Egyptian security forces killed three suspected militants and arrested 74 others in raids targeting militant groups in North Sinai in recent days, the military said in a statement on Thursday. Egypt faces an Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State group in the Sinai Peninsula, where hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed since 2013. The military did not name a specific militant group or release the names of those killed but said the militants were “highly dangerous”.
The heads of three U.N. agencies urged the Saudi-led military coalition on Thursday to lift its blockade of Yemen, warning that “untold thousands” would die if it stayed in place. The coalition closed all air, land and sea access to Yemen on Nov. 6 following the interception of a missile fired towards the Saudi capital, saying it had to stem the flow of arms from Iran to its Houthi opponents in the war in Yemen. Yemen already has 7 million people on the brink of famine, but without the reopening of all ports that number could grow by 3.2 million, the heads of the World Food Programme, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.
The Israeli army’s chief of staff told an Arabic language online newspaper that Israel was ready to share “intelligence information” with Saudi Arabia, saying their countries had a common interest in standing up to Iran. Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot told the privately Saudi-owned Elaph in what it said was his first interview with an Arabic newspaper that Israel had no plans to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah group. Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up pressure on arch-foe Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to expand its influence in Arab countries, often through proxies including the Lebanese Shi‘ite Hezbollah group.
The US military has conducted at least four more strikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the last two months, according to data acquired by FDD’s Long War Journal. But US Central Command (CENTCOM) has still not released details on any strikes against AQAP in Yemen in 2017. FDD’s Long War Journal has twice inquired with CENTCOM about strikes against AQAP in Yemen in 2017. In mid-Sepember, CENTCOM told us the number was “more than 100.” Yesterday, CENTCOM told us the number was “more than 110,” six of which were conducted against the Islamic State.
Iraqi forces on Friday captured the border town of Rawa, the last remaining town under Islamic State control, signaling the collapse of the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Rawa’s capture marks the end of Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over a so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. Iraqi forces “liberated Rawa entirely, and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings,” Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah said in a statement from the Joint Operations Command.
Turkey is pulling 40 soldiers out of a NATO exercise in Norway, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, after his name appeared in a list of enemies on a poster at the drill, an incident that drew an apology from both the military alliance and Oslo. Turkey has the second largest army in the alliance after the United States, and it borders Syria, Iraq and Iran, lending it great strategic importance for NATO. But the relationship has become increasingly fractious as Ankara drifts away from the alliance and the European Union, alarming the West.
The Syrian army and its allies took complete control over Albu Kamal, Islamic State’s last significant town in Syria, a military news service run by Hezbollah said on Sunday. The army had declared victory over Islamic State in Albu Kamal earlier this month but the jihadists then staged a counter-attack using sleeper cells hidden in the town. Driving Islamic State from Albu Kamal means only a few villages along the Euphrates and patches of nearby desert, as well as isolated pockets in other parts of the country, remain in Syria of the caliphate it declared in 2014.
At a hospital in the Yemeni city of Marib, demand for artificial limbs from victims of the country’s war is so high that prosthetics are made on site in a special workshop. A soldier with an artificial arm hitches up his robe to reveal a stump where his leg once was. He is angry that authorities have done little to help him since he was wounded. “I was at the front and a mortar exploded near me. We fought well, but now I get no salary, no support from the government or anyone. They just left us,” said Hassan Meigan.
Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their project in the region. The army and its allies are still fighting Islamic State in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria, near the border with Iraq, the army said. But the capture of the town ends Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across Iraq and Syria and in which millions suffered under its hardline, repressive strictures.
The top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said he expects the Syrian army to soon recapture rebel-held Idlib province, as well as eastern Syria, an area where U.S.-backed militias hold swathes of territory. Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian official, Ali Akbar Velayati, was speaking in Aleppo, from which the Syrian army drove rebels after a siege last year with help from Tehran. The military alliance backing Assad, which also includes Russia and Shi‘ite Muslim militias, has this year focused on the war in central and eastern Syria against Islamic State (IS) militants.