Backed by U.S. Airstrikes, Kurds Reverse an ISIS Gain– Tim Arango (New York Times)
(dailyalert.org, Dec. 19, 2014)
Kurdish forces, backed by a surge of American airstrikes in recent days, recaptured a large swath of Iraqi territory from Islamic State militants on Thursday, opening a path from the autonomous Kurdish region to Mount Sinjar in the west, near the Syrian border.
The two-day offensive, backed by 53 coalition airstrikes, involved 8,000 fighters.
At the same time, the Iraqi Army has continued to lose territory in western Anbar Province.
ISIS Approaches Israel’s Border with Syria – Amos Harel
For the first time since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, Islamic State has gained a presence near the border with Israel on the Golan Heights. Rebel groups in Syria today control about 90% of the border region. According to Arab media reports, three small jihadist groups that were fighting against the Assad regime in the southern Golan swore fealty this week to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They include Shuhada al-Yarmouk, the Abu Mohammed al-Tilawi Brigades and Bayt al-Maqdis. Shuhada al-Yarmouk comprises a few hundred armed men, while the other two contain several dozen each. (Ha’aretz)