December 19, 2018
US Troops in the Kurdish Region in Northern Syria (Telegraph)
114 refugees return from Turkey [..]
… but OCHA says there are still 2 million refugees left [..]
DaeshDaily source says 400 Daesh fighters still in Makhoul Mountains. [..]
Daesh attacks Allas oilfield. [..]
Integrity Commission issues warrant to arrest Kirkuk Governor. [..]
Coalition shells, bombs Mount Qarachogh. [..]
Daesh still active around Al-Atshana Hills. [..]
DaeshDaily source reports over 1,000 Daesh fighters in Hatra Desert. [..]
Najaf PC fires the Governor. [..]
Bid to form constitutional committee fails. [..]
Russian plan to return refugees from Lebanon and Jordan stalled. [..]
Trump announces US troop withdrawal from Syria [..]
… SDF in shock, AAH gloats. [..]
Syrian Army attacked north of Hama. [..]
Fighting outside Hajin continues. [..]
Africa: Russian security aide warns Daesh fighters fleeing to Africa. [..]
REPORTS FROM IRAQ
The Ministry of Displacement and Migration says 114 Iraqi refugees have returned from Turkey to their home areas liberated from Daesh. Jiwan Mahmoud, of the Kurdistan section of the Ministry, says the refugees entered Iraq through the Ibrahim Al-Khalil border point in Dahuk. [Baghdadia]
OCHA published a report saying that 4 million Iraqi refugees and IDPs have returned home in 2018, but there are still 2 million to go. It recommended continued support to the remaining refugees and to returnees alike during 2019. It concluded that 6.7 million Iraqis are still in need of humanitarian support, and that 11 million Iraqis are living in conflict areas. [Baghdadia]
The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) warned the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against closing the offices of the Hurriya party. It sent a letter to the KRG, saying this party is legitimate and licensed by the central authorities, and can operate anywhere in Iraq. [Hawar]
The former Governor of Mosul, Atheel Al-Nujaifi, says that Mosul’s occupation by Daesh followed a set plan. Daesh was supposed to enter the east side of Mosul first, as Iraqi forces deployed heavy artillery on the west side to shell them. He says he refused the shelling due to the possibility of high civilian casualties. They planned to have Daesh encircled in the east side and bomb them with artillery and explosive barrels. He added that some divisions collapsed, but some military units stayed intact and withdrew with all their equipment. He said he would not have approved of destroying the whole city due to military mistakes. [Arabi21]
DaeshDaily comment. It’s an interesting defense, but somewhat late. The CoR was so incensed at Nujaifi’s actions at the time that it removed him from office. This set off a long string of verbal and other interactions between the troublesome Nujaifi and the Iraqi leadership, during which he organized a militia disdained by the Iraqi military, collaborated with the Turks and Masoud Barzani to introduce Turkish troops into Ninewa, and set up a lobbying office in Washington.
The Coalition issued its weekly strike report; notably, all airstrikes between December 9 and 15 took place in Syria, with none in Iraq. [InherentResolve]
The US State Department outreach team showed a video of Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq withdrawing from a session organized by the Bina’ (Construction) bloc. The Ambassador withdrew when attendees were asked to stand for a minute to pay respect to Iraqi martyrs that fell in the war on Daesh. The US outreach team described this withdrawal in its social media as showing a lack of respect to the Iraqi people and the host country. The Iranian Embassy says that the Ambassador believed that it was the end of the meeting, rather than a time to stand to pay respects. [Baghdadia]
PM Adel Abd Ul-Mahdi received the PM of Australia, Scott Morrison, and his delegation on Wednesday. During the visit, Abd Ul-Mahdi said that Iraq could not be a “pathway” through which to attack any other country. [Rudaw]
North (Tarmiya, Taji, etc.)
Daesh published on Wednesday photos of beheading a man and setting his vehicle on fire in the Al-Tabi area. [ICDNDec19]
Daesh had said it captured, then beheaded a “spy” and set his vehicle on fire in the Al-Tabi area in Tarmiya, last Wednesday. [ICDNDec13]
The Security Media Center says that Army units under Anbar Ops Command arrested a man wanted on terrorism charges and found 7 IEDs, 5 of which were connected to explode. All the IEDs were destroyed in Suwaib, in Hit. [Ghad]
The Security Media Center said on Wednesday that a joint group under Jazeera Ops Command carried out a search operation in the area of Alus, in the Haqlaniyah subdistrict of Haditha, and found and destroyed a Daesh tunnel and 4 IEDs. [Mawazin]
Anah (including Rawa)
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that more than 500 Daesh terrorists are hiding in the desert of western Rawa. The source said Daesh made “significant” changes in its command structure in the area recently.
The Security Media Center says that units under Jazeera Ops Command found 3 rocket launching pads and several rockets in Zawiya village, and arrested 3 terrorists and defused 15 IEDs in Al-Qa’im. [Ghad]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that Iraqi forces stopped their military operations in the Makhoul Mountains area for unknown reasons. The source said there are around 400 Daesh terrorists, mostly locals, hiding on the mountains, and they conduct attacks from time to time in addition to planting IEDs in the nearby areas. The terrorists mostly use motorcycles to move around. The source said that the terrorists still depend on local smugglers to get food and other supplies. The source said there are also more than 350 Daesh terrorists hiding in the desert between northern Salahuddin and southern Ninewa. (Shirqat District is on the border with Ninewa.)
A DaeshDaily source said that a young man was severely wounded and several houses damaged when Daesh shelled Khanuqa village on Friday.
A DaeshDaily source said that 4 PMF members were severely wounded when their vehicle was destroyed by an IED on the road between Shirqat and Baghdad near Al-Naml village, on Sunday.
A DaeshDaily source said that tribal PMFs and residents of Baiji village, east Baiji, stopped a Daesh attack, killing 2 terrorists and forcing the rest to flee. The source said 18 terrorists on motorcycles participated in the “unprecedented” attack on the village on Friday.
A DaeshDaily source said that a civilian was killed when his vehicle was destroyed by an IED on the road between Baiji and Makhoul subdistrict, on Friday.
A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that 2 AAH members were killed when Daesh attacked a checkpoint in the Al-Fatha area. The source said the terrorists stole a heavy machine gun before fleeing.
A DaeshDaily source said on Sunday that Coalition planes destroyed a Daesh machine gun–mounted vehicle in the Makhoul Mountains area, killing the terrorists inside. The source said the terrorists were shooting at Oil Facilities Protection Police when they were hit.
Daesh said it killed or wounded PMF members and destroyed their vehicle with an IED near the Al-Mazraa area, south of Baiji, on Tuesday. [ICDNDec19]
General Jum’a Enad, Salahuddin Ops Commander, says Army units engaged a group of Daesh fighters who sneaked from the Himrin Hills into an area close to Allas oilfield, taking advantage of bad weather conditions. 3 of the infiltrators were killed; fighting continued where fires broke out on the western side of the oilfield. [Baghdadia]
The media office for the North Oil Protection Facilities said on Wednesday that 1 of its policemen had been killed in a Daesh attack on the Allas oilfield. [Shafaaq]
A DaeshDaily source said that several Oil Protection Facilities policemen were killed or wounded in a “major” Daesh attack on Allas oilfield on Tuesday evening. The source said that 2 Daesh terrorists were also killed in the attack.
The Security Media Center said on Wednesday that security personnel under Salahuddin Ops Command were searching for terrorists who had fired 2 mortars in Tikrit. The Center added that one shell had fallen near Salahuddin city and the other near a cemetery, neither of which caused casualties. [Sumaria]
Northern Diyala (Kifri, Khanaqin, Khalis north)
A security source in Diyala Province said on Wednesday that PMF units had killed a Daesh fighter near the Himrin area. [FaceIraq]
The Integrity Commission issued a warrant for the arrest of the acting Governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Al-Jubouri, on corruption charges. The Integrity Commission accused Al-Jubouri of involvement in 8 corruption cases related to the events of October 16, 2017. A member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council said that the accusations covered the improper disbursement of 46 billion dinars during the war with Daesh, and 71 billion dinars for projects in Kirkuk afterward. [Rudaw]
The Security Media Center said on Wednesday that IFP units had arrested a wanted terrorist and found and destroyed 5 IEDs in various locations in Kirkuk. [Sumaria]
Hawija (Riyadh, Al-Zab, etc.)
The Security Media Center said on Wednesday that IFP units had destroyed a workshop for manufacturing IEDs and arrested 2 suspects in Hawija. [Forat]
A security source said on Wednesday that the Coalition was shelling areas of Mount Qarachogh with artillery. Daesh was suspected to be hiding in caves in the areas in question. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that Coalition planes killed more than 10 Daesh terrorists in an airstrike near Mount Qarachogh. The source said the terrorists were preparing to launch an attack north of Makhmur.
Kurdish media said the Coalition was bombing the villages of Qala Sur, in Makhmur, and Ali Rash, in Hamdaniya. It said that Daesh movements had been observed prior to the bombings. [Hawar]
South (Hammam Al-Alil)
The Directorate of Military Intelligence says its units, operating in the 20th Army Division, arrested 2 Daesh fighters in Hammam Al-Alil. It says the 2 were collecting information on the security and civilian situation in the area. [Ghad]
A DaeshDaily source said that 2 Iraqi Army 20th division members, including a captain, were wounded while stopping a Daesh attack on their military position near Tilul Al-Atshana (Al-Atshana Hills) around dawn on Sunday. The source said that around 40 terrorists participated in the attack.
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that around 80 Daesh terrorists are hiding in the Al-Atshana Hills area. The source said that Iraqi forces had cleared the area more than once, but the terrorists returned every time. The source said the terrorists pose a “serious threat” to the west side of Mosul city and nearby villages. The source also said that Coalition planes killed 2 Daesh commanders in the area recently.
The Directorate of Military Intelligence says its units, operating in the 15th Army Division, found a large explosives and ammunition cache in Kharab Juhaish. Division EODs destroyed all contents of the cache onsite. [Ghad]
A DaeshDaily source said on Wednesday that there more than 1,000 Daesh terrorists in the Hatra desert. The source said that some of the areas in the desert have been under Daesh control, and under the AQI before that, since 2007, and no military campaign has been able to dislodge Daesh from there. The source said that Daesh’s plan is to lure Iraqi forces to the area where the difficult terrain gives a better advantage to the terrorists. The source said that Iraqi forces have stopped their military operations in the area for several weeks now.
The Najaf Provincial council voted on Wednesday to dismiss Governor Luay Al-Yasiri from office. The dismissal passed with a majority of 18 votes in favor. [Ghad]
REPORTS FROM TURKEY
REPORTS FROM SYRIA
Russia, Turkey and Iran failed to reach an agreement on formation of the constitutional committee in Syria, supported by the UN, but they called for a meeting at the beginning of next year to start a peace process that will be characterized by “accepting compromises and constructive dialogue.” [Qasioun]
The Emirati newspaper The National says that the Russian plan to return the Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Jordan back to Syria has vanished due to a lack of Western funding. The newspaper says Russia can provide logistics but cannot provide the funding. The US and European countries have set the condition that there must be a political settlement in Syria before contributing to the plan, but Russia believes it can force the Al-Assad government to apply reforms but cannot do anything regarding security control over people’s lives. [Hawar]
The Wall Street Journal says the US is starting a complete withdrawal from northeast Syria. The newspaper quoted US officials saying it informed its partners of the withdrawal. It says this decision was made following a telephone conversation between Presidents Trump and Erdogan on the eve of the anticipated Turkish attack on the PYD in northeast Syria. [Rudaw] [WSJ]
The Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday that it had started the process of withdrawing all 2,000 US troops from Syria following Trump’s decision. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Daesh had been defeated in Syria, but that this did not “signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign.” Meanwhile, US commanders expressed concern about what this sudden withdrawal would mean for the SDF. [ElDorar] [Reuters] [GMA]
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the US counter-terrorism mission would not change after its military withdrawal from Syria. [IKH]
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White also said that the US would continue to work with “local partners” in Syria after withdrawing troops, and that the US would continue to work with partners and allies anywhere that Daesh was active. [Anadolu]
DaeshDaily comment. “Spin” won’t change the fact that this is a seriously bad and ill-timed decision that sells out a lot of people and gives aid and comfort to all the wrong people. The decision as announced appears to contradict the statements of high US officials that we have reported here even within the past several days. The lack of proper response to Erdogan’s bluster over northeastern Syria was perhaps a clue that something was about to happen. Unfortunately, the premise of the decision, that Daesh has been defeated, is at best premature, and if the US troops leave precipitously, Daesh won’t be defeated for a very long time.
The SOHR says that senior US sources informed the SDF of the withdrawal of all its forces from Manbij and areas east of the Euphrates, which was received by the SDF with shock, given the fact that recent reinforcements arrived to eastern Deir Ez-Zor and Manbij. The SDF considered the US action to be a “stab in the back” and a betrayal of the thousands of SDF fighters killed in their war against Daesh. [SyriaHR]
Qais Al-Khazali, the Secretary-General of the Iraqi pro-Iranian militia Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH), responded to Trump’s announcement by saying that Trump was “defeated” in Syria, and this is why the troops were withdrawing. [FaceIraq]
The Russian news agency Sputnik said on Wednesday that France had begun to withdraw its troops from Syria, following the US announcement of withdrawal. [ElDorar]
The pro-Turkey opposition National Army militia says that the [KRG-trained] Syrian Peshmerga cannot control security on the Syrian-Turkish border. Their spokesman, Yousef Hamoud, says they are few in number and cannot stop terrorist attacks. [EnabBaladi]
The Coalition said that it had conducted 208 airstrikes in Syria between December 9 and 15. All but 1 of these took place “near Hajin;” 1 airstrike was conducted “near Albu Kamal.” [InherentResolve]
Kurdish media reported fighting between Syrian Army units and pro-Turkish militia fighters in Harbal and Sheikh Eissa, in Azaz. [Hawar]
Raqqa city & district
The SOHR reported a motorcycle bomb explosion near a Daesh “sleeper cell” house in Raqqa, believed to be prepared by the cell for future operations. 1 member of the cell was killed and 2 others wounded. [SyriaHR]
Daesh said it killed an SDF “intelligence member,” wounded two others, and damaged their vehicle with an IED in Al-Karama town, on Tuesday. [ICDNDec19]
Central and West
The Russian news agency Sputnik says that the Syrian Army stopped an “intense” attack by “Al-Nusra” fighters on Syrian Army positions north of Hama. The agency described the attack as the most violent in months. A 5 hour-long battle took place, ending with the killing of 15 attackers and the wounding of several others. [Hawar]
However, the SOHR says that the attack on Syrian Army positions north of Hama was carried out by Jaish Al-Izza, who the Russians referred to as Al-Nusra. It says that 9 Syrian Army soldiers were killed and 19 wounded in the attack. [SyriaHR]
The SOHR reported that 2 persons were killed and others wounded by a land mine explosion near Qaryatayn village, southeast of Homs. It noted that mines took the lives of many civilians this month. [SyriaHR]
East (Deir Ez-Zor)
The SOHR reported intense airstrikes by the Coalition on Daesh positions in eastern Deir Ez-Zor, in addition to over 60 rocket strikes in western Deir Ez-Zor, amid continued fighting between SDF and Daesh units. [SyriaHR]
Albu Kamal District
The SOHR reported continued intense fighting in the eastern outskirts of Hajin between the SDF and Daesh, accompanied by heavy artillery shelling and Coalition airstrikes. [SyriaHR]
The SDF media center said that they had killed 61 Daesh fighters, as well as finding several laptops and documents belonging to Daesh. [Hawar]
The SOHR reported that Daesh executed 3 of its own members in eastern Deir Ez-Zor on charges of helping civilians and Daesh deserters escape. The last group of escapees was 200 civilians from various parts of Syria and Iraq, including women and children, and some Iraqi Daesh fighters, who reached SDF-held areas. The total number of civilians escaping Daesh-held areas during recent war operations reached 2400. [SyriaHR]
The SOHR also says Daesh shifted from individual executions, counted in the thousands since 2014, to mass executions, which have recently been reported in eastern Deir Ez-Zor and the Syrian desert north of Sukhnah, in Homs. [SyriaHR]
Daesh published on Wednesday photos of targeting SDF “gatherings” in Hajin with mortar shells. [ICDNDec19]
DaeshDaily comment. One of the photos shows that the terrorists were using the garden of a house to shoot the mortars.
South (No reports)
OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS
Iraqi personnel found Daesh documents related to its operations in the Sinai Peninsula. The documents reportedly included a set of dates during which Daesh targeted Egyptian Army vehicles in the Sheikh Zuweid area, and described the detonation of IEDs targeting Egyptian Army soldiers. [Mawazin]
The Egyptian takfiri and fatwa monitoring group Dar Al-Iftaa’ released the outline of a study on Daesh, in which they divided Daesh’s speeches, letters, and mass communication into two phases:
The first phase, from 2014 to 2016, saw the release of a prolific amount of material, focused on issues of jihad and expansion, and sought to show off their growing military strength.
The second phase, 2017 to 2018, saw a decline in the volume of Daesh media output, accompanied by Daesh faltering on the battlefield, and the messaging shifted to a focus on patience and steadfastness. [AhlMisr]
Ibrahim Rabie, a dissident Brotherhood leader and researcher on Islamist movements, said that the Muslim Brotherhood was targeting churches in Egypt in order to “send a message” to the Christians that they could not live there safely. He said that targeting of Muslims was done in order to “shake up” the regime and turn Egypt into a failed state. [AhlMisr]
Rabie also said that the Brotherhood attracted young people by focusing on introverted people who were “not aware of reality.” [AhlMisr]
Finally, Rabie claimed that the terrorist organizations in the Sinai were an “integral part” of the Muslim Brotherhood. [AhlMisr]
Daesh published on Wednesday photos of Egyptian military vehicles it said it destroyed in an ambush in the Al-Maghara area, in central Sinai. [ICDNDec19]
Egyptian security officials had said on Monday that 2 roadside bombs hit a police convoy just west of Rafah, northern Sinai, killing 2 conscripts and wounding 6 others. They said that the bombs struck 2 armored vehicles that were part of a convoy on a search-and-destroy mission in the area. [AP]
Daesh had previously said that it “lured” an Egyptian Army convoy to an ambush in the Al-Maghara area, in central Sinai, on Sunday. Daesh said it set off several IEDs on the convoy, then clashed with the soldiers using heavy and medium weapons, killing or wounding 20 of them, destroying a Humvee and 2 SUVs, and damaging an SUV. [ICDNDec17] [A3maq]
On Wednesday, the Central Military Zone declared a state of alert in Sirte. [Libya24]
Libyan media reported fighting between the Army and fighters allied with militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran around Saddada Castle, between Misrata and Bani Walid, central to northwest Libya. [AfriGate]
A military source later said that the Libyan National Army now controlled Saddada Castle, having taken it from Ibrahim Jadhran’s fighters. They said the area was previously controlled by Sayara Benghazi (aka Benghazi Defense Brigades) and other extremist groups. [AfriGate]
The Tunisian Ministry of the Interior says it uncovered a “structured” terrorist group in Sidi Bouzid Governate, central Tunisia. The group was formed under the name “Jihad and Tawhid Battalion,” and is connected to terror groups abroad, according to the Ministry. All members were arrested and their weapons and equipment confiscated. [Anadolu] [Tunisien]
REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The UK police arrested Sudesh Amman (18), a college student who supported Daesh, on charges of encouraging his girlfriend to kill and behead her parents. Several weapons and bomb–making materials were found in his apartment, in addition to instructions on how to carry out terrorist attacks. The court sentenced him to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment. [Sumaria]
The British police said that a stabbing attack in a medical center in London wounded 3 persons. [Ghad]
Alexander Venediktov, an aide to the Russian Security Council secretary, says that Iraqi and Syrian Daesh fighters have formed new groups of Daesh, Al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram after escaping to Africa. He says they form a major terrorist threat to African countries. [Sumaria]
The Taliban said that its talks with the US in Abu Dhabi were focused on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and that it had not discussed a ceasefire, an interim government, or elections. [Khaama]
The US Special Representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, described the talks as “productive.” [Khaama]
US officials said that the US military presence in Afghanistan remains “conditions-based.” [Khaama]
The Afghan military said that “at least 4” Taliban fighters were killed and 2 others wounded by a premature IED detonation in Faryab Province, northern Afghanistan. [Khaama]
Daesh said on Wednesday it killed an Afghan Special Forces officer with a silenced gun in District 1, in Kabul city. [ICDNDec19]
Daesh said on Wednesday it stopped a Taliban attack on “Karizokali” village, in Chaparhar in Nangarhar province, killing 2 fighters, wounding 2 others, and capturing weapons and ammunition. [ICDNDec19]
Daesh published a photo of 2 machine guns, hand grenades, and ammunition it said it got in the attack. [ICDNDec19]
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