Saturday, 3 September 2016

Turkish Tanks Seal Border with ISIL-Held Syria

Extract from map by Thomas van Linge ‏@arabthomness

Dealers and collectors are sighing with relief today as the Associated Press announces: 'Turkish Tanks Cross Into Syria in 'New Phase' Against IS' Sept 3rd 2016). This means not only will transport of foreign fighters, weapons and oil  across the remaining stretch of the frontier zone in ISIL hands, but also stories of antiquities getting through have to alter.
IS, which once controlled hundreds of miles of territory along the Turkish border and used it to bring in foreign fighters and supplies, now only rules a 21-kilometer (13-mile) stretch of the frontier. The group has suffered a string of defeats in recent months in both Syria and Iraq. Some 5,000 U.S. and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have crossed into northern Syria from Turkey to participate in the so-called Euphrates Shield operation [...] The Syria Democratic Forces, which also includes Arab fighters, has taking a large swath of territory from the extremists along the border with Turkey and closed in on Raqqa, the de facto capital of the extremist group's self-styled caliphate.
In the map above we can see some of the sites that figured large in the US State Department's "ISIL fund raising through antiquities" story. Interestingly, their capture has not resulted in the announcement of the recovery of a single cache of antiquities or documentation proving this culture-crime really was going on. In whose interests would it be to hide such information if it existed?

Update 4th September 2016
As of today, ISIS (black) doesn't share any border with Turkey. First time since mid 2013.

Map by Anadolu agency

UPDATE 18th September 2017

Selcan Hacaoglu, 'Turkey’s Army Is Driving Deeper Into Syria as Latest Truce Frays' Bloomberg 18th September
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [...] outlined plans for a “safe zone” in Syria [...] where rebels can be sheltered and trained, and refugees resettled. It could be the biggest military intervention in Turkey’s recent history[...]  Erdogan said the campaign, named Operation Euphrates Shield, will extend to the Islamic State stronghold of Al-Bab, about 30 kilometers from the border. [...] Erdogan has signaled that he’s ready to send his army as far as Raqqa to help a U.S.-led effort to finish off the self-proclaimed caliphate.

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