On Sunday, ISIS fighters captured Syria's Tabqa air base, the last Syrian military outpost in an area that is now dominated by the radical Jihadist organization. The air base had been the scene of intense fighting between ISIS and the Syrian military for the past week. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) estimates that at least 346 ISIS militants and 170 Syrian forces were killed in the assault. Securing the Tabqa air base marks yet another victory for ISIS, one that will allow the group to further solidify its hold over northern and eastern Syria.
Additionally, the base provided the militants with weaponry — including anti-aircraft systems — that could enable them to further advance their regional ambitions. IS fighters have captured SA-16 MANPADS, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles & MiG-21B jets in Tabaqa Airbase, Raqqa. ISIS fighters managed to loot SA-16 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), Sidewinder missiles, and even MiG-21B fighter jets.
It is extremely unlikely that the militants have the manpower or the expertise to make use of the jets or the Sidewinder missiles. But the MANPADS pose dangers of their own. SA-16 MANPADS are shoulder-mounted homing missiles that are relatively simple to use. A missile fired from an SA-16 can reach an aircraft flying as high as 16,000 feet. This would put low-flying aircraft and helicopters at risk of being targeted by the jihadists, raising additional challenges for carrying out airstrikes against ISIS.
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The Obama administration is offering new rewards of up to $5 million each for information leading to the location four top members of the Pakistan-based extremist Haqqani (hah-KAH'-nee) network and is boosting an existing $5 million reward for the group's leader to $10 million.
The State Department's Rewards for Justice program announced the bounty offers on Wednesday. The $10 million reward applies to Sirajuddin Haqqani, while the $5 million rewards are being offered for his relatives Aziz Haqqani, Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani and Yahya Haqqani, as well as Abdul Rauf Zakir.
The Haqqanis are allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and are accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, Pakistan, including the 19-hour siege at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.
Source: ABC News
Al-Qaida has urged the family of an American aid worker it abducted in Pakistan three years ago to demand that the U.S. government negotiate for his release. Warren Weinstein was abducted in August 2011, four days before his seven-year stint as a business development expert with the USAID was to end. He turned 73 in July.
Al-Qaida says it's "not interested in keeping" Weinstein but wants to exchange him for prisoners in U.S. custody. It criticizes the U.S. government over alleged "inaction" and for not contacting al-Qaida to negotiate for Weinstein's release.
The authenticity of the message could not be independently confirmed but it was posted on a website commonly used by militants. The White House has called for Weinstein's immediate release but has said it won't negotiate with al-Qaida.
Source: New Yotk Times