FAZ / FAS – 4 Nov 2018 : Stahlseil auf ICE-Trasse : „Ziel war ein Anschlag mit vielen Toten“

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : COURTESY OPEN BORDERS POLICY: PRO ASYL / WADI / MEDICO INTERNATIONAL et.al

Der versuchte Anschlag auf einen ICE mit einem Stahlseil Anfang Oktober sollte einem Bericht zufolge verheerende Folgen haben. „Ziel war ein Anschlag mit vielen Toten und Verletzten“, heißt es laut der „Welt am Sonntag“ in Ermittlerkreisen. Das verwendete Stahlseil sei allerdings nicht dick genug gewesen, um den Zug entgleisen zu lassen. Der ICE war mit rund 200 Stundenkilometern unterwegs gewesen und hatte das Seil durchgerissen.
 
Das bayerische Landeskriminalamt und das Bundeskriminalamt bearbeiteten den Fall inzwischen mit 50 Ermittlern, berichtete die Zeitung weiter. In der Nähe des Tatorts waren neben Holz- und Eisenteilen auch zwei Drohschreiben in arabischer Sprache gefunden worden, ein komplett erhaltenes und ein Fragment.
Laut „Welt am Sonntag“ wird darin die europäische Beteiligung am Vorgehen gegen die Dschihadistenmiliz Islamischer Staat (IS) thematisiert. „Wir nehmen das Drohschreiben ernst. Der IS-Bezug wird aber noch geprüft“, sagte ein LKA-Sprecher der Zeitung.
 
Infolge des Anschlagsversuchs wurden laut dem Bericht die Sicherheitsmaßnahmen erhöht. Es gebe derzeit mehr Streckenkontrollen und die Bundespolizei habe ihre Bereitschaftskräfte aufgestockt. Das Bundesinnenministerium teilte der „Welt am Sonntag mit“, es gebe in Deutschland eine „anhaltend hohe Gefahr dschihadistisch motivierter Gewalttaten“ Der Bahnverkehr biete „günstige Möglichkeiten für die Durchführung eines Anschlages“.
 
Bei dem Vorfall am 7. Oktober hatten Unbekannte ein Stahlseil über die ICE-Trasse im mittelfränkischen Allersberg nahe Nürnberg gespannt. Ein ICE auf dem Weg von Dortmund nach München zerriss das Seil; lediglich die Frontscheibe wurde beschädigt. Fahrgäste kamen nicht zu Schaden. www.mesop.de

 

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : EU/BRUSSELS IS TOUGH CONTRA SAUDIS BUT DEEPLY REGRETS TO THE HANGMEN IN TEHRAN / MOGHERINI

European Union “Deeply Regrets” US Sanctions

The European Union says it “deeply regrets” the imposition of comprehensive US sanctions on Iran from Sunday. 3 Nov 2018

A statement on Friday included the UK, France, and Germany, the three European members of the 5+1 Powers who reached a nuclear deal with Iran in July 2015. It said “collective resolve to complete this work is unwavering”, despite Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the accord in May, and declared the agreement “crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world”.

The new US sanctions will cover Iran’s energy and financial sectors. It promises punishment of any company with an American interest that continues business with Tehran, unless that firm obtains a waiver from the US Treasury.The statement said it aims to protect companies “engaged in legitimate business with Iran”. But the EU has struggled to provide guarantees for its largest companies, with firms such as France’s energy giant Total, French auto manufacturer PSA, German conglomerate Siemens, the world’s largest shipper Maersk, and European airlines and aircraft manufacturers suspending business with the Islamic Republic.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS :Analysis – US statements of concern not enough to deter Turkey in Syria: analyst

By ROJ ELI ZALLA  “ Nov 2018 – RUDAW – Merve Tahiroglu, research associate at Foundation For Defense of Democracies.

WASHINGTON – US statements of concern “are not going to stop Turkey” from carrying out further attacks or even a full ground operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, said an analyst. Merve Tahiroglu, research associate at Foundation For Defense of Democracies, discussed Turkey’s recent attacks on Kurdish villages and self-defence positions in Rojava, northern Syria.

 She argued that the US has reasons to be concerned because Turkey’s attacks have caused a suspension of SDF operations against ISIS in Deir ez-Zor.  

But, ultimately, the US needs to nail down what it wants to accomplish in northern Syria, she said. If it wants to continue working with the Kurds, it has to get Turkey to change its attitude towards the groups.   “I think the US has the power to do it. I’m just not sure that it has the willingness to do it right now.”  More via www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT – Erdoğan, Trump Agree on Strengthening Cooperation in Syria

BasNews  02/11/2018 – ERBIL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a phone call with his US counterpart reaffirmed their coordination in Syria, and both agreed on further strengthening their ties in the Arab country, Erdoğan’s office said in a statement. 

The military forces of the two countries have recently conducted a number of joint patrols in northern Syria as part of an agreement between the sides.

“Our President and U.S. President Trump stressed their determination to take constructive steps toward strengthening U.S.-Turkey bilateral relations further,” Reuters quoted the statement. More via www.mesop.de

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : US OUT OF YEMEN ! – DON’T DISTURB PUTIN OVER THERE !

Russia key if quiet player in southern Yemen – Samuel Ramani November 1, 2018  – AL MONITOR –  ARTICLE SUMMARY – While keeping a low profile on the conflict in Yemen, Russia has been making significant progress establishing connections in the south of the country, where it has historically had a military and political presence.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : THE ISRAELI POINT OF VIEW Muhammad bin Salman: For Better or for Worse? / BEGIN – SADAT CENTER

By Dr. James M. Dorsey  – BESA CENTER – ISRAEL – November 2, 2018  -BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 994, November 2, 2018 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Embattled Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman could prove to be not only a cat with nine lives but a cat that makes surprising jumps. Though his reputation has taken a beating in the wake of the Khashoggi killing, he may well emerge defiant rather than chastened.

King Salman’s announcement that Prince Muhammad has been put in charge of reorganizing Saudi intelligence – at the same time that the kingdom admitted for the first time that journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been killed within the grounds of its Istanbul consulate – signaled that the crown prince’s wings are not being clipped, at least not yet, and not publicly.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS REMEMBER: 2 Nov 2004 – Ermordung Theo van Goghs durch Islamisten + Unverantwortliche Migrationsfunktionäre –

Iran’s ‘Phoney War’ – The Return of ISIS – November 2, 2018 – by Jonathan spyer – Jerusalem Post, 2/11

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS GENERAL COMENTARY BY JONATHAN SPYER (JERUSALEM POST)

 The jihadi organization is currently stirring in outlying areas of Iraq and Syria

 Islamic State fighters operating in the Lower Euphrates river valley this week killed 68 fighters of the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces.  Under cover of a sandstorm that severely reduced visibility, the Sunni jihadis of IS launched a wave of suicide bombings against SDF positions.  The Coalition rushed 500 fighters from the Kurdish YPG to the area (the SDF in the area consisted mainly of Arab fighters from the Deir a Zur Military Council).  Intense Coalition air and artillery strikes followed.  For now the situation has returned to an uneasy stability.  The SDF and coalition offensive against the last significant IS-controlled pocket of territory around the town of Hajin continues.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL By MEIR AMIT INTELLIGENCE & TERRORISM INFORMATION CENT ER – ISRAEL : Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 18-27, 2018) SYRIA & IRAQ

  • In the Idlib enclave there is still no progress in the establishment of the demilitarized zone. Local clashes occur between the Syrian army and the rebel organizations. While Syrian figures continue to declare Syria’s determination to restore Idlib to the bosom of the regime, Russia and Turkey continue to issue calming declarations about alleged progress in removing the heavy weaponry and “terrorist operatives” from the demilitarized zone.
  • In eastern Syria strong fighting continues in the ISIS enclave in the Euphrates Valley. SDF forces, supported by the United States and the coalition countries, succeeded in occupying the village of al-Sousah (north of Albukamal) in a counterattack (under the cover of a sand storm). The SDF suffered heavy losses and 20 of its fighters were taken captive (according to an ISIS report).
  • In the al-Ghurabaa’ region fighting was renewed in the al-Safa enclave after a ceasefire which was used for the exchange of prisoners (abducted Druze women in return for the wives of ISIS operatives). Other deals are on the agenda, as part of which ISIS may receive a large amount of money in return for releasing prisoners.
  • While ISIS is under strong pressure in Syria, it continues attacking in other provinces: In Afghanistan ISIS operatives carried out a suicide bombing attack in Kabul, targeting the election committee (six wounded); in Libya there was a raid on a police station in the center of the country (four killed, ten abducted); in Tunisia a suicide bombing attack was carried out near a theatre, possibly to prevent a meeting dealing with the future of the Islamists (ten injured). So far ISIS has not claimed responsibility.
Four-Way Summit Meeting Held in Istanbul
  • On October 27, 2018, a four-way summit meeting was held in Istanbul with the participation of President Erdogan from Turkey, President Putin from Russia, Chancellor Merkel from Germany and President Macron from France. Also present was Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria. A spokesman for the Turkish president said their priority will would be to focus on finding new methods, and a political, not a military solution for Syria (Hurriyet Daily News, October 27, 2018).
  • At the end of the meeting a joint statement was issued saying they had examined developments in Syria, expressed a common worry about regional security, and agreed to cooperate to resolve the crisis in Syria. The statement also related to the Idlib region, saying all four were committed to defeating ISIS, the al-Nusra Front (i.e., the Headquarters for the Liberation of al-Sham) and all the “terrorist operatives” in Syria. They praised the Idlib agreement and the progress that had been made in removing heavy weapons and “extremist groups” from the demilitarized zone (whose establishment was declared at the Russia-Turkey Sochi summit) (Elysee Palace website, October 28, 2018).
  • After the summit meeting Vladimir Putin said the terrorist organizations continued to carry out attacks from the Idlib region and that the Russian air force had intercepted dozens of drones near the Heimimim air base in recent months (Tass, October 28, 2018).
Implementation of the Sochi Agreement in the Idlib Region
Preparations for joint Russian-Syrian patrols in the demilitarized zone
  • This past week reports were received about Russian and Turkish preparations for making joint patrols along the demilitarized zone in Idlib, in accordance with the Sochi Agreement. Each side will operate along the side close to its allies: the Russians will patrol along the area controlled by the Syrian army, and the Turkish forces along the area controlled by the rebel organizations (Orient News, October 24, 2018).
Local clashes continue between the Headquarters for the Liberation of al-Sham and the Syrian army
  • On October 24, 2018, the Headquarters for the Liberation of al-Sham fired dozens of rockets at neighborhoods in western and northwestern Aleppo and at several Syrian army posts in the area. In response the Syrian army fired artillery at Liberation of al-Sham posts northwest of Aleppo (Butulat al-Jaysh al-Suri, October 25, 2018).
  • On October 26, 2018, the Syrian Human Rights Observatory reported that seven civilians had been killed in an attack of Syrian regime forces in the rural area southeast of Aleppo. It was also reported that there were exchanges of fire between the Syrian army and the rebel organizations in the western outskirts of Aleppo (al-Nashra, October 26, 2018).
Threatening statements from Syrian figures and calming statements from Russia
  • Senior Syrian figures continue to state that they will uproot terrorism in Idlib and restore the area to the bosom of the country:
    • Bashar al-Ja’afari, Syrian representative to the UN, gave a speech in the Security Council. He said that Idlib was part of Syria and Syria would not allow it to become a new “den of terrorism,” and that Syria would fight to impose its sovereignty (Sana, October 26, 2018).
    • Field Marshal Ali Abdallah Ayoub, Syrian defense minister, said at a meeting of the Syrian parliament that the Idlib province, like every other region in Syria, would return to the bosom of Syria. He added that Syria would deal with the other regions that were still under American sponsorship (i.e. the regions to the east of the Euphrates River controlled by SDF forces). He said those areas would return to Syrian control in one of two ways: reconciliation arrangements or liberation by the Syrian army (Syrian TV, October 25, 2018).
    • The Russian media said “a senior Syrian army source” had threatened that if the armed groups continued to escalate the situation in the Hamat and Idlib area, the forces of the Syrian regime would launch a military campaign. According to the source, recently there has been an escalation in the rural area north of Hamat, especially by the [jihadi] organization Preservers of the Faith (Huras al-Din). So far, said the source, Turkey had not yet succeeded in stopping the armed groups or in convincing them to retreat from the demilitarized zone.
  • In the wake of a statement from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem that the Turkish side did not carry out its commitments according to the agreement, and to calm the situation, a spokesman for the Kremlin said that so far they did not see a danger regarding the implementation of the [Sochi] agreement in the demilitarized zone in Idlib (Sputnik, October 30, 2018).
Southern Syria
ISIS and the Syrian army exchange bodies in the Suwayda region

In the al-Safa area the ceasefire continues. Before the deal it was declared that abducted Druze women would be released. The ceasefire was exploited for an exchange of bodies, possibly in preparation for a broader agreement that would include the release of other Druze women held by ISIS (Almuden, October 25, 2018). On October 28, 2018, the fighting was renewed. ISIS reported that it had killed at least ten Syrian soldiers near the al-Safa region (A’maq, October 28, 2018).

  • On October 24, 2018, ISIS transferred the bodies of about 100 Syrian army soldiers and forces supporting the Syrian army, including the bodies of Hezbollah operatives. In return ISIS received the bodies of about 20 its operatives and permission to pass food to its operatives besieged in the al-Safa region. Hezbollah received the bodies of five of its operatives who were killed in an ISIS ambush in January 2018 east of Homs (Almuden, October 25, 2018). In addition, the bodies of 13 Palestine Liberation Army operatives were returned, and ten bodies of the National Defense Forces (Almuden, October 25, 2018).[1]
Eastern Syria

This past week the fighting continued between the SDF and ISIS. It focused on the northern part of the enclave controlled by ISIS (the town of Hajin) and in the south (the area of al-Sousah and Baghouz). The area of the village of al-Sousah was occupied by the SDF, but ISIS carried out a counterattack and retook it, inflicting heavy losses on the SDF. Clashes also continue in the region of the town of Hajin, ISIS’s power center. Even after the fighting the situation on the ground has apparently not fundamentally changed.

The ISIS enclave (brown) after confrontations this past week with SDF forces (yellow). The Syrian army and the forces supporting it are marked in red (SyriaInfo@syria_map Twitter account, apparently affiliated with the Iraqi administration, October 28, 2018).
The ISIS enclave (brown) after confrontations this past week with SDF forces (yellow). The Syrian army and the forces supporting it are marked in red (SyriaInfo@syria_map Twitter account, apparently affiliated with the Iraqi administration, October 28, 2018).

ISIS reoccupies the al-Sousah area
  • In the village of al-Sousah, located about seven kilometers northeast of Albukamal, this week as well there were fierce clashes between SDF forces and ISIS operatives. Al-Sousah was occupied by SDF forces on October 24, 2018. On October 26, 2018, ISIS issued a statement saying that its operatives had attacked SDF posts in al-Sousah and killed more than 25 SDF fighters. ISIS also blew up a building where there were eight SDF fighters. Six of them were killed and two were taken prisoner (al-Ghurabaa’, October 26, 2018). Later on, it was reported that al-Sousah and several villages near it were reoccupied by ISIS (al-Badia Facebook page, October 24 and 27, 2018; Enab Baladi, October 27, 2018).
 One of the SDF fighters taken prisoner by ISIS in al-Sousah (al-Sham-al-Baraka district, October 26, 2018).    Two SDF fighters taken prisoner by ISIS in al-Sousah (al-Ghurabaa’, October 26, 2018).
Right: Two SDF fighters taken prisoner by ISIS in al-Sousah (al-Ghurabaa’, October 26, 2018). Left: One of the SDF fighters taken prisoner by ISIS in al-Sousah (al-Sham-al-Baraka district, October 26, 2018).
  • Following its success ISIS issued a video announcing the occupation of al-Sousah and several villages around it. It also reported on attacks carried out in the region of Gharanij, about 13 kilometers northwest of Hajin. The video shows car bombs being detonated and SDF bodies and prisoners. One of the prisoners is photographed saying, “I call on the Arab tribes and the young people who join the SDF to leave them, because the Islamic State is capable of reaching your homes.” ISIS claimed it killed more than 183 SDF fighters in the clashes, that dozens of fighters were wounded and twenty had been captured (A’maq, October 29, 2018).
A mobile ISIS force preparing during a sandstorm for movement to carry out the counterattack to retake the al-Sousah area (A'maq, October 29, 2018).     SDF vehicles destroyed during ISIS’s counterattack. Left
Right: SDF vehicles destroyed during ISIS’s counterattack. Left: A mobile ISIS force preparing during a sandstorm for movement to carry out the counterattack to retake the al-Sousah area (A’maq, October 29, 2018).
The area around the town of Hajin
  • In the Hajin area the clashes between ISIS and the SDF continue. The Kurdish militias (YPG) reported their fighters had destroyed car bombs that ISIS tried to detonate. In one instance ISIS reported that a suicide bomber blew himself up with an explosive belt in a train station in the Hajin region, where SDF fighters were concentrated (al-Ghurabaa’, October 26, 2018).
Attack on an SDF position in the al-Tanak oil field
  • ISIS’s A’maq news agency announced that a squad of ISIS operatives had attacked an SDF forces’ position near the oil well of the al-Tanak oil field (about 37 kilometers southeast of al-Mayadeen). According to the reports, in the clashes at least 15 SDF fighters were killed and several others were wounded (A’maq, October 25, 2018).

The al-Tanak oil field (Google Maps)
The al-Tanak oil field (Google Maps)

The Iraq-Syria border
  • On October 27, 2018 “the popular mobilization” (the Shi’ite militias) in al-Anbar Province announced they were reinforcing their forces in the Iraqi-Syrian border region. That came after positions of SDF forces along the border were attacked by ISIS squads, who exploited the bad weather conditions in the region. As a result SDF soldiers left the border region (al-Sumaria News, October 27, 2018; the “popular mobilization” website, October 27, 2018).
  • Following that, Iraqi planes dropped flysheets over the village of al-Baghouz, one of the focal points of clashes between ISIS and the SDF (located in the southern part of the ISIS’s enclave, near the Iraq-Syria border). The flysheets called on ISIS operatives to surrender and reach an arrangement because they were surrounded. “The border of Iraq,” according to the flysheet, “is barricaded by the Iraqis, who will not allow you to approach it” (Facebook page of Furat Post, October 29, 2018).

The flysheet dropped by Iraqi planes over the village of al-Baghouz (Facebook page of Furat Post, October 29, 2018).
The flysheet dropped by Iraqi planes over the village of al-Baghouz (Facebook page of Furat Post, October 29, 2018).

Losses
  • The Syrian Human Rights Observatory reported that since the beginning of the attack on the ISIS enclave north of Albukamal, at least 471 ISIS operatives and 239 SDF fighters were killed (Syrian Human Rights Observatory, October 25, 2018). It was reported that SDF headquarters received more than a hundred names of fighters killed during ISIS’s most recent counterattacks against al-Sousah and al-Baghouz (Facebook page of Furat Post, October 29, 2018).
Main Developments in Iraq
Activities of the Iraqi security forces
  • This past week the Iraqi security forces continued their activities against ISIS in the various provinces:
    • The Kirkuk region: A force of the Iraqi federal police set up an ambush on one of the roads south of Kirkuk were ISIS operatives drive and killed three ISIS operatives. Found at the scene were explosive belts, two IEDs and various weapons (al-Sumaria News, October 27, 2018).
    • Al-Anbar province: Iraqi security forces carried out a broad operation in the refugee camps south of Fallujah. They detained six ISIS operatives who had infiltrated into the refugee camps with displaced families. The operatives had been involved in terrorist attacks on civilians and security forces operatives (Iraqi News, October 25, 2018).
    • Al-Anbar province: An Iraqi army force located four ISIS tunnels north of the al-Rutba area and destroyed them. There were a number of ISIS operatives in the tunnels. In addition, the army force found and neutralized dozens of IEDs and quantities of explosives, and confiscated various weapons (Iraqi News Agency, October 27, 2018).
    • Al-Anbar province: An Iraqi security force in Fallujah detained operatives of a “terrorist squad” (apparently an ISIS squad) that specialized in placing IEDs. According to the claims of Iraqi security sources, the operatives of the squad had carried out many attacks against members of the security forces and civilians (Iraqi News, October 28, 2018).
    • Nineveh province: A police force in Nineveh province detained twelve ISIS operatives in southeastern Mosul. They had worked in various administrative institutions of the Islamic State when it controlled Mosul. One of them was an operative in the Islamic morality police, one worked for the organization’s ministry of justice and the rest for the ministry of the army (Iraqi News Agency, October 26, 2018).
    • Nineveh province: In the Old City of Mosul Iraqi army intelligence force located eleven explosive belts, and equipment and materials used to manufacture explosives (Iraqi News Agency, October 28, 2018).
    • Nineveh province: A force of the Nineveh province police detained three ISIS operatives in the al-Zaharaa’ and al-Antsar neighborhoods in the southeastern part of Mosul. One was an operative in ISIS’s morality police, and another worked for the organization’s religious law system (the sharia) (Iraqi News Agency, October 28, 2018).

Operatives of the Iraqi security forces and several ISIS operatives they had captured (Iraqi News Agency, October 28, 2018).

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : PUTIN’S S 300 POINTED AT JERUSALEM

Russia warns of ‘provocation’ in Syria, hints at Israeli ‘hot heads’

Defense Ministry briefing warns against provocations in south and north Syria and condemns US role in eastern Syria

By Seth J. Frantzman  November 1, 2018 12:36  – JERUSALEM POST – Russian sources confirmed Thursday that a Defense Ministry briefing warning against “provocations” in Syria was directed towards Israel. Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov warned Wednesday against “hot heads” provoking Syria and intimated that the S-300 had been deployed to defend against such action. Although Israel wasn’t mentioned, the reference to the S-300 is pointed at Jerusalem.

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