MENA Region Daily Brief – 11 March 2015
Iraq: Troops, allied militias make gains in IS-controlled Tikrit
Iraqi military troops, backed by allied militias including Hashid Shaabi, ambushed the strategic, Islamic State-controlled city of Tikrit, regaining control of the Military Hospital and capturing at least half of Qadisiya district. One day prior, troops seized the town of Al-Alam, located on the outskirts of the city in what was the latest signicant gain made by Iraqi forces in an Iranian-led offensive to retake the city in what will likely be the precusor to a major offensive to regain control of Mosul. As of afternoon hours local time, deadly clashes continued between IS cadres and Iraqi forces in Tikrit’s industrial zone and around the presidential palace.
Syria: Violence in Aleppo prompts Turkish officials to close border crossings
Turkish authorities ordered the closure of the Oncupinar and Cilvegozu border crossings with Syria in Turkey’s Hatay province, as violence continued to intensify between Syrian regime troops and insurgents in Aleppo. Meanwhile, IS militants launched an offensive to retake the Hassakeh province town of Ras al-Ain, killing at least 12 Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters. In an unidentified location one day prior, IS-affiliated media released vídeo footage showing a young child fatally shoot 19-year-old Arab-Israeli national Muhammad Musallam, who ISIS alleges was a captured “Israeli spy.” The child was accompanied by an adult IS state fighter who spoke French in what was apparently a North African accent. Following the execution, the group released the IDs of thirteen Palestinians living in Israel who the group claims work for Israel’s Mossad. The incident marked the first time the militant group formally issued direct threats to Israel.
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