ISIS massacres in Syria; Assad to aid Kurds?

ISIS fighters shot and beheaded some 700 members of the Shueitat tribe in eastern Syria over the past two weeks, crushing a local uprising against the jihadi forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. Tribesmen expelled ISIS fighters from the villages of Kishkiyeh, Abu Hamam and Granij in Deir el-Zour governorate earlier this month before the jihadists launched their counter-offensive. "They considered all members of the Shueitat tribe apostates because they rose against them," said a Turkey-based activist who is from the region and in touch with residents there. "Some men were taken out in the fields and beheaded while others were shot in the head." Syrian warplanes are bombing ISIS positions in an attempt to halt the militants' advance on an army base in the area. (AP, Aug. 18)

In an exclusive interview with independent Kurdish news agency Rudaw, Syria's Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi said his government is ready to support the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq against ISIS forces. Zoubi also claimed that Syrian government forces are battling ISIS fighters side-by-side with the PKK-aligned People's Protection Units (YPG) in the Kurdish-controlled areas of the country. The minister called on the international community to unite against ISIS, while accusing Turkey and Saudi Arabia of funding the jihadists. (Rudaw)

Meanwhile, Kurdish-American activists continued to press President Obama for stronger support of the KRG. "We thank the US and other countries in the world for their support of Kurdish Yezidis, Christian and other minority groups who have been traumatized by the Islamic State takeover," said Yuksel Serindag of the Kurdish American Society. "We also asked the US government to continue its support for the Kurdish Regional Government to stop the advance of the IS and its indescribable brutality toward these ancient communities. We also ask the US to recognize an independent Kurdish state in Iraq, for only in an independent Kurdish state can these communities live free without fear." (Rudaw)

Iraq's independent Azzaman news agency has accused the KRG's Peshmerga forces of torching homes of Arabs in the villages they retake from ISIS as they advance towards the city of Mosul aided by US aerial bombardment. The burning of Arab houses reportedly took place in the districts of Kuwair and Zammarat, southeast of Mosul, which had been taken by ISIS on Aug. 10. Azzaman reports a general exodus of Arabs from their villages in the area, fearing Kurdish reprisals. (Azzaman)