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18 June 2013

Comprehensive Information on Complex Crisis

Iraq Lebanon Syria IED & Demining 1 2 3 5

This document provides complex coverage of global events from 11 – 17 June 2013 with hyperlinks to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in the region, contact the members of the Complex Coverage Team or visit our website at

The Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC) is an information and knowledge management organisation focused on improving civil-military interaction, facilitating information sharing and enhancing situational awareness through the CimicWeb portal and our Weekly and monthly publications. CFC products are based upon and link to open-source information from a wide variety of organisations, research centres and media outlets. However, the CFC does not endorse and cannot necessarily guarantee the accuracy or objectivity of these sources. CFC publications are independently produced by Desk Officers and do not reflect NATO policies or positions of any other organsiation. The CFC is part of NATO Allied Command Operations.


Linda Lavender

UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) head Martin Kobler expressed the UN’s continued support for finding a political solution to the increased levels of violence in Iraq, reports United Press International (UPI). Kobler urged political leaders in Iraq to collectively work towards addressing the rise of terrorism within the country. There are indications that the Syrian conflict may be spilling-over into regions of Iraq, according to the Associated Press (AP). Some Iraqi border posts along the Syrian frontier are coming under attack and there have been reports of Syrian truck drivers being targeted and killed inside Iraq. Meanwhile, Iraqi fighters are reportedly “criss -crossing” the frontier areas and al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants are cooperating with hardline Islamists among the Syrian rebels. Numerous violent incidents were reported throughout the country this past week. Incidents are depicted on the Iraq map (below). Red stars indicate the location of violence.

For further information contact: Complex Coverage Team Leader Linda Lavender

11-Jun-13: Three members of Iraq’s security forces were killed by four separate roadside bombs in the northern city of Mosul and nearby Qaiyarah, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). Five other officers were wounded in the attacks. 12-Jun-13: Iraqi officials report that the Nineveh governor Atheel al Nujaifi escaped an assassination attempt that left two dead and three others wounded, reports The Washington Post. 13-Jun-13: Iraqi officials confirmed that provincial political candidate Muhanan Ghazi was gunned down while returning home in Mosul, reports AP. 15-Jun-13: An Iraqi Shi’ite militia leader claimed responsibility for an attack on members of the Mujahedeen e Khalq, an Iranian exile group, now sheltering in Camp Liberty near Baghdad, reports AP. The rocket attack on the dissidents claimed the lives of two members.

16-Jun-13: Two car bombs exploded in the majority-Shi’ite southern city of Basra, killing at least five people and wounding ten others, reports The Guardian. Additionally, car bombs targeting Shi’ites in Najaf, Kut, Hilla, Tuz Khurmato and Mahmudiya in southern Baghdad were reported. In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen killed six policemen at a checkpoint, reports The Washington Post. In total, over 32 people were killed in attacks on 16 June. 17-Jun-13: A series of bombings across central Iraq left at least twelve dead and over fifty wounded, reports CNN. A bomb exploded in a café in Taji, a predominately Sunni district; a roadside bomb in Thiraa Dijla just north of Baghdad killed officers on patrol and in Fallujah; and a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer detonated an explosive vest inside an election centre. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi rejected al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri’s order to dismantle the April merger of AQI and the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al Nusra in Syria. In an online message, al Baghdadi purportedly announced that the cross-border movement called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will continue, reports AP. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki welcomed Kuwati Prime Minister Sheik Jaber al Mubarak al Sabah to Iraq on 12 June, signaling improving relations between the countries, according to AP. Iraq and Kuwait have slowly made progress in mending ties broken by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Maliki’s recent visit to Erbil in northern Iraq may have helped to improve relations with the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani; however, political sources indicate that little of substance emerged that would indicate a settlement had been reached on a number of contentious issues, according to UPI. Senior Iraqi officials reported on 14 June that they expect to ramp up oil production to 4.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2014, according to AP. Oil revenues currently comprise 95 per cent of Iraqi’s foreign exchange earnings and 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reports Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. Iraqi leadership hopes to prod uce 9 million bpd by 2020. As India begins to decrease its reliance on Iranian oil, the country’s leadership is looking to discuss potential opportunities to import more Iraqi oil, according to UPI.


Linda Lavender


On 11 June, the border village of Hermel was struck by rocket fire from an unknown source, reports The New York Times (NYT). A resident reported that at least “eight rockets landed in the village hitting homes and near a school”. Al Jazeera reports that shelling resulted in one fatality. Lebanon’s army warned Syrian leadership on 12 June that it would immediately respond to any further crossborder attacks by government helicopter gunships after the attack of Arsal, a Syrian rebel stronghold located in Bekaa Valley, reports Al Jazeera. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said “it is our right to take the necessary measures to defend our sovereignty and our people – including filing a complaint to the Arab League and the UN”. Farmers and residents of the northern town of Akkar briefly blockaded the Abboudiyeh road leading into Syria on 15 June, protesting Syria’s repeated cross border attacks on their fields, reports The Daily Star. Syrian incursions have made it difficult to access farmlands and collect harvests. Four Shi’ite Lebanese were killed on 16 June when they were ambushed in the volatile northern Bekaa Valley, according to Time. The victims were discovered in an SUV on a remote road near Baalbek and Qaa. Lebanese military deployed to the area over concerns that clashes may erupt between Shi’ite and Sunni villages in the region. The United States took steps on 11 June to further choke Hezbollah’s flow of funding, reports NYT. In reaction to the organisation’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, the US blacklisted four fund-raising operatives and warned that further steps would be taken if necessary. While the actual financial impact on Hezbollah is unclear, the US Treasury Department said the action reflected “the alarming reach of Hezbollah activities and its determination to create a worldwide funding and recruitment network to support its violence and criminal enterprises around the world”. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said he will not tolerate any criticism of his group’s role in the Syrian conflict, reports Associated Press (AP). In a speech on 14 June, Narallah asserted it was the group’s responsibility to defend Syria against “a US -Israel plot to divide and weaken the Middle East”. On 17 June, a top Hezbollah official condemned US interference in Lebanese internal politics, according to The Daily Star. US Ambassador Maura Connelly cautioned earlier in the week that the credibility of Lebanon’s 18 June 2013


government was at stake if the Lebanese Constitutional Council was prevented from ruling on the legality of extending Parliament’s term. Narallah accused the US of “taking sides” in the legal battle over extending Parliament’s term. On 16 June, Maronite Patriach Beshara Rai strongly criticised the March 8 and the March 14 coalitions saying, “[i]n their prolonged dispute, they have torpedoed timely parliamentary elections and are crippling the formation of a new government”, according to The Daily Star. Meanwhile, head of the Lebanese Option Party Ahmad al-Asaad holds Nasrallah and other senior Hezbollah leadership responsible for the recent killing of an anti-Hezbollah protester in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, reports The Daily Star. The protester, Hashem Salman, a 28 year-old student leader of the Lebanese Option Party, was killed on 09 June when demonstrators were attacked by a mob of Hezbollah supports.
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Linda Lavender

The United Nations confirmed on 13 June that almost 93,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, reports The Washington Post. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay indicated the death toll could actually be much higher as the lack of independent observers has challenged the ability to collect accurate data. Andrew Harper, head of UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan says “every [humanitarian] worst case scenario we have had for Syria has been surpassed in the last four months”, according to Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). Shortfalls in funding requirements continue to plague relief efforts. On 07 June, UN and partners launched the largest appeal for humanitarian funding in the organisation’s history, seeking USD 4.4 billion. Dominique Hyde, head of UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says, “ [The] donors are simply not able to meet the needs”, adding, “[i]t’s not a criticism, it’s a reality.” Ahead of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, US President Barack Obama consulted with leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany via conference call, discussing ways to support a political transition in Syria after receiving official confirmation of chemical weapons use in the two-year old conflict, according to CNN. US Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that a political settlement may be out of reach, considering Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the “creeping role played by Hezbollah” in the conflict, according to The Guardian. The Summit “got off to the worst possible start” as talks between UK and Russian leadership immediately stalled, according to The Telegraph. Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to cease arms flows to the Syrian government and rebuked the US and UK for aiding rebels fighting against Assad. Hopes that the G8 Summit would chart a course to end the bloody civil war faded after Putin insisted he could not back a peace conference with a precondition that Syrian President Bashar al Assad would step down from leadership, reports The Guardian. Military analysts say that Iran is emerging as the “victor in a struggle for Middle East influence”, being played out in Syria, reports United Press International (UPI). Director of Security at the Gulf Research Council, Mustafa Alani, states, “This is an Iranian fight. It is no longer a Syrian one. The issue is hegemony in the region”. Agence-France Presse (AFP) reports Iran is preparing to send 4,000 troops to Syria to defend the Assad regime. The decision was reportedly made prior to the Iranian presidential elections and indicates Iran is now “fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime”, according to journalist and Middle East expert Robert Fisk. UPI reports that Iran’s military moves are constantly coordinated with Moscow and, while Hezbollah is likely to withdraw its forces from Syria, Iran’s support for Damascus will grow stronger. On 16 June, Syrian leadership announced that they will seek to expand ties wi th close ally Iran after the results of Iranian presidential elections claimed moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani victor, reports AFP. Meanwhile, Assad forces have substantially stepped up air attacks, leveraging an offensive advantage against rebel forces, reports NYT. According to intelligence reports, the Syrian military carried out 500 air-to-ground attacks against rebel forces in May 2013. Several hundred transport flights moved Syrian troops, Hezbollah fighters and supplies throughout Syria. Below is a summary of significant violent incidents reported throughout Syria this past week. Incidents are depicted on the Syria map (below). Red stars indicate the location of violence. 11-Jun-13: Two suicide attacks on 11 June in Marjeh Square, downtown Damascus, killed at least fourteen people and injured dozens more, according to The New York Times (NYT). On the same day “armed Shi’ite villagers attacked a rebel post in Hatlah, Deir Ezzor province, killing two opposition fighters, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA). In response, Syrian rebels seized control of Hatlah, killing sixty Shi’ite villagers – primarily combatants.


The March 8 coalition is a political group named after the pro-Syrian rally, organized by Hezbollah and held on the same date in 2005. It is a coalition dominated by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, headed by MP Nabih Berri. 2 The March 14 political coalition is named after the mass anti-Syrian rally on 14 March 2005. The 14 March rally was held in response to the 8 March pro-Syrian demonstration which culminated in a month-long series of rallies following the 14 February assassination of Rafik Haririr, a former Lebanese prime minister.

18 June 2013


14-Jun-13: On 14 June, al Qaeda linked jihadists blew up a Shi’ite religious building in the troubled village of Hatlah, according to Associated Press (AP). Diplomatic observers in Jordan believe the Assad regime is preparing to launch a military offensive to recapture the city of Aleppo, citing the Syrian army’s steady advances in both the country’s north and south, reports McClatchy. 16-Jun-13: On 16 June, an explosion shook the western Damascus neighbourhood of Mazzeh, reports AP. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that twenty soldiers were killed in the attack, reports Breaking News. Reuters reports that Syrian opposition forces repelled Hezbollah-backed forces loyal to President Assad in and around Syria’s commercial capital of Aleppo. FSA commander in Aleppo Colonel Abdeljabbar al Okeidi stated, “Assad’s forces and Hezbollah are trying to control northern rural Aleppo but they are being repelled and dealt heavy losses”. 17-Jun-13: NYT reports that Syrian rebels successfully executed their deadliest attack against government forces when a suicide bomber detonated six tons of explosives in his truck, killing as many as sixty soldiers near Aleppo. In other security news, Austrian UN-peacekeepers stationed on the Golan Heights began their withdrawal from the region on 11 June, reports BBC. The full Austrian withdrawal will be completed in a month, leaving the Philippines as the single largest UN member contributor to the operation. India, along with the Philippines, continues to maintain troops in the Golan while Canada, Croatia and Japan have already removed their contingents because of the ongoing Syrian conflict. On 12 June, UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon said that spillover violence from Syria’s civil war into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is jeopardising a decades-old ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria, reports Reuters. Shi’ite Muslims residing in the largely Sunni Gulf States are alarmed by the sectarian rhetoric of some Sunni clerics responding to Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian conflict, according to Reuters. Hate speech is on the rise, aggravating a geopolitical split that has turned into an all-out proxy war in Syria between countries allied with Shi’ite Iran and those aligned with Gulf Sunni States. On 13 June, dozens of Islamic religious scholars, mostly from Gulf, Sunni-majority states gathered in Cairo to “study plans to call for an international appeal for jihad in Syria”, reports OnIslam. Saudi Arabian religious scholars urged Muslims and Arabs on 14 June to support Syrian rebels against what they say are “atrocities at the hands of Iranian-backed Shi’ite forces in Syria”, reports International Press Service (IPS). The imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Saudi al Shoreym, issued an appeal to Muslims to provide help “by all means” to Syrian rebels and civilians trapped within Syria. His “emotional message” was broadcast live on several pan -Arab television channels. On 15 June, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced his country was cutting all diplomatic ties with Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s government, reports The Christian Science Monitor (CSM). Additionally, Morsi announced the Egyptian government’s support of a no-fly zone over Syria and called on Shi’ite Hezbollah forces fighting in Syria to leave. The Syrian government criticised Morsi’s “irresponsible move” and claimed that the Egyptian president had “joined the conspiracy and incitement led by the United States and Israel against Syria”, reports France 24. Meanwhile, Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council indicated that it had not changed its position on the subject of a no-fly zone and vowed to veto any initiative that would permit such a scenario, reports Reuters. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich stated that “all these maneuvers about no -fly zones and humanitarian corridors are a direct consequence of a lack of respect for international law”, according to Global Times. According to the Guardian, Sunni jihadist groups in northern Syria possess large supplies of anti-aircraft missiles believed to be SA16s. Meanwhile, the NYT reports that Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, lacking sufficient weapons have had to innovate, creating workshops across northern Syria to manufacture arms. A clandestine network of primitive arms-making plants, producing machinegun mounts, hand grenades, rockets, mortar shells, roadside bombs help to replenish the arsenal of the FSA guerilla force in Syria. Voice of America (VOA) reports that the United States has announced it will provide lethal aid to Syria rebels relying on the Pentagon to recommend weapon options. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes stated, “The president has taken the decision to pro vide that type of direct support to the Syrian Military Council [SMC] that has military purposes. And we’re looking at a wide range of types of support we can provide both to the political opposition and to the SMC on the ground”. Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia has been supplying rebels with weapons on a “small scale” for the past two months, going to Free Syrian Army (FSA) General Salim Idriss. Shoulder-fired weapons have been reaching the FSA through suppliers mostly in France and Belgium.

18 June 2013


IED & Demining

Linda Lavender

The CFC publishes a weekly IED and Demining Events map. This global compilation links to articles reporting significant IED related-events and demining efforts. This report covers 11 - 17June 2013.

Libya: An Italian embassy staff car exploded on 11 June in Tripoli, only slightly wounding two bystanders, according to Magharebia. Click on the map for more IED events. Somalia: At least seven people were killed when a bomb exploded in a tea shop frequented by government troops in the capital city of Mogadishu on 15 June, reports Reuters. Click on the map for more IED events. Syria: A double bombing in a central Damascus square killed at least 14 people and injured 31 others on 11 June, reports United Press International (UPI). Click on the map for more IED events.

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18 June 2013