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Islamic State overruns Syrian artillery regiment in Hasakah

The Islamic State, led by troops loyal to Chechen commander Omar al Shishani took control of a Syrian Army artillery base in the eastern province of Hasakah. The jihadist group seized a large amount of military hardware and munitions, according to a video tour of the base.

The Islamic State's Hasakah Division released an eight-minute video on its YouTube account on Aug. 5 showing Islamic State fighters touring Regiment 121's headquarters. The video was tweeted by the Islamic State's Al Bakara News Twitter account and other accounts related to the group.

In the video, the cameraman walks through Regiment 121's base and documents the Islamic State's spoils of war. The video shows numerous artillery pieces and crates of shells, trucks for hauling artillery and rounds, a tank, a truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun, and what appear to be BM-21 Grad rocket launchers with several rockets yet to be launched. The vehicles seem to be undamaged and operational, but the Islamic State fighters do not drive the vehicles or fire the weapons.

When the cameraman goes indoors, he shows crates filled with AK-47 assault rifles and accompanying magazines, RPGs and rounds, and what appear to be shoulder-fired anti-tank launchers.

Additionally, a video of Omar al Shishani's fighters [below] at the base was distributed on YouTube six days ago. His fighters are bantering with other jihadists as fires burn behind them.

Shishani leads what are essentially the Islamic State's mobile shock troops. Shishani's forces have appeared at key hotspots in both Iraq and Syria as his forces are considered to be some the best in theater.

Regiment 121 "is considered one of the most important [units] for the Syrian army in the region, and performs an important role of targeting the headquarters and emplacements of militants in Hasakah's southern countryside, being deployed on high ground, which give it control by fire of large swaths of land," according to Al Monitor.

The Islamic State considered Regiment 121 to be a threat to its recent gains in Hasakah and Deir al Zour provinces, and launched its offensive to take the base on July 24. The Islamic State claimed it killed more than 100 Syrian soldiers during the fighting, but the group did not display the bodies of any dead soldiers.

The Islamic State has maintained offensive operations in both Iraq and Syria for the past two months. While the jihadist group and its allies have taken control of much of northern and Western Iraq since the beginning of the year, it has also fought the Syrian Army and jihadist and other rebel groups to seize control of most of Deir al Zour and Hasakah provinces, and has advanced into Aleppo and Homs as well.

[Source: By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, NJ, 06Aug14]

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