From the middle of April until early May, there was an escalation in tension between the Iraqi army and the Sinjar Resistance Units (commonly known by the abbreviation of YBŞ deriving from the Kurdish name of the group). This escalation arose because the Iraqi army (embodied in the West Ninawa operations command) has sought to impose greater central government authority and security control over the area, through building a partial border wall between Iraq and Syria in the Sinjar area, setting up additional bases in the Sinjar area, and trying to take over checkpoints that have been run by the Asayish Izidkhan, which functions as the internal security wing of the 'autonomous administration' project in the Sinjar area (whereas the YBŞ is the military wing of that project), which seeks to create a special autonomous region in Sinjar. It was the Iraqi army's attempted move against Asayish Izidkhan checkpoints in particular that sparked the recent clashes on repeated occasions between the Iraqi army and the YBŞ.
Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the dominant insurgent organisation in northwest Syria, shifted its primary military structure from four main 'armies' named for the Rashidun caliphs to multiple brigades. I have already alluded to these brigades previously and how there appear to be at least ten brigades named for the ten companions of the Prophet promised Paradise (I had first heard of this concept from a source who says he is in one of those brigades, having previously served in the 'Red Bands' special formation).
In April, the Islamic State released a speech by its new official spokesman Abu Omar al-Muhajir, who replaced Abu Hamza al-Qurashi following the latter's killing in otherwise unknown circumstances. In the speech, Abu Omar announced a "revenge raid for the two sheikhs": referring to the group's previous leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, who was killed in a U.S. raid in Idlib in February, and to the aforementioned Abu Hamza al-Qurashi.
The issue of massacres committed during the Syrian civil war recently came to prominent public attention again with the leaked video footage of a massacre committed by Syrian government forces in the Tadhamun neighbourhood of Damascus city back in 2013. While the details and footage are horrific, it is important that this kind of material be made public for the sake of historical remembrance, and in the hope of accountability and change. Indeed, there has been talk that the Syrian government has been reviewing the Tadhamun massacre, and it is possible that the recent releases of detainees and government decree of an amnesty for non-lethal 'terror' offences have some link with the publicity surrounding it. Even if the latter is not the case, however, there is nonetheless a public interest served in preserving and publicising the memory of massacres, regardless of which side perpetrated them. For instance, I have similarly covered in the past massacres committed by insurgents in Ishtabraq (2015), Qalb Lawze (2015) and Latakia countryside (2013). Of course, there should also be documentation of ongoing violations, such as the hundreds of assassinations in the southern Deraa province since 2018.
As it turns out, nine years have recently passed since massacres committed by government forces in the Baniyas area of Tartous province (which has otherwise seen few disturbances during the civil war). These massacres targeted the village of al-Bayda and the neighbourhood of Ras al-Naba', where there was support for the opposition and insurgency. The memory of these massacres has taken on a highly sectarian dimension, being perceived as targeting of Sunnis for ethnic cleansing by Alawites. It is within this sectarian angle that the following detailed account has been prepared and released by 'Abu Ibrahim al-Shami' of the Telegram channel "Archive of the Battles and Martyrs of the Syrian Sahel" (Sahel means the Syrian coastal areas). Of course, I do not at all agree with this sectarian angle (which is also aimed at the 'Rafidites'- a derogatory term for the Shi'a), but the facts of the massacres should not be denied. According to Shami (both from the report itself and in clarification to me), his account is based on a combination of reports prepared by human rights organisations at the time (Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International), but also his own interviews with local insurgent group leaders in particular and other witnesses, which give more insight to the circumstances of these massacres. There is also use of open source evidence (including videos from Youtube). Importantly also, the report contains some acknowledgement of massacres that were committed in Latakia countryside in summer 2013 against Alawites (though justifying and praising them as supposedly being in revenge for these massacres).
I have translated the report in full below. I make it freely available.
On Telegram, a number of channels exist that are run by supporters of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and its project in northwest Syria. One of these channels is 'Sayyaf al-Shami,' who is also supportive of jihadism on the wider international level. On 1 April, I conducted an interview with 'Sayyaf al-Shami' for his thoughts on the current situation in northwest Syria
(Telegram channel link: https://t.me/cham_AL_mlahim).
على تلغرام هناك العديد من القنوات المناصرة لهيئة تحرير الشام ومشروعها بشمال غرب سوريا (ادلب وما حولها). ومن هذه القنوات "سياف الشامي" الذي يتعاطف مع الجهاد على المستوى الدولي ايضا. وبتاريخ ١ تيسان اجريت مقابلة مع "سياف الشامي" بخصوص الوضع العام في الساحة الشامية بعد ١١ سنة من الجهاد. واليكم المقابلة.
The insurgent group Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham- the dominant faction in northwest Syria- positions itself as a third-way to al-Qa'ida and the Islamic State in the global spectrum of jihadism. This positioning, however, does not mean that the group has completely disavowed all the key concepts and ideas in jihadism. For example, one theme in jihadism is that of wala' and bara' ('loyalty and disavowal'), referring to loyalty to the believers and Islam and disavowal of the disbelievers and disbelief, thereby emphasising the dichotomy between the two. For example, here is a new post by leading Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham official Abu Abdullah al-Shami (Abd al-Raheem Atoun) on the subject of wala' and bara'.
There are a large number of medieval Latin texts that mention or discuss the Prophet Muhammad. The one that is the focus of this text is called the "Vita Mahometi" (Life of Mahomet) and it was found in a manuscript in the locality of Uncastillo in the Aragon region of northern Spain. It has been argued that the work may have been written by a Jewish convert to Christianity (as in the same manuscript there is an anti-Judaism text written by a Jewish convert calling himself 'Peter'). The work has been dated to the early 13th century CE.
في الفترة الأخيرة تم نشر كتابي الأول وهو ترجمتي العربية لكتاب "تأريخ العرب" بقلم رودريغو خيمينيز دي رادا الذي كان أسقف طليطلة خلال القرن الثالث عشر ميلادي. ان كتابه كان أول كتاب غربي يركز على تأريخ العرب ولذلك هو مهم جدا لمن يهتم بتصوير العرب والمسلمين عند الغربيين ومسائل التسامح والتعايش في إسبانيا في ذلك الزمان.
طبعا لا يوجد كتاب يخلو من التقصير والاخطاء وارحب بالنقد بكل السرور. وبما ان الترجمة من اللاتينية الى العربية شيء نادر اود ان اسمع ردود فعل الناس والنقد واقتراحاتهم من اجل تحسين الكتاب في طبعة قادمة.
ففي هذا المنشور سأشير الى كل الأخطاء الإملائية التي يلاحظها القارئ وكذلك ساقدم اقتراحات بالنسبة لتحسين الترجمة لأنني قرأت الكتاب اللاتيني الأصلي عدة مرات ومع كل قراءة قد يخطر على بالي اقتراح بالنسبة لتحسين الترجمة.
Please click the link to read in Arabic.