Da’esh/Iraq/Mosul/United States – Coalition-backed Iraqi forces can retake the key northern city of Mosul from the Da’esh terror group by the end of the year, the commander of US forces in the Middle East said on the 30 Aug 16. "It's the prime minister's objective to have that done by the end of the year," General Joe Votel, head of the US military's Central Command, told reporters in a video call. "My assessment is that we can meet the prime minister's objective, if that is what he chooses to do." The US-led coalition fighting Da’esh in Iraq and Syria for the past two years has for months framed the upcoming battle for Mosul as the defining fight against the extremists in Iraq. Mosul is the country's second-largest city and is Da’esh’s centre of operations in Iraq. Iraqi security forces, with coalition support, have already started "shaping operations" around Mosul, including the capture of surrounding villages and facilities. Votel said the fight for Mosul would be “hard and difficult” and that Da’esh would leave countless bombs in the city while also hiding behind civilians. Similarly, in Syria, coalition-backed local forces are beginning to hone in on Raqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Da’esh’s so-called “caliphate.” “We are at the point here where we are now really into the heart of the caliphate,” Votel said.
Iran – Iran has formed what it calls the Liberation Army whose units will be deployed in Arab countries, according to reports on the 20 Aug 16. Currently, Iran is involved in multiple conflicts where Shia and Sunni Muslims are locked in a power struggle, notably Syria and Yemen. Mohammad Ali Al Falaki, who heads the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in an interview published on the 19 Aug 16 by Al Mashriq news that Iran is fighting on three fronts: Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran "created the Liberation Army in Syria under the leadership of Qassem Soleimani", said Falaki, who leads forces in Syria. Soleimani is the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force. It was not clear how large the Liberation Army would be. "The forces that belong to this army are not Iranians only. In any place where there is a fight, we organise and supply the army from the people of the area," said Falaki. With regard to Syria, he said: "It is not wise for our Iranian forces to be directly thrown into war in Syria. Therefore our role should be limited to train, supply, and prepare the Syrians to fight in their areas." In Jan 16 it was reported that Iran was recruiting tens of thousands of Afghan Shia fighters to step up the country's efforts in the Syrian war, offering them salaries to join the war on the side of the government of President Bashar al-Assad. 361 COMMENT: Since Iran became a nuclear power it now thinks itself a world player and is showing its confidence. True it defends the Shia faith as the strongest country in the Region but in relation to the Sunnis, Iran is small. In regards to being in three conflicts; Iraq, Syria and Yemen they have different goals. In Iraq it is allegedly to assist the Iraq government in its fight against Da’esh and not forgetting that the majority of the population is Shia but what happens when the conflict is finished? It is possible that Iran will want a safe passage corridor between itself and Syria so that it can send “logistics and funding” to its ally and step up attacks against Israel. In Syria it is to prop up an ally that is constantly carrying out Iranian foreign policy and that is to engage Israel using Palestinians, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in its own proxy war. Then there is Yemen another, proxy war, where Iran is attempting to use the Shia Houthis to gain a presence in the country and therefore take control of the Gulf of Aden threatening two strategic water ways into the Region (Gulf of Hormuz/Gulf of Aden being the other). Let’s also not forget that Iran is then using the Houthi’s to engage in direct contact with the Government of Saudi Arabia. The name for this new group is correct, “Liberation Army” but it does not say as to liberate from whom and what from? COMMENT ENDS
Iran/United States – A US Navy ship fired warning shots toward an Iranian fast-attack craft that approached two US ships, a Pentagon spokesman said on the 25 Aug 16 in the most serious of a number of incidents in the Gulf area this week. "They did feel compelled ultimately to fire three warning shots and the reason for that is... they had taken steps already to try and de-escalate this situation," spokesman Peter Cook told reporters. Tensions have increased in the Gulf in recent days despite an improvement in relations between Iran and the United States. Iran’s naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country’s territorial waters; the Iranian defence minister said on the 25 Aug 16 remarks that came after an incident this week involving a US warship. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters. Dehghan’s comments came after four Iranian small boats sailed near the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze on the 24 Aug 16 in the Persian Gulf. The US Navy described the incident as “unsafe and unprofessional” and said it occurred in international waters in the narrow Strait of Hormuz. US Navy video of the incident obtained by The Associated Press shows American sailors on the Nitze firing flares and sounding the warship's horn as the Iranian boats approached. Earlier, US Adm. John Richardson said the incident involving the Nitze reflects the greater competition the US is facing at sea and underscores the naval tensions with Tehran, which include other similar incidents.
Iraq/Yemen Houthi’s – Iraq’s foreign ministry said a delegation of Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis arrived on the 29 Aug 16 in Baghdad to discuss the possibility of recognition to the recently-established political council, the ministry said on its website. The delegation - headed by the Houthis’ spokesman, Mohammed Abdelsalam - seeks recognition of the political council formed earlier this month by the Houthis and the General People’s Congress party, the political party of ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The council consists of 10 members, five affiliated with the Houthi and five with the General People’s Congress. The visit, expected to last several days, will hold meetings with the Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. It also comes a day after Jaafari called on his Saudi counterpart to replace its ambassador Thamer al- Sabhan in Baghdad in reaction to comments the latter made about Iran’s involvement in Iraq. 361 COMMENT: Is Iraq starting to lean against Iran and its allies? It will be interesting to read about the comments after the visit should they be published. COMMENT ENDS
Iraq – Attackers armed with suicide vests, rifles and grenades killed 18 people in the Iraqi oasis town of Ain Al Tamer, many of them guests at a wedding party, local officials said on the 29 Aug 16. "They were carrying Kalashnikovs, hand grenades. One of them blew himself up and the others were killed by the security forces," said the head of central Euphrates operations command, Qais Khalaf. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but all recent suicide operations in Iraq have been claimed by the Da’esh terror group. Ain Al Tamer, southwest of Baghdad, is located 50 kilometres from the Shiite holy city of Karbala and on the edge of Anbar province. Officials said the attackers started opening fire in a neighbourhood of Ain Al Tamer at around 1830 hrs GMT on the 28 Aug 16 although it was not immediately what their target was. It was reported that some of terrorists were wearing civilian clothes, others military clothes. They infiltrated from the west under the cover of darkness. Military commanders said the attackers came from the Anbar desert to the west, a region that is overwhelmingly Sunni and borders Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. The extremists call such operations “inghamasi” — which literally means “plunging” and refers to the act of penetrating deep into enemy territory.
Israel/Iran/Hezbollah – The Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah is gaining valuable experience while “learning to fight on a large scale” in Syria, a former Shin Bet chief told a visiting delegation of U.S. congressional advisers on the 29 Aug 16 Israel Hayom reported. The warning came just days after Israel uncovered a bag of explosives near the Lebanese border, which security officials believe were smuggled in by Hezbollah. Avi Dichter, the former head of Israel’s security agency Shin Bet and current chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, told the delegation that “Hezbollah’s participation in the Syria fighting is both bad news and good news for Israel.” “The good news is that thus far, Hezbollah has lost more than 1,600 terrorists in battle and has about 5,000 wounded. [Syrian] rebels are taking terrorists from the group captive, including in Aleppo last week,” he said. On the other hand, Hezbollah and Syria are “learning to fight on a large scale, in platoons and battalion, while using sophisticated weaponry and heavy, precise arms that they receive from Iran,” Dichter added. These new capabilities will ensure that the “next round” in the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel will be much different, although “that also holds advantages for Israel,” he continued. Similarly, Nadav Pollak of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy assessed in a paper published this month that Hezbollah’s position within the so-called “resistance axis” of Israel’s enemies “has been strengthened” due to its participation in Syria’s civil war. A report published by the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) last month noted that Israeli officials believe that any future war with Hezbollah has the potential cause “thousands of civilian deaths” in Israel. (This past February, Hezbollah threatened to attack ammonium tanks in Haifa, which could kill tens of thousands of people.) Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research for FDD, explained that Hezbollah’s widely-reported tactic of hiding military assets in civilian areas may also lead to mass casualties. Reports emerged two years ago that Hezbollah was offering reduced-price housing to Shi’ite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes. An Israeli defence official told the New York Times in May 15 that the build-up of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk. A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah bolstered the Israeli assessment. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, chief of Hezbollah, boasted in June that all of “its weapons and rockets” come from Iran. Nasrallah’s speech seems to confirm an assurance given to him last August (2015) by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that the nuclear deal presented “a historic opportunity” to confront Israel. Iran recently announced that its military spending would increase by 90 percent in the coming year. Nasrallah’s comments also call into question assurances made by Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. would ensure that Iran could not arm Hezbollah, despite the lifting of nuclear sanctions against Tehran. “Our primary embargo is still in place,” Kerry said at a Senate hearing last year. “We are still sanctioning them. And, I might add, for those things that we may want to deal with because of their behaviour, for instance, Hezbollah, there is a UN resolution, 1701, the prevents the transfer of any weapons to Hezbollah. That will continue and what we need to do is make sure that we’re enforcing it.” While UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was passed unanimously to end the 2006 war, forbids the arming of Hezbollah, Iran has continued to send the terrorist group weapons and the Security Council has refused to enforce it. (This article is published courtesy of The Tower)
Kurds/Russia/Syria – Syrian government warplanes bombed Kurdish-held areas of the north-eastern city of Hasaka on the 18 Aug 16 for the first time in the country’s five-year-old civil war, killing at least 13 people, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and a monitoring group said. The powerful YPG, a crucial partner in the US-led war against ISIS, said it would “not be silent” over what it called it an act of flagrant aggression. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government. People’s Protection Units (YPG) spokesman Redur Xelil said the air strikes had hit Kurdish districts of the city, which is mostly controlled by Kurdish groups, and positions held by a Kurdish security force known as the Asayish. “There are martyrs and wounded,” he said. Government forces were also bombarding Kurdish districts of Hasaka with artillery, and there were fierce clashes in the city. “Every hand spattered with the blood of our people will be held to account through all possible and available means,” the YPG said in a statement. The YPG and Syrian government forces have mostly left each other to their own devices in the conflict, during which Kurdish groups have exploited the collapse of state control to establish autonomy across much of the country’s north. The government, which routinely uses its air force against rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in western Syria, still has footholds in the cities of Qamishli and Hasaka, both in the Hasaka governorate. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war using a network of activists, said warplanes had targeted Kurdish security forces’ positions in the northwest and northeast of Hasaka city. It said clashes were also taking place in a number of places around Hasaka. At least thirteen people, including children and women, were killed as a result of shelling by the army on Kurdish-controlled areas in the city, the monitor said. 361 COMMENT: Assad has made it clear for some time that any person or group opposing him is a terrorist. He has also stated in the past that he will have all of Syria and not parts of it. Russia sides with this and is well known for bombing those groups that are fighting Da’esh but also are against their Ally. Assad will not want part of Syria under Kurdish rule, but the interesting future point will be what will the Kurds do? More importantly what will the United States do as it sees the Kurds as one of the most potent groups fighting Da’esh and also sees the Peshmerga as allies. The last thing that those fighting Da’esh is to have a split and a side war when resources and logistics need to be focused on fighting a common enemy, Da’esh. COMMENT ENDS
Kurds/Syria/Turkey – Turkey will take a more active role in addressing the conflict in Syria in the next six months to prevent the war-torn country being divided along ethnic lines, Turkish Prime Binali Yildirim said on the 20 Aug 16. Yildirim also told a group of reporters in Istanbul that while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could have a role in the interim leadership, he must play no part in its future. Syria’s more than five-year conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, with Kurdish groups carving out their own regions, and periodically battling groups from Syria’s Arab majority whose priority is to overthrow Assad. Turkey fears the strengthening of Kurdish militant groups in Syria will further embolden its own Kurdish insurgency, which flared anew following the collapse of a ceasefire between militants and the state last year. “Turkey we will be more active in the Syria issue in the coming six months as a regional player. This means to not allow Syria to be divided on any ethnic base, for Turkey this is crucial,” Yildirim said. On the 19 Aug 16 Syrian Kurdish authorities evacuated thousands of civilians from Kurdish areas of Hasaka following Syrian government air strikes, the Kurdish YPG militia said. The fighting this week in Hasaka, which is divided into zones of Kurdish and Syrian government control, marks the most violent confrontation between the Kurdish YPG militia and Damascus in the civil war. The YPG and Syrian government forces had mostly left each other to their own devices in the conflict, during which Kurdish groups have exploited the collapse of state control to establish autonomy across much of the country’s north. The Kurdish YPG militia is an integral part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are at the heart of Washington’s military campaign against ISIS and last week seized the northern town of Manbij from the militants.
Kurds/Syria – Soldiers from the Kurdish YPG have launched a major assault to seize the last government-controlled areas of the north-eastern Syrian city of Hasaka, after a Russian mediation team failed to mend the rift between the two sides. The YPG began the offensive after midnight to take the south eastern district of Nashwa, close to where a security compound is located near the governor's office close to the heart of the city, according to YPG sources and residents. The YPG, or the People's Protection Units, has ties to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). It had earlier captured Ghwairan, the only major Arab neighbourhood in Hasaka still in government hands. The offensive on the 22 Aug 16 comes just hours after Syrian state media said a truce had been reached between Kurdish and government forces to evacuate the wounded from Hasaka. Kurdish sources said on the 21 Aug 16 that no deal had been finalised. The fighting in Hasaka, which is divided into zones of Kurdish and Syrian government control, marks the most violent confrontation between the Kurdish YPG and the Syrian army in more than five years of civil war. Government aircraft last week bombed the YPG for the first time during the war, prompting a US-led coalition to scramble aircraft to protect American special operations forces on the ground in the area. "This is quite a significant development because the Kurds now seem to be determined to drive government troops out of the city and control it," a source said. "The Kurds are saying that they're not going to sign any agreement in the future with [President] Bashar al-Assad, and that it's just going to be a matter of hours or days before Hasaka is under their control." The YPG is at the heart of a US-led campaign against Da’esh in Syria. It controls swaths of territory along the north-eastern border with Turkey - from Hasaka to Afrin - which its political wing has claimed as an autonomous region now called Rojava. A correspondent said: "[Kurdish] fighters, as we speak, are surrounding government buildings in Hasaka, giving soldiers an ultimatum: Either you surrender, or you will be killed." Syrian state media accused the YPG-affiliated security force known as the Asayish of violating a ceasefire and said its members had torched government buildings in Hasaka. It accused the Asayish of igniting the violence through escalating "provocations", including the bombing of army positions in Hasaka, and said the Asayish aimed to take control of the city. Late on the 21 Aug 16 Kurdish forces distributed leaflets across Hasaka and used mosque loudspeakers to call on army personnel and pro-government militias to hand over their weapons or face death. "To all the elements of the regime and its militias who are besieged in the city you are targeted by our units," leaflets distributed by the YPG said. "This battle is decided and we will not retreat ... We call on you to give up your weapons or count yourselves dead." The YPG appeared intent on leaving a nominal Syrian government presence confined to within a security zone in the heart of the city, where several key government buildings are located, Kurdish sources said. Clashes in Hasaka erupted last week after Kurdish forces demanded the dismantlement of a pro-government group, the National Defence Forces, in the area. In an attempt to calm tensions, a delegation of Russian officials arrived in Qamishli on the 20 Aug 16 from the coastal Hmeimim military airport for talks with the two sides. After two days of negotiations mediated by Russia, a Syrian military a source said that a deal was struck between government forces and Kurdish fighters - a claim Kurdish sources denied. The three-point agreement calls for a "halt to all hostilities and the return to regime forces of any positions seized by Kurdish fighters" since the 17 Aug 16 according to the military source. The deal also stipulated that casualties would be transferred north to Qamishli. A Kurdish military source in Hasaka said that an agreement had not been established on any of the three points. The pro-government Al Masdar news website reported on the 20 Aug 16 that Russian mediation efforts had failed to halt fighting after the Syrian government refused Kurdish demands that it withdraw its forces from Hasaka and Qamishli. Additional negotiations were set to take place on the 22 Aug 16.
Kurds/Turkey – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the 23 Aug 16 discussed strategy in fighting Islamic State and Kurdish PKK militants with visiting Iraqi Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, sources at Erdogan's office said. They said Erdogan and Barzani also addressed necessary steps to shut down schools and institutions in Iraqi Kurdistan affiliated with Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Islamic cleric whom Turkey blames for last month’s failed military coup. 361 COMMENT: This is indeed a wise move by President Barzani. The talks with Turkey will be of interest to those who wish to see the growth of the Kurdish states both in Iraq and Syria and a relief for those who think that the Kurds seeking independence but are relying on the PKK to assist them. The fact that the PKK could upset this will be a worry for the Kurdish President so it will be interesting to see what the talks bring to the table and what is being said elsewhere. COMMENT ENDS
Syria/Russia/United Nations – Calls have been made for sanctions against Syria following findings by a UN team that government forces twice used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war it was reported on the 31 Aug 16. The UN investigators also found evidence that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group used mustard gas at least once in the conflict. However, the UN Security Council failed during a closed-door session on the 30 Aug 16 to agree on any action, with Russia questioning the evidence from the independent commission. The international team of inspectors has determined that both the Syrian government and ISIL were responsible for chemical attacks carried out in 2014 and 2015. Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, said it was too early to consider implementing a September 2013 Security Council resolution authorising sanctions that can be militarily enforced for any use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia has been a close ally of the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad since the crisis began there in 2011. "Clearly there is a smoking gun. We know that chlorine most likely has been used - that was already the finding of the fact finding mission before - but there are no fingerprints on the gun," Churkin said following the closed-door session. "There is nobody to sanction in the report which has been issued," he said. "It contains no names, it contains no specifics ... If we are to be professional we need to question all the conclusions." Churkin said, however, that he was pleased the report had confirmed the use of chemical weapons by ISIL. For his part, Bashar Jaafari, Syria's UN ambassador, also dismissed the report's findings as biased. "The conclusions contained in the report were totally based on statements made by witnesses presented by the terrorist armed groups," he said. "Therefore, these conclusions lack any physical evidence." Heading into the meeting, Samantha Power, the US ambassador, called the report "a landmark" and said she expected a Security Council resolution "soon". 361 COMMENT: The evidence could stare Russia and Syria in the face and they would still deny it. Barrel bombs with chlorine in and dropped from helicopters which only the Russians and Syrians are using as Da’esh has none but the two countries still deny their use. Bombing and using chemical agents on ‘terrorists’ with no definition of the word except, as everyone knows, is anyone or any group that resists the Assad regime. Russia is correct though and that to remain professional all angles must be questioned but the Assad government and the Russians are not being professional as they know who is behind chemical attacks apart from Da’esh and they still refuse to acknowledge the fact. Bashar Jaafari who dismissed the report saying it was biased is another person who refuses to accept the truth. The truth is no matter what evidence is put before them they will still refuse to accept responsibility and still kill those who oppose the government. What Russia and Syria are saying in effect is that they do no not accept the findings of a legal world body as it cannot deliver the truth only the truth seen through the sides that agree with what Russia and Syria are doing and that is killing innocent victims using banned chemical agents. COMMENT ENDS
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia has foiled an attack on a mosque in Um Al-Hamam village in the Shiite-dominated enclave of Al-Qatif in the kingdom’s Eastern province, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on the 24 Aug 16. The man, who attempted the attack on Al-Rasoul Al-A’dham mosque, was wearing an explosive belt and was eliminated by Saudi security forces, the channel’s correspondent said. An accomplice in the attack, meanwhile, was arrested. Both men were not Saudis but residents in the kingdom. “The relevant security apparatus was on the scene immediately to clear the entire area to ensure no other bombs were in place and that determine whether it was safe for citizens and residents to come back,” Al Arabiya’s correspondent Bader al-Shehri said. The thwarted attack comes after a series of bombings taking place in early Jul 16 which includes a blast near Prophet Mohammed’s mosque in Madinah, two suicide bombings in Al-Qatif as well as a bomb targeting near the US consulate in Jeddah. Saudi witnessed violent bombings in 2015 as well, including blasts claimed by ISIS. The so-called Sunni militant group ISIS has previously targeted the mainly Shiite Al-Qatif to stir sectarian strife in the country.
Saudi Arabia/Yemen/Iran – Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on the 31 Aug 16 the Iranian-allied Houthi militias will not be allowed to take over Yemen, as he accused Iran of seeking to sow unrest around the region. The head of a Houthi-backed ruling council pledged readiness on the 29 Aug 16 to resume negotiations on ending Yemen’s war but reserved the right to resist attacks by the Saudi-backed internationally recognized government. UN-sponsored talks to try to end 18 months of fighting collapsed in failure this month and the Houthi militias and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh resumed shelling into neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The talks foundered after the Houthis and Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) announced the formation of the 10-member governing council on Aug 6., ignoring a warning by UN Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed that such a move would violate UN Security Council resolutions on how to solve the conflict. Speaking to Reuters in Beijing, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the ball was in the Houthis’ court as to whether peace talks resumed. “What is certain, not questionable, certain, they will not be allowed to take over Yemen. Period. So the legitimate government will be defended,” al-Jubeir said. “The chance they have is to enter the political process, reach an agreement ... for the benefit of all Yemenis including the Houthis,” he said. Speaking earlier to students at a Beijing university, al-Jubeir lambasted Iran. “We see Iran supporting Houthis in Yemen and trying to take over the government, supply weapons to the Houthis, smuggle explosives to Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We wish we could be as good neighbours like before the 1979 revolution,” al-Jubeir said. “It’s up to Iran to mend its behaviour.”
Yemen – The death toll in a suicide car bomb attack on an army training camp in Yemen's port city of Aden has risen to 70, according to medical sources on the 30 Aug 16. The incident took place at a camp in northern Aden on the 29 Aug 16 when the attacker drove his vehicle into a gathering of new recruits at the camp. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for the attack later. Khidra Lasour, the director-general of Yemen's health ministry in Aden said that at least 67 people were injured. "It's a massacre. This is the highest death toll in any attack that happened in Aden before," Hakim Almasmari, editor-in-chief of Yemen Post newspaper said. Witnesses said the suicide bomber entered the compound behind a truck that had brought breakfast for the recruits, who had queued for the meal. Officials said some recruits were buried when a roof collapsed after the blast. Debris was scattered around the complex and nearby buildings were damaged as well. Aden, the temporary base of Yemen's Arab Gulf-backed government, has seen a wave of bombings and shootings targeting officials and security forces. Yemeni authorities have trained hundreds of soldiers in Aden over the past two months as part of operations to retake neighbouring southern provinces from fighters. Earlier this month, Yemen government forces entered Abyan's provincial capital Zinjibar. Troops retook other towns across Abyan but have been met by fierce resistance in a key al-Qaeda stronghold, Al-Mahfid, a town which lies further east, security sources said. The fighters are still present in areas surrounding the recaptured towns and control large parts of the neighbouring Shabwa province, the sources say. The Arab coalition which backs the Yemeni government against Iran-backed rebels has also been providing troops with air cover throughout the war against the fighters. 361 COMMENT: This style of tactic was first used in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Al-Qaeda in Iraq would target large crowds to inflict maximum damage, death and injuries. On occasions there would be a follow up attack or secondary device targeting the emergency services and those assisting the injured. COMMENT ENDS