U.S.-backed offensive against ISIS in northern Syria suffers devastating setback

McClatchy reports: The newest U.S.-backed offensive against the Islamic State in northern Syria suffered a devastating setback when the extremist group detonated an explosive-laden vehicle near a Kurdish-led column of armored vehicles, an Arab militia commander said Monday.

The Islamic State said the suicide bomber, with five tons of explosives, attacked a convoy of 70 vehicles Sunday, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, killed dozens of Arabs and members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.

Such vehicles are a favorite tactic of the Islamic State in northeastern Syria, according to another commander in the region, Abu Issa, of the Liwa Thurwar Al-Raqqa, or Raqqa Revolutionaries. He said between mid-July and mid-October, the Islamic State had sent 45 such vehicle bombs against his force, which is based north of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-styled capital. Among those killed were five of the 20 men who had been trained by the U.S. in the use of TOW anti-tank missiles.

“They empty out a 10-ton armored personnel carrier. They remove the seats and everything. There’s one driver, and he comes really fast,” Abu Issa told McClatchy in an interview last month. He said a TOW missile can stop the vehicle, but he said the U.S. had not supplied his forces with those missiles.

Abu Issa’s is not the only group hoping for U.S. arms in order to take on the Islamic State. Even the Sanadid militia, which took part in the fighting near al Hawl, has yet to receive U.S. ammunition, Bandar told McClatchy on Monday.

“We got nothing yet from the Americans,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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