Note to readers: This Saturday, March 3, 11am-2pm, Daesh Daily readers in the DC area will have an opportunity to meet Daesh Daily Co-Editor, Dr. Thomas Renahan. The event is the College Park Book Festival, at the College Park Community Center, 5051 Pierce Avenue, College Park, Maryland. His book on Iraq is described at the end of this report.
February 28, 2018
Daesh Vehicle Bomb
New USAID project celebrates grand opening in Iraq. [..]
Ministry of Migration estimates 2.6 million IDPs have returned home. [..]
Mass grave with 100 Daesh bodies found in Baaj; likely killed in internal dispute. [..]
Gorran official blasts Barzani’s presidential leadership; wants parliamentary system. [..]
UN-mandated ceasefire adjudged ineffective as Russia, Turkey interpret its meaning. [..]
CENTCOM commander calls Russia’s role in Syria “very destabilizing.” [..]
Estimate of civilian deaths in East Ghouta now at 600. [..]
Tahrir Al-Sham cedes its military positions in Hama and Idlib to another militia. [..]
REPORTS FROM IRAQ
Wednesday, US Ambassador Douglas Silliman said at the grand opening of USAID’s Takamul project that the US hopes to help the Iraqi federal government and local governments provide public services to the population. The $160 million project will be implemented by the USAID over 5 years. It includes general management training among a wide variety of tasks, and the first phase will include 6 governorates: Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Ninewa, Anbar, and Babel. [Rudaw]
Wednesday, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi called for the ban on holding events in Iraqi stadiums to be lifted. This came after a successful soccer match between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Al-Abadi stressed that Iraq has reached a point in its security and stability when it is ready for stadiums to be reopened. [Sumaria]
Council of Representatives
Wednesday, CoR Speaker Salim Al-Jubouri called on all CoR members to attend the CoR session on Thursday to vote on the federal budget. He stated that any further delay in approving the budget would impede the work of state institutions, especially in light of the financial and economic status quo, it would also lead to stagnation in the markets and commerce, as well as political problems. [Rudaw]
Wednesday, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement announced that 2.6 million IDPs have returned to their cities in governorates affected by Daesh. Ministry spokesman Sattar Norouz noted that 1,000 “caravans” (mobile voting booths) were provided to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to organize the voting process in IDP camps, and the Ministry will provide IHEC with a database on the number of IDPs living in them. [BaghdadNews]
CENTCOM Commander Gen. Joseph Votel warned the Congress on Tuesday of the role Iran plays in sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East, saying that Iran’s activities threaten the long-term security of the region. Votel said the US-Saudi cooperation is working efficiently. [BasNews]
Forbes magazine published an article titled “The 10 Strongest Military Forces In The Middle East” which lists the Iraqi Army as the 9th strongest army in the MENA region and the Turkish Army as 1st, followed by the Egyptian Army. [Sumaria] [Forbes]
Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin at the 7th meeting of the joint Iraqi-Russian committee held in Moscow. Al-Jaafari told the press that the meeting went over deepening the Russian-Iraqi relations on more than one front, including strategic, economic, services, industrial, and agricultural areas. He confirmed that Iraq intends to acquire a Russian defensive missile system. [Sumaria]
Wednesday, National Wisdom Party leader, Ammar Al-Hakim, met with the leader of the Democracy and Justice Alliance, Barham Salih, and discussed the developments in the crises between Erbil and Baghdad. According to Al-Hakim’s media office, Al-Hakim urged resolution of outstanding disputes in accordance with the constitution and the law. [Rudaw]
Kurdistan Region Security Council head Masrour Barzani stated that Kurdistan has fulfilled its constitutional duties, and it is time for Baghdad to fulfill theirs. He said the reason behind the ban on international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region’s airports is political, not technical. [Rudaw]
KDP official Fadhil Mirani met with the British Consul to the Kurdistan Region, Martin Warr, and said that Baghdad is causing an “aggravation” in the Kurdistan Region by not abiding by the constitution, noting that the Iraqi government is “not serious” in resolving issues. He added that “Baghdad’s attempts are aimed at terminating the Kurdish people’s constitutional rights through injustice and by imposing a siege.” [Sumaria]
For a contrasting view, see the Gorran leader’s statement under “Kurdistan News” below
BAGHDAD (No reports)
Wednesday, a security source in the Ninewa Police who requested to remain anonymous reported that two children were killed and a third was wounded due to an IED that was left behind by Daesh near the Al-Shaheed Nizar playground in Kubaisa, Hit. [BaghdadNews]
SALAHUDDIN (No reports)
DIYALA (No reports)
The Turkish Embassy in Iraq condemned the attack on the Turkmen Front headquarters in Kirkuk on Monday, adding that the Turkmen have been systematically targeted recently. [Sumaria]
A PMF unit captured 4 separatists from Al-Rayat Al-Beed (White Banners) in the Ronaki neighborhood in Kirkuk, near the University of Kirkuk College of Law. [PressIraq]
Daesh says it detonated a parked motorcycle bomb on “PMFs” on Al-Quds Street in Kirkuk, on Tuesday, killing a CTS soldier, wounding PMF fighters, and destroying a PMF vehicle. [ICDNFeb28]
Hawija (Riyadh, Al-Zab, etc.)
Wednesday, Saadiya subdistrict manager Ahmed Al-Zarkoushi announced that a security unit discovered in Lake Himrin the body of a fisherman who had disappeared over 3 weeks ago. He had gunshot wounds. Al-Zarkoushi added that this is the second body to be found this week, and accused Daesh of being behind the killing of fishermen in Lake Himrin. [Sumaria]
Wednesday, the PMF announced that the PMF’s 16th brigade (the Turkmen brigade) and PMF Intelligence carried out an operation in Al-Sadouniya, killing 8 of the Daesh militants who killed PMFs in Al-Sadouniya. [Baghdadia] [Buratha]
Wednesday, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement announced that 1,030 IDPs returned to their original areas in Hawija and its subdistricts. [Xendan]
Wednesday, IFP Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Jaafar Al-Battat said that the situation in Kirkuk and its vicinity is stable, and 560 IDP families have begun returning to central Hawija. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source says IFP units established checkpoints in the Maktab Khaled area and started security check on displaced families returning to the Hawija and Riyadh areas. The source says the units captured 11 Daesh members. The source also says 300 families were allowed to return.
A DaeshDaily source says AAH units killed 2 Daesh terrorists in clashes near Saadouniya village.
A DaeshDaily source says PMF units captured Abd Eissa Al-jubouri, a Daesh commander who used to be a colonel in Saddam’s army, in an orchard near Al-Abbasi.
A DaeshDaily source says a PMF commander was seriously wounded and three of his associates were killed in a Daesh ambush near Bakkara village.
A DaeshDaily source says two PMF fighters were killed when Daesh terrorists in 2 pickup vehicles attacked Al-Sada village.
Southwest (Daquq, Rashad, etc.)
Wednesday, Kirkuk Police spokesman Afrasyaw Kamel announced that PMFs in Taza subdistrict were attacked by Daesh, leading to the death of the commander of the Bashir village division, Mohsen Ali, and the wounding of another. The PMF unit killed 8 Daesh members. [Sumaria] [Dijlah]
Wednesday, a security source reported that the PMF’s 16th brigade killed 8 Daesh members in the Aziziya area of Daquq, including 3 suicide bombers who detonated themselves. [Baghdadia] Later a security source reported that 15 Daesh members were wounded or killed, and 1 PMF member was killed and 2 wounded. [Buratha]
The Military Intelligence Directorate announced the discovery of a cache of weapons and explosives in the Wadi Okab area in west Mosul. [Sumaria] It contained 12 suicide belts, 20 sticky IEDs, 30 stun grenades, 8 hand grenades, 2 RBGs, explosive wires, and M16 ammunition. [Ghad]
Wednesday, Captain Dhiya’ Al-Na’imi in Ninewa Security reported that the EOD found an ammunition and weapons hideout in the Shahwan neighborhood during a search of the Old City. The hideout was constructed by Daesh 3 meters deep beneath a house, and it has one opening for entry and exit. [Rudaw]
A security source reported that the Intelligence and CTS directorate of Ninewa’s Al-Hadba’ branch captured a number of Daesh members in the Al-Maidan area of Old Mosul. An ammunition depot containing suicide belts, IEDs, rockets, and mortar shells was also captured in the area. [Sumaria]
A DaeshDaily source says an Iraqi Army colonel, who had been displaced by Daesh, discovered a tunnel
in his house in the Albu Saif area. The source says the officer informed the Intelligence Service and Tribal PMFs who found out that the tunnel is 500-meter-long and contains large quantities of weapons and explosives. The source says security units also killed 4 Daesh terrorists who were hiding in the tunnel.
A DaeshDaily source says PMF EOD units blew up a Daesh vehicle bomb (pictured) that was left by a suicide terrorist near the Abu Mariya area, north of Tal Afar.
Wednesday, a security source reported that a mass grave containing about 100 bodies of Daesh militants was located in Al-Zarqa village in the Baaj District. The source added that among the bodies were Arab and local commanders, apparently killed by Daesh in response to disputes within the organization. [Baghdadia]
Wednesday, the PMF announced that the PMF’s 1st brigade destroyed a Daesh guesthouse south of the Tal Safouk border crossing on the border with Syria. [Baghdadia]
Wednesday, Gorran party official Karwan Hashim said that the current time is “one of the worst phases in the Kurdistan Region’s administration,” internally and externally. He said the KRG presidency is responsible for this deterioration. He added that Gorran insists on amending the KRG’s presidency law and making a law consistent with a parliamentary system. However, he also revealed that Gorran will nominate a candidate for KRG President. [Sumaria]
Human Rights Watch says that protesters who were detained for participating in the 8-day demonstrations in Suleimaniya in December were forced to sign pledges before they were released not to protest or criticize the government on social media. The demonstrators were protesting that civil servants have only been paid partial wages every few months over the past 3 years, rather than being paid full salaries on a monthly basis. [ROJ]
REPORTS FROM TURKEY
Wednesday, the armed branch of the PKK announced that two Turkish soldiers were killed in a PKK operation in the Shamzinan area on the Turkey side of the Iraqi Kurdistan-Turkey border. [Sumaria]
According to informed sources, the Turkish Foreign Ministry began efforts to stop the death sentences issued by Iraq against 16 Turkish nationals affiliated with Daesh. The source says it is unlikely Iraq will agree to hand over the detainees and will likely carry out more executions as the elections near. [Knooz]
Wednesday, Turkish security forces captured a number of suspected members of Daesh during raids in various parts of Istanbul. [Ghad]
REPORTS FROM SYRIA
UN Ceasefire Resolution
High Representative of EU Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy Frederica Mogherini called on Russia, Turkey, and Iran to take all necessary steps to ensure the cessation of hostilities in Syria in accordance with the UN Security Council ceasefire resolution. [Hawar]
Wednesday, France called on the UN Security Council to establish an international mechanism to monitor the implementation of its resolution throughout all of Syria. [Anadolu]
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said that the US Department of State’s statement that Turkey cannot continue its military operations in Afrin under Security Council resolution 2401 is baseless and an attempt to distort the main purpose of the resolution.
However, Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert insisted that the ceasefire decision applies to the Afrin region. Nauert said “Turkey can read the text of the UN Security Council resolution. I suggest they do that.” Nauert stressed that the ceasefire only excludes operations against militants of Daesh, Al-Qaeda, and other extremist Islamic groups. [BasNews]
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said on Wednesday that targeting “terrorists” is not a breach of the UN Security Council resolution. Responding to accusations that the Syrian government, backed by Russia, violated the ceasefire resolution, Nebenzya said “terrorists represent a legal objective” that does not conflict with the Security Council’s resolution. [Anadolu]
However, Commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told a Congressional committee that Russia’s role in Syria is “very destabilizing.” Votel said “Russia must recognize that it either cannot or does not want to end” the conflict in Syria. Votel added that Russia is playing both “arsonist and firefighter” in Syria. [ZamanAlWasl]
US Representative on the UN Economic and Social Council Kelly Currie said on Wednesday that “the hope of delivering humanitarian aid to the inhabitants of East Ghouta has been crushed again.” Currie noted that “nothing has changed since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2401 last Saturday.” [Anadolu]
SOHR reports that more than 600 civilians have been killed in East Ghouta in the Syrian forces’ ongoing attacks. [Arabi21]
According to a report released on Wednesday by the Syrian Human Rights network, 107 civilians have been killed in the last 72 hours. The report says that 83 of the victims were killed by the Syrian forces. [Qasioun]
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday that the continuing military operations in East Ghouta have prevented the arrival of humanitarian assistance to the civilians who are trapped by the Syrian forces. [Dorar]
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the continued bombing of residential neighborhoods in Damascus by terrorists in “intolerable.” [SyriaNow]
DaeshDaily comment. . . . Whereas the bombing of civilian neighborhoods by the Syrian military is not intolerable? Do we have that right, Mr. President?
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Russia is ready to consider a solution, similar to the solution used to resolve the fighting in Aleppo, in which would mean “the voluntary exit of armed factions along with their families” from East Ghouta. [Dorar]
Dorar reports that Lt. Col. Mustafa Suleiman of the Syrian Army was arrested by the Syrian government’s military intelligence, against the backdrop of recent losses in East Ghouta. Lt. Col. Suleiman was arrested after 70 members of the Syrian elite forces were killed in Harasta allegedly due to “his ill-planned attack on East Ghouta.” [Dorar]
US Envoy to the UN Conference on Disarmament Robert Wood said that Russia has broken its commitment to ensure the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and to prevent the Syrian government from using toxic gas. Wood said he had no information about Russia’s involvement in the use of chemical weapons, but added that “Russia is standing on the wrong side of history regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied the accusation. Lavrov says these reports are “completely lacking in credibility” and are “making ridiculous allegations against the government of Syria.” [ZamanAlWasl]
Amnesty International accused both the Turkish forces and the Kurdish militias of targeting civilians in Afrin. The statement accused the Turkish Army of firing indiscriminately at the area where the YPG are stationed and the YPG of killing civilians in their bombardment of Azaz, controlled by the Turkish forces. Amnesty International says “dozens of civilians have been killed in both areas.” Amnesty International called on the US, Russia, and other countries to push Turkey and the YPG to end their attacks on civilians. [BasNews]
Iran in Syria
DaeshDaily comment. We wonder about the word “permanent,” given the proximity of Israeli and Coalition air forces.
Hawar reports that YPG fighters carried out a military operation against the Turkish forces near Alibiskeh village in Rajo subdistrict in northwest Afrin. Hawar published video footage of the YPG units preparing for the operation, some of the clashes, and its destruction of two military vehicles.
The Operation Olive Branch operations room reported that Turkish forces captured two small villages in Rajo. [Dorar]
Hawar reports that YPG fighters carried out a military operation against the Turkish forces in Ali Jaro village in Bulbul subdistrict in northern Afrin. [Hawar]
Turkish-allied militias opened the road between Rajo and Jinderes Districts. Spokesman for the National Army, Lt. Col. Mohammed Al-Hamadin, says there are YPG tunnels and hideouts along the road, as well as mines scattered throughout. [Qasioun]
Wednesday, the Turkish Army announced the “neutralization” of 2,184 YPG fighters in the Afrin area. [Qasioun]
DaeshDaily comment. We still don’t know what this deft propaganda word “neutralization” means, but it does not mean only deaths even if they want to give that impression. Real casualty estimates will have to come from sources other than the Turkish Army.
Raqqa city & district
Dorar reports the new formation of a pro-government militia called the “Popular Resistance” in Raqqa Province with the military objective of fighting the “US forces and the SDF.” The Popular Resistance said in a video on its Facebook page that “America has gathered terrorists from all over the world to serve as a tool for tampering with our country. It destroyed Raqqa, killed Raqqa’ s innocent people, and has used the latest deadly weapons, including chemical weapons.” [Dorar]
A DaeshDaily source says a Daesh explosives factory in Al-Hamidhiya village, southeast of Al-Hawl and near the Iraqi border, was destroyed and 3 foreign terrorists were killed. The source says there are conflicting stories about the reason for the explosion. Some sources said it exploded accidently, and others say it was destroyed by a PMF rocket launched from the south Ninewa area.
A DaeshDaily source said on Tuesday that Daesh arrested then executed three young men from the Sha’itat tribe in Al-Hamdhiya. The source says Daesh didn’t give a reason for the executions.
Central and West
Wednesday, Tahrir Al-Sham’s news agency Iba’a announced that Tahrir Al-Sham handed over its positions in Hama and Idlib to the Army of Glory militia so as to stop the fighting between Tahrir Al-Sham and the Syrian Liberation Front (Ahrar Al-Sham and Noureddine Al-Zenki). [Dorar]
Wednesday evening, Atma town in rural northern Idlib, on the border with Turkey, entered into a neutrality agreement to end the fighting between Tahrir Al-Sham and the Liberation Front of Syria in Atma. Representatives of the families of Atma reached an agreement with the Al-Sham forces—the guarantor party in neutralizing the village and the camps surrounding it from any fighting. The Al-Sham forces will ensure the withdrawal of the hostile militias and the opening of a passage to allow humanitarian aid into the region. [Dorar]
East (Deir Ez-Zor)
Activists say that the Lebanese Hezbollah militia has set up a recruitment office in Deir Ez-Zor city with the aim of recruiting citizens from Deir Ez-Zor to volunteer for service with Hezbollah. [Dorar]
Tuesday night, Qasioun reports that Daesh launched a broad attack on Syrian forces’ positions on the outskirts of Al-Suwa’iya village west of Albu Kamal. The clashes lasted until dawn. [Qasioun]
Daesh says more than 30 people, mostly women and children, were killed by “American” bombing northwest of Al-Shafaa. Daesh issues a video of the results of the bombing [ICDNFeb28]
Daesh issues a video of the results of “American” bombing on the road between Hajin and Sousa. [ICDNFeb28]
Daesh says it attacked SDF positions northeast of Al-Shafaa, killing 13 fighters, capturing four others, setting up 3 military positions on fire, and capturing weapons and ammuition. [ICDNFeb28]
Daesh publishes photos of targeting an SDF bulldozer with a rocket northeast of Al-Shafaa. [ICDNFeb28]
Daesh publishes photos of targeting an SDF position near Albu Hassan village with BMPm shells. [ICDNFeb28]
Daesh publishes photos of targeting 2 Shia militia military vehicles with SPG9 rockets east of Al-Baghouz. [ICDNFeb28]
Dorar reports continued clashes between the Army of Islam and the Syrian forces in East Ghouta. [Dorar]
Daesh issues a video of targeting a Syrian Army military positions with a 23mm cannon near the Yarmouk Camp. [ICDNFeb28]
OTHER MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA REPORTS
Tuesday, Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai reported that Jordanian intelligence dismantled a 17-member pro-Daesh terrorist cell that planned to carry out terrorist operations in Jordan, with targets including Israeli businessmen. [Knooz]
Wednesday, the National Security Court issued strict sentences for 4 promoters of Daesh’s ideology who helped spread its ideas and facilitated recruitment, to 4-7 years of labor. [Petra]
Daesh says it’s been stopping Egyptian Army attacks on the Balaa area, in Rafah, for the last 10 days. It says it targeted the Army with IEDs and different kinds of weapons, killing or wounding “tens” of soldiers, destroying an armored personnel carrier, a military vehicle, and 3 bulldozers, and damaging 2 M60 tanks, 6 different vehicles, and a bulldozer. [ICDNFeb28]
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that Daesh is planning new complex attacks in the Oil Crescent, the central region around Al-Jafra, and southern Libya. [SkyPress]
REPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The Department of State designated seven organizations affiliated with Daesh as terrorist groups. The Daesh affiliates are located in Bangladesh, Egypt, the Philippines, Somalia, Tunisia, and West Africa. In addition to these groups the Department of State designated two of Awwad Al-Baghdadi’s loyalists in Africa as global terrorists: (1) Mahad Moalim, deputy leader of Daesh Somalia; (2) Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, Baghdadi’s representative in West Africa. [Xendan]
Tuesday, the Federal Court in Brooklyn charged a US national with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and he faces up to 20 years in prison. He had attempted to travel to Libya to join Daesh but was captured in Tunisia. [Xendan]
Manager of the counterterrorism assembly in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization announced that Daesh units are planning to establish “wilayat Khorasan” that will encompass territory of southeast and central Asian countries. He said the situation in Afghanistan is worrisome, as there are nearly 3,000 Daesh militants in its northern provinces who had previously fought in the Middle East, with 80% coming from Russia, China, and central Asian countries. [Forat]
DaeshDaily comment. Daesh announced “wilayat Khorasan” in early 2015.
Daesh says it killed three Afghani Army members, including an officer, and wounded four others with RPG9 rockets in Ashangar, in Kunar Province, on Tuesday. [ICDNFeb28]
Daesh says it killed or wounded four Afghani soldiers and wounded others in an attack on Darzab, in Jowzjan District, on Monday. It also says its snipers killed two soldiers in the same area. [ICDNFeb28]
However, Daesh’s A3maq says three soldiers were killed in the first attack. [A3maq]
Daesh publishes photos of its “agricultural” activities in Haska Meyna, in Nangarhar. [ICDNFeb28]