IS denies knowledge of Suleiman Shah operation

The Turkish authorities informed the Islamic State through “informal channels” of their intention to remove the historical grave of Suleiman Shah from IS-controlled territory in Aleppo province, an unnamed Turkish official told Saudi-owned daily a-Sharq al-Awsat Monday. 

On Sunday, Islamic State media personalities moved to justify IS's apparent lack of military response to the Turkish operation the night before, and why IS had not previously destroyed the tomb.

It was impossible to verify that the tomb was idolatrous because “it was not proven that people visited the tomb to pray, as the rawafid do,” Abu Mariya al-Aseef, and IS leader involved in sharia affairs, wrote in an announcement Sunday, using an Arabic term commonly referring to Shiites.

Contrary to the Turkish official quoted by a-Sharq al-Awsat, al-Aseef wrote that IS had no idea that the Turkish military was about to undertake the operation.

In related news, the Syrian government characterized the Turkish incursion as an “aggressive bandit operation” through official state news agency SANA Sunday.

 

TurkishForcesTurkish forces retrieve remains of Suleiman Shah from inside Syria Saturday. Photo courtesy of @Frenchwitness15

‘Kurdish Islamic State’ emerges in Syria’s north

An anonymous group calling itself the “Kurdish Islamic State” has distributed pamphlets at mosques in Kurdish villages in the north Aleppo and north Idlib countrysides threatening to target PYD, YPG and other armed Kurdish groups, the Khatwa News Agency reported on Sunday.

The statement, seen in villages from Afrin and Jandrees in north Aleppo to Atma in Idlib, warned all “Muslim Kurdish brothers” against gathering near checkpoints and military headquarters of what they called the “infidel Kurdish Party,” and threatened to target gatherings or demonstrations organized by the “infidel party” with suicide bombing attacks.

The news comes days after IS lost control of the villages of Kharus and Nasiru in the Aleppo countryside to the Barkan al-Farat Collective and the Al-Farat Lions Movement, according to claims made on the latter’s official Facebook page on February 19.

Regime barrel bombs, 1 year after UN resolution

Since the unguided weapon’s first reported use in October 2012, regime forces have dropped more than 5,150 barrel bombs across Syria, killing nearly 12,200 people, reported the Syrian Network for Human Rights on Monday.

A total of 96 percent of the dead are reportedly civilians, and of the civilians killed, half were women and children, noted the SNHR in the same report. The monitoring group only counts verifiable causalities, requiring names and identifying photographs.

The report commemorates the one-year anniversary of UN resolution 2139, which condemned the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs in populated areas.

Resolution 2139, however, failed to elicit a discernable change in regime tactics. In the one-year period following the resolution, the regime dropped 1,950 barrel bombs killing 6,480 people, only five percent of whom were rebels, with Aleppo, Idlib, and Daraa the hardest hit.

Bashar al-Assad denied his forces use barrel bombs in an interview with the BBC on February 11.

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