An Update On ISIS Activities

March 22, 2018

 

Kabul (BBC)

 

 

 

TODAY’S MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

Turkmen leader accuses PUK leaders of using Daesh members to create instability in Kirkuk. [..]

Chairman of CoR Security & Defense Committee Chairman wants proof of Turkey’s claim that Iraq will help them remove PKK members from Ninewa. [..]

Daesh cells in Baghdad’s Tarmiya District an emerging issue. [..]

Daesh ambushes kills 6 Iraqi soldiers, 4 border guards  in Anbar. [..]

Daesh killed Shia civilians, including children, on a bus. [..]

Daesh continues to target mukhtars for assassination. [..]

4 civilians killed by Turkish anti-PKK airstrike in rural Erbil. [..]

 

Syria

State Dept. spokesman denies Turkey’s claim of deal with US on Manbij; says US troops there not leaving. [..] 

Merkel condemns Turkey’s invasion of Afrin. [..]

Guterres raises alarm, demands UN action on reported Assad chemical attacks. [..]

White Helmets say 28 killed, 26 wounded by airstrikes in northern Idlib. [..]

Russia negotiating with another militia for its departure from East Ghouta. [..]

 

Other countries

Afghanistan: Daesh suicide bomb kills at least 32 in Kabul on Nawroz holiday. [..]

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Anti-Daesh Campaign

The Coalition says a service member with Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve died March 21, 2018 in a non-combat-related incident in Iraq. It says the incident is under investigation. [InherentResolve]

 

Council of Representatives

Thursday, Turkmen CoR representative Niazi Memar Uglu accused unnamed Kurdish parties of “incubating and training” 3,000 Daesh members who surrendered themselves to the Peshmerga. He emphasized the need for the federal government to reinforce security units in Tooz District and Kirkuk Province with additional units. 

Uglu said that “there are certain Kurdish officials, including Sheikh Lahur [= Lahur Talabani] and Kosrat Rasul [a PUK leader], who have been showing off their muscles for a while, and today they are trying to fuel sectarian strife to recreate an environment of national conflict in Iraq.” [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. This seems like a petty political issue, but should be taken seriously. The Kurds schemed for years to control Kirkuk, and in mid-2014 the Daesh invasion gave them an opportunity to seize the city and most of the province. This power play pleased Kurds but further alienated Kirkuk’s Arabs and Turkmen against them. Now the central government is back in control, and in political control as well as military control. This pleased the Arabs and Turkmen, but now the Kurds in Kirkuk (and Kurdistan) are alienated. So while Daesh attacks in the province continue to be a problem, the numerous recent comments by Kurdish and non-Kurdish leaders about security in Kirkuk are less about security and more about politics and the future political status of Kirkuk. Uglu is basically accusing PUK leaders of deliberately undermining security by playing politics with it, and of creating security incidents themselves as part of the strategy, using former Daesh members so as to avoid blame for the incidents.

 

Chairman of the CoR Security and Defense Committee, Hakim Al-Zamili, said that the CoR “has no knowledge of any agreement between Baghdad and Ankara about Turkish military operations on the border with Iraq to expel PKK members.” He added that “if the Iraqi government were serious in expelling PKK units from northern Iraq, then Iraq has the capability to do so without needing help from Turkey.” He added that the Committee has a meeting with key government officials in the next few days and will request a clarification about the Turkish statement indicating such an agreement. [Rudaw]

 

Election

Thursday, a possible corruption issue arose over a foreign contract. An informed source reported that Minister of the Interior Qassem Al-Aaraji ordered the creation of a supreme investigation committee to look into a Bulgarian Arsenal Armament contract over questions about prices, product type, and manufacturing year. The source, who requested to remain anonymous, noted there are significant suspicions of corruption in the contract. [Sumaria]

 

Iraq-KRG Issues

Thursday, State of the Law representative Zainab Al-Sheikh Aref Al-Basri stated that President Fuad Masoum is intentionally postponing the implementation of budget because he believes it violates the constitution and the law by failing to give the Kurdistan Region 17% of the budget. [Sumaria]

 

Thursday, the New York Times published an article titled “After Months of Acrimony, Baghdad Strikes Deal with Kurds,” in which former KRG President Masoud Barzani is quoted as saying “We hope that such a breakthrough can help alleviate some of the economic hardships that our people are suffering right now.”[BasNews] [NYTimes]

 

Foreign relations 

Al-Arabiya showed a video of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri defending the Muslim Brotherhood in response to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The Prince pledged to eradicate the “Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology which has invaded the Kingdom’s schools.” Zawahiri also said that Daesh had refused to “cooperate” with Al-Qaeda to stand up to the US and Coalition. [Sumaria]

 

BAGHDAD

Security-related incidents reported

Rudaw reports that armed robberies are spreading at an increasing rate against currency exchanges, gold dealers, and commercial markets, leading many businessmen to leave Baghdad in fear of falling victim to these crimes committed by armed gangs and militias. [Rudaw]

 

North (Tarmiya, Taji, etc.)

The PMF organization says the 8th PMF brigade has taken over the protection of Tarmiya District in north Baghdad from the Army forces. [Sumaria] 

Former CoR Speaker, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani, in a discussion with Ammar Al-Hakim, leader of Hikma party, stressed the point that security there should be under the command of the commander-in-chief of armed forces, i.e., the Prime Minister, not the PMF. [Sngiq]

 

DaeshDaily sources say that Daesh sleeper cells in Tarmiya District area have been “activated.” The sources say that many Daesh terrorists are hiding in the Al-Hawra (marshland) area and organizing attacks on civilians, tribal fighters, and security forces in the District. The government is reluctant to attack these elements for political reasons, which come down to the concern that a government assault in Sunni neighborhoods risks resurfacing familiar issues about oppression of Sunnis by the government.

 

Daesh says in its media that it initiated an attack on Tarmiya in north Baghdad without going into much detail. [PUKMedia] 

DaeshDaily comment. We doubt that shifting the deployments between regular Army and PMF units is the real solution. Iraq needs to deploy more troops of whatever force in Tarmiya. This “suburban” District in Baghdad Governorate is likely the most Daesh-affected location in the country now, and appears to be the District least changed since Daesh was supposedly defeated. There are constant deadly incidents and no real indication that the situation is getting better.  

 

South (Dora, Yusufiyah, Mahmudiya, etc.)

Daesh said on Tuesday that it killed a Sahwa commander in an ambush in Yusufiyah. [ICDNMar20]

 

Total Baghdad incidents reported:   4(Includes only incidents reported)

Total IED incidents reported:   0

 

ANBAR

Falluja

Daesh said on Tuesday that it destroyed an Iraqi Army vehicle with an IED in the Zoba’a area. [ICDNMar20]

 

Ramadi

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that MoI Intelligence units captured 8 persons on terrorism charges in the Street 20 area, in Ramadi city. 

 

Hit/Haditha

A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that six Iraqi soldiers were killed in a Daesh ambush on the road between Haditha and Ramadi. The source says the soldiers were returning from the Ayn Al-Asad Base to their houses.

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that Daesh targeted a PMF food supplies truck with an IED on the road between Haditha and Ramadi, killing the driver.  

 

Anah (including Rawa)/Al-Qa’im

A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that a Kata’eb Hezbollah unit found a Daesh weapons and explosives cache in a tunnel near Al-Qa’im. 

 

Rutba

Wednesday, a security source in Anbar reported that 4 border control guards were killed in a Daesh trap on the highway near the Trebil border crossing with Jordan in western Anbar. The soldiers were in vehicles leaving their position on leave when attacked. [Sumaria]

Daesh’s version says a group of its terrorists ambushed a Border Police convoy near the Jordan border, killing six soldiers, wounding one, and destroying a vehicle, before returning safely. [ICDNMar22]

 

Wednesday, a security source in Anbar reported that a border control unit foiled a Daesh attack on a police station near the Iraqi-Saudi border, killing some of the attackers. [Sumaria]

 

SALAHUDDIN

Baiji

A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that four PMF fighters were killed in a Daesh attack on Jazeera Siniya. The source says the terrorists also stole a pickup truck, weapons, and ammunition before fleeing the area.

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that PMFs stopped a Daesh attack in the Jazeera Siniya area, killing a Daesh Iraqi commander and a Saudi commander. 

 

Tikrit

Daesh published on Tuesday photos of detonating an IED on an Emergency Police vehicle on the road between Tikrit and Tuz Khurmatu. [ICDNMar20]

 

Daesh said it attacked an Oil Facilities Protection unit in the Allas Oilfield on Tuesday killing five members, wounding others, and destroying four vehicles. Daesh published photos of the attack. [ICDNMar22]

 

DIYALA

Thursday, Chairman of the Diyala PC Security Committee Sadeq Al-Husseini announced that joint security units captured 5 wanted suspects, including 1 on terrorism charges in raids in various parts of Diyala.[Sumaria] 

 

Northern Diyala (Kifri, Khanaqin, Khalis north)

Thursday, head of the Udhaim Subdistrict Council, Mohammed Dhaifan Al-Abidi, announced that 2 mortar shells fell in Udhaim’s center, in the third shelling of its kind in the past 72 hours. [Sumaria] 

 

Thursday, Diyala PC Security Council member Abdulkhaleq Medhat confirmed that 80 mm mortar shells in Daesh’s possession were used in the shelling on Udhaim in the past two days. [Sumaria]

 

Daesh said it blew up part of an oil pipeline between Nafut Khana and Baghdad with an IED on Wednesday. [ICDNMar22]

 

Southern Diyala (Balad Ruz, Mandali)

Thursday, Diyala Police commander Brig. Gen. Jassem Al-Saadi announced that the Diyala Police dismantled one of the most dangerous Daesh cells in the Al-Nida Basin and captured 2 of its members.[Baghdadia] 

 

Daesh said it severely wounded the Mukhtar of Qurtuba village in Mandali with a sticky IED under his vehicle on Tuesday. They claim he is a Badr member. [ICDNMar22]

 

KIRKUK

According to an Etejah Press reporter, a terrorist group set up a fake checkpoint in the area separating Tuz Khurmatu and Daquq and shot at a tourism bus, killing 6 people and wounding others, including children. The reporter added that PMF and security units closed the road and began searching the area. 

Wednesday, Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack on a passenger bus on the Kirkuk-Baghdad road claiming it killed and wounded 35 Shia visitors on the bus. [ICDNMar22]

 

Daesh said on Wednesday that it blew up 3 oil tanker trucks with machine guns on the road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. [ICDNMar21]

 

Daesh said on Wednesday that it killed two “PMF members” and captured 13 others on the road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. [ICDNMar21]

 

Thursday, the Turkmeneli political party claimed that there are “breaches” in the IHEC’s work in the Kirkuk governorate on the election. It says IHEC did not allow monitoring of the process of giving out voter cards and is giving out more than one card per person. [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. This could raise a large issue in Kirkuk, where after 2003 there were many thousands of Kurdish voters who did not actually live in Kirkuk. Kirkuk has been unable to hold proper elections because it was impossible to produce a reliable voter roll. Whatever the truth of the allegation, it dredges up some controversial history. As with the security allegations commented on above under National News, the larger issue is with the future political status of Kirkuk.

 

Kirkuk/Dibis

A PMF commander says security the situation in Kirkuk is stable, but warned of sleeper cells activities. He also demanded that a new plan be set to pursue secessionist groups. The commander says most security breaches take place within a 30 km area between Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu, and are perpetrated by two terrorist groups, one of them the “Khobaghash” group formed by Kurdish secessionists. [Etejah] 

 

Hawija (Riyadh, Al-Zab, etc.)

The Saudi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat says that Daesh fugitives who escaped Hawija are behind recent terror operations in Kirkuk. It says Daesh fugitives regrouped in Kurdistan and started the recent series of attacks, the worst of which was in Sadouniya village, where 27 PMF fighters were killed, and the attack on the civilian bus on the Kirkuk-Daquq road. The paper described the group as a Kurdish version of Daesh, and called it extremely dangerous.  Kurdistan has handed over 850 Daesh prisoners while it has kept over 2000 prisoners according to a Shia MP. [SNGIQ]

 

Daesh said it killed five PMF fighters in an ambush in Al-Hilwat village, near Al-Zab, on Tuesday. [ICDNMar21]

 

Daesh said it blew up an electricity tower between Hawija and Kirkuk with an IED on Tuesday. [ICDNMar22]

 

Southwest (Daquq, Rashad, etc.)

Thursday, a source in the Christian Babelyoun brigades affiliated with the PMF said that an IED was discovered inside a Kaka’i shrine and another one near the shrine, located in Zanqar village just outside Daquq city. He added that “the specialized forces” were alerted but did not come to the village, and the first IED exploded, causing damage. [SotIraq] Another report says the shrine was destroyed.

Daesh’s version is that it blew up 2 Sufi shrines in the Tal Hama area, in Daquq. [ICDNMar21]

Daesh said on Thursday it blew up a Sufi shrine in Zanqar village. [ICDNMar22]

 

Daesh said on Tuesday that it destroyed an Iraqi Army armored personnel carrier with an IED south of Daquq. [ICDNMar20]

 

Thursday, Kirkuk deputy governor Mohammed Othman called on Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to intensify security presence in the Tooz and Daquq areas in order to curb these security breaches. [Sumaria]

 

NINEWA

Nineveh Plain (Hamdaniya, Tel Keif, etc.)

A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that Ninewa SWAT units arrested a Daesh female member in Kokjali, at the entrance to east Mosul. The source says the woman, who was wanted on terrorism charges since 2016, admitted she was distributing payments to Daesh members in Mosul. 

 

Mosul

East Mosul

A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that the Mukhtar of Hay Sumer was severely wounded by an IED exploded by his house. The source also said another IED exploded near the house of the Mukhtar of Hay Al-Zahra, without causing casualties. 

 

Daesh said on Tuesday that it captured a tribal PMF commander from his house in the Rajm Hadid area, then beheaded him later. Daesh published photos of the beheading. It also said it killed the Mukhtar of Hay Al-Qadisiya and one of his associates with a sticky IED under their vehicle. It also said it planted and then detonated 2 IEDs at the offices of the Mukhtars of Hay Al-Bakr and Hay Al-Tameem. [ICDNMar20]

A DaeshDaily source confirmed the attacks. The source said security units captured tens of suspects. 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that Daesh beheaded a man in his house in Hay Al-Tanak. The source says the man had helped security units to capture many Daesh members in the area.  

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that security units in Mosul captured the Daesh group that attacked an Iraqi Army unit in Badoush last week.

 

West Mosul

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that a construction shovel driver was severely wounded when an IED exploded on his shovel near the Baghdad Circle in west Mosul. The source says the driver works as a contractor in the Ghizlani Camp for the Iraqi Army. 

 

MoI spokesman Gen. Saad Ma’en said that during a road opening operation in the Al-Maydan area of Old Mosul, the emergency police division found weapons and equipment belonging to Daesh, including 27 Kalashnikov rifles, 1 Glock handgun, and an M4 Motorola device.[Baghdadia] 

 

Southern Ninewa

 Hammam Al-Alil

Thursday, Captain Raad Al-Hayali of the Ninewa Police said that an IED exploded in Hammam Al-Alil, killing 1 policeman and wounding 5 others. Al-Hayali added that security units arrested 18 suspects in connection with this incident. [BasNews]

 

Qayara/Hatra/Makhmur

Daesh said it shot and wounded a PMF member and damaged his vehicle near Sarma village, northeast of Makhmur, on Wednesday. [ICDNMar22]

 

WesternNinewa

Sinjar

PMF units repelled an infiltration by Daesh terrorists in Sinjar District, killing three of them. [Ikh]

 

Baaj

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that 2 Nujaba’ Movement PMFs were killed when a roadside IED exploded on their vehicle near the Syrian border. 

 

SOUTHERN IRAQ

Babel 

A DaeshDaily source said that Daesh launched an attack on PMF units in the Jurf Al-Sakhar area. The sources say that local residents are acting as Daesh sleeper cells. 

 

Dhi Qar

A member of the Dhi Qar PC Security Committee, Dakhel Radhi, says that Daesh ambushed a group of security personnel from Dhi Qar in Rutba, killing 9 of them. Daesh also kidnapped 4 other security personnel from the same province in Kirkuk. This has produced a bad atmosphere in the province. [Ghad] [Baghdadia] 

 

Basra

Thursday, Chairman of the Development and Construction committee in the Basra PC, Zahra Hamza Al-Bajari, said that the Ministry of Planning has not approved any new projects for Basra since 2014, and hundreds of projects were stopped before completion under a federal government decision to stop the implementation of projects that are less than 90% complete. Al-Bajari added that the local government owes over 100 IQD to brokers and companies for projects in sewage, roads, hospitals, and schools. [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. The obvious problem here was Iraq’s financial crisis, caused by the drop in oil prices. War expenditures were favored over domestic expenditures in the competition for scarce resources. However, Iraq needs to implement a national economic plan, not just reconstruction projects in liberated areas. Basra plays a vital role in Iraq’s economy. With all the billions pledged by foreign donors for reconstruction, some of it should be going toward finishing those interrupted projects.

 

Thursday, an unnamed military source said that shipments of weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, short and long-range aerial defense systems, and tank transporters have arrived at the Basra harbor from Russia, and were being unloaded for transportation to Iraqi Army locations. [Rudaw]

 

KURDISTAN NEWS

ERBIL

Thursday, an eyewitness in the Choman District in Erbil, next to Soran and Iran, reported that Turkish airstrikes on the Wasan, Mawnan, and Sarkan villages in Choman killed four civilians and destroyed several civilian houses.[Sumaria]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ahmed Mahjoub said in a press statement that the “Iraqi MoFA condemns in the continued attacks and abuses by the Turkish forces in the Iraqi border” that killed a number of civilians in villages in Erbil’s northern Soran District. [Sumaria]

 

Thursday, ROJ news reported that the KRG held the PKK responsible for the death of the four civilians in Erbil, but residents said there were no PKK members in the area. [ROJ]

 

Thursday, the KRG demanded that the PKK stay away from residential villages and areas to spare civilian lives. KRG spokesman Safeen Dizayee said “At the time that Kurdistan’s residents were celebrating the Nawroz holidays, four civilians died due to Turkish warplanes on Thursday” due to the proximity of militant locations to those villages. [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. The PKK’s camps are in remote, far northern and northwestern areas along the borders of Dahuk, Erbil, and Suleimaniya provinces, in areas with few if any residents. Most Turkish raids on the PKK in northern Kurdistan have frightened but not struck local residents. The fact that there were casualties in the Soran and Choman districts suggests that either a few residents were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that PKK fighters have moved toward more populated villages to be less exposed to Turkish attacks.

 

Thursday, Sky News Arabia reported from Turkish sources that the Turkish Army is preparing to establish a temporary military base in Hakork in northern Iraq. [Sumaria]

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY 

 

Thursday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Sinjar, Qandil Mountains, and all the other places where the YPG/PKK members exist are legal targets for Turkey.  Regarding claims of looting in Afrin, Cavusoglu said that Turkey is “seriously” looking into those allegations. “Our soldiers and the Free Syrian Army cannot be like the YPG/PKK terrorists,” he added. [Anadolu]

Cavusoglu told the press that “President Erdogan followed words with actions when he said“ we will attack Afrin suddenly one night.”The same thing applies to Sinjar and Qandil,” and any place with PKK presence. [Rudaw]

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Thursday, US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said that there are US forces present in Manbij and they do not intend to leave the area, as is being stated by the Turkish government. [Rudaw]

 

On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the Turkish attack on Afrin. Germany’s Deputy parliament Speaker Claudia Roth said that the Turkish attack on Afrin is against international law and German tanks are being used by the Turks. She warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against moving Syrian refugees from Turkey to northern Syria to create a demographic change there. [BasNews]

 

Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced alarm over allegations of chemical attacks in Syria. He said that the use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, is “unjustifiable and abhorrent,” and urged the Security Council to take action. 

This appeal came after Guterres met on Tuesday with the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has investigated more than 70 cases of toxic gas attacks in Syria since 2014. “The secretary-general is alarmed at the persistent allegations of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic,” said a UN statement. While the use of chemical weapons is “unjustifiable and abhorrent,” “equally unjustifiable is a lack of response to such use,” said the statement. “Impunity cannot prevail with respect to such serious crimes.” [Qasioun]

 

Northwest

Afrin/Azaz

Thursday, Qasioun reported that the Turkey-allied Syrian militia, Failaq Al-Sham, captured 3 strategic villages near Jinderes, including Basofan, Kafr Nabu and Baghi, following battles with the YPG, putting the Turkey-allied militias only 3 km 2 miles) away from the Syrian-held towns of Nubl and Al-Zahra’a, east of Afrin. [Qasioun]

 

Thursday, Anadolu reported that “3 members of the Turkish Army were killed, and three others were wounded when an IED planted by the YPG/ PKK terrorists exploded during de-mining operations in Afrin.” [Anadolu]

 

Thursday, Hawar reported that the YPG carried out a “special operation” against the Turkey-allied militias in the center of Afrin city, killing at least 10 members of those militias. [Hawar]

Thursday, Hawar reported that the YPG fighters carried out a “special operation” against the Turkish Army in Kafr Janneh in Shara subdistrict, destroying a Turkish military vehicle and killing 3 members of the Turkish Army. [Hawar]

 

Al-Bab/Manbij/Jarabulus

Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara will unilaterally drive the YPG from the Syrian border if it does not reach an agreement with US on a plan to remove them from Syria’s Manbij. “If this plan is not realized, the only option left will be clearing away terrorists. This is not just valid for Syria, but also for Iraq,” Cavusoglu said. [Qasioun]

 

 Thursday, the pro-PYD Hawar said that a high-ranking US military and diplomatic delegation, including Major General Jimmy Gerrard and US envoy William Robak, visited the city of Manbij in an attempt to reassure the people there that US troops will not withdraw from the city and that they will protect it from any external attack. The Co-Chair of the Executive Council, Ibrahim Al-Kaftan, said that “the Coalition delegation confirmed that they will militarily and politically support the SDF against any Turkish threat or attack.” [Hawar]

DaeshDaily comment. These are two stories from the opposite ends of the conflict. Cavusoglu is apparently acknowledging implicitly that Turkey in fact does NOT have a deal with the US that would allow Turkey to remove the SDF from Manbij; in other words, he was bluffing all along. So he is threatening to seize territory elsewhere in northern Syria. This is another trial balloon to test US reaction. Hawar is reporting that the US issued a security guarantee to Manbij residents. However, this could also be an attempt to influence the US to adopt the stance attributed to them. The PYD has offered similar interpretations before of US intentions, and the strategy has not always worked, as Afrin shows.

 

Northeast (Hasaka, Raqqa) 

Hasaka

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that PMFs in Baaj, Iraq targeted the Dashisha area on the other side of the Syria border with 30 rockets, damaging civilian houses. 

 

Aleppo/Idlib

Thursday, Qasioun reported that 32 civilians were killed and about 63 wounded in Russian airstrikes on Harem city, north of Idlib. [Qasioun]

DaeshDaily comment. As is usual, this story cannot be evaluated on its own because Qasioun’s airstrike stories are always solely about alleged civilian casualties. But see next story.

Thursday, Director of Civil Defense (White Helmets) Mustapha Haj Hashim said that 28 civilians were killed and 26 others wounded in an airstrike on a popular market in Harem city. According to the Syrian opposition-run aircraft observatory, “Russian planes took off from Khmeimim Airbase in Latakia and attacked Harem city.” [Anadolu]

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that Tahrir Al-Sham imposed taxes on trucks and oil tankers in areas under its control. The source says truck drivers staged a protest in Hizano but Tahrir Al-Sham members shot bullets in the air and forced the drivers to withdraw. 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that Tahrir Al-Sham terrorists broke into Kafr Lusin camp for displaced people near the Turkish border and arrested 30 young men. The source says many people fled towards Turkey after the raid. 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that Tahrir Al-Sham raided a school in Idlib and arrested two teachers after accusing them of provoking the students against Tahrir Al-Sham. The source said the teachers were taken to a notorious Tahrir Al-Sham prison in the area where many people have been executed. 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that 4 Tahrir Al-Sham members were killed when Nour Al-Din Zenki armed men ambushed them near Hizano. 

 

Central and West (Homs, Hama, etc.) (No reports)

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Deir Ez-Zor

Thursday, according to local sources, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported that dozens of US soldiers, equipment and military vehicles have been recently transported by two US “Black Hawk” helicopters into Al-Omar oilfield in Deir Ez-Zor in preparation for establishing a new US base there. [Dorar]

 

Thursday, “Deir Ez-Zor unified media Office” said on its Facebook page that “in anticipation of a possible Coalition airstrike, the Syrian forces in Eastern Euphrates took down their banners and flags from their headquarters, extending from Al-Husseiniya to Khasham and Tabiya Jazira in rural Deir Ez-Zor.”  [Dorar]

 

Mayadin

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that 2 Nujaba’ Movement fighters were killed when a land mine exploded on their vehicle on Street 40 in Mayadin. 

 

Albu Kamal

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that Daesh captured the T2 pumping station after a surprise attack on government forces.

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that a group of Daesh terrorists, led by a Tunisian commander, arrested four young men in Susah after accusing them of cooperating with the SDF. 

 

Daesh said on Thursday it targeted Syrian Army positions near Albu Kamal with 5 SPG9 rockets. Daesh issued a video of one of the attacks. [ICDNMar22] 

 

Daesh issued on Tuesday a propaganda video about its battles in the Albu Kamal area. [ICDNMar20]

 

South 

Damascus/Rif Damashq 

Thursday, Failaq Al-Rahman announced that it reached a ceasefire agreement with Russia. According to special sources, “the ceasefire agreement will cover the Failaq Al-Sham-held areas of Jobar, Arbin, Ain Tarma and Zamalka, starting at 12 midnight tonight, at which negotiations will be held between Failaq Al-Rahman and Russia.” “Russia will likely try to reach the same agreement it previously signed with Ahrar Al-Sham in Harasta in order to drive Failaq Al-Rahman out of its areas of control towards northern Syria,” the same sources added. [Dorar]

 

Thursday, Enab Baladi reported that the Syrian forces captured Ain Tarma valley, following clashes with Failaq Al-Rahman. [EnabBaladi]

 

Wednesday, Qasioun reported that the Syrian forces targeted Zamalka city in East Ghouta with over 46 airstrikes and heavy artillery shelling, killing and wounding dozens of civilians. [Qasioun]

 

Thursday, Qasioun reported that 3 civilians were killed, and dozens wounded in Syrian airstrikes on Arbin city in East Ghouta. [Qasioun]

 

Thursday, Jaish Al-Islam spokesman Hamza Berqad denied the news circulated by the Russian and Syrian media about opening corridors for civilians to massively get out of East Ghouta in coordination with Jaish Al-Islam, calling it a “pure fabrication” by the Syrian government to cause desperation to the people of East Ghouta. [Dorar]

 

Thursday, Syria Now reported that the Syrian forces secured the exit of over 2000 civilians, mostly women and children, from northeastern Ghouta to Al-Wafidain camp crossing. [SyriaNow]

 

Thursday, SOHR reported that over 2,400 civilians, including hundreds of children and women, moved from the Jaish Al-Islam-held Douma city to the Syrian forces-held areas in East Ghouta through Al-Wafidain camp crossing during the past 24 hours. [SyriaHR

 

Thursday, Dorar reported that under the Russia-backed agreement reached between Ahrar Al-Sham and the Syrian government, the Red Crescent vehicles have started to evacuate about 1500 members of Ahrar Al-Sham and 6,000 of their families from Harasta city to Idlib. [Dorar] [Qasioun]

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that Daesh beheaded 2 Tahrir Al-Sham members publicly in the Yarmouk Basin area. 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Thursday that government forces captured Kafr Batna town after making an agreement with opposition groups. The source says government forces found large quantities of food supplies, weapons, ammunition, in addition to vehicles and large tunnel diggers.

 

 

Daesh published on Tuesday photos of publicly beheading a Syrian soldier in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad. [ICDNMar20]

 

Daesh published on Tuesday a video of a Syrian soldier targeted by its snipers in Hay Al-Qadam. [ICDNMar20]

 

Daesh published on Tuesday an infographic about its battles south of Damascus in 7 days. It says it killed 175 soldiers and destroyed 2 tanks, a BMP armored vehicle, a rocket launcher, and a bulldozer, and damaged 2 tanks.  [ICDNMar20]


Daesh sources say that opposition groups are jamming Daesh wireless communications in south Damascus. [
ICDNMar22]

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

Neighboring countries

Yemen

The Aden Police said they captured a senior Daesh commander in Bariqa city, near Aden. [YemenMonitor]  

 

North Africa

Egypt

The General Prosecutor Office sent 30 Daesh suspects to the Supreme Court of State Security, following the dismantling of a terror cells that attacked a Christian church and a military airport, saying that they were planning to target Christians. Cell members were trained in Syria and Libya. [Baghdad] [NewKhalij]  

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

U.S./EUROPE

United States 

The US has listed a French citizen on a terrorist wanted list, accusing him of assisting Daesh with chemical expertise to manufacture chemical weapons deployed by Daesh in Syria. In addition to the French citizen, the Uzbek “Imam Bukhari” militia, allied to Qaeda, was also added to the list. [SkyNews]

 

Russia

The Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said that on March 20 a terrorist wounded a policeman and was killed by return fire in the Staropromyslovsky District of Grozny. It said that an unknown attacker opened fire with an unidentified type of firearm and wounded an assistant to the on-duty officer at police station No. 4 of the Ministry’s department in Grozny. [Kavkaz] 

Daesh said one of its “fighters” attacked policemen in Grozny on Tuesday. [ICDNMar21]

The terrorist appeared in a short video, published by Daesh’s A3maq, pledging allegiance to the Daesh leader, Baghdadi. [LWJ]

 

AFRICA

Somalia

Thursday, Reuters reported that a major explosion took place in a Mogadishu hotel. [Sumaria]

 

Daesh said on Wednesday that it shot and killed a policeman in Afgooye. [ICDNMar21]

 

ASIA

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber blew himself up near a shrine in Kabul on Wednesday, 21 March, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens, as the Afghan capital celebrated the Nawroz holiday marking the start of the Persian New Year. 

Kabul had been on alert for attacks over the Nawroz holiday, but the bomber was still able to detonate his explosives as people were leaving the Kart-e Sakhi shrine, in the west of the city. [TheQuint]

Daesh said on Wednesday that one of its suicide terrorists attacked Shia celebrating Nawroz in Kabul with an explosives vest, killing or wounding 100 people. [ICDNMar21]

Daesh published a photo of the terrorist. [ICDNMar21]

Daesh published photos of its terrorists in the Wazir Tanki area. [ICDNMar22]

 

Daesh said it shot and killed a Taliban military commander in Chaparhar on Monday. [ICDNMar20]

 

Daesh said on Tuesday that it shot and killed a Taliban member in Jalalabad. [ICDNMar20]

 

DAESH MEDIA

 

Daesh published the 124th issue of its Naba’ magazine, which repeats earlier reports about its attacks in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Russia, and the Philippines. In this issue also, Daesh asks its terrorists to prepare for a “long struggle with Russia and its allies” in different areas of the world. In this issue also, Daesh published the first article of a series about security procedures for its members and wannabe terrorists. Daesh also published news about the explosions in Houston, without mentioning that the bomber had been killed. [ICDNMar22]

[Note to readers: Due to the Nawroz holiday in Iraq and another priority, Daesh Daily is taking two days off and will resume on Thursday. We will catch up with ongoing developments at that time.]

 

March 19, 2018

 

Daesh Terrorist Captured in Shirqat

 

 

 

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

US 10th Mountain Division takes over for 1st Armored Division. [..]

Erdogan’s aggressive line threatens Sinjar incursion too. [..]

11 captured in Shirqat intended to assassinate election candidates. [..]

De-mining teams have dismantled 27,000 IEDs in Mosul, and are far from finished. [..]

Yazidi CoR members want Yazidi boys brainwashed to fight with Daesh treated as victims instead of combatants. [..]  

 

Turkey

Erdogan declares victory in Afrin; threatens the rest of Kurd-held northern Syria. [..]

 

Syria

East Ghouta civilian deaths rise to 1,411, as thousands more flee. [..]

Human Rights Watch flags Syrian use of chemical weapons in East Ghouta. [..]

Mysterious US military operation reported near Qamishli. [..]

Daesh attacks Syrian Army units in Deir Ez-Zor. [..]

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Anti-Daesh Campaign

Monday, CENTOM announced a transfer of authority in Iraq wherein “the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division assumed authority of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Operation Inherent Resolve from the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division during a transfer of authority ceremony at Union III, Iraq.” This step is “another step forward in reducing U.S. troop levels in accordance with the request of the Government of Iraq.” [CENTCOM]

 

Reconstruction

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi congratulated the Iraqi people on the occasion of lifting the ban imposed by FIFA on Iraq hosting football matches. He promised the people to continue efforts to lift this ban completely in the shortest time possible. FIFA cancelled the ban on three Iraqi cities, not including the capital Baghdad. [Sumaria]

 

Foreign relations

Monday, Iraqi government spokesman Saad Al-Hadithi denied having information indicating a Turkish incursion is taking place in Iraq. He added that the “Iraqi government is committed to ensuring no hostile actions are launched from within Iraq onto neighboring countries.” Sunday evening, a KRG official had announced that the Turkish Army entered 15 km deep in Iraq and set up 12 military barracks, and confirmed military clashes with the PKK in which Turkey used heavy weapons and planes. [Arabi21]

 

Monday, the Gorran (Taghyir) bloc in the CoR called on the federal government to complain to the UN, Arab League, and Islamic Labor Organization against the “Turkish aggression on Iraqi territory.” [ROJ]

 

See later stories under Turkey, Syria National News

 

BAGHDAD

Security-related incidents reported

North (Tarmiya, Taji, etc.) 

Daesh published on Sunday photos of burning down houses of “apostates” in Tarmiya. [ICDNMar18]

Daesh said on Saturday it blew up the houses of an MoI captain, an Iraqi Army lieutenant, and an IFP member in Tarmiya’s river area. [ICDNMar17] 

 

Daesh said on Saturday it killed a tribal PMF member with an IED in the river area, in Tarmiya. [ICDNMar17]

 

Daesh said on Saturday it blew up a PMF recon tower in the Al-Khan area in Tarmiya. It said that when a tribal PMF force arrived at the area, another IED exploded on them severely wounding two fighters. [ICDNMar17]

 

Southeast (Mada’in, etc.)

Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) announced on Monday that it had arrested a woman in Mada’in on charges of kidnapping, and that it found Daesh war remnants including several IEDs and explosives during a search campaign in Obeidi, Ihraba, and Albu Awsaj in east and southeast Baghdad. [Sumaria]

In an apparently overlapping report, the BOC and Baghdad’s new anti-crime office captured a girl accused of abduction in the Mashtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad and another person in Al-Mada’in/Panorama in southeastern Baghdad. [Buratha]

 

Monday, the BOC announced that a search in the areas of Obeid, Ihraba, and Albu Awsaj led to the discovery of 2 IEDs and 12 mortar shells. [Buratha]

 

Total Baghdad incidents reported:   6(Includes only incidents reported)

Total IED incidents reported:   3

 

ANBAR

Falluja

The Ministry of Defense says that 2nd special forces brigade of Anbar Operations command destroyed a Daesh camp where quantities of weapons were located. The force also destroyed a Daesh tunnel in the area. Meanwhile, the 1st army division arrested 3 men wanted for terror charges in the Amij area, wounding one of them during the crossfire. [Baghdadia] 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that East Anbar Operations Command units arrested 2 persons on terrorism charges, 1 in Falluja city and 1 in Saqlawiya. The source also says the units captured an explosives cache in Qarma subdistrict. 

 

Ramadi

A DaeshDaily source said on Saturday that Anbar Police captured Hassan Ibrahim, aka Abu Talha, the Daesh security official of Rawa, who was hiding in Ramadi city and using a forged ID.

 

Anah (including Rawa)/Al-Qa’im

Jaish Al-Kifah (Army of Struggle), a new anti-Coalition armed group in Anbar, claimed in a YouTube video that it was responsible for shooting down the US Army helicopter in Al-Qa’im last week. It said it would publish a video of the attack. The group had announced itself in January and claimed responsibility for two rocket attacks on US bases in west Anbar. [YouTube]  

DaeshDaily comment. The group has more than 1,000 “likes” on its Facebook page. However, all the comments on this page are negative. People are obviously fed up with such lawlessness. It is interesting that the group uses the new Iraqi flag in its logo. Baathist groups used Saddam’s flag, and radical groups don’t use the Iraqi flag at all. US officials have not said that the helicopter was shot down. 

 

Rutba

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that IAA helicopters conducted an airdrop operation in the west Anbar desert and captured several terrorists. 

This was in effect confirmed by Joint Ops Command spokesman Gen. Yahya Rasoul, who announced the arrest of 2 “important Daesh targets” in an airdrop operation in the Anbar desert. [Sumaria]

 

SALAHUDDIN

Shirqat

A DaeshDaily source said on Saturday that security units captured 11 Daesh terrorists in a house in Shirqat and confiscated silenced weapons. The terrorists confessed that they were planning to assassinate election candidates. The source sent us photos of the captured terrorists. 

 

Tikrit

A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that PMF units captured a Daesh commander in Albu Ajil village. The source said that a PMF member, who was also arrested, was hiding the terrorist in the village.

 

Samarra

IWMC says 313rd army brigade engaged Daesh terrorists in Hawijat northeast of Samarra on Monday and burned down three guesthouses. A search campaign following the battle resulted in finding a weapons cache and two boats. [IraqPress] 

 

Monday, Samarra Ops Commander Imad Al-Zuheiri announced the arrival of large military reinforcements from the MoD, MoI, emergency divisions, and security and intelligence units to support the Samarra Ops units in providing protection during the commemoration of the birth and death of Imam Ali Al-Hadi. [Sumaria]

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that Samarra Operations Command units captured a group of Daesh terrorists in Al-Mu’tasem.

 

Daesh said on Saturday it killed an IFP soldier and wounded another in clashes near Al-Tayoub, north of Samarra. [ICDNMar17]

 

Daesh said it severely wounded an Iraqi government “spy” after targeting him with 2 IEDs in the Jalam Samarra area, on Friday. [ICDNMar17]

 

Southern Salahuddin (Balad, Dujail)

Daesh said a group of its terrorists attacked the houses of an Iraqi Army general and a first lieutenant in the Jumhuriya area, in Dujail, on Thursday, killing three soldiers, wounding eight others, and destroying a vehicle, before returning safely. [ICDNMar17]

 

Eastern Salahuddin (Al-Daur, Tooz)

A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that security units found a Daesh weapons and food supplies storehouse north of Tuz Khurmatu.

 

DIYALA

Monday, the Baquba, Jalawla, and Mandali police announced the arrest of 6 wanted suspects on criminal and terrorist charges in various parts of Diyala. [IraqPress]

 

Southern Diyala (Balad Ruz, Mandali)

Monday, the War Media Cell reported that brigade 24 units and Diyala Ops Command carried out the Martyrs’ Avenge military ops to raid adjacent to the Qaraqosh base and near two villages in eastern Balad Ruz. It added that the operation destroyed several guesthouses and captured a number of suspects on terrorist charges. A joint security unit backed by the Iraqi Air Force (IAF) began a large-scale military operation on Sunday evening to secure Al-Nida basin. [IraqPress]

 

KIRKUK

Hawija (Riyadh, Al-Zab, etc.)

Daesh said on Saturday it blew up the house of two PMF fighters and an Iraqi Army soldier east of Hawija. [ICDNMar17]

 

Southwest (Daquq, Rashad, etc.)

Daesh said on Monday its snipers killed an Iraqi Army member near Al-Sumoud village, south of Daquq. Daesh published photos of the attack. [ICDNMar19]

 

Daesh said it blew up the houses of two PMF fighters near Albu Mohammed village, on Friday. [ICDNMar17]

 

NINEWA

Mosul

Monday, Ninewa Ops Commander Najm Al-Jubouri was reported to have said that the Imam of Al-Islah Al-Zira’i area in west Mosul was arrested late Sunday night and then died due to torture wounds inflicted by an officer in the 20th Division. The officer was arrested to stand trial in military court. [Sumaria]

It was also reported by a DaeshDaily source that the Ninewa Operations Commander says that security units captured an Iraqi Army 20th division first lieutenant who was responsible for torturing and killing a mosque imam in west Mosul. 

However, the Security Media Center quickly denied that such an incident took place and said that Al-Jubouri did not make any statements on the topic. [Sumaria]

 

Sunday Times newspapers published a report about the situation in Mosul, noting that 8 months after its liberation the city remains destroyed and has unexploded mortar shells and hand grenades as if the war just ended. However, a UN official working with the Iraqi Army to demine Mosul reports that demining teams have so far dismantled 27,000 mines in Mosul. [SotIraq]

The UN de-mining program says that placing such number of explosives in one place before leaving it is unprecedented in history. It also says that UN teams found hundreds of workshops for manufacturing of explosives. The deputy commander of British Forces in the Coalition says Daesh even booby-trapped food cans, baby food, books, and household furniture, to target returnees and de-mining teams. [Baghdadia] 

 

Monday, the MIS announced the seizure of a large ammunition depot in southern Mosul. It contained 458 locally made mortar shells, 62 IEDs, and 9 gas cylinders. [Sumaria]

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that the National Security Service and Iraqi Army 20th division captured at a checkpoint near Badoush in northern Mosul a truck loaded with large quantities of weapons and explosives hidden under loads of vegetables. The source says the truck had come from Syria. 

 

Southern Ninewa

Mosul subdistrict/ Hammam Al-Alil/Shura

A DaeshDaily source said on Saturday that a would-be Daesh suicide bomber surrendered to PMF units in Dahla village, in Shura. The source said he came out of a tunnel, but hesitated when he approached the PMFs. The source sent us photos of the bomber. 

 

Military intelligence says 20th army division found a large ammunition cache in Shura area south of Mosul including 458 mortar shells and 62 IEDs as well as other explosive materials. [Sumaria]

 

A police source in Ninewa says a joint force of army and local police units arrested on Monday a leading figure responsible of confiscating security and army personnel houses and properties in Shura south of Mosul, in addition to several others. It also says 30 more Daesh suspects were arrested in the Tanak, Yabisat, and Muhammara neighborhoods. [Mawazin] 

 

Qayara/Hatra/Makhmur

Qayara

Military intelligence announced on Monday the breakup of a Daesh cell that planned to initiate terror attacks in Qayara, south of Mosul city. The group, all wanted on terror charges, was arrested by a unit of the 20th army division. [Baghdadia] [PressIraq]

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that Iraqi Army 20th division captured a Daesh cell in the Qayara area. The source says the cell was planning terrorist attacks. 

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Saturday that Iraqi Army and PMF units captured a Daesh terrorist who was hiding in a village in Qayara. The source says the mukhtar of the village provided information that led to the capturing of the terrorist. The source says the terrorist was a hisbah official in west Mosul and was responsible for public punishments that included cutting off hands of many people. The source sent us photos of the captured terrorist. 

 

 

 

Hatra

A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that PMF units stopped a Daesh attack on Khunaifis village, north of Hatra, killing 3 terrorists. The source says a PMF fighter was wounded in the attack.

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that a tribal PMF commander prevented 30 families of Daesh members from returning to their houses in Hatra and sent them back to a camp in Qayara.  

 

Makhmur

A DaeshDaily source said on Saturday that more than 200 Daesh terrorists, led by Mullah Khaled Al-Kurdi, are hiding in the Qarah Dagh Mountains and planning to attack Makhmur and Qaraj. 

 

Western Ninewa

Sinjar

A Yezidi MP says Daesh is holding 120 10-13 years old Yazidi kids, mostly  from Sinjar, in areas still under their control in  Syria. They were all brainwashed and recruited to fight with Daesh. Yazidi CoR member Vian Dakhil called on Iraqi forces to treat those children as victims, not as Daesh warriors.

She says that Daesh had about 1060 Yezidi kids in custody, and trained them to fight in its ranks. Many were killed in battles and airstrikes, while some are still held by Daesh. [Sumaria]

 

Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to expand the Turkish military operation in Syria to the Iraqi border, hinting at the possibility of a military operation in Sinjar to clear it of the PKK. [BasNews]

DaeshDaily comment. Having done Iraq immeasurable harm in recent years, the Sultan is now doubling down. 

 

SOUTHERN IRAQ

Babel

Babil Police command says a joint force of army, police, and intelligence units initiated a search in Iskandariya and Musayyib in northern Babel, finding two weapons caches and arresting 14 wanted persons. [Ghad] 

 

KURDISTAN NEWS

ERBIL

Turkish military sources told Anatolia press agency that Turkish army units killed 5 PKK fighters in Hakurk and Hani Rash in northern Iraqi Kurdistan. The sources say the total number of PKK fighters killed in this operation is 18 since March 10. [Mawazin] 

 

SULEIMANIYA

Enab Baladi reported that the “Free Army” factions take over Afrin fueled a dispute between Erbil and Suleimaniya in Iraq. Suleimaniya governor Hafal Abu Bakr announced a 3-day mourning period in the governorate hours after the “Free Army” entered Afrin, canceling Nawroz celebrations. Erbil considered this move outside of Suleimaniya’s authority. [EnabBaladi]

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY 

 

Turkey’s President Erdogan on Sunday claimed victory in the cross-border operation he launched in January to expel the YPG from Afrin, a town along the Turkish border. While the loss of Afrin delivered a major blow to the YPG’s hopes to establish a contiguous autonomous region, Turkey has resolved to clear the separatist fighters from other areas near its frontier.

Erdogan, buoyed by his army’s capture of Afrin, threatened to extend the offensive against separatist Kurdish militants to eastern Syria and northern Iraq.

Turkey’s military will shift their campaign to several towns under the control of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, including Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Ras Al-Ayn and Qamishli, “until this terror corridor is fully eliminated,” Erdogan said Monday. 

Turkey has served notice to the Iraqi government in Baghdad that its forces would attack the major PKK camp on Mount Sinjar near the Syrian border unless Iraq takes action.

“If you are going to handle this, you do it,” Erdogan said in remarks directed at Iraq. “If you can’t handle it, then we may suddenly enter Sinjar one night and clear out the PKK there.” [Bloomberg] 

DaeshDaily comment. As we have pointed out repeatedly, Erdogan WILL make good on all of these threats until someone stands up to him. So far, the US government has complained a lot but not done much. Manbij is his next target. 

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Monday, a “western diplomat” told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that Bashar Al-Assad chaired a National Council meeting on Saturday attended by military and security leaders. In the meeting it was decided to follow a series of precautionary procedures such as sending messages to Russia and Iran to provide protection in case of a US military strike. The Russian Army has distributed some of its forces in sensitive locations of the Syrian government in order to deter Washington. [Dorar]

 

Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that the UN has received reports of arrests of civilians and looting of private property in Afrin, emphasizing the need to apply the ceasefire across all of Syria. [Rudaw]

 

Monday, the UN called on member states to extend urgent assistance and funding to alleviate the situation of tens of thousands of East Ghouta and Afrin residents. [Rudaw]

 

Monday, in a phone call with President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern over the situation in Afrin and East Ghouta, calling on Russia to do what it can to stop the battles and the civilian casualties. Macron also urged Putin “to come clean on any arms programmes that may not have been declared to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.” [BasNews] [Reuters]

 

East Ghouta

SOHR reported that the number of victims killed due to the intensified airstrikes and shelling on Douma city has reached 4, raising the total number of victims since the start of the attack on Ghouta to 1,411. The Russian MoD reports that over 3,500 people left East Ghouta on Monday. [Hawar]

Monday morning, opposition factions captured a number of Syrian government soldiers in Kafr Batna town in East Ghouta. In the past 2 weeks, the Syrian government forces killed over 250 members of the Jaysh Al-Islam (Islam Army) on Jabhat Al-Rihan (the Rihan Front) in East Ghouta. The Islamic Army reports that among the Syrian government’s dead members are officers mostly from the 4th division.  6 tanks were also destroyed. [Qasioun]

 

SOHR reported that over 4,000 residents left the southwestern pocket of Eastern Ghouta towards areas controlled by the Syrian government via the Hamouriya crossing. Monday, SOHR also reported that clashes broke out between the Islamic Army on the one hand and Syrian government forces on the other, in the Douma vicinity from the Masraba side. The clashes broke out after a new attack by Islamic Army fighters on the area in an attempt to advance into the area. [SyriaHR]

 

A Dorar Al-Shamiya Network reported says that Tahrir Al-Sham carried out a counter-attack on Syrian government locations in Kafar Batna in East Ghouta with a booby-trapped car, killing and wounding dozens of Syrian government and Iranian militiamen. [Dorar]

 

Sunday, the Human Rights Watch documented the Syrian government’s use of internationally-prohibited weapons during its last campaign to take over Eat Ghouta. The HRW called on the UN Security Council to “urgently demand a United Nations monitoring team be granted immediate access to areas of Eastern Ghouta now under government control. The team should document any crimes already committed; their presence may deter further violations. They should also visit sites to which the government is transferring Eastern Ghouta residents, as there are significant concerns about their treatment.” [EnabBaladi]

 

Thousands of civilians left Eastern Ghouta via safe passages in rural Damascus secured by Syrian Army units in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. [SyriaNow]

 

Northwest

Afrin/Azaz

Monday, the US Department of State said that the US is deeply concerned over the events in Afrin as most residents have fled the threat of Turkish attacks. The statement urged all concerned parties in the area, including Turkey, Russia, and the Syrian government, to allow international humanitarian organizations access to the area. [BasNews] [State]

 

British Telegraph newspaper reported that British national Anna Campbell was killed on March 15 while fighting alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin. [EnabBaladi]

 

Thursday evening, 11 people were killed by an explosion of a bomb-rigged 4-story residential building in Ahmed Shahawi neighborhood, as Turkey-allied militia units searched the building, according to Anadolu. [Qasioun]

 

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) carried out an operation against the Turkish Army in Afrin on Monday evening. It claims to have killed 50 of them, according to ROJ news. [ROJ]

 

Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said in a press statement that Turkey will not remain in Afrin permanently; its goal is to clear it of terrorists and bring peace and stability before handing it back to its owners. [Anadolu]

 

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey is now stabilizing Afrin “so, there will be work to do in days to come but, at the same time, we will continue to provide humanitarian aid and also work with the locals to make sure they govern themselves – that their needs are provided.” He added that Afrin has been fully cleared of PKK terrorism and is under Turkish and Syrian Army control, and it is now being cleared of mines and explosives.  [Anadolu]

 

Sunday evening, a number of opposition groups participating in Operation Olive Branch decided to stop its members from entering Afrin City without formal permission after its capture from the YPG, according to announcements from Failaq Al-Sham and Sultan Suleiman Shah brigade. Sunday evening the second division of the third “Failaq” announced suspending two of its members for their involvement in theft and violating civilian rights. [Dorar]

 

Northeast 

Hasaka

Monday morning, an activist called Muhammad Al-Yousef said US forces carried out an air landing in the vicinity of an agricultural project between the Al-Hanwa Al-Kabira and Al-Tarrahiya villages southwest of Tal Hamis near a YPG military base near Qamishli. Al-Yousef added that the plane warned residents, with speakers, to remain in their locations before firing their heavy machine guns twice between 2:003:00 am. He added that the US planes hovered above the area throughout the raids of the houses in the area near the Iraqi border south of Qamishli. Al-Yousef explained that the operation took place following a meeting between US forces and military commanders in the YPG amid tightened security and plane surveillance. He also noted that US-Kurdish forces arrested two people believed to be connected to Daesh after raiding a village in southern Hasaka countryside days ago. [ZamanAlWasl]

 

A Zaman Al-Wasl reporter says that two civilians were killed and others were wounded in the past 2 days in car accidents involving YPG military vehicles in the streets of Hasaka. The reporter says a man was killed and his son was wounded after their motorcycle crashed into a speeding YPG military vehicle in Al-Sina’a neighborhood. In another incident, a Kurdish commander in the YPG ran over Abdulqader Maajoun due to speeding near the intersection between Al-Mufti and Tal Hajar neighborhoods, killing him on the spot. A member of the YPG was wounded due to speeding on his motorcycle on Tal Hajar Street. [ZamanAlWasl]

 

Central and West 

Aleppo/Idlib

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that 9 Tahrir Al-Sham members were killed and 2 wounded when an IED exploded on their vehicle in Idlib city. 

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Deir Ez-Zor

Monday evening, 10 Syrian Army soldiers were killed in battles with Daesh. Qasioun also reports that a number of Syrian Army units were killed due to a mine left behind by Daesh. Local sources report the withdrawal of Syrian units from their locations on the outskirts of Mayadin in eastern rural Deir Ez-Zor toward SDF controlled-locations. [Qasioun]

 

The confrontations between the Syrian government forces and Daesh in southeastern rural Deir Ez-Zor and the Homs desert adjacent to the Deir Ez-Zor administrative borders are ongoing, as part of an ongoing attack by Daesh. SOHR reports that at least 14 Syrian government militants of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities were killed. According to unconfirmed information, Daesh also incurred deaths among its units. [SyriaHR]

 

Albu Kamal

Sunday evening, a number of Syrian government units were killed in Daesh attacks on their locations in eastern rural Deir Ez-Zor. Local sources report that the latter carried out a violent attack on Syrian government posts in Albu Kamal, leading to the death and capture of a number of units on the Al-Hamdan checkpoint from the desert side. Meanwhile, A3maq reported that 8 units of the Syrian government forces were killed after their locations were targeted with projectile missiles in Albu Kamal vicinity, eastern Deir Ez-Zor. [Dorar]

 

Daesh said on Monday its snipers killed a Syrian soldier near Albu Kamal. It also said it targeted Syrian Army positions in the city with 6 SPG9 rockets. [ICDNMar19]

Daesh said its snipers killed two Syrian soldiers near Albu Kamal on Saturday. [ICDNMar18]

Daesh said it targeted Syrian Army positions near Albu Kamal with 3 SPG9 rockets on Saturday. [ICDNMar18]

Daesh published on Sunday photos of targeting a Syrian Army position near Albu Kamal with an SPG9 rocket. [ICDNMar18]

Daesh issued a video on Sunday of targeting 2 Syrian Army positions near Albu Kamal with SPG9 rockets. [ICDNMar18]

Daesh said on Sunday it killed eight Syrian soldiers with an SPG9 rocket near Albu Kamal. [ICDNMar18]

 

Daesh said on Sunday it destroyed a Syrian Army 130mm cannon and damaged another with 2 rockets in Al-Hamdan village, northwest of Albu Kamal. Daesh published photos of the attack. [ICDNMar18]

 

Daesh published on Sunday a photo of the sunset in Albu Kamal. [ICDNMar18]

 

South 

Damascus/Rif Damashq 

Daesh said on Monday it continued its attack on government forces in Hay Al-Qadam, south of Damascus, and captured most of the area that was handed over by opposition groups to the government when they agreed to leave. Daesh said it killed more than 20 soldiers, and the battles were ongoing. [ICDNMar19]  

Daesh published photos of the Syrian Army casualties in Hay Al-Qadam. [ICDNMar19]

 

Daesh said on Saturday a group of its terrorists sneaked to a Syrian Army position in Hay Al-Qadam and killed 25 soldiers. [ICDNMar17]

Daesh published on Monday photos of publicly executing two men in Hay Al-Qadam. [ICDNMar19] 

 

Daesh issued a video on Sunday of Syrian bombing on Hay Al-Qadam. Daesh also issued a video of Syrian Army casualties and a destroyed BMP vehicle in the same area. [ICDNMar18]

Daesh said on Saturday it destroyed a Syrian Army tank and damaged another, with a rocket and with an IED, in Hay Al-Qadam. [ICDNMar17]

 

Daesh published photos on Saturday of Syrian bombing on Hay Al-Qadam. Daesh also published photos of Syrian Army casualties. [ICDNMar17]

 

Daraa/Quneitra

Daesh published on Sunday photos of religious seminars conducted by its affiliate, Jaish Khaled, in a village northwest of Daraa. [ICDNMar18]

 

A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that Daesh cut off the hands of two young men in Sahm Al-Jolan after accusing them of theft. 

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

Neighboring countries

Jordan/Lebanon

Monday, Lebanese media reported the death of Lebanese Hezbollah commander Ali Ridha Hussein Tarhini, who was also head of “engineering” in southern Syria. [EnabBaladi]

 

North Africa

Egypt

A spokesman for the Egyptian armed forces says they are continuing their Sinai 18 operation against the terrorist presence in Sinai. He says that the Egyptian air force destroyed a vehicle and 12 other targets while land units destroyed a vehicle bomb approaching their security position southwest of Arish. During the armed clashes, 30 terrorists were killed in north and central Sinai, while 6 others were killed in Arish. 345 terrorists were arrested, 386 positions, tunnels, and storehouses were destroyed , and 17 vehicles of various types were either captured or destroyed. 1 army officer and 3 soldiers were killed, while 8 others, including two officers were wounded. [AhlMisr]

 

Libya/Tunisia

National Guards found a rifle, munitions, grenades, an explosives belt, and a motorcycle in a cave in Ben Guerdane, after chasing and killing two terrorists, one of whom detonated himself with a hand grenade. [Tunisien]

Tunisian MoI says the second terrorist, who accompanied the one who detonated himself, was killed by the chasing security troops. The two terrorists are yet to be identified. [Tunisien]

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

AFRICA

Somalia

Daesh said on Monday it shot and killed a policeman in Mogadishu. [ICDNMar19]

 

ASIA

Afghanistan

Daesh published on Monday photos of the spring in Jorjari and Wazir Tanki. [ICDNMar19]

 

Officials said that three people were killed and at least eight more wounded when a motorcycle bomb exploded in eastern Afghanistan on March 19 outside a rally being held by a veteran warlord who made peace with the government last year.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, told the media that the former commander, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was not hurt in the blast that came 10 minutes after his rally ended, in the city of Jalalabad, as people were leaving the site. [RFERL] 

Daesh said on Monday it killed four pro-government militiamen and wounded ten by detonating a parked motorcycle bomb in Jalalabad. [ICDNMar19]

 

Daesh said on Monday that it wounded three Afghan Border Police members, including an officer, by detonating an IED on their vehicle in the Mohmand area, in Nangarhar. [ICDNMar19]

 

Pakistan

Daesh said on Sunday it shot and killed a policeman in Khairpur, in Sindh province. [ICDNMar18]

 

DAESH MEDIA

 

Daesh published a photo on Saturday of one of its Iraqi terrorists, claiming that he was killed in the Salahuddin area. [ICDNMar17]

DaeshDaily comment. You might ask why Daesh would lie about that, but we have reported cases of Daesh members pronounced dead by Daesh who showed up in later battles. The purpose of the stratagem is to make authorities believe the person is dead, and so stop looking for him.

 

Daesh issued a propaganda video about its history in Iraq. [ICDNMar18]

 

Daesh issued a propaganda video about the Mosul battles. [ICDNMar18] 

 

Daesh issued a propaganda video about its “achievements” and how it implemented its sharia law. [ICDNMar18]

 

Daesh issued 2 propaganda videos about opposition group fighters who left their groups and joined Daesh in the Aleppo area. [ICDNMar17] [ICDNMar17]

Note to readers: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

 

March 16, 2018

 

Halabja

 

 

 

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

US loses all 7 personnel on downed helicopter in western Anbar. [..]

FIFA lifts ban on use of Iraqi soccer fields. [..]

Mattis cites “worrisome evidence” of Iranian election meddling. [..]

Mass grave with 35 Daesh members found in Tal Afar Province. [..]

Turkish Army conducts major military operation in northern Kurdistan. [..]

Halabja observes 30th anniversary of Anfal chemical attack. [..]

 

Turkey

Turkey prosecutors demand long prison sentences for 13 journalists. [..]

 

Syria

Newspaper reports Syria killed 60 East Ghouta civilians with napalm. [..]

East Ghouta activists say 30,000 residents displaced from homes. [..]

Pentagon blames Russia for enabling Syrian atrocities. [..]

Turkish planes, rockets, attack Afrin Hospital, kill at least 18. [..]

US adds troops to its contingents in Manbij, eastern Deir Ez-Zor. [..]

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Anti-Daesh Campaign

Friday, the Pentagon said that the US helicopter incident in western Iraq on Thursday does not appear to have been due to an enemy attack, and investigations are ongoing. All seven crew members were killed in the crash. [Rudaw]

The Coalition says that at approximately 6:45 p.m. GMT March 15, 2018, a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in western Iraq. An accompanying U.S. helicopter immediately reported the crash and a quick reaction force comprised of Iraqi Coalition members secured the scene.

Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga at Operation Inherent Resolve said “This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today.” Braga also said “We are grateful to the Iraqi Security Forces for their immediate assistance in response to this tragic incident,” Braga said. “Iraqi Security Forces continue to demonstrate their professionalism, capabilities and flexibility as we continue the fight towards a lasting defeat of Daesh.” [InherentResolve] 

 

The Coalition says that between March 9 and March 15 it conducted 14 airstrikes on Daesh in Iraq, near Baghdad (2), Rutba (5), Al-Qa’im (1), Hawija (3), and Qayara (3). [InherentResolve]

 

Reconstruction

Friday, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi congratulated the Iraqi people on FIFA’s lifting of the international ban on Iraqi football (soccer) fields, noting that this came as a result of the nation’s security stabilization and the successes achieved by the Iraqi people across all areas. [Sumaria]

 

Friday, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s media office stated that Al-Abadi received a phone call from US Vice President Mike Pence, wherein Pence commended Al-Abadi’s leadership in achieving victory against Daesh.” Al-Abadi emphasized that he is working on a long-term plan with the KRG to resolve all outstanding issues. He also says there is a plan is in place to reduce the number of American advisors and trainers in Iraq. [Sumaria]

 

Council of Representatives

Friday, CoR State of the Law member Mansour Al-Ba’iji, demanded that the Iraqi government inform Ankara of Iraq’s rejection of Turkey’s military operations in Iraqi territory “under the guise of hunting down the PKK.” He insisted that “these operations are completely unacceptable.” [Rudaw]

 

Election

Friday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said “we have worrisome evidence that Iran is trying to influence, using money, the Iraqi elections.” [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. There is nothing surprising about that, and Iranian interference in Iraqi (including Kurdish) elections is an established pattern, but the Secretary’s statement reminds us that we have commented previously in favor of US military support to Iraq in managing this critical election. 

 

Iraq-KRG Issues

At a Friday sermon in Kadhimiya, in northeast Baghdad, imam Mohammed Mahdi Al-Khalisi welcomed the re-opening of the Kurdistan Region’s airports, on the condition they be under federal control, and said that “any step by the central government that should lead to improving the situation in the northern area, strengthens Iraqi unity,” and cancels out any separatist pretexts. [Sumaria]

 

Foreign relations

Friday, the CoR National Alliance spokeswoman Maysoon Al-Damlouji responded to the statement of the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi that “Tehran does not meddle in Iraq’s internal affairs” by “reminding him of the many statements by high-level Iranian officials, including a statement by Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati about the nature of governance in Iraq and rejection of liberals and civilians, in addition to other provocative statements by military leaders, some of whom considered Baghdad the capital of Iran.” [Sumaria]

 

BAGHDAD

On Friday evening, hundreds of anti-corruption protestors peacefully demonstrated in Al-Tahrir Square in Baghdad center to commemorate the “second annual anniversary of the first popular national sit-in,” and renewed their demands for reform, combating corruption, and improving services. [Sumaria]

 

Security-related incidents reported

Southeast (Mada’in, etc.)

Friday, Baghdadia reported that a muezzin (a mosque prayer chanter) was killed when an IED exploded in Mada’in. [Baghdadia] 

 

ANBAR

Ramadi

Friday, a security source said that five Daesh terrorists were killed by an Iraqi airstrike on Daesh hideouts in the Rutba desert west of Ramadi. [Baghdadia] 

 

Al-Qa’im

Friday, a security source in the Anbar Ops Command revealed the death of four and wounding of four other soldiers in an armed attack on a checkpoint on the International Highway in southern Al-Qa’im District. According to the source, the attackers escaped in 4WDs deep into the western desert. [BasNews]

 

Rutba

Daesh says it ambushed an Iraqi Army convoy on Wednesday, east of Rutba, killing an officer and six soldiers and wounding others. Daesh also says it detonated several IEDs on an Iraqi Army convoy in the Talaat area, west of Rutba, killing a major and six soldiers and wounding five other soldiers. [ICDNMar16]

 

SALAHUDDIN

A DaeshDaily source says security units conducted searches in different areas in northern and southern Salahuddin after getting information that groups of Daesh terrorists plan multiple attacks.

 

Samarra

Friday, CoR Security and Defense Committee member, Adnan Al-Assadi, revealed that the killing of the commander of Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s protection unit in Samarra on Tuesday was pre-planned and the sniper was waiting for him and shot him as he exited his vehicle. [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. So now we hear that the general killed was the head of Al-Abadi’s protection unit. It would be helpful to have one source provide a complete explanation of what happened in this absurd and tragic incident.

 

Daesh says it severely wounded four IFP soldiers by detonating an IED on their vehicle in the Al-Mutasim area, on Thursday. [ICDNMar16]

 

Southern Salahuddin (Balad, Dujail)

Friday, the Military Intelligence Directorate announced that it found large quantities of rockets and explosives in two Daesh guesthouses during a search operation in the Rawashed and Al-Aqsa areas in Ishaqi. [Baghdadia]

 

A DaeshDaily source says a policeman was killed by a sniper in the Rawashed area.

 

A DaeshDaily source says Iraqi Army 9th division found a large Daesh ammunition and explosives cache in a tunnel in the Ishaqi area north of Balad. 

 

Eastern Salahuddin (Al-Daur,Tooz)

Daesh said it killed three PMF fighters, wounded two, and destroyed a vehicle with an IED in the Jalam Al-Daur area, on Wednesday. [ICDNMar15]

 

DIYALA

Baquba/Southeast Diyala

Friday, Diyala police announced that its 5th Emergency Regiment destroyed 3 Daesh guesthouses in the orchards area in northeastern Baquba. The forces also defused 6 IEDs and 3 explosive belts. [Baghdadia]

A security source says a civilian was wounded by an IED explosion in a village south of Kanaan in eastern Baquba. Following the explosion, a Daesh unit tried to attack a security checkpoint near that area but the attack was foiled, without any reports of casualties. [Baghdadia] 

 

Northern Diyala (Kifri, Khanaqin, Khalis north)

Friday, a local source in Diyala reported that a soldier was wounded in a shooting by unknown assailants on a security point near Al-Asakira in Khanaqin. [Sumaria]

 

Friday, a security source reported that security forces foiled a Daesh attack on a security point in northeastern Diyala, killing all the attackers and destroying their vehicles. [Baghdadia] 

 

KIRKUK (No reports)

 

NINEWA

Mosul

A local source in Mosul says Civil Defense teams pulled out 10 bodies buried under the wreckage in east Mosul. The bodies included those of a woman and three children who were killed during the battles between Iraqi Army and Daesh in the Old City. [Baghdadia]

 

Friday, a security source reported that a security unit foiled an attempt by a Daesh group to infiltrate Al-Hod village in Qayara. The whole group was arrested. [Baghdadia] 

 

Southern Ninewa

Hammam Al-Alil

Friday, the MIS announced the arrest of 4 terrorists who were hiding among residents in Hammam Al-Alil. [Sumaria]

 

Western Ninewa

Tal Afar

Friday, a security source reported that a mass grave containing the remains of 35 Daesh members was found in Ayadhiya subdistrict in Tal Afar. According to the same source, they were executed by Daesh for escaping from the battles against Iraqi troops. [Baghdadia]

 

Baaj

Friday, Ninewa representative Jamila Al-Abidi revealed that on Thursday a Ninewa policeman was abducted, tortured, and killed in Baaj. She added that the armed abductors claimed to belong to a PMF militia despite the fact that the militia mentioned has no presence in the area. [Sumaria]

 

SOUTHERN IRAQ

Dhi Qar, Wasit

Military intelligence says that based on prior intelligence reports, it arrested 2 men wanted on terrorism charges in Dhi Qar and Wasit provinces south of Iraq. [Baghdadia] 

 

KURDISTAN NEWS

The Turkish Army announced that it carried out a military operation a week ago 15 km deep into the northern Kurdistan Region, destroying 23 PKK positions, killing 13 PKK members, and capturing 1 who was injured. The Turkish Army seized a group of weapons, including anti-tank missiles, RPG rockets, heavy machine guns, M16 rifles, and Kalashnikov rifles, in addition to a large number of light weapons, ammunition, hand-made explosives, documents, and rocket launchers. [Rudaw]

 

HALABJA

Friday (March 16) was the 30th anniversary of Saddam‘s chemical attack on Halabja.  

 

Friday, the KRG Council of Ministers reiterated its demand that the Iraqi government compensate the families of the victims of the chemical attack on Halabja city by the former Iraqi government 3 decades ago. [BasNews]

Daesh Daily comment. Based on attendance in Halabja at the 20th anniversary official commemoration, we can attest to the lingering negative impact of this attack, which killed 5,000 civilians. Halabja suffered a major population loss, and the carry-over medical effects of the attack caused the deaths of many others from unusually high cancer levels and birth defects. Over 2,000 people have been affected by breathing problems and throat conditions. The people of Halabja still need help, and have demanded more help from the KRG over the years, but lack of money has frustrated these efforts. 

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY 

 

Friday, Turkish prosecutors called for the imprisonment of 13 employees in the Cumhuriyet newspaper for up to 15 years on charges of “helping an armed terror organization without being a member” in a case that is raising concern over freedom of press under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. [Sumaria]

DaeshDaily comment. This case is in fact a major example of the unconstitutional and authoritarian turn of the Erdogan regime. It amounts to an attack on any media organization seen as an independent voice or a source of political criticism. Cumhuriyet is a much respected newspaper with first-rate journalists. These prosecutions are part of Erdogan’s political witch hunt, and are a sad development in what is supposedly a NATO country committed to international standards of freedom and human rights. Unfortunately, other NATO countries, while critical, have been too tolerant of Erdogan’s descent into authoritarianism and not strong enough in supporting the victims of his regime.

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Friday, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced that the Turkish forces and “Free Syrian Army” have captured 75% of Afrin. As for the US military support of the PYD/PKK in Syria, he said “they [the US] are providing a terrorist organization with different kinds of weapons at no cost, and refuse to sell them to us in return for money. Then, they say they aren’t supporting terrorism.” “If the US wants to work with us against terrorism, it must start to drive terrorists out of Eastern Euphrates,” he added. [Anadolu]

DaeshDaily comment. If the Sultan of Ankara really wants to fight terrorists instead of political opponents, he can start with the terror he has inflicted in recent months on his own people, including the journalists cited in the story above and all the other people he has jailed without legal justification.

 

Friday, Dorar reported that Erdoğan urged the US to “withdraw the Kurdish militias from the east of the Euphrates River in Syria if it wants to cooperate with Ankara,” saying that “Ankara is still open to all cooperation offers regarding Syria’s Manbij city.” [Dorar]

 

The Coalition says that between March 9 and March 15 it conducted 9 airstrikes on Daesh targets in Syria, near Shaddadi (2), Albu Kamal (5), and Deir Ez-Zor (2). [InherentResolve]

 

East Ghouta

Friday, Zaman Al-Wasl reported that the Syrian forces targeted a gathering of civilians with napalm in Kafr Batna, killing over 60 civilians, mostly women and children. According to a local source, the Syrian forces targeted the residents who gathered in Kafr Batna Square after the Syrian government had announced that “whoever wants to leave the city should gather in Kafr Batna Square and head to the Syrian gathering points in Hamouriya.” [ZamanAlWasl]

According to Dorar, Russian aircraft attacked residential areas and a popular market in Kafr Batna with napalm, killing over 50 civilians and wounding dozens more. [Dorar]

 

Friday, the central military media cell announced that the Syrian forces captured Raihan town in eastern Douma city. [EnabBaladi]

Friday, Jaish Al-Islam spokesman Hamza Berqad said that “the opposition factions are engaged in fierce battles to foil the Syrian forces’ attempt to storm Raihan from different directions.” “Over the past 24 hours, more than 100 members of the Syrian forces were killed, and two tanks were destroyed during the ongoing battles with the opposition factions,” he added. [Dorar]

 

In a statement published on Friday, activists from East Ghouta appealed to the international community to intervene as a matter of urgency to protect 250,000 civilians living there. According to the statement, 30,000 families in East Ghouta, especially in Saqba, Kafr Batna and Haza, have recently been displaced to escape from death and gathered in unsuitable cellars, which led to massacres when they were shelled  by the Syrian forces. [EnabBaladi]

 

In a press conference on Thursday, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said Russia bears responsibility for the atrocities committed by the Syrian forces in Eastern Ghouta. “The situation in Eastern Ghouta mirrors what we witnessed elsewhere during the Civil War. Russia agrees to a cease-fire, but supports a regime that continues bombing innocent civilians,” she continued. “We urge Russia to compel the Assad regime to stop brutalizing innocent Syrian citizens and allow much-needed aid to reach the people of Eastern Ghouta,” she added. [ZamanAlWasl]

 

Daesh says it continued its attack government positions in Hay Al-Qadam, in south Damascus, killing 10 soldiers, wounding others, capturing a heavy machine gun, and destroying 2 tanks and a BMP armored vehicle. It also says its snipers killed a Syrian Army captain in the same area. [ICDNMar16]

 

Northwest

Afrin

Friday, the manager of the Kurdish Red Crescent in Qamishli, Delkesh Eissa, told Rudaw that Turkish planes conducted airstrikes on the Afrin Hospital, killing 18 civilians and wounding dozens others, in addition to causing damage to the hospital. Sources close to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) say the hospital was also hit with 3 rockets, killing 9 civilians according to initial counts and wounding dozens more. [Rudaw]

 

Friday, a YPG commander in Syria, Ali Muslim, said that the PYD could have avoided a war and handed Afrin over to Kurdish political parties instead of inviting the Syrian government forces to enter the city. He said that there were international agreements made regarding the Syrian case, either between the US and Russia on one hand or between Turkey and Russia on another.” He added that “these agreements took the form of political deals, in which areas of influence were divided among them. Therefore, we found that the armed opposition vacated most of its locations for the Syrian government without putting up a fight in several locations such as eastern Aleppo and Homs’s outskirts, and recently in Idlib’s northern countryside.” [BasNews]

 

 Friday, Hawar reported that the YPG destroyed two Turkish military vehicles in Maydanki and Naza villages in Bulbul. [Hawar]

 

Friday, the Turkish government-controlled Anadolu reported that 6 civilians were killed and 5 others wounded when an IED, planted by the YPG, exploded inside a house in which they were taking shelter in Cree Ghul village in Afrin. [Anadolu]

 

Manbij

Thursday, US Joint Staff announced that new military reinforcements were sent to Manbij and Syria’s southern fronts in order to face the repercussions of the “battle of Afrin” north of Aleppo. Staff Director, Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. Mackenzie, said on Thursday that “the mobilization of SDF members to Afrin has decelerated the US-led coalition operations against Daesh in the lower Euphrates River Valley.” “We have done some repositioning to make sure of our own force protection, both down south, as well as up in Manbij,” he added. [Dorar]

DaeshDaily comment. This is a polite way of reiterating that Turkey’s Afrin invasion has in fact slowed the progress of the anti-Daesh campaign by causing SDF units to divert from the anti-Daesh fight. We can blame Erdogan but can also blame our own decision-makers for not standing up to his bullying. The next question is whether we will take a stronger stand on Manbij. Reinforcing US positions there, and in Deir Ez-Zor where they are menaced by the Russian mercenaries, could be taken as a message.

 

Northeast (No reports)

 

Central and West 

Aleppo/Idlib

Friday, Dorar reported that a new ceasefire agreement was reached between Tahrir al-Sham and Syria Liberation Front in rural Aleppo and Idlib. Abu Al-Fath Al-Farghali, a member of the Tahrir Al-Sham shura council, announced that “a 48-hour ceasefire agreement has been reached between Tahrir Al-Sham on one side and Syria Liberation Front and Suqur Al-Sham on the other.” “During that ceasefire, the detainees will be released,” he added. [Dorar]

 

However, SOHR reported that clashes resumed between Tahrir Al-Sham and Noureddine Zenki in Aleppo. According to SOHR, Tahrir Al-Sham shelled areas controlled by Noureddine Zenki in western Aleppo. [SyriaHR]

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Mayadin

Friday, SOHR reported that violent clashes are still ongoing between Daesh and the Syrian forces in different areas in Mayadin desert, accompanied by the Syrian forces’ intensified shelling of Daesh-held positions, with reports of casualties on both sides.  [SyriaHR]

 

Albu Kamal

Daesh issues a video of targeting a Syrian Army position with a rocket near Albu Kamal on Thursday. [A3maq]

 

South 

 

See East Ghouta stories above

 

Damascus/Rif Damashq 

 Thursday, SOHR reported that clashes broke out between the Syrian forces and Daesh on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Camp, accompanied by mutual shelling. [SyriaHR]

 

Daraa/Quneitra

Friday, local sources reported that opposition militias destroyed a Syrian tank with an RPG in Daraa, killing 4 members of them. Meanwhile, the Syrian forces shelled the opposition-held neighborhoods in Daraa Al-Balad.  [Dorar]

 

Friday, SOHR reported that 2 members of the Syrian forces were killed, and another was wounded when an IED exploded in eastern Hadar town in rural northern Quneitra. [SyriaHR]

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

Neighboring countries

Yemen

Daesh says it stopped a Houthi attack on its positions in the Dhahra area, in Qifa, killing a fighter, wounding others, and capturing light weapons. Daesh also says it killed or wounded 4 Houthis with an IED in the same area. [ICDNMar16]

 

Daesh publishes photos of beheading a Houthi man in the Dhahra area. [ICDNMar16]

Daesh publishes a photo of one of its Yemeni terrorists, claiming he was killed in Bayda. [ICDNMar16]

 

North Africa

Egypt

Daesh says it killed a soldier and a policeman in an ambush near the Maidan area, west of Arish, on Thursday. Daesh published photos of the ambush. [ICDNMar16] [ICDNMar16]

 

Libya/Tunisia

Benghazi Criminal investigations department announced that one of its patrols arrested a sniper operating for one of the terrorist groups. His confessions led to the discovery of an cache of buried weapons. [Libya24]

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

U.S./EUROPE

Great Britain

An 18-year old Iraqi called Ahmed Hassan faces attempted murder charges on “overwhelming evidence” in connection to a bomb that partially exploded on a London Tube train in September and wounded 30 people. [Rudaw]

 

DAESH MEDIA

 

Daesh issued a propaganda video to the people of Ghouta in Syria. Daesh says in the video that it has not forgotten the people of Ghouta and it will support them against the Syrian government and against the Russians, unlike other opposition groups.  [ICDNMar14]

 

Daesh published two propaganda videos threatening attacks in Tunisia and Morocco, respectively. [ICDNMar13] [ICDNMar12]

The videos explain how the governments in those two countries are un-Islamic and promise that Daesh will start battlegrounds there. 

 

Daesh published a booklet answering questions from Daesh supporters in Nigeria about jihad. [ICDNMar14] 

 

Daesh also published two videos defending its type of Islam and attacking Muslim scholars. This is also part of Daesh’s international jihad propaganda. [ICDNMar8] [ICDNMar10]