Is Anyone Still Watching Syria's Civil War?
As media attention turns elsewhere, the Syrian civil war continues to rage as ISIS consolidates its control of the region.By Ben Levin | July 18, 2014
Remember Syria? (Via Getty Images)
About the size of North Dakota, capital is Damascus, led by Bashar Al-Assad ... and home to the world's longest-running and deadliest civil war. (Via Euronews)
Yet between a crashed plane in Ukraine, Israeli tanks in Gaza, and the fall of northern Iraq to ISIS militants, the Western media has all but forgotten a conflict that has killed 170,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (Via The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post)
But the fighting rolls on, and things aren't going well for the opponents of Sunni extremist group ISIS.
And the weapons are working: Friday morning ISIS fighters captured a key gas field in central Syria, killing 90 government soldiers. (Via Al Arabiya)
"The Sunni rebel group now has oil assets which could produce 3,500 barrels a day. Some monitors estimate the Islamic state controls a massive expanse of land about five times the size of Lebanon." (Via Al Jazeera)
ISIS is also ramping up its attacks on Kurdish territory in Syria. A Kurdish fighter speaking to BBC said: "It is very difficult. We are short on weapons and our rocket-propelled grenades are not effective against [Isis'] tanks."
But the terrorist group hasn't lost its touch for low-tech intimidation. (Via Middle East Media Research Institute)
"The group, ISIS, is targeting mosques, shrines and churches. This is new video of the rebels taking sledgehammers — look at this — to tombs in Mosul." (Via Fox News)
And in the Syrian city of Raqqah, Syria Deeply reports an all-women ISIS squad is arresting women who aren't wearing hijabs.
So what's the plan for ISIS? Experts speaking to the Al-Monitor speculate the militants will next try to displace the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated but comparatively moderate rebel group.
Turkey is perhaps the only regional power left capable of challenging ISIS but has so far focused on protecting its own border.