An Update On ISIS Activities

February 26, 2019

 

 

A couple of people that are looking at the camera

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Yazidi Children Freed in Al-Baghouz (Ezidi24 Feb 26)

 

 

 

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

Salahuddin PC Chairman ousted by Council. [..]

Daesh cell alleged responsible for recent Qayara killings arrested. [..]

 

Syria

UN estimates 9,000 civilians evacuated from Deir Ez-Zor in past 4 days.​​ [..]

Report says “many”​​ Daesh-held Yazidi women​​ freed in Al-Baghouz. [..]

SOHR reports prisoners for food deals between SDF, Daesh in Albu Kamal. [..]

 

Other​​ countries

United States: ​​ Trump-Kim meeting about to start in Vietnam. [..]

Iran: ​​ Rouhani refuses​​ to accept​​ Zarif’s resignation.​​ [..]

Yemen: ​​ UN donor conference in Geneva raises 2.6 billion for Yemen relief.​​ [..]

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Anti-Daesh campaign

Abbas Sarout, a member of the CoR’s Security and Defense Committee, said on Monday that the government was avoiding using PMF groups to clear the western Anbar desert for fear of conflict between US and PMF troops. Sarout claimed that the PMF was capable of clearing the area, and said that such an operation was necessary, as he said that Wadi Horan, near Rutba city, currently contains more than 2,000 Daesh fighters. [Maalomah]

 

Sadrist leader Hakim Al-Zamili said on Tuesday that there were about 2,000 Daesh​​ fighters​​ ​​ remaining in Iraq, and that some​​ political​​ actors were using them to intimidate Iraqis after​​ some​​ called for the removal of the US presence in Iraq. He said that Iraqi security forces accepted 280 Daesh terrorists from the SDF. It handed the terrorists over to the “Falcons” intelligence cell for investigation. He said that some recent examples of Daesh activity were the kidnapping of over 35 civilians who attempted to harvest desert truffles, the killing of a shepherd in Hawija, and the killing of a fisherman in Salahuddin. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

Repatriation

On Tuesday, PM Adel Abd Ul-Mahdi told​​ Sumaria​​ that Iraq would accept 250 Daesh members, but will not accept Daesh members with foreign nationalities. He said the families will be dealt with based on whether they were forced into contact with Daesh, or were willing supporters. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

As reported by​​ Sumaria, an Arab paper wrote that several countries are pressing Iraq to receive 400-600 Daesh fighters of various nationalities to try them in Iraq according to Iraqi laws. Western countries in particular are reportedly pressing for this. Daesh fighters who would be tried include French, German, British, Canadian, and other nationalities, in addition to those from Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, and Egypt. The source says that Iraqi political​​ leaders​​ are against​​ accepting​​ non-Iraqi fighters,​​ out of fear of a​​ prison​​ scenario similar to Abu Ghraib in 2013 or Badoush in 2014. Turkey is opposed to​​ trying the fighters in Syria, as it does not recognize the SDF as a legal force, while European countries dont seem willing to receive them. [Sumaria]

 

The Russian TV channel​​ RT​​ said that the SDF is holding​​ about​​ 1,000 Iraqi Daesh prisoners, quoting Iraqi intelligence sources. These will be handed over to Iraq in groups, the channel said. [Qasioun]​​ [Sumaria]

 

The Russian Ambassador to Iraq, Maksim Maksimov, said on Tuesday that 64 Russian women and 58 Russian children from Daesh families were being held in Iraqi jails. Maksimov added that there were other detained citizens from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. He said that the Russian Foreign Ministry was taking steps to repatriate the children of Russian-nationality​​ Daesh fighters sentenced in Iraq. [Mada]​​ [Buratha]

 

BAGHDAD

No reports

 

ANBAR

PMF Ops Command announced on Tuesday morning that East Anbar Ops Command, under the PMF, launched a search across Anbar for Daesh cells. It was assisted by the 7th​​ Brigade, 27th​​ Brigade, and the 2nd​​ Intelligence Brigade. [Baghdadia]​​ 

 

Falluja

A local source in Anbar said there are Daesh cells targeting mukhtars and civilians in Nuaimiya,​​ 3 miles south of​​ Falluja. The source said that they recently killed 2 mukhtars and several workers.​​ The source also said that the area had no police centers or emergency police forces, only troops from the recently assigned 10th​​ Division.​​ [Sumaria]

 

A security source said 3 civilians were killed and 3 wounded by an IED in Nuaimiya, south of Falluja. The IED targeted a vehicle carrying workers. [Sumaria]

 

Ramadi

The Directorate of Military Intelligence said on Tuesday that its 10th​​ Division had dissolved a​​ 3-person​​ Daesh cell in​​ Albu Assaf. [Ghad]​​ 

 

Rutba

A security source said that an aerial landing by the “tactical” Anbar Police Battalion in the desert resulted in the arrest of 4 Daesh fighters. The operation took place in Wadi Al-Ghadhaf,​​ in the desert between​​ Rutba​​ and Nukhaib. [Sumaria]​​ [Baghdadia]

The Commander of the “tactical” Anbar Police Battalion said that the operation, with the help of 6 Army helicopters, resulted in​​ arresting 4 fighters ​​ and​​ destroying a Daesh camp, 5 watch towers, 4 motorcycles and 3 Daesh tunnels. [BasNews] [BasNews]

 

A leader in the Al-Abbas Combat Division​​ PMF​​ group​​ said​​ it​​ is​​ tracking Daesh​​ fighters​​ who are​​ targeting civilians in Nukhaib,​​ to free civilian hostages.​​ The Al-Abbas​​ Combat​​ Division​​ leader​​ said​​ PMF units are in the northwestern desert of Nukhaib,​​ where civilians visit​​ to collect mushrooms and​​ go​​ sightseeing. [Rudaw]

 

Hashim Al-Garaawi, Deputy Governor of Najaf, says that​​ one​​ of the hostages recently taken by Daesh, who was from Najaf Province, managed to kill his Daesh captor after taking his gun. The former hostage then fled to the Rutba desert, where he reached Army units after several days of walking. [Sumaria]

 

SALAHUDDIN

Shirqat

Daesh said it killed a tribal PMF fighter and wounded two others on Sunday in an attack on Al-Naml village. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

Daesh said on Tuesday it killed or wounded tribal PMF fighters and damaged their vehicle with an IED in Shaqra village, north of Shirqat​​ city. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]​​ 

 

Tikrit

Ahmed Al-Karim, the Chairman of the Salahuddin Provincial Council, was removed as head of the Council on Monday in a “political coup,” as a majority of the Council voted to replace Al-Karim with Deputy Chairman ‘Adai Thanon. This took place while Al-Karim and several other MPs from the Council were absent. Observers alleged that this was related to a visit from the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, to Samarra a week ago, and to political feuds between Al-Karim and Salahuddin CoR member Ahmed Al-Jubouri. [Mada]

 

DIYALA

Northern Diyala (Khanaqin)

A security source said on Tuesday that security personnel and Peshmerga foiled a Daesh attack on Yousef Bek village, in Khanaqin. The source said that 1 Peshmerga soldier had been wounded and that the security personnel had inflicted “heavy” casualties on Daesh. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

KIRKUK

No report

 

NINEWA

Mosul​​ city

Daesh said on Tuesday it killed two Iraqi soldiers, wounded another, and destroyed their vehicle with a sticky IED in the market of​​ the​​ Al-Qahera neighborhood in​​ the northeast​​ corner of​​ Mosul. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

Daesh said it destroyed two Iraqi Army vehicles and damaged another on Tuesday when it set off a parked motorcycle bomb near a military building at the Al-Masarif intersection in​​ northeast Mosul. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

Mosul District

South (Qayara)

The PMF media office said in a statement that the 44th​​ PMF Brigade had arrested the terrorist cell responsible for the killing of several women and children 8 days ago in Al-Thaya village​​ in​​ Qayara subdistrict. The statement said that the terrorist cell was composed of 6 Daesh members.​​ [PressIraq]​​ [Sumaria]

 

West (Hamidat/Muhalabiya)

A security source said on Tuesday that the day before, an armed group had killed 1 civilian and abducted another in​​ Al-Mulawtha,​​ northwest of Mosul city. The source said that security personnel had opened an investigation into the incident.​​ [Sumaria]

Daesh’s version said that it had killed a “PMF intelligence member” and severely wounded another on Monday when it raided a house in the Al-Mulawtha area. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

KURDISTAN​​ NEWS

No reports

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY​​ 

 

No reports

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

United Nations

UN OCHA said on Monday that over 9,000 civilians had been evacuated from Daesh-held areas in Deir Ez-Zor in the previous 72 hours. 6,000 of them were transferred to the Al-Hawl refugee and IDP camp in Hasaka. 99% of them are women or children. [EnabBaladi]

 

Anti-Daesh campaign

A Daesh prisoner said he was handed over by Turkey to Daesh in exchange for the return of 49 Turkish diplomats held by Daesh. They were thus​​ not recovered through an intelligence operation, as Erdogan previously said. The man, of Uzbek nationality, was arrested in Turkey because his residency permit expired, not because of his Daesh affiliation. He says he was one of 200 Daesh members transferred in cars to the border with Iraq in exchange for 49 diplomats who had been captured by Daesh but were unharmed. He was arrested by the SDF in 2018. [Hawar]

 

Rudaw​​ said that on Monday, “many” Yazidis were freed from Daesh in Al-Baghouz and went to Hasaka. Returning them home to Sinjar is under discussion. A female child who had been captured by Daesh said that they used to beat her, and armed men told her that the “people of paradise” wear black. [Rudaw]​​ 

 

On Tuesday,​​ Rudaw​​ said that another 2 female Yazidi children, 10 and 15 years old, were freed from Al-Baghouz. [Rudaw]​​ 

 

Northwest

No reports

 

Northeast​​ 

No reports

 

Central and West​​ 

No reports

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Albu Kamal​​ District

The​​ SOHR reported​​ that​​ a​​ deal​​ was​​ reached between Daesh and​​ the​​ SDF,​​ for​​ 3 SDF​​ POWs to be released in exchange for​​ allowing​​ 2​​ trucks​​ carrying​​ foodstuffs​​ into​​ the Daesh-held portion of​​ Al-Baghouz. This is not the first deal of​​ its​​ kind, as a similar​​ deal​​ was conducted​​ on February 17,​​ when 10 prisoners were exchanged​​ for​​ food.​​ The​​ SOHR also said that​​ 45 trucks carrying 2,200 civilians,​​ including​​ families of​​ Daesh members,​​ left the area​​ towards SDF-held​​ areas. [SyriaHR]

 

South​​ 

No reports

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

Neighboring countries

Iran

The Iranian state channel Press TV said on Tuesday that President Rouhani had refused to accept Mohammad Javad Zarif’s resignation as Foreign Minister. Zarif submitted his resignation on Monday after he was cut out of a Tehran meeting with Bashar Al-Assad. [WaPo]

President Rouhani gave a speech on Iranian​​ TV praising Zarif’s performance as Foreign Minister, and reportedly dispatched officials to convince him not to quit. [WSJ]

DaeshDaily comment:​​ As we​​ surmised in​​ last night’s issue, the Al-Assad invitation came from the Revolutionary Guards side of the government, not from Rouhani. It now appears that even Rouhani was unaware of the visit until Al-Assad was already on his way. Zarif, who holds a US Ph.D., has been working under enormous pressure for several reasons, including the renewed US sanctions, and the Al-Assad incident may have seemed like the last straw. However, Rouhani​​ is under pressures of his own and​​ needs Zarif in the government for his own political reasons.​​ ​​ 

 

Yemen

On Tuesday, UN World Food Program officials gained entry to the Red Sea Mills, where they had stored 51,000 tons of grain since last September. They announced that the grain stores were largely intact, alleviating fears that​​ they​​ would spoil in storage.​​ 

In Geneva, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that 24 million Yemenis, about 4/5 of Yemen’s population, were in need of some form of aid or protection. He was speaking at a donor conference, at which the UN aimed to raise $4 billion for aid to Yemen this year. Donors pledged $2.6 billion, with more than half coming from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. [NYT]

 

President Trump said on Monday that​​ Danny Burch, a US citizen who was kidnapped 18 months ago in Sana’a, had been freed and reunited with his family. Trump credited the UAE with supporting Burch’s release, but did not otherwise say how Burch was freed. [NYT]

 

North Africa

Libya

Faiz Al-Sarraj,​​ leader of​​ the Libyan Presidential Council, and Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the forces controlling the east of the country,​​ are expected to meet​​ Mustafa Sanaalah, the​​ Director​​ of the Libyan​​ National​​ Company,​​ in Abu Dhabi.​​ A​​ solution​​ to​​ the crisis over​​ the​​ Sharara oil field will be discussed. [Anadolu]

 

A security source in Sirte said on Wednesday that military personnel had arrested Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh Al-Qaziri, a Daesh member, at his family’s home in Sirte. The source said that Al-Qaziri had been responsible for broadcasting the Daesh radio station “Al-Tawheed” in 2015 and 2016. [Wasat]

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

UNITED STATES

President Trump arrived in Vietnam to meet with North Korean President Kim Jong-Un. The meeting is aimed at discussing North Korean nuclear weapons and improving economic relations. The North Korean President arrived by train via China earlier. [Anadolu]

 

AFRICA

Somalia

Daesh said on Tuesday it shot and killed a bodyguard of the Puntland Police Chief in Bosaso city. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

Nigeria

Daesh said it killed or wounded Nigerian soldiers on Monday when it attacked a military position in Manati town, in Borno State. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

Daesh said it killed three Nigerian soldiers, wounded others, and stole weapons and ammunition on Monday when it ambushed Army vehicles in Cross, a​​ town northeast of Maiduguri city, in Borno State. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

ASIA

Afghanistan

Military sources said that Taliban commander Qari Sahid​​ was​​ killed in an airstrike in Sayidabad District, Wardak Province,​​ in​​ central Afghanistan. Sahid was​​ reportedly responsible for coordinating “high-profile” attacks in Kabul. [Khaama]

 

The National Directorate of Security said that a joint operation had seized a Taliban drug stockpile in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.​​ The statement said that 550 pounds of “narcotics” were seized, as well as 30 military uniforms. [Khaama]

 

Daesh said on Tuesday it killed an Afghan policeman, wounded another, and damaged their vehicle with an IED in Jalalabad city. [ICDNFeb26-Telegram]

 

India/Pakistan

A spokesman for the Pakistani military said on Tuesday that Indian Air Force jets crossing the Line of Control (LoC) had bombed an area near Muzzafarabad, in the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir. Earlier reports​​ (cited here)​​ had quoted the spokesman as saying that the Indian Air​​ Force bombed an area in Balakot in Pakistan​​ about 60 km (37 miles) from the LoC. [Khaama]

 

 

*****

 

READER COMMENTS WELCOME

You are invited to add information to or comment on any Daesh Daily story​​ 

 

February 25, 2019

 

 

A group of people in uniform

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Iraqi Soldiers in West Anbar (DD Feb 24)

 

 

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

Ninewa official says reconstruction projects stalled pending receipt of Kuwait funding. [..]

Macron, Salih meet in Paris; talk​​ cooperation.​​ [..]

Alleged Daesh money laundering scheme implicates Iraqi, Kurdish banks, Libyan money.​​ [..]

SDF has transferred 280 prisoners to Iraqi custody.​​ [..]

Competing​​ informants place Al-Baghdadi at three different places. [..]

6 Najaf fishermen kidnapped, killed by Daesh near Lake Thirthar. [..]

Tribal PMFs in Anbar trap, kill 7 Daesh fighters in a tunnel. [..]

Police stop determined Daesh attack on a Baiji refinery. [..]

Human Rights Watch accuses Ninewa government of harassing aid workers. [..]

Mass grave found in Muhalabiya holds 23 victims. [..]

Human Rights Commission says at least 69 mass graves unopened in Sinjar.​​ [..]

 

Syria

International Crisis Group says conditions in southern Syria still precarious. [..]

Lavrov says Russian​​ troops may patrol northeast Syria “safe zone.” [..]

Assad meets Rouhani in Teheran.​​ [..]

Iran agrees to build 200,000 housing units in Syria.​​ [..]

Macron says French troops will help US​​ troops protect SDF.​​ [..]

Mass grave with 3,500 bodies found outside Raqqa.​​ [..]

20 or more civilians killed by leftover Daesh land mine in eastern Hama. [..]

Daesh counter-attacks Al-Bagouz​​ as thousands continue to evacuate. [..]

British report says 50 Yazidi girls executed savagely in Deir Ez-Zor.​​ [..]

 

Other countries

Iran: ​​ Foreign Minister Zarif resigns in protest over exclusion from Assad visit.​​ [..]

Nigeria: ​​ Boko Haram factions stage several ground, rocket, mortar attacks in NE Nigeria. [..]

Afghanistan: ​​​​ 

UN says civilian war casualties 11% higher in 2018 than 2017.​​ [..]

Khalilzad meets Taliban rep in Qatar for “introductory “ meeting. [..]

Kashmir: ​​ Indian Air Force bombs “terrorist” targets on Pakistan side. [..]

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Reconstruction

Ninewa Governor’s advisor for Christian Affairs and manager of Agriculture Directorate in Ninewa said that “thousands” of reconstruction projects in Mosul have been put on hold, pending funding from Kuwait. [Sumaria]

 

Foreign policy

French President Emmanuel Macron says that France will protect the Iraqi state. He also says that the success of the Iraqi government lies in solving​​ problems among all political parties. Macron was speaking in a joint press conference in Paris with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih. [Sumaria]

At the same press conference, President Salih said that Iraq needs to work with partners to dry up terrorist resources, and praised the role of France as an economic partner of Iraq. He added that the victory over Daesh is not complete, and requires more momentum. [Sumaria]

 

Anti-Daesh campaign

“Highly placed” sources said that financial networks had developed in Baghdad and Erbil to launder millions of dollars for Daesh, coming from Libya.​​ Sumaria​​ wrote that it reserves the right to publish the names of the financial institutions involved when the investigation is completed. [Sumaria]

 

Repatriation

An Iraqi military officer said that the SDF had now handed over a total of 280 Iraqi detainees to the Iraqi military. This includes both an initial transfer of 150 detainees last Thursday and transfer of another 130 detainees on Sunday. The SDF and the Iraqi military reportedly have an agreement to transfer around 500 Iraqis in total. An unofficial military source claimed that the 280 already transferred included up to 14 French nationals and 6 Arabs of non-Iraqi nationality; the Iraqi military has said only Iraqi nationals were handed over.​​ [ElDorar]​​ [Reuters] [France24]

The French newspaper​​ Le Figaro​​ also quoted 2 Iraqi military sources as saying that the​​ handover included 20 foreign Daesh prisoners, among them 14 French nationals. [ZamanAlWasl] [Baghdadia] [Buratha]​​ 

 

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Saturday that the SDF handed over 14 Daesh terrorists, including Omar Farhat Al-Turkmani, to the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The source said Al-Turkmani (The Turkmen) is a senior Daesh commander.​​ 

 

The Security Media Center issued a statement on Sunday confirming that the Iraqi MoI had received 280 Iraqi Daesh fighters from the SDF. The statement said that the prisoners’ handover to the Iraqi authorities was conducted in order to avoid their release by the SDF. The statement also said that the MoI was checking their names against a database of people with outstanding arrest warrants and referring their cases to the courts for​​ trial. Finally, it said that only detainees of Iraqi nationality were handed over. [Baghdadia]​​ 

 

However, Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday, during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, that Iraq would try 13 Daesh prisoners who were French nationals and had been handed over to Iraq last week. He said that the French Daesh fighters were accused​​ of committing crimes against Iraqis, and so their trial in Iraq was authorized by international law. [Doualiya]

 

Sumaria​​ recounted​​ the story of Iyad, a 10-year-old boy who spent the last 4 years in Daesh captivity. He is a Yazidi who was abducted from Sinjar and recently rescued from Al-Baghouz. Iyad’s uncle said that the boy had not yet reached Iraqi territory, although he expected Iyad to arrive back in Iraq in the next 1-2 days. The uncle mused as to whether Iyad was still “the same boy,” or if he had become radicalized during his time with Daesh. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

The​​ Financial Times​​ also warned of the radicalization of Iraqi Daesh children following the arrest of their parents. It told the story of an Iraqi child who witnessed the arrest of the child’s mother from a tent in an IDP camp in Ninewa. [Sumaria]

 

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

Security sources say Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has arrived in Anbar to reorganize Daesh fighters in the​​ Anbar desert. The Emirati newspaper​​ Al-Bayan​​ quoted a US military source as saying that Al-Baghdadi had moved to Anbar after Daesh lost its territory in Syria. He reportedly used tunnels dug by Daesh between Deir Ez-Zor and Al-Qa’im, which can accommodate​​ cars and motorcycles, to cross the border. The source said that information received by the US military indicated that Al-Baghdadi is in the Husseiniyat area in Anbar, along with hundreds of fighters. [Qasioun] [ElYowm]

 

An Iraqi intelligence source​​ denied​​ that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was in Iraqi territory, calling the assertions in the above story “inaccurate and fundamentally incorrect.” The source claimed that Al-Baghdadi had not entered Iraq and that he was still being watched by Iraqi intelligence and the Coalition. [Buratha]​​ 

 

Another “senior military intelligence source” said on Monday that Iraqi military intelligence is hunting Al-Baghdadi on the Iraq-Syria border, and said that there was intelligence indicating that he was in the border area.​​ [Ghad]​​ 

DaeshDaily comment.​​ Our readers know we have been consistently skeptical about all the Al-Baghdadi “sightings” by people who have not actually seen​​ him. Not to our surprise, none of these rumors (perhaps too positive a word) has panned out. Today we have three reports—all from (supposedly credible) “security” and “intelligence” sources—telling us with all solemnity that Al-Baghdadi has been located in​​ (1) western Rutba, (2) Syria, and (3) the Iraq-Syria border.​​ 

 

BAGHDAD

No reports

 

ANBAR

Falluja

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Saturday that PMF units found the bodies of 6 fishermen from Najaf who were killed, execution style, by Daesh near Lake​​ Thirthar. The victims had been kidnapped by Daesh last week.​​ 

 

The PMF media office said that the 313th​​ PMF Brigade attacked a Daesh gathering near the island of Umm Al-Ramal in the Lake Thirthar area with rockets, wounding and killing several of them. [Sumaria] [Buratha]​​ 

 

Ramadi

The Directorate of Military Intelligence said on Monday that its detachments from the 10th​​ Brigade arrested a Daesh member in the Albu Dhiab area, northwest of Ramadi city.​​ [Sumaria]​​ 

 

Haditha

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Saturday that Daesh released 6 civilians from Haditha who it had kidnapped last week.​​ 

DaeshDaily comment.​​ Daesh doesn’t release anyone without a reason. The main goal here is to reestablish connections with the local communities in western Anbar. Daesh killed 6 Shia civilians and released six Sunnis. The message is clear.​​ 

 

Anah (including Rawa)

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Sunday that 2 PMF fighters were killed and their military vehicle destroyed in the Jazeera Rawa area. The source said PMF units have started a military operation to clear the area from Daesh.​​ 

 

Daesh said its snipers killed five Iraqi soldiers and wounded two others on Sunday, when it said it stopped a military campaign in the Anbar​​ desert. Daesh also said it damaged two​​ vehicles carrying heavy weapons. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Rutba

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Saturday that tribal PMF units trapped 7 Daesh terrorists in a tunnel near Horan Valley. The PMFs threw hand grenades in the tunnel, killing all of the terrorists. The​​ source sent us a video of the aftermath.​​ 

 

On Sunday, the PMF group Al-Abbas Combat Division announced that it was undertaking the “largest operation … since its formation” to clear the western desert areas of Iraq from Daesh cells and sympathizers. Al-Abbas Combat Division Command said that the operation would cover 450 km2​​ between western Anbar, Rutba, and the Iraq-Syria border. [Nahrain]

On Monday, the Al-Abbas Combat Division Command said that Wadi Al-Ghadhaf, in the desert between Rutba and Nukhaib, had been completely cleared, and that Daesh tunnels and war detritus had been destroyed as part of the operation. [Ghad]​​ 

DaeshDaily comment.​​ Al-Abbas Combat Division​​ is a Coalition-supported PMF faction. It is one of Iraq’s most effective volunteer forces. One reason is that the division take orders from the Iraqi national command authorities. The division has consistently stated that it works fully under Ministry of Defense authority; receives its heavy weapons from the government, to which it will return them upon request; will not seek arrest powers; and is committed to dissolving at the government’s request. It was the right decision to assign this group to western Anbar. ​​ 

 

An Anbar Provincial Council MP claimed that security personnel had not freed any civilians kidnapped by Daesh in​​ the Anbar desert, saying that instead, a ransom of $10,000 was paid to secure their release. The MP, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that Daesh is building up its​​ capabilities financed in part through kidnapping operations, and demanded a military​​ operation take place to clear the desert. [BasNews]

Ali Al-Bederi, an MP in the CoR for the Islah (Reform) bloc, also noted what he said were “suspicious” Daesh movements on the Iraq-Syria border. He called on Iraqi and Coalition planes to attack and end these movements. [BasNews]

 

According to​​ DaeshDaily​​ sources, local activists from Anbar are calling on the Iraqi government to establish a special emergency operations room to deal with Daesh’s reemergence in western Anbar. The activists say that Daesh is reorganizing itself in western Anbar, with hundreds of terrorists who have fled from eastern Syria.​​ 

 

Daesh said it killed three PMF fighters on Saturday in clashes “with different kinds of weapons” near Nukhaib, in eastern Rutba. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

SALAHUDDIN

Baiji

Salahuddin Police Commander Qandil Al-Jubouri said on Monday that police had stopped a terrorist attack​​ on Salahuddin Refinery 1 in Baiji. He said that the attack lasted for 3 hours, and at least 15 attackers participated, including suicide bombers. He said that at least 3 attackers were killed, another was arrested, and the rest fled towards the Makhoul Mountains.​​ [Baghdadia]​​ 

DaeshDaily comment.​​ Surviving in the desert depends on raising enough money. This makes oil facilities a logical target, just as​​ they were when Daesh built up its caliphate before. The continuation of such attacks is therefore guaranteed.

 

Samarra

The PMF media office said on Monday that units from the 43rd​​ PMF Brigade had stopped a Daesh attempt to “infiltrate” the Samarra-Baghdad​​ road near Al-Rufaiat. Its statement said that the PMF units attacked the terrorists with mortars and heavy machine guns, inflicting an unspecified number of casualties.​​ [Ghad]​​ 

 

DIYALA

No reports

 

KIRKUK

Kirkuk/Dibis

The Security Media Center said on Monday that IFP units had arrested a Daesh agent in the Laylan IDP camp. The Center’s statement said that the arrestee was distributing aid​​ to Daesh families within the camp. [Ghad]​​ 

The IFP said that it had found 14 Daesh “nests” near Qala Harbat village in Dibis. It​​ said that inside the “nests” were 10 IEDs, military equipment, and fuel tanks, all of which were seized and destroyed. [IraqPress]​​ 

 

NINEWA

Human Rights Watch (HRW)​​ said on Monday that authorities in Ninewa Governorate have threatened, harassed, and detained relief workers,​​ and have pressured relief organizations to stop providing support to families believed to be affiliated with Daesh. Some relief workers are facing​​ accusations of being Daesh members themselves. HRW wrote that 22 related incidents had been documented in Ninewa since January 2018. [BasNews]​​ [Mada]​​ [HRW]

 

Makhmur

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Sunday that the son of​​ the mukhtar of Tal Al-Reem village was wounded when a sticky IED exploded under his vehicle.​​ 

 

Mosul city

Daesh said it severely wounded an Iraqi National Security employee and destroyed his vehicle with a sticky IED on Friday in the Al-Maliya​​ neighborhood in east Mosul. [ICDNFeb23-Telegram]

 

Daesh said on Monday it killed two Iraqi soldiers and destroyed their vehicle with a sticky IED in Al-Sukar neighborhood, northern Mosul. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Mosul District

West (Hamidat/Muhalabiya)

A police source said that on Monday, security personnel found a mass grave in Muhalabiya town, containing the bodies of 23 Yazidi citizens. [BasNews]

 

Daesh said on Sunday it killed two Iraqi​​ soldiers when it set off an IED on their patrol in the Aski Mosul area in Hamidat, just west of the city. [ICDNFeb24-Telegram]

 

Western Ninewa

Tal Afar

The Directorate of Military Intelligence said on Sunday that a “dangerous” Daesh official called the “emir​​ of invasions” had been arrested after crossing the border from Syria. The Directorate’s statement said that the “emir” organized Daesh “invasions” against Iraqi security forces in Anbar, hence his appellation. He was arrested in Rabi’a subdistrict in northern Tal Afar.​​ [Buratha]​​ 

 

Sinjar

The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said on Monday that 69 mass graves had been identified in Ninewa Province, mostly in Sinjar. The organization said none of these graves have been exhumed so far,​​ but that an international organization was working to exhume one of them in Sinjar after coordinating with the locals there. A member of the Sinjar Committee of Elders, Mahmoud Al-Araji, said there were 74 mass​​ graves in Ninewa, and that some of the mass graves in Sinjar had been destroyed by flooding.​​ [PressIraq]

 

Southern Ninewa

Hatra

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Saturday that 2 PMF fighters were killed when​​ their pickup vehicle was destroyed by a roadside IED near Hatra.

 

Baaj

A military source said that Daesh killed 2 civilians in Baaj, after kidnapping them, on charges of working with security organizations. Their bodies were found near their houses following their murders. [BasNews]

 

KURDISTAN NEWS

SULEIMANIYA

The Asayish (Kurdish security) media office said that Asayish units had arrested a “dangerous” terrorist in​​ Darbandikhan,​​ southern Suleimaniya. The office’s statement said that the terrorist was a national of an unspecified Arab country and had previously worked with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, losing an eye while planting an IED targeting Coalition forces.​​ [Forat]

The local Asayish Directorate also said on Monday that its units had arrested a terrorist who had entered the Kurdistan Region with a fake ID. [PUKMedia] ​​​​ 

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY​​ 

 

No reports

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Political developments

An International Crisis Group report said that 6 months after the Syrian government had​​ retaken southern Syria with help from Russian mediation, the security and living conditions there remain “precarious,” the Syrian government re-established authoritarian rule, and Iranian-backed militias were trying to establish a presence near the border​​ with Israel. It also noted that there were increasing reports of assassinations of former rebel leaders, for which state security agencies could be responsible. The ICG also said IDPs were still discouraged from returning to their homes in southern Syria due to the lack of functioning infrastructure, services, or employment. [TheNational] [CrisisGroup]

 

Repatriation

The SDF said on Sunday that their infrastructure was strained by the number of people leaving the last sliver of Daesh-held territory. SDF-affiliated Kurdish political official Abdelkarim Omar said, “The numbers of foreign fighters and their relatives that we are holding is increasing drastically.” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali also said on Twitter that dealing with foreigners who had fled Daesh-held territory would “remain as the biggest challenge awaiting [the SDF] unless governments take action and fulfil their responsibilities for their citizens.” [AFP]

 

The father of Shamima Begum, the British girl who ran away to join Daesh and was subsequently stripped of her UK citizenship, told the​​ Daily Mail​​ that he supported the Home Office’s decision. He said that while he knew she was stuck in Syria, this was because of things she had done. Begum’s father’s statements contradict the rest of her​​ family, who have appealed to the Home Office to reconsider. [BasNews]​​ 

 

Also see related stories above under Iraq regarding repatriation of Iraqi Daesh fighters.

 

Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday that Russian military police could be deployed in the proposed “safe zone” on the Syria-Turkey border.​​ Lavrov added that the format of the “safe zone” was in the process of being finalized, and that any decision regarding it would try to take into account the interests of both Syria and Turkey. [Reuters]

DaeshDaily comment.​​ More bad news for The Sultan. Erdogan’s scheme to take over full control of northeastern Syria is opposed by not only the US and SDF but also Syria and Russia. He can’t bully everyone​​ at once.

 

Iran

Hawar​​ wrote that Bashar Al-Assad met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani on Monday in Tehran. It was the first visit of this type since the Syrian crisis began 8 years ago. [Hawar]

 

Also see major related story below under​​ Iran.

 

An MoU was signed between the Iranian and Syrian governments to build thousands of residential units in various parts of Syria. 200,000 units will be built by Iranian contractors. [ElDorar]

 

Foreign​​ policy

Great Britain

The UK Ministry of Defense said that UK Special Forces participated in the fight against Daesh, going against the decision of the UK Parliament. An MoD representative responded to questions regarding the death of a British sergeant by​​ saying that UK units abroad are subject to commands issued by host countries. [Qasioun]

 

France

France’s President Emmanuel Macron thanked the SDF for its efforts in defeating Daesh, and added that he will keep French troops alongside US forces to continue supporting the SDF. [Hawar]

 

Northwest

No​​ reports

 

Northeast​​ 

Hasaka

Daesh said it killed or wounded SDF members and damaged their vehicle with an IED on Sunday in Harir Hatim village, south of Shaddadi city.​​ [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]​​ 

 

Raqqa

Raqqa city & district

A mass grave containing about 3,500 bodies was found in farmland on the outskirts of Raqqa. About 120 bodies have been exhumed by Raqqa Civil Defense so far. [France24]

 

Daesh said on Sunday it​​ shot and killed an SDF “operative” in Al-Makef neighborhood, in Raqqa city. [ICDNFeb24-Telegram]

 

Central and West​​ 

Hama

The state-run official news agency​​ SANA​​ said on Sunday that a land mine left behind by Daesh had hit a van transporting workers​​ near​​ Salamiyah city in rural eastern Hama.​​ SANA​​ said that between 20 and 24 civilians were killed. [AP]

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Deir Ez-Zor District

The SOHR reported the killing of 3 Syrian soldiers by a Daesh mine in Deir Ez-Zor. [SyriaHR]

 

Albu Kamal District

The​​ Daily Mail​​ wrote on Sunday that Coalition units found 50 severed heads of Yazidi girls in Al-Baghouz that had been dumped in waste bins.​​ 

A WhatsApp conversation between a Daesh leader in eastern Syria and a Yazidi leader in Iraq discussed the fate of the last Yazidi girls held by Daesh. The Daesh leader said that no Yazidi girls were permitted to leave the Daesh-held portion of eastern Deir Ez-Zor on the orders of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The Daesh leader also said that a decision was made “before the New Year” to kill 50 Yazidi girls in retaliation for the Coalition bombing of Daesh-held territory. The Daesh official asked the Yazidi leader to negotiate with Daesh to release the remaining Yazidis held by Daesh. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

On Monday, the SDF​​ launched a new attack on Baghouz. A source from the SDF said that it had evacuated about 2,000 civilians who are related to Daesh members. [BasNews]

 

The​​ Wall Street Journal​​ wrote​​ on Sunday, however, that the SDF offensive is still being slowed by the civilian presence in and around Al-Baghouz. It said that around 5,500 to 6,000 civilians have been evacuated by the SDF in the past 5 days, and that the SDF estimates that an equal number are still inside the Daesh-held portion of Al-Baghouz, including Daesh fighters’ families. [WSJ]

 

As the siege on remaining Daesh-held areas in Al-Baghouz goes on, the number of civilians exiting the area is increasing, many of them still affected by Daesh thought. A woman whose Daesh husband was killed in Al-Baghouz was quoted as saying that she does not have any regrets, and that​​ those who are fighting are fighting for the sake of God. “Those who are exiting are the weak who cannot fight,” she added. [Rudaw]

 

South​​ 

No reports

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

Neighboring countries

Iran

On Monday, Mohammad Javad Zarif announced his resignation from the post of Iranian Foreign Minister. [Rudaw]

Al-Monitor​​ wrote that Zarif’s resignation came after he was excluded from the Monday meeting with Bashar Al-Assad, who was visiting Tehran. According to its sources, Zarif​​ “expressed indignation” at the Foreign Ministry being left out of the proceedings. It is unclear whether President Rouhani will accept Zarif’s resignation. [AlMonitor]

DaeshDaily comment.​​ We may learn something from this. A plausible explanation may be that Assad was invited and hosted by the Revolutionary Guard, which conducts its own foreign policy under the supposed leadership of Khamenei and is all over Syria. When a head of state shows up, however, the host country’s head of state is obliged diplomatically to greet him. This is another indication that the elected side of the Iran government and the “revolutionary” side are not​​ aligned, though this is less obvious recently because the pressure of US sanctions has forced the two sides closer together.​​ 

 

North Africa

Egypt

Daesh said it killed or wounded Egyptian soldiers and destroyed their armored vehicle on Saturday near the International Barrier, south of Rafah. [ICDNFeb24-Telegram]

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

AFRICA

Somalia

Daesh said on Monday it shot and killed a Somali policeman and an intelligence officer in the Howlwadaag area, in Beledweyne city, Hiiraan​​ Province. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Nigeria

Daesh said it killed three Nigerian soldiers and stole their weapons on Friday in an attack on Zabarmari village, near Maiduguri city, Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. [ICDNFeb24-Telegram]​​ 

 

The Daesh-backed faction of Boko Haram (ISWAP) claimed to have fired rockets at Maiduguri city and airport. A security source said that Boko Haram/ISWAP had attempted to enter the city but had been repelled, and resorted to firing RPGs at the city. Another source said that there​​ had been explosions at a military headquarters, leaving 1 soldier killed and 20 injured. Airport authorities said there were no reports of damage at the airport. [VanguardNGR]

Daesh said that on Saturday morning, it targeted Maiduguri city airport with five Grad rockets. It also said it targeted Nigerian Army positions in two different areas with five more rockets. [ICDNFeb23-Telegram] Daesh issued a video of launching the rockets. [A3maq]

In a report on Sunday, Daesh said it killed 21 soldiers and wounded others on Saturday when it targeted army positions in Maiduguri city with grad rockets. [ICDNFeb24-Telegram]

 

Daesh said it targeted Nigerian Army positions in Dambuwawa town, in Borno State, with eight mortar shells, on Saturday. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Security sources said that fighters attacked Geidam, Yobe State, but were driven off by troops. [VanguardNGR]

Daesh’s version said that in order to hinder the elections in Nigeria, it killed or wounded “many” Nigerian soldiers in a Saturday​​ attack on military positions in Geidam town, near Mngono city. Daesh said it used heavy and mid-sized weapons in the attack. [ICDNFeb24-Telegram]

 

Vanguard NGR​​ reported “clashes” in Goniri. [VanguardNGR]

Daesh said it targeted Nigerian Army soldiers with ten mortar shells on Saturday in Goniri town, in Yobe State. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Daesh said it killed one Nigerian soldier and wounded others on Saturday when it targeted a military position in Yoni Badi, in Yobe State, with ten mortar shells. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Kenya

Media sources said that Kenya is investigating Hadi Faraj​​ Wind, the Iranian ambassador to Nairobi, on charges of attempting to facilitate the flight from Kenya of 2 Iranians facing terrorism charges. The ambassador reportedly was looking for “high-level” contacts with Kenyan state officials to free the 2 Iranians​​ and smuggle them out of Kenya. [Sumaria]

 

ASIA

Afghanistan

The UN said in a report that the civilian death toll of the war in Afghanistan hit a high point in 2018, with 3,804 civilians killed during the year. The report said that that was an 11% increase over 2017. The report attributed 63% of the civilian casualties to anti-government​​ forces and 24% to pro-government forces, and said that the increase was driven partially by an increase in suicide bombings by the Afghanistan Daesh affiliate (ISIS-K). [WSJ]

 

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with the head of the Taliban’s political office, Mullah Abd Ul-Ghani Baradar, in Qatar on Monday. The meeting was described as “introductory.” [Khaama]

 

The National Directorate of Security said that 8 tons of explosives were seized in a raid on a Haqqani terrorist network hideout in Logar Province, central Afghanistan. [Khaama]

 

Daesh said it killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded two others with an IED on Saturday in the Kuru area, in Manogai, Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan.​​ [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

Daesh said it shot and killed two municipal officials on Sunday in Torkham, in Momand Dara district in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan. [ICDNFeb25-Telegram]

 

India/Pakistan

Early Tuesday, Indian Air Force (IAF) jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in disputed Kashmir to bomb what the IAF said were “major” terrorist camps on Pakistan’s side of the LoC. Pakistan claimed that the IAF jets had bombed an area in Balakot, in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about 60 km​​ (37 miles) away from the LoC. Pakistan said that the Pakistan Air Force had “immediately scrambled” in response to the IAF crossing the LoC, and that the IAF had retreated in response. [Scroll] [IndianExpress] [TheNews] [IndiaTimes]

 

 

*****

 

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February 22, 2019

 

A mountain with clouds around it

Description automatically generated

Coalition Airstrikes on Makhoul Mountains (DD Feb 21)

 

 

 

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

Unofficial source says US to open a consulate in Anbar. [..]

303 terrorism suspects arrested in Ninewa so far this year. [..]

 

Syria

Family of US woman who joined Daesh and was denied re-entry files lawsuit against government. [..]

US has decided to leave 400 troops in Syria.​​ [..]

Another Daesh mass grave found in Raqqa, with “dozens” of victims. [..]

Rebel rocket attack in Hama kills 14 Syrian soldiers, wounds 22. [..]

Mass evacuation of civilians imperils remaining Daesh fighters in Al-Baghouz area. [..]

 

Other​​ countries

Sudan: ​​ Al-Bashir declares yearlong state of emergency, dissolves government. [..]

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Iraq-KRG Issues

The Iraqi​​ central government and the KRG agreed to exchange documents and information regarding citizens missing due to Daesh attacks. 1,561 blood samples and 2,604 documents have been exchanged so far. [Rudaw]

 

Foreign policy

A source in Anbar Province said that preparations are underway to open a US Consulate​​ at​​ the Habbaniya base in Anbar. The Consulate will provide visa services for the people of Anbar and support small and “micro” projects. [BasNews]

 

A US think tank warned Iraq that it may lose close political and economic relations with major western powers if the CoR sanctions the expulsion of all foreign forces from Iraq. Although this is the sovereign right of the country, major western powers may lose interest in it if such a decision is made, says the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. [BasNews]

 

BAGHDAD

North​​ (Tarmiya, Taji, etc.)​​ 

Baghdad Ops​​ Command​​ says​​ the​​ 2nd​​ IFP​​ Division arrested​​ a​​ man on terrorism​​ charges in​​ Saba’ Al-Bor, Tarmiya District. [Sumaria]

 

ANBAR

On Friday, the Iraqi Directorate of Military Intelligence announced that detachments​​ from​​ its 15th​​ Brigade arrested a Daesh executioner infamous for beheadings on the Iraq-Syria border. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

Haditha

Daesh said it killed five PMF fighters from​​ the​​ Jaghaifa tribe on Thursday in an ambush near Haditha city. [ICDNFeb22-Telegram]

 

Rutba

Jazeera Ops Command said on Friday that with support from the Iraqi Air Force, it had destroyed Daesh safehouses that had allegedly been used by the terrorists who recently kidnapped mushroom-hunters in the western Anbar desert. [Ghad]​​ 

 

SALAHUDDIN

Shirqat

The PMF media office said that on Friday evening, units from the 51st​​ PMF Brigade and the police responded to a Daesh attack on Al-Naml, Shirqat District. The fighting was still ongoing at the time of the PMF statement.​​ [Sumaria]​​ 

 

Baiji

The Directorate of Military Intelligence said that Coalition planes attacked Daesh tunnels in Makhoul​​ Mountains west of​​ Misahaq,​​ killing 2 terrorists, 1 of whom was nicknamed the “Wolf of Makhoul.” He was​​ one​​ of the Daesh operatives accused of kidnapping civilians collecting mushrooms in the desert. [Rudaw]​​ 

A security source in Salahuddin said that the​​ Iraqi​​ Air​​ Force killed​​ 2​​ Daesh operatives in​​ the​​ mountains​​ near Misahaq.​​ The source added that both men​​ were from the​​ Al-Zab subdistrict​​ in Hawija. [Sumaria]

 

DIYALA

Diyala Police Command said on Friday that 3 people had been arrested on terrorism charges in various areas throughout the province. [Baghdadia]​​ 

 

Northern Diyala (Khanaqin)

Daesh said its snipers severely wounded a PMF member on Thursday in Mahmoud Aziz Agha village, in Khanaqin subdistrict. [ICDNFeb22-Telegram]​​ 

Daesh also said it targeted​​ a Shia​​ house with a hand grenade in the same village​​ on Thursday, causing damages. [ICDNFeb22-Telegram]

 

KIRKUK

Southwest (Rashad)

A security source in Kirkuk Province said on Friday that PMF units, in coordination with the “Falcons” intelligence cell, had killed the wanted terrorist Meizar Al-Jawali. A statement from the PMF media office said that the operation took place in Rashad. [Sumaria] [Forat]​​ [Baghdadia]​​ 

 

NINEWA

The Joint Intelligence and Security Center in Ninewa also gave a tally of operations in Ninewa since the start of 2019. It said that in 2019, 303 terrorism suspects had been arrested, 29 Daesh tunnels had been destroyed, 24 explosive belts had been found, and 12 gunmen had been killed.​​ [IraqPress]

 

The Director of the Joint Intelligence and Security Center in Ninewa said that Daesh leaders were crossing from Syria into Ninewa Province with large amounts of money. He said that Daesh was using social media and fake “charity” organizations to entrap citizens into working with them or set up citizens for future blackmail. He entreated the citizens of Ninewa to be vigilant and not have a false sense of security or fall victim to “exploitation.” [IraqPress]

 

Mosul​​ city

The Counter-Explosives Directorate said on Friday that 4 chemical containers left behind by Daesh had been found near a mosque in the 17 Tammuz (July 17) neighborhood, northwest Mosul. [Sumaria]

 

Mosul District

No reports

 

Western​​ Ninewa

Tal Afar

The PMF media office said in a statement that the 53rd​​ PMF Brigade had carried out a search operation​​ in the mountains southeast of Tal Afar,​​ and​​ destroyed​​ several Daesh tunnels. [PressIraq]​​ 

 

Southern Ninewa

No reports

 

KURDISTAN​​ NEWS

No reports

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY​​ 

 

 

No reports

See story below under Syria.

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Political developments

Mustafa Sigri, the leader of the political bureau​​ of the Mu’tasim Brigade, part of the pro-Turkey Free Syrian Army, said that Russia proposed a peace initiative including abandoning President Al-Assad, a ceasefire, and the restructuring of state institutions. In a series of tweets, he said that this would mean a political process without Al-Assad and his government. [EnabBaladi]

 

The SDF published passport photos it said belonged to a Daesh fighter who was captured in the fighting in Al-Baghouz. It said that the passport granted him free movement to and from Turkey, and that he went back and forth between Syria and Turkey many times. The SDF alleges that this is proof that Turkey is facilitating terrorism.​​ [Sumaria]​​ 

 

Repatriation

European Commission spokeswoman​​ Natasha​​ Bertaud said that it is possible for Daesh fighters who are EU nationals to return to their countries. She said, however,​​ that the decision to repatriate them or not is a sovereign right for every member state to make on its own.​​ [Sumaria]

 

The family of Hoda Muthana, the New Jersey-born woman who went to Syria to marry a Daesh fighter,​​ and is being prohibited from returning,​​ filed a lawsuit against the US Administration.​​ [Sumaria]​​ 

DaeshDaily comment.​​ The young woman is either a citizen or she’s not, a question that could be determined by documentation. The State Department announcement seemed to assume she was not a citizen and could therefore be excluded.​​ The family seems to believe they can prove otherwise. Speculatively, could a US citizen who went to Syria to join Daesh be considered to have renounced her citizenship in so doing? She was moving to a declared caliphate, albeit not to an internationally recognized country, which could be the basis for an argument that she intended to transfer her citizenship to another political entity, which was also a sworn enemy of the United States.

 

Foreign policy

United States

The​​ Wall Street Journal​​ wrote that the US would be maintaining a peacekeeping force of 200 soldiers in Syria. This came after a conversation between Trump and Turkey’s​​ President Erdogan​​ on Thursday. [Hawar]​​ [WSJ]

Later on Friday, the Administration said that the number could be higher than 200, with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying that 200 was a rough estimate.​​ The Pentagon also returned to referring to them as troops rather than “peacekeepers.” [WSJ]

 

A senior US official said that the US had decided to leave about 400 US troops in Syria in a safe area (to be negotiated) and​​ at​​ the Al-Tanaf base. The troops in northeast Syria would be accompanied by 800-1500 troops from​​ other​​ Coalition​​ countries, to form and observe a “safe zone.” [BasNews]

The​​ New York Times​​ also wrote that the latest plan was for the US to leave 400 troops in Syria: 200 troops in a “multinational force” in northeastern Syria and another 200 at a “small outpost in the southeast,” who would try to counter Iranian influence. [NYT]

DaeshDaily comment.​​ If those “Coalition countries” protecting the “safe zone” don’t include Turkey, this is not a good-news development for Erdogan.

 

The​​ Kurdish​​ Autonomous​​ Administration in Syria welcomed​​ the​​ US decision to keep 200 soldiers in Syria following its withdrawal. Abdulkarim Omar, a political official​​ affiliated​​ with the SDF,​​ said​​ it might encourage other states to keep forces​​ there​​ to pressure​​ the​​ Syrian government to seek a​​ political​​ solution.​​ He said the decision could “stop the Turkish threats” against northeast Syria.​​ [BasNews]​​ [WSJ]

 

Northwest

No reports

 

Northeast​​ 

Hasaka

An explosion near Ayn Al-Arab city (aka Kobane) on Thursday killed and wounded several YPG fighters. 4​​ YPG​​ fighters and 1 15-year-old civilian were reported killed in the explosion. [Qasioun]

 

Raqqa

Raqqa city​​ & district

The SOHR reported that another​​ mass grave had been found in Raqqa, containing civilians executed by Daesh during its control of the city. It said the grave contained dozens of bodies, without specifying exact numbers. This is the second instance of its kind since January 23, when a mass grave of over 1000 bodies was found. [SyriaHR]

 

Daesh said on Friday it killed or wounded four SDF members and damaged their vehicle with an IED in Al-Amasi neighborhood in Raqqa city. [ICDNFeb22-Telegram]

 

Central and West​​ 

Hama

A military source said on Friday that “factions of the revolution” attacked the Jurin camp in​​ northwest​​ Hama, where Syrian Army soldiers were stationed, with homemade rockets. The rockets struck weapons stockpiles inside the camp and they exploded, killing 14 Syrian Army soldiers and wounding 22. [ElDorar]​​ 

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Albu Kamal​​ District

Reuters​​ reported that 30 trucks carrying civilians left Al-Baghouz on Friday. It wrote that it was unclear if there were remaining civilians in the Daesh-held area.​​ [Sumaria]​​ 

Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesman, said that about 7,000 civilians total had been evacuated from Al-Baghouz, and that he expected the evacuation to finish on Friday. He added that if all civilians were evacuated, the SDF would either assault the remaining Daesh-held​​ position in the​​ Al-Baghouz​​ area​​ or “force the terrorists to surrender.” [BasNews]​​ 

 

The SOHR said that Coalition airstrikes on farms and areas still under Daesh control killed several Daesh commanders from different non-Syrian nationalities, mostly French. The SOHR said that this brings the total persons killed to 1,340 Daesh fighters and 682 SDF fighters who have killed in fighting since September 10, in addition to 417 civilians. [SyriaHR]

 

The SOHR said that Daesh executed 1 of its “second echelon” Iraqi leaders because he​​ urged​​ civilians in eastern Deir Ez-Zor to hand themselves over to the SDF. [Sumaria]​​ [Ghad]

 

South​​ 

No reports

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

North Africa

Algeria

Hundreds of Algerians demonstrated against President Bouteflika running for the presidency for the fifth time. The protestors headed to the presidential palace, where they were met by police​​ who used​​ tear gas. [Sumaria]

 

Sudan

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir declared a yearlong state of emergency on Friday, dissolved the current “national reconciliation” government, and said that he would dissolve state governments. [Anadolu]

DaeshDaily comment.​​ Al-Bashir is under enormous pressure of late, beset by street protests against his regime. This measure is therefore a kind of desperate effort to stay in power.

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

UNITED STATES

 

See above under Syria.

 

DAESH MEDIA

 

On Thursday, Daesh published the 170th​​ issue of its​​ Naba’​​ magazine. It includes​​ an infographic about its attacks in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, west Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and “east Asia” in the last week. Daesh claimed it conducted 51 attacks, killing or wounding 134 people and destroying 20 vehicles. [ICDNFeb21-Telegram]​​ 

 

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February 21, 2019

 

A group of people in uniform

Description automatically generated

IFP Units Captured Daesh Terrorists Near Rashad (DD Feb 21)

 

 

 

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

 

Iraq

EU agrees to fund UNESCO project to revitalize the​​ old cities” in Mosul, Basra.​​ [..]

Iraqi intelligence dismantles major Daesh funding cell, seizes $500 million.​​ [..]

Iraqi intelligence arrests 13 Daesh leaders, fighters ​​ inside Syria. [..]

Iraq now receiving Daesh Iraqi prisoners from SDF. [..]

Coalition “hit” on notorious Daesh commander​​ sets off​​ celebration in Salahuddin. [..]

Ninewa security units discover 26 bodies of Shabaks killed by Daesh. [..]

 

Syria

Save the Children sounds alarm over 2,500 children sent to northern Syria refugee/IDP camps since January 1.​​ [..]

Families start returning to Hajin, Al-Susah in Albu Kamal. [..]

Bangladesh nixes idea of accepting female Daesh member UK has rejected. [..]

SDF on arrest campaign to clean up Daesh pockets in Albu Kamal. [..]

Daesh vehicle bomb near Al-Shuhail kills 15 civilians. [..]

Daesh Daily source says hundreds of Daesh fighters have surrendered. 300 holdouts are left.​​ [..]

 

Other​​ countries

Chad: ​​ Boko Haram attacks, kills villagers in western Chad. [..]​​  ​​​​ 

 

REPORTS FROM IRAQ

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Reconstruction

The EU and UNESCO agreed to fund a project to revitalize the “old cities” in Basra and Mosul. The media director for UNESCO in Iraq, Dhia’ Sabhi, said in a statement that the project will begin in early May​​ this year​​ and will be implemented over a period of 3 years. Sabhi said the project had $20 million of EU funding and that 80% of the workforce employed would be Iraqi youth, while the remainder would be​​ expats. [Rudaw]

 

Anti-Daesh campaign

The Iraqi National Intelligence Service says it dismantled the “largest Daesh funding cell in the world,” which it said operated around the globe. The cell had a series of offices​​ and markets, through which the funds passed in a convoluted manner​​ in order to disguise​​ their​​ movement. [Sumaria]​​ [Baghdadia]

A security source​​ added​​ that​​ $500​​ million was​​ found with​​ a​​ cell arrested on charges of funding Daesh.​​ [Sumaria]

 

A source in the​​ Iraqi​​ National Intelligence​​ service said on Thursday that its​​ units​​ executed an operation inside Syrian territory,​​ arresting 13 Daesh commanders and fighters of French nationality. [Sumaria]​​ [Baghdadia]​​ 

 

A security source says Iraq is​​ receiving, in groups,​​ hundreds of Daesh​​ fighters captured by​​ the​​ SDF in Syria. There are reportedly​​ 502 Iraqi Daesh fighters held by​​ the​​ SDF​​ to be repatriated. 150​​ have​​ already​​ been​​ received, according to Qatar Al-Obeidi, a tribal​​ PMF​​ leader in Anbar. [Sumaria]

Another report wrote that the SDF had handed 130 Daesh fighters over to the Iraqi government.​​ Agence France Press​​ said that these fighters were arrested in the fighting in eastern Deir Ez-Zor. The PMF media office confirmed that all Daesh fighters received are of Iraqi nationality. [EnabBaladi]

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source also said on Thursday that the SDF handed over 151 Daesh members it had captured in Al-Baghouz to Jazeera Ops Command and the Iraqi Army 7th​​ Division. The source said the terrorists,​​ from different Iraqi cities, were transferred to Baghdad for investigation.

 

Mahmoud Al-Dulaimi, a member of the Anbar Provincial Council, demanded the immediate​​ and comprehensive investigation​​ of the 150 Daesh fighters received by Iraq from the SDF, to discover what crimes they had committed and any connections they had in Anbar Province. [BasNews]

 

Also see related story below under Anbar.

 

Representatives of 60 countries agreed on Thursday to work together with the Coalition to develop “specialized Iraqi capabilities” to fight Daesh ideology and media use on social networking sites and in cyberspace. They also agreed to increase international cooperation to prevent Daesh’s use of cyberspace, and work on removing Daesh’s “electronic archives.” These statements occurred as part of the fourth international conference for combating the ideology and media influence of Daesh, which was held in Baghdad from Wednesday to Thursday. [Rudaw]

 

BAGHDAD

No reports

 

ANBAR

The Security Committee for Anbar Province said on Thursday that families arriving in Anbar today were not families of Daesh members. Na’im Al-Ka’ood,​​ Chairman​​ of the Committee, said that the families entering Iraq were “just displaced Syrian families” and had nothing to do with Daesh. Al-Ka’ood said that the Iraqi security forces had received about 130 persons wanted on terrorism charges from the SDF, but that was a separate personnel transfer. [BasNews]

 

Falluja

A security source said that a search operation began in the Ameriyat​​ Falluja​​ IDP camp, south of Falluja, to find Daesh operatives. The search includes the re-checking of all IDP credentials as a step to return​​ people​​ to their​​ home​​ areas. [BasNews]

 

Hit/Haditha

Daesh said on Thursday it wounded the mukhtar of Kassara village, west of Hit, and his son, a tribal PMF fighter, with hand grenades. [ICDNFeb21-Telegram]

 

Brigade Commander for the PMF in Haditha,​​ Hussein Al-Jaghaifa,​​ said on Thursday that intelligence indicated that the Daesh fighters in the desert around Haditha had only 4 vehicles. He said this means​​ there could be at most 20 terrorists, assuming that every vehicle​​ can accommodate​​ 5 terrorists. [BasNews]

DaeshDaily comment.​​ What​​ about the​​ terrorists who​​ aren’t​​ using vehicles?

 

Daesh said on Thursday it wounded a tribal PMF commander with an IED in Al-Aqba village, in​​ eastern​​ Hit district. [ICDNFeb21-Telegram]

 

Rutba

Commander of the tribal PMF in Haditha,​​ Awad Al-Osman,​​ says 4 Daesh fighters were killed and a vehicle and a tunnel destroyed in the Wadi Horan (Horan Valley) and Makr Al-Dhib areas​​ in​​ western Anbar, on Thursday. The 7th​​ Army Division and joint forces were clearing the areas between Al-Qa’im and Rutba, with air cover from the Iraqi​​ Air​​ Force. In total,​​ 5 Daesh fighters have been killed and 5 tunnels destroyed since the start of the campaign, which Al-Osman said would continue​​ its efforts​​ to free all the civilians kidnapped by Daesh in the past few days. [BasNews]

 

SALAHUDDIN

Shirqat

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Thursday that Coalition planes killed 4 Daesh terrorists, including a senior local commander called “Saif Al-Dawla,” in an airstrike near​​ the​​ Makhoul Mountains. The source says the terrorist was a lieutenant​​ colonel​​ in Saddam’s army, who joined Al-Qaeda later on, and then Daesh, and was responsible for killing many people in northern Salahuddin. The source said people of the village and tribal PMF fighters celebrated after the airstrike,​​ paraded with bodies of the terrorists,​​ and thanked the Coalition.​​ 

 

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Thursday that Coalition planes targeted Daesh positions on Makhoul Mountains with 7 airstrikes.​​ 

 

Tikrit

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Thursday that 6 Daesh terrorists, including a local commander, were killed and their safehouse destroyed in airstrikes​​ in the Himrin Mountains area. The source said the terrorists were preparing to attack Oil Facilities Protection units north of Baiji.​​ Local PMF units went to the safehouse after the airstrikes and found weapons, ammunition, and explosives vests.​​ 

 

DIYALA

Baquba/Southeast Diyala

Daesh said its snipers wounded an Iraqi soldier on Wednesday in Al-Anbakiya village, in Khan Bani Saad​​ subdistrict​​ southwest of Baquba city. [ICDNFeb21-Telegram]​​ 

 

KIRKUK

Southwest (Rashad)

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Thursday that IFP units captured 4 Daesh terrorists in a tunnel in the desert near Rashad. The source said the IFP confiscated weapons, ammunition, and military uniforms.​​ 

 

NINEWA

Mosul​​ city

Captain Tariq Hamad said that Ninewa security units found the bodies of 26 Shabak citizens, bearing marks of torture and gunshot wounds, in east Mosul.​​ 

In a separate item, he said that armed men killed a civilian​​ Ninewa​​ employee in the Al-Karama neighborhood of east Mosul. [BasNews]

 

Mosul District

South (Qayara)

The MoI said that 21 anti-armor​​ mines had been found in an abandoned house in Qayara​​ subdistrict. [Forat]​​ [PUKMedia]

 

Western​​ Ninewa

No reports

 

Southern Ninewa

No reports

 

SOUTHERN IRAQ

Babel

A security source said that the Babel police arrested a terrorist at a checkpoint near the north entrance to Babel. [Ghad]​​ 

 

KURDISTAN​​ NEWS

No reports

 

REPORTS FROM TURKEY​​ 

 

No reports

 

REPORTS FROM SYRIA

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Refugees and repatriation

Save the Children said in a statement on Thursday that over 2,500 foreign children from 30 countries were distributed across 3 refugee and IDP camps in northeastern Syria, and that about half of them had fled Daesh-held areas in Deir Ez-Zor since the beginning of 2019. The organization also said that at least 38 of these children were without caretakers, and that some were only days or weeks old. [Qasioun]

 

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Thursday that 200 refugee families returned to their houses in Hajin, Al-Susah, and other areas in eastern Deir Ez-Zor, from the Al-Rukban camp in Jordan.​​ 

 

Bangladesh declined to provide citizenship to Shamima Begum, the Daesh wife whose UK citizenship was revoked.​​ Bangladesh says​​ that​​ she never visited the country and has no right to obtain nationality.​​ [Sumaria]​​ Shamima Begum begged the British government to reconsider her case​​ with a bit more mercy in their heart.” [Reuters]

DaeshDaily comment.​​ It was never clear why Bangladesh should​​ have to​​ take​​ responsibility for​​ Begum​​ if the UK​​ wouldn’t. It’s also still unclear what effect this case, and that​​ of Hoda Muthana, whose​​ return​​ to the US​​ has been rejected amid an issue over whether she is a citizen,​​ will​​ have as a precedent for future cases.

International legal angles aside,​​ these decisions should be based first and foremost on​​ justice. If the international community agrees on​​ it,​​ a solution could be reached to deal with Daesh foreigners.​​ However, national governments​​ should think​​ first​​ about​​ Daesh’s​​ victims.​​ 

Many foreign terrorists​​ have​​ returned to their home countries without paying a price for killing, torturing, terrorizing, and displacing millions of people in Iraq and Syria,​​ and they pose​​ a​​ threat wherever they go. Many say they were just​​ performing​​ civilian​​ tasks​​ for Daesh, but that’s not the truth. Daesh has never been shy about its crimes. It​​ says​​ up front that it kills people. It takes responsibility, for example, for suicide attacks that kill civilians—men, women, and children. It shows beheading and torture​​ photos and videos on​​ a​​ regular​​ basis. Daesh leaves no​​ chance for any misunderstanding about its goals​​ and methods.​​ It uses this​​ kind of​​ propaganda to recruit people, including these two women.

Even if​​ the​​ two​​ women​​ didn’t​​ directly​​ kill​​ anyone, they committed other crimes against the local populations. They​​ married and supported known killers,​​ were supported by money stolen from Syrian people, and​​ lived in houses stolen from Iraqis​​ or​​ and Syrians,​​ some of them​​ Daesh murder victims.​​ News reports today even showed a social media message from Ms. Muthana urging people back home in Alabama to go out and kill people for her cause.​​ These women​​ understandably hope to escape prosecution at home​​ with their​​ naiveté’ defense, or​​ to​​ be tried by naïve judges and juries, but​​ Iraqis and Syrians​​ who know better would​​ be​​ better judges of​​ Daesh members.​​ 

​​ These women and others like them​​ are​​ Daesh members, not unwitting family members. They deliberately went to Syria to join Daesh, and they were influenced to do so by Daesh propaganda that made it constantly clear that they intended to kill a lot of people in sometimes cruel ways.​​ Doing that​​ makes you a member, and​​ at​​ the​​ least​​ an accomplice to their crimes. Justice for the victims of those crimes is a lot more important than giving criminals a break.

 

Also see stories above under Iraq regarding the transfer of Iraqi Daesh fighters.

 

Northwest

Manbij /Al-Bab/Jarabulus

Kurdish media wrote that 3 “Turkish occupation” soldiers and 3 “mercenaries” (i.e., pro-Turkish militia​​ fighters) had been killed by a car bomb in the town of Ghandoura, Jarabulus District. [Hawar]

 

Northeast​​ 

No reports

 

Central and West​​ 

Hama

The​​ Tahrir Al-Sham​​ affiliated Jaish Al-Izza (Army of Glory) militia claimed to have thwarted a Syrian Army attempt to approach their positions​​ in northern Hama—south of Lataminah​​ (located​​ 24 miles​​ north of Hama)—killing and wounding several soldiers. [ElDorar]​​ 

 

East (Deir Ez-Zor)

Deir Ez-Zor​​ District

Forat​​ reported that there was an arrest campaign by SDF units in several areas of Deir Ez-Zor Governorate, concentrating on Iraqi nationals. It also wrote that the SDF had confiscated Internet and communications equipment in Abu Nital village in Al-Suwar subdistrict. [Qasioun]

 

The SOHR said that the SDF, backed by Coalition helicopters, attacked a house in Al-Shuhail​​ in Al-Busayrah subdistrict​​ and arrested 3 Iraqi nationals following a gunfight. [SyriaHR]

Qasioun​​ wrote that​​ Coalition troops carried out an aerial landing operation in the Khayasa neighborhood of Al-Shuhail, arresting a Daesh security officer​​ and 3 of his companions.​​ [Qasioun]

 

A Daesh vehicle bomb targeted​​ a car carrying employees​​ home​​ from​​ the Al-Omar​​ oilfield​​ near​​ the town of​​ Al-Shuhail,​​ killing 15 civilians. [Hawar]

Daesh’s version​​ said it killed 15 “SDF​​ members” and destroyed a vehicle when it set off a parked car bomb in Al-Shuhail.​​ [ICDNFeb21-Telegram]

 

Albu Kamal​​ District

A​​ DaeshDaily​​ source said on Wednesday that hundreds of Daesh terrorists, including many foreigners, surrendered to SDF units in the Al-Baghouz area. The source said the SDF moved the families of the terrorists to Al-Hawl camp in Hasaka and to another camp near Al-Baghouz. The source sent us a video of some of the terrorists.​​ 

 

A Kurdish human rights group said that “hundreds” of Daesh fighters had surrendered inside Al-Baghouz. It said that thousands of civilians and families of Daesh had left the enclave, and that “more than 300” Daesh members were hiding with civilians in tunnels and farms near Al-Baghouz. [BasNews]​​ 

 

Coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said that the SDF is negotiating the handover of innocent civilians trapped in the battle areas with Daesh. Ryan did not clarify​​ whether​​ the negotiations involve Daesh’s surrender. [EnabBaladi]

 

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said that the civilians in the last Daesh stronghold have not left the area. He said that trucks sent to transport them returned empty. [EnabBaladi]

 

The​​ Guardian​​ published a report on the collapse of​​ the​​ last Daesh​​ position​​ in Syria. It said that Daesh fighters were moved in trucks used to carry sheep, while covering their faces, as they were passing their Kurdish captors. It said that US, UK, and French Special Forces units are present in the location, and are preparing to enter Al-Baghouz as soon as civilians are evacuated from the city. Their aim is reportedly to look for western hostages held by Daesh. [Sumaria] [EnabBaladi] [Guardian]

 

On Thursday,​​ Sputnik​​ wrote that a Coalition airstrike killed a French-nationality​​ Daesh member in Al-Baghouz. [Sumaria]​​ 

 

South​​ 

No reports

 

OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS

 

Neighboring countries

Yemen

Daesh issued on Thursday a video of targeting an Al-Qaeda vehicle with an IED in the Dhi Kalib Al-Asfal area, in Qifa. [A3maq]

Daesh had previously said on Tuesday that it destroyed the vehicle, wounding an Al-Qaeda fighter. [ICDNFeb20-Telegram]

 

REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

AFRICA

Nigeria

The police command for Zamfara State, northwestern Nigeria, said​​ that 6 farmers and 59 “bandits” had been killed in an apparent shootout between a “civilian task force” and the “bandits.” [DailyPost]

 

Chad

An official source told the​​ AFP​​ on Thursday that Boko Haram fighters had killed 5 people, wounded 5 others, and kidnapped another 9 people, including 6 women, in 2 separate attacks on villages in western Chad. Both attacks took place on Tuesday night. [VanguardNGR]​​ 

 

ASIA

Afghanistan

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with the​​ controversial​​ First Vice President of Afghanistan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, in Kabul on Wednesday. Dostum’s office said that they discussed the peace process and the upcoming elections in Afghanistan, and added that Dostum emphasized the importance of intra-Afghan consensus in building peace. [Khaama]

 

An Afghan Special Forces intelligence operation arrested 4 members of a Taliban cell in Kabul city. The cell was responsible for a series of bombings, armed robberies, and assassinations in Kabul, according to the National Directorate of Security. [Khaama]

 

An Afghan Special Forces operation destroyed a Taliban prison and killed 2 Taliban fighters in the Tagab District of Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan. [Khaama]

 

 

*****

 

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February 20, 2019