Conflict update: December 9

Tonight’s roundup is going to be short and to the point (and a little earlier than usual), my apologies.


The Iraqi military says that it captured another neighborhood in eastern Mosul today, in the process destroying (via airstrike) three facilities where ISIS has been manufacturing car bombs.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, multiple bombing attacks today killed at least ten people and injured another 22.


Remember all that talk yesterday about how the Syrian army had called a halt to offensive operations in Aleppo in order to evacuate civilians? Funny you should mention that:

The Syrian army pressed an offensive in Aleppo on Friday with ground fighting and air strikes in an operation to retake all of the city’s rebel-held east that would bring victory in the civil war closer for President Bashar al-Assad.

“The advance is going according to plan and is sometimes faster than expected,” a Syrian military source told Reuters.

The Syrian army and its allies had recaptured 32 of east Aleppo’s 40 neighborhoods, about 85 percent of the area, he said.

Reuters journalists, rebels and a monitor on Friday confirmed the military thrust. There were no reports the Syrian army had made significant gains.

Weird. I wonder what they’d be doing if they hadn’t stopped fighting. On the plus side, American and Russian officials are going to meet again this weekend to talk about stopping the violence. They won’t actually stop it, but I’m sure they’ll have a nice talk.

Reports are coming out of Aleppo suggesting that hundreds of men who have gotten out of the city have suddenly vanished. Were they insurgents pretending to be civilian evacuees? Were they snatched up by remaining rebel forces? Were they disappeared by their government? There’s really no way to know at this point. Russia claims that over 8000 people have fled Aleppo in just the past 24 hours, so the possibility that they’ve just gotten lost in the shuffle isn’t all that outrageous either.

Syrian fighters backed by Turkish armor and air power have captured two villages west of al-Bab and are closing in on the ISIS-held city, according to Ankara. The Turkish government has apparently decided to send 300 special forces soldiers to reinforce Operation Euphrates Shield, and they seem to already be paying dividends.

The largest American airstrike yet in the anti-ISIS operation destroyed 168 oil tankers near Palmyra today, along with an estimated $2 million worth of oil. Speaking of airstrikes, the US announced today that a drone strike in Raqqa last month killed Boubaker el-Hakim, who helped plan the 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.


Two bombings, one in Cairo and one in the northern Nile Delta area, have killed at least six Egyptian policemen and wounded six other people. The increasingly ubiquitous Hasm Movement claimed responsibility for the Cairo attack but so far there’s been no claim with respect to the second bombing.

Saudi Arabia/Yemen

Saudi state news is reporting that a Saudi border guard was killed on Friday in a mine explosion near the border with Yemen.


US Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a quick trip to Afghanistan to assure Kabul that America isn’t going to abandon them even under the Trump administration. Trump, who barely mentioned Afghanistan during the campaign, can probably be expected to leave things well-enough alone there for the time being.


That firefight in Arwani we covered yesterday, which now has reportedly killed two militants, is causing major anti-India protests in Arwani and surrounding villages.


As you might expect in the immediate aftermath of the Sirte operation, fears are high that ISIS fighters who escaped the city will attempt to regroup and possibly carry out some kind of major attack in response.


Amnesty is calling on Cameroon to investigate the killing of 2-4 protesters yesterday in the city of Bamenda. There are reports that authorities fired live ammo into the crowd of protesters in response to some rock-throwing. People in the English-speaking part of  Cameroon, which includes Bamenda, have been protesting for a couple of weeks now against the increasing use of French in official contexts (including in schools) in their mostly English-speaking region. Cameroon was formed from the union of a French colony and a British colony (both of which were German colonies before WWI), so the split here may run deeper than just language.

South Sudan

The UN Human Rights Council is planning a December 14 session to discuss how the international community can stop ethnic cleansing in South Sudan before it reaches Rwanda-esque levels.


The Kenyan army says its soldiers killed four suspected al-Shabaab fighters while on patrol in eastern Kenya.


At least 30 people were killed earlier today in a Boko Haram (most likely) terror attack in the northeastern town of Madagali. Two female suicide bombers reportedly detonated their explosives in a market.

The Gambia

The new Gambian president-elect, Adama Barrow, seems to be off to a good start. He’s already releasing political prisoners and has pledged to scrap a law banning peaceful protests.

…and it looks like Barrow’s got a fight on his hands if he wants to be president. After accepting his defeat with surprising grace last week, Yahya Jammeh now wants a do-over:

The announcement made on state TV on Friday throws the future of the West African country into doubt after an unexpected election result that ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope.

“After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election. I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process,” Jammeh said.

“I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a god-fearing and independent electoral commission,” he said.

The main “abnormality” that has Jammeh concerned is the fact that he lost. This could potentially get very ugly, very quickly.


French President François Hollande says that France would like to play a role in Cypriot reunification efforts. Of course, François Hollande is also about to be replaced as French President, having opted not to even run for reelection in April since his poll numbers are so low, so maybe he shouldn’t write checks that he probably won’t be around to cash.


Dutch police say they arrested a man in Rotterdam on Wednesday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. He had some ISIS paraphernalia to go with his loaded AK-47.


German authorities have arrested two teenagers in Mannheim on suspicion of plotting an Islamist terror attack. They’ve also arrested a suspect in connection with an IED explosion at a mosque in Dresden in September, who is presumably not a Muslim and for some reason isn’t being described as a terrorist.

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