Da’esh – Islamic State has urged lone jihadists to arm themselves with weapons to carry out a 'campaign of knife attacks' in quiet neighbourhoods. In a propaganda magazine, ISIS urged would-be jihadists to 'overcome their squeamishness' which it said was 'never an excuse for abandoning jihad'. The terror group made the call in the second edition of magazine Rumiyah, meaning Rome, which was issued by the organisation's Al-Hayat Media Centre. According to PJ Media, the article urges would-be jihadists to launch their assaults at night time on random victims in alleys, beaches, forests, and 'quiet neighbourhoods', and aim for a 'reasonable kill count.' The first edition of the magazine, which was issued last month, urged jihadists to target teens playing after-school sport and pavement flower-sellers. In the latest PDF edition, which has been distributed widely on social media, supporters were urged to arm themselves with readily-available weapons and launch a 'campaign of knife attacks' in which the attacker 'could dispose of his weapon after each use, finding no difficulty in acquiring another one.' In a call to arms, an article in the magazine says: 'One need not be a military expert or a martial arts master, or even own a gun or rifle in order to carry out a massacre or to kill and injure several disbelievers and terrorize an entire nation.' Urging followers to carry out brutal acts of violence, the article continues: 'Many people are often squeamish of the thought of plunging a sharp object into another person's flesh. 'It is a discomfort caused by the untamed, inherent dislike for pain and death, especially after 'modernization' distanced males from partaking in the slaughtering of livestock for food and the striking of the enemy in war. 'However, any such squirms and discomforts are never an excuse for abandoning jihad.' The shocking article (reported on the (5 Oct 16) even goes on to advise would-be terrorists on which weapons to use. 'It is explicitly advised not to use kitchen knives, as their basic structure is not designed to handle the kind of vigorous application used for assassinations and slaughter,' it reads, adding: 'to avoid troublesome knives, those that can cause harm to the user because of poor manufacturing.' The terror rag, printed in Turkish, German, French, Indonesian, Russian, Arabic and Uyghur, is simpler in content and shorter in length than ISIS' other English-language magazine Dabiq.
Da’esh – ISIS on the 10 Oct 16 confirmed the death of its propaganda chief, whom the Pentagon said was killed in a US-led air strike in Syria’s Raqqa province last month. An statement posted online by the militant group paid tribute to Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, also known as Abu Mohammed al-Furqan. The statement just referred to him by his alias. It did not say when, where or how he had died. The Pentagon said last month that a US-led coalition air strike on Sept. 7 had killed al-Fayad. It said he was minister of information, overseeing ISIS propaganda, and a prominent member of its Senior Shura Council, or leadership group. ISIS’s statement referred to al-Fayad as head of its media arm. The air strike took place near Raqqa, ISIS de facto capital in northern Syria, and targeted al-Fayad while he was on a motorcycle outside his house, the Pentagon said.
Da’esh/Europe – Acknowledging that the terrorist threat in the EU has reached its peak in the last two decades, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator warned the bloc’s lawmakers that Europe could face new ISIS-coordinated attacks, possibly even involving chemical weapons it was reported on the 26 Sep 16. After a wave of bloody Islamic State terrorist attacks shook Europe in the summer, especially in France and Germany, Gilles de Kerchove warned members of the EU Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee that because of “multiplicity of the possible origins” of attacks, terrorism threat across the EU remains "very high.” De Kerchove said that “at least six reasons” exist for keeping the alert level at its highest level in the last 20 years. To begin with, a large number of well-trained suicide bombers and lone wolf actors “that are directed or inspired” by IS are present in Europe. The number of potential perpetrators is expanded further by “persons with mental health problems or who try to emulate” the perpetrators of the terrorist organization, the counter-terrorism chief warned. He stressed the “link between terrorism and crime,” noting that many EU attackers had a “criminal past.” Kererchove also confirmed that IS is “using the flow of migrants to infiltrate fighters, by using forged documents.” The intelligence boss warned that if ISIS faces further setbacks, more fighters from Syria and Iraq will flee to the EU, with some moving to Libya to continue their jihad. “How will we handle not hundreds but thousands of fighters who will either want to go to another hotspot – Libya is probably the most obvious one but there are many others where they can hide – or they may want to get back home?” Kerchove said. “We will have to handle a high number and a diversity of profiles: the frontliners, people who have worked on the frontlines as fighters; people who have worked in the back office of the fight, but also wives of fighters and children. We know more than 500 children were born there,” the chief said. Another reason why terrorist threat grows in Europe is ISIS' mastery of online and social media propaganda channels which expands their recruitment drive. In his address to EU lawmakers, Kerchove said that the latest trend shows that fewer Europeans are going to Syria, but more Europeans get “inspired” to join the jihad on home soil. Refugees also remain at risk of being radicalized, as “Salafist organizations already trying to recruit in the refugee camps” across Europe and particularly in Germany. “It is not a coincidence because they will want to compromise the refugees, as it may trigger the vicious circle of Islamophobia and radicalisation,” Kerchove said. Kerchove highlighted that jihadists are also adopting their attack tactics, seeking targets outside their typical scope of famous landmarks or state institutions. The terrorists are also adapting their strike capabilities using ready-made and easily available devices. “We fear that Da’esh might step-by-step move to other modus operandi,” Kerchove said. “Car bombs might be one. We know how much they learn how to build vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. And there is a concern as well on the use of chemical weapons.”
Da’esh/Turkey/Syria – Turkish-backed rebels have captured the symbolically important Syrian town of Dabiq from the Islamic State group, rebel commanders and monitors said on the 16 Oct 16. The rebels took Dabiq after "IS members withdrew", the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The small northern town holds great value for IS because of a prophecy of an apocalyptic battle, and features heavily in its propaganda. The advance on Dabiq is part of a wider offensive by Syrian rebel groups. Ahmed Osman, the commander of the Sultan Murad rebel group said on the 16 Oct 16 that the group had also recaptured the neighbouring village of Soran. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 1,200 IS fighters had been brought in to defend Dabiq. A commander of one rebel group, the Hamza Brigade said that resistance from IS was "minimal". Saif Abu Bakr said IS withdrew towards the larger town of Al-Bab to the south. There were about 2,000 rebel fighters were involved in the offensive. They were supported by Turkish tanks and artillery, and airstrikes from international coalition warplanes. Dabiq is just 10km (six miles) from the border with Turkey. The battle for Dabiq has been building for weeks - with one village after another being seized from IS by rebel fighters backed by Turkish airstrikes. In the end, it seems to have fallen swiftly after the announcement of the final assault on the 15 Oct 16. Strategically, it's not a major prize. But IS has embraced it as a symbol of its apocalyptic vision of all-out confrontation with its enemies. The town is named in one Hadith - or saying by the Prophet Mohammed - as the site of the climactic battle between Muslims and non-Muslims before the end of the world. The group named its online magazine after it, but has downplayed its significance recently, saying this battle is not the epic that was prophesied.
Iran/Yemen – Iran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on the 13 Oct 16 the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, establishing a military presence in waters off Yemen where the US military launched cruise missile strikes on areas controlled by Iran-backed Houthi forces. “Iran’s Alvand and Bushehr warships have been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to protect trade vessels from piracy,” Tasnim reported. The US military strikes were in response to failed missile attacks this week on a US Navy destroyer, officials said. Iran’s 44th flotilla, comprising Alvand destroyer and Bushehr logistic warship, has been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to protect the country’s trade vessels against piracy in the unsafe zone, the agency said. It added that the Iranian fleet would head to waters near Somalia and Tanzania and through the Indian Ocean. The presence of the Iranian fleet in the Gulf of Aden comes after with the Pentagon announced late on 12 Oct 16 that it struck and destroyed three radar sites controlled by the Houthi militias in Yemen. After making a port call in Tanzania, the 44th fleet will sail along the eastern coasts of Africa if the weather holds out, and is scheduled to sail for the western coasts of South Africa, in the South Atlantic Ocean. 361 COMMENT: It’s quite obvious that these vessels have been sent as a show piece after the United States destroyed the three radar sites. Although deployed it’s doubtful they will carry out any military action against the United States. For one thing there equipment is not as advanced as the U.S. and the other is that the Iranians have too much to lose after the nuclear agreement. A great deal of words will be forthcoming but to send the Iranian navy now in response to piracy after all this time? No, that’s not the reason. The last time that the Iranian navy attempted to get involved with the U.S. Navy (Apr 15) they aborted and disappeared. Ambitions and capabilities are not to be confused. COMMENT ENDS
Iran/United States – The US army reported that the missiles launched by Houthi militias targeting its navy ship in the Red Sea were “C202 silkworm” missiles that Iran had imported from China it was reported on the 15 Oct 16. Iran has been using the coasts of Shabwa and Hadramout to traffic weapons to Houthi militias, thus violating the Security Council’s decision to ban the export of arms to rebel militias. Iran did not only provide weapon to Yemeni militias, as it has also transported arms to the Popular Mobilization units in Iraq and Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. Moreover, Iran has even sent arms and gear to Syrian militias. It has previously supplied the Popular Mobilization militia with tens of Scud missiles, shells and launchers, and so it did with Hezbollah and Assad regime militias. It is worth mentioning that the weapons sent to these militias are imported from China, North Korea and Russia. Slight modifications on these weapons, including the change in their names, are undertaken in Iranian factories. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, confirmed that Iran is breaching international laws by providing weapon to the mentioned militias.
Iraq/Da’esh/Peshmerga – Two Kurdish Peshmerga were killed and a pair of French commandos injured after a booby-trapped drone launched by ISIL fighters blew up earlier this month near Iraq's Mosul city it was reported on the 13 Oct 16. One of the French soldiers sustained life-threatening injuries and both were flown back to France for treatment. Other French troops were reportedly lightly injured by the drone blast. "It seems it was booby-trapped," Jabbar al-Yawar, secretary-general of the autonomous Kurdish region's defence ministry said on the 12 Oct 16 adding that it detonated when soldiers attempted to pick it up. French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll confirmed the injuries. "Yes. They were injured by a drone that landed and then exploded," he told reporters. The use by ISIL of drones carrying explosives intended to blow up when they hit their target is a relatively new development. Calling it a Trojan Horse-style attack, Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, spokesman for the US-led military coalition in Iraq, said an improvised device on the drone exploded after it was taken back to base. A US official added it looked like a Styrofoam model plane that was taped together in a rudimentary style. The official - who spoke on condition of anonymity - said it appeared to be carrying a C-4 charge and batteries, and may have had a timer on it. "They can just buy them as anybody else would," Dorian told reporters. "Some of those are available on Amazon." Chris Woods - head of the Airwars project, which tracks the international air war in Iraq, Syria and Libya - said, "there are a million ways you can weaponise drones - fire rockets, strap things in and crash them". "This is the stuff everyone has been terrified about for years, and now it's a reality," Woods added. Yawar, speaking from Erbil said the French soldiers had been training Kurdish fighters near the town of Dohuk.
Iraq – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the middle of a Shi'ite Muslim gathering in Baghdad, killing at least 31 people and wounding more than 50 on the 15 Oct 16 police said. The explosion went off inside a tent filled with people taking part in Shi'ite Ashura rituals, mourning the killing of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein in the 7th century. The tent was set up in a crowded market in the city's northern al-Shaab district.
Israel/Da’esh – A rocket attack in Israel was declared part of the "jihad against Jews" after a terrorist group linked to ISIS claimed responsibility on the 5 Oct 16. Silafi jihadists in Gaza released an online statement saying the strike was in response to the arrest of five Salafi operatives by Hamas. 'Red alert' sirens sounded in the southern Israeli town of Sderot which borders on Gaza shortly before the rocket hit, The Jerusalem Post reported. The rocket left a scorched crater in the road while the blast shattered windows of homes and shrapnel damaged cars in the street nearby. The Gaza-based cell is called Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis and one of several Salafi jihadist groups who claim to share an ideology and purpose with ISIS. In a statement, released in Arabic and Hebrew and seen by the Times of Israel they said, 'Oh you cowardly Jews: You don’t have safety in our land.' Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas and since 2014 has observed a de facto ceasefire with Israel but local armed Salafi groups sometimes attempt their own strikes. In response to the latest attack the Israel Defence Forces fired shells at a Hamas observation point in the town of Beit Hanoun, in the north of Gaza. Hamas-run media said there were no injuries caused by this retaliation strike. Israeli police reported no casualites in Sderot and bomb-disposal teams were called to the area which was cordoned off to the public. The last rocket attack to come from Gaza was on the 21 Aug 16, Israeli authorities reported no casualties.
Israel – A Palestinian man was been killed after he allegedly opened fire near an Israeli police station in occupied East Jerusalem, killing two and leaving at least six others wounded, according to police and witnesses. The alleged drive-by attack occurred on the 9 Oct 16 at a light rail station near the Israeli police headquarters in Sheikh Jarrah, close to the line dividing mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem from the mostly Jewish western sector of the city. Israeli police responded to the scene, and after a short pursuit, shot and killed the alleged attacker - a 39-year-old Palestinian man identified by his family as Musbah Abu Sbeih from the neighbourhood of Silwan in Jerusalem. Two critically injured victims, a 30-year-old police officer and a 60-year-old woman, later succumbed to their wounds, according to a spokesman at Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital. A reporter at the scene said that a man in a car opened fire near the police station injuring two soldiers. Sbeih was reportedly supposed to hand himself over to Israeli police at 10am local time on Sunday. The attack was carried out at 9:30 am, according to people at the scene. Witnesses counted at least 50 bullet holes in the alleged assailant's car. Sbeih was the 232nd Palestinian to be killed by Israelis since a wave of unrest began last October, while 32 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. The violence has mostly been characterised by small-scale attacks with knives.
Kuwait – An Egyptian driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and ISIS papers rammed into a car carrying five US soldiers in Kuwait on the 8 Oct 16 injuring only himself in the attack, authorities said. The attempted attack is the first in the stalwart US ally to target American troops in the tiny, oil-rich emirate. The state-run Kuwait News Agency identified the attacker as Ibrahim Sulaiman, born in 1988. KUNA said the five soldiers were not injured. It said Sulaiman had multiple fractures and injuries. The KUNA report did not offer a location for the failed attack. American forces and others have troops stationed at Kuwait's Camp Arifjan. US Central Command did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The US Embassy in Kuwait City had no immediate comment.
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s apache helicopters targeted militia in a border attack across Jazan and recorded direct hits it was reported on the 6 Oct 16. Saudi Arabia has been ramping up counter-attacks in recent days after militias launched several cross border rocket attacks. The apache attacks come after a Houthi rocket landed on the 5 Oct 16 in Jazan and injured a Yemeni resident in al-Tawal village.
Saudi Arabia/Yemen/United States – A US Navy destroyer has been targeted in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels, a US military spokesman said. In another attack, a ballistic missile launched from Yemen targeted a Saudi airbase near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi and rebel media reported on the 10 Oct 16 the deepest strike yet into the kingdom by the rebels and their allies. Two missiles failed to hit the US Navy ship after being launched on the 9 Oct 16 Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.
"USS Mason detected two inbound missiles over a 60-minute period while in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen. Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship," he said. "There were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship." Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a Navy spokesman, said that it was unclear if the Mason was specifically targeted, though the missiles were fired in its direction. The destroyer at the time of the missile fire was north of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which serves as a gateway for oil tankers headed to Europe through the Suez Canal, a defence official said. Earlier this month Yemeni fighters said they destroyed a vessel in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait that was operated by the United Arab Emirates military, which is part of an Arab coalition fighting in support of Yemen's government against the Houthis. There were no casualties reported in that attack. On the 10 Oct 16 Saudi state television broadcast a brief clip of what appeared to be a projectile landing in Taif and the flash of an explosion, followed by images of emergency vehicles. Taif is home to Saudi Arabia's King Fahad Air Base, which hosts US military personnel training the kingdom's armed forces. The Saudi military said the missile fired late on the 8 Oct 16 caused no damage. The US military's Central Command, which oversees troops in the Middle East, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Al-Masirah, a satellite news channel run by the Houthis, identified the missile as a local variant of a Soviet-era Scud missile. It said the Volcano-1 missile targeted the airbase. The Houthis have fired a series of ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, but most have hit areas closer to the border with Yemen. In the Taif attack, however, the missile struck more than 520km from the demarcation. The Saudi military also said it earlier intercepted another ballistic missile fired on the 9 Oct 16 on the Yemeni city of Marib. Saudi Arabia and the United States blame Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis. Tehran views the Houthis, who are from a Shia sect, as the legitimate authority in Yemen but denies it supplies them with weapons.
Syria/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham – A US-led coalition air strike has killed a senior leader of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the group has announced, shortly after the Pentagon said it targeted him near Idlib. Ahmed Salama Mabrouk, an Egyptian also known as Abu Faraj, "was martyred after a coalition air strike in the west of Idlib province", Jabhat Fateh al-Sham said in a statement on the 3 Oct 16 on the Telegram app. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook confirmed that a US strike near Idlib had targeted Mabrouk, describing him as "one of al-Qaeda in Syria's most senior leaders and a legacy al-Qaeda terrorist who previously had ties to Osama bin Laden". However, officials are "still assessing the results" to determine whether he had in fact been killed in the air raid, Cook said in a statement. Born in 1956 in the suburbs of Cairo, Mabrouk was known as a veteran al-Qaeda leader, and a commander of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front that changed its name after cutting ties with al-Qaeda in Jul 16. The Pentagon spokesman said that Mabrouk's "death, if confirmed, would disrupt and degrade coordination among senior AQ leaders and extremists". "The United States military will continue to target al-Qaeda leaders to disrupt their operations and counter the threat posed by this terrorist group," he said. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham split in July from al-Qaeda, a move analysts said was aimed at easing pressure from both Russia and the United States. However, US military officials do not consider the group to have truly broken with the Osama bin Laden-founded group. "We are aware of al-Nusra's announced name change. The individuals that are there are still Nusra to us," Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said. "There's obviously close affiliations" to al-Qaeda, he added.
Syria – A suicide bomber killed at least 32 people on the 3 Oct 16 in an attack targeting a wedding party in the north-eastern province of Hasakeh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a hall in Al-Tall village during the wedding of a member of the Syrian Democratic Forces, killing at least 32 people and injuring dozens more," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told reporters. The SDF is an Arab-Kurdish coalition battling extremists of the ISIS group in northern Syria.
Syria/Russia – Russia’s defiance ministry said on the 4 Oct 16 that it had sent an S-300 missile system to its naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus, a measure it says is meant to bolster its security. “The S-300 anti-aircraft missile system has indeed been sent to the Syrian Arab Republic,” defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. Konashenkov made the statement after US news station Fox News said Russia has deployed an advanced anti-missile system in Syria for the first time, citing three US officials. The officials said the new weapon system could potentially counter any US cruise missile attack in Syria, in a latest show for Russian military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This makes it the first time Russia has deployed the SA-23 system outside its borders, Fox News said, according to one Western official citing a recent intelligence assessment. On the 4 Oct 16 the United States has defended its stance in Syria when it said it has not given up “pursuit of peace in Syria” as Russian and Syrian warplanes continued to pound residential areas in besieged parts of Aleppo. 361 COMMENT: This air defence system is a game changer in the conflict. Da’esh along with other groups operating in Syria have no aircraft so where does the threat of an air attack come from? This is a deliberate attempt from Russia/Syria to say ‘stay away or we will shoot down your aircraft’. The Western alliance has no use of Cruise Missiles in that area as aircraft are doing a splendid job carrying out operations against Da’esh and other groups, so why use Cruise Missiles? These are being put in place so that when Da’esh is no longer a major threat in the area the Western states will not think to attack Assad and remove him that way. It will be interesting to see what will happen in the future regarding the West but more importantly; if an allied aircraft is downed by this system and the pilot fall’s into the hands of the opposition what will be the response then. This, as mentioned earlier is a huge game changer. Remember the huge exchange of words and accusations that is happening in the Ukraine when in Jul 14 a Malaysian airliner was downed using a Russian air defence system. COMMENT ENDS
Syria/Turkey – At least 20 people, most of them rebel fighters, have been killed and dozens injured in a bomb attack near Syria's border with Turkey, reports say on the 6 Oct 16. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast occurred at the Atmeh crossing, in Idlib province. Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said it took place during a "change of guard" among rebels in the area. A news agency linked to so-called Islamic State (IS) said a suicide bomber had targeted a rebel convoy. Turkish-backed rebel factions are currently battling IS militants in another border region further east. The rebels are advancing on the town of Dabiq, which holds great symbolic value to the jihadist group as it is named in Islamic apocalyptic prophecies as the site of an end-of-times showdown between Muslims and their enemies.
Syria/Russia – Russian warship “Mirage” on the 7 Oct 16 passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus strait, heading to the Mediterranean to back up Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria journalists reported. The corvette, which left Russia’s Sevastopol base in Crimea on the 6 Oct 16, is on a mission is to protect other navy ships from other ships or submarines. Russian marines soldiers were seen on the vessel loaded with cruise missile launchers as well as artillery journalists reported. Mirage took part in the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia over Moscow-backed South Ossetia region. The Russian navy used cruise missiles to strike Syria for the first time in Oct 15, launching them from the Caspian Sea, as well as in Dec 15 when they were launched from a submarine in the Mediterranean. Dozens of Russian warships have passed through the Bosphorus Strait, northbound and southbound, especially since Moscow stepped up operations inside Syria.
Syria – A powerful Syrian Islamist insurgent group on the 9 Oct 16 pledged allegiance to former al-Qaeda branch Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a statement circulated by rebel officials and reported by a monitoring group said. The Jund al-Aqsa group said it was trying to settle differences with Ahrar al-Sham, with which it has been fighting for days in the north-western Idlib province, so as not to weaken rebel fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Government forces in recent days have captured territory from rebels taking advantage of infighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported. The Observatory, which also reported Jund al-Aqsa’s announcement, said the group was seeking the protection of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.Jund al-Aqsa’s statement - circulated by rebel officials from other groups and carrying the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham stamp - did not say how pledging allegiance to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham would mend its relationship with Ahrar al-Sham. The move appears to formalize Jund al-Aqsa’s ties with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front, which changed its name in July and said it was breaking from the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden. Jund al-Aqsa, which is on the US State Department’s list of terrorist groups, has been heavily involved in fighting in the west and north of Syria including around Aleppo in the most recent months of the five-year-old civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Syria’s Islamist insurgents have eclipsed more moderate and Western-backed nationalist rebel groups in the conflict. Nusra Front’s breaking of ties from al-Qaeda appeared aimed at assuaging Syrians who had misgivings about its links with foreign militants. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said at the time that the split would help unite Syrian insurgents.
Syria/Russia – Russia intends to establish a permanent naval base on the site of an existing facility it leases at the Syrian port of Tartus, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Pankov said on the 10 Oct 16 Russian news agencies reported. Pankov’s statement is the latest sign that Moscow wants to expand its military footprint in Syria where it has been helping President Bashar al-Assad fight rebels since 2015. “We will have a permanent naval base at Tartus,” Pankov told Russian senators. “The necessary documents are already prepared and are in the process of being approved by different agencies. We hope we can ask you to ratify these documents soon.” Senator Igor Morozov told the RIA news agency that the decision would allow Russia to operate more ships in the Mediterranean as they would have an enhanced facility at which they could refuel and resupply. “By doing this Russia is not only increasing its military potential in Syria but in the entire Middle East and in the Mediterranean region as a whole,” said Morozov. Russia already has a permanent air base at Hmeymim in Syria’s Latakia province from which it launches air strikes against anti-Assad rebels. Moscow inherited a Soviet-era naval facility at Tartus when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian navy's sole foothold in the Mediterranean. Despite some modernization, it is currently fairly modest and unable to accommodate larger warships.
Yemen/Houthis – Saudi-led Arab Coalition have dubbed attack by Yemeni militias on a UAE ship carrying aid on the 1 Oct 16 in the Bab al-Mandab strait as a “dangerous indication.” The coalition said civilians onboard the ship were rescued. Earlier, the Iran-backed Houthi militias have claimed they hit a vessel on the 1 Oct 16 operated by the UAE military, which is part of the Arab Coalition fighting in support of Yemen’s government. “Rockets targeted an Emirati warship as it approached the coast of Mokha,” on the Red Sea, the Houthis said in a statement on their sabanews.net website. “It was completely destroyed,” they said. In a statement published by the official WAM news agency, the UAE military said the boat was on a routine trip from Aden, further south, and that it had launched an investigation. It said the boat was hired, but did not provide more details or say if the vessel was damaged.
Follow on Report: The UAE said on the 5 Oct 16 Yemeni Houthi forces had attacked a UAE civilian vessel in a strategic Red Sea shipping lane off the coast of Yemen at the weekend and called the incident an act of terrorism. The UAE foreign ministry, in a statement carried by state news agency WAM, said the civilian ship was targeted by Houthi militia near the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen's southern coast on the 1 Oct 16. “The targeting of the civilian ship in an international channel has serious implications for freedom of navigation, and is an act of terror...,” it said, without elaborating. In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil per day passed through the 20-km (12 mile) wide Bab al-Mandab, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Yemen/Houthi’s/United States – The US military has launched cruise missile strikes to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Houthi rebel forces, in retaliation for missile attacks at its Navy ship. Thursday's (13 Oct 16) strikes, authorised by President Barack Obama, represent Washington's first direct military action against Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen's conflict. The Pentagon said the strikes were aimed at radars that enabled the launch of at least three missiles against the US Navy destroyer USS Mason since the 9 Oct 16. US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said US Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles around 0400 hrs local time (0100 hrs GMT). "These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea," including the USS Mason, one of the officials said, adding the sites were in remote areas where the risk of civilian casualties was low. The US official identified the areas in Yemen where the radars were targeted as near Ras Isa, north of Mukha and near Khoka. The missile attacks on the USS Mason - the latest of which took place earlier on the 12 Oct 16 - appeared to be the Houthis' response to a suspected Arab coalition strike on mourners gathered in Yemen's Houthi-held capital Sanaa. But Houthi rebel fighters and allies on the 13 Oct 16 denied the accusations that they had targeted the USS Mason. "Those claims are baseless," the Saba news agency quoted a military official allied with the rebels as saying. "The [rebel-allied] army and the Popular Committees [armed group] have nothing to do with this action." The missile incidents, along with an 1 Oct 16 strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates, add to questions about the safety of passage for military ships around the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping routes. The Pentagon warned against any future attacks. "The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate," Cook said.
Yemen/Houthi’s/al-Qaeda – US aircraft have finally raided the sites and radars of Houthi militias on the Red Sea coast even though the Houthis had bombed US military ships twice before. International tolerance toward Houthi militias, despite the huge number of crimes committed against Yemenis for two years, has frightened locals of this extremist religious terrorist group. The Houthis took advantage of this leniency to assassinate political opponents and threaten maritime navigation routes many times. They even bombed an Emirati aid shipment last week.
Do Houthi militias differ from al-Qaeda and ISIS?
The difference is that the Houthis had never attacked American or Western targets before, and this is why they were not included on terror lists. However, the Houthi militia actually has the same characteristics as al-Qaeda, including the use of religion to target civilians and wage wars. Houthis’ political slogans do not differ from al-Qaeda’s. They both call for fighting the “infidel West” and kill those who are not of their religion. They imposed their religious rules on the Zaidis and Shafi’i Sunnis. The extremist organization has filled the cities’ streets with images of religious leaders, along with slogans calling for a war to be waged against the “infidel West” and the Yemenis who are at odds with it. Al-Qaeda, ISIS or Ansar Allah must all be classified as terrorist groups rather than limiting terrorism to al-Qaeda because it raises its weapons against the West. More recently, Houthis dared to wage battles against neutral parties; in Sanaa, they kidnapped an American teacher who works in an English teaching Institute and has lived in the Yemeni capital for many years. His fate remains unknown. On the 9 Oct 16 Houthis bombed the US warship USS Mason, the Americans thought that it was a random bombing by the Houthis but the group did it again on the 12 Oct 16 and bombed the same ship, despite American warnings that followed the first bombing. The US Air Force raided the Houthis’ radars in Taiz and Hodeida. It was not a harmful sanction but rather a clear message in order to stop the attacks on the US Navy. These limited raids send a specific message to refrain from attacking the US Navy and do not necessarily suggest that the Americans are interested in the safety of navigation routes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab strait in general. Battles are ongoing between legitimate government forces and the Houthis to seize control over this strait. Over the past decade, international navigation may have suffered on the other side of the Red Sea, when Somali extremist pirates spread terror. Thorough international coordination and the formation of multinational naval forces controlled the situation. History will repeat itself on the Yemeni side of the Red Sea if the world does not support the peaceful solution based on the same international resolutions which were disrupted when Houthis and former the Yemeni president orchestrated a coup and shared governance. The safety of maritime routes and the security in the region and the world require an international stance against harassment and militias, regardless of their religion, as long as they are carrying weapons. The Houthi group, also known as “Ansar Allah,” was founded by the Iranians and trained by Lebanese Hezbollah. It is still receiving military, logistical and media support from there. It is similar to many armed groups founded by Iran in the region, whether from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Lebanon; they all have one mission: serve Iranian politics through armed force. Dealing with religious groups should be the same whether they are Shiite or Sunni. Al-Qaeda, ISIS or Ansar Allah must all be classified as terrorist groups, rather than limiting terrorism to al-Qaeda because it raises its weapons against the West.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 15, 2016. By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Yemen/Houthi’s/United States – US officials say a new round of missiles targeting an American warship in the Red Sea has been fired from a region of Yemen controlled by Houthi fighters. The USS Mason, a destroyer, launched countermeasures and was not hit in the 15 Oct 16 strike. Three US warships in the Red Sea detected the missiles, the US military said, amid rising tensions with the Iran-allied group. "The Mason once again appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea, again from coastal defence cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen," Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, announced on the 15 Oct 16 in Baltimore. US officials initially said that surface-to-surface missiles had been fired at the USS Mason, USS Nitze and USS Ponce off the coast of Yemen starting around 1930 hrs GMT, though it was unclear how many. If confirmed, the missile launches would be the third attack in about a week targeting the Mason and other US ships. Earlier this week, the Mason, sailing in international waters off Yemen's coast, used unspecified countermeasures against incoming missiles, a military official said. The attempted missile strikes is the most serious escalation yet of US involvement in Yemen's civil war. US officials say the US wants to avoid getting embroiled in yet another war in the Middle East.