Video: ISIS seizes Syrian air base

posted at 10:01 am on August 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The Iraqi army isn’t the only one with morale and leadership issues. After being isolated in one of its last remaining airbases in the northern part of the country, Syrian forces finally got pushed out of the strategic stronghold overnight, forced to withdraw under fire. CNN reports that this marks what looks like the end of a long battle to seize control of the al-Tabqa airfield:

SIS fighters have seized control of a strategically important air base in Syria, tightening their grip on the northeastern region of the war-racked nation.

The Islamic extremist group, which has taken over large areas of Syria and Iraq, wrested the Al-Tabqa air base from the Syrian military on Sunday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the conflict.

Syrian state television reported that the Syrian military had evacuated the air base in Raqqa province to regroup and was still carrying out strikes against ISIS fighters in the area.

Did ISIS gain control of Syrian planes? The regime of Bashar al-Assad says no, but so far it’s not clear:

One Syrian military officer said there were an estimated 1,600 soldiers at the base before Islamic State launched the attack on Tuesday. Opposition activists in Raqqa said they saw at least three Russian-made Ilyushin cargo planes land and take off from the air base five days ago. A pro regime Facebook page known for its links to the country’s security agencies said many soldiers were “martyred” or captured by Islamic State but that all military planes and heavy weapons were moved out of Tabqa.

That’s not the only evacuation that took place. The WSJ’s Sam Dragher also reports that the withdrawal angered senior military commanders in Damascus, who thought the unit at Taqba had sufficient resources to repel the ISIS assault:

The Damascus-based military officer said he knew there was a sufficient force at the air base to fend off the Islamic State assault and faulted military leaders for abandoning the fight. He said both the air base’s commander and other senior military officers flew out of Tabqa on Saturday to another air base outside the central city of Hama.

“You can kiss goodbye any remaining confidence in the military leadership,” he said. …

The loss of the air base triggered a wave of anger among many Assad supporters, particularly members of his own minority Alawite sect, who blamed military and security leaders for abandoning the fight and leaving many soldiers to a brutal fate at the hands of the Sunni militants.

Islamic State fighters were seen parading in the town of Tabqa with the severed heads of soldiers killed at the air base, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group tracking the conflict through its own network of activists inside Syria.

The news was better on the eastern front. Kurdish forces retook a handful of small cities from ISIS, backed by US airstrikes designed to push the ISIS forces west:

On Monday, Kurdish forces backed by Iraqi air support retook three villages in the Jalawla area in Diyala province, as well as a main road used by jihadists to transport fighters and supplies, a peshmerga brigadier general said.

He added that Kurdish troops are close to sealing off all entrances to the town of Jalawla itself, which they have sought to recapture for weeks.

Farther north, militants launched two assaults on the Shiite Turkmen-majority town of Tuz Khurmatu, late on Sunday and early Monday.

Both attacks were beaten back by Kurdish forces supported by Iraqi aircraft, officials said.

The Kurds, now reinforced by resupplied ammunition and air power, are proving themselves a much more capable competing force against ISIS than the Iraqis or the Syrians. If the US and the West wants to destroy ISIS or at least cut it off in the desert, the Kurds will be the best investment we can make. The new Iraqi government of Haider al-Abadi has pledged to seek real unity and power-sharing with Kurds and Sunnis, but we’d better make it clear to Abadi that we have a plan B in Kurdish independence if he doesn’t meet those commitments.

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Meh…the nation pauses to mourn the death of Michael brown
-cnn talking heads

Boy are they in overload

cmsinaz on August 25, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Go Kurds!

cmsinaz on August 25, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Why we’re not rolling 24/7 heavy bombing runs on these guys, I’ll never know…

Midas on August 25, 2014 at 10:08 AM

What if ISIS decides to back off from their efforts to gobble up the Kurdish area and instead concentrate on Baghdad? How far from their homeland are the Kurds willing to fight?

BKeyser on August 25, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Oh, and, active shooter at Fort Lee, VA?

BKeyser on August 25, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Those captured soldiers are effed in ways that makes my skin crawl to even contemplate.

At least the Kurds are taking some control back; let ISIS and Assad hammer each other on one end while the Kurds chip away on the other.

Bishop on August 25, 2014 at 10:09 AM

ISIS sport’s section: “JV Team Remains Undefeated”

hillsoftx on August 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM

+1 hillsoftx

Heh

cmsinaz on August 25, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Dog Eater’s Cairo Speech wasn’t as effective as first claimed, anonymous sources said.

Bishop on August 25, 2014 at 10:13 AM

If the US and the West wants to destroy ISIS or at least cut it off in the desert, the Kurds will be the best investment we can make.

If someone promises them Independence for their help in this ISIS mess, they had better make good on it. If not, they just made some of the most fierce and deadly enemies on the planet.

Johnnyreb on August 25, 2014 at 10:14 AM

One Syrian military officer said there were an estimated 1,600 soldiers at the base before Islamic State launched the attack on Tuesday.

1600 soldiers at the base? How large was the attacking ISIS force? It seems they’re a bit more militarily organized then than just a bunch of ragtag terrorist butchers.

Cleombrotus on August 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Hey Hawkdriver, don’t know if you’re on, but you were right about the James Foley video.

itsspideyman on August 25, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Taking control of an airbase and planes is a minor thing. How many of ISIS are actual pilots. These aren’t cars you can basically figure out, you have to be highly trained with a solid support system behind you.

What is interesting is now a lack of support for Assad. He either retains support or else.

rbj on August 25, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Oh, and, active shooter at Fort Lee, VA?

BKeyser on August 25, 2014 at 10:09 AM


Hey! No worries!

Even though we DISARM every single soldier on our military bases …

… Ed’s buddy Andrew Malcom is here to set us straight:

Militarizing local police is a good thing

It’s a great idea to have state and local police departments armed way beyond the firepower of any conceivable opponent. Remember the North Hollywood bank hold-up some years back that turned into a 45-minute shootout because both robbers were better armed and protected than cops hiding behind patrol cars?

We’re in a new era now. The first 9/11 when jumbo jets became weapons should have taught us to think outside the box when imagining attacks on the homeland. Dirty bombs, Ebola. Sarin. Breast bombs. Gone is the age of a whistling Officer O’Riley walking his beat, checking that shop doors are locked.


Wait a minute!,
you’re thinking … no one is REALLY going to try to win this debate by recycling the two WORST talking points EVER used – one of them is a one off from 20 years ago and the other PRECISELY what we got all spun up about … well, ever since 9/11/01.

Well, you’re right. Andrew has an answer for that too!

Maybe, finally, it’s time to have a national debate about having so many national debates.


Because …
“SHUT UP!”, he said.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here except the GOPe-media pushing the Fascist GOPe Party Line.

/sarc

Have you folks figured out yet that the GOPe considers YOU to be the Low Information Voters?

Because THEIR GOAL is too treat you like mushrooms?

PolAgnostic on August 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM

ISIS sport’s section: “JV Team Remains Undefeated”

hillsoftx on August 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM

The ISO (Islamic States of Obama) and that JV quote is Obama’s “mission accomplished” moment.

Happy Nomad on August 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Wait, isn’t this why we funded and trained ISIS in the first place? To take out Assad? And now oopsie, the animals got loose from the cage and now Assad isn’t looking so bad anymore. New bad guy is ISIS everybody! Hard to keep score these days.

SirGawain on August 25, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Because THEIR GOAL is too

PolAgnostic on August 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Is not

(just kidding)

Midas on August 25, 2014 at 10:40 AM

ISIS sport’s section: “JV Team Remains Undefeated”

hillsoftx on August 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Painfully sad and depressing given the current reality, but hilarious nonetheless.

Aizen on August 25, 2014 at 10:46 AM

All they have to do is recall all their people in flight school in the US and they have air support.

This gets better every second.

formwiz on August 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

All they have to do is recall all their people in flight school in the US and they have air support.

This gets better every second.

formwiz on August 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Pass the popcorn.

hawkeye54 on August 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM

The wussy, azz kissing Gen. Dempsey, a disgrace to soldiers everywhere, which is all we now have in the higher ranks of our social PC labs, referred to as our military, says not to worry, ISIS is no threat to the USA. Maybe that is because they don’t care about playing golf and taking over golf courses. Gen. Dempsey, you suck!

they lie on August 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

And why hasn’t Damascus bombed the base ISIS just took? What is Assad waiting for?

Key West Reader on August 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

And why hasn’t Damascus bombed the base ISIS just took? What is Assad waiting for?

Key West Reader on August 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Even more important question is why did Assad let ISIS go so strong in Syria without fighting them in any significant way until just recently… The answer is simple. Assad wanted ISIS to destroy the rebels… He and ISIS have a defacto non declated alliance for a long time where both dedicated almost all their efforts into fighting the rebels… Now that ISIS terrorist monster has grown so strong and Assad is paying the heavy price for it…

mnjg on August 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Why we’re not rolling 24/7 heavy bombing runs on these guys, I’ll never know…

Midas on August 25, 2014 at 10:08 AM

What, in your estimation, gives the POTUS authority to authorize airstrikes in Syria…?

JohnGalt23 on August 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Is it just me or are these Iraqi and Syrian armies fighting like cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Like a runner at second with two outs, they run on contact.

myiq2xu on August 25, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Taking control of an airbase and planes is a minor thing. How many of ISIS are actual pilots. These aren’t cars you can basically figure out, you have to be highly trained with a solid support system behind you.

rbj on August 25, 2014 at 10:20 AM

You’re thinking inside the box. Now what could these backward terrorists do with all the JET FUEL and MUNITIONS that go along with those planes? Not such a minor thing now, is it…

dominigan on August 25, 2014 at 11:44 AM

What, in your estimation, gives the POTUS authority to authorize airstrikes in Syria…?

JohnGalt23 on August 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM

The War Powers Act.

Why isn’t Obama asking Congress for the authorization to use force against ISIS?

myiq2xu on August 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM

dominigan on August 25, 2014 at 11:44 AM

not to mention that if YOU have the planes and the runways, your enemies don’t.

Cleombrotus on August 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

The news was better on the eastern front.

Why is it bad news when one group of brutal secular authoritarians gets taken out by a group of brutal religious authoritarians?

ISIS might have slaughtered 1000 Christians and Yazidis. Assad senior smoked 20,000 in Hama alone, and junior has a body count well over 100,000. Just because ISIS tweets their brutalities doesn’t make them necessarily worse.

Why are we doing the Iranians any favors by taking on ISIS?

Clark1 on August 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

All they have to do is recall all their people in flight school in the US and they have air support.

This gets better every second.

formwiz on August 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

It is better to recycle aircraft. People who only know how to take off can lead to a need for a high replacement rate.

KW64 on August 25, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Why are we doing the Iranians any favors by taking on ISIS?

Clark1 on August 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. ISIS has our destruction on their bucket list. Better to help the FSA if you want to fight Assad.

KW64 on August 25, 2014 at 12:38 PM

We grant the Kurds the Finger of Death from Above and what do you know – they know how to use it effectively.

At the rate this is going ISIS is going to polish off the Assad regime just about the same time the Kurds are polishing off ISIS. Unless Assad figures out the tea leaves of the future and makes a deal with the Kurds, he just may find himself finis… and no tears will be shed if he can’t read the tea leaves.

Syria no longer would be a proxy to Iran and Russia.

Hezbollah would have their supplies cut off permanently.

And Lesser Kurdistan is born with sea ports, so that oil can flow out to the Med.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

ajacksonian on August 25, 2014 at 12:46 PM

The War Powers Act.

myiq2xu on August 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM

War Powers Resolution of 1973

The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

So, where is the declaration of war, statutory authorization, or attack upon the US, territories or possessions or armed forces that you claims invocation of War Powers…?

JohnGalt23 on August 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM

So, where is the declaration of war, statutory authorization, or attack upon the US, territories or possessions or armed forces that you claims invocation of War Powers…?

JohnGalt23 on August 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Okay, that was terrible.

So, where is the declaration of war, statutory authorization, or attack upon the US, territories or possessions or armed forces that you claim justifies invocation of War Powers…?

JohnGalt23 on August 25, 2014 at 12:59 PM

What, in your estimation, gives the POTUS authority to authorize airstrikes in Syria…?

JohnGalt23 on August 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Why the Good and Welfare clause to the Constitution, silly.

307wolverine on August 25, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Why are we doing the Iranians any favors by taking on ISIS?

Clark1 on August 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

You do know that Iran has had allies in this WH since day one, right?

The Green Revolution was smothered in its nursery bed by Jarret and Obama.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 25, 2014 at 1:04 PM

And why hasn’t Damascus bombed the base ISIS just took? What is Assad waiting for?

Key West Reader on August 25, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Even more important question is why did Assad let ISIS go so strong in Syria without fighting them in any significant way until just recently… The answer is simple. Assad wanted ISIS to destroy the rebels… He and ISIS have a defacto non declated alliance for a long time where both dedicated almost all their efforts into fighting the rebels… Now that ISIS terrorist monster has grown so strong and Assad is paying the heavy price for it…

mnjg on August 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

MNJG is consisitently the smartest poster on this site when it comes to foreign policy and is on the money once again..

think about it- Assad never fought the ISIL/ISIS and instead actually cut deals with them to provide oil from the fields in Deir Al Zour..

why? because FOR THREE YEARS Assad claims he is fighting terrorists- what better than to have the number one terrorist as your “enemy”. Even the British are now saying they have to ally with Assad to beat the Caliphate

it is a lot like if the Americans supported the Japanese against the Germans in 1940, only to then see the same bombs delivered on Pearl Harbor a few months later

AirForceCane on August 25, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Perfect. Bomb it into rubble. Kill everything.

Jaibones on August 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM

AirForceCane on August 25, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Thanks AirForceCane, I am just stating the truth and facts… Unfortunately many refuse to believe it…

mnjg on August 25, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Video: ISIS seizes Syrian air base

Well, at least the Syrians know where a good chunk of ISIS is hanging out at the moment.

Only a real dumbass general wouldn’t dump everything he had on that base now.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 25, 2014 at 4:32 PM

The bad news is that ISIS captured an air base.
The good news is that no one in ISIS is smart enough to fly a plane.

Colony14 on August 25, 2014 at 6:48 PM