Friday, November 07, 2014

So bad, we don't know who they are

Pentagon statement from the first round of US-led air strikes in Syria in September --

Meanwhile, Kirby said, the Defense Department still is assessing U.S.-only strikes against the terrorist organization known as the Khorasan group. “We did have good information that they were in the final planning stages of an attack against Western targets -- potentially the U.S. homeland or Europe,” he said. ”We’re not going to take our eye off this group, or their capabilities or their intentions,” he added.

Note: no mention at the time that the Kardashian Khorasan Group is a name that only the US uses for one faction of the Nusra Front.

Now, 3 days ago, at a Pentagon press briefing --

Q: The Khorasan Group is closely associated with Nusra. Many of the targets that you hit on that first day of strikes in Syria against Khorasan were also identified by locals as Nusra sites and things, facilities shared by the two groups. Is there any assessment of what damage or what those initial rounds of strikes was on Nusra Front as opposed to Khorasan in terms of changing their operations or disrupting them? Were those strikes, you know, weeks ago, effective or ineffective?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: On Nusra? You know, I don't have an assessment for you on that Julian, and I don't know that I would even be able to provide that to you. The targets that we hit that night, and we talked about this afterward, were aimed at facilities that we knew were in use by members of the Khorasan Group, a group that we also had strong reason to believe were in -- near the execution phase of long-planned strikes on Western targets. As I said before, we know we hit the targets that we were aiming at and had good effect on them. It remains to be seen if there was an -- a like effect on actual leaders. The nexus of Khorasan and al-Nusra gets murky at times. We know that they certainly do share some of the same goals and communicate. But I don't know -- I wouldn't be able to give you an assessment of what effect those strikes had on al-Nusra versus the Khorasan group, specifically.

Note: Now the position is that  Kardashian Khorasan and Nusra are all mingled so it can be hard to tell one from the other.

Finally, 1 day ago, Pentagon statement --

U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes last night against five Khorasan Group targets near Sarmada, Syria, U.S. Central Command officials reported today. The strikes involved U.S. bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft, officials said, all of which left the strike areas safely. Though Centcom is still assessing the outcome of the attack, officials said, initial indications are that it had the intended results, striking terrorists and destroying or severely damaging several vehicles, as well as buildings assessed to be meeting and staging areas or bomb-making and training facilities. 

... Khorasan Group is a term used to refer to a network of Nusrah Front and al-Qaida core extremists who share a history of training operatives, facilitating fighters and money, and planning attacks against U.S. and Western targets, Centcom officials explained. The strikes were not in response to the Nusrah Front's clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, they added, and did not target the Nusrah Front as a whole. Rather, officials said, they were directed at the Khorasan Group, which is taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests and whose focus is not on overthrowing the Assad regime or helping the Syrian people.

So the current position is that, yes, Nusra and  Kardashian Khorasan are mingled, but we're really, absolutely sure that we only targeted the little bit of Nusra that was aiming for external attacks but we definitely no sirree did not have any impact on the broader Nusra that's fighting ... Bashar al-Assad!