ATbar Monthly Summary of Events January 2017

Monthly Summary of Events January 2017

07/02/2017 | by Landau, Edan  

Israel

During the month of January, several terrorist attacks and attempted attacks were carried out, with emphasis on Jerusalem and the West Bank. Most of the attacks took the form of rammings, stabbings and shootings, and were directed against civilians and security forces. In a ramming attack carried out on the boardwalk in the Armon Hanaziv area by a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, four officers and cadets were killed and close to 20 more were injured. In a shooting attack in Haifa that was carried out by an Arab resident of the city, one civilian was killed and another was injured. In addition, two shooting incidents took place on the border with the Gaza Strip, to which the IDF responded by attacking Hamas posts.

During the month, the IDF and the Shin Bet released for publication the discovery of a cyber-attack by Hamas that had targeted the cell phones of soldiers in an effort to collect information about IDF capabilities and preparedness. In the Gaza Strip riots were reported due to the energy crisis gripping the Strip and as a result, Hamas threatened that if a solution is not found it will direct its fire against the State of Israel. The governments of the United Arab Emirates and Turkey helped to find a solution to the crisis by funding the oil supply to the Gaza Strip. In addition, following an absence of several months, the Prime Minister of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, returned to the Strip after meeting with the Egyptian head of intelligence and other senior officials.

In addition, during the month, it was reported that IAF planes had attacked weapons depots in the area of the Mezzeh military airport near Damascus. The Syrian regime blamed Israel and even referred to the UN Security Council in this matter.

Syria

During the month of January, talks were held regarding the continuation of a ceasefire in Syria and its implementation. With the conclusion of the talks, which were held in Astana, Kazakhstan, it was decided that that Russia, Iran and Turkey would cooperate regarding the issue of a framework for the ceasefire. Meanwhile, after several weeks of battle, the Syrian army managed to seize control of water sources in Ain al-Fijah (Wadi Barada), north of the capital of Damascus. Despite the battles in Wadi Barada, the ceasefire achieved in December 2016 between Syrian army forces and moderate rebels was mostly maintained. Alongside the implementation of the ceasefire, it was reported that some Russian forces had started to leave the country.

During the month, Turkish army forces continued to attack Islamic State (IS) targets in Al-Bab in the north of the country, and it was even reported that Russia and Turkey are cooperating in attacking several IS targets in the area. In contrast, the IS launched an attack on the city of Deir Ezzor during which it also captured the city’s hospital from Syrian regime forces. In addition, heavy battles were reported around the T4 military airport in Homs Province as well as continued battles around the city of Palmyra.

During the month of January, the air coalition continued to act mainly in northern Syria. In a series of US strikes on training camps near the city of Idlib, at least 100 Al-Qaeda militants were killed. In addition, IS targets were attacked, with emphasis on the area of Raqqah and northern Syria. In total, 535 air strikes were carried out by the air coalition, an increase of over 200 attacks from December 2016. Alongside the air strikes, it was reported that US Special Forces had killed over 25 IS fighters during a raid on the village of Al-Khobar in Deir Ezzor Province.

During the month, several major bomb attacks took place throughout the country. Several police officers were killed in a double suicide attack by the IS in the city of Tartus, and a car bomb explosion in the town of Jableh in Latakia Province killed at least 25 people. In a major car bombing in the city of Azaz, which is located near the border with Turkey, over 40 people were killed and dozens more were injured, and several Syrian intelligence officers were killed in a car bombing next to the town of Sa’sa’, west of the capital of Damascus. In another car bombing at the Rukban refugee camp on the northeast border of Jordan, several people were killed.

During the month, it was reported that five of the largest jihad factions in the country, including Al-Nusra Front, had united under one umbrella organization called the “Organization for the Liberation of the Levant” (Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham).

Lebanon

During the month of January, the political discourse in the country was focused around the call for a change to the election law from 1960.

During the month, the Lebanese army continued to act against militant targets along the border with Syria, with emphasis on the town of Arsal. Meanwhile, Hezbollah fighters acted against global jihad organization targets east of the town of Ras Baalbek. In addition, at least two suicide attacks were thwarted in the country when Lebanese security forces arrested a Syrian citizen who was planning to carry out a suicide attack during New Year celebrations, and another suicide terrorist was arrested at a café in the capital of Beirut.

Egypt

During the month of January, Egyptian security forces continued to act against IS fighters in the Sinai Peninsula. Several IS fighters were killed during a raid by security forces on their hideout in Al-Arish, while six others were killed during an operation in central Sinai Peninsula. In contrast, several Egyptian army soldiers and police officers were killed as a result of terrorist attacks and ambushes by IS fighters. In one attack, ten officers and soldiers were killed in a truck bombing at a police barrier outside of a police station in Al-Arish, while several others were killed in the explosion of a roadside charge that was planted along the traffic route in the northern Sinai Peninsula. In an unusual incident in terms of its location, eight police officers were killed in a shooting attack at a police barrier in - Al-Wādī al-Jadīd Province in southwest Egypt. In addition, two transmission towers used to transmit electricity between Egypt and Jordan in the area of Oyoun Moussa, along the Red Sea coast, were blown up by IS militants.

During the month, Egyptian security forces destroyed approximately 15 tunnels, including one that measured 1.7 kilometers long and connected Rafah, which is located in the Gaza Strip, to the Sinai Peninsula. Despite the Egyptian government’s decision to approve the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir Islands to Saudi Arabia, a higher court ruled against the return of the islands and determined that they belong to Egypt.

Iraq

During the month of January, the Iraqi army continued its operation to liberate the city of Mosul from the IS, aided by Shi’ite militias and coalition air forces, and even succeeding in liberating the eastern part of the city. Meanwhile, coalition air forces, led by the US, continued to attack IS targets around the city of Mosul and in eastern Al-Anbar. A total of 234 air strikes were carried out, approximately 50 more than in the month of December 2016.

During the month, the IS continued to carry out bomb attacks throughout the country, with emphasis on Baghdad, Najaf, Fallujah and Tikrit. One of the attacks, a suicide attack in Baghdad in which over 30 people were killed and dozens more were injured, took place during the French President’s visit in the capital.

During the month, an agreement was reached to withdraw Turkish forces from Bashiqa in northern Iraq. Meanwhile the Turkish Air Force continued to act against Kurdish PKK targets in northern Iraq.

Libya

During the month of January, it was reported that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had liberated most Benghazi neighborhoods from Islamic militants identified with Al-Qaeda and the IS. Meanwhile, it was reported that a fighter aircraft serving the LNA was downed over the city of Benghazi, and several people were killed in a car bomb explosion in the city.

During the month, the US Air Force, with help from bombers and drones, attacked two training camps approximately 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte, killing close to 100 IS fighters. In addition, it was reported that Chad had closed its shared border with Libya for fear of terrorists crossing into its territory.

During the month of January, forces loyal to Khalifa Ghwail, the former leader of the Tripoli government who recently declared himself the head of the Libyan government, tried to seize control of several government offices in Tripoli. In addition, two people were reported killed in a car bomb explosion near the Egyptian and Italian embassies in the city.

During the month, LNA battle aircraft attacked the airbase in Al-Jufra, which is under the control of the Misrata Brigades. Later in the month, the Misrata military council announced that all of the militias operating under it will join the “Central Military Zone” of the Libyan army loyal to the Libyan unity government.

Iran

During the month of January, Iran suffered several terrorist attacks, including one in Khuzestan Province in southern Iran in which two oil pipelines were bombed by the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz In addition, a soldier from the Revolutionary Guards was killed and three others were wounded in an attack by Jaysh al-Adl against an army post on the Iran-Pakistan border.

During the month, Iranian Marine forces continued to provoke US Marine forces in the area. A US battleship fired warning shots at Iranian patrol boats in the Egyptian area of Hormuz after they approached it too closely.

Towards the end of the month, the Iranian army performed a test launch of a ballistic missile out of the atmosphere. After approximately 965 kilometers, the missile exploded for unknown reasons upon its return to the Earth’s atmosphere. In response, the US issued a severe warning to Iran not to repeat an experiment of this kind in the future.

Saudi Arabia

During the month of January, two suicide terrorists were killed during a gun battle with security forces in the city of Jeddah, a port city on the Red Sea. Following Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the battle in Yemen, several rockets were intercepted after being launched from Yemen at areas near the city of Jizan, on the border of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

During the month, it was also reported that Saudi Arabia and the Djibouti government were on the cusp of signing an agreement to establish a Saudi military base in Djibouti territory.

Yemen

During the month of January, battles continued between the Yemeni army, backed by the Sunni coalition, and Houthi rebel forces. The majority of the battles took place in Al-Jawf, Al-Bayda, Ma’rib, Sana’a, Najran and Taiz Provinces, with emphasis on the port city of Mokha where battles were being waged for control near the straits of Bab el-Mandeb. Meanwhile, Yemeni army forces continued to attack AQAP targets in southern Yemen. In contrast, two Saudi sailors were killed and six others were wounded in a large boat explosion near a Saudi frigate off the coast of Hodeidah Port – an attack for which Houthi rebels claimed responsibility.

During the month, the US also continued to act against AQAP using drones, especially in Al-Bayda Province, killing over ten AQAP fighters and senior officials. In addition, 14 AQAP fighters, including local senior officials, were killed in an operation by US Special Forces in the province. During the operation, which included drone attacks and a raid, one US soldier was killed and six others were injured when their aircraft crashed.

During the month, over 20 people were killed in a suicide blast, apparently carried out by an IS fighter, outside of a military camp near the city of Aden.

Persian Gulf States

During the month of January, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced that they would start collecting 5% VAT on a number of products due to low oil prices.

In addition, a prison break took place in Bahrain during which at least ten prisoners jailed for involvement in terrorism were freed.

North and West Africa

During the month of January, at least 50 people were killed and dozens more were injured in a car bomb explosion at an army camp in the city of Gao in Mali. AQIM claimed responsibility for the attack and justified it as a response to the Mali government’s cooperation with France.

Somalia

During the month of January, Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen continued to execute bomb attacks throughout the country, with emphasis on the capital of Mogadishu. At least 30 people were killed and dozens more injured in two car bombings near the airport in Mogadishu. Over 20 people were killed and dozens more injured in two attacks. The first attack was carried out at a hotel using both a car bomb and several gunmen, and the second attack was carried out at a restaurant using an explosive device.

In other areas, members of the security forces were killed in an explosion at their base in the city of Afgooye, which is near the capital of Mogadishu, and in another incident dozens of soldiers were killed in a raid by Al-Shabab on a Kenyan army base located in southern Somalia.

Nigeria

During the month of January, the Nigerian army continued to act against Boko Haram strongholds in Borno State. Despite the success of security forces in the last few months of 2016, the organization continued to attack civilian and military targets. Most of the attacks involved armed raids, suicide attacks and road ambushes. The organization used a 10-year-old girl to carry out one attack at a food market in northern Nigeria. In addition, approximately 70 refugees were killed in a raid carried out by the organization on a refugee camp in Rann. The rest of the attacks were focused on the area of Adamawa, Madagali and the road leading between Maiduguri and Damboa. Alongside Boko Haram’s offensive operations, a new video was published starring the leader of the organization, Abubakar Shekau, in which he claimed that the organization still exists and functions. In addition, Shekau called for continued attacks against the Nigerian government and its supporters.

Afghanistan

During the month of January, operational activities against the Taliban continued throughout the country, with emphasis on Helmand Province where the Afghan army, with aerial assistance from the US, worked to try and liberate parts of the province from the Taliban. In contrast, the organization attacked over 20 Afghan army posts and killed over 100 soldiers. It was reported that attack tunnels were used in some of the attacks. In Kandahar Province, 11 people were killed, including five diplomats from the UAE, and 17 others were injured, including the UAE ambassador, in a bombing at the governor’s offices in the province. In addition, at least 30 people were killed and over 80 others injured in a double suicide blast outside of the Parliament building in the capital of Kabul.

During the month, air strikes by both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles continued against IS fighters in Nangarhar Province. Over 20 IS fighters were killed in several attacks that were carried out during the month. In contrast, IS fighters kidnapped 14 religion teachers from the school where they were teaching in the province.

Pakistan

During the month of January, over 20 people were killed and 20 more were injured in a bomb explosion at a market in the tribal region of northwest Pakistan, at attack for which Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility. In addition, several police officers and civilians were injured in a roadside bomb explosion near a police vehicle in the tribal region of northwest Pakistan.

Turkey

During New Year’s celebrations that were held at a nightclub in Istanbul, a terrorist opened small arms fire at partygoers, killing at least 39 and injuring dozens more. The terrorist, an Uzbek with ties to the IS who underwent training in Afghanistan, was captured following a two-week manhunt and confessed to carrying out the attack. Most of those killed and injured were foreigners, including one Israeli citizen who was killed and another who was wounded. The IS claimed responsibility for the attack.

During the month, a car bomb exploded next to a court in the city of Izmir, killing two people and injuring ten others. Two suspects were killed by security forces while a third suspect escaped. In addition, several police officers were killed in a roadside bomb explosion in Diyarbakır, while two anti-tank missiles were fired at the police headquarters and the offices of the ruling party in Istanbul.

Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia

During the month, dozens of Islamic militants carried out an attack on a prison in the Philippines in which over 150 prisoners were freed. In an operation by Philippines security forces, the leader of Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP), which is affiliated with the IS, was killed. In addition, at least 15 Islamic militants were killed in a strike by the Philippines Air Force on a training camp in the south of the country. Meanwhile, Communist rebels announced the end of a ceasefire with the government.

In the Kashmir region, which is under Indian control, three civilians were killed in an attack by militants on a security camp.

In Bangladesh, a member of Parliament was killed by anonymous assassins in the north of the country.

Europe and the United States

During the month of January, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. One of the first presidential orders passed by the government was the publication of a 90-day entry restriction for citizens of seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – intended to restrict immigration from countries that pose a security threat. In addition, during the month, five passengers were killed and six other were wounded when an apparently deranged man opened fire at Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida. According to some reports, the shooter claimed that he was forced to watch Islamic State videos.

In the city of Quebec in Canada, six Muslim worshippers were killed in a shooting attack at a mosque. The attack was carried out by an extreme right-wing activist who was arrested by local security forces.