PSYOP AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE
SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note: Text and/or images from this article have been used with permission by a Military Information Operations unit in Northern Iraq for a report on what the Peshmerga are doing in the IO/MISO sphere.
Symbol of Operation Inherent Resolve the Anti-ISIS Coalition
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Flag
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and known by its Arabic acronym Daesh is a militant Islamist group that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi jihadist doctrine of Sunni Islam. In this article I will only use the term ISIS. Its enemies use Daesh as a derogatory phrase: “one who sows discord.” The terrorist group was founded by the Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 and gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq followed by its capture of Mosul.
ISIS beheads 21 Egyptian Christians
The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations. ISIS is known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites. The United Nations blames ISIS for committing human rights abuses, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The videos were used to terrorize its enemies and cause them to capitulate. In mid-2014, ISIS established the Al Hayat Media Center, which targets Western audiences and produces material in English, German, Russian and French.
ISIS first pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda but later publicly expelled from it. It joined the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces under the name Operation Iraqi Freedom. In June 2014, the group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate and began referring to itself as the Islamic State. As a caliphate, it claimed religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide. A UN report estimated a total of 15,000 fighters from over 80 countries were in ISIS's ranks in November 2014. In September 2015, the CIA estimated that 30,000 foreign fighters had joined ISIS.
In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions, and by December 2015, it held an area extending from western Iraq to eastern Syria, containing an estimated 8 to 12 million people. In mid-2014, an international coalition led by the United States intervened against ISIS in Syria and Iraq with an airstrike campaign, in addition to supplying advisors, weapons, training, and supplies to ISIS's sworn enemies Iraq and Syria. This campaign led to the killing of tens of thousands of ISIS’s troops and damaging its financial and military infrastructure.
This was followed by a Russian intervention exclusively in Syria, in which ISIS lost thousands more fighters to airstrikes, cruise missile attacks, and other Russian military activities. In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army, followed by the loss of its political capital of Raqqa to the Syrian Democratic Forces. It continued to lose territory to the various military forces allied against it. By December 2017, the Islamic State controlled just 2% of its maximum territory it held in May 2015. In December 2017, Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of the Islamic State underground, three years after the group captured about a third of Iraq's territory. By March 2019, ISIS was just a shadow of what it had once been.
The Response to ISIS
Operation Inherent Resolve is the operational name given by the US to military operations against ISIS and Syrian al-Qaeda affiliates. Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) coordinated the military portion of the response. by December 2017 over 80,000 ISIS fighters had been killed in Iraq and Syria by CJTF-OIR airstrikes. By then the coalition had flown over 170,000 sorties. Lebanon fought off several incursions by ISIS, where the American and British-backed Lebanese Army succeeded in repulsing this invasion, killing, or capturing over 1,200 ISIS fighters.
A PSYOP Officer wrote a short description of the campaign against ISIS and gave me permission to show parts of it to my readers. The article is titled “The Effectiveness of Psychological Operations in the Cross Functional Team.” The author said in part (edited for brevity):
The rise of the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demonstrated the ability of a numerically inferior force utilizing irregular warfare to overcome adversity and impose its will upon a population. The propaganda units utilized the Al-Furqan Foundation for Media Production Company and legitimized their actions through the production of high-quality videos, posters, and most effectively, a well-maintained internet presence. This fanatical enemy welcomed death and saw nothing wrong with achieving their goals via the coalition onslaught. Can you kill an idea as perverse as the Islamic State? This question caused the American military to turn to the members of its Psychological Operations Branch. These men and women of “PSYOP” thrive in the cognitive domain. Tactically, the members of PSYOP were embedded within Cross Functional Teams (CFTs). These teams were compiled of representatives from PSYOP, Civil Affairs, Special Forces, and even Public Affairs.
Developing products such as posters, radio broadcasts, television commercials, and handouts ignited the movement and gave hope to those oppressed by ISIS. While assisting in the formation of the groups that would become the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) the members of PSYOP also worked to legitimize the fledgling force. Understanding the cognitive domain, PSYOP assisted in creating logos, slogans, and other imagery that resonated with the local community. They also created visual and audio products depicting the SDF as the liberating force. Within the ever-increasing humanitarian crisis, the State Department and Civil affairs worked tirelessly to stem the human suffering. Again, looking inward to the capabilities of the Cross Functional Team members, the messaging capabilities of the Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) became paramount. TPT members were able to create messaging focused on the internally displaced persons (IDPS) scattered throughout the country. The range of messaging directed toward the displaced persons varied from such mundane topics as basic hygiene while in State Department displaced persons camps, to the dangers of the Islamic State.
Working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), PSYOP members were able to assist in the crafting of themes and imagery used in their daily address. The tangible effects of the effectiveness can be seen in the increase in social media followers. Of note, during the initial meeting with the SDF Press, they wielded a sole Twitter account with 111 followers to combat the robust international media empire run by ISIS. In four months, this capability was grown to multiple official Twitter accounts with upwards of 60 thousand followers.
The campaign to eradicate the Islamic State posed a unique opportunity for the members of the Psychological Operations branch. These specialized NCOs and Officers were once again call upon to accomplish a seemingly impossible task, influence a group of fanatical individuals, while supporting a fledgling state. Partnering with their Special Operations, and conventional partners the members of PSYOP amplified effects, while simultaneously facilitating both lethal, and non-lethal targeting. Although seldom overtly recognized in the same esteem as their fellow special operators, the dedicated men and women of the Psychological Operations Regiment were a vital component to the enduring defeat of the Islamic State in Syria.
In the name of Allah, the most merciful
Helicopters dropped leaflets over Mosul on 20 August 2014, urging the population to stand against ISIS and support Iraqi security forces. Here is a full translation of the leaflet:
In the name of Allah the most merciful
You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah - indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination.
Truthful is the great Allah
To our people of Mosul the Hadbaa'
To the dear people of Mosul the Hadbaa'
Iraq and all of you, the people of the great Mosul, have been plagued by an ignorant and penitential tide and by gangs that gathered from all corners of the world to invade your city. They planted the seeds of destroying your sanctities, widening the schism between you, destroying your heritage, looting your resources, and starving your children with an outside support that is now clear to everyone.
The time has come, oh true Iraqis, that we all stand together on the land of your immaculate city one hand against this suspicious tide, we cut its roots, and make our land graveyard for those infidels.
God Bless, God is Our Best Ally
Iraqi Ministry of Defense
ISIS captured Mosul on June 10 and immediately began enforcing Sharia law, destroying churches and causing all Assyrian Christian residents to flee the city.
Our last warning
The Syrian Arab Army dropped leaflets on ISIS and other rebel-held groups in December 2014. This all-text leaflet says:
Our last warning:
The decision to end terror and restore security is taken. Our next strikes will be bigger and harder, we have enough power to end terror on the entire planet.
We advise you to drop your weapons and surrender yourself.
The Syrian Arab Army forces.
Mixed Syrian Leaflets
Here a selection of Syrian leaflets dropped on enemy forces during December 2014.
The Inevitable Advance of the Syrian army
In February 2015, Syrian warplanes dropped leaflets urging enemy forces in the countryside of Quneitra, Daraa and Damascus to surrender themselves before it is "too late." The leaflets asked the units in Dael, Jassem, Sheikh Miskeen, Tafas and Yadodeh areas in the countryside of Daraa to hand over their weapons and communicate with regime's army through gmail at the following address: email@example.com.
The leaflets spoke of the "inevitable advance of the Syrian army," requesting residents and enemy fighters to evacuate their villages immediately. The leaflets invited village residents to communicate with the antiterrorism and Special Operations Unit departments through their Skype account: Syria.terroriste. The leaflets stated anti-terrorism specialists were awaiting their communication, and that regime victories in Daraa, Idleb and Hama were thanks to residents of those provinces.
Syrian Democratic Forces
On 3 February 2015 the Coalition dropped leaflets over the ISIS-occupied city of Raqqa depicting Syrian Democratic Forces (actually Syrian Kurds and Arab, Turkmen and Armenian militias, as well as Free Syrian Army units) chasing ISIS terrorists as women and children cheer. The text is:
Syrian Democratic Forces are killing Daesh terrorists everywhere. Soon they'll do the same thing in Raqqa
The Democratic forces
The back of the leaflet depicts an Isis terrorist attacking a frightened family with a knife. Two Syrian Democratic Forces fighters step forward and open fire on the Isis fighter. The text is:
The Democratic forces of Syria are advancing to liberate the city of Raqqa from ISIS.
On 16 March 2015, the first report of a use of propaganda leaflets specifically aimed at the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), occurred near Raqqa, Syria, its self-proclaimed capital. An Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter dropped 60,000 of the leaflets in a specialized PDU-5B leaflet-dispenser bomb for the first time in Syria.
The leaflet is rather dark and realistic, almost photographic in nature. It depicts a line of innocent young volunteers who have flocked to join the Islamic State being fed into a meat grinder by two bloody and villainous-looking adults in a barren room identified as the DAISH Recruiting Office. The meat-grinder is also labeled DAISH; an Arab acronym for Al-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah fe Al-Iraq wa Al-Sham (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Another sign reads, Now serving 6001, and the next recruit in line drops a ticket that says 6001.
This concept of the enemy throwing fighters into a meat grinder is a common one and variations were used in Korea and Vietnam by U.S. PSYOP troops. Although unverified, it has been reported that this was the first use of PSYOP by American forces against ISIS. There have been some published comments by ISIS volunteers in social media of the way they were treated and the propagandists appear to be attempting to exploit those reported problems. Some of those militants have been reluctant to fight in the city of Kobani, on the border with Turkey, where U.S.-led airstrikes have killed hundreds of fighters.
Leaflet air drop
On 18 March 2015 Iraqi planes dropped two million leaflets over Mosul urging civilians to collaborate against the Islamic State ahead of a military push. Iraqi Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft made the drops to mobilize the people. U.S. and Iraqi officials have pledged to retake Mosul after it fell to ISIS in June 2014. Making contact with residents inside Mosul has been difficult after ISIS destroyed the city's communications network.
The generous people of Mosul
The leaflet is addressed to The generous people of Mosul, and promised that the city would be liberated soon. Some of the text is:
The day you were waiting for, your liberation, is close. It is time to drive out the infidels of ISIS from your holy land. Your armed forces are close to you, and they are ready to participate with you in defeating ISIS forever. Find their hidden locations [and] record their outrageous actions. Mosul is your city, Iraq is your Iraq.
Point out those who cooperate with them to destroy your ancient civilization. Your brothers in Salahuddin taught them [the Islamic State] a lesson they will never forget, and so will you.
At the time, the Iraqi armed forces were advancing in parts of Anbar, pushing Islamic State militants back in the town of Garma, west of Baghdad, though they remain under pressure in the provincial capital of Ramadi. Security officials raised concerns about the Iraqi forces' capability to hold ground in Sunni areas it seizes. The military relies significantly on Shiite militias, running the risk of alienating the local population.
On 17 May 2015 US-led coalition warplanes dropped Syrian-language leaflets on Raqqa that said in part:
Zero hour has become very near
We have killed many of your leaders and countless fighters. We can raid you wherever you are at any time at any place and you have no power to stop us. We will never quit, and you are destined to lose your war. The hour of your destruction has approached and the zero hour has become very near. Your area of control is dwindling and growing smaller daily. We have struck you in the heart of your claimed territory, and we have taken an Emir [Sayyaf] while you could do nothing about it.
The leaflet shows an ISIS soldier about to be cut in half by the moving minutes hand of a large clock labeled "Daesh." This is similar to leaflets dropped by both the Allies and Germans in WWII that depicted a clock and mentioned that it was five minutes to twelve. The concept being that the finder should not be killed in the last moments of a war.
The Emir mentioned above is Abu Sayyaf, who was killed by U.S. Delta Forces on 16 May in a raid into Syria. He helped direct ISIS's illicit oil, gas and financial operations, which are perhaps their main source of revenue. The leaflet was dropped the day after his death.
To the people of Nainawa
On 3 July 2015 the residents of Mosul woke up to leaflets raining down on them from the sky. The Iraqi Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets on the city that had been controlled by ISIS for over a year. The text of the leaflet is:
In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most Merciful,
To the people of Nainawa, the patient and the ones standing alone so far,
Every step the government is taking towards Mosul, your great city, is putting into account your future, your sacrifices and your holy and utmost precious freedom in its calculation to free you from ISIL, which profane your city a year ago. Your relief now has come to light, and we are in a position where liberation is so close to reality. Your Military forces are getting close, cooperate with them and stay away from ISIL militants with whatever you see fit, to put down in your records that you are the liberators and you are the ones who will role the city and plan its destiny, and you are capable of it.
All victory is by Allah
PS We advise every citizen of the city to carry a radio on you constantly. Soon Al Mosul FM will start broadcasting to fill you up with important instructions necessary to your safety and to contribute towards your liberation.
ISF Province of Nainawa
Iraqi Department of Defense
Syrian Army Safe Conduct Pass
This Syrian leaflet was allegedly dropped over Homs and tells the rebel forces how to approach the Syrian Arab Army checkpoints and how to surrender and be reunited with their families. Text on the front and back is:
The holder of this pass is allowed to cross security forces checkpoints to surrender. The holder of this pass will be well treated and reunited with his family after verifications are conducted.
Your last chance to stay alive is to give up your weapons because there is nothing you can do against the Syrian army. Dont miss that opportunity, go back to your family and stop fueling hatred around you.
In July 2015, the Syrian Free Press Network stated that Syrian Army forces supported by Hezbollah from Lebanon claimed to have taken back the town of al-Zabadani: The above leaflet was thrown from Syrian Army helicopters inviting terrorists to surrender. The offensive is part of a wider operation launched by Syria and Hezbollah which has reportedly driven militants out of more than 90 percent of the territory previously controlled by them in mountainous Qalamoun region. The highly strategic area, which straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border, was previously used by the al-Nusrah Front militants for transferring weapons and ammunition into Syria, where they have been involved in terrorist activities.
The Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) has an official Twitter account. Several anti-ISIS cartoons have appeared to be re-tweeted to other anti-ISIS followers. It is unknown if these have also been prepared as leaflets.
Feed Children to the Devil
This image shows ISIS members taking little children, giving them rifles and feeding them to the Devil.
Doorway to Death
This Twitter image depicts an Arab being offered a door into what appears to be a beautiful palace. On the other side, death and destruction await.
Kurdish Peshmerga (Those who Face Death) Propaganda
The Kurds are an interesting story. They occupy parts of Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and have been persecuted by all of those countries, especially the Turks who attacked and bombed them for years. Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds on occasion and after Operation Desert Storm the United States rescued many of them under Operation Provide Comfort. Throughout all this they have fought for a homeland and now have one of the stronger armies in the area. They seem to be aggressively carrying a good part of the fight against ISIS which is a surprise considering the other larger nations that are strongly supported by the U.S.
Dont feed the Flytrap
Here they produce a propaganda image showing the Arab countries feeding or aiding ISIS, which takes the opportunity to bite the hand that feeds it.
Bombs for Brains
This Peshmerga image seems to show donkey-eared fools (an insult among the Arabs) having their brains removed and replaced by bombs. They run forward with knives in their hands, looking for people to slaughter or an occupied place to possibly blow themselves up.
Turkey bombs ISIS and the Kurds
I mentioned above that part of the Kurd alleged homeland encompasses Turkey. As a result, Turkey has been very hesitant to help in the fight against ISIS. On 24 July 2015, Turkish F-16s finally did bomb some ISIS targets in Syria, but they also attacked seven militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targets in Northern Iraq, calling them terrorists. The above Peshmerga image depicts a Turkish aircraft giving a friendly wave to his ISIS friends while he bombs and strafes the Kurds.
Dont Poke a Hornets Nest
This Peshmerga cartoon shows an ISIS member who has poked a hornets nest being chased by an angry swarm. The nest is in the colors of the Kurdish flag; red, white and green with a yellow center, so the meaning of the cartoon is clear. Mess with the Kurds and you will get stung repeatedly.
The Kurdish Flag
Iraqi Army anti-ISIS propaganda
Long live our Lover!
This cartoon depicts an Iraqi Army soldier thrashing a mad-dog ISIS killer who is murdering women and children. In the background, Muslims who support ISIS hold a sign saying:
Long live our lover!
Although not exactly propaganda, we know that the war for and against ISIS has been fought on the Internet, especially in social media such as Facebook. However, one must be careful when using such media.
Some U.S. Air Force Intelligence people from the 361st ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Group were checking social media at Hurlburt Air Force Base, Florida. They spotted a selfie with a man standing in front of a building bragging that this was the command and control center for ISIS. They immediately began trying to identify the building and 22 hours later, three Joint Direct Attack Munitions destroyed the enemy headquarters.
Freedom will Come
On 19 July 2015 the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the group Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered stated that 50,000 leaflets had been dropped noth of Raqqa on 18 July. The Pentagon waited until 23 July to verify the air drop. The leaflets depicted dead ISIS extremists on the ground and their flag turned upside down at the left. Four fighters with the main Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units, or YPG, walked down a street in the picture. Beneath the soldiers on the road are the words:
Freedom will Come
The leaflet has also been translated as Freedom is Rising and Freedom will Shine. The latest leaflet drop comes as YPG fighters have been advancing in northern Syria as close as 30 miles north of Raqqa in a campaign called Euphrates Volcano, Nicholas Heras, a researcher with the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security adds:
The message that this leaflet sends is not at all ambiguous: ISIS is demonic, an army straight out of hell, and that the soldiers sent to vanquish it will succeed and will do so marching with the dawn of righteousness at their backs. The light of the dawn, which vanquishes the darkness of ISIS rule, also has an overtone that the soldiers defeating ISIS are the ones who are holy, not ISIS, and that they are doing heavenly work.
Allegedly, the July 18 leaflet drop is the fourth such propaganda mission since March. The military has declined to release estimates on the effectiveness of the leaflets except to say they believe the drops have had a positive effect.
British researcher Lee Richards told me:
A few months back I asked a United States Army press officer if he could assist with getting examples of leaflets and broadcasts addressed to ISIS. I received a firm No in reply. A pattern seems to be emerging; leaflets get mentioned online or in social media by those in-country, followed later with by an official confirmation.
Truth or Disinformation the ISIS Suicide Chickens
This story is so bizarre that I hesitate to mention it. The July 2015 story comes from a legitimate news source, Khaama Press of the Afghan News Agency. It was forwarded by a USAF officer stationed in Afghanistan. It says that due to the US bombing of supply lines and the difficulty in finding heavy vehicles for terrorist acts, ISIS has begun putting suicide vests on chickens and goats which are then allowed to roam freely into populated areas where they are electronically exploded. I find this story extremely hard to believe, but the reader has the right to make a decision about whether or not this is true. The news article says in part:b
According to reports, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group militants have started using chickens as mobile improvised explosive devices in and around the city of Fallujah. In the meantime, reports also emerged recently suggesting the terror group strapping IEDS to a goat that was sent into a Kurdish base in the Syrian city of Kobane.
Special Forces Insignia
On 16 September 2015, the head of the US military's Central Command General Lloyd Austin reportedly told a Senate committee that US Special Operations Forces are engaged with YPG Kurdish forces in Syria. Austin said that the special operations team was there to advise and assist and that they were not engaged in any combat operations. Kurdish fighters in the People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria have been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS and now autonomously control a vast swathe of territory captured from the group and Syrian government.
It is hard to tell whether this is good or bad news, and one wonders if the enemy or your enemy is your friend as so often said. In September 2015 Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of the al Qaida terrorist group that sponsored the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, accused ISIS top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of sedition and insisted the Iraqi terrorist was not the leader of all Muslims and militant jihad as caliph of the Islamic State, as al-Baghdadi had claimed 14 months ago in a Mosul mosque. Trouble has occurred before between the two terrorist groups; ISIS reportedly killed a top Zawahiri emissary trying to broker a ceasefire between the fighters in Syria in February 2014.
Russian Leaflet Drop over Syria
In September 2015 the Russians involved themselves in Syria sending aircraft and troops to help President Assad. They started bombing raids about 1 October. There was considerable worry that the American and Russian aircraft might come into contact. The American forces were bombing ISIS, but the Russians, to aid Assad, were bombing both ISIS and Coalition-backed rebels. Syrian army helicopters have dropped tens of thousands of leaflets on ISIS and rebel fighters. The leaflets were dropped out of ageing Russian-made Mi-8 helicopters guided by a tablet with Google Maps.
The Russians were also involved in leaflet drops. Two of the leaflets are all text and one is a cartoon showing US and Israeli hands winding up an al Nusrah Front guerrilla. The leaflets are aimed at both civilians and fighters, and warn them to leave the area.
Safe Passage Ticket
The first leaflet warns the people to leave the region. It targets civilians, and is designed to look like 'religious literature. It said they can travel through Syrian checkpoints safely with the leaflet, and the government will give them food and medical aid. Some of the text is:
Safe Passage Ticket
- Anyone carrying this ticket can cross the Syrian Arab Army check points safely.
- The Syrian Arab Army will provide medical aid and food for all who present this ticket.
- Cooperate with the Syrian Arab Army and leave the region.
The Nation Calls to its People
The second leaflet targeted the rebels and urged rebel fighters to give up their arms. It said in part:
The Nation Calls to its People
To all people who are carrying weapons, The Syrian Arab Army affirms that the end of this crisis is near.
Do not do this to yourselves. The future is in front of you and there is an opportunity to come back to the nation. Take this opportunity to leave your weapons just as hundreds have across the country. Be welcomed back.
General Commander Armed Forces.
Mercenaries of America and Israel
The third leaflet features a cartoon of an al-Nusrah front figurine being wound up by Israel and the United States. Since Russia was bombing all the rebels fighting against Assad indiscriminately, it places Al-Nusrah and ISIS in the same category. The message accompanying the propaganda cartoon - designed to sow divisions between the extremist factions said in part:
Al-Nusrah terrorists are paid by America and Israel.
Kurdish Peshmerga Forces Congratulate Putin
Curiously, the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS seem to think that Putin is doing a better job than the Americans. Considering the fact that allegedly Putin is bombing everyone that is not in Assads Army, this seems like a strange comment of approval. Perhaps the Kurds want the United States to take a more forceful part in the bombing. A reader shares my doubts. He writes:
The use of the word "several" in place of the more logical "a few" is a commonly used mistranslation...if you are Russian speaking. My suggestion: this picture was not made by Kurdish but rather Russian sources. It is fake news.
The Russian Kalibr Cruise Missile
The Russians continue their assault against ISIS. On 7 October Russian warships attacked ISIS positions in Syria from the Caspian Sea. 26 Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from warships toward the provinces of Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib approximately 930 miles away. ISIS has strongholds in Raqqa and Aleppo while the Nusrah Front has a strong presence in Idlib. The missiles had to fly over Iran and Iraq and it was reported that four of the cruise missiles aimed at targets in Syria missed their target and crashed in Iran. The Russians claimed that all the missiles hit their targets and those crashes were American propaganda and never occurred.
Syria's conflict, which began as an uprising against Assad in March 2011 has so far killed 250,000 people by October 2015, according to U.N. figures.
ISIS fights back with Condoms
This sounds so much like a gag that I checked the source to see if it was a satirical newspaper. It is not. I should preface this story by saying that in WWII the Allies used barrage balloons floated over friendly forces. The balloons were attached to ground by chains, the idea being that enemy aircraft flying low to strafe them might hit the chains and destroy their motors or tear off their wings. So, there is a military precedent.
Because of the damage inflicted by Russian aircraft, according to the British newspaper Express, Isis has filled condoms with gas and attached an explosive. When the Russian aircraft appear, ISIS releases these balloons, apparently hoping they will be sucked into the Russian fighters air intake, or perhaps that the explosive will occur near a Russian fighter bringing it down. I cant make this stuff up!
Cash to Keep your Head?
After the Communists took over Vietnam, members of the old regime were forced into camps where they sat through re-education classes to bring their thinking in line with the new government. ISIS is doing something similar in areas under its control, but instead of education it has become a major source of income. Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi mentions this in his blog of 28 September 2015. He says in part:
The concept of repentance is key for the Islamic State whenever it takes over a new area and aims to consolidate control. Whoever undergoes repentance under ISIS successfully is issued a repentance ID document that stipulates the person has abandoned his/her apostasy and is to be treated like the rest of the Muslim populace under ISIS rule...It also turns out that repentance is apparently a source of revenue for ISIS, as a fee is charged for the initial act of repentance with additional payment required for subsequent renewal of repentance. I have translated the testimony this month of pro-ISIS source Omar Fawaz of Mosul regarding payments for repentance. It appears the sums are quite hefty and have contributed to the harsh negative impact on living standards. Examples:
When those affiliated with the army and police repented in the last year, the Islamic State demanded from us a sum of $2500 in exchange for accepting repentance and forgiving us, so we paid it and obtained a repentance ID, and days ago we were informed that we must renew the repentance ID by paying a sum of $200, and the one who doesn't renew the repentance ID will be considered an apostate and will be executed in punishment We are employees of the elections delegation and the Islamic State today demands us to pay a sum of $1000 in exchange for obtaining a repentance ID, and we have not received any salary for more than a year.
Conflict News reported in October 2015 that this Russian leaflet depicting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and a fancy Omega watch was dropped by the Russians on Hama and Deir al-Zor. The watch appeared on the wrist of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when he announced the formation of a caliphate in Iraq in 2014.
Al-Baghdadi wears a $200,000 watch and sends poor Muslims to die
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Banknote
The Banknote back
This leaflet was prepared by the Syrians and dropped by their air force over eastern Damascus areas under opposition control portraying al-Baghdadi and al-Jolani (the ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra leaders) calling all the rebel fighters to repent for their sins. The leaflet was dropped by Syrian aircraft in early November of 2015. The text on the back of the dollar is:
This is the end of the dirty money. Return to your God. The best sinners are those repenting their sins.
Airstrikes are Coming LF01
On 15 November 2015, four U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthogs and two AC-130 gunships blew up a truck park near Abu Kamal, Iraq. The Warthogs dropped twenty-four 500-pound bombs, and added strafing runs with the 30mm Gatling guns. The American pilots destroyed 116 tankers carrying oil that could fund the Islamic State. The Pentagon followed this up with another massive strike on 22 November, taking out nearly 300 trucks in an attack near Al Hasakah and Deir Ezzor in neighboring Syria as part of Operation Tidal Wave II. The name Tidal Wave II is a throwback to a WWII bombing operation in which the U.S. bombed an Axis oil refinery in Ploesti, Romania in 1943 to cut off fuel for the Nazis. The planes dropped leaflets in the area before the bombing. The leaflet text in Arabic is:
Warning. Air Strikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.
Text in English adds:
Get out of your trucks now and run away from them.
The back of the leaflets depicted the same oil trucks burning. It warned that all oil facilities controlled by ISIS could be attacked. The text on the back of the leaflet is:
The oil tankers will be destroyed because they are the lifeline of Daesh. Leave your tanker and run away.
Note: The terror group prefers to be called ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State. It reportedly hates the derogatory term Daesh so much that its spokesmen have threatened to cut out the tongue of anyone using it. Note also that although the leaflet is uncoded, someone has written LF-01 on the specimen so we now have a general idea of the coding system.
Coalition warning LF02
A second American leaflet had a map of eastern Syria and the major roads and smuggling routes on one side that implied that the U.S. fighter-bombers knew the terrain and the secret roads and that if any smuggler chose to ignore the U.S.-led Coalition's warning, they would be destroyed. ISIS fighters claimed this leaflet was dropped shortly after the one showing the oil trucks. The other side of the leaflet showed fighters pulling away from a bombing raid leaving a city in flames. These are very similar to WWII leaflets dropped by the Germans showing London in flames after raids by V-1 missiles. The text for the map side is:
Warning! Tankers and oilfield equipment that are used to support DAESH will be targeted by Coalition forces. Fuel tanker drivers and other workers at DAESH's oil refineries will be in danger and be a target for Coalition forces.
The text on the burning city side is:
DAESH's oilfield operations are funding terrorism and repressing people. Coalition forces will continue to attack all of DAESH's oil refineries until the group is defeated. All must stay away from these refineries because Coalition forces are keeping up air attacks on DAESH and its oil refineries.
The anti-ISIS coalition has targeted Islamic State oil infrastructure since bombing began in 2014, frequently hitting mobile oil refineries. Militants were able to quickly repair oil infrastructure. In 2015, The United States developed a broader list of targets, including well heads, oil collection points, trucks and the distribution network. The air campaign was named Tidal Wave II, after the World War II air bombing campaign aimed at destroying oil refineries in Romania to cut off oil for the Axis powers.
In regard to the general bombing of ISIS, from August 2014 to December 2015, U.S. and Coalition forces have conducted more than 8,200 airstrikes against Islamic State targets.
F-16 over Syria
A third American leaflet depicts a fighter dropping a bomb, at the left an explosion and at the right troops. The website Conflict News says that this leaflet was allegedly dropped over ISIS territory in Aleppo calling for their surrender. The text is:
Fighters of DAESH: Your leaders make you a target for the airstrikes of the coalition forces. You don't have to be a victim. Go back to your homes and families.
40 Types of Bombs
The Syrian Civil War website reported that the Syrian Air Force dropped the above leaflet over Hama, Idlib, and Latakia. The leaflet shows a fighter firing rockets on the front and the back is all text. Some of the text is:
This aircraft has 40 different types of bombs that can hit the ground, the underground and fortified targets. There is no hiding from them.
It is time to face reality. The world is changing fast. Save yourself. It is not worth it. Throw away your weapons. This is your last chance.
To our people
On 16 October 2015, a plain all-text leaflet was dropped by the Syrian Air Force over Aleppo. The text is:
To our people in the Southern and Western Countryside of Aleppo
The Syrian Arab Army has begun to liberate you from terrorist organizations.
Any housing of, or cooperation with terrorists will make you a target for our armed forces.
Any villages in which terrorist convoys leave from or return to will be a target.
All who raise the white flag will be safe.
Your children who help the armed forces during the operation will receive amnesty.
On 9 November 2015, Baghdad announced that the Iraqi air force had dropped leaflets on areas in Anbar province. It said in part:
Iraq Air Force dropped, this evening, millions of leaflets over areas in Anbar province; those areas are Ramadi, Fallujah, Heet, Kabisa and Qaim. The leaflets include guidance for a private radio station and a special number to send information in preparation for cleansing all areas of the province.
The Last 15 minutes
We dont know when or where the Syrian military dropped this leaflet although the source said that it was probably Homs or Deir el Zor. It was sent to us by a Syrian to be added to this article. The text is interesting, almost poetic:
The Last 15 minutes
To the Armed ones: It is time for the truth.
The world is changing quickly the Army is advancing
Think of yourself waiting will cost you your life
Do not hesitate quickly discard your weapons so you can save your life and your future.
The Syrian Army and Armed Forces
In another drop by Syrian helicopter two leaflets were disseminated. One showed a group of guerrillas laying down their rifles and the text:
The first bunch: 700 militants put down their weapons and chose life. You have little time left. Take the initiative and make the right decision. Choose life.
The second leaflet is all text and is either a separate item or could be the back of the leaflet showing the guerrillas. It says:
My brother, Citizens,
The Syrian Arab Armys decision is to eradicate the criminal terrorist gangs wherever they are found. Your cooperation with the forces of the Syrian Arab Army helps in returning the security and stability to your region.
The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces
Turkey shoots down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24
On 24 November the war in Syria got more dangerous when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane. The Turks claimed the Russian were warned 10 times. Putin labeled Turkey accomplices of terrorists. Putin called it a stab in the back, a term with historical precedence. American President Franklin D. Roosevelt talked about the Invasion of France by Italy in 1940 at a time when French troops were fighting the Germans. He said:
The hand that held the dagger has stuck it into the back of its neighbor.
Curiously, another historical precedence occurred in WWI when after a Serbian assassinated an Austro-Hungarian leader a dozen treaties kicked in starting WWI. In this case, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downing of the Russian plane would have "serious consequences. A Russian attack on Turkey might require a NATO response. An attack on one member is considered to be an attack on all 26 members. I do not believe the world is ready to go to war over Syria, but it is interesting how history tends to repeat itself.
An Anti-Assad Leaflet
We dont know who among Syrian President Bashar Assads enemies prepared this leaflet. It could be the Americans, the Kurds, ISIS, or it could be any of the guerrilla forces trying to overthrow him. This leaflet was actually found on the ground near the Russian embassy, in Beirut, Lebanon. The leaflet is covered with blood and that seems accidental, although there is a very slight possibility that it was printed that way to imply that Assad was a butcher. It would be a good technique, but I dont think most of the anti-Assad forces would have such imagination. The text is:
Listen well, we will execute you and kill your children just like you killed Syrian children.
A Chair for You
This would appear to be another anti-Assad leaflet printed by one of the warring groups against the Syrian government. It is an odd piece and simply depicts a chair with the back resembling a shirt and casual jacket of the kind favored by Assad. The leaflet was found in Alewite areas of Syria in May 2015. President Assad is of Alawite descent. The Alawites, also known as Alawis, are an Islamic sect, centered in Syria, that is a controversial branch of Shia Islam. During the Syrian Civil War, the Alawites have suffered as a result of their support for the Assad government against the mainly Sunni opposition. I thought this was a threat against Assad, but the translator said it is simply a statement that means something like you sit there with no conscience while thousands die. The leaflet text is:
You sit comfortably while thousands die
On 1 December 2015, the U.S. authorized a Special Operations targeting force in Iraq as part of the intensified military effort to fight ISIS. The special operations force would conduct raids, free hostages held by ISIS, gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders in both Iraq and Syria. Some U.S. Special Operations forces operated inside Iraq before this date as advisors to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, but allegedly have not engaged in unilateral raids.
The United States and its Coalition partners spent the year 2015 trying to stop the flow of recruits to ISIS through propaganda broadcasts, television and social media. It is a battle that the West lost. According to intelligence reports, the number of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria more than doubled since 2014 to at least 27,000. Between 27,000 and 31,000 foreign fighters from 86 countries were in Iraq and Syria by 2015, compared with a figure of about 12,000 foreign fighters in June 2014.
In late December 2015, the Syrian Arab Air Force Dropped over 160,000 Leaflets in the East Ghouta region of rural Damascus. The short message to the rebels was:
Surrender Now, The Syrian Army Is Coming! Long live Assad!
ISIS bolstering Loyalty
There was little news about ISIS as 2015 came to an end. The Coalition and Russians were bombing them with additional help from France and Canada. Some of the Syrian and Western fighters that joined ISIS deserted during a battle near the Iraqi city of Mosul. As a result, 10 were beheaded as an example. Apparently, this is ISIS PSYOP to bolster the loyalty of its members. An Isis spokesman said:
The militants were found guilty for evacuating a post at the battlefront, where clashes took place between them and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The Sharia Court of Mosul decided to behead them in front of hundreds of ISIS members in order to prevent others from taking such a move without the permission of their military leadership.
It is not the first time ISIS has used public beheadings as a warning to others to obey orders. In November 2015, they executed 73 militant fighters for fleeing from battles with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
In May 2015, U.S. Special Forces captured a huge trove of documents in Syria. The documents were published in December. One was an extremely detailed fatwa on when ISIS owners of enslaved women can have sex with them. The fatwa has the force of law. Among the fatwas injunctions are bans on a father and son having sex with the same female slave; and the owner of a mother and daughter having sex with both. Joint owners of a female captive are similarly enjoined from intercourse because she is viewed as part of a joint ownership.
The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the Islamic State of the systematic abduction and rape of thousands of women and girls as young as 12. ISIS has boasted about it and established a department of war spoils to manage slavery. The Fatwa lists 15 injunctions. One says:
If the owner of a female captive, who has a daughter suitable for intercourse, has sexual relations with the latter, he is not permitted to have intercourse with her mother and she is permanently off limits to him. Should he have intercourse with her mother then he is not permitted to have intercourse with her daughter and she is to be off limits to him.
Iraqi Soldier Celebrates Retaking Ramadi
The year 2016 started off with a minor defeat for ISIS as they were pushed out of the city of Ramadi in Iraq. The liberation of Ramadi took seven months. It was held by no more than 1,000 ISIS fighters and the Iraqi Security Forces had concentrated roughly 10,000 troops with armor and heavy artillery against it. The ISF was backed by American air power and supported by American intelligence and advisers. The Americans wanted Sunnis to liberate the Sunni town and did not want to use Shia forces which had massacred Sunnis in other areas. The Americans were deeply involved in every phase of this battle and it appears that the Iraqis are not yet ready to take on ISIS without massive American aid.
The increased bombing mentioned above might be having some effect on the economic stability of ISIS. The Islamic State announced plans to halve the monthly salaries of its members in Syria and Iraq:
Because of the exceptional circumstances that the Islamic State is passing through, a decision was taken to cut the salaries of the mujahedeen in half. No one will be exempt from this decision no matter his position.
This 2016 photo was taken in Hangar Bay 1 of the USS Harry S Truman CVN-75. It shows 2,000-pound JDAMs being brought up from the ship’s magazines where the bombs were assembled and readied for transport to the flight deck so they could be loaded onto F/A-18C and F/A-18E aircraft.
Syrian ISIS fighters would have their salary cut from $400 to $200 per month. Foreign fighters, who were paid double the Syrian militants, would have their monthly income reduced from $800 to $400 per month. Some of this economic distress could be a result of the United States starting to bomb ISIS cash repositories in January 2016. There were two air strikes, one of them against the El Rafidayn Bank in Mosul. The U.S. believes it destroyed up to three-quarters of a billion dollars, plus an estimated several hundred pounds of gold. U.S. intelligence had been studying ISISs communications and that is where they came up with the numbers for the alleged loss of wealth. A short time later it was reported that ISIS asked Raqqa residents to pay utility bills in black market American dollars, and will release detainees for a price of $500 a person. They had originally bought fighters with good salaries, honeymoon and baby bonuses, and free energy drinks and Snickers bars. Apparently, the happy days are over. In the Iraqi city of Fallujah, ISIS fighters who once made $400 a month aren't being paid at all and their food rations have been cut to two meals a day.
Three of the Jaysh al-Islam Leaflets
In January 2016, anti-government forces of Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) reported that they had used drones to drop 20,000 leaflets over a number of Damascus areas: including the famed Old City, the upscale Muhajireen quarter near the presidential palace, and the Aash al-Warour district on the foothills of Mount Qasioun. Some of the reported messages on the small slogan slips are:
Very soon, the liberated Damascus will welcome you!
The Army of Islam is coming with thousands of Mujahideen to the walls of the city; we will reinstate the right to its owners.
The Terrorist and sectarian-minded Bashar doesnt care about you, He doesnt care about your blood! What are you waiting for!
Do not allow the slaughterer to lead away your sons to kill and terrorize innocent people.
Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve Weekly Strike Update
A report like this was produced each week showing attacked by the Coalition Forces. This one indicates that the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve conducted 127 strikes this week, 102 strikes in Iraq and 25 strikes in Syria from Mar. 12 - Mar. 18, 2016.
The strikes supported Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) north of Ramadi as they counterattacked ISIS fighters that briefly seized a police station in Hamdia, resulting in close to 50 ISIL fighters killed in the process.
As part of Operation Desert Lynx, the Coalition worked with the ISF to drop leaflets over villages along the Euphrates River, with the announcement, Counterterrorism services are close. The ISF captured 159 ISIS fighters that tried to flee with the residents.
In Syria, opposition forces continue to fight ISIS fighters along the Mar'a line. The opposition fighters have seized multiple villages and repelled ISIS attacks in other villages.
The Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal
On 30 March 2016, The Pentagon created a new medal to honor the U.S. troops who deployed to Iraq or Syria to support operations against Islamic State militants. The Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal will be awarded to service members who have deployed to Iraq or Syria or its airspace or territorial waters since June 15, 2014. As of 30 March about 11,000 troops are eligible for the new medal.
On 30 June 2016, Jaysh al-Islam's website published a 20-minute video that showed its fighters executing 18 alleged ISIS militants by shotgun. The video mimics the imagery that ISIS has used for similar filmed executions; however, it reversed the imagery by having the executioners wearing orange prisoner outfits and the victims being dressed in black robes. The video, which included some English subtitles, stated the killings were in revenge for recent beheadings of captured Jaysh al-Islam fighters by ISIS.
The radio is one of ISISs strongest propaganda weapons. The Voice of the Caliphate, had taken out a pair of competitors in Jalalabad and was a strong competitor to Allied stations in Afghanistan. It broadcast for 90 minutes a day in both the Pashto and Dari languages. Programs include news, interviews, vitriol against the Afghan government and the Taliban, recruitment propaganda, and devotional music in multiple languages.
On the same day the Coalition dropped leaflets depicting ISIS murdering prisoners. The text is:
In Mosul the ISIS death wheel never stopped...
932 were executed since the city has fallen to ISIS
About the same time the Coalition prepared a leaflet showing the Arab troops training and preparing to fight ISIS. The text is:
ISIS has been defeated in Ramadi, Karmah and Nazem al-Tharthar
A third leaflet depicts an American fighter-bomber taking off from an aircraft carrier and the text:
American Fighter-bombers are leaving to bomb ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria
On 1 February 2016, U.S. airstrikes in eastern Afghanistans Nangarhar province struck the terrorist group's FM radio station and killed 29 ISIS fighters. The 29 killed included eight ISIS members who worked on the group's radio and online efforts. The U.S. strikes not only hit the radio facility but destroyed the Islamic extremist group's internet equipment.
On 2 February 2016, the Syrian Army warned residents of Aleppo that they face "bloodshed", "destruction" and the death of their loved ones if they did not expel rebel fighters from the city within 48 hours in leaflets signed by the leadership council of the Armed Forces dropped from government helicopters. The leaflet offered safety to local fighters provided that they hand over their weapons and all foreigners fighting in their ranks. The leaflet told residents in part:
The war is coming to its end. It will be tragic for all of us if it ends with the death of your loved ones and the destruction of your homes. The leaders of the Arab Syrian Army are offering bloodshed or a chance to avoid this fate by expelling the foreign fighters from your area. Safe passage for their exit will be arranged. This opportunity is on the table until 4 February if you do not accept, reconciliation will cease and we will resume fighting. Save your lives and your homes.
Deir ez-Zor warning
On 15 February, it was reported that the United States had dropped leaflets warning ISIS of coming air strikes on Deir ez-Zor, the seventh largest city in Syria and the largest in the eastern part of Syria. On the front of the leaflet three Coalition aircraft fly over five walking armed ISIS fighters at the left and a small group of ISIS fighters with a piece of artillery at the right. Both images are covered with cross-hairs. On the back of the leaflet the planes fly overhead as explosions occur below at the left and right. The leaflets bear no code numbers but a very strange imprint USG Product. I have never seen anything like that before but if I had to justify it, perhaps it is meant to show that these are not Russian, but U.S. Government leaflets. It is very strange and makes one wonder about the leaflets. The text on the front is:
Attention Syrian People: Go away from Daesh! The Coalition will be dropping bombs over the ISIS fighters.
The text on the back is hard to read from the blurred image but seems to be:
Flee to a safe location. The coalition is coming to bomb Daesh. Civilians, leave the areas that Daesh occupies. The coalition is fighting for the safety and security of the Syrian people.
ISIS Brags about Suicide Bombers
In March 2016, The Amaq news agency affiliated with the Islamic State reported that the caliphate carried out 90 suicide attacks in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the month of February. 51 of the suicide attacks involved the use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and the remaining 39 were executed using explosive belts. Amaq previously released a similar summary for January claiming that 85 suicide operations were launched in Iraq and Syria.
Our beloved Syrian Citizens
On 3 March 2016 Syria dropped three reconciliation leaflets on Daraa Province. The first two were safe conduct/surrender passes and that those who lay down their weapons voluntarily will be completely forgiven, prison punishments for crimes committed will be three to five years and nothing will be recorded on their permanent record. The third leaflet had a longer text and said:
Our beloved Syrian Citizens
- The war caused by the terrorists in our country is not in the interest of anyone.
- These terrorists that have come among you are the cause for all your pain and misery.
- We will continue fighting them, until we cleanse them from our land.
- The Syrian Army offers to stop this bloodshed by forgiving all who lay down their weapons voluntarily and assures that they will not be prosecuted by the law.
- The Syrian Army ensures you that they will provide safety you with a safe return to your homes, wealth, and your daily normal life,
- YOUR choice of safety and peace is much better than a choice of destruction and war.
There was another leaflet drop on 10 March over Mosul, Iraq. The leaflet depicted four photographs of Iraqi Army soldiers, some celebrating with ISIS flags they had captured in battle. The leaflet text was:
The brave Iraqi champions evicted the gangs of infidels; liberated their lands and now, like sulfur they will burn all the Daesh fighters for eternity.
To the right of the photograph is an Iraqi flag with the word Liberated, and the names of the towns Tikrit, Sinjar, Biji, al Mahlia, and Ramaldi, All liberated from ISIS by the new Iraqi Army. Colonel Steve Warren, Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said:
Leaflet drop in Mosul yesterday struck a nerve with ISIL
The leaflets were designed by Iraqi forces but dropped by Coalition aircraft. Allegedly, ISIS locked down the neighborhood so the locals could not pick up and read the leaflets and sent their own fighters to clean up the streets.
The Weekly Strike Update from the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve said that in Mosul, the Coalition conducted 12 strikes, and coordinated with the Iraqi Army to drop leaflets over the city to let the residents know the Iraqi Security Forces have not forgotten them and are coming to liberate them.
It was also revealed on 10 March that a defector allegedly leaked what appears to be a USB drives worth of ISISs secret data, including the personal information of 22,000 ISIS fighters. That personal data includes the fighters names, phone numbers, hometown and even blood types, all information they apparently filled out on forms in the process of signing up to join the violent group.
To everyones surprise (apparently including the Syrian government), on 14 March 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial pullout of the Russian military from Syria. He said the Russian air campaign has allowed Syrian President Bashar Assad's military to turn the tide of the five-year war and helped create conditions for U.N peace talks in Geneva. The Russian airbase in Hemeimeem and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous will continue to operate.The Russians and Americans brokered cease-fire on 27 February that was fairly successful but both sides have accused one another of violations. The Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, are excluded from the cease-fire.
On March 2016, it was reported that Iraqi security forces detained 149 ISIS fighters last week as the terrorists tried to blend in with 35,000 civilians fleeing numerous small villages along the Euphrates River Valley. They would be prosecuted by the Iraqi government. As part of Operation Desert Lynx with U.S. coalition aircraft, the Iraqi security forces dropped leaflets last week in small villages to communicate with residents while trying to reduce civilian casualties and weaken ISIS morale. The leaflets gave villagers safety instructions and warned ISIS that Iraqs lions are close.
The United States frowns on leaflets showing dead bodies because it believes such scenes enrage the enemy and harden them to continue fighting. Having said that, although it is official policy, the U.S. still produces such leaflets on occasion. The Syrians seem to like the death and disfigurement images. They have produced several such leaflets. This one was dropped over Daraya near Damascus, on 3 April 2016. It shows dead insurgents on both the front and back. It says in part:
Drop your weapons or this will be your fate
On 10 April the United States escalated the force against Isis. For the first time in this conflict, B-52 bombers were sent from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to al-Udeid air base in Qatar. The last time the bombers had been used in the region was 1990 during Operation Desert Storm.
On 12 April 2016, Coalition aircraft dropped anti-Isis leaflets over Raqqa. One side depicts ISIS thugs trying to kidnap a woman and child on a mountaintop while Coalition forces try to pull them back from the terrorists.
The text is:
Don't let Daesh take you with them to their inevitable fate.
The back depicts terrified ISIS fighters fleeing the area, throwing their flag and headbands and all signs of their membership from their vehicle. The text is:
Leave the fight now. Do not take yourself into destruction.
On 21 April, the Syrian Air Force dropped thousands of all-text leaflets over the northern countryside of Homs. The text is:
Dear Citizens - Syria is the home for all her children and she needs all of you to protect her and reconstruct what has been destroyed.
Come and join the local reconciliation. It is the guarantee for your return to a normal and secure life, as it has been in the past. A life based on love, mutual aid between you, and work in the interest of our country. And dont forget that this crisis wouldnt have happened without the intervention of strangers who have been behind all the killing and destruction.
It is time to wipe our tears and to bring back the smile for everyone.
Headquarters of the Syrian Arab Army
This leaflet title seems to be a favorite of the Syrians and has been used numerous times. The message is usually different and mentions the city that is targeted. It was first used as early as 2013 in Qusayr. We depict one very short version several pages above that was dropped in December 2015. The title was used again on Jisr Al-Shughour on 7 April, Homs on 21 April and Aleppo on 11 August 2016. The leaflets are apparently part of a strategy of musalaha, or minimizing harm at the end of a siege.
On 22 April 2016, captured documents proved that the base salary offered to the ISIS workers was reduced to just $50 a month. There were various bonuses though; for every wife the worker would receive an extra $50. For each child under age 15, there was another $35. Any female captive, (sex slave), would entitle him to an additional $50, all payable in U.S. greenbacks. Fighters were forbidden to use ISIS vehicles except for approved military operations. Apparently gasoline is getting short. The fighters homes would no longer receive around-the-clock power, in order to assure a plentiful supply for military bases. ISIS seems to be suffering financially, but experts warn that any predictions of the Islamic States collapse are premature.
It was also reported that the U.S. dropped leaflets over Al-Bukamal on 22 April 2016. They were apparently found by anti-Assad forces and posted on Twitter. The images are too blurry to show but seem to be:
Two leaflets depicting rebel leaders on what appears to be a quasi-banknote. A radio leaflet asking Syrians to dial to 99.1. An ISIS prisoner sits and waits to be executed by a bullet in the back of the head.
Radio leaflet have always been popular in American PSYOP. In every war the United States will drop leaflets asking the finders to dial into a radio station, usually with popular music and news and sports written by American propagandists.
On 25 April 2016, President Obama said the US would send 250 Special Forces personnel to Syria in non-combat roles, five times the number of soldiers that are currently there, in the first major expansion of US ground troops since the war began Obama had repeatedly ruled out sending ground troops to Syria, and the 50 US personnel already deployed there were described as serving in non-combat roles.
On 26 April 2016, just before the Coalition bombed and shelled Fallujah, U.S. aircraft dropped white leaflets written in Arabic over Fallujah, calling on insurgents to give up. The text was:
Surrender, you are surrounded.
If you are a terrorist, beware, because your last day was yesterday. In order to spare your life, end your actions and surrender to coalition forces now. We are coming to arrest you.
There were also two broadcasts in Arabic one apparently aimed at spooking the insurgentss, the other possibly meant to help civilians. One of the messages was calling on the insurgents to come out and fight and then there was a tape recording of laughing.
It is Time to Leave the City
On 19 May 2016, another Coalition leaflet was reported to the public. The people of Raqqa have been told for months that they were about to be freed and to expect liberation. Raqqa has been occupied as the ISIS Capitol since 2014. Allegedly, the predominately Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces have made advances in Raqqa province, and are very close to entering Raqqa city. This leaflet uses the general theme of escape.
Raqqa is depicted dark and grey, a place of no life and joy. Three ISIS fighters are depicted dead on the ground. A family seeks to escape, as they leave the city color returns to the individual that leads them. This is an indication that there is still life and happiness to be found away from ISIS occupation. The text is:
The time you have been waiting for has come, the time to leave Raqqa.
The official sign they run by says:
ISIS checkpoint, Raqqa Province
Reports state that ISIS fighters have sent their own families away from Raqqa, trying to safeguard them. They are digging in and have forbidden the citizens of the town from leaving. Apparently they want them as human shields. It is unclear how close the Coalition is to attacking the city.
Surprisingly, when asked about the leaflet, a Pentagon spokesmen said we are just messing with their minds, an implication that no attack is eminent. That would appear to be a very stupid statement by someone who does not understand PSYOP. The Coalition tries to convince people that the leaflets are honest and trustworthy and here some un-named person says the leaflet is false. That would seem to destroy the credibility of the PSYOP campaign. It also sends mixed messages to the enemy and the residents of Raqqa.
Or, the comment itself might be false propaganda, trying to make the terrorists think that no attack is coming. It appears there is some black work mixed in with the white propaganda. Time will tell if the leaflet message was real or fake. Whatever the real story is, the Coalition seemed to like this leaflet because they reportedly dropped it again on 26 May and 27 May.
It was also reported on 19 May that ISIS used terrorist tactics in the Iraqi town on Mosul, apparently to gain complete control of the 2.5 million people that live there. 25 spies, accused of working for the Iraqi government were executed by being lowered into a huge vat of nitric acid until their bodies dissolved. As ISIS continues to lose battles and ground their tactics have become more and more brutal.
A Fallujah Cartoon
The lion represents Iraq. The cobra has a stranglehold on the word "Falluja".
On 23 May the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city of Fallujah urging civilians to avoid Islamic State bases after operations to retake the city began. The text of the leaflet is:
The liberation of Fallujah is close
Iraqs army warned Fallujahs residents to leave the city and warned that ISIS positions would be targeted by the U.S.-led Coalitions warplanes. Fallujah was the first city to fall to the militant group in January 2014, months before fighters overran the countrys second-largest city, Mosul. The offensive to regain control of Fallujah began on 22 May.
ISIS Black Propaganda to hide the Murder of Prisoners
As Iraqi forces gathered outside Fallujah in late May, ISIS allegedly prepared this internal memorandum telling its fighters how to fool the press and public by making it appear that the Anti-Isis forces were killing prisoners. The memo says in part:
Hashd Al-Rafidi [Derogatory term for Shia, referring to the Popular Mobilzation Forces] and the Safavid army [Safavid was a Persian Empire 5 centuries ago, but now means the Iraqi Army] have mobilized on the outskirt of Fallujah, therefore you have to prepare for the decisive battle against the Rafidis.
Prepare to move the families of the Mujahideen to a safer place outside Fallujah.
Set up explosives in houses, government buildings and mosques and blow them up before Hashd Al-Rafidi and the Safavid army enter, record it and publish it as revenge attacks against the Sunnis.
Punish by death anyone who works with the Hashd Al-Rafidi and the Safavid army.
Have the Mujahideen wear outfits similar to the Hashd Al-Rafidi and get them to kill the prisoners in the jails of Fallujah, use Rafidi slogans when killing, record it and publish it as the act of Hashd Al-Rafidi.
On 26 May several photographs appeared in the world press showing U.S. Special Operations troops wearing Kurdish insignia. Apparently the Americans are embedded with the Kurds and wear the insignia as a show of loyalty.
About 100 American civilian veteran volunteers have joined the Kurds to fight ISIS, but they had to be careful to join the approved anti-ISIS forces so as not to be declared illegal and risk punishment upon return home. The Kurdish PKK is considered a terrorist group while one of their subsidiaries, the YPG is considered friendly to the West. Americans who have joined the Kurds say that PKK militants could become YPG fighters by simply changing fatigues. American volunteers who return home are usually interviewed by the FBI to determine what they did and who they fought with.
On 27 May, the Voice of America reported that Iraqi helicopters dropped leaflets over Mosul, Iraq, asking villagers to leave for safer locations ahead of an operation against ISIS. Civilians allegedly asked the military to refrain from targeting them during the push to retake the city. The fact is that civilians are never targeted so apparently ISIS had their human shields speak in an attempt to lessen the bombing on their fighters. Kurdish forces stated that the dropping of those leaflet indicated that an attack was eminent. A pattern is becoming clear. In the last week or two the civilians of Mosul, Fallujah and Raqqa have all been warned to leave their cities because of eminent attacks. So far, none of those attacks have occurred.
On 30 May 2016, it was reported that Syrian Air Force helicopters dropped leaflets over the opposition-held areas of Hraytan, Hanano and Tell Musibin neighborhoods in Aleppo province with calls for militants to surrender.
The above document was reported to be a forgery of an ISIS document prepared by the Coalition and dropped over Manbij, eastern Aleppo at the end of May 2016. I assumed if this was a propaganda forgery it would probably be a pass to allow civilians to leave Allepo. I was wrong. I have been informed that the document is a pass that allows ISIS fighters to pass through their lines. That is even stranger. It implies the Coalition is trying to weaken the ISIS lines by giving their soldiers a safe way to desert from the impending attack.
Curiously, this may not be the first time a document has been accused of being a Coalition forgery. Another document from December of 2015 was described by the Coalition:
Coalition forces had recovered Islamic State leaflets in the nearby city of Falluja urging its fighters if they lose control of the city to impersonate Iraqi security forces and commit atrocities. Some acts that theyre instructed to do on this document include blowing up mosques, killing and torturing civilians and breaking into homes while dressed as I.S.F. fighters. They do all this to discredit the I.S.F. This is the behavior of thugs, behavior of killers, and the behavior of terrorists.
Other experts on ISIS documents doubted the document because: the Fallujah document has an ISIS letter head from Ninawa province. Fallujah is in Anbar province; the document refers to the government militia with its real honorable name Hashd Sha'abi while the regular derogatory Islamic State term for the militia is Hashd Rafidi.
Another alleged fake ISIS document ordered all women in Iraqs region of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation.
It may be that the Coalition is regularly printing fake ISIS documents.
British Special Forces Serenade ISIS
In late May 2016, the British Special Air Squadrons reported that they have been using Bollywood music against ISIS. The Radical groups followers consider Western music frivolous and nonreligious. Nothing could be more frivolous than Indian movie music where a hundred people can suddenly burst into full song and carefully choreographed dance moves. In the military there is a thing called reconnaissance by fire. You open fire at an area to see what comes running out or how many fire back. It allows you to determine enemy strength. The British did something similar with the Indian music. A Special Forces team, along with some Libyan troops, left two cars near checkpoints on the edge of Sirte. At dawn they blasted Bollywood music by remote control through two huge speakers mounted on the vehicles:
We needed to unnerve the militants and at the same time use some sort of passive measure to gauge their force strength in the area we are working and it went well.
At the same time, it was announced that China will send 5,000 of its most elite military forces into the Levant War Zone to help Russia in the fight against ISIS. The Siberian Tiger Special Forces and Night Tiger Special Forces Units were given authorization to be deployed by Chinas Peoples Congress after China passed its first anti-terrorism law allowing their army to take part in anti-terror missions abroad.
On 9 June 2016 the Islamic State bragged that it had ordered 489 martyrdom operations, better known as suicide bombings in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first five months of 2016. The jihadists performed 119 martyrdom operations in the month of May alone. The Islamic State was launching suicide attacks at a historically high rate. All terrorist groups throughout the world, including the Islamic State, carried out an average of 61 suicide bombings per month in 2015.
On 12 June 2016, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, an American born male of Afghan descent called 911 and stated that he had sworn allegiance to ISIS. He killed 49 people at the Pulse, an Orlando, Florida gay and lesbian bar, and wounded a further 53. At first, this was thought to be the first ISIS-inspired act of terrorism in the United States. His father who had apparently hosted some radio shows with an anti-American theme disowned the son. As people came forward that knew the killer some said he was a bigot that hated women, blacks and gays and some co-workers said he was always angry and out of control. His ex-wife said he was probably insane. A former classmate of said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out. Then the gay society spoke out and it was discovered that he had been going to the gay bar for years. It appears that rather than an ISIS terror attack this was simply murder committed in rage by a self-loathing homosexual.
A Hacked ISIS site
I was recently asked on a radio podcast if psychological operations include modern social media. Of course, the answer is yes. ISIS uses social media to gain converts and followers. Curiously, hackers have begun attacking those ISIS accounts with pornography and homosexual images and text. According to the newspaper Stars and Stripes, a member of the hacking group Anonymous using the handle Wauchula Ghost, has compromised hundreds of Twitter accounts of Islamic State supporters and flooded them with pornography. Muslim religious customs require piety and chastity. By tweeting sexual content rather than traditional battle cries against the West, the Ghost said he wants to undermine the voices of ISIS recruiters and chase them off popular social networks.
We Are Coming
On 15 June, the Syrian Army aided by Russian air support made advances in the direction of Al-Thawrah in Raqqa province. Syrian military aircraft dropped leaflets over Raqqa and the surrounding area, offering ISIS and its allies a chance to lay down their arms and surrender to the troops. On the front of the leaflet, five photos depicted a Syrian rocket launch, Syrian aircraft, and three pictures of dead anti-government fighters. The text is:
This will be the fate of any terrorist who goes armed against the Army and People
WE ARE COMING
The High Command of the Syrian Armed Forces
The back of the leaflet was all text:
Militant! The moment of truth is here. The world is changing rapidly. The Army is advancing. Think about it, waiting can cost you your life. Do not hesitate; hurry to surrender your arms, to save your live and your future.
The High Command of the Syrian Armed Forces
An MI-8 Helicopter trailed by just dropped leaflets
On June 28, A Syrian MI-8 helicopter dropped leaflets over the town of Ibtaa in Daraa. At the same time Coalition airstrikes hit giant grain silos controlled by ISIS near Manbij, northern Syria.
ISIS Convoy Attacked while Fleeing Fallujah
On the same day it was reported that Iraqi security forces had retaken the city of Fallujah after a months-long battle. Fallujah was the first major city to fall to ISIS forces in 2014, and had two years to prepare defenses. Curiously, during Operation Desert Storm U.S. troops attacked a fleeing Iraqi column in an area called the Highway of Death and were soundly criticized for attacking retreating troops. Apparently, it was considered unsportsmanlike. After the fall of Fallujah, U.S. and Iraqi forces attacked fleeing ISIS vehicles and claim to have killed about 250 fighters and destroyed about 120 vehicles. There were no reported complaints this time.
The Iraqi Military Drops Leaflets on Mosul
On 7 July 2016, Iraqi aircraft dropped millions of leaflets on the ISIS main stronghold of Mosul, informing the city's residents of the Iraqi army's recent victories against the militant group in Fallujah and recent ongoing military operations in Nineveh province. The three different leaflets also called on people inside Mosul to prepare for operations to liberate the city. The leaflets promised residents of the city and its suburbs that the liberation of Mosul would begin once military operations in the city's surroundings have finished. One leaflet says:
The Enduring sons of Mosul
The battle of Fallujah ended in lightning speed. Security forces are laying siege to ISIS inside Mosul. This is the last battle. Cooperate with your brothers to end the battle quickly and with the lowest number of casualties.
A second leaflet calls on any citizens inside the city who may have joined with ISIS (calling them those whove been deceived by the terror group):
The ISIS fighters will leave you to certain death and save themselves. Leave your positions immediately, as the security forces are on the way. We will crush whatever is left with no mercy. Surrender and stay safe.
The Iraqi army also launched military operations to retake Gayara and Shargat, two strategic towns in southern Mosul, on 18 June 2016.
Speaking of Shargat, on 7 July it was also reported that ISIS executed seven of its own fighters by boiling them alive as punishment for fleeing the conflict in Sharqat. The seven were thrown into a giant cauldron of boiling water.
Liberation is near
On 9 July 2016, Iraqi aircraft dropped Liberation is near leaflets on Mosul that warned ISIS terrorists inside the city to leave their positions immediately as the Iraqi armed forces are very close to freeing Mosul city. Some of the text is:
The Iraqi armed forces have besieged the ISIS Takfiri terrorists in Mosul city and its surrounding areas; cooperate with your brothers to help us put an to this war soon with minimum losses for the civilians and maximum losses for the terrorists. ISIS fighters, leave your positions immediately. The Iraqi armed forces are very close to winning back Mosul.
A Takfiri is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief. The accusation itself is derived from the word kafir (unbeliever), and is described as when one who is, or claims to be, a Muslim is declared impure. The Iraqis are calling the ISIS fighters impure and fallen Muslims.
Iraqi Helicopters Disseminate Leaflets
On 18 July, Media officials with the Ministry of Defense announced that the Iraqi Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets at areas west of Anbar and southwest of Kirkuk, urging citizens to stay away from ISIS headquarters. The officials, in a press statement, said:
Today, Iraqi Air Force aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets at Rawa, Aana and Qaim west of Anbar and also at Hawija southwest of Kirkuk and al-Riyad in western the city. The leaflets carried a warning for the ISIS members active in these areas and urged the citizens to stay away from ISIS headquarters.
Libya Leaflet to Sirte
On 18 July 2016, Libyan jets bombed ISIS positions in Sirte as the battle to oust the terrorists approaches its tenth week. Besides bombs, there have also been Libyan airdrops of a leaflet behind ISIS lines, designed to undermine the defenders morale. The text is:
As they look back and see you dying, your commanders are fleeing from the battle. Do you really think they are telling you the truth and have been honest about their plans in this fight? We see more and more of your commanders sneaking away and providing us with information on your locations and your movements.
I will send 100 more Men
We dont have an exact date for this short cartoon leaflet but it was dropped on Manjib, Syria, sometime in July. I have seen several such cartoon leaflets. They are usually crudely drawn with a short text. Most have been photographed in the field by phones and tweeted, so generally the image is poor. At the right, an ISIS fighter sees his comrades die and calls for reinforcements. His leader answers:
I will send you 100 more men, hold on your positions.
At the left, two ISIS members listen to their leader lying to the fighters.
But we have no more men.
He has told the same lie 100 times before.
Avoid ISIS Headquarters
On 24 July 2016, Iraqi aircraft dropped millions of copies of a bi-fold leaflet on Mosul and Sharqat, requesting the residents avoid ISIS headquarters and cooperate with the security forces for the preparations to liberate Mosul and the surrounding areas.
Food and supplies dropped by Syria to civilians trapped in Aleppo
On 27 July, Syrian helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over rebel-held areas in the northern city of Aleppo urging rebels to lay down their weapons and the civilians to cooperate with the Syrian army. The leaflet to the insurgents said in part:
Aleppo is winning: to all those holding weapons in the face of the Syrian state, you have got to seriously think about your fate, as many of your leaders have fled with their money to Turkey. Don't risk yourself, it's your decision, you don't have much time left.
The leaflet to the civilians said in part:
Our dear families in Aleppo, your sons and brothers in the Syrian army are sacrificing to rid you of the terrorism. Your cooperation with the army in terms of providing information about the location of the armed men will be conducive in returning security and stability to your areas
Russian Leaflet Map showing four Safe Corridors to Leave Aleppo
Russian aircraft also dropped leaflets on Aleppo entitled Safe Crossing Points in Aleppo City, telling civilians to leave the city ahead of further anti-rebel advances. Maps of the routes were also sent to the cellphones of the civilians. Three humanitarian corridors would be established for residents to leave. Russia said a fourth corridor would be set up in the north for surrendering rebels. The leaflet said in part:
To avoid unintended casualties among peaceful citizens, the Syrian government is asking you to leave the blocked areas. The Aleppo governor gives you an opportunity to exit through the routes specified in the scheme. Save your life and the lives of your loved ones. Those wanting to leave are to wave a leaflet with their right hand raised above their head and the other hand either around their head or holding a child's hand. Move slowly and follow the commands of the Syrian military. Once near checkpoints, you will be required to turn around to demonstrate that you do not have explosives on your body.
A Syrian Leaflet depicting Dead bodies on the street.
The text is:
A word to the wise. Think! You might be one of them!
WE PROMISE to preserve the lives of all who lay down their weapons.
The Syrian army surrounded the rebel-held parts of Aleppo city and severed the last remaining supply route a week earlier. On 26 July, the Syrian army offered safe passage to any civilians who wanted to escape the enemy-held areas in eastern Aleppo. Some 300,000 residents are trapped in the eastern part of the city, according to the UN.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said:
If the rebels want to return to their normal lives, and abandon their weapons, they will get pardon. Pardon is a good option, I think, to help those people who held weapons for different reasons.
U.S. national security official pointed out the problems of combining the Russian and US war efforts against ISIS:
The Russians want to destroy ISIS to save Assad. We want to destroy ISIS to eliminate a terrorist threat and start a political process to remove Assad.
On 7 August 2016, for the second time, U.S. aircraft warned oil truck drivers in Syria working with ISIS of an American attack. Pilots did not drop warning leaflets in the attack, conducted as Operation Tidal Wave II, named after a World War II mission to bomb oil refineries used by the Nazis. Multiple warplanes destroyed 83 oil tankers Sunday near Albu Kamal, along Syrias border with Iraq. At the start of the attack:
Pilots fired multiple warning shots to encourage truck drivers to leave the area. Multiple oil tanker trucks departed the area after the warning shots, and were not pursued. The remaining oil trucks were stationary at the time of the strike. Based on our assessment, there were no drivers remaining with the vehicles at the time of the strike.
Propaganda Graffiti on a Russian Bomb
This bomb is under the wing of a Russian Su-24 Fencer fighter-bomber. This bomb bears a greeting written by a Syrian to Sheikh Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini. In WWII, American and British flyers would place such messages on bombs to be dropped on Germany or Japan.
Sheikh Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini recruits jihadists throughout Syria. On 28 April 2016, he sent two hundred sharia officials from various factions out across Syria in an attempt to recruit 5,000 new mujahideen. Muhaysini has ties to al Qaeda and a senior official in Jaysh al Fateh (The Army of Conquest).
In what may be an attempt to have less American boots on the ground in Syria, the Pentagon awarded a no-bid $10 million contract to a private intelligence company to fight ISIS alongside American special operations forces in Syria. The Department of Defense awarded an intelligence analysis contract to private contractor Six3 Intelligence Solutions, a cyber and signals intelligence and surveillance firm. The contract will require Six3 to assist US forces working against ISIS within Syria.
Radio in a box
Speaking of intelligence, in July, 40 Peshmerga Kurdish soldiers were trained in laptops, digital cameras and a low-power, portable radio kit called a radio in a box. Their mission is to destroy the Islamic States extremist ideology, using the Vocalis Program, designed by the Marine Corps. The program, launched in January 2016, has already trained and equipped more than 220 members of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command and Counterterrorism Service. Curiously, as the United States recruits Kurds to help in the battle, the Kurds recruit former American servicemen. They are being recruited by the Kurds to join the Peshmerga by signing up via an online application. The website is designed to recruit western warriors, especially Americans.
On 12 August, American military drones reported ISIS militants loading up hundreds of cars, buses and trucks with fighters and civilians and fleeing the city of Manbij, Syria. Manbij controlled one of just two crossings to Turkey from Syria, and its fall will probably deprive the extremists of that route.
On 17 August, in what might be considered an escalation, Iran allowed Russian fighter jets to land at their Hamedan Airbase. Just hours later, Iraq gave the Russian Air Force full access to their airspace in order to combat terrorist forces like ISIS that are occupying eastern Syria. Access to Iraqi airspace is critical because the Russians will be conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State forces that are operating along the Iraqi-Syrian border. This also gives Russia footholds in two Mid-Eastern states.
On 20 August Iraqi aircraft dropped leaflets over Mosul and Shirgat showing a building exploding from a bomb or an artillery shell. The text was short and sweet.
Stay away from ISIS buildings and sites
The YPG Command...
On 22 August 2016, leaflets were distributed by Soldiers from the Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units) and Asayish (Kurdish Security Organization) as they launched a major assault to seize the last government-controlled areas of the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka, after a Russian mediation team failed to mend the rift between the two sides. The leaflet was all text and said:
The YPA Command in Hasaka to all of the besieged Syrian regime troops and militias in the city: You are targeted by our units, our snipers and our weapons. The battle is over and we will not retreat. Our forces are coming to the city in large convoys so we invite you to drop your weapons and surrender to the nearest security center of our forces or to communicate with us to make the necessary arrangements and you will be treated with the basic concept of fraternity and respect, or else consider yourselves dead.
On the same day Iraqi Air Force aircraft dropped millions of leaflets in Nineveh and Hawija, urging the civilians to move away from ISIS sites. The joint operations command, in a statement, said:
Iraqi Air Force aircraft dropped millions of leaflets and Iraqi flags over Tal Afar, Baaj and Hawija, urging the residents to stay away from ISIS whereabouts. This call was made so that the security forces can carry out its attack plans against ISIS without any obstruction. The leaflets also called upon the civilians to comply with the instructions about the safe passages provided by Joint Operations Command.
On 24 August, Iraqi warplanes dropped thousands of leaflets over the city of Mosul, urging residents to take shelter as an operation to liberate the city from ISIS nears. The leaflets called for civilians in Mosul to stay indoors and away from ISIS positions around the city and to avoid providing militants support. Iraqi forces have leaflets Mosul on several occasions.
On 30 August 2016, the U.S. carried out a successful precision airstrike near Al Bab, Syria targeting senior ISIS leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. The airstrike killed ISISs chief propagandist, recruiter and architect of external terrorist operations. ISIS admitted that al-Adnani had been martyred soon after.
About 2 September, Iraqi aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets with cartoons on several areas in Mosul. The cartoons made fun of Daesh and urged people to fight the terrorists. The cartoon shows some Mosul residents standing and talking near a wall marked with the resistance graffiti letter M. Around the corner an ISIS fighters seems to be looking for the culprits.
The ISIS fighter thinks:
Damn, where are the resistance fighters, I swear to God, they are driving me crazy.
The two fighters talk:<
Hey stupid, we are here and everywhere
The text at the bottom concludes:
This is ISIS right now; you all should take advantage of the opportunity to fight them.
An Iraqi Air Force Cessna Caravan Leaflet Aircraft.
On 4 September 2016 the Iraqi Air Force dispersed warning leaflets to civilians along with Iraqi flags in various locations at al-Shirqat and Az-Zuwiyah villages in the south of Mosul. The leaflets carry along a warning call to the citizens, issued by the Joint Security Forces. Through the leaflets, the forces have urged the citizens to vacate the city immediately and run for their lives. The leaflets further carried a message urging the citizens to protect themselves from ISIS for they might be used as human shields by the terrorist organization. The leaflets also urged the citizens to comply with the instructions issued and carry their personal identities while going towards the liberated areas.
At the same Time, in early September, Turkey invaded Syrian towns along its border and drove ISIS out. The Free Syrian Army, Turkey-backed Islamist proxies and the Turkish military captured a host of villages including Tweiran, Khaliliyah, Tell Asaad, Ghanmah, Swuydah, Ghandourah and Qebber al-Turkmen. Turkeys Prime Minister announced that Our 91-kilometer border has been completely secured. This means that ISIS members cannot escape into Turkey and foreigners coming to join ISIS cannot enter Syria.
A landmine disguised as a rock left behind by ISIS in the city of Manbij
As ISIS retreated from Northern Syria they left a landscape littered with thousands of mines and IEDs. It has been estimated that 30,000 such devices have been left behind by ISIS in Manbij and its surrounding areas, with booby traps placed in everyday items such as soda cans, soap bottles, cups and tea kettles. Land mines had been made to look like natural rocks, and even piles of dirt. One of the most shocking devices found was a set of booby traps designed to look like garlic plants, which are used regularly in Syrian cooking.
Read and Decide
On 8 September 2016, Syrian military planes once again dropped leaflets over Aleppo. The text is:
Read and decide!!!
To all armed factions and mercenaries inside East Aleppo
The siege around Aleppo is now complete.
We leave you one unique passage to exit.
This is your last chance.
If you dont leave within the next two days you will perish.
Syrian High Command
The Inevitable Fate
On 9 September Syrian helicopters dropped leaflets on Aleppo that depicted a rocket being fired at the upper left and a Russian fighter-bomber at the upper right. At the bottom of the leaflet were three photos of dead insurgents. The leaflet said in part:
This is the inevitable fate for every terrorist carrying weapons and pointing it to the people and the army.
We are coming
The General Command and Armed Forces.
A Leaflet for Nineveh
On 13 September, about 7 million warning leaflets (400 cartons) were showered by Iraqi C-130J Super Hercules turboprop cargo planes over 16 different areas of Nineveh province, warning the civilians of the imminent attack on ISIS. Two million leaflets were dropped on the center of Mosul city, another 500,000 leaflets on each of the following towns: Hamdaniya, al-Baaaj, al-Hazar, and Talafar. 250,000 more leaflets were dropped separately on the towns of Bashiqa, Hamam Alil, al-Shura, al-Mahaliya, al-Hmidat, Bartila, al-Namroud, al-Qahtaniya, Til Abta, al-Ayaziya and al-Qirwan. This is believed to be the largest number of leaflets dropped on a single day since World War II.
The warning leaflets indicated the dates of the governments victories since October 2014 and urged the civilians to keep away from the ISIS positions since they will be targeted by the jets. Citizens were warned to avoid ISIS bases, warehouses and gatherings and the leaflet encouraged those members of ISIS to leave the organization and join the Army or the Sunni tribal forces before the start of the third and final phase of the operation to retake Nineveh. An arrow pointed to a clock with the words Mosul: The Hour of Victory emblazoned on top. The leaflet also requested the residents of Mosul to cooperate with the security forces to bring life in their areas back to its normal phase. Some of the leaflet text is:
The Iraqi forces will continue to liberate your areas from ISIS, therefore we ask you to stay away from the locations of that organization.
During the Korean and Vietnam Wars there was a belief that far too many leaflets were dropped. This may be the case in the war against ISIS too.
The leaflets are produced by a team of experts composed of university professors, specialists in psychological, social and media sciences as well as intelligence and security personnel tasked with producing propaganda to counter Islamic State. Much of the pro-government propaganda is woven into everyday life in government-controlled areas of the country: Songs mock Islamic State (one of them, Daesh the Dirty, insists its fighters smell and flee at the sight of loofahs), stern-eyed generals and analysts perennially predict the groups demise on talk shows, and billboards extol the heroism of Iraqs security forces. The leaflets, especially, have played a central role. Over the last two years, Iraqi planes have dropped more than 40 million of them over Islamic State areas.
ISIS punishment for anyone found qith a leaflet
ISIS retaliated on 14 September by telling the citizens of Mosul that any person found with a propaganda leaflet would immediately be sentenced to 20 lashes. Isis also deployed the Gray Battalion, an elite security formation (Their Special Forces) at the main entrances of Mosul to oversee the processes of inspection of vehicles and people.
On 25 September, The Syrian Army dropped warning leaflets in the rebel held Tariq al-Bab neighborhood of Aleppo. One leaflet featured eight circles, seven of which showed dead rebel commanders and fighters crossed with an "X", and the last one with a question mark. The text was:
This is your destiny!!!
who is next?
There are no boundaries...
The second leaflet, from the state ministry of national reconciliation, offers a telephone number for civilians to contact to organize their evacuation and assured residents in rebel-held areas:
There are no boundaries between us, break fears within you and come back to your normal life... you are a partner in our country, we are waiting for you.
Mosul Muqawama Graffiti
Speaking of Mosul, there is apparently an anti-ISIS liberation movement that allegedly sprays the letter M on walls all over the city. This is not unlike the occupied European nations that painted the letter V for Victory on their walls during WWII. The M stands for resistance muqawama, and opposition muaarada, and confrontation muwajihah. Perhaps a sign of the liberation movement - Abu Isaac, the ISIS official spokesman, was driving his car through central Mosul when a group of gunmen opened fire on his car. He died shortly afterwards.
In October of 2016, there was a lot of Internet gossip about a deal being made for some of the insurgents to leave Aleppo, Syria. There were reports that large number had left the besieged city. On 15 October there were sightings of Russian helicopters over Aleppo dropping Surrender or die leaflets.
On 15 October there were also reports that Iraq and its allies were finally ready to start the long-awaited attack on the ISIS-held city of Mosul. Convoys were shown on news TV heading toward Mosul. Wounded ISIS fighters have been told to go to Raqqa, Syria, the group's de facto capital to escape the battle. Witnesses inside Mosul said they saw six buses loaded with ISIS members leaving the city early Saturday. But, 14 members of ISIS were executed after trying to flee with their families from Mosul to Raqqa, the witnesses said.
ISIS is hacked
Military cyber operators from Joint Task Force ARES launched an operation that would become one of the largest and longest offensive cyber operations in U.S. military history.
At the same time all the leafleting was going on the United States was working to hack the ISIS network. Dina Temple-Raston wrote about this for NPR in an article titled How the U.S. Hacked ISIS. She said in part:
By the fall of 2016 there was a team, Joint Task Force ARES; there was a plan called Operation Glowing Symphony, and there were briefings that had gone right up to the president. It was only then that there was finally a go After months of looking at static web-pages and picking their way through ISIS's networks, the task force starting logging in as the enemy. They deleted files. They changed passwords One team would take screenshots to gather intelligence for later; another would lock ISIS videographers out of their own accounts.
Once the distribution hubs were hamstrung, the second phase of the mission was more creative. Joint Task Force ARES operators started making all those things that drive you crazy about today's technology, slow downloads, dropped connections, access denied, program glitches, and made it start happening to ISIS fighters. PSYOP with a high-tech twist. A member of ISIS would stay up all night editing a film and ask a fellow ISIS member to upload it. Operators with JTF ARES would make it so it didn't quite land at its destination. The ISIS member who stayed up all night starts asking the other ISIS member why he didn't do what he'd asked. He gets angry. And so on.
ISIS's popular online magazine, Dabiq, started missing deadlines and eventually folded. The group's foreign-language websites, in everything from Bengali to Urdu, also never came back up. The mobile app for Amaq Agency, the group's official news service, vanished.
Leaflets over Mosul
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Air Force dropped thousands of 4-page leaflets over Mosul; actually more like magazines or newspapers, to warn residents of a looming offensive on the ISIS-held city. The four-page leaflets tell residents that coalition forces are making advances on Iraq's second-largest city and that no one should panic. Residents are asked to stay away from certain parts of the city, avoid ISIS positions, remain in their homes and seal their windows and doors. A phone number for Mosul residents to report ISIS activity is included. Some of the text of the leaflet is:
Its victory time. Its time to celebrate a clean Iraq without Daesh (ISIS) or any dark belief. We are preparing to take action to free Mosul and regain security and stability in the region. Stay at home and dont believe rumors spread by Daesh. Keep calm and tell your children that it is only a game or thunder before the rain. Women should not scream or shout, to preserve the children's spirit. If you see an army unit, stay at least 25 meters away and avoid any sudden movements. Tape over windows to prevent the glass from shattering. Remove gas cylinders from the house. Avoid the sites of air strikes for at least an hour after a place is bombed. Do not drive if possible.
To every Iraqi guilty of collaborating with ISIS
On 18 October, the Iraqi Air Forced dropped colorful leaflets with a flag on one side and a message on the back. I have seen leaflets with two different messages although the flag on the other side is the same on both. Iraq dropped 7 million leaflets to the people of Mosul. The first leaflet said:
In the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful:
To every Iraqi guilty of collaborating with ISIS; know that ISIS has come to an end and will not return! If you desire mercy and amnesty then apprehend foreign or Arab ISIS fighters. Present the captives to the security forces in exchange for your safe-being and amnesty. Know that it was ISIS that brought destruction to your beloved city. Your government is most merciful and Iraq is your guardian.
The Joint Operations Command
The second leaflet said:
In the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful:
To whomsoever has been deluded into joining the false ranks of ISIS; lay down your weapons immediately! You shall not escape unless you lay down your weapons.
The march has commenced and victory is within sight. God alone is the grantor of victory.
The Joint Operations Command
Escape Routes from Aleppo
On 20 October, Syrian military helicopters dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets over rebel-held areas in the northern city of Aleppo detailing exit routes for civilians and rebels to leave. The maps highlight six routes for civilians who want to leave the rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo into government-controlled ones, and two routes for rebels who want to evacuate to other rebel-held areas in the countryside of Aleppo. A three-day humanitarian truce declared by the Syrian army started that day.
The leaflets include a call on the rebels to not waste the chance and to leave or lay down their weapons, offering help for those who do want to leave. The leaflets urged the rebels to lay down their weapons and take advantage of a pardon issued by President Bashar al-Assad for all rebels who surrender themselves to the Syrian army. The Army said it had detailed information on the whereabouts and positions of the rebels in the eastern part of Aleppo city, warning that any armed man who doesn't take the chance of the declared truce will meet his doomed fate.
The text on the bottom front of the leaflet is:
Days that Citizens can leave the Terrorist held Aleppo Neighborhoods
1. 20-21-22 October from 0800 to 1600.
2. Get close to the humanitarian corridor with your identification and have no contact with the militants.
3. Stand some distance from Syrian Arab Army checkpoint.
4. Hold this leaflet up with one hand and place your other hand above your head or hold your child with it.
5. Wait for the signal of the Syrian Arab Army units, then turn your back slowly in order to show that you dont have any chemical or explosive bombs on you.
6. Then continue to walk toward the corridor and follow the instructions that the Syrian Arab Army gives you.
The Way to Salvation
A second leaflet depicted a green bus on the front and a short message on the back. The message on the front is:
To those who are involved with weapons,
Think make a decision
We are ready
The way to Salvation
Note: The term salvation in Arabic does not have the same connotations as it does in English, (related to God and Christian dogma). It means more like ridding yourself of a problem, or getting out of difficult predicament.
The text on the back is:
The Syrian government guarantees the safety of those who wish to leave and remedy their situation (implying no legal pursuit or punishment) or move with their personal arms to any other place they select. The Syrian government guarantees safe evacuation and proper medical care of the wounded.
Seize the Last Opportunity...
A third leaflet depicted a dead body at the left and the same green bus as the second leaflet at the right. The image of the bus represented the escape route; the bloodied body, the option of staying put. The message was in part:
Seize the Last Opportunity in Idlib or we will decorate the streets of Aleppo with your brains.
Also on 20 October in Mosul, rebel detachments pasted threatening leaflets on the houses of ISIS militants that to avenge martyrs. These leaflets show the rising popular resistance against ISIS in Mosul. On 18 October a group of armed rebellious residents attacked a headquarters of ISIS and destroyed six patrols in less than five hours.
Bombs or books?
On 21 October the Syrians dropped this leaflet depicting a young boy with an explosive at left, perhaps part of building an IED. At the right, the same young boy sits in a class at school. The other side of the leaflet depicts the boy watching an insurgent pour bomb-making material at the left and writing a school paper at the right.
Children are for school, not for terrorism
Think of the future of your children
On the same day Iraqs air force dropped millions of leaflets over Nineveh province and Hawijah on to inform residents of impending operations against ISIS.
During the war against the Islamic State, their ferocity and lack of any mercy toward their enemies made them terrifying. How do you bring fighters like that down to Earth and humiliate them? You could claim that they tried to escape from Mosul dressed as women. The Daily Mail of 25 October 2016 claimed that the cowards dressed like women and tried to join their wives and girlfriends and flee to safety. More likely, The Kurdish Peshmerga troops took captive ISIS fighters and dressed them in womans clothes and paraded them in front of the terrified civilians as way to make them a laughing stock and vilify their movement.
The Lovely Baz Mohammad
ISISs top commander Baz Mohammad, who was the terrorist groups top commander in Northern Afghanistan, was captured in Northern Jawzjan province as he was trying to escape the government troops in disguise according to Alalam. Perhaps it is true.
Read and Re-read
On 26 October 2016, this leaflet was dropped on Aleppo. It reads:
Read and re-read. This is the last hope. Save yourselves. If you don't evacuate these areas, you will be eliminated. We have left you a safe path to exit. Save yourselves! You are aware that everyone has abandoned you leaving you alone to face your destiny.
The Avenger Drone
In October 2016, Donald Cattell, a vice president at General Atomics, said that his companys stealthy Avenger drone had dropped leaflets over Syria on at least one occasion.
Cigarette Paper for the Enemy
During WWII, British Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Bomber Harris, famously said that He had not become Chief of Bomber Command to provide the citizens of the Third Reich with regular supplies of toilet paper. In Aleppo, the enemy did not use the leaflets as toilet paper; they used them as cigarette paper. Curiously, in earlier wars the United States did drop cigarette paper to the enemy with Allied propaganda printed on it.
On 2 November, it was reported that Terrorists in Aleppo distributed leaflets with demands that its citizens pay 300 dollars each in order to leave the city through humanitarian corridors. Allegedly the leaflets say:
Our leadership is aware of the hardships suffered by civilians in Aleppo due to the bombing and the siege carried out by the Syrian Army. After meeting our brothers, we will allow all those aged under 14 and over 55 to leave Aleppo if they each pay 150,000 Syrian pounds to support our brothers at the front.
This action might have come as a result of Russian General Valery Gerasimovs statement that the Russian Defense Ministry will introduce a 10-hour humanitarian pause in Aleppo on 4 November from 0900 to 1900 to avoid the senseless killing of civilian victims.
Meanwhile, on 4 November, seeing an ISIS defeat in the near future, frustrated teens in Mosul vowed to avenge the deaths inflicted by the terrorists and covered the homes of ISIS leaders with leaflets and posters, one of which said:
Now you will live in fear of us
Leaflets dropped over Rastan and Tallish
On the same day, Syrian Army helicopters dropped leaflets over the cities of Rastan and Tallish, where Moscow claims 5,000 ISIS and al-Nusra terrorists are based. Russian-based media claimed a huge ground operation in the area backed by Russian aircraft and troops possibly on the ground, including Putins Special Forces unit Spetznaz.
Perhaps as many as three leaflets were dropped. Text on one is:
Dont make it even worse for yourselves. The Motherland is ready to take you back again. Give up your arms as hundreds of other young men like you have done.
And another aimed at civilians read:
Co-operate with the army and leave the zone of the special operations for the sake of your own life.
A third was designed to look like religious literature and said:
You can travel through Syrian checkpoints with this leaflet, and the government will provide shelter, food and medical aid.
Although the U.S. Army was supposed to be leaving Iraq, it announced on 3 November that 1,700 paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, currently stationed at Fort Bragg, would be deployed to Iraq with the objective of advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces that are attempting to retake Mosul from ISIS.
On 6 November, U.S.-backed Kurdish-dominated Syria Democratic Forces began the liberation of Raqqa, Syria. The goal of the operation, called Angry Euphrates, would be liberating the Syrian city from the militants. The offensive was supported by U.S. air strikes and involved 30,000 fighters.
Leaflets on their way to Mosul
On 12 November 2016, Iraqi planes once again dropped the same type of leaflet showing a flag on one side and text on the back that they dropped on Mosul on 18 October. You can clearly see the leaflets taped to the outside of the leaflet boxes so the crew knows exactly what it is dropping. The text is reported to say:
To our sons and our people in the Mosul uprising
Your armed forces have entered the gates of your city from all fronts. It fought and is fighting courageously for you and for the great Iraq. The special sorting units are now close to you and amongst you; you will recognize them at the right time.
Stand by them and support them to vanquish the ungodly Daesh. Now is the time to revolt against Daesh for their lines have weakened and they are bowing down. Their leaders are planning their escape. It is the ideal opportunity to destroy them completely, by the hands of your armed forces and with the support of you; the enduring sons and people of the city.
The Command of the Coming to Nineveh Operation.
On the same day, a report from Aleppo said:
When the government started to drop leaflets for civilians to leave, people were running to get the leaflets so they could know how to leave. The militia groups then put checkpoints and banned the people from taking any leaflets, and they spread rumors that regime forces would kill those that left and smash them with tanks.
On 22 November the Syrian military dropped leaflets on Aleppo with a picture of a green coach like those used in the past to transport civilians and rebels from areas retaken by the government. The text was changed from the same type of leaflet that was dropped on 20 October 2016 and now said:
To those involved in carrying weapons, we stretch out our hand to you. Reserve your place before it is too late.
The picture showed the coach on a road marked:
The path of salvation.
Come out and Play
On 26 November, the Syrian government dropped leaflets inviting rebels in the war-torn city of Aleppo to a friendly football match, as a goodwill gesture. Messages sent to phones and posted on social media also said the government's enemies were welcome to attend the game on Thursday at the Hamdania Stadium. Rebels in the besieged east of the city were offered safe passage. The text is:
Oh, fighters in Aleppo's eastern neighborhoods: The Aleppo Governorate invites you to attend and participate in a friendly football match, as a goodwill initiative in the context of national reconciliation. Anyone wishing to play or attend should come via pre-arranged routes.
Apparently some people did play, but it appears no guerrillas showed up. An amateur team called Nujum Syria (The Stars of Syria) beat a team of instructors from Damascus University by 10 to 9. In Aleppo, the teams of the eastern and western parts of the city took to the field and played to a 5 5 tie. The government gave medals to all the participants and wished the citizens to stay united as they did during the game.
Syrian and Russian aircraft dropped leaflets over Aleppo again on the morning of 29 November 2016. The all-text leaflets said:
READ AND PASS ON
This is your last hope. Save yourselves. If you dont leave these areas quickly you will be annihilated.
We have left passages open for you to leave. Quickly make a decision Save yourselves. You know that everyone has given up on you. They left you all alone to face your doom and offered you no help.
The Syrian General Armed Forces.
This same leaflet was dropped earlier over Aleppo and Idlib, about 4 November. Meanwhile, The Russian-backed Syrian army bolstered by Iraqi, Iranian and Lebanese Shiite militias have swept into eastern Aleppo over the past several days, retaking the northern third of the stronghold controlled by a mix of rebel and jihadist factions.
Anti-Isis Publications from Qatar
A 3rd PSYOP Battalion print team member inputs job specifications into a binding machine what will attach covers to magazines for distribution throughout the U.S. Army Central Command area of operations, 1 December 2016. Soldiers from Alpha Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion, deployed to the PSYOP Task Force - Central, in Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, to provide their product development and print production skills in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
A 3rd PSYOP Battalion graphic illustrator uses a digital pen tablet to create illustrations for a leaflet product, which will be dispersed over isolated areas to convey messages and information to both civilians and enemy fighters on 1 December 2016.
On 4 December 2016, the Syrian military air dropped leaflets across jihadist-held areas of eastern Aleppo, warning the militants to surrender or be neutralized. The leaflets urged militants to surrender their weapons and allow civilians to escape the conflict zone through humanitarian corridors.
On 6 December, US-led coalition warplanes struck a bridge in Daesh-held Mosul in an effort to cut the terrorist groups supply lines. It is the fifth bridge in Mosul to be hit by coalition jet-fighters.
At the same time, Iraqi military aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets over Mosuls Al-Hawija and Al-Qaim districts:
The leaflets urged residents to rise up against Daesh and support Iraqi army and security forces. They recounted the armys recent victories, urged residents to help Iraqi troops against Daesh and warned the terrorist group that its end was nigh.
A print team member packages leaflets. From there, the leaflets will be loaded into canisters for dispersal over isolated areas to convey messages and information to both civilians and enemy fighters.
A December 2016 report stated that in the previous six months, Alpha Company, 3rd Military Information Support Battalion, of the 4th Group, had processed over 200 print requests and produced over 23 million leaflets in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in both Iraq and Syria. Those leaflets relayed critical information to civilians and terrorists during the liberation of Manbij, Syria, and the capture of Mosul, Iraq. The Company was finishing up its tour and about to return to Ft. Bragg. Leaflets were thought to be an antique propaganda media in this modern electronic age, but they made a comeback in the war on ISIS. Recipients on the ground will sometimes take photos of the leaflets and post them on social media thus amplifying their message.
A Turkish Leaflet to ISIS
The Turkey-supported Free Syrian Army has attacked and occupied several small villages along the Turkish border with Syria, allegedly to fight the ISIS terrorists but possibly to fight Kurd forces that the Turks also see as an enemy. Turkey launched its Operation Euphrates Shield in late August to ensure a terror-free corridor over Turkey's southern border with Syria. On 12 December 2016, there was a report of Turkish Air Force planes dropping leaflets over the ISIS occupied village of al-Bab located to the northeastern part of Aleppo. The leaflet text is:
In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful,
Dear people of al-Bab,
Do not let the Devil-serving Daesh terrorist organization use you for their purposes.
The Free Syrian Army forces, sacrificing their lives for your freedom and salvation, and the Republic of Turkey which opens their gates to their brothers in need strive to bring security and peace to your lands.
Help us. Until we free your territories from these traitors, and in order to protect them, evacuate your loved ones to safer places.
With the will of God, Victory is near.
God's peace and help be with you.
On 12 December, The jihadist rebels of Fatah Halab and Jaysh Al-Fateh accepted terms of surrender in east Aleppo after withstanding a two month long siege. The jihadist rebels and all civilians would be allowed safe passage from the east Aleppo pocket to the Anadan plains near Mount Simeon - no activists, civilians, or jihadists will be arrested. Apparently, Aleppo is now free. Will Mosul be next?
On 16 December, it was reported that the United States was training Shiite militias for the liberation of Mosul. The Shiites have been backed by Iran in the past and on occasion have fought the Americans. This would seem to be a major shift in tactics by the U.S. The fall of Mosul would seem to be the end of ISIS as a major power.
Waving a White Flag
On 19 December 2016, Coalition jet fighters dropped leaflets over Raqqa once again, asking the ISIS fighters to surrender. The leaflet depicts an ISIS fighter leaving the battlefield with two Syrian Democratic Force soldiers. The text is:
Waving a white flag to Syrian Democratic Forces is a sign from you that you do not want to fight. Follow the instructions of Syrian democratic solders and they will treat you well and fairly once you surrender.
The Iraqi air force air dropped 4 million letters to the long-suffering residents of Mosul on 22 December 2016, to provide them courage and support while they await liberation from ISIS. The operation was called Letters to Mosul. 2,160 hand written letters to the people were photocopied and reproduced. The letters reassures the residents of Mosul that they have not been forgotten and that the rest of Iraq is standing with them, waiting to welcome them back in solidarity when ISIS is defeated. An example of one of the messages is:
Mosul, I send my love and respect and appreciation to you, my family. You have my respect and affection. You are part of us and no matter what happens we will keep you in our heart, you people of patience and endurance. Know that no matter what happens you stay in our heart and we will fight to free you. Whatever happens do not give up; were fighting for you.
The news was also good from Libya after the fall of ISISs last remaining stronghold in Sirte in December 2016. The U.S. military conducted 495 precision air strikes against ISIS to support the Libyan Government of National Accord as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning.
On 17 December, The Turkish Air Force dropped the same leaflet they had dropped on al-Bab on 12 December (see above) over the city for a second time.
On 14 January 2017, In Idlib Province, Syrian helicopters dropped leaflets on Jisr al-Shughur over ISIS positions, depicting dead bodies and the text:
Reconsider your thoughts and think about the consequences this is the inevitable fate for every terrorist who points weapon in the face of the army and people.
On 17 January Syrian helicopters dropped leaflets on Jisr al-Shughur city and Idlib Province again. The leaflets said:
Oh armed person, it is truths time. The world is changing rapidly. The army is coming. Waiting can cost you your life. Do not hesitate. Hurry up and drop your weapons to save your life. 40 kinds of armaments are waiting for you; capable of destroying targets on the ground, underground, shelters and even the fortified areas.
On 20 January, Syrian helicopters dropped leaflets on Kafr Hamra town and its surroundings in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo. The leaflets said in part:
The final message
The decision of eliminating terrorism and restoring security and stability to the country is irreversible has no mercy. The next strikes will be more violent, harsher and more powerful. We have enough power to crush terrorism and erase it from the face of the earth. We advise you to drop your weapons and return to the lap of the nation.
The General Command of the Armed Forces
The leaflets appeared again on 31 January 2017 when Iraqi aircraft dropped them over western Mosul urging civilian residents to brace for impending army operations to drive out ISIS. The leaflets called on residents to cooperate with Iraqi military personnel with a view to limiting civilian casualties and facilitating the operation. The text said in part:
Your enemy[Daesh]has been defeated in eastern Mosul. Your armed forces are now preparing to advance on the western side [of the city].
The Iraqi Army is currently awaiting orders to advance on western Mosul. In October 2016, the Iraqi army, backed by U.S. aircraft and local allies on the ground, began the campaign to retake Mosul, which has been in Daesh hands since mid-2014. Eastern Mosul was freed from ISIS occupation after three months of fighting.
On 6 February it was reported that the Iraqi Army was using the corpses of dead ISIS fighters as PSYOP. Instead of burying them they are left to rot on the street, some still wearing explosive suicide vests. The Army is apparently bothered by the fact that many residents of Mosul welcomed and collaborated with ISIS. The dead bodies are a reminder and a threat of what can happen if you are with the terrorists. The corpses might also deter Islamic State sleeper cells, which are highly effective and distributed across the country. One citizen spoke of life under ISIS rule:
Do you know what smoking one, just one cigarette meant? Twenty-five lashes in a public square where people were forced to watch you suffer. If your beard length did not meet their requirements, that was a month in jail and 100 lashes in public.
Iraqi Leaflets to the Citizens of Mosul
On 18 February Iraqi forces once again dropped millions of leaflets over Mosul promising the end of ISIS occupation. Iraqi forces have dropped leaflets with this same general message on several occasions. The Iraqis hold much of Eastern Mosul, and now intend to free Western Mosul. The leaflets said in part:
Your armed forces are advancing in the direction of the right [Western] side, relying on God. Get ready to welcome the sons of your armed forces and to cooperate with them, as your brothers on the left side have done, in order to reduce losses and speed up the conclusion of the battle.
A Box of Leaflets aimed at ISIS
Other leaflets were dropped that warned ISIS militants:
Lay down your weapons and surrender before you face your inevitable fate at the hands of our heroic forces,
Capt. Stephen Von Jett of the 4th Military Information Support Group (Airborne) talks about Operation Inherent Resolve leafleting against ISIS in Defense Video Imagery Distribution System. He mentions the Media Operations team working at the Military Information Support Task Force - Central, in Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar. Soldiers from Alpha Company, 3rd MISB, 4th MISG, deployed to the MISTF-C to provide their product development and print production skills in the fight against the extremists. While there, they processed over 200 print requests and produced over 23 million leaflets in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in both Iraq and Syria. He says:
Across Syria, Iraq and numerous other countries under siege by terrorists, these messages penetrate the thin veil of control. The clearly-drawn images and simple messages are passed hand to hand throughout the community. Even those who cant read understand the concise illustrations. They provide more than valuable information -- they provide hope.
The 4th PSYOP Group (Yes, they changed the name back to the old one) reviewed what they did in the fight against ISIS:
Since 2014, 4th PSYOP Group Officers and NCOs have contributed to international efforts in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) against violent extremist organizations in Iraq and Syria. Focusing on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Military Information Support Task Force - Central (MISTF-C) provided unparalleled PSYOP support to Special Operations and Conventional forces aligned under the Combined Joint Task Force. Their efforts included the development of hundreds of thousands of leaflets responsible for demoralizing ISIS fighters and encouraging desertions. Delivered by a wide array of aircraft, Psychological Operators were responsible for the planning, development, and dissemination of these messages that directly contributed to the success of Coalition, Iraqi Defense Forces, and our western Syrian counterparts.
On 19 February, Iraqi again leafleted Western Mosul. The leaflets said in part:
To those of you who were intrigued by the ISIS ideology, this is your last opportunity to quit your work with ISIS and to leave those foreigners who are in your homeland. Stay at home, raising the white flags as the forces approach.
Death to Daesh
Graffiti is a form of propaganda, a message written secretly that all can read. As the Iraqis continued to gain in Mosul, graffiti such as this is found on walls within the city. It was reported that ISIS arrested 20 people in relation to this comment. The text is:
Death to Daesh [ISIS], down with the Islamic State
Letter Leaflets for West Mosul
On 24 February 2017, letters from residents from eastern Mosul to those in the ISIS-held western half were dropped ahead of the Iraqi army's offensive to take it back. The letters told of the happiness of those Mosul Iraqis that had been freed of occupation by ISIS and sent their best wishes, prayers, and assurances to their western brothers of good treatment after their liberation. Iraqi aircraft had distributed letters on Mosul once before on 22 December 2016. Those leaflets were letters sent by the residents of Central and Southern Iraq offering encouragement.
Do not use ferries or boats, airstrikes are coming
A belt of land mines and militant checkpoints circle the city. Inside, all the men have been ordered to wear the jihadis' garb of baggy pants and long shirts making it difficult to distinguish Islamic State militants from civilians. Hundreds if not thousands of Syrians who fled from other parts of the country now live in tents in Raqqa's streets, vulnerable to both warplanes and ground fighting. Enormous tarps have been stretched for blocks in the city center to hide the militants' movements from spy planes and satellites.
On 17 March 2017, the Coalition dropped leaflets around Raqqa warning people not to use boats. Bridges around Raqqa were destroyed months ago, leaving the Euphrates River and Lake Assad as the main southern escape route for civilians and militants alike. This is an English-language file copy of the leaflet:
ISIS is using boats and ferries to transport weapons and fighters. Do not use ferries or boats, air strikes are coming.
Your Life is Worthless
On 27 March, U.S. aircraft dropped leaflets over West Mosul depicting what appears to be an ISIS leader giving a written order to one of his fighters. The shadow on the brick wall implies the order is an invitation to die since it is a hangmans noose. The text on the back of the leaflet is:
Your life is worthless and you are fighting a battle that you already lost, your ISIS commanders have run away with the money and weapons.
On 31 March, The Syria Democratic Forces shelled the Safsafa farm area, while Coalitions warplanes dropped leaflets over al-Tabaqa city which is controlled by ISIS that read:
Drop your weapons and hand over yourselves to the Syria Democratic Forces immediately! We give you our word: any fighter from Daesh that chooses to stop following their leaders to the road of destruction will be treated well. The Syria Democratic Forces do not believe in killing Muslim brothers.
On April 15, Syrian government troops used artillery to disseminate leaflets calling on militants in Qaboun, a north-eastern neighborhood of the country's capital of Damascus, to lay down arms and receive amnesty. The Syrian armed forces command hoped that the guerrillas would accept President Bashar Assad's offer of amnesty for rebels who lay down their arms so that there will be no need for launching an operation in Qaboun, which would lead to casualties. The leaflets were delivered using ten 122-mm special shells. They differ from the operational combat shells by having a very small detonating charge, designated for dispersing leaflets. Each shell contained 1,000 leaflets of A6 size. The A6 paper is 105 x 148 mm, or 4.1 x 5.8 inches.
In general this article is done. The actions and leaflets used in the conflict in Syria and Iraq have become routine and we see battles for a section of a city going on for weeks and months and the same leaflets promising liberation dropped on an almost daily basis. I will only add leaflets in the future when they are exceptional in relationship to their message or political situation.
As I mentioned above, these American leaflets are exceptional. Up to the end of May 2017, the U.S, leaflets attacked ISIS, Al Qaida and its allies and various terrorist elements. This ended about May 27, when for the first time the U.S. threatened the legitimate Syrian Army forces. Syria has the backing of Russia, China to a lesser degree, and Iran and Hezbollah. The United States is using Free Syrian Army forces (deserters from the regular Syrian Army) some Turks and the Kurds.
The United States forces hold an area near Syria's southern border with Iraq which they call the protected area which is about 55 kilometers around where the U.S. and coalition forces have been operating. U.S. and British Special Forces officially use the facility to train Syrian opposition forces for the fight against ISIS, but of course they also wish to overthrow President Assad. The Syrian forces have moved toward this area and been threatened with bombing by the U.S. Forces. The Syrians, who are the legitimate government, have refused to retreat. A problem could occur if they call for air support from their Russian allies. One assumes level heads will prevail, but there is a possibility that this area could leave to a military action that involves the major powers. U.S. military commanders are relaying the warning to Russian officials in daily de-confliction phone calls designed to prevent accidents across Syria's territory and skies.
90,000 of the leaflets were dropped about 27-28 May, showing a map of the area in question along with map coordinates, and an arrow pointing to a checkpoint where the Syrians are expected to return to. There are two messages. They are:
Any movement toward Tanf will be seen as hostile intent and we will defend our forces. Return to the Zara checkpoint.
You are within an established de-confliction zone; leave the area immediately.
A Syrian Commemorative Stamp Sheet
Sometime in 2017, the Government of Syria or someone supporting that government printed a commemorative stamp sheet that attacked The United States, Great Britain, Turkey, possibly Israel and ISIS. The stamps are interesting as philatelic propaganda so we depict the sheet here. President Assad is at the top and the words Syria will be Free in English, Arabic, and Russian. Iran and Hezbollah is a supporter of Syria as is Russia. The images on the stamps are of interest. Starting at the upper left: we see a flashlight shining a light on the USA and Turkey; The leaders of Iran, Syria and Russia who back President Assad; an Arab fighter blocking the flags of the USA and UK; a fist holding an ISIS fighter; a face with a hat and the text "USA" but a caricatured nose that in WWII, The Nazis would use to say "Jew"; and the American flag aflame. Whoever created this parody went all out and managed to attack everyone unfriendly to the Syrian government.
On 10 June 2017, The Coalition dropped Departure Instructions on Raqqa. The text is:
Keep this secret, and keep this ticket until you reach a safe place.
Do not tell anybody of your departure.
Head toward the Syrian democratic forces peacefully and without weapons.
If possible wave a piece of white cloth to surrender.
Follow all the steps to guarantee your safety and you will be treated humanely and with respect.
Freeing Raqqa has started and if you stay it will lead to your death.
ISIS will fall and you should not be there when that happens.
Daesh is leaving Tabqua
About the same time the Coalition dropped a leaflet on Raqqa that seems to show a dam on the front. The text is:
Daesh is leaving Tabqua
Daesh will lose in Raqqa like they lost in Manbaj and Tabqua
The back depicts what may be the dam destroyed. The text is:
Daesh will continue to die until they stop the fight
A number of Arabs attack the writing on this leaflet and say such things as: the American Army must be using Google translator; I conclude that USA is going to Raqqa in order to kidnap some Arabic teachers; and whoever wrote this, doesn't know proper Arabic. That is a bad sign. Still, my translator tells me that things written for Syrians is different that the way a sentence might be written for an Iraqi, so maybe the problem is just local speech patterns.
Stay away from these locations
ISIS continued to be beaten on the field and by July 2017 was almost totally removed from Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. The Coalition dropped the following leaflets in an attempt to save civilian lives. The front of this leaflet depicts some ISIS fighters and a skull and crossbones implying that to be near them is death. The text is:
Stay away from these locations during coalition strikes
Fighting positions for Daesh
Daesh check points
Coalition forces realize you are victims of Daesh terror by using you as human shields
The back of the leaflet depicts ISIS headquarters and convoys and the text:
Stay away from these locations during Coalition strikes
Locations where members of Daesh meet
Daesh leadership positions
Areas where Daesh forces and convoys get together
When you hear an approaching plane!
A second leaflet seems to try and show civilians how to survive a Coalition bombing. It depicts a civilian on his side covering his ears and the text:
When you hear an approaching plane!
Lay on your side
Cover your ears
Close your eyes
Keep your chest from touching the ground
Coalition forces to not target civilians
The back of this leaflet depicts the ruins of a bombed city. The text is:
Keep away from Daesh as much as possible
The Coalition is destroying Daesh buildings while seeking civilians' safety
On 15 July 2017, the Syrian government dropped three leaflets by helicopter over Homs with the following messages:
To all those who carry arms against the State:
The Syrian Arab Army calls upon you to surrender your arms and settle your situation!
This is imperative to your return to your normal lives.
Do not waste this chance because it could be your last one.
The Syrian government is offering a security pass to each and every one of you who surrenders their weapons, a pass that would provide you with food and accommodation and ensures your safety.
The second leaflet says:
They send you weapons to kill your own people, children and brothers, they brainwash you and determine your own fate. For whose sake and for what goal are you carrying such weapons? Do not be the fuel that adds to their fire for only you will incur the losses. Therefore, we call upon you to surrender your weapons and return to your people.
The third leaflet has the following text:
A call to the sons of the homeland: they are spreading chaos and causing destruction to our country. They are stealing our wealth and lands and killing our families. Therefore, we call upon you to cooperate with the Syrian Arab Army to expel those mercenaries out of our country. We call upon each of you to think about the destiny of your family and your children. It is your call.
ISIS message to Pakistan
As ISIS continued to lose ground on all fronts in early 2017 they raised the ante on their propaganda, sending Pashtu language messages to Pakistan. One illustrated leaflet featured the black flag of ISIS, alongside pictures of an execution and armed militants, threatened Shiite Muslims and said in part:
We are going to launch attacks against the Shiite community ... with the help of Allah, we will soon clear these areas of infidels. We are in contact with our fellow Mujahedeen and they will help coordinate the attacks on Shiites.
Isis also originated a military draft in Syria and sent out a letter to the citizens of Deir Ezzor saying in part:
All males between the ages of 20 to 30 years must enlist at any of the security points. You will be engaged in a training course before joining the jihadists in the frontlines against the advancing Syrian forces. Whoever fails to enlist within one week from this announcement will be forcibly deployed to the frontlines.
VERITAS Journal of Army Special Operations History Vol 13, No. 1, 2017
In the fall of 2017, my friend and Army historian Dr. Jared M. Tracy wrote about the battle against ISIS in an article entitled MISTF-C in Operation Inherent Resolve. Several propaganda leaflets were displayed in the article. Normally I would put them in place chronologically, but no dates were given for dissemination so I will simply give Veritas its own section and place them all together here.
Since the attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2011, the United States established a Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF). It went through several name and location changes but by 2015 it was the Military Information Support Task Force - Central (MISTF-C) headquartered at Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar. Starting about 2014 it took part in the war against ISIS. Tracy tells us that:
Behind every product is an extensive research, design, staffing and approval process. The process generally includes a thorough internal legal review; in depth translations and cultural analyses by vetted experts; and product design and output by U.S. PSYOP and signal personnel.
Loading the 750-pound M129-E2 Leaflet bomb canister for B-52 bomber dissemination
(Photo courtesy Veritas magazine)
ISIS robs our boys
The first leaflet was designed to decrease public support for ISIS and targets civilians in Iraq and Syria still under ISIS control. The same text on front and back is:
ISIS robs our boys of their childhood and turns them into murderers.
Stop letting ISIS beat your women...
This leaflet is similar to one that was used in Afghanistan showing a Taliban religious policeman beating a woman. A young girl is depicted with a black eye. The text on front and back is:
Stop letting ISIS beat your women.
This is your country. Stop ISIS from ruining your country
Two Kodak NexPress S3000 Digital Production Color Presses
Each of the MISTF-C presses can print 250,000 to 400,000 leaflets a day.
(Photo courtesy Veritas magazine)
Since we show printing presses above this is a good place to add a letter from one of the printers during the campaign. He wrote to me in 2020, with some thoughts about this article:
You are missing about, 25 poster designs, though I guess those would be harder to get your hands on, and unfortunately, I was not able to get the designs unclassified before I left (as they had been disseminated and thus unable to retain classification). A majority of the leaflets/handbills that are white slips of paper with writing were designed by the Iraqi or Jordanian armies and the MISTF-C. We were generally able to print about half a million leaflets a day with six hours of maintenance time per machine (which we called El Toro and Big Bertha, I designed the stickers that are on them), but we did have a period where our cutter went down and our production rate dropped.
Another source talked about the secrecy involved in the printing:
Any leftover or excess materials like printer’s waste was destroyed using an industrial disintegrator. The presses were in a room next to a hanger bay. When printed materials were ready to be shipped out, they would back a plane or truck into the hangar. The hanger would then be closed, and all the doors locked. If it was a truck to take the leaflets to the bomb loaders, we would back the truck directly to the door into the print room and load them there. If they were to be dropped from boxes, you could load them directly into the plane.
Sometimes one of the printers might be sent on an airdrop mission. This was a bit of reprieve for a day, as the only duty you had to do was throw boxes out the back of the airplane. It sounds strange, but it was also so we were sure to get our pallets back. Those things are notoriously hard to come by when deployed.
We normally worked with any unit that requested material or thought the PSYOP material would help them accomplish their mission. We often worked closely with the PSYOP battalions.
Coalition pilots prowl the skies...
This leaflet is rather threatening and aimed at encouraging defections. The front warns of Coalition pilots overhead and features an explosion. The back points out that torturing civilians is an unforgivable sin. The text is:
Coalition pilots prowl the skies. Listen for their roar and watch for the fire and smoke that signifies that another ISIS fighter has been sent to Barzakh.
Committing atrocities against innocent civilians is cowardly and unforgivable. ISIS fighters have corrupt soils and will see Jahannam. Abandon your illegitimate cause.
Note: Barzakh is similar to the Christian Purgatory. As you might expect, Johannam is similar to the Christian Hell.
The Iraqi Security Force is advancing...
I have seen this leaflet in the past but had no translation so never added it to the story. At the top it shows cowardly ISIS fighters on the defense; on the back they flee in panic. The text is:
The Iraqi Security Force is advancing Quick, just like we did at Fallujah.
A civilian contractor evaluates the linguistic and cultural accuracy of the product
Here the expert records a script in an insulated sound booth
(Photo courtesy Veritas magazine)
For any oppressor there is an end.
This is another leaflet that I saw a dozen times but never with a translation. It targets nearly recruited ISIS members that might be convinced of the errors of their ways. It shows a Coalition soldier killing an ISIS fighter and the text:
For any oppressor there is an end.
The Invisible Sheikh...
The final leaflet in the article attacks the ISIS leader Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It calls him invisible because he stays hidden and surrounds himself with civilians to protect himself against Coalition attacks. He is depicted as a rat-demon amonmg human remain, with the text:
The invisible sheikh with the expansion of his false Caliphate will soon have no one to help him achieve his illusions.
The PUMA Drone
In 2017, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) also revealed that either Navy or Marine personnel, likely special operators in either case, had used the much smaller, shorter-range RQ-20 Puma to release paper messages in unspecified conflict zones. The 1st Battalion of the 9th Marines said in an official briefing on the Puma drone:
Highlights and successes of the drone include more than 2500 flight hours in direct support of operations Multiple leaflet drops and resupply of small items.
On 31 August 2017, there was some confusion about the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There were reports of him killed in Coalition or Russian bombing, and reports of him still being alive in the border area between Syria and Iraq. Despite a $25 million dollar U.S. bounty on his head, Baghdadi has avoided an intense effort to capture or kill him for six years or more. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told reporters that his forces were continuing the search for the elusive figurehead of the militant group. In what seems to be an amazing moment of honesty, he continued:
The last stand of Isis will be in the middle-Euphrates river valley. When we find him, I think well just try to kill him first. Its probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him.
To the Honorable People of Hawija,
On 1 September 2017, Iraqi aircraft dropped millions of all-text propaganda leaflets over Hawija city in Kirkuk to announce the beginning of the operations to recapture the city from ISIS terrorists. The leaflets had instructions to civilians urging them to stay away from ISIS locations as they will be targets to Iraqi air force strikes. The text is:
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
If God should aid you, no one can overcome you;
God Almighty has spoken the truth
To the Honorable People of Hawija,
To every honorable Iraqi in this country of ours; the Armed Forces will start attacking ISIS in your area. After achieving victory and defeating ISIS and freeing our beloved Nineveh, our armed forces now come to free you and are determined to finish its mission as fast as possible. In order to protect you and save you from harm, move near the Armed forces and close to it, so that you can get help as soon as possible. Keep away from any ISIS groups or individuals; they will be targets for our pilots, and we will let you know of the safe passages that we will allocate for you later on.
Commander of the We are coming Hawija Operation
My translator did not care for the text on this leaflet. He wonders why you would stay close to the armed forces when they are shooting. He thought they should have said something like support our armed forces or tell the public to stay away from fighting areas. He said, The language is vague and the sentences are very long and repetitive.
Nowhere to hide
The Coalition and even more so the Syrian government seems to drop surrender leaflets almost daily. On 8 September 2017, Iraqi jets dropped thousands of leaflets on Hawija and the left coast of Shirgat, asking ISIS militants to surrender before the areas were attacked. Hawija is one of the militant groups last remaining strongholds in Iraq after losing Mosul and Tal Afar. The leaflets are a muddy brown and the images are difficult to see, but on the front there seems to be a village with an ISIS fighter partially exposed behind a wall. He is being watched through a pair of binoculars. The Arabic text is:
Daesh, there is nowhere to hide
The back of the leaflet seems to just show the same wall, now with the ISIS fighter eliminated and the text:
We know where you are
ISIS in other Countries
With success from Allah
As ISIS continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, the network has moved to other safer countries. Cells are believed to exist in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and even the Philippines. After a recent attack ISIS produced a propaganda leaflet in the Philippine Islands for the first time. The all-text leaflet says:
With success from Allah, a detachment from the soldiers of the Khilafah in the Philippines attacked a Crusader army position in the village of Tubigan in the Maluso area. One of the crusader soldiers was killed and another wounded during the clashes, while the remaining soldiers fled. The Mujahidin seized light weapons and returned to their positions safely and praise is to Allah.
In October of 2017, it appeared that the will of ISIS members to fight to the death had crumbled. With constant ISIS defeats the Coalition saw the first sign of major defections. The fight for Mosul, Iraqs second-largest city, took nine months, and few Islamic State fighters surrendered. Tal Afar fell next, and more quickly, in only 11 days. Some 500 fighters surrendered there. At the start of October, Hawija was attacked and more than a thousand Islamic State fighters surrendered. Many of the fighters claimed to have been just cooks or clerks. So many said they had been members of the Islamic State for only a month or two that interrogators suspected they had been coached to say that.
On 26 October 2017, Iraqi warplanes dropped leaflets on an Islamic State-held area near the border with Syria, signaling an imminent offensive to retake the extremist militias last stronghold in Iraq. The aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets overnight on Iraqs far western towns of Al-Qaim and Rawa:
Your security forces have liberated all Iraqi areas once defiled by Daeshis. They are coming to liberate you. We advise any Iraqi carrying arms in the face of the state to lay them down immediately go to any house and raise a white flag on its roof when liberating forces enter Al-Qaim.
In November 2017 it was reported that a small group of six Iraqi computer hackers known as Daeshgram decided to cause distrust among ISIS supporters about messages from the group's leadership. In one instance, the hackers photo shopped an image of a naked woman into an announcement about the opening of a media center in ISIS-controlled Syria. The altered image made it appear that the ISIS extremists were viewing pornography. Daeshgram's also attacked Amaq, which is a news agency for ISIS. The group forced the site offline with a denial-of-service attack before creating an exact replica of the page with messages mocking the terror group's ideology. It is hard to say how much damage a small group of hackers can do to a terrorist organizations, but the Iraqi hackers seem determined to find out.
On 24 November 2017, the United States appeared to turn its back on its Kurdish allies just as it had done at the end of Operation Desert Storm. The United States has armed the Kurds in their fight against ISIS through an umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is comprised of Kurdish as well as Arab fighters. The Kurds had fought against ISIS for the United States and I assumed that some provision would be made to give them some area as a homeland they called Kurdistan. Instead, President Trump seemed to have turned his back on the Kurds to ease tensions with the Turks. In a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said that he had:
Given clear instructions that the Kurds will receive no more weapons and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago
On 9 December 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared final victory over ISIS after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq's territory. The announcement comes two days after the Russian military announced the defeat of the militants in neighboring Syria, where Moscow is backing Syrian government forces.
The Guardian of 28 April 2017 mentioned the Islamic State fighters attempting to escape to Italy by pretending to be severely injured and carrying false passports:
Italian investigators believe that many Islamic State fighters from Libya have slipped into Europe by infiltrating a scheme designed to give hospital treatment to wounded regular Libyan government soldiers. An Italian intelligence document seen by the Guardian reveals a complex network in which, from 2015, members of Isis and others linked to jihadi movements have infiltrated Europe pretending to be injured, to be treated in clinics and then freed to move elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East
"Elements of Isis are involved in the smuggling of the wounded men from Libya and are using this strategy to travel out of Libya with false passports."
Petter Nesser, a senior researcher at the FFI terrorism research group in Norway said:
"There was a feeling that we would have seen more combatants coming out from Libya and it has taken a while until this materialized. Most of the plots in Europe were linked to Syria. But quite recently we are starting to see more plots in Europe linked to Libya. We know that Daesh is coordinating the infiltration of more operatives and combatants from Libya. The Berlin attacker had ties to Libyan operatives and even Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Paris attacks ringleader, had ties with ISIS agents in Libya."
The ISF has Liberated Mosul
A depiction of an English-language version of a leaflet for Mosul
Very little was said about Australian PSYOP against ISIS but with the 2017 victory in Iraq, there were reports of their contribution. During the second half of 2017, a small group of Australian Army soldiers worked behind the scenes to support military operations against Daesh by producing print and radio broadcasts to keep civilians out of harms way. Australian Defense Force personnel work within the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). They work in roles such as planning, operations, logistics, communications and public affairs. CJTF-OIR is a global coalition of 69 nations and four organizations formed to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Australian personnel are deployed there under Operation Okra.
The Australian Army depicted soldier Sapper Haines-Hann and Captain Muras, members of the Information Operations team at Operation Inherent Resolve. Haines-Hann also painted a mural on an Australian building at Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East Region. A depiction of an English-language version of a leaflet for Mosul was illustrated.
The Battle for Ghouta
Safe routes to Escape Leaflet
Although Syria, with Russian and Iranian help has mostly cleansed its nation of guerrillas, there are still anti-Assad forces in eastern Ghouta, and the Syrian government claims that they regularly attack portions of Damascus. Asa result, in February 2018 the Syrians and their Russian allies began bombing Ghouta heavily. The United States accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of planning to bomb or starve opponents in the besieged Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta into submission, just as it did in Aleppo, Hama and Homs. The U.S. has tried to make this into a humanitarian crisis brought on by Assad, but it is the guerrillas that started the civil war and clearly should they return to their homes the bombing ceases. Eastern Ghouta has long been the major threat to Damascus, with rebels launching attacks at the capital. Four major rebel groups are currently positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), otherwise known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. Two leaflets were dropped on 22 February over Ghouta by Syrian Army helicopters.
The first calls on residents to leave for their own safety and called on the civilians to leave the pocket through several safe routes and warned them that a military operation will begin soon in the region. The Syrian Army promises the civilians that it will move them to secured area, provide medical care and food and then allow them to return to their homes once terrorists there are eliminated. It tells the rebels that they are surrounded on all sides by the Syrian army. It blamed insurgents for the deaths of thousands of women and children and for forcing the Ghouta residents to live in shelters. The text on the front is:
1. Dont approach the crossing points carrying weapons.
2. Make visual contact with the crossing point guards; hold the leaflet high with one hand, show or carry your child with the other.
3. Wait for a sign from the Syrian Army soldier; then turn and show your back.
4. Face towards the crossing point and proceed slowly.
Five points are named on the map along with the route to safety. The points (from right to left) are: the canvassing point; the inspection point; the bus gathering area, the Al-Wafddien camp; and the humanitarian crossing point.
There is a longer all-text propaganda message on the back of the leaflet. It says in part:
Brother citizens in Eastern Ghouta, the area is surrounded by the Syrian army... Everyone is tired of this war that has brought nothing to the Syrians but death and destruction of the homes, hospitals, and schools. Because of the armed rebels, thousands of children, mothers, fathers, and brothers have lost their lives or ended up in shelters and camps. Our families in Eastern Ghouta, we hope you don't cooperate with the armed men to protect your lives and we call on you to leave the area as we guarantee your safety.
The second leaflet, directed at the rebels, called on the opposition fighters to approach government forces without their weapons. Each fighter is to carry a leaflet in one hand and hold the other over his head.We believe that some of this second leaflet reads:
Everyone holding this paper is considered to have dropped arms against the Syrian military and can benefit from the amnesty issued by the president of the Arab Republic of Syria. All army checkpoints must guarantee the safety and protection of all this papers holders and provide them with food, medicine and shelter in accordance with the laws of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Our brothers in Afrin
On 20 January 2018, Turkey, jointly with the opposition Free Syrian Army forces, launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in order to "clear" Turkey's Syrian border from the terrorist threat. Turkish forces have nearly encircled Afrin in an effort to drive the Syrian Kurdish fighters from the town. Since the area has almost been cleared of ISIS fighters, the Turkish and Syrian armies are now attacking the Kurdish troops that were fighting ISIS beside the Americans.
The Kurds want a nation called Kurdistan which would be partly made of some Turkish lands and the Turks have responded by calling them terrorists and attacking them. Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish political party in northern Syria, and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara. On 16 March 2018, Turkey dropped leaflets in the Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish language attacking the Kurds. The leaflet said in part:
Our brothers in Afrin; Time to stop the militants.
Stop supporting the Kurds, who use civilians as human shields.
Don't allow the militants use your children.
Stay away from terrorist positions.
Afrin belongs to the people of Afrin trust the hand we extend to you.
Leave territories occupied by Kurdish terrorists.
Come surrender! A calm and peaceful future awaits you in Afrin.
Afrin civilians wanting to leave will be under the guarantee of the Turkish military.
Turkey's aim is to free the people of Afrin from Kurdish occupation.
Turkey guarantees freedom and security to all citizens as well as those, who have been involuntary mobilized.
The Daraa Leaflet
Although in theory ISIS and its allies have been driven from Syria there are still some areas controlled by the rebels. On 16 May 2018, Syrian choppers dropped thousands of leaflets over the provincial capital of Daraa and its countryside, demanding the rebel forces surrender to the government.
We dont have the exact translation of the leaflets but we know that they specifically called on the rebels to lay down their weapons and seek reconciliation with the government. The government warned the rebels that continuing to fight wont change anything on the battlefield. The leaflets also called on the residents in Daraa to join the Syrian Arab Army in their war on terror. Some of the text is:
Reconcile with the government. Completely ensure the safe future of the civilians and the region. Be a door to security and salvation. Syria deserves good fortunate, lets work together to stop the bloodshed and reach our potential.
At the same time, another terrorist group called Jaysh Khalid bin al-Walid (The Army of Khalid bin al-Walid or JKW), which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, dropped leaflets from drones over the rebel-held and besieged town of Hit that said in part:
We call upon all factions to repent and to cease fighting against the Mujaheddin. We call upon all to reject support and subsidy from the Jews, Christians, and apostates. He who comes to us to repent before being forced to, we will accept his repentance and safeguard his life. What we have will be shared with him Our time is coming soon, servants of the cross.
Choose your Destiny
On 25 and 27 May there were reports of Syrian government leaflets dropped on Daraa, Idlib's Sarmada, Ram Hamdan villages and a refugee camp in Kemmune village. Daraa is known as the "cradle of the Syrian revolution" and is one of the last areas under opposition control outside Idlib province. The Syrian helicopters dropped the leaflets in tandem with the movement of Syrian forces toward Daraa, noting that maneuver was agreed upon with the Russians. This has been a standard operating procedure for the Syrians the past few years. They give repeated warnings while moving troops forward. They drop leaflets, and then they attack with great ferocity. There were at least two different leaflets. One of them depicts a picture of dead bodies in a line and the text:
Choose your Destiny
Dont be like these men. This is the inevitable end for anyone who insists on keep carrying their guns. To ensure your life is an irreplaceable opportunity, dont lose it with your stubbornness, drop your weapon and leave before its too late.
You have two choices
The second leaflet dropped at the same time is all text. Some of the message is:
Your life and the fate of your children are more important than your stubbornness. Hey gunman, for whom you are gambling your life?! Why dont you choose to live with your family and your children like others do? Where are they those who pushed you to die; those who made the career of murder, sabotage, and destruction a beautiful career in your eyes? All of them have abandoned you and left you for dead. You have two choices, either inevitable death or abandoning your weapon. The men of the Syrian Arab Army are coming. Make your decision before it is too late.
The Syrian regime and their allies now occupy the Yarmuk area in southern Damascus, giving President Bashar al-Assad full control of the capital Damascus and its surroundings for the first time since 2012.
Leaflets over Idlib
On 25 May, Syrian helicopters also dropped leaflets over the militant-held towns of northern Idlib. The leaflets called on the militants in the towns of Sarmada and Al-Dana to lay down their arms and join the Syrian Army in their war on terror. The militants are currently surrounded by Turkish troops.
It appears that four leaflets were dropped. One Syrian all-text leaflet said:
Peace is the best Ruling.
Our beloved people:
How long you and your families will live in fear and anxiety?
How long your children remain without future and hope?
The war is near its end. It's time to stop bloodshed and destruction.
We invite you to join local reconciliation as many of our people in Syria did.
Help the Syrian Arab Army to free you from the rule of terrorists among you and protect your lives and your families.
Let's work together to restore peace and security and start reconstruction.
Another all text leaflet called on residents to expel the Al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Al-Nusra) from their province. The leaflet stated that people were suffering in Idlib because of Nusras ongoing presence inside their areas. The leaflet gave examples of how the Syrian Army was able to restore schools, electricity, and water in areas that were liberated from the Nusra militants
A Call to Members of Assads Army
On 12 June 2018, the insurgents in Daraa retaliated against the regular leafleting by the Syrian Army. Using drones, they dropped leaflets on Damascus that said:
A call to the members of Al-Assads army, you have to hurry to defect and leave this criminal regime. We defend a homeland to be for all, and you defend a mercenary gang which tortures and assaults our families and our honor. Hurry to defect before its too late. This is the last call from Daraa. Will fiercely strike anyone thinks to tamper with its pure soil.
ISIS Coin punch
Recently, ISIS targeted Turkey with terrorist attacks. It turns out this was a case of a dog biting the hand that feeds it. Turkish security forces have intensified its anti-terror operations and in a recent raid discovered equipment used for minting coins that ISIS circulates as its own currency in areas under its control. Six suspects were arrested and Police in Gaziantep on the border with Syria seized coin punches, presses and other coin-making equipment. Large amounts of 56 coins in four different sizes were seized.
The Turks are an interesting people. They fought with the enemy in WWI and fought with the U.S. in Korea. Although they have acted against ISIS on occasion, they seem more willing to fight the Kurds who seek a homeland called Kurdistan, partly in Turkey. The Turks see ISIS and the Kurds in the exact same light; terrorists. The Kurds have been a strong ally of the United States fighting ISIS so it may be that in the long run the Turks have harmed the U.S. position in Syria more than they helped it.
On 19 June 2018, Syrian Air Force helicopters once again dropped leaflets over Daraa province. The towns of Dael and Ibtraa were targeted since they are expected to be the first towns to be targeted by the Syrian Arab Army offensive since they are closest to their front-lines. The leaflets specifically called on the residents of these two towns to kick out the rebel forces and reconcile with the Syrian government.
Abu Omar, send us reinforcements or we will lose
On 22 June, the American-led Coalition dropped leaflets which include caricatures of ISIS leaders in southern Hasaka province. The airdrops mostly targeted ISIS-controlled al-Shafa, Haijin, and al-Bukhtair. The text is from right to left:
Abu Omar, send us reinforcements or we will lose
Suliman, I will send you a 100 fighters with weapons and equipment
Abu Omar side kick:<
Abu Omar, you said that we will leave the city!
Shut up! You servant, we will leave and they will stay here
Where are you going? The battle is in this direction...
We will be back right away!
A Freedom of Information Act request led to the release of 13 themes that American leaflets to ISIS were allowed to stress. I will add a few of them below:
1. ISIS is both a regional and global threat.
2. ISISs actions are causing a humanitarian crisis and terrible human suffering.
3. Isiss interpretation of Islam and claim of a caliphate are false and its actions are hypocritical and brutal.
4. Isis threatens the image of Islam around the world.
5. Coalition actions are not a war against Islam.
6. Coalition operations are enabling Iraqi and Syrian partners to fight ISIS.
7. Coalition aircraft will find you and bomb you. It is only a matter of time.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
On 4 July ISIS announced that Huthaifa al-Badri, the son of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed while trying to attack a power station in the Syrian province of Homs. Hudhayfah al-Badri and other jihadists were fighting Russian forces and Assad regime troops during an assault on the station. The elder Baghdadi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, has not been heard from since September 2017, when he urged supporters to launch attacks against the West and keep fighting in Syria and Iraq. He has been reported killed or wounded on several occasions.
On 9 August 2018, Syrian military helicopters dropped leaflets on rebel and jihadist positions in the northwestern province of Idlib urging people to surrender. The province is the largest chunk of territory still in rebel hands, and President Bashar al-Assad has warned it would be his next priority. The leaflets said in part:<
Your cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army will release you from the rule of militants and terrorists, and will preserve your and your families lives. We call upon you to join local reconciliation (agreements) as many others in Syria have done. The fate of your family, children and future depend on your decision.
The leaflets signed by the Armed Forces Command had photos of Syria before and after the war with a caption that read:
This is how Syria was before terrorism.
Which do you prefer? This was Syria before terrorism and its militiamen, and this is what armed terrorism has one to Syria and its people. The fate of your family, children, and future depend on your decision.
Avoid Daesh at all Costs.
On 11 September 2018, Kurdish-led forces launched operations against ISIS in the town of Hajin, on the east bank of the Euphrates River. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is leading the operation with the backing of the international coalition against ISIS. The SDF and coalition dropped leaflets on Hajin, warning civilians of the impending military action. The colorful leaflet bears a map of the area and shows the movements of troops and where the battles will be fought. The text is:
Coalition forces will begin clearing operations soon. Leave the area as quickly as possible. Avoid Daesh at all costs.
On 13 October 2018, what is left of the ISIS fighters stormed a settlement for displaced people in Hajin, Syria, and abducted 130 families. The U.S.-led coalition said it couldn't confirm news of the kidnapping but it has been dropping leaflets requesting that civilians leave the area for months to avoid the brutal tactics of the extremist group. ISIS has used innocent civilians as human shields in the past and the leaflets give the people instructions for the quickest and safest exits. ISIS once held territory about the size of Great Britain but now it is just a shell of its former self.
In October there was talk of a group of anti-ISIS commandos does called the Sand Hippos. We do not know if they exist or this is some sort of psychological operation. Apparently they have been decimating the ISIS command by killing its mid-level leaders. It seems that these ghosts are accurate, fast and invisible. When the inhabitants of the area mention them, they only say Woosh, miming a sand storm which strikes, only to disappear soon after. It appears that the hunters have become the hunted.
The Sand Hippos have been operating in Syria for a while. Recently several low-level sub commanders of the Islamic State have been killed or have disappeared and in the last days the same fate has started to be inflicted to the ones at medium-level. Within ISIS, suspicion is growing, a situation which has already provoked various clashes among ISIS elements. The Ghosts are known to operate in Baghuz, Deir Ezzor, and Idlib.
Among the ISIS leaders in Deir Ezzor, terror is growing. The jihadists of the Islamic State see enemies everywhere, even among their own comrades. This is confirmed by executions of citizens in ShaFah, Hajin and Susah. At the slightest suspicion, tough interrogations and summary trials are carried out, which in most cases end with the execution of the accused.
Prevent them from infiltrating and desecrating Iraqs land
On 29 October 2018, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced a leaflet drop near the Syrian border to encourage Popular Mobilization Forces to protect Iraq from possible Islamic State infiltration. Islamic State forces have been engaged in battle with Kurdish Peoples Protection Forces in the border town of Deir Ezzor, Syria. The leaflet text is:
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: To the nations guards, the sons of the Popular Mobilization Forces. There are intense clashes ongoing on the Iraq-Syria border. In it, the Islamic State enemy is suffering great losses. The fighting is closing in on them from all sides. Some of their elements are attempting infiltration into Iraq. Today is your day. The borders are your national and legal responsibility. Prevent them from infiltrating and desecrating Iraqs land; land of the immaculate Imams.
History, the people of Iraq, and the world will bear witness that you are the protectors of the borders. May God grant you success. Trust in God.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense
A U.S Marine Trains an Iraqi Soldier to operate a long-range
Acoustic hailing device on a Humvee in 2018
In December 2018 it was reported that in October 2016, U.S. cultural advisors assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), approved 25 separate audio messages that American forces wanted to blare out at ISIS. CJTF-OIR is main U.S.-led coalition fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Messaging has apparently focused primarily on urging fighters to abandon a futile cause and calling on civilians to support U.S.-backed authorities. Darker audio broadcasts, included simple recordings of crying in an attempt to confuse, unsettle, and perhaps convince militants theyre going crazy. The internal control codes for the 25 audio messages that month begin with OIR and SY.
Message OIR16A024vaTC0005 is:
Do you regret choosing this life with Daesh? You probably miss your family at home Or, perhaps you long for some of the comforts of your life before Daesh Electricity that works all day Or being able to watch television, or freely use the internet Join your comrades now that have already saved their lives by leaving Daesh.
Message SY16A02aaTC2000 is:
I dont know whether to laugh at you or pity you, Brother. You joined Daesh to fight and be part of something. But look! The foreign fighters get paid more than you; they get better food, better places to live, and the spoils of war. What do you get? Honestly, my friend, you have been cheated! Daesh would be nothing without you, and look, you are barely treated better than they would treat a nonbeliever, and enemy prisoner. Is this what you signed up for?
Messages OIR16A02vaTC0008 pretends to be ISIS fighters in a battle:
Fall back! They are everywhere! (Pause w/ static) Why is no one answering me? You need to move back! We cannot hold our position if you do not fall back you will be overrun! (Pause w/ static) If you can hear me fall back, I cannot hear you. You must fall back now or you will be killed! Is there anyone there? (Static that fades out).
Message OIR15A02aTC0008 is just endless crying.
At present, the U.S. military has a mix of fixed radio broadcasting systems, vehicle-mounted speakers and so-called acoustic hailing devices.
On 15 December 2018, U.S.-led Kurdish forces took Hajin, the last major city in Syria still occupied by ISIS. Isis is still in some small nearby villages, but Hajin was the command center from where ISIS strategy was formed and directed. Apparently, disagreement between Syrian and Iraqi ISIS fighters over who was in charge weakened their effort.
On 20 December 2018, President Donald Trump shocked his own military and political advisors when he stated without warning that after five years of fighting, he was pulling all 2,000 American troops out of Syria because he was victorious over ISIS. He said:
We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency.
It is unknown if Trump will go through with his threat because he has been known to abruptly change his mind. It is also unknown what will become of the Kurdish troops in Syria that the United States used as surrogates in the war against ISIS. Turkey had threatened to bomb them. Still in Syria in defense of President Assad are Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
USS Theodore Roosevelt Operation Inherent Resolve Certificate
Although not actual propaganda, I thought I would add this certificate to the story. I was surprised when I received a Christmas gift of an American flag from my grandson-in-law, stationed on the U.S. Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. It came with a certificate stating that it was flown over Iraq by a Navy Super Hornet as part of the fight against ISIS. This is my personal anti-ISIS leaflet.
According to a Department of Defense Office of Inspector General declassified Evaluation of Combined Joint Task ForceOperation Inherent Resolves Military Information Support Operations, in February 2019 the PSYOP planner conducted target audience analysis to determine PSYOPs ability to influence the target audience. As an example, ISIS fighters were the PSYOP target audience in a February 2019 counter-ISIS mission. The PSYOP objective for this mission was to undermine ISIS leadership by sending messages to these ISIS members to encourage them to choose their own safety and the safety of their families over their allegiance to ISIS leaders. The PSYOP planners' target audience analysis analyzed the target audience's susceptibility to the message. From the target audience analysis and a list of authorized themes, messages, and PSYOP objectives, the planner developed the PSYOP series, consisting of the messages and actions most likely to achieve the PSYOP objective.
The Combined Joint Task ForceOperation Inherent Resolves Deputy Commander approved the initial concept for the PSYOP series. The planner then drafted a product design, recommended a means of message dissemination, and developed the concept for the PSYOP product. A review verified that each PSYOP series contained an authorized target audience, objective, theme, and method of dissemination.
On 23 March 2019, Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, said that Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved. We remember that President Bush said that Saddam was defeated during Iraqi Freedom and got into a lot of trouble as Iraqi guerrillas fought on. The fact is that you can probably never destroy a religion-based terrorist organization. There always is someone, somewhere, ready to continue the battle. Having said that, A U.S.-backed Syrian and Kurdish forces have liberated the last area held by the Islamic State group in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, declaring victory over the extremists and the end of their self-declared caliphate. We will now close this article until such time as ISIS comes on the scene again. The group no longer controls any territory in Syria or Iraq, but continues to carry out insurgent attacks in both countries. It also maintains affiliates in Egypts Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
$25 million reward offered for the whereabouts Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
With ISIS thoroughly beaten on the ground and in full disarray and all of its major leaders on the run on in hiding, the United States still wanted to catch its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. On 3 April 2019, coalition aircraft dropped leaflets on Upper Euphrates towns, Bedouin encampments, and villages adjacent to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, urging those with information regarding al-Baghdadi to contact the coalition via call or text. The US-led international coalition against ISIS offered a $25 million reward to those who report the whereabouts of the ISIS leader. The leaflet depicted al-Baghdadi on the left, military scenes on the right and non-Iraqi mobile phone numbers belonging to the international anti-ISIS coalition and the text:
The leader of ISIS and his fighters stole your land and killed your family, and now he is hiding safely away from the death and destruction he planted. With your information you can get revenge against him and his destruction.
On 29 April 2019, it was reported that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had attempted over the past few weeks to cross Syria into Iraqs western province of Anbar, but failed to do so due to tight security measures along the border between the two countries. Baghdadi was hiding in the Abu Rajmin mountainous area northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria's central province of Homs. Baghdadi had been trying to enter Iraq for weeks, but could not succeed as strict security measures were being applied on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
On 16 October 2019, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Francis M. Beaudette talked about using PSYOP and leaflets in Syria.
Ive been accused of calling leaflets and loudspeakers audio and trash littering, but they do have a time and place. Syria is a great example. When the fiber was cut and the cell towers were down, people were hungry for information. So guess what was working there? It was leaflets.
The PSYOP products are prepared and printed by the specialists at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The team there can sketch, print and record products, and then request U.S. Air Force assets to airdrop leaflets, or use electronic warfare aircraft to broadcast radio and television messages.Army Civil Affairs units were also present in Syria. Civil councils were set up in places like Raqqa and Manbij to consolidate gains after ISIS retreated from the area. Potential ISIS sleeper cells and improvised explosive devices left behind made Manbij extremely dangerous.
On 26 October, US Special Operations forces reported that they believed they had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a targeted attack. They had great confidence that as he was about to be taken prisoner he had detonated a suicide vest in the northwestern city of Idlib. Baghdadi has been in hiding for five years. He became the leader of the jihadist group in 2010. He had not been seen in public since July 2014, when he spoke at the Great Mosque in Mosul.
On 17 December 2019, long after President Trump stated that the war against ISIS was over, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced that an offensive to retake the western half of Mosul has begun. He said:
We announce the start of a new phase in the operation, we are coming Nineveh to liberate the western side of Mosul. Our forces are beginning the liberation of the citizens from the terror of Daesh.
Leaflets were dropped from planes overnight on the western districts, warning residents of the coming assault and appealing to militants to surrender. The leaflets told the jihadi fighters to give up or face a fatal end. Jets from the U.S.-led coalition had begun air strikes on ISIS positions southwest of Mosul; meanwhile, militants renewed their attacks in eastern Mosul, sending suicide bombers to kill soldiers and disrupt Iraqi operations.
The Italian Magazine Defense and Security of 8 January 2020 reported on what might be a new way to identify the remaining ISIS members, or could be just a myth. Apparently, there is a sudden infestation of parasites in the ISIS shelters in Deir Ezzor and Abu Kamal in Syria. The situation caused great problems within the Daesh cells. They range from ringworm to scabies, to leishmaniosis and other diseases. All traditional methods to eliminate them have been attempted. But they didnt work. As a result, the ISIS groups have had to purchase special chemicals in abnormal quantities which can identify them to Kurdish forces.
The Kurds have carefully monitored the trade of chemicals against parasites and allegedly have already found several infested Isis sleeper cells. It is believed that the sudden arrival of these pests was planned and that they were deliberately released to hit Daesh. In support of this thesis is the fact that even the poor hygiene conditions among the ranks of ISIS do not justify an explosion of infection of such magnitude.
On 12 January 2020, the Syrian Air Force helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over the western part of Aleppo to encourage civilians to leave the ISIS-held areas. The leaflets encouraged the civilians to leave west Aleppo and Idlib through the three humanitarian crossings that were setup by the Syrian Armed Forces and Russian military. At the same time, the Syrian Arab Army reported that several tanks and armored vehicles have rolled into the city and begun moving towards the front-lines of western Aleppo.
The Syrian army assured civilians in the leaflets, warning them that the terrorist organizations seek to take them as human shields to prevent the advance of the Syrian army. It cautioned that the decision to purge the area of murderous terrorists was taken and irreversible, calling on them to assist the Syrian army in achieving victory against terrorism. Part of the message on the leaflet is:
Our families in Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo, the Syrian army is keen for your safety. Protect yourselves and preserve your lives through leaving the armed men areas and heading toward the crossings opened by the Russians. There is no retreat from the decision to cleanse all areas of the terrorist killers so join your army in achieving victory. Your safety lies in you leaving the areas of armed groups and heading towards official crossings that the government opened.
Evaluation of Combined Joint Task ForceOperation Inherent Resolve
Military Information Support Operations
It is interesting to note that even after a successful campaign the Government checks on the PSYOP actions. Here they seem to clear the military of any faults during the war but complain that after the war the PSYOP responsibility was not quickly handed over to the Department of State.
In February 2020 the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General released a declassified Evaluation of Combined Joint Task ForceOperation Inherent Resolves Military Information Support Operations. The objective of this evaluation was to determine whether the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR): planned and executed military information support operations (MISO) in accordance with joint doctrine, and coordinated its OIR messaging efforts and planned the transition of its messaging responsibilities with allies, the host nation, and the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
In 2014, the Joint Staff directed the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) to provide a Military Information Support Team at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to advise and assist the Iraqi Ministry of Defense with PSYOP competencies. USCENTCOM also provided internet-based PSYOP for CJTF-OIR and the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. Between 2016 and 2019, USCENTCOM and CJTF-OIR also developed campaign plans and operation orders with MISO tasks to counter Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
A Redacted Page No Text, but they left the Footnotes
The 47-page report was heavily redacted and from what was left we can assume that U.S. forces in Iraq planned and executed PSYOP in accordance with joint doctrine and also coordinated PSYOP with Coalition forces, the Government of Iraq, and the Department of State. However, they found that after the physical defeat of the ISIS caliphate, U.S. forces and the U.S. Embassy-Baghdad did not initiate the required coordination to transition messaging from the Department of Defense to the Department of State. Apparently the military plans and orders did not include the requirements to do so. It also notes that the Embassy was not ready to receive the responsibility.
There were three recommendations which can be boiled down to: better interagency coordination; the military should in advance identify Department of State counterparts to support the transition; and that the Commander of U.S. Central Command, after coordination with the U.S. Embassy-Baghdad, modify the existing transition plans.
The Final Phase in the U.S. War against ISIS
In September of 2019, President Trump ordered US forces to fall back from the Kurdish front lines where they had acted as a buffer between the Kurds and Turkey. Almost immediately afterwards, the Turks attacked the Kurds, allies of the United States for five years in the war against ISIS. The explanation for the American pullback was that the Americans wanted to be out of this war, ISIS was beaten, and the U.S. did not want to get into an accidental shooting war with Turkey.
After days of Turkish bombing and ground attack on Kurdish villages, the United States pulled back even further as 150,000 Kurds were displaced from their homes. About 100 ISIS prisoners in jails managed by the Kurds escaped, and Russia took advantage of the situation by coming to the aid of the Kurds. The Kurds admitted that they had suspected an American betrayal for a year and had secret talks with the Russians and Syrian Government just in case the Americans did suddenly leave.
In late October President Trump ordered 500 American troops and armor into Northern Syria to occupy and guard the Syrian oil wells to prevent them from being retaken by the Islamic State. Trump had stated days earlier “We've won. We've beat ISIS and we've beat them badly and decisively.”
Although the United States has almost disappeared from the war against ISIS in Syria, Memo: The Middle East Monitor reported on 28 April 2020 that Turkey has occupied parts of the country and in late April began dropping leaflets on the inhabitants of Syria’s north-western Idlib province, calling on inhabitants to assist the Turkish military in restoring peace and stability in the region.
The Leaflet – Turkish Side
The leaflets, which are both in Arabic and Turkish say:
Our dear brothers in Idlib,
The Turkish army has always been with you, has always harnessed all its capabilities for you and gave many martyrs to preserve the lives and property of the people of Idlib.
Turkey is working hard at all levels to ensure lasting stability and to stop the flow of innocent blood and to maintain your safety in the region.
Throughout our military presence in the province during the ongoing Syrian civil war, our goals have been to prevent any invasion or military action on Idlib, returning civilians who have been forced to flee their homes and revive economic life in the region by opening the M4 and M5 roads.
We wish you would help the Turkish army, which works for you so that you can live safely and peacefully in your area.
Do not believe the lies of those who are disturbed by the calm and peaceful environment that we provide in Idlib.
Those who want to deceive you and spread sedition among brothers.
We will work to bring security and peace to the region!
Since the Syrian regime’s offensive to recapture the last opposition-held stronghold launched in April 2019, Turkey has backed opposition forces to repel the offensive and its bombardment campaign on the civilian population. In February, Syrian regime forces killed 34 Turkish soldiers, causing the Turkish military to severely retaliate. A deal was then struck between Turkey and Russia, Syria’s ally, to enforce a ceasefire and establish a safe zone along the strategic M4 highway.
The author encourages anyone with further information on this campaign to write him at firstname.lastname@example.org