm al-Rous on 18 March with a group that was with him."
Syrian Army, Hezbollah Forces Retake Control over Three Key Positions in Al-Qalamoun
Wed May 13, 2015 12:34
The Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement took back three strategic hilltops from (Syrian opposition) groups' control in Al-Qalamoun, in Damascus province, local officials confirmed.
The sources said that Mashrou' Haq Zeaiter, Jour Beit Abdul Haq, and Abdul Haq hilltops in al-Qalamoun, which are also located in the Eastern countryside of the Lebanese town of Nahleh, have been recaptured in the joint operations of the Syrian army men and the Hezbollah forces against the (Syrian opposition) groups' strongholds.
The sources added that several (Syrian opposition fighters) were also killed or wounded in the abovementioned battlefield.
The military observers believe that the gains in Al-Qalamoun region will prevent militants from launching attacks at the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
On Sunday, the Syrian army backed by Hezbollah fighters regained control of the biggest military base of Al-Nusra Front (Syrian opposition) group in Al-Qalamoun region in Damascus countryside.
The Sahla al-Moaysara military base, which was the biggest stronghold of Al-Nusra Front, was captured in Al-Jibbeh area in Al-Qalamoun.
The Northern Qarna al-Moaysara hill overlooking the military base was also purged of Al-Nusra (Syrian opposition group).
The Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters also took back Aqaba Um al-Rakab, Al-Dorat hill, Qarneh Rezq and Shams hill in the nearby areas.
Cooperation between the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah over the past days has resulted in the (regaining) of more than 20 border areas between Lebanon and Syria from (Syrian opposition) control.
Al-Nusra Declares War against ISIL in Al-Qalamoan
The Al-Nusra Front (Syrian opposition) group declared war against the IS in Al-Qalamoan in Damascus countryside.
The Jaish al-Fat'h which represents Al-Nusra Front in al-Qalamoun region, in a statement on Tuesday, accused ISIL of treason by providing a list of ISIL's aggressions against Al-Nusra Front.
The statement calls on all Al-Nusra Front (fighters) to do their best to fight against the ISIL.
On Tuesday, tens of (fighters) were killed and dozens more injured in heavy infighting between the ISIL and Jaish al-Fath groups in al-Qalamoun region.
At least 15 ISIL forces were killed and 60 more were taken captive in Al-Qalamoan region
The infighting occurred after Jaish al-Fat'h in a statement warned the Salafi youth from joining the ISIL.
The Qalamoan region is located Northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The infighting seems to have erupted after ISIL turned down an Al-Nusra call for supporting it in the war on the Syrian troops, and tried to open an independent front in the region of Al-Qalamoan.
On Monday, sources close to the ISIL said that the al-Nusra Front has demanded ISIL leaders to help the group stand against the joint operations of the Syrian army and Hezbollah forces in al-Qalamoan.
Saer al-Qalamoani was quoted by the Lebanese al-Safir newspaper as saying that the al-Nusra (Syrian opposition) group attempted to join the war in Qalamoun under the name of Jaish al-Fath so that it will not bear the responsibility for any possible defeat against Hezbollah and the Syrian forces.
He said there are many proofs to show that the al-Nusra Front has urged certain ISIL leaders and commanders in Qalamoan to help the al-Nusra in the war against the Syrian army and Hezbollah.
Qalamoani who claimed to be a media activist close to the ISIL said that there are two documents proving that Abu Malik al-Teli, the al-Nusra ringleader in Qalamoan, has requested ISIL to rush to his aid in the clashes with Hezbollah and Syrian forces' attacks in the Hills of Assal al-Ward.
He said that the ISIL (fighters) have already withdrawn from Asal al-Ward but are still being equipped militarily.
The Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters in a series of operations which started near the al-Qalamoan mountainous region near the Lebanese border regained control of many strategic areas, including Assal al-Ward, on Sunday.
Tens of (Syrian opposition) fighters, specially members of the al-Nusra Front, were killed in heavy clashes with Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters.
The Syrian army also destroyed tens of vehicles of the al-Nusra Front in the clashes.
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