Equipped with Humvees, ISIL clashes with rivals in Syria

BEIRUT Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:06pm EDT

A Kurdish security forces convoy travels during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the outskirts of Diyala June 14, 2014.  REUTERS/ Yahya Ahmad

A Kurdish security forces convoy travels during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the outskirts of Diyala June 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/ Yahya Ahmad

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) battled with rival opposition fighters in northern Syria on Sunday, using U.S.-made military vehicles captured from neighboring Iraq for the first time, a monitoring group said.

ISIL, a splinter group of al Qaeda which wants to set up an Islamic caliphate encompassing both Iraq and Syria, has made rapid gains in Iraq in the past two weeks, taking control of the northern city of Mosul and major border crossings with Syria.

Its advances in Iraq appear to have spurred on the Syrian branch, which is fighting both the army of President Bashar al-Assad and also rival opposition groups such as the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, a more moderate force.

The Sunni Muslim ISIL fighters seized strategic Syrian towns near the Iraqi border from rivals last week.

For the first time, ISIL combatants have been using U.S-made Humvees - four-wheel drive military vehicles - in fighting in northern areas of Syria's Aleppo province, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The vehicles, which appear to have been seized during ISIL's recent Iraqi offensive, were used to gain control of villages outside the town of Azaz, close to the Turkish border, it said.

The Observatory, an anti-Assad group which tracks events on the ground through activists, said ISIL in Syria had been supplied with dozens of the vehicles from Iraq.

The United States has long supplied Humvees to the Iraqi army, which has been fighting an increasing violent insurgency since U.S. forces withdrew at the end of 2011.

ISIL fighters in Iraq have often seized abandoned military equipment from Iraqi forces, including armored vehicles.

The capture of border areas by ISIL on Sunday is likely to make it easier for the group to transfer equipment and fighters between the countries, where the conflicts have fed off each other.

As in Syria, ISIL has started to clash with other Sunni militias in Iraq. In the Iraqi town of Hawija, ISIL and members of the Naqshbandi Army, made up of former army officers as well as loyalists of Saddam Hussein's former ruling Baath party, battled for a third consecutive day on Sunday.

The Observatory also said on Sunday that ISIL had kidnapped 20 Kurdish students on a road in northern Syria, just weeks after the group abducted 145 students in Aleppo.

Relatives and residents are scared that ISIL will use kidnapped students to carry out car bombs or suicide attacks, the Observatory said.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (5)
carlmartel wrote:
Another Reuters article today states that ISIL/ISIS has captured al Waleed, a border crossing about 20 km northeast of the Iraq, Jordan, and Syrian border. The insurgents also fight for the Baiji refinery that could supply them with fuel and lubricants for their Humvees and other vehicles to continue mechanized advances in both Iraq and Syria. This would also put them on interior lines and allow them to shift forces to any post under attack while their enemies would need to go around the outside of the “circle” under their control. This would allow them to control bigger areas with fewer forces than their opponents.

Further, Iraq and Syria are two separate countries that would need a political alliance for coordinated efforts, and that alliance will arouse anger in the US and NATO who oppose Syria’s President Assad. ISIL/ISIS have the advantages of more mobile, better trained, better motivated forces on interior lines that can only be defeated with US air power guided by US technology at this time. US refusal to use its aerial capabilities condemns Syria and Iraq to cede territory for the creation of an ISIL/ISIS “state” between Syria and Iraq. When will the US, EU, and Russia grant official diplomatic recognition to the new ISIL/ISIS nation?

Jun 22, 2014 5:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
benburned wrote:
The mideast nations will be in a state of flux and dynamic change as they realign and come to realize western interventionist efforts are/have ben largely self serving. Look for new unions to sprout in order to resist meddling from the west

Jun 22, 2014 6:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
So, will hundreds of American and Nato warplanes support the soon-to-unfold joint Iranian and Shiite Iraq and Shiite Syrian military action to destroy the rapidly growing military might of ISIS which is well along the road to reshaping the entire Middle East and its huge oil and gas supplies which fuel Western and Chinese and Japanese and Indian economies? Well, will these warplanes go into action or will the West just watch the global economy crash? Well?

Jun 22, 2014 12:20am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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