December 12, 2018
Daesh Weapons Cache Found Near Shirqat (Dec 13)
Sectarian issue complicates selection of new Defense Minister. [..]
Abd Ul-Madhi government announces it will cancel all Al-Abadi decisions made during post-election interim period. [..]
Former Minister of Finance sentenced in absentia on corruption charges. [..]
Iraq reaching a crisis point over Iranian gas and US sanctions. [..]
11 PMFs killed by Daesh attacks in Hatra. [..]
Freed Yazidi woman tells horror story of Daesh abuse. [..]
Erdogan announces military campaign to seize area east of Manbij from SDF; Pentagon warns him against it. [..]
US completes installation of all its listening posts in NW Syria. [..]
Trump predicts Daesh will be fully eliminated from Syria within 30 days. [..]
Iraq PMFs find 7 Daesh mass graves with 900 bodies in Albu Kamal. [..]
Coalition unleashed 250 airstrikes on Daesh in Hajin in 1 week. [..]
Iraqi F-16s attack Daesh-occupied buildings in Al-Susah. [..]
SDF says it has liberated 35% of Hajin. [..]
Powerful French artillery units pounding Daesh in Hajin area. [..]
Iran: Pompeo urges UN Security Council to re-impose sanctions on Iran’s missile program. [..]
Egypt: Egyptian military summarizes its 2018 accomplishments in the Sinai. [..]
United States: Trump signs Iraq and Syria Emergency Genocide Relief and Accountability Act. [..]
REPORTS FROM IRAQ
An MP from the Wataniya (National) bloc says Mohammed Al-Halbusi, the Speaker of the CoR, sent a letter to General Abd Al-Ghani Al-Asadi, the Shia CTS commander who was retired by the Prime Minister, to nominate him as the Minister of Defense. The Speaker says this is part of an effort to avoid sectarian divisions. He says the initiative was met positively by the political blocs. [Rudaw]
MP Talal Al-Zuba’ie, leader of the Al-Qarar (Decision) bloc, responded via Twitter to Al-Halbusi’s letter, to say that Defense was exclusively the domain of the Sunnis. [Rudaw]
The new government announced its intent to cancel all decisions taken by the government of former PM Haider Al-Abadi during the period from July 1 to October 24. Al-Abadi expressed surprise at the decision, describing it as politically motivated. He says many such decisions were taken for the good of the people, such as releasing financial allocations to Basra and meeting some demands of the citizens of Basra, Maysan, Muthanna, Babel, Najaf, and Karbala. He says such actions should not be taken in an institutionalized system by an incomplete government that has many questions regarding its legitimacy and selection of ministers. [Sumaria]
DaeshDaily comment. If Al-Abadi is now to be treated as some kind of political enemy, this is a worrisome development that raises questions on where this new government really stands within the Iraq political spectrum.
A delegation from the UN and the European Union Mission in Iraq visited several projects funded by the EU and implemented by the UN in Mosul to review the reconstruction effort over a year after the city’s liberation from Daesh. The EU signed a contract with the UNDP worth 47.5 million Euros and another with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) worth 10 million Euros. There was also an additional 20 million Euro grant to UNESCO and 15 million Euros for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, expected to be signed in January 2019. [BasNews]
The Integrity Commission says that the Iraqi Judiciary sentenced in absentia Rafe’ Al-Eissawi, the former Minister of Finance, and Dhiya Al-Khayoun, a former bank manager for Rafidain, to 7 years imprisonment for intentionally “causing damage” amounting to $34 million, by granting loans which were never intended to be repaid. [Rudaw]
DaeshDaily comment. Another in absentia conviction. It’s an Iraq tradition.
Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said on Wednesday that conditions were favorable to open a “new page” with the central Iraqi government. For his part, Iraqi PM Adel Abd Ul-Mahdi said that he would fulfill his promises to the people of Kurdistan. Barzani was speaking at a ceremony in Dahuk commemorating the 1961 battle there between Peshmerga and Ba’athist Iraqi forces. [BasNews]
The Diyala Criminal Court sentenced 6 Daesh members to death on charges of committing terrorist attacks, including the attack on Khan Bani Saad in 2015, which killed and wounded many civilians. [Sumaria]
General Wafeeq Al-Samarra’i, advisor to former Iraq President Jalal Talabani, says that Iran was the first state to initiate airstrikes on Daesh, saying that the intervention of the Iranian Air Force was coordinated by Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, current Deputy Commander of the PMF. He says Iraqis were the first to stop Daesh attacks on Baghdad, before the intervention of Coalition planes. He added that the Daesh “scheme” was far beyond the abilities of a single terror group, saying it was a larger-scale plot. [Sumaria]
The Coalition said that it conducted 1 airstrike in Iraq between December 2 and 8, which was near Suleiman Bek in Tooz. [InherentResolve]
The Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al-Awsat wrote that the Iraqi government has requested several times that the US exclude it from the sanctions imposed on Iran, but did not receive any response. A source in the Iraqi government says that Iraq needs at least 2 years, with US assistance, to end its dependence on Iranian gas. The period of sanctions exemption granted to Iraq by the US is about to end, which makes the situation rather difficult. [Sumaria]
PM Adel Abd Ul-Mahdi said in a statement on Wednesday that importing gas was related to the “sensitive” issue of electricity, which he said Americans understood. Abd Ul-Mahdi met with US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to discuss the issue. Perry was in Iraq to attend a conference. [BasNews]
Center (Rusafa, Karkh, etc.)
General Sa’ad Ma’an, the spokesman of the MoI, says that IFP units arrested a Daesh member in Karkh. The arrest was made after a lengthy chase. [Baghdadia]
Anbar Provincial Council member Mahmoud Al-Dulaimi said on Wednesday that he had destroyed drugs, including poppies and datura (flowering plants), planted by Daesh during its control of Anbar. He said that the sale of these drugs had been used as a source of income by Daesh from 2014 onward. [BasNews]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that Iraqi Army 20th division units captured a well-known Daesh terrorist near Shabali village. The source said the units were following a man who was smuggling food items to the terrorist and captured them together. The source said the terrorist guided the units to several weapons and explosives caches.
The Security Media Center says that Coalition planes attacked a Daesh tunnel in the Makhoul Mountains and destroyed it completely. [Ghad]
Northern Diyala (Kifri, Khanaqin, Khalis north)
Daesh said it damaged an IFP vehicle in an ambush in Mubarak village, Khanaqin, on Tuesday. [A3maq]
Daesh said it killed one “SWAT member,” wounded four others, and destroyed their vehicle with an IED in Mubarak village, on Tuesday. [ICDNDec12] It’s not clear if this is a separate incident.
IFP says its units initiated a search campaign in 10 villages in Kirkuk, destroying 4 safehouses and an ammunition cache. They also arrested a terrorism suspect at the Altun Kupri checkpoint. [Baghdadia]
In a separate incident, the Security Media Center says that security personnel found two Daesh hideouts in Daquq District, where 31 IEDs were stored. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that IFP units shot and killed 2 Daesh suicide terrorists near Hawija city. The source said both terrorists were from the Riyadh area.
MoI spokesman Sa’ad Ma’an said that police had arrested 2 Daesh members in Al-Karama, east Mosul, and seized 12 “small rockets” in the process. [Forat]
The PMF media office said on Wednesday that PMF units had seized a cache of weapons, equipment, and IEDs in west Mosul. [PressIraq]
South (Hammam Al-Alil/Shura/Qayara)
The Directorate of Military Intelligence says its 20th Army Division arrested a Daesh executioner who was running a “secret cell” in Hammam Al-Alil. The cell was mostly formed of Daesh members who had been assigned to execution operations before the liberation of Mosul. [Sumaria]
Daesh said it killed two tribal PMF members when it targeted their motorcycle with an IED in Haj Ali village in Qayara, on Tuesday. [ICDNDec12]
PMF and Army units carried out a joint operation on Wednesday to search Sheikh Ibrahim Mountain, killing 3 Daesh members in the process. [Forat]
A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that 5 PMF members were killed and 4 others wounded in a Daesh attack on Khunaifis village. The source said Daesh captured weapons and ammunition and lost 3 of its terrorists in the attack.
A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that 2 PMF members were killed when Daesh terrorists attacked their military positions near Abu A’ba village, on the road between Hatra and Tal Abta. The source said 2 Daesh terrorists were also killed in the attack.
A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that a PMF commander and another fighter were killed when a group of Daesh terrorists in 7 pickup vehicles attacked Um Dabaghiya village, south of Hatra.
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that 2 PMF members were killed and two others wounded when an IED destroyed their pickup vehicle on the road between Um Dabaghiya village, a historic archaeological site, and Hatra.
The Hungarian Army Chief of Staff, Ferenc Korom, says Hungary is intending to increase its forces in the Kurdistan Region. He was speaking at a press conference in Erbil with Deputy Minister of Peshmerga Sarbast Lezkin. The Hungarian Army will continue to provide medical support to the Peshmerga, and will increase the number of its soldiers there to 200. [BasNews]
Sumaria carried the story of Shada Saleem, a Yazidi woman who has reunited with her family in Dahuk after one year of living with a Daesh militant in Mayadin, Syria, where she became pregnant. She aborted her pregnancy before escaping. She says getting pregnant is the best escape for Yazidi women to escape continued rape. She says that many women “decided” to become pregnant after being raped by over 7 Daesh fighters. She herself was raped by 12 Daesh men until she became pregnant. [Sumaria]
REPORTS FROM TURKEY
Military & security developments
The Turkey-US disagreement over northeastern Syria and the SDF appeared to reach a crisis point.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Turkey is starting a military operation in a few days to eliminate the presence of the “PKK” (i.e., SDF) east of the Euphrates. He was speaking to the heads of Turkish military companies in Ankara. Erdogan said that Turkey had been subjected to a “stalling tactic” in Manbij, and that Daesh no longer posed a threat to Syria. He added that despite “deep differences in perception” with the US, US soldiers in areas east of the Euphrates were not targets. [ZamanAlWasl] [Reuters]
Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson said that unilateral military action into northeast Syria “by any party” would be “unacceptable.” [Guardian]
DaeshDaily comment. Erdogan’s statement could be taken as a dangerous escalation of US-Turkey tensions over the Kurds and northeastern Syria. Then again, it could be another of his trial balloons; if no firm response is forthcoming, he goes through with his threat, as he did in northwest Syria. If the US stands up to him, he backs off. The Pentagon response, immediate and succinct, was therefore necessary and appropriate. Still, Erdogan’s bullying tactics are worrisome.
On the heels of this announcement, commanders of the pro-Turkey “Free Syrian Army” met in Turkey for unclear reasons. A source from the Turkish-allied “FSA” said that military leaders from the Ahrar Al-Sharqiya militia participated in the meeting. [EnabBaladi]
Also see related stories below under Azaz and North Raqqa
REPORTS FROM SYRIA
The US announced on Wednesday that it had completed its project to develop observation posts in northeast Syria to support Kurdish militia fighters. [ElDorar]
US Special Envoy to the Coalition, Brett McGurk, says that US forces will stay in Syria until local security forces can maintain gains previously achieved. He says that the Daesh presence in Syria has been reduced to about 1%. President Trump says the war in Syria is almost over, and that Daesh will be fully eliminated in 30 days. [Qasioun]
The Iraqi tribal PMF leader for Baghdadi subdistrict, Sheikh Qatari Al-Samarmad, said that 7 mass graves, containing more than 900 bodies, had been found in Albu Kamal near Iraqi border positions. Syrian state media also reported on the graves’ discovery, saying that civil defense and the Syrian Red Crescent had recovered 101 bodies so far, most of which appeared to show torture prior to execution. [BasNews]
The SOHR said that a mass grave in Albu Kamal was found by Syrian Army units, seemingly containing civilians executed either by Daesh or Iranian militias. It also noted that the fate of over 200 persons arrested by Iraqi PMFs is still unknown. [SyriaHR]
On Wednesday, an informed source reported that Daesh was planning to orchestrate a series of what it called “lone wolf” attacks in northern Syria. The source said that the attacks are likely to be weak, due to Daesh’s decreased capacity and the wavering morale of its fighters. Security forces were deployed to Idlib Province in anticipation of more explosions. On Wednesday, a series of bombings also struck Al-Bab, Azaz, and Al-Ra’i. [ElDorar]
Local sources say a large explosion took place near the national hospital in Azaz, following Turkish President Erdogan’s threats to initiate more attacks east of the Euphrates. The explosion killed a child and wounded 70 civilians. [Hawar]
A roadside IED exploded near Haj Abdin village, southwest of Manbij, wounding military personnel. The explosion targeted a car of the Manbij Military Council. [Hawar]
On Wednesday at 4 pm in Al-Bab, a bike bomb exploded near a hospital, killing and injuring civilians. Anadolu reports a very similar story, wherein the explosion resulted in 1 civilian death and injuring 6 others. [Hawar] [Anadolu]
Daesh said on Wednesday it killed three SDF members, wounded others, and destroyed their vehicle with an IED on the road between Manbij and Al-Bab. [ICDNDec12]
In Al-Rai, an explosion near a post office injured 10 civilians. [Anadolu]
Daesh said on Wednesday it stabbed and killed an SDF “intelligence member” in Zayanat village, southeast of Shaddadi. [A3maq]
Raqqa city & district
Daesh said it killed or wounded SDF members and damaged their SUV with an IED near the Modern Hospital in Raqqa city, on Tuesday. [ICDNDec12]
Daesh said on Wednesday that it killed an SDF member with machine guns on Al-Saqiya Street in Raqqa city. [ICDNDec12]
Daesh said it shot and killed an SDF member in Al-Awja village, in Karama subdistrict east of Raqqa, on Tuesday. [ICDNDec12]
North Raqqa (Ayn Eissa, Tal Abyad, etc.)
A source in Tal Abyad, who is “close to the Kurdish units” there, said on Wednesday that YPG units had begun digging trenches and taking other military preparations for an attack by Turkey, following Erdogan’s remarks threatening military action in northeastern Syria. The source said that the Kurdish forces were taking Erdogan’s remarks seriously, partially because they suspect there could be a behind-the-scenes deal between the Turks and the Americans to let the Turks attack them. [BasNews]
Central and West
East (Deir Ez-Zor)
The SOHR says that Daesh fighters attacked an SDF position in Al-Omar oilfield and engaged in a gunfight before withdrawing. The SOHR says a similar attack killed 3 SDF fighters in the same location on Tuesday. The SOHR also noted the increase of individual Daesh attacks on SDF in the area. [SyriaHR]
Albu Kamal District
The Coalition said that it conducted 250 airstrikes in Syria between December 2 and 8, all of which were attributed to “near Hajin.” Additionally, 2 other strikes were reported that had not been reported in previous strike releases, which were carried out on October 4 and November 3, both also near Hajin. [InherentResolve]
DaeshDaily comment. That’s over 35 airstrikes a day!—in one rather small place.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command says that Iraqi F-16s carried out several attacks on Daesh positions in Albu Kamal. The attacks were concentrated on Al-Susah. The first target was a shelter housing 30 Daesh fighters, while the second target had 14 fighters in it. The Iraqi Air Force also provided support to the SDF as required. [Qasioun]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that Coalition planes killed 5 Daesh terrorists, including a “judge,” and destroyed their pickup vehicle in an airstrike near Hajin.
The SOHR reported a slow advance of SDF forces in Hajin, backed by Coalition air support, because of the large quantities of mines and IEDs planted by Daesh and the urban nature of the area. It says that SDF tanks and artillery have never stopped attacking Daesh positions. It also noted the arrival of 20 new SDF tanks at battle fronts. [SyriaHR]
The SDF captured the central market area in Hajin after an intense gunfight that left 15 Daesh fighters killed. In response, Daesh attacked SDF positions near Nabdh Al-Hayat Hospital with a vehicle bomb. [Qasioun]
Daesh published photos of the suicide terrorist, the vehicle bomb, and a remote explosion. [ICDNDec12]
SDF forces were reported to be advancing in Hajin amid intense fighting. They killed 9 Daesh fighters and destroyed several positions in the past 24 hours. [Hawar]
The SDF says it has liberated 35% of Hajin and is still advancing. It also says it arrested a Daesh fighter in the city. [Hawar]
SDF fighters destroyed a Daesh vehicle that approached an SDF checkpoint in Hajin. [Hawar]
Colonel Jonathan Byrom, Deputy Commander of Joint Operations in Iraq, says French artillery carried out the “most violent” shelling on Daesh targets near Iraqi borders since the Vietnam War. The target was Hajin, in coordination with Iraqi allies. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that a woman and a child were killed and five others wounded when Daesh targeted Sukkariya village with mortars. The source said that government forces captured 5 young men after the attack and accused them of being Daesh members.
Daesh said on Wednesday it conducted a “double” suicide attack with a vehicle bomb near Hajin Hospital. [A3maq]
Daesh said on Wednesday that one of its suicide terrorists attacked SDF units near Al-Taqwa Mosque, near East Bahra village, with a vehicle bomb, killing or wounding 10 fighters, destroying 3 vehicles, and damaging 2 Humvees. [ICDNDec12]
Daesh said on Wednesday it damaged an SDF bulldozer with a rocket near East Bahra. [A3maq]
OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at a UN Security Council session on Iran, urging the international community to re-impose restrictions against the Iranian missile program. He said that the Security Council should not lift the arms embargo on Iran in 2020 as previously scheduled. [BasNews]
Reuters says that the Saudi and UAE-led Arab Coalition found 2 Iranian rocket-launching pads in Yemen. The pads are used for launching anti-armor missiles. The UN reported that the pads have the characteristics of Iranian manufacture. [Sumaria]
The US DoD says it is going to recover the costs of mid-air refueling that were incurred during the war in Yemen between the period of 2015-2018 from Saudi Arabia and UAE. The DoD was responding to questions raised by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) on the issue. [Anadolu] [TPM]
Egyptian media reports that the Egyptian Armed Forces destroyed 342 terrorist sites in the Sinai. [AhlMisr]
The 30th statement of “Comprehensive Operation – Sinai 2018,” a counterterrorism operation in the Sinai launched by the Egyptian Armed Forces and Interior Ministry, highlighted some of its accomplishments in 2018. It reported that the air force destroyed an ammunition depot, 61 vehicles on the western and southern border, eliminated 3 “high risk” individuals, eliminated 24 armed and dangerous takfiri fighters, and arrested 403 individuals wanted and suspected of belonging to criminal organizations and took legal measures against them. Military engineering teams destroyed 344 IEDs, 342 Daesh refuges, and 27 vehicles used by terrorists and 82 explosives bikes. The border guards seized 2,750 rounds of automatic rifles, 250 rounds of cartridges, 6,246 kg of cannabis, 80 kg of heroin, 76 vehicles and other illicit drugs while also thwarting the illegal entry of 2,833 persons of various nationalities into the state. [AhlMisr] [AhlMisr]
On Wednesday, the Tunisian Interior Ministry released a statement calling on citizens to cooperate with security forces to quickly track down 2 “dangerous terrorists” and share any relevant information with security forces. [Tunisien]
REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
President Trump signed into law the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, which will provide humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria, and “hold accountable” Daesh perpetrators of genocide. The White House says that the law will encourage foreign governments to prosecute persons suspected of committing crimes against humanity. [Sumaria] [AP]
French prosecutor Remy Heitz said on Wednesday that the perpetrator of the Strasbourg attack shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”) as he opened fire. Authorities said that the attacker had previously been charged with theft, espionage, and violence in France, Germany, and Switzerland, had spent time in prison, and was known to the authorities as a potential security threat. The attack is now said to have left 3 dead and 13 wounded. [BasNews]
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