MENA Region Daily Brief
Syria: Explosion rocks military intelligence headquarters in Aleppo
Syrian rebels carried out a major attack targeting the Syrian Air Force Intelligence’s headquarters in Aleppo, detonating an improvised explosive device (IED) in a tunnel near the building and then ambushing it and opening fire. Initial reports indicated that dozens of regime soldiers and rebels were killed in the ensuing clashes. Meanwhile, sources confirmed that the moderate, western-backed Harakat Hazm Syrian rebel organization had officially announced they were disbanding after being continuously degraded by enemy forces and completely degraded by Jahbat al-Nusra in the recent term. The collapse of the group came only days after the US and Turkey signed an agreement to train and arm Syrian opposition forces, underscoring the challenges of this endeavour.
Turkey: Security forces detain IS militant in southeastern Hatay province
Turkish security forces confirmed that they detained a suspected Islamic State (IS) militant, who was armed with at least one Kalashnikov and ammunition in restive southeastern Turkey’s Hassa district, located in Hatay province on 2 March. The arrest came amid ongoing Turkish efforts to crackdown on IS militants on the Turkey-Syrian border and as credible intelligence continued indicating a high risk of attack in Ankara and Istanbul.
Iraq: Offensive to retake Tikrit continues as senior IS leader is killed
The Iraqi military’s offensive to regain control of Tikrit from IS continued with some strategic gains being secured but progress slowed by multiple roadside bombing attacks. By afternoon hours local time, Iraqi forces and allied militias had seized at least several villages and oil fields and also effectively blocked off a critical IS supply road leading to Diyala province.
IS released another video outlining their position in the fighting around Tikrit refuting the claims regarding territorial gains by the Iraqi and allied forces.
In the dialogue and pictures in the video it is showing that they’re in multiple locations like Tikrit, Aalam, al-Dawl, al-Jallam, and that all the claims that have been thrown out there that they were able to gain control over those areas are complete lies. And it appears to be so, as they are standing in front of landmarks in those places like the Shuhadaa Mosque in Tikrit, and the academia of Tikrit, and they’re stating that “the enemy could not conquer them and that they will fight with everything they have”.
A fighter in the video states “It is time for you to know that there are no rights, no justice, no dignity, no safety, no hope, no life without jihad”, emphasising the sole desire of IS to continue Jihad.
The video ends with a direct threat to the USA with the fighter saying in a poem “be patient America, we are coming to you.” This is common to try and focus supporters on a common perceived enemy and take their focus off local tactical issues and is a change to recent threats that have been focused on Europe and in particular France.