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Published in Press Stream:
September 30, 2015

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Published in Stream:
September 30, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Is ISIS In Homs and Hama? We Ask The Institute for the Study of War
5 years
Stream: September 30, 2015
Publication: Putin in Syria
UPDATED: Video Posted By Russian Deputy Prime Minister Shows Military Training Exercise

The Institute for the Study of War has been a highly reliable source as they meticulously study the state of battlefields in places like Syria. We asked them some questions about today's airstrikes, and received a reply from ISW's Genevieve Casagrande:

The Interpreter: Which rebel groups control the areas which were hit today in Homs?

ISW: The groups that control the Talbisa-Rastan rebel pocket north of Homs are: al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham (HASI), and other FSA-affiliated rebel brigades. Unfortunately, we don’t have fidelity on what groups exactly were impacted by the airstrikes today.

Interpreter: Does ISIS have a presence in Homs? Your latest map says no, but some people are pushing back on that because a Daily Mail article published in August showed ISIS reportedly throwing a gay man off a roof in Homs.

ISW:  There is ISIS in Homs Province, not in Homs City which is regime-held (with the exception of one neighborhood). The ISIS presence in Homs is primarily in the eastern countryside. For instance, Palmyra (Tadmur) is in Homs Province.

The Daily Mail article is likely referring to an event that happened in one of the ISIS-held villages in the eastern countryside of the province. There are, however, ISIS ‘sympathetic’ elements (i.e. similar in ideology but not officially ISIS) in rebel-held in the areas of Homs and Hama provinces that were hit today with airstrikes. These groups are minimal and are usually rooted out by other rebel brigades in the area. 

Interpreter:  Any idea which rebel unit was hit today in Al Lataminah, Hama province? The "FSA" commander told Reuters that his unit was hit, and he had recently received anti-tank missiles from a "foreign power." Any idea what, specifically, they are referencing?

ISW: Tajama’a al-Izza was hit in Al Lataminah. They are an FSA-affiliated TOW anti-tank missile recipient that is active in the provinces of Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo. The TOW missile recipients active in northern Syria are believed to receive these anti-tank missiles from the Turkish Military Operations Command (MOC).

Interpreter:  It looks like a member of Tahrir Homs was killed today. Do you know anything about this man or the unit? Do you know the group's ideological leanings?

ISW: Yes, the airstrikes killed Lyad al-Deek of Tahrir Homs today. Harakat Tahrir Homs is technically a Free Syrian Army affiliate, however in 2015 the once “moderate” Free Syrian Army is largely nominal and is not a good indicator of a rebel group’s ideological leanings. Tahrir Homs, like a lot of the battle hardened opposition remaining in Homs, is an Islamist brigade that is a military ally of Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The relationship between Nusra and Tahrir Homs with regards to governance was thought of as “uneasy” when Nusra first started to assert itself (and it’s strict version of Shari’a) in Homs, however they have likely grown closer as time has gone on and probably are currently participating in joint rebel governance structures together.

Read more on today's bombings on ISW's blog:

-- James Miller