Kurdistan/Iraq – Two near-simultaneous bombings against security forces in the normally peaceful Kurdish region of northern Iraq left two senior officers wounded on the 2 Dec 13. The twin magnetic “sticky bombs” attached to the vehicles of a brigadier general and a colonel in the Kurdish Peshmerga forces went off minutes apart at about 0730 hrs in the same neighborhood of Sulaimaniyah, the autonomous Kurdistan region’s second-biggest city. It follows a massive Al-Qaeda attack on Asayesh headquarters in the Kurdish capital Arbil on the 29 Sep 13 involving suicide bombers, car bombs and gunfire, killing seven people overall and leaving more than 60 wounded.
Lebanon – At least 10 people have died in north Lebanon in two days of gun battles between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Clashes in the port city of Tripoli also left 49 people wounded including 11 soldiers. Tripoli, with a small Alawite community surrounded by a Sunni majority, is seen as one of Lebanon's most volatile sectarian fault-lines. Correspondents say tensions have been high since last week, when residents of the Alawite district of Jabal Muhsin began flying Syrian flags in support of President Assad. In response, residents of neighbouring Bab al-Tabbana raised the flag favoured by Syrian rebels. Clashes broke out on the 30 Nov 13 leaving at least six dead, and continued into the night. On the 1 Dec 13 at least four people were hit by sniper fire, including an off-duty soldier and two people in a lorry. The Lebanese army remained deployed in the area on Sunday and a military source said four people had been arrested. Shia Islamist militant group Hezbollah, which has fought on the side of pro-Assad forces in Syria, denied reports that it had sent fighters and military experts to Jabal Muhsin. On-off fighting between the two districts has claimed scores of lives over the past two years.
On the 4 Dec 13 it was reported that Hassan al-Laqees, regarded as the third or fourth most important leader of Hezbollah, was gunned down outside his home in Beirut. The Shi’a group blamed Israel for the assassination and warned that Israel would pay a price for the killing. Al-Laqees, who had served in various capacities in Hezbollah since the 1980s, was regarded by Western intelligence services as a brilliant technology and logistics officer. He was in charge of the organization’s arms development and acquisition, technology, and communication, and was heavily involved in operations. Analysts compare the operational blow to Hezbollah from al-Laqees’s assassination to the setback the organization suffered when Israeli agent killed Imad Mughniyeh, the then-operation chief of Hezbollah, in a daring covert operation in Damascus on 12 Feb 08.
Syria – Israel Air Force (IAF) planes on the 4 Dec 13 at night attacked and destroyed two military bases in Syria – one near Damascus and the other in Snobar Jableh, thirty kilometres south of the port city of Latakia. The Syrian military was preparing two large shipments of surface-to-air missiles – advanced versions of the SA-8 Gecko and S-125 Neva/Pechora – for delivery to Hezbollah. The IAF destroyed the missiles before they were loaded onto a truck for the trip to Lebanon. Wednesday’s night attacks were the sixth and seventh attacks Israel has launched against Syrian shipments of advanced arms to Hezbollah. The earlier five attacks took place on 30 Jan, 3 May, 5 May, 5 Jul, and 18 Oct 13.
West Bank – A jihadist group with links to al-Qaeda says it is operating in the West bank it was reported on the 2 Dec 13. The statement from the group which calls itself the Majles Shura al-Mujahideen (Holy Warriors Assembly) posted the following statement on an Islamic web site. The group stated, “By the will of almighty God, the global jihadi doctrine has reached the bank of pride, the West Bank, planting its foothold after all attempts to thwart its presence.” Condoning the on-going peace talks between Israel and Palestinian negotiators the group added: “We call on every sincere person to cut off what is called ‘negotiations’ which causes one’s nose to turn away with its foul stench of collaboration. We are serious about fighting the aggression against religion by the blaspheming Jews and the hypocritical collaborators.” The statement came after the Israeli army said three Palestinians it shot dead near Hebron on the 26 Nov 13 were members of a Salafist cell planning attacks and kidnappings.
Yemen – On the 2 Dec 13 it was reported that militants attacked an army checkpoint in the Western entrance to the town of Sayun the second largest town in the province of Hadramawt. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stepped up attacks on security forces in that region. On the 1 Dec 13 an army officer and his son were shot dead by gunmen in Hadramawt. Col Ahmed al-Merfidi was driving a car with his son Yasser when assailants riding a motorbike opened fire at them. Three policemen were also killed in Sayun on 24 Nov 13. Last year, a major army offensive forced AQAP and its allies out of towns in southern Yemen that they seized during the political chaos triggered by the uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since then, the militants have regrouped and launched dozens of attacks on security forces and government officials, killing hundreds of people.
Yemen’s LNG gas company had evacuated hundreds of workers from its Balhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden, after a mortar round hit the site. Company staff, including foreigners, were evacuated to the capital on four planes as a precaution over fears of potential attacks on the terminal. The evacuation of non-essential staff, however, did not affect operations and liquefaction trains, which have a capacity of 6.7 million tonnes of LNG per year. Yemen LNG said a “minor explosion occurred” inside the plant on the 6 Dec 13, adding that the blast caused only slight damage to non-essential equipment and that a probe has been initiated. The Yemeni army deployed reinforcements around the sprawling site, where LNG exports were launched in 2009. The blast came a day after a massive attack on the defence ministry complex in Sanaa that left 56 people dead and was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
A Japanese diplomat has been wounded in a failed kidnap attempt by armed men in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen it was reported on the 15 Dec 13. The second secretary at the embassy was stabbed several times by unknown men and was reported to be in a stable condition in hospital. The diplomat was resisting a kidnap attempt as he tried to get into his car, Japan's foreign ministry said. Attacks on foreigners in Yemen have intensified in the past few months.