MENA Region Daily Brief
Gaza Strip: Militants set Fatah leader’s private residence ablaze
Unidentified militants hurled flammable material at Fatah leader Riyad Abd al-Wahed’s private residence in the eastern Gaza Strip in what was the latest attack targeting members of the political party in the Strip. A series of low-level explosions have rocked the vehicles and homes of members of Fatah members in the recent term, causing no injuries but underscoring the ongoing, high level of tensions between Fatah and Hamas despite public claims of renewed attempts at unification. Hamas leaders have also been targeted in similar assaults recently in what were likely retaliatory assaults by Fatah members. Meanwhile, Egyptian forces began slowly pulling back from Sinai, on the border with the Gaza Strip, to deploy additional troops to its western border with Libya, triggering Israeli concerns that the area could see a significant uptick in militant activity.
Syria: Barrel bombings slam Aleppo following rebel attack on intelligence headquarters
The Syrian regime carried out several barrel bombing attacks, killing at least 22 civilians including several children, in rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo, after Jahbat al-Nusra and other allied Islamist militias, including Ansar al-Din Front and Ansar al-Khelafa, carried out a massive attack on the Syrian Air Force intelligence headquarters, killing at least 35 Bashar al-Assad regime personnel, one day prior in the same city.
Iraq: Iranian commander leads Tikrit offensive
Iraqi troops, led by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) Major General Qasem Soleimani and backed by Shia Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), continued their offensive to take the strategic city of Tikrit which would allow Baghdad to launch a secondary offensive to seize control of IS-controlled Mosul. Iran’s completely overt role in the Tikrit offensive has further inflamed sectarian strife and triggered international concerns over Tehran’s rapidly expanding influence in the region.