A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Sept. 10, 2015
September 3, 2015 Briefs
- Palestinian rescues 5 American tourists mobbed in Hebron
Five American Yeshiva students from Brooklyn were driving through Hebron Thursday when they lost their way and strayed into a Palestinian district of the West Bank town. A mob surrounded the car, bombarded it with rocks and set it on fire with a firebomb. Three were hurt, none seriously. A Palestinian bystander rescued the five youths, hid them in his home, alerted the army and kept them safe until the army arrived to collect them.
- ISIS claims attack on a Russian military base in Dagestan
The Islamic State group operating in the North Caucasus region of Russia claimed Wednesday to have attacked a Russian military base in the southern Dagestan region, where ISIS has long been recruiting experienced fighters.
- More than 30 dead in Druze clashes with Syrian troops after Druze cleric killed
Deadly clashes erupted Friday on Djebel Druze after two bomb cars went off and killed top cleric Sheikh Wahid Balous and seven others in the southern town of Suweida. debkafile: Armed Druzes then seized and torched Syrian government offices and Army Intelligence bases in their region. Clashes continued through Friday night.
September 4, 2015 Briefs
- Rebel Houthi missile kills 45 UAE troops in Yemen
The UAE troops and an ammunition dump were struck by a Soviet-era Tochka missile while taking part in a Saudi-led operation against the Yemeni Houthi rebels in Marib province, some 120 km east of the capital Sanaa. This was the deadliest day for the UAE military in all its 44 years.
- Sinai bomb targets MFO, injures 4 US troops, 2 Fijians
Four American and two international peacekeepers from Fiji were wounded Thursday in two bomb blasts directed at the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai. The two Fijian troops hit an improvised explosive device with their vehicle, and the four Americans were hit with a second explosion when they came to render assistance. All the wounded troops were evacuated by air to the Israeli Soroka hospital in Beersheba.
The nuclear chess game begins: Iran plays for sanctions relief before compliance with deal
4 Sep. The crowing over Barack Obama’s success in gaining congressional support for his Iranian nuclear deal against Binyamin Netanyahu’s defeat is premature. The Vienna nuclear deal of June 14 was the first round of the game. More are still to come, before either can be said to have won or lost. The biggest hurdle is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s silence on where he stands, except for insisting on immediate sanctions relief. Netanyahu and AIPAC are ready to take their campaign against a nuclear-armed Iran to the next stage: the fight over sanctions.
September 5, 2015 Briefs
- Kerry warns Lavrov against Russian military buildup in Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday expressed US concern over reports of Russia’s increasing military build-up in Syria in a phone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He made it clear that “if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operating in Syria.” debkafile was the first international publication to uncover the start of direct Russian military engagement in Syria last Tuesday, Sept. 1. A number of US publications picked up the story three days later.
- At least 6 Syrian soldiers killed in Druze ambush
At least 6 Syrian troops were killed in a Druze ambush southern Syria Saturday as the Druze continue to take revenge for the murder Thursday of Sheikh Wahid Balous. a senior cleric and leading anti-Assad figure. Some 37 armed Druze fighters have died in clashes with government forces since then and an unknown number of Syrian soldiers.
- Israeli officials: ISIS is stronger than Taliban, but Iran tops threat list
The consensus in Israel is that Iran-Hizballah tops its threat list, followed by Hamas and ISIS third, two senior Israeli diplomats told a group of visiting Turkish reporters in Jerusalem Friday.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is on Israel’s borders in the Sinai and in the Golan Heights. ISIS will not disappear in a year “because it has political roots and the US-led coalition has no strategy for fighting it.” Although Daash is now stronger than Taliban, its threat to Israel is not comparable to that posed by a big country like Iran, said the Israeli diplomats.
September 6, 2015 Briefs
- UAE warplanes strike Yemeni rebel targets after major losses
UAE warplanes bombed rebel targets across Yemen Saturday night after at least 60 soldiers from a Saudi-led coalition, most of them from the UAE, were killed in an attack on their base in the central Yemeni province of Marib. Apart from 45 Emiratis and five Bahrainis, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri said 10 Saudi soldiers were also killed in the attack as well as four Yemeni soldiers.
Four parties caused Syria’s genocidal calamity. Should Israel get involved?
6 Sep. Three agents bear direct responsibility for the genocidal Syrian war – and the refugee crisis: Bashad Assad, Iran and Russia; and the fourth, the US, by dereliction. Israel stayed out of it, except for supporting a rebel-held strip of southern Syria as a buffer against Iranian, Hizballah or Syrian army encroachment on its northern borders. More than 1,000 wounded Syrian rebels and civilians were treated in Israeli hospitals. Now, too, the Netanyahu government has determined to stay clear of the Syrian refugee crisis for a number of reasons. “Israel is a very small country, with neither demographic nor geographic depth, and therefore we must control our borders,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said Monday.
September 7, 2015 Briefs
- Cameron says UK drones killed British ISIS fighter in Syria
A precision air strike carried out by a RAF remotely piloted aircraft on Aug. 21 killed two British-born ISIS fighters who were plotting terrorist attacks in the UK. Another British plotter was killed in a US air strike three days later. UK Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that the operation was defensive and necessary to foil a terror plot against “high profile commemorations” in Britain” over the summer. Members reacted angrily that in Aug., 2013, the House had voted against British air action in Syria.
- US asks Greece to close airspace for Russian flights to Syria
The United States has asked Greece to deny Russia the use of its airspace for supply flights to Syria which Moscow requested to run up to Sept. 24. Russian sources said Greece had refused the US request. debkafile: The US is seeking to block the Russian military airlift into Syria, which we first reported on Sept. 1.
- ISIS seizes last major Syrian oilfield east of Homs
The Syrian government reports that ISIS fighters have seized the Jazal oil field east of Homs, during battles over Syria’s last remaining major oil field. The Islamists now control much of Syria’s oil infrastructure.
- Four Jewish teens beaten in anti-Semitic attack in Manchester, UK
A 17-year old Jewish youngster was beaten unconscious Saturday at a train stop in the northern British town of Manchester and three other teens hurt in an incident treated by police as an anti-Semitic attack. No suspects have been apprehended.
- Mother of Palestinian baby killed in arson attack dies
Reham Dawabsheh, the mother of a Palestinian toddler killed in a firebomb attack blamed on Jewish extremists died of her wounds early Monday in hospital. On July 31, still unidentified assailants hurled firebombs into a bedroom of the family's home in the West Bank village of Duma, instantly killing her eighteen-month-old baby. Her husband died earlier of his burn wounds.
Russian submarine with 20 ICBMs and 200 nuclear warheads is sailing to Syria
7 Sep. The world’s largest submarine, the Dmitri Donskoy (TK-208), Nato-coded Typhoon, has set sail for the Mediterranean destined for the Syrian coast, debkafile reports exclusively. Aboard are 20 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, each carrying 6-10 MIRV nuclear warheads. The Russian sub, escorted by two anti-sub warfare ships, is due to arrive in Syrian waters in 10 days time and so top up the new Russian military deployment in Syria. debkafile: Despatching a nuclear sub to Syrian waters is taken as a strong message that the Kremlin will not let the US interfere with its military intervention on behalf of Bashar Assad and against Islamists.
September 8, 2015 Briefs
- Two buses attacked as they exited Maale Adummim
Two buses on Rite 417 from Maale Adummim to Jerusalem were attacked with rocks or gunfire Tuesday night. Although the bus was damaged, no one was hurt.
- New Israeli ambassador to Jordan presents credentials to king
Einat Shahin is the first female Israeli ambassador appointed to an Arab capital. Tuesday, she presented her credentials to Jordan’s King Abdullah. The leading Jordanian A-Doustour newspaper carried a photo of Shahin and the king shaking hands.
- Fifty Turkish planes strike PKK bases in North Iraq
In retaliation for the PKK attack Monday which killed 16 Turkish soldiers, fifty Turkish warplanes Tuesday struck outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) headquarters in northern Iraq, killing up to 40 Kurds. Earlier, a PKK IED blew up a police bus in the eastern the Turkish province of Igdir, klling at least ten police officers.
September 9, 2015 Briefs
- Worst sandstorm in 15 years grounds all Israeli internal flights
The air pollution that enveloped Israel for the second day in a row on Wednesday sent 550 people to hospital and cancelled all internal flights. All air traffic was disrupted in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Cyprus. The Syrian air force called of strikes against rebels.
Russia eludes US ban on NATO airspace by roundabout route to Syria via Iraq and Iran
9 Sep. Moscow has opened a new route for running its military shipments from Sevastopol in Crimea and other South Russian bases to Syria, debkafile discloses. To circumvent US efforts to block the airspace of NATO nations, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, along the Mediterranean route, the Russian now sends its military transports over the Caspian Sea, northern Iran and Iraq, to reach Mezze airbase in Damascus and supply the new Russian base at Jablah.
September 10, 2015 Briefs
- Israel notified of active Russian participation in Syrian war
The policy adviser at Israel’s Defense Minister, Amos Gilead, disclosed Thursday that Israel had been updated in advance that Russian military forces would take part in active combat in the Syrian war. He did not identify the source. The Russian Defense Ministry mouthpiece Kommersant revealed that among the items carried by Moscow’s airlift to Syria are assault rifles, ammunition, grenade launchers, BTR-82 APCs and KamAz military trucks.
- First Egyptian troops in Yemen to fight Houthi rebels
The first 800 Egyptian ground troops sent to fight in Yemen will broaden the Saudi-led Arab coalition battling the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency, arriving with artillery and tanks. Wednesday, a thousand Qatari troops landed in Yemen, to be followed by ground troops from Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Kuwait.
- ISIS says Norwegian, Chinese hostages are “for sale”
The Islamic State has placed an “advertisement” on its English language magazine, Dabiq, announcing that the Norwegian and Chinese hostages it is holding are for sale for their release. The offer was for “a limited time only” and a phone number attached.
- Biden: Dates for Obama-Netanyahu meeting considered
Vice President Joe Biden hinted Wednesday that he and President Barack Obama will be meeting soon with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. This was during a reception at his home for the Jewish New Year to which Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer and Jewish leaders had been invited. The vice president’s office said later, “We are currently discussing with the Israeli prime minister's office possible dates for the next meeting between the president and Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
- Israel reopens Cairo embassy four years after mob assault
Israel reopened its embassy in Egypt on Wednesday, four years after a mob attacked the building and forced the evacuation of the Israeli ambassador. Foreign Ministry director-general, Dore Gold, "rededicated" the embassy, in the presence of the current ambassador Haim Koren, an Egyptian diplomat and the US ambassador to Egypt.