February 13, 2019
Airstrikes on Hawi Kan’ous (DD Feb 12)
Major corruption allegations surface over Al-Maliki and US contractors in Iraq. [..]
Corruption issue deepens over Shia PMFs collecting, selling Mosul scrap metal. [..]
UN Under-Secretary says Daesh threat is growing and still well-funded. [..]
Army finds 11 Daesh tunnels under Iraq-Syria border. [..]
Coalition’s Police Task Force has trained 26,000 Iraq police since 2015. [..]
Daesh threat persists in strategic Kan’ous area in Shirqat. [..]
UN cites deadly overcrowding, child deaths at Al-Hawl IDP camp. [..]
UN says 11,000 Syrians in Jordan have returned home since October. [..]
Sec. Shanahan proposes Coalition monitoring force for NE Syria. [..]
US may move Al-Tanaf base to nearby location across Syrian border. [..]
Daesh in Albu Kamal holding 40 tons of stolen gold that could be captured by SDF, Coalition. [..]
Daesh chased out of Al-Baghouz Foqani, surrounded by SDF in neighboring villages. [..]
Iran: Salafi militants kill 27 Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops in SE Iran. [..]
Saudi Arabia/Yemen: US House votes to end support for Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. [..]
United States: US charges former AF counterintelligence officer with spying for Iran. [..]
France: France has closed 7 mosques under 2017 anti-terrorism law. [..]
Poland: US-led Warsaw conference on Middle East targets Iran. [..]
Nigeria: Boko Haram stages deadly attack on Governor’s convoy in Borno. [..]
REPORTS FROM IRAQ
The US Justice Department is investigating the military contracting firm Sallyport Global over allegations it bribed Iraqi officials to get contracts. Summarizing its own investigation, the US news website Daily Beast wrote that “Powerful individuals, including Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, are tied to a Kuwaiti company called Afaq which allegedly sold access and dictated terms for a significant number of American military contracts.” The Daily Beast gave examples of Afaq serving as an intermediary between Iraqi government officials and Sallyport to get Sallyport the contract for servicing the Balad air base, worth around $2 billion over the contracted period of 2014-2021. During this period, Afaq was run by Al-Maliki.
The Daily Beast also alleged that Afaq was responsible for SOS International (SOSi) getting a contract at Camp Taji in north Baghdad Governorate, and that bidding between SOSi and Sallyport for the Balad contract was ultimately decided on the strength of their respective connections with Afaq. [Mada] [DailyBeast]
Reuters wrote on Wednesday that Shia PMF groups had “corner[ed] the market” on scrap metal salvaged from war debris. Various sources said that PMF groups had made “millions of dollars” from selling all forms of scrap metal around Mosul. Scrapyard owners said that PMF groups bought scrap from Mosul and sold it in Iraqi Kurdistan for twice the price, and that the scrapyards were “controlled” by individual PMF groups. [Reuters]
DaeshDaily comment. DaeshDaily sources have been reporting these thefts since the liberation of Mosul.
Prime Minister Adel Abd Ul-Mahdi said Wednesday that he welcomed BP’s interest in developing oilfields in Iraq. Abd Ul-Mahdi said that BP CEO Bob Dudley had communicated the company’s desire to work in Iraq. [Rudaw]
An economic website says that Iraqi citizens spend 31.2% of their incomes on food, 21.7% on housing, 14% on restaurant meals, and 11.2% on transportation. It adds that only 2.8% is spent on clothes and shoes. [Sumaria]
The UN delegation to Iraq welcomed the recent agreements between Baghdad and Erbil, referring to the approval of the 2019 federal budget, which included funding for the Peshmerga and an agreement to unify customs duties. The UN called on Baghdad and the KRG to make use of these agreements to reach long–term solutions. [Rudaw]
The US State Department says that US forces’ presence in Iraq is on Iraqi request, saying that the “threat of terrorism remains high in the region.” It added that it supports a unified federal Iraq. [Sumaria]
On Tuesday, PM Abd Ul-Mahdi had met with US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, and said that US-Iraqi relations should abide by the basic terms under which US forces are in Iraq; i.e., fighting terrorism and training Iraqi forces, and not using Iraqi territory for any other purposes. [Rudaw]
The UN Security Council held a session on Wednesday to discuss the political and security situation in Iraq. [Sumaria]
During this session, Mohammed Bahr Al-Aloum, the Iraqi Ambassador to the UN, asked that the countries of the world cooperate with Iraq in sharing intelligence to pursue terrorists. He also said that Iraq is able to pay the salaries of all of its employees in 2019, including the Peshmerga. [Sumaria]
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, also addressed the UN Security Council, saying that the threat posed by Daesh is growing again, developing into a “secret network” with the capability for its leadership to direct international attacks. Voronkov said that despite the lack of revenues from controlling territory, Daesh still had between $50 and $300 million in accessible assets. He added that the threat Daesh posed to Iraq came from the remaining sleeper cells and from fighters crossing the border from Syria. [Baghdadia]
A military source says that Army units on the border with Syria thwarted 3 Daesh attempts to cross the border. It also found 11 Daesh tunnels connecting Iraq to Syria. The source says Daesh was trying to smuggle weapons and $1 million to Iraq. [Sumaria] [Baghdadia]
A DaeshDaily source had said on February 2 that PMFs killed 7 Daesh terrorists and confiscated $1,000,000 from a hideout west of Baaj. The source sent us a video of the confiscated money.
UNICEF noted that Iraqi children were subjected to unprecedented violence under Daesh control. In a statement on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, it said that nobody deserves love and compassion more than children. [BasNews]
The Coalition’s biweekly strike report said that between January 27 and February 9, the Coalition had carried out 20 airstrikes in Iraq. [InherentResolve]
A Coalition press release noted that their Police Task Force in Iraq had trained over 26,000 local and federal police since its establishment in 2015. It said that in 2019, Coalition trainers would transition to a “train-the-trainer” model intended to support the sustainability of the Iraqi Police Forces. [InherentResolve]
DaeshDaily comment. This police training has gone largely under the radar. We have noticed in recent months, however, that the performance of Iraq police, historically feared and disparaged, has been much better. We can logically connect this observation to the lower number of criminal incidents we are reporting—as shown, for example, by the lack of such reports today (again) from Baghdad (see below) in contrast to the number of criminal incidents previous reported from Baghdad
A DaeshDaily source says there are still 100-150 Daesh terrorists, including foreigners, hiding in the Hawi Kan’ous area. The source says security units haven’t been able to clear the area despite several military operations. The terrorists use the area to launch attacks on security units and civilians in the Shirqat and Qayara areas.
DaeshDaily comment. We have highlighted that area before, as there seem to be constant reports about Daesh incidents there, and the situation is not obviously improving.
A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that 4 Daesh terrorists, including a local commander, were killed in an airstrike on the Hawi Kan’ous area.
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that Iraq Army units from the 14th Division arrived in the Hawi Kan’ous area. The source said the division is replacing IFP units in Shirqat, Qayara, and Makhmur.
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that joint Iraqi Army and PMF units, supported by IAA aircraft, started a military operation to clear the western parts of the Makhoul Mountains area. The source said 2 tribal PMF soldiers were killed during the operation. The source also said that the units killed 4 Daesh terrorists.
The PMF media office says that the 88th PMF Brigade freed 30 civilians who were “encircled” by Daesh in the Al-Abyad area of the Makhoul Mountains. The statement said that the civilians had gone on a hiking and fishing outing and were surprised by Daesh fighters. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source said that 2 PMF soldiers were killed on Saturday when their vehicle was destroyed by an IED near the Zuwiya area.
A DaeshDaily source said that PMF units captured on Monday a Daesh terrorist who was planting an IED on the road between the city of Baiji and the village of Al-Ba’aiji.
A DaeshDaily source said on Monday that local police units stopped a Daesh attack in the Siniya area, killing 2 terrorists.
Northern Diyala (Khanaqin, Khalis north)
Daesh said its snipers wounded a PMF commander on Monday in the Malik Shah area, west of Khanaqin. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
Daesh said its snipers killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded another on Tuesday in Ayn Layla village, in the Dalli Abbas area in Mansouriya subdistrict, Al-Khalis District. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
Daesh also said it targeted an Iraqi Army military position in the same village with 2 mortar shells, on Tuesday. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
The PMF media office said on Wednesday that the 16th PMF Brigade had foiled a Daesh attempt to infiltrate Dibis. The statement said that “several” Daesh attackers were wounded and others fled. [Sumaria]
A security source said on Wednesday that a wanted terrorist brought his mother to a hospital in central Kirkuk, and was arrested. [Sumaria]
Daesh said it wounded two IFP policemen and damaged their SUV with an IED on Monday near Al-Salmani village, in Riyadh subdistrict west of Riyadh city. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
Daesh also said it targeted an IFP position in the same village with 3 mortar shells, on Monday. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
South (Hammam Al-Alil/Shura/Qayara)
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that an EOD officer and a civilian were killed and 2 other EOD soldiers wounded when 2 Daesh IEDs exploded on them near Haj Ali village, Qayara.
A DaeshDaily source said that PMF units stopped a Daesh attack near Baaj, killing 2 terrorists. The source said 1 PMF soldier was killed in the attack.
A DaeshDaily source said that 5 tribal PMF soldiers were killed in a Daesh attack near the Tal Safouk area, by terrorists who came from the Hatra area.
REPORTS FROM TURKEY
REPORTS FROM SYRIA
The UN said that at least 35 children and newborns had died since early December either en route to Al-Hawl refugee and IDP camp or shortly upon arrival. Aid groups and the SDF blamed each other for failing to adequately prepare the camp. The UNHCR says over 20,000 civilians have fled the Al-Baghouz area in the last 2 months; over 35,000 people are now at the Al-Hawl camp, with insufficient tents, food, and medicine, aid groups said. [WSJ]
The UNHCR says 11,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan have returned home since October 2018. Jordan is still hosting around 670,000 Syrian refugees registered with the UNHCR, while Jordan claims to have a total of 1.3 million refugees, including unregistered refugees. [Rudaw]
DaeshDaily comment. The obvious and interesting conclusion is that only about half of the Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR. The likeliest explanation is that refugees who intend to return to Syria have less reason to register, and it’s not required. Those who hope to emigrate need to be registered with the UNHCR in order to be official refugees eligible for resettlement in another country.
The US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan proposed on Wednesday to establish a “monitoring force” in northeastern Syria that would be overseen by the Coalition. Shanahan made the proposal at a NATO meeting in Brussels. This comes a day before Russia, Turkey, and Iran are expected to meet in Sochi for their own summit on Syria. [ElDorar]
The US is reportedly planning to establish a new military base near the 3-way border between Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, where US trailers have been seen transporting military equipment. Such a base would reportedly be permanent, and used to monitor the situation in Syria. [EnabBaladi]
DaeshDaily comment. The Al-Tanaf base is very close to the borders of both Jordan and Iraq. The likely intention here is to move the base out of Syria, most likely to Jordan (which would also move the US troops stationed there out of Syria) while maintaining a Coalition presence. However, this is just logical speculation until more details become available.
The Coalition’s biweekly strike report said that between January 27 and February 9, the Coalition had carried out 179 airstrikes in Syria. [InherentResolve]
Rami Abd Al-Rahman, the director of the SOHR, said that Daesh still has about 40 tons of gold stolen from Iraq and Syria, and that it would soon be in the possession of the Coalition and the SDF. He said that he hoped the money would return to the Syrian and Iraqi people and not “disappear” after Daesh’s last pocket in Syria is overrun. [Sumaria]
The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that a pro-Turkey militia arrested 4 Daesh fighters in the Shara subdistrict of Afrin between Afrin city and the Turkish border. A spokesman for the pro-Turkey “National Army” claimed that the fighters had previously been arrested in Deir Ez-Zor and then released by the YPG. He claimed that the YPG and PKK are facilitating Daesh fighters’ passage to opposition-held areas. 2 of the arrestees are Russian citizens. [Anadolu]
A land mine explosion wounded 4 fighters from the pro-Turkey “National Army” in Daghilbash village, northwest of Al-Bab, on Wednesday. This comes a day after a car bomb targeted a checkpoint in Al-Ra’i village in Al-Bab, now said to have injured 7 civilians. [EnabBaladi]
On Tuesday, “several” casualties were reported from a car bomb explosion at a border post in Al-Ra’i. [Hawar]
Central and West
Syrian Army artillery destroyed positions held by the Turkestan Islamic Party militia in northern Hama on the borders of Idlib. The bombardment caused casualties and damage, according to official Syrian state media. [SyriaNow]
East (Deir Ez-Zor)
Albu Kamal District
The SDF, with Coalition support, expelled Daesh fighters from Al-Baghouz and is now encircling the remaining estimated 500 Daesh fighters in Al-Safafiyah and parts of Marashidah and Al-Arqoub villages, close to the Iraq border. The SDF units advanced slowly under intense Coalition strikes, whereas Daesh used snipers, suicide attackers, and mines to slow their advances. [Qasioun]
Fighting is continuing between Daesh and the SDF, supported by the Coalition, although the SDF’s advance is slowed in open areas by mines planted by Daesh for that purpose. [SyriaHR]
The SOHR says that 8 Coalition military Hummers and other vehicles were seen moving towards the front lines east of the Euphrates where Daesh is still holding 2 km2. Meanwhile, 10 trucks were seen departing Daesh-held areas, while military operations by the SDF are still continuing. [SyriaHR]
Civilians continue to flee the Daesh-held area. A woman from Ukraine told Rudaw that the bombing of Al-Baghouz was intense, and they had to escape. Most of the women who fled refused to remove their full-face coverings, leading to speculation that they were “Islamists.” [Rudaw]
The SOHR says that the SDF arrested 3 fighters from the Shuaitat tribe, following the tribe’s execution of 6 Daesh prisoners earlier. The Daesh fighters were reportedly promised release after they were captured by the tribesmen but were then executed. [SyriaHR]
Photos circulated on social media of the Daesh fighter Abu Suhaib Al-Faransi (“Abu Suhaib the Frenchman”), a French national captured by the SDF. [Qasioun]
Abu Suhaib had previously appeared in a Daesh video in March 2015, recounting how he joined Daesh after becoming dissatisfied with his course of studies at a Catholic seminary. [Sumaria]
DaeshDaily comment. Talk about being confused!
OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS
A suicide bombing attack killed a reported 20 Iranian Revolutionary Guards and wounded 20 others in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, southeastern Iran. The attack was claimed by the Salafi group Jaish Al-Adl (“Army of Justice”). [Arabi21] [Sumaria]
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for the end of US military support to the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen. The resolution will now head to the US Senate for approval. President Trump has already threatened to veto the resolution. [WaPo]
The US House also introduced a separate resolution on Wednesday, calling on Saudi Arabia to release women’s rights activists it has imprisoned. [WaPo]
Daesh said on Wednesday it shot and wounded an Al-Qaeda member in the Za’aj area, in Qifa. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
Egyptian security sources say that authorities executed 3 Muslim Brotherhood members on charges of killing a general in the police force 5 years ago. [Sumaria]
The Military Engineering Corps in Sirte said that on Wednesday, it had recovered a Howitzer cannon left behind by Daesh. [Wasat]
REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The US Justice Department accused a former Air Force counterintelligence agent, Monica Witt, of spying for Iran. Witt is accused of defecting to Iran after traveling there to attend conferences on “Hollywoodism,” and faces charges of 2 counts of espionage. [NYT]
The EU listed 5 Arab countries among 23 it accuses of reluctance in confronting the funding of terrorism and money laundering. The Arab countries were Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Yemen. [EnabBaladi]
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the ongoing NATO meeting in Brussels would address issues that include the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which the US and Russia both withdrew from at the beginning of February. Stoltenberg said that NATO would call on Russia to come back into compliance with the treaty. [Khaama]
France has closed down 7 mosques and thwarted 10 terrorist attacks since the ratification of a counter-terrorism law in October 2017, according to the French MoI. The law allows law enforcement units to handle potential dangers and check people’s identities without approval from the courts. [Anadolu]
German authorities said Wednesday that they had arrested 2 former Syrian intelligence officers accused of crimes against humanity in their role in torturing prisoners in Syria. The 2 were identified as “Anwar R.” and “Eyad A.” and are alleged to have overseen detention centers in or around Damascus where prisoners suffered “extreme torture.” [NYT]
Warsaw is hosting an international conference on Middle East security, to last from Wednesday to Thursday. Iran was not invited but Arab states and Israel were. A senior US official said that Iran was “not a specific agenda item.” [WSJ]
However, speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.” Israeli official media offices tweeted his statements, but later deleted some tweets and rephrased the last few words to “combating Iran.” [NBC] [NYT]
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani also spoke in Warsaw, supporting the controversial Iranian opposition group MEK. [NYT]
Security sources said that a Boko Haram attack near Dikwa town on a convoy of vehicles carrying the Governor of Borno State killed 2 soldiers and 2 civilians. [VanguardNGR]
An alternate version said that 3 “party supporters” of the Governor were killed. [PunchNG]
Daesh’s version said that it killed 42 people, including Nigerian soldiers, captured two others, set 10 vehicles on fire, and stole 4 others, in an ambush that targeted the convoy of the Borno State Governor between Gamboru and Dikwa. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
Daesh said it attacked a Nigerian Army military position in Monguno town, in Borno, on Tuesday, and forced the soldiers to flee. [ICDNFeb13-Telegram]
Sirodjidin Mukhriddin Aslov, the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan, says he hopes for the return of 75 Tajik children held in Iraq, whose mothers are affiliated with Daesh. He says that 75 of the 92 children being held are entitled to return to the country, including 31 children who are less than 3 years old. [Sumaria]
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