Confused malcontents swilling Chardonnay while awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse.
The Islamic State group has now lost its last stronghold in Raqqa, once the de-facto capital of its so called caliphate.
In the final battle for a stadium complex and hospital, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) says it killed 22 foreign IS fighters.
The US-led coalition supporting the SDF with critical air strikes says it can only confirm that 90 per cent of the city is under their control and as many as 100 IS fighters may remain. The SDF is still looking for sleeper cells and booby traps.
But this is a signal moment.
Raqqa's town square was once the scene of IS military parades, public executions and beheadings, exaggerating their power and spreading fear across the globe.
Those days are gone.
Raqqa was unknown to most of the world until the early days of the Syrian civil war. It became the first large Syrian city to come under rebel control in March of 2013 when a mixed bag of militias, some moderate rebels as well as Islamist and jihadists, took control.
It wasn't long before the IS group routed the others and took charge, sending battle-hardened men from its birthplace in Iraq to establish what was quickly revealed to be a brutal regime.
They enforced a Saudi-style sharia law and gruesome punishments: public stoning and executions and the infamous beheadings.
Raqqa is where the most notorious Australian IS member, Khaled Sharrouf, set up house with his family and fellow jihadist Mohammed Elomar, keeping a group of Yazidi slave girls until they escaped in 2014.
And Raqqa is where IS showed off its claim to be a true state, showcasing its administration of courts and the local hospital via propaganda produced by foreign recruits.
IS occupied territory, had a monopoly on violence in its borders, raised taxes, enforced its laws and its fighters began to refer to their organisations simply as, 'The State'.
But it could not withstand the combination of lethal airstrikes and a persistent ground force.
Now they have to hold it, and clean up the mess.
Russia has accused the US-led coalition in Syria of wiping the city of Raqqa "off the face of the earth" with carpet bombing, in the same way the United States and Britain bombed Germany's Dresden in 1945.
The Russian Defence Ministry, which has itself repeatedly been forced to deny accusations from activists and Western politicians of bombing Syrian civilians, said it looked like the West was now rushing to provide financial aid to Raqqa to cover up evidence of its own crimes.
Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said in a statement that about 200,000 people had lived in Raqqa before the conflict in Syria, but not more than 45,000 people remained.
This could mark the beginning of the end for ISIS. But does the end justify the means?
Syria's army and its allies have captured Islamic State's (IS) last main stronghold in Syria, a commander in the alliance claimed, bringing the self-declared caliphate close to complete downfall.
"Albu Kamal is free of the Daesh organisation," said the commander in the military alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On Wednesday, after a month's-long advance through central and eastern Syria, the Syrian army and allied Shi'ite militias encircled and attacked the town in eastern Syria, close to Iraq's border.
The attack was spearheaded by the paramilitary wing of Lebanon-based Islamist militant group, Hezbollah.
It was "the foundation in the battle of Albu Kamal", said the commander, adding hundreds of elite troops from the Iran-backed Shiite group took part.
During the battle, Hezbollah forces entered Iraq and the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces crossed into Syria to help capture the town, the commander said.
Syrian state television declared "Albu Kamal is liberated".
But a war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said it was not true that Albu Kamal was taken and there was still fighting in the area.
Amnesty International says the Syrian Government has used internationally banned cluster munitions in attacks on the besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus, accusing it of committing war crimes on "an epic scale".
Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb northeast of the Syrian capital, has been under a tightening siege since 2013 and is already facing a humanitarian crisis, including the highest recorded malnutrition rate since the conflict began in 2011.
Some 400,000 civilians, half of them children, are believed trapped there.
Based on interviews with activists in eastern Ghouta and verification of open source videos and photographs, Amnesty said at least 10 civilians were killed in November because of the government's use of the banned Soviet-made cluster munitions.
The weapons, banned in over 100 countries, gravely endanger civilians because of their indiscriminate nature, Amnesty said.
"The Syrian Government has shown callous disregard to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people living in Eastern Ghouta," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"But this recent escalation in attacks — clearly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure using internationally banned cluster munitions — is horrific."
Amnesty said the cluster munitions first appeared in Syria after Russia began strikes against anti-government groups in September 2015.
So it appears the grand gesture of 57 missiles thrown at Assad's air base did nothing...
Desperate Syrian refugees fleeing heightened violence in the north-west of Syria are being shot at and beaten at the Turkish border as they try to flee, Human Rights Watch says.
The human rights group said refugees who had succeeded in crossing to Turkey using smuggling routes told of Turkish border guards shooting at them during their crossing, while others reported asylum seekers being detained and denied medical assistance.
"Syrians fleeing to the Turkish border seeking safety and asylum are being forced back with bullets and abuse," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
"As fighting in Idlib and Afrin displaces thousands more, the number of Syrians trapped along the border willing to risk their lives to reach Turkey is only likely to increase."
In interviews Human Rights Watch conducted, witnesses described children being among those shot as they tried to cross, while others spoke of being hit by Turkish border guards and forced back after being caught.
One witness told HRW that a woman had given birth while attempting to cross the border but that Turkish border guards sent her and the child back to Syria without providing medical assistance.
Seems to me that they are creating critical medical cases!
Also, the more innocent refugees OUT of Syria, the easier it will be to bomb the crap out of whoever is left - Assad, ISIS, Al Qaeda...
Jenifer (Zarknorph) said...Can somebody PLEASE figure out who the good guys and bad guys are??!!!
The good guys are the guys who win, and the bad guys are the guys who lose.
Jenifer (Zarknorph) said...What if it's Assad?
If he wins, he's good; if he loses, he's bad. History is written by the winners.
Everything is relative
In it's own way
Like a starry summer night
Or a sunny winter's day
Dan (DANCULBERSON) said:
History is written by the winners.
Then torn apart by academics centuries later.
The truth always comes out.
Jenifer (Zarknorph) said...The truth always comes out.
There is no "truth" in the sense of an absolute truth, because everything is relative. "Truth" is what a majority of people agree to be the truth, just as a "fact" is what a majority of people agree to be a fact. In other words, all generalizations are false.