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Friday, September 9

Islamic State's vanishing act continues in Syria. But where's it vanishing to?

Demise of the “Caliphate”: ISIS-held territory shrinks and becomes a big pocket
By Renato Velez
September 5, 2016

The glorious days for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are just a memory of the past. Now, the “caliphate” project seems to be approaching to its ultimate demise, as most of its rival forces are advancing on the ground, shrinking its territory and cutting its last supply lines.


ISIL Withdraws from Al-Bab City in Aleppo
September 8, 2016 -- 5:13

TEHRAN (FNA)- ISIL terrorists evacuated their headquarters in the city of al-Bab in Syria’s Aleppo province on Thursday, media reported.
“Dozens of ISIL military vehicles have left al-Bab carrying weapons and militants. They headed to the nearby town of Khafsa East of al-Bab city,” local media activist Nasim Babi told ARA News.

Informed sources in al-Bab reported that major ISIL headquarters in the city were seen empty on Thursday.

The evacuated ISIL headquarters in al-Bab included the Sharia Court, al-Hisba police department, jihadi training camps and weapons’ storage centers.

This comes as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued their advance towards the al-Bab city in Northern Aleppo. Also, the Turkish-backed rebels of the Euphrates Shield Brigades announced readiness to fight against the ISIL in al-Bab and other areas in northern Syria.

“ISIL has been under heavy pressure in al-Bab. The decision to evacuate their headquarters comes after the SDF forces made further advance towards the key city after retaking Manbij from the radical group,” SDF officer Habun Osman said.

In the meantime, activists said that clashes may erupt between the SDF and Turkish-backed rebels if both forces tried to storm the city of al-Bab after ISIL departure.
Now where is Islamic State going after it's forced from Khafsa? Questions about where IS is headed, as it falls back from position after position in Syria, are becoming increasingly urgent.

The Case of the Missing Islamic State Terrorists

Aaron Klein, Breitbart Chief Middle East Correspondent, was on John Batchelor's radio show Wednesday to report on the search by Western, Arab and Israeli intelligence agencies for what is estimated to be 10,000 Islamic State fighters who've disappeared from Syria. From notes at the JB Show Schedule page:
Where are the 10,000 ISIS jihadists? US and Arab [and European and Israeli] intell cannot find – not traceable. [Did they go to] Turkey or to Iraq, or to Libya and aiming at Europe?
List of 1,7000 missing IS fighters [including their names] compiled by Tunisia.

[Were the rest taken as hostages?] Killed as hostages? Executed by other jihadist groups?

[Locating the whereabouts of these fighters] is not yet a critical emergency, but close to it in Arab capitals – Red Flag, Jordan Libya, Egypt ... and across Europe, esp Red Flag in Belgium and France.
I think Aaron said that some of them probably went to Sinai. That would make sense. They established a presence there at least a year ago. And he mentioned that some of them could be holed up along the Eygpt-Libya border, which is very porous..
The possibility he did not mention, although surely it's occurred to him (and intelligence agencies), is that many of these fighters were snapped up by the Saudi military and transferred to fight in Yemen.

That had already happened n a small scale, more than a year ago, although I can't recall for certain whether these fighters were IS, or Nusra Front or one of the other Al Qaeda fronts in Syria. But Russian and Syrian military observers would stand there with binoculars and watch fighters being loaded onto planes bound for Saudi Arabia, and then they'd photograph it. 

I'll bet those photos went over like bacon at a bar mitzvah with U.S. military intelligence.

But this large-scale disappearance was predictable. The Syrian government doesn't have the resources to jail large numbers of captured fighters, which means looking after their families as well. Many times when the SAA coalition is bearing down on a town where IS is holed up, they just tell them to get out: find a rock to crawl under and take your wives and kids with you. And many IS fighters melt away just before their location is going to fall. They leave through tunnels they've dug or high-tail it in their pickup trucks.

However, the great concern is that several of these vanished 10,000 fighters are going to pop up and attack civilian targets all around the world.


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