September 19, 2018
Notice to our readers: We will be on a brief holiday Thursday and Friday in honor of the Ashura holiday in Iraq, and back with you on Monday.
Explosion in Kirkuk City
Mohammed Al-Halbusi becomes Speaker of the Council of Representatives. [..]
PUK leadership votes to nominate Barham Salih for President of Iraq. [..]
. . . but KDP nominates someone else. [..]
Planning Minister estimates Daesh destroyed 150,000 houses; reconstruction cost: $88 billion. [..]
Report says Daesh has re-established its official state in rural mountain area. [..]
Human Rights Commission sounds alarm over all the Yazidis and other Iraqis kidnapped by Daesh and still in captivity. [..]
Aid worker killed, 2 wounded in Daesh Hatra attack. [..]
Defense Minister says Army has killed 366 PKK fighters in last 45 days. [..]
State Department extols new role of Saudis, others in stabilizing Syria. [..]
Pro-Turkey militia battles Syrian Army units in Azaz. [..]
Tahrir Al-Sham militias reject Turkey-Russia agreement on Idlib. [..]
Daesh proposes to swap 30 civilian hostages in Suwayda for captured commander. [..]
REPORTS FROM IRAQ
Iraq has a new Speaker of the Council of Representatives. The Council elected Mohammed Al-Halbusi, the Governor of Anbar and former CoR member, Mohammed Al-Halbusi. Al-Halbusi defeated former Defense Minister Khalid Al-Obeidi of Ninewa by 169 votes to 85. He is only 36 years old, and thus represents a generational leadership change.
Al-Halbusi received a telephone call from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. According to a statement from Al-Halbusi’s office, Pompeo said that Al-Halbusi’s election was another step towards embodying the will of the next generation and their important role in leading the country towards stability and development. [Rudaw]
On Wednesday, the PUK’s governing council voted for Barham Salih as its candidate for President. This came after the return of Salih to the PUK, having resigned from his Coalition for Democracy and Justice. Mullah Bakhtiar, head of the Political Bureau for the PUK and Salih’s closest competitor for the PUK nomination for President, had said on Tuesday that the PUK would consider Salih as a candidate if he returned to the party. [BasNews]
DaeshDaily comment. By returning to the PUK, Salih also fulfilled Iran’s condition for supporting him, as we reported on Monday. It would be erroneous to infer that the western-oriented Salih is a pro-Iran candidate, however, or that the rumored Iranian support was crucial to his getting the nod.
However, it turns out that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) will have its own candidate for the Iraqi presidency, according to a KDP spokesperson on Wednesday.
According to the spokesperson, Mahmood Mohammed, officials from the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had agreed in a recent meeting that the Kurdish parties should agree on one candidate for the Iraqi president role. The PUK was supposed to inform the KDP of their candidates before making a final decision, but after the return of Barham Salih to the party, he was nominated for the Iraqi presidency unilaterally, Mohammed explained.
Mohammed said that the Iraq president position should be shared by the people of Kurdistan and not a single party. “The Kurds should decide on one candidate similar to the united position and program we had in Baghdad,” he stated.
The COR is scheduled to vote on Sept. 25 to elect the country’s new President, which has been a Kurdish post since the first democratic election in 2005. [Kurdistan 24]
DaeshDaily comment. This takes a little explaining. Yes, this has been a “Kurdish post” but more specifically it has been a PUK post. This reflected an understanding between the two traditional ruling parties in the KRG. The KRG President position was held by Massoud Barzani, leader of the KDP, who has never wanted to trade it for the higher-sounding position of President of Iraq. Nor, however, has he wanted to alternate his KRG President position with the PUK, an arrangement that has prevailed, albeit imperfectly, in the selection of Prime Ministers. Allowing the PUK to control the presidency of Iraq was therefore a way to maintain a kind of equality. We control this presidency; you control that presidency; we don’t let anyone else in.
That explains why the PUK might think this is their position to fill. It explains why Barham Salih would need to be back in the PUK in order to fill it. However, Massoud Barzani is no longer the President of Iraqi Kurdistan. That explains why the KDP might think that the old understanding is no longer applicable.
It would not be surprising if this conflict of the moment were a lead-in to a big-party deal about something else, which in turn would resolve the Iraq presidency issue. History suggests that the selection of the next President of Iraq is more likely to result from another KDP-PUK deal than from a democratic election in the Council of Representatives.
The Sadiqoun bloc (the political wing of the AAH), headed by Qais Al-Khazali, said that there are 10 names being studied as candidates for Prime Minister. He denied that any agreement had been reached regarding any of the candidates. [BasNews]
Minister of Planning Salman Al-Jumaili says Daesh destroyed over 150,000 houses in Iraqi territory during the period of its rule. He estimated the amount required to reconstruct all this destroyed housing stock at US $88 billion. [Anadolu]
A report by the daily Al-Mada says that Daesh has reestablished a minimal “state” in the Makhoul Mountains, with about 2,000 fighters who survived the military operations that stopped 9 months ago. The group is a bit isolated and highly dependent on relatives and family members, but still issues fatwas and executes death sentences. [BaghdadToday]
The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights called on the Iraqi government to coordinate with Coalition forces and the Syrian government in order to save the Iraqis who have been abducted by Daesh and are now in Syrian territory. The Commission noted that Daesh was believed to be still holding Yazidi abductees in its last strongholds, and that there were thousands of Iraqis still missing as a result of Daesh kidnappings. [IraqPress]
The Higher Judicial Council says that the Karkh Criminal Court sentenced Ismail Al-Ethawi, a Daesh leader who occupied various posts, including as a deputy to Al-Baghdadi, to death by hanging. Al-Ethawi fled to Syria, and then to Turkey, where he was arrested and handed over to Iraq. [Baghdadia]
Baghdad Police say they arrested 13 persons, including 1 terrorist and 2 wanted for murder, in Al-Husseiniya and Kadhimiya. The others were arrested for theft and robbery. [Ghad]
Northeast (Adhamiya, etc.)
A security source said on Wednesday that a bomb exploded in the area of Kasra wa Atash, in Adhamiya, with no casualties. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that PMF members were killed and their SUV destroyed in a Daesh ambush west of Hit.
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that two soldiers were killed when a group of Daesh terrorists attacked an Iraqi Army 7th division military position west of Haditha. The source said 2 terrorists, including a Tunisian, were killed in the attack.
The Center for Security Information says that the 8th Army Division, with Coalition air support, killed 15 Daesh militants hiding in a cave northeast of Akashat, in far western Anbar near Al-Qa’im. The cave contained explosive belts, weapons, and ammunition. [Baghdadia]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that two PMF members were killed when a roadside IED exploded on their vehicle on the road between Baiji and Haditha. The source said the vehicle was transporting locally made rods from Baiji to west Anbar.
Central Diyala (Muqdadiya/Abu Saida)
Diyala Ops Command announced the start of a new military operation in northern Muqdadiya District, backed by the PMF and air support. The aim is to clear the area of Daesh presence. [Baghdadia]
A security source said on Wednesday that an IED placed inside a civilian car had exploded in the Tis’in area. Later Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said three people had been injured by the bombing. [Sumaria] [AIN]
Hawija (Riyadh, Al-Zab, etc.)
A security source says that the 88th PMF Brigade destroyed Daesh tunnels and a vehicle, as well as capturing a shelter used as a storehouse for ammunition and IEDs in Dhirban village, in Hawija. [Baghdadia]
The Center for Security Information says that IFP intelligence units captured a Daesh safehouse in Hawija containing 12 gas cylinders, which were booby-trapped with C4 charges. [PUKMedia] [Baghdadia]
Southwest (Daquq, Rashad, Taza, etc.)
Daesh said it destroyed an IFP Humvee with an IED on Arab Koy Road, in Daquq, on Tuesday, killing the members inside. It said it killed or wounded more IFP members after attacking another vehicle. 13 IFP members were killed in the attack. [ICDNSep18]
South (Hammam Al-Alil/Shura/Qayara)
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that four PMF members and their taxi driver were killed when a group of Daesh terrorists in a pickup vehicle shot at the taxi near Aslubi village, across the main road from the Qayara military base. The source said the terrorists stole weapons and set the taxi on fire before fleeing.
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that tribal PMF units found several Daesh hideouts in the Jazarat area, in Qayara, and confiscated food and medical supplies.
The Directorate of Military Intelligence said on Wednesday that detachments in its 20th Division had seized a workshop for the manufacture of IEDs in an unspecified location south of Mosul city. A “large number” of IEDs, Katyusha rockets, and other explosives were also seized. [BaghdadToday] [Ghad]
The Ministry of Defense says that intelligence units from the 20th Army Division arrested a Daesh commander responsible for kidnappings and assassinations in north Mosul. The arrest was made in Tal Zalat, southwest of Mosul city in Muhalabiya subdistrict. [Mawazin]
A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that two PMF members were killed, another wounded, and their machine gun-mounted vehicle destroyed when a roadside IED exploded near Khabaza village between Tal Abta and Hatra.
A DaeshDaily source said that the director of an Iraqi aid organization was killed and two of his colleagues wounded when a group of Daesh terrorists shot at the victims’ vehicle near Hatra. The source said the victims were distributing food items and other aid materials.
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that two PMF members were killed and a commander wounded when a roadside IED exploded on their vehicle near Al-Jari village, west of Hatra. People of the village told the PMFs that a group of Daesh terrorists entered the village earlier and stole weapons and food items.
Karbala Police Command said on Wednesday that the police had arrested a suspect wanted on terrorism charges, at a checkpoint. [Mawazin]
The Wasit Police said they had arrested a suspect wanted on terrorism charges north of Suwaira. [Forat]
Masrour Barzani, advisor to the KRG Security Council, met on Wednesday with Nicola Terzano, commander of the Italian forces in Iraq. Terzano said that his country would continue to train and supply the Peshmerga. [BasNews]
REPORTS FROM TURKEY
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says in a report that Turkish attacks on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan) might have been illegal under international law. [Hawar]
DaeshDaily comment. OK, and what about the PKK attacks on Turkish targets in Turkey?
Military & security developments
According to government-affiliated Anadolu, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar says that the Turkish Army has killed 366 PKK fighters in the past 45 days. [Anadolu]
According to pro-Kurdish Hawar, several Turkish Army troops have been killed in fighting with the HPG (PKK) in Erzincan and Bitlis Provinces, in eastern Turkey. [Hawar]
REPORTS FROM SYRIA
Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the reconstruction of Syria could take more than half a century. He expressed his hope that Syrians would be able to reconcile with one another as citizens and not as sectarian or ethnic groups. [Anadolu]
President Trump says the US will announce its position regarding staying in Syria shortly. He said that the US came to Syria to fight Daesh, and has almost finished the job. Trump said that when it was fully done, the US would “see what to do,” adding that the decision would not take long. [Dorar]
DaeshDaily comment. This would seem to contradict or at least hedge the rumored assurances given by Secretary of Defense Mattis that the US would be in Syria indefinitely.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told the CNN that the contributions of Saudi Arabia and other states to the stabilization of Syria exceeded US expectations. She says that sharing such responsibility is not bad, and that the US is pleased. [EnabBaladi]
The pro-Turkey National Front for Liberation fought the Syrian Army in the Azaz District, causing casualties. Local sources said the fighting focused around Ratyan, Bayanoun, Hajjan, and Tal Musaibin, in the Tal Rifaat subdistrict north of Aleppo city. [Dorar]
The YPG says that it killed 2 pro-Turkey militia fighters and wounded 3 others in an operation in the Shirawa area in Afrin. [Hawar]
The group Ahrar Al-Sharqiya, part of the pro-Turkish “Free Syrian Army,” said that it arrested 5 Daesh members, including a Daesh leader, at a checkpoint in the Jarabulus countryside. [Dorar]
Daesh claimed on Wednesday it ambushed a 30-vehicle “American” and SDF convoy on Street 60, in Hay Ghuwairan, in south Hasaka. It said that after detonating an IED on the convoy, its terrorists attacked, killing 15 soldiers, wounding 25 including US soldiers, destroying 3 SUVs, and damaging a truck carrying ammunition. [A3maq]
DaeshDaily comment. The other side of this story has not been reported; no US casualties have been announced.
Raqqa city & district
Daesh published a photo of an SDF member it killed; it then stole his weapon and motorcycle east of Karama on Monday. [ICDNSep18]
Daesh said on Wednesday it killed or wounded three SDF members and destroyed their vehicle with an IED near the Women’s Union in Raqqa city. [ICDNSep19]
Central and West
The SOHR says that several jihadi factions rejected the Russian–Turkish agreement, namely 6 groups fighting under the banner of Tahrir Al-Sham, who are refusing to abandon their positions in Jisr Al-Shughur in east Idlib and in north Hama facing the Syrian Army, saying that their mission is to fight Russian infidels. [SyriaHR]
The SOHR says that the rate of return of IDPs to their villages in rural Hama and Idlib has increased following the Russian–Turkish agreement the previous day. It says that over 7,000 persons who fled their villages during the preparations for the expected battle have returned. [SyriaHR]
East (Deir Ez-Zor)
Deir Ez-Zor District
Fighting between the Syrian Army and Daesh is continuing in the Homs and Deir Ez-Zor deserts, reaching the area of the Al-Tanaf base near the border with Iraq, says the SOHR. The Syrian Army killed 4 Daesh fighters and captured 6 others. Fighting is ongoing. [SyriaHR]
Albu Kamal District
The SOHR says that Daesh trenches, mines, and tunnels in the orchards of Al-Baghouz Foqani are blocking the advances of the SDF and the Coalition towards the village. Daesh is initiating nighttime suicide attacks with groups of not more than 5 fighters, mostly of Asian nationalities. The SOHR says that at least 61 SDF and 97 Daesh fighters have been killed since Sept. 10. [SyriaHR]
The SOHR reported a Daesh counter-attack on an SDF position on Wednesday, starting with 2 car bombs in Al-Baghouz Foqani. It said that Coalition planes carried out several airstrikes on Daesh positions. It also reported that some SDF fighters who are originally from Hajin are not fighting, because they believe that Hajin should be the priority for SDF attacks. [SyriaHR]
Local sources told the Turkish state-owned media outlet Anadolu that “at least 57” SDF members had been killed in the fight for Al-Baghouz, and that the SDF had not succeeded in advancing even a kilometer. [Qasioun]
DaeshDaily comment. Qasioun is notorious for biased reports attributed to unidentified “local sources.”
An SDF official said that Coalition forces, France in particular, were taking part in the fighting against Daesh around Hajin and Al-Baghouz Foqani. The official said that they had killed “dozens” of Daesh fighters and captured a “senior leader” in Al-Baghouz Foqani. [Qasioun]
19 Daesh fighters were reported killed in fighting around the village of Al-Baghouz Foqani. [Hawar]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that Daesh threatened to kill 30 women and children, mostly Druze, whom it had captured in the Suwayda area. The source said Daesh demanded the release of one of its senior commanders, Abu Talha Al-Iraqi, who had been captured by government forces, in exchange for releasing the women and children.
OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS
Daesh said on Wednesday it damaged an Egyptian Army armored vehicle with an IED near Shabana School, south of Rafah. [ICDNSep19]
The Ministry of Interior of the Libyan Government of National Accord says that all preparations have been made to hand over all important locations in Tripoli to a regular police force. They say that such a force is well trained, highly professional, and politically independent. [Anadolu]
REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The European Commission says that it is contemplating legislation that would compel popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to delete content promoting terrorism and extremism, while preserving freedom of expression. [FaceIraq]
The Somali Deputy Minister of Information announced on Wednesday that 12 Al-Shabab fighters had been killed in an airstrike on Sako, in Middle Juba province, southern Somalia. The Minister said that the airstrike targeted a meeting of about 37 leaders of Al-Shabaab in the city, which has been under Al-Shabab control since 2008. An Al-Shabaab-affiliated website denied that the leaders had been killed, claiming that the airstrike had hit a public hospital and a school. [Anadolu]
The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces have arrested 8 key members of the Taliban and Daesh in eastern Nangarhar Province.
Provincial governor’s spokesman Ataullah Khogyani quoted a statement by the provincial government saying that the NDS has also confiscated some weapons, munitions, and explosives from the detained individuals. Khogyani further added that the militants were captured on separate operations over the past one week. According to Khogyani, arrested Daesh and Taliban members have been from Jalalabad city and the Bati Kot, Behsud, Khogyani, and Rod districts.
The detained militants hail from Kunar and Nangarhar provinces and have confessed to their crimes, Khogyani said, adding that the suspects have been referred to the judiciary for trial. [Khaama]
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