A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 13, 2015
Aug. 7, 2015 briefs
- Israel conducts air strike in Gaza after rocket fire
A number of Hamas security personnel were injured in an Israeli air raid over the Gaza Strip Friday night after half a dozen rockets were fired into Israel Thursday and Friday.
Two top US Democratic lawmakers oppose Iran nuclear deal over inspection inadequacies
7 Aug. The Obama administration’s battle for the US Congress to back the nuclear deal signed last month with Iran took a double hit early Friday, Aug. 7, when two influential Democrats, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New York Rep. Eliot Engel announced they would vote against the accord. Both cited weaknesses of the inspection regime. Schumer: “Iran would be able to escape detection of possible military dimensions.” Engel disputed “lifting of sanctions on advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.”
State John Kerry said he "profoundly disagrees" with their reasoning.
Aug. 8, 2015 briefs
- US serviceman among 44 killed in Friday’s Kabul terror wave
A US military official confirmed that a US service member and eight Afghan contractors were killed in an attack on NATO’s Camp Integrity in Kabul Friday – on one of the worst days of violence the Afghan capital has known in years.
- Saad Dawabshe dies of burns that killed his baby
Two members of the Palestinian Dawabshe family from Duma are dead of the arson attack carried out on their home eight days ago. The toddler was found dead while his father succumbed to his injuries early Saturday in the Beersheba Soroka hospital. Police and security forces continue to hunt for the unidentified perpetrators.
Aug. 9, 2015 briefs
- Palestinian who stabbed Israeli man is shot dead
The Palestinian who knifed an Israeli man at the Dor Alon gas station on Rite 443 north of Jerusalem Sunday night was shot dead by soldiers in the vicinity. The injured Israeli was in hospital with moderate wounds.
- Popular demo in Latakia against Assad’s cousin
More than 1,000 people took to the streets Saturday in the coastal city of Latakia, heartland of the Assad regime’s following, to protest the killing of a Syrian air force official by the president’s cousin, Sleiman al-Assad. He is accused of shooting dead Col. Hassan al-Sheikh in a dispute at a checkpoint. debkafile: The incident has split the Alawite community, the backbone of Assad’s support.
- Two right-wing Jewish activists place under administrative detention
Meir Ettinger, grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and Evyatar Slonim were placed under administrative arrest Sunday on suspicion of “Jewish extremist activity” on orders signed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in line with the crackdown he ordered on Jewish right-wing activists after the arson murders committed in the Palestinian village of Duma 10 days ago by unidentified perpetrators. Neither Ettinger nor Slonim are suspects in this crime. Administration detention can be sustained without trial for up to six months.
- Swede who spied for Hizballah indicted before Israeli court
Hassan Khalil Hizran, 55, a Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent, was indicted at the Central District Court Sunday on charges of recruiting Palestinian Arabs and foreign nationals for Hizballah and also passing military information on Israeli military and security personnel and the IDF’s movements, weapons, tanks and military bases.
- Obama: “Window opened for political resolution in Syria”
DEBKA Weekly in its last weekly revealed that the Obama administration had moved on from its nuclear accord to join up with Iran and Russia for resolving the Syrian conflict by saving the Assad regime. President Barack Obama confirmed this: “The window has opened a crack for us to get a political resolution in Syria,” he said. debkafile: Obama feels the need to prepare the American public for his administration’s latest volte face on Syria: acceptance of Assad.
- .Moscow uses threats to force Saudis into line over Syria
Arab sources reported Sunday that in advance of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir’s visit to Moscow on Aug. 11, the Russians are trying some arm-twisting to make Riyadh fall into line and join them and the Americans in accepting the Assad regime.The following debkafile Special Report provides exclusive background to this turn of events.
Russia and US woo Saudis to help save Assad – albeit putting Israel and Jordan in danger from S. Syria
9 Aug. Building on the nuclear accord, the Obama administration has been in close communion with Moscow and Tehran on moves to save the Assad regime as the key to ending the Syrian conflict and to a united front against the Islamic State. This initiative was to have peaked at the Doha foreign ministers’ meeting on Aug. 3, except that Saudi still refused to acknowledge Assad. If they change Saudi minds, Israel and Jordan would face great peril from southern Syria.
Aug. 10, 2015 briefs
- Female suspect detained after attack on US Istanbul consulate
An escalation of violent attacks in Turkey. The US consulate in Istanbul came under gunfire on Monday and at least eight people were killed in a wave of separate attacks on Turkish security forces. Turkish media report that a woman of 51, member of the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army Front, was detained by police after the consulate attack. On the other side of Istanbul, a bomb truck blew up at a police station, initially killing three police officers and seven civilians.
- Assad clan’s center Latakia in first taste of Scud rocket fire
The Islamic Army and Jaish al-Fatah rebel militias associated with the Nusra Front are closing in on the western Syrian port town of Latakia, a stronghold of the Assad clan. That town for the first time in the war was pounded with Scud B ground-to-ground rockets.
- Eighth Iranian general killed in Syrian fighting
debkafile reports that Gen. Hassan Hosseini, of the Revolutionary Guards Engineering Corps was killed over the weekend in the southern Syria town of Deraa, the eighth Iranian general to die in the Syrian war. Iran has imposed a blackout on their deaths.
Israel works at speed to convert Boeing 767 airliner into refueling tanker
10 Aug. US sources report that the Israeli Air Force contemplates giving up on the US Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus as its future refueling tanker for long-range flights because of delays in its delivery. To retain the option of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities after Barack Obama’s exit from office in Jan. 2017, Israel can’t wait for the Pegasus. Israel Aerospace Industries] is therefore working at top speed to convert the Boeing 767, a long-range, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner with a range of 7,000 to 11,000 km. into a refueling tanker, to replace the outdated Boeing 707. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the German newspaper Der Spiegel on Aug. 8: “Ultimately it is very clear… Iran’s military nuclear program must be stopped. We will act in any way, including taking military action…”
Aug. 11, 2015 briefs
- Saudi foreign minister’s Moscow talks end in discord on Assad
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow that Riyadh's position on the conflict in Syria has not changed and that there was no place for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the country. However, his Russian counterpart said that Coalition’s strikes on ISIS did not fulfill its targets and that "toppling Assad will pave the way to ISIS to seize the power and control the whole country.
- Israel catches Hamas smuggling tunnel operative
A Hamas operative who worked in the group’s smuggling tunnels in Rafah was detained last month in a joint Israeli police-Shin Bet operation. Ibrahim She’ar, 21, who worked in the Gaza-Sinai tunnels running through the divided town of Rafah, disclosed a plan for a new tunnel to sneak terrorists from Rafah to the Israeli border terminal at Kerem Shalom. debkafile’s military sources link the disclosure to Israel’s concern about the recent slowdown in Egypt’s operations against the Hamas smuggling tunnels into Sinai.
- High terror alert in UK: ISIS targets royal family
The alert level in Britain against terrorist attacks by Islamic State returnees has been raised to “severe,” following the findings of a four-month undercover investigation by Sky TV. A young Muslim woman who was planted in ISIS ranks was asked to buy components for a bomb to target the royal family in forthcoming VJ commemorations. At least four British ISIS-trained members are said to be at large ready for bombing or shooting attacks..
- debkafile: Turkmeni forces cross from Turkey into N. Syria
A large Turkish military contingent crossed into northern Syria early Tuesday, debkafile reports from its exclusive military sources. It is made up mainly of ethnic Turkmeni fighters trained for their mission by Turkish officers. This device aims to let Ankara off owning up to a Turkish military invasion of Syria. The unit is armed with tanks and artillery and has Turkish fighter jet air cover.
Aug. 12, 2015 briefs
- Hamas claims capture and reuse of Israeli drone
The Palestinian Hamas of the Gaza Strip Wednesday aired a video purporting to show the capture by its military wing of an Israeli Skylark1 drone on July 22. It also claims to have disassembled the aircraft and turned it to its own use.
- ISIS beheads Croatian hostage – a first by Sinai affiliate
The ISIS affiliate, the Sinai Province, released a photo Wednesday showing the execution of 30-year old Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek, who worked for the French oil and gas company CGG Ardiseis and was taken hostage outside Cairo on July 22. He was the first foreigner to be abducted, threatened and murdered by the ISIS affiliate.
- Iranian FM in Beirut: Zionist regime is major challenge
Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in Beirut that the Islamic Republic's major challenge in the region is in "confronting…the Zionist and extremist regime." Tuesday, he met with Lebanese government officials and in a long meeting with Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah discussed a “new plan” for resolving the crisis in Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier cited Zarif’s Middle East visits as representing Iran’s new positive role in resolving regional conflicts.
- Ceasefire for 48 hours in three Syrian towns
A ceasefire agreed between Syrian government and rebel forces went into effect before dawn Wednesday in three embattled towns: rebel-held Zabadani near the Lebanese border, and two Idlib provincial towns under army control, Fuaa and Kafraya. A halt on military operations was agreed to allow food and medical aid to reach besieged areas.
New rules: Israeli troops must fire in the air when engaging terrorists
12 Aug. New rules of engagement were handed down Tuesday, July 11, to the Israeli military, police and Border Guard units serving in Judea and Samaria that effectively prohibit them from shooting Palestinians found hurling firebombs, carrying out knife attacks or other acts of terror. Security forces are restricted henceforth to firing in the air, except when their own lives are in danger. debkafile: The new rules are designed to curb the rising death toll of Palestinian terrorists in engagements with Israeli troops. But some senior officers contend they will lead to more Israeli casualties.
Aug. 13, 2015 briefs
- US launches first air strike from Turkey over Syria
The first US F-16 fighter jets based in Turkey’s Incerlik air base Thursday struck Islamic State targets in Syria. No details were provided of the number, types or locations of the targets struck, except to disclose that one or more had been hit.
After Zarif talks to Assad and Nasrallah, Hizballah starts pulling out of Zabadani – and Syria
13 Aug. A miles-long convoy of 200 trucks began rolling out of the Syrian positions around the strategic town of Zabadani, 30 km west of Damascus, early Thursday, Aug. 13. Their exit, after failing to break the Syrian rebels’ grip on this town in weeks of fierce fighting, marked the start of the Lebanese Hizballah’s first exit from a major Syrian battleground, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.
They were the first of the 8,000 Hizballah troops fighting in Syria to quit and return home to Lebanon in obedience to an agreement reached by visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in his talks in Beirut Tuesday with Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah and the next day in Damascus, with President Bashar Assad.