"Troops set up checkpoints and carried out searches for weapons," he said, adding that they were expected to deploy in Bab el-Tebanneh on the 2 Apr 14. As the troops carried out searches, two army helicopters patrolled overhead. The source said the army was also targeting individual homes such as that of Rifaat Eid, the political leader of the Alawite Arab Democratic Party. Eid's father Ali is also wanted for questioning in connection with a twin car bomb attack against two Sunni mosques in Aug 13 that left 45 people dead. Mohsen residents, who are Alawites, support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bab el-Tebbaneh, who are Sunni, largely support the Sunni-dominated uprising against Assad. Alawites make up 11 percent of the port city's population. Sunnis account for 80 percent.
Iraq – Iraqi security forces killed more than 40 militants on the 3 Apr 14 in clashes in a town southwest of Baghdad, the interior ministry said in a statement. The Security Forces recovered two heavy machineguns, 15 rifles and five grenade launchers were seized, along with other equipment. “Iraqi security forces confronted a failed attempt by Daash gang members to break into a military camp,” the statement said, referring to the Arabic abbreviation for the powerful Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group. The clashes in Yusifiyah come after days of fighting in the Zoba and Zaidan areas west of Baghdad, spurring concerns that militants who have for months controlled the town of Fallujah could be looking to open a new front to encroach on the capital.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has held the major Iraqi city of Fallujah for three solid months now, and despite a heavy offensive from the nation’s military seems no closer to ceding it back to the central government. Rather, AQI looks to be going on the offensive once again, with their fighters seizing Abu Ghraib, a key city on the edge of the Anbar Province, leading to the Baghdad governate. The Army sees the move into Abu Ghraib, a city of nearly 200,000 itself, as an effort to split the offensive and “ease the pressure imposed on them in Fallujah.” That may be just part of the problem. AQI’s reach continues to spread both in Anbar and elsewhere, and the capture of Abu Ghraib puts a large chunk of their fighters just a stone’s throw away from the capital city itself, with Fallujah and Abu Ghraib giving them effective control over the highway leading to Baghdad from the west. Iraq’s military has warned in the past that AQI, awash with weapons from the Syrian Civil War, has enough armament to take Baghdad itself if not confronted. Now, it seems like even the military’s offensives are just slowing that push.
Syria – The Syrian government said on the 8 Apr 14 that it has no intention of delaying presidential elections despite the raging civil war in the country. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said the elections would not be delayed and that military operations would continue regardless of the poll, according to state news agency SANA, which quoted him in an interview with al-Manar TV, a channel owned by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. The elections "will be held on time... and we will not allow them to be delayed for any reason, whether security, military, political, internal or external," he said. The minister also said candidates for the presidential elections will be able to submit their applications during the last 10 days of April. The poll is likely to secure President Bashar al-Assad a third term, according to the official. "The overwhelming majority of Syrians are pressing and calling for President Bashar al-Assad to continue to lead the country as president of the republic," Zhobi said. "The door for candidacy will open in the last 10 days of this month," he said. The constitution adopted in 2012 for the first time opens the door for candidates to challenge Assad in the election. But a law adopted by parliament this year requires candidates to have lived in Syria for the past 10 years, thereby excluding the exiled Western and Arab backed opposition. The election is set to be held even though an estimated 40 percent of Syrians have been displaced from their homes.
Pro-government forces in Syria used a chemical agent that "neutralises, but does not kill" during fighting on the 27 Mar 14 a senior Israeli source has stated on the 9 Apr 14. Syrian opposition sources previously claimed that a chemical weapon was used in the incident, which took place in the Harasta area northeast of Damascus. The Syrian American Medical Society reported that the "poisonous gas attack" killed four people and injured another 25. It said the victims suffered from extreme shortness of breath, high pulse rates, hallucinations, and, in some cases, suffocation. The Israeli source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, indicated that pro-government forces used a rudimentary delivery mechanism, most likely grenade-type canisters, to deploy the non-lethal agent, which he did not identify.
Yemen – On the 31 Mar 14 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced the formation of a new armed group called "Ansar al Shariah in the Central Regions." The militant organization claimed that the new group's purpose is to combat the Shiite Houthi rebels based in Yemen's northern Sa'adah province. The announcement also included sharp criticism of the Yemeni government and alleged that Sana'a was involved in a conspiracy aiming to strengthen the Shiite insurgents. Sa'adah province has been the site of an ongoing Houthi insurgency against the central government in Sana'a since 2004, when the Yemeni military killed Hussein Badr al Deen al Houthi, the Shiite group's commander. AQAP inaugurated Ansar al Sharia in 2012 in an effort to rebrand itself and garner more support for the terrorist organization. This new armed group is likely a subgroup of Ansar al Sharia expressly focused on attacks targeting the Houthis. The terror group's statement also mentioned the March 28 raid by the Yemeni military on an apartment housing AQAP operatives in al Dalea province, saying it was part of the conspiracy against al Qaeda that served Houthi interests. "The East and the West are involved" in the conspiracy, AQAP charged, and urged Sunnis everywhere to wake up and realize the extent of the conspiracy. Additionally, the statement directly threatened both the Yemeni security forces and the Houthi rebels. (Printed in the Long War Journal 2 Apr 14)