Thomas Wictor

Shining a light is actually pretty fun

Shining a light is actually pretty fun

My hobby is looking at photos and videos from the Middle East. I started shining a light on all of this in June of 2014, to prove that the accusations being made against the Israeli Defense Forces were false. Now it’s an addiction.

Shining on Kurds

The Kurds and the Turks will have to work out their differences. Things aren’t as straightforward as people would have you think. Look at the Siege of Kobane to see that Turkey has helped Syrian Kurds on a large scale.

Both sides have an emotional investment in their positions, but I’m under no obligation to refrain from debunking lies when I see them.

This image is fake.

It’s a composite. The soldier was superimposed on the scene.

There’s a transparent dark shadow on both sides of his body (red arrows), which indicates that the soldier was lifted from another photo and clumsily inserted into this one. The hardest thing about making composites is blending in the edges. I use layering: First I insert the image, then I overlay the composite onto the original background, and finally I erase around the insertion.

To make a good composite, you need to use very high-resolution images.

And this flag is simply animation. Look at the shadows.

There’s enough genuine bad news. We don’t need to make up more.

Shining on al-Nusra

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise the al-Nusra Front has released a video of their assault on the village of Zitan.

Can you spot the issue?

They attacked an empty collection of buildings, many of which had never been inhabited. There’s no resistance. Nobody’s shooting at them.

And the al-Nusra Front shows no military skills whatsoever. First, the entire detachment goes over the top, exposing itself to enemy fire.

They had armored personnel carriers (APCs), but the men charged forward on foot instead. If they’d faced professional soldiers, they’d all be dead.

A main battle tank (MBT) does a doughnut for no reason at all.

The most vulnerable part of an MBT is the rear. All it would’ve taken was one antitank guided missile (ATGM) to knock out that whirling dervish.

Finally, men cross alleys like ducks in a shooting galley as one APC mindlessly drives back and forth, back and forth.

This was a commercial, not a battle. The al-Nusra Front and all the other jihadist rebel factions are in trouble.

Nusra undoubtedly retains a well of popular support in Idlib, even if its popularity has suffered lately. And some like the Idlib News Network’s Abu al-Baraa caution against deciding some factions are heroes and others villains in what he calls “a jungle.”

“If Jabhat al-Nusra could seize all the liberated areas, it would. If [rival faction] Feilaq al-Sham could, it would,” he said. “Let’s not philosophize and talk about patriotism, we all know—we live in a small neighborhood. We know each other.”

Thousands of Muslim professional unconventional warriors have infiltrated Syria and are helping the jihadist opposition destroy itself. Special operators are shining exemplars of sabotage and disinformation. They make the enemy sleepless with paranoia.

Another factor is the way that al-Qaeda has always done things, right from the beginning.

“‘Brother, we’re the ones responsible for you, we’re your emirs. You need to obey us, we need to head the operations rooms, we need to be leading the army.’ This happened without the [other] brigades’ consent—that’s the problem. They didn’t come through dialogue, they came by force.”

This is why the Arab League is patient. They met with and talked to Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Turkmens, Christians, and Muslims—Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Alawites— asking them over a period of years if they wanted help. It took a long time before trust was established, but the end result will be worth it.

Shining on rebels

The video below is said to show Islamist rebels in the process of driving the Islamic State from the strategic town of al-Rai.

Here is who these men are.

“This is the beginning of the end of Daesh [ISIL]. Those who have bet the FSA had been decimated are now proven wrong. It’s a victory for the Free Syrian Army,” said Abu Abdullah from the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Brigades that participated in the assault on the heavily defended border town.

“Al-Rai is a strategic region and it’s a gateway to proceed towards the regions of Jarabulus and al-Bab,” a fighter from the Faylaq al-Sham group told Al Jazeera.

An alliance of FSA groups formed for the offensive includes the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad and Faylaq al-Sham groups.

Well, every one of those militias fights the Kurds, the Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD), and the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC), each of which have large numbers of Arab League strategic special operators attached to them. There’s no explanation for what suddenly happened.

Rebels who previously struggled to make gains against ISIL in the area and had been fending off advances by Kurdish-led fighters mobilised several thousand fighters for the al-Rai attack, opposition sources said.

Without warning, the Kurds and these guys stopped fighting, the rebels produced “several thousand fighters,” and the very heavily defended village of al-Rai was taken pretty much effortlessly.

The video above shows no military skills at all.

Men who carry their rifles like that have no training, yet the Free Syrian Army is rolling up the Islamic State in northern Syria.

When the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and the worst of the jihadists are all dead, look who will have successfully participated in the vanquishing of Syria’s enemies.

a. The Syrian Arab Army.
b. The Kurds.
c. The Turkmens.
d. The Free Syrian Army.
e. The secular Arabs.
f. The Syriac Christians.

And the Alawites are now under the protection of the Arab League. Nobody will be left out. Everyone except Bashar al-Assad will have a place at the negotiating table.

In the background will be the Flying Black Box of Death, a gentle reminder.

Those lovely yellow-green explosions really encourage a spirit of cooperation and unity.

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