Spotlight on Global Jihad (July 5-11, 2018)

Syrian army tank in Tal Shihab (SANA, July 9, 2018).

Syrian army tank in Tal Shihab (SANA, July 9, 2018).

Syrian army force in the village of Zizoun.

Syrian army force in the village of Zizoun.

The scene of the suicide bombing attack in the village of Zizoun (Khotwa, July 10, 2018)

The scene of the suicide bombing attack in the village of Zizoun (Khotwa, July 10, 2018)

APC and ammunition crates left behind by the rebel organizations at the Naseeb crossing (SANA, July 7, 2018)

APC and ammunition crates left behind by the rebel organizations at the Naseeb crossing (SANA, July 7, 2018)

APC and ammunition crates left behind by the rebel organizations at the Naseeb crossing (SANA, July 7, 2018)

APC and ammunition crates left behind by the rebel organizations at the Naseeb crossing (SANA, July 7, 2018)

Operatives of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army receive men who arrived to register at the organization’s recruitment office in the Yarmouk Basin (Haqq, July 8, 2018)

Operatives of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army receive men who arrived to register at the organization’s recruitment office in the Yarmouk Basin (Haqq, July 8, 2018)

Operatives of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army receive men who arrived to register at the organization’s recruitment office in the Yarmouk Basin (Haqq, July 8, 2018)

Operatives of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army receive men who arrived to register at the organization’s recruitment office in the Yarmouk Basin (Haqq, July 8, 2018)

Iraqi army soldier captured in an ISIS ambush east of Baqubah, moments before being executed.

Iraqi army soldier captured in an ISIS ambush east of Baqubah, moments before being executed.

Main events of the week
  • The Syrian army is recording achievements in the campaign for the takeover of southern Syria: it has completed the takeover of the enclave of the rebel organizations east of Daraa and its forces, together with Russian Military Police, have entered the Naseeb border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The Syrian army took control of a number of outposts along the Syrian-Jordanian border and is deployed in villages on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, which is controlled by ISIS. The city of Daraa is surrounded on all sides, and the majority of its territory is controlled by the Syrian army and the forces supporting it.
  • These steps by the Syrian army were carried out as part of the Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement with the rebel organizations, which was achieved on July 6, 2018. The agreement includes clauses stipulating the cessation of hostilities in the Daraa area; the handing over of heavy and medium arms to the Syrian army; the handing over of the Naseeb border crossing; the return of displaced persons to their homes; the deployment of the Syrian army along the border with Jordan and the evacuation of rebels who are not prepared to lay down their arms to the Idlib Province, together with their families. Most of these clauses have apparently been carried out in practice.
  • The ceasefire agreement applies to the Daraa area and does not include the Syrian Golan Heights. The two dominant jihadi organizations in the Syrian Golan Heights are now preparing for an attack by the Syrian army. The Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (formerly the Al-Nusra Front) carried out quick training for its operatives. The ISIS-affiliated Khaled bin al-Walid Army in the Yarmouk Basin is making an effort to recruit new operatives and put on a show of military strength to raise morale. ISIS operatives from the Horan Province carried out a mass-casualty suicide bombing attack against a Syrian and Russian army force in a village bordering the southern outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, which had just been taken over by the Syrian army.
  • The military and political moves currently taking place in southern Syria have long-term significance, because they reflect a process of shaping the nature of the borders of the Syrian state vis-à-vis Jordan and Israel (after the Assad regime takes over most of the territory of Syria). The Syrian regime has already recorded a significant achievement vis-à-vis Jordan, i.e., regaining control of the Naseeb border crossing (for the first time since 2015) and posts along the Syrian-Jordanian border. In the future, this will make it difficult for the rebel organizations to maintain support channels with Jordan and will expedite the process of weakening them. It will also enable the resumption of the movement of goods and people between Syria and Jordan, thereby making a significant contribution to the economies of both countries.
  • The nature of the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan Heights is expected to be shaped in the near future. This issue is expected to be raised, together with a number of other topics related to Syria, at the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Putin (July 11, 2018) and at the summit meeting scheduled to take place between the presidents of the United States and Russia (July 16, 2018).
Russian involvement in Syria
Talks between Israel, Russia and the United States on the situation in Syria
  • The issue of the Golan Heights was discussed at a meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister, Russia’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin (July 10, 2018). On July 11, 2018, Israel’s Prime Minister is expected to arrive in Russia for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a statement, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu would make it clear that “Israel will not tolerate a military presence by Iran or its proxies anywhere in Syria and that Syria must strictly abide by the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement.” On July 16, 2018, a summit meeting between the presidents of the United States and Russia is expected to take place in Helsinki. These talks will probably include issues related to the situation in Syria, including the issue of the Golan Heights.

The Prime Minister of Israel at a meeting with Russia’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev (right) and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin (left) (www.gov.il, photo: Amos Ben Gershom, Israel Government Press Office, July 10, 2018)
The Prime Minister of Israel at a meeting with Russia’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev (right) and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin (left) (www.gov.il, photo: Amos Ben Gershom, Israel Government Press Office, July 10, 2018)

Syria
The campaign in southern Syria

The situation on the ground

The Syrian army has completed its takeover of the rebel organizations’ enclave east of Daraa. The Syrian forces entered the Naseeb border crossing between Syria and Jordan uninterruptedly and from there proceeded westward along the Syrian-Jordanian border. They took control of dozens of posts near the border and positioned themselves in the villages of Tal Shihab and Zizoun in the southern outskirts of the area controlled by ISIS in the Yarmouk Basin. A Syrian army commander said that by July 7, 2018, 90% of the area had been liberated. According to him, the objective of the High Command was to prevent bloodshed and facilitate the return of civilians to their homes (Khotwa; Dimashq al-Aan, July 7, 2018).

 

 

Map of the deployment of the forces in southern Syria (updated to July 9, 2018): the areas that the Syrian army entered under the ceasefire agreement are marked in blue; the enclave of the rebel organizations that the Syrian army took over since the beginning of the campaign is marked in red; the control area of the ISIS-affiliated Khaled bin al-Walid Army is marked in black; the control area of the rebel organizations (including the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham) in the Golan Heights is marked in green (Khotwa, July 9, 2018)
Map of the deployment of the forces in southern Syria (updated to July 9, 2018): the areas that the Syrian army entered under the ceasefire agreement are marked in blue; the enclave of the rebel organizations that the Syrian army took over since the beginning of the campaign is marked in red; the control area of the ISIS-affiliated Khaled bin al-Walid Army is marked in black; the control area of the rebel organizations (including the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham) in the Golan Heights is marked in green (Khotwa, July 9, 2018)

  • On July 9, 2018, the Syrian army entered the villages of Tal Shihab and Zizoun, near the Syrian-Jordanian border. Thus the Syrian forces completed their movement westwards and established themselves in the southern outskirts of the area controlled by the ISIS-affiliated Khaled bin al-Walid Army. This is in preparation for the takeover of the Yarmouk Basin as part of the Syrian army’s takeover of the Syrian Golan Heights. The entry of the Syrian army into the village of Zizoun, on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, caused an initial friction with the Khaled bin al-Walid Army. On July 10, 2018, there were local clashes between them in the town of Al-Qusayr (northwest of Zizoun) (Khotwa, July 10, 2018).

The villages of Tal Shihab (1) and Zizoun (2) (Google Maps)
The villages of Tal Shihab (1) and Zizoun (2) (Google Maps)

Residents of Tal Shihab cheering and waving photos of Syrian President Bashar Assad (SANA, July 9, 2018)   Syrian army tank in Tal Shihab (SANA, July 9, 2018).
Right: Syrian army tank in Tal Shihab (SANA, July 9, 2018). Left: Residents of Tal Shihab cheering and waving photos of Syrian President Bashar Assad (SANA, July 9, 2018)
ISIS suicide bombing attack in the village of Zizoun
  • On July 10, 2018, ISIS’s Hauran Province claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing attack in the village of Zizoun. According to ISIS’s claim of responsibility, the attack was carried out by ISIS operative Abu Zubair al-Ansari against a concentration of Syrian and Russian army forces. According to ISIS, more than 35 people were killed, including a Syrian officer, and at least 15 others were wounded. In addition, two tanks and a number of vehicles belonging to the Syrian and Russian forces were destroyed (www.k1falh.ga, an ISIS-affiliated website, July 10, 2018). So far, no official Syrian sources have commented on the attack.

The city of Daraa

  • According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most (over 72%) of the territory of the city of Daraa is controlled by the Syrian army and the forces supporting it. The city is now surrounded on all sides (Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath, July 8, 2018). There are exchanges of fire in the city itself. The neighborhoods that are still under the control of the rebels are subject to artillery fire and airstrikes.

Ceasefire agreement between the Syrian army and the rebel forces

On July 6, 2018, the Syrian regime and the rebel organizations in southern Syria affiliated with the Free Syrian Army announced that a Russian-brokered ceasefire had been reached between them. The agreement includes the eastern enclave of the rebel organizations and the positions of the rebel organizations along the Syrian-Jordanian border, up to the area controlled by ISIS. The ITIC does not have a single authorized version of the agreement, but rather a number of versions, including those of the Free Syrian Army, the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham, and Russia. These versions are fairly similar but occasionally may differ in detail and emphasis.

  • Following are the highlights of the agreement, based on the information in the hands of the ITIC:
    • Cessation of the fighting: The fighting will cease throughout the entire Daraa Province (i.e., the agreement does not include the Quneitra Province).
    • Surrendering heavy and medium arms: The rebel organizations will gradually surrender their heavy and medium weapons in all the places under their control (Note: a version published by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham states that in return, the Syrian army will return to the places where it had been before the campaign for the takeover of southern Syria began).
    • Restoring the Syrian regime’s control over the Naseeb border crossing: The Syrian army will gain control over the crossing with the assistance of the Russian Military Police. The crossing will be operated under Russian supervision and Syrian sovereignty (the Syrian flag will fly in the area).
    • The return of the displaced persons to their homes and the return to normal life: All the displaced persons who fled in the wake of the fighting will return to their places of residence. The civilian authorities will resume operating as quickly as possible and will reopen traffic arteries in order to enable travel by residents and the restoration of economic activity.
    • Deployment of the Syrian army along the Jordanian border: The observation posts of the rebel organizations along the border with Jordan will be handed over to the Syrian army.
    • Evacuation of rebels to the Idlib Province: Rebel operatives who are not prepared to lay down their arms will be evacuated to the Idlib Province along with their families.
    • Guarantees regarding the rebel organizations: A version published by the “Central Operations Room in the South,” which is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said that the Russian side would be in charge of implementing the agreement. The announcement also said that the safety of the rebel organizations would be guaranteed and that the Syrian army would refrain from attacking them.

According to Abu Shimaa, spokesman for one of the operations rooms subordinate to the central operations room of the rebel organizations, the ceasefire agreement includes the areas under the control of the rebel forces, from Basra al-Sham to the Yarmouk Basin (i.e., the enclave of the rebel organizations east of Daraa and the Syrian-Jordanian border area of to the southern Yarmouk Basin). On the other hand, the areas controlled by the rebel organizations in the rural area northwest of Daraa and the Quneitra [Province] are outside the agreement (Enab Baladi, July 8, 2018).

The implementation of the agreement (initial assessment)
  • In general, the agreement is being implemented on the ground, although not all of its clauses have been implemented so far. The Syrian forces took over the enclave east of Daraa, entered the Naseeb border crossing and deployed along the Syrian-Jordanian border (although there were some difficulties in the deployment of the Syrian army along the border with Jordan). In addition, the rebel organizations surrendered some of their weapons to the Syrian army. However, at a meeting with Russian representatives at the Naseeb border crossing, the rebel organizations claimed that some of the clauses were not being carried out properly or were not being carried out at all (Al-Jazeera Channel, July 7, 2018).
  • To date, some 1,000 fighters and their families have expressed a desire to be evacuated to the Idlib area, as part of the ceasefire agreement. These fighters are about to be evacuated under the supervision of the Russian Military Police (Al-Haqiqa, Xeber24.org, July 9, 2018).
The Syrian army takes control of the Naseeb border crossing
  • On July 6, 2018, a Syrian military force entered the Naseeb border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The crossing was taken over without any resistance. The Syrian soldiers waved Syrian flags and photos of President Bashar Assad at the crossing. The rebel organizations left behind three APCs and ammunition (Twitter account of the Syrian army’s Central Information Office, July 6, 2018; SANA, July 7, 2018). A Russian Military Police force is stationed at the crossing in a supervisory capacity, as stipulated in the ceasefire agreement (AFP, July 7, 2018; Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath, July 7, 2018).
Syrian army soldiers at the Naseeb border crossing, waving photos of the Syrian president and Syrian flags (SANA, July 7, 2018)   Syrian army soldiers at the Naseeb border crossing, waving photos of the Syrian president and Syrian flags (SANA, July 7, 2018)
Syrian army soldiers at the Naseeb border crossing, waving photos of the Syrian president and Syrian flags (SANA, July 7, 2018)

Naseeb border crossing on the border between Syria and Jordan – view from above (Twitter account of the Syrian army’s Central Information Office, July 7, 2018)
Naseeb border crossing on the border between Syria and Jordan – view from above
(Twitter account of the Syrian army’s Central Information Office, July 7, 2018)

Russian Military Police personnel at the Naseeb border crossing (Asrar Al-Usbu’a, July 7, 2018)
Russian Military Police personnel at the Naseeb border crossing (Asrar Al-Usbu’a, July 7, 2018)

The return of the Naseeb crossing to the hands of the Syrian regime, for the first time since 2015, represents a significant achievement for the Assad regime. The Syrian regime’s control over the crossing and the border between Syria and Jordan will make it difficult for the rebel organizations to maintain their contact with Jordan. The opening of the crossing will also enable the resumption of the movement of goods and people between Syria and Jordan, significantly contributing to the economy of both countries. Russia’s involvement in running the crossing is yet another indication of Russia’s major impact on the new reality emerging in southern Syria, which may also continue into the next phase of the Syrian army takeover of the Syrian Golan Heights.

Jihadi organizations in the Syrian Golan Heights

Overview

The ceasefire agreement reached with the rebel organizations did not include the two jihadi organizations operating in the Syrian Golan Heights: the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (formerly the Al-Nusra Front), which represents a significant component among the rebel organizations deployed in the Syrian Golan Heights; and the ISIS-affiliated Khaled bin Al-Walid Army, which is deployed in the Yarmouk Basin, in the southern Syrian Golan Heights.

The Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham

  • The Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham released an announcement claiming that it had rejected a Russian proposal to include it in the ceasefire agreement. According to the announcement, its position is that “death is preferable to humiliation” (Ibaa Magazine, Issue No. 4, July 5, 2018).
  • In the meantime, the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham takes advantage of the lull in the fighting to prepare for the Syrian army’s imminent attack in the Syrian Golan Heights. As part of these preparations, the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham announced that the first training session for the organization operatives at the training camp called “Repelling the Aggression” had ended. The purpose of the camp is to train fighters quickly to withstand the Syrian regime attacks in the area (Ibaa Magazine, Issue No. 4, July 5, 2018).

Fighters of the first session of quick training in the training camp of the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (Ibaa Magazine, Issue No. 4, July 5, 2018)
Fighters of the first session of quick training in the training camp of the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (Ibaa Magazine, Issue No. 4, July 5, 2018)

The ISIS-affiliated Khaled bin Al-Walid Army

  • The Syrian army takeover of the southern and eastern outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin represents an existential challenge for ISIS enclave in the southern Syrian Golan Heights. In view of this situation, the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army started to operate recruitment offices in the Yarmouk Basin, in advance of the imminent campaign against the Syrian army. On July 8, 2018, the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army released photos showing the organization operatives receiving new operatives at recruitment offices which were opened to fight against the Syrian and Russian armies (Haqq, July 8, 2018).
  • At the same time, the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army held a military show of force in the Yarmouk Basin (July 3, 2018), intended to raise the morale of the operatives and encourage local residents to join its forces. A video released by ISIS shows a tank and a column of off-road vehicles with masked men. The speaker in the video calls on residents of the Hauran region to join the ranks of the organization (Amaq, July 4, 2018).
Tank of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army during the military show of force of the organization in the Yarmouk Basin (Amaq, July 4, 2018)   Off-road vehicles and operatives of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army during a military show of force in the Yarmouk Basin (Syria TV, July 4, 2018).
Right: Off-road vehicles and operatives of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army during a military show of force in the Yarmouk Basin (Syria TV, July 4, 2018). Left: Tank of the Khaled bin Al-Walid Army during the military show of force of the organization in the Yarmouk Basin (Amaq, July 4, 2018)
Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer killed east of Quneitra
  • On July 3, 2018, it was reported that Mohammad Ebrahim Rashidi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer in the rank of lieutenant, was killed in clashes with the Free Syrian Army in the village of Deir al-Adas, about 28 km east of Quneitra (FSA News@FSAPlatform Twitter account, affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, July 3, 2018). The Syrian army campaign in the south includes Shiite militias handled by Iranian officers, and the dead officer was probably one of them.
Lieutenant Mohammad Ebrahim Rashidi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer who was killed in the village of Deir al-Adas (FSA News@FSAPlatform Twitter account [affiliated with the Free Syrian Army], July 3, 2018)   Lieutenant Mohammad Ebrahim Rashidi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer who was killed in the village of Deir al-Adas (FSA News@FSAPlatform Twitter account [affiliated with the Free Syrian Army], July 3, 2018)
Left: Lieutenant Mohammad Ebrahim Rashidi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer who was killed in the village of Deir al-Adas (FSA News@FSAPlatform Twitter account [affiliated with the Free Syrian Army], July 3, 2018)
Displaced persons return to their places of residence
  • According to a UN report (updated to July 9, 2018), over 320,000 people were driven out of their homes due to the fighting (many of them women, children and sick people). About half of the displaced persons are near the border between Syria and Jordan. About 164,000 displaced persons are in the Quneitra region in the Syrian Golan Heights (website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, July 3 and 9, 2018). The displaced persons live in makeshift camps, under dire humanitarian conditions, without food and water and sometimes even without shelter.
  • According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (July 9, 2018), over 200,000 displaced persons from the Daraa area returned to their homes. Most of the returning people are displaced persons who had stayed near the Syrian-Jordanian border. Part of them agreed to return to their villages only after the Russians had given them guarantees that the Syrian regime would not harm them.

Displaced persons camps near the Israeli and Jordanian borders – satellite photos (updated to July 7, 2018) (photos and interpretation courtesy of ImageSat International – ISI)

Displaced persons camps near the Israeli and Jordanian borders – satellite photos (updated to July 7, 2018) (photos and interpretation courtesy of ImageSat International - ISI)
Displaced persons camps near the Israeli and Jordanian borders – satellite photos (updated to July 7, 2018) (photos and interpretation courtesy of ImageSat International – ISI)

Concentrations of displaced persons along the borders of Israel and Jordan (ImageSat International - ISI)
Concentrations of displaced persons along the borders of Israel and Jordan (ImageSat International – ISI)

Dozens of displaced persons camps near the border between Israel and Syria (ImageSat International - ISI)
Dozens of displaced persons camps near the border between Israel and Syria (ImageSat International – ISI)

Displaced persons camps near the Syrian-Israeli border (ImageSat International - ISI)
Displaced persons camps near the Syrian-Israeli border (ImageSat International – ISI)


Displaced persons camps near the Syrian-Jordanian border (ImageSat International – ISI)

Eastern Syria

Albukamal area

  • On July 7, 2018, International Coalition planes carried out airstrikes against ISIS targets in the village of Hajin, about 25 km north of Albukamal and around it (an area still under ISIS control). The airstrikes are reportedly carried out in preparation for a ground operation by the SDF forces which will be launched in the coming days in order to mop up the east bank of the Euphrates River from ISIS operatives. A day earlier, on July 7, 2018, Coalition forces fired mortar shells at the village of Hajin and its environs (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, July 8, 2018).
Main developments in Iraq
ISIS activity

Suicide bombing in Baiji

  • On July 9, 2018, ISIS announced that at least 40 members of the Iraqi security forces had been killed and wounded in an attack carried out by two of its operatives. The two, who wore explosive vests, stormed the headquarters of the Popular Mobilization 31st Brigade near the Baiji refineries. The ISIS operatives engaged the local forces for several hours and finally detonated their explosive vests (www.k1falh.ga, website affiliated with ISIS, July 9, 2018). On the other hand, according to official Iraqi sources, two suicide bombers attacked a staging zone near the Baiji refinery. One of them was captured, and the other, who blew himself up, killed four members of the Iraqi security forces and wounded another (Al-Sumaria News, July 9, 2018).

Terrorist attacks in the Baqubah area

  • This week, there were terrorist and guerrilla attacks in the area of the city of Baqubah, north of Baghdad. This activity included the killing of eight Shiite civilians in an ambush south of Baqubah; killing and wounding four Popular Mobilization operatives in a village north of Baqubah; killing an Iraqi soldier by sniper fire northeast of Baqubah; the execution of an Iraqi soldier and a Popular Mobilization operative who were captured in an ISIS ambush east of Baqubah (reports in www.k1falh.ga, website affiliated with ISIS, July 6 and 7, 2018).
Two Kalashnikov assault rifles and a gun of a soldier and a Popular Mobilization operative captured in an ISIS ambush (www.k1falh.ga, website affiliated with ISIS, July 7, 2018)   Iraqi army soldier captured in an ISIS ambush east of Baqubah, moments before being executed.
Right: Iraqi army soldier captured in an ISIS ambush east of Baqubah, moments before being executed. Left: Two Kalashnikov assault rifles and a gun of a soldier and a Popular Mobilization operative captured in an ISIS ambush (www.k1falh.ga, website affiliated with ISIS, July 7, 2018)
Preventive and counterterrorist activity of the Iraqi security forces

Operation Shahid Revenge

  • The Iraqi security forces are now conducting an operation to mop up the area west of Kirkuk from ISIS operatives. Fariq (field marshal) Ra’ed Shaker Jawdat, commander of the police forces, said that during the operation, 171 villages had been mopped up, 32 hideouts were destroyed, 48 IEDs were neutralized, 24 ISIS tunnels and training centers were destroyed, five canisters of C4 plastic explosives were found, a house containing 16 IEDs was blown up, and a workshop for manufacturing rockets was found (Al-Sumaria News, July 7, 2018). These achievements of the Iraqi security forces indicate the depth of the military infrastructure that ISIS still has in Iraq, in the Kirkuk area and in other areas in the northern and western regions of Iraq.
Tunnels and IEDs uncovered in the Mosul area
  • The Iraqi security forces found 12 IEDs and nine tunnels in the area of Mosul. One of the tunnels, which was booby-trapped, was blown up. Another tunnel, northwest of Mosul, was attacked in a Coalition airstrike, killing 20 ISIS operatives who were hiding there (Al-Sumaria News, July 9, 2018).
Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula
ISIS attacked an Egyptian force on the coastal road near Rafah
  • Recently, ISIS has increased its guerrilla activity against the Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai Peninsula. According to an ISIS report from July 6, 2018, its operatives attacked a concentration of Egyptian army forces on the coastal road near Rafah, for the second time in a week. Ten Egyptian soldiers were killed and wounded. ISIS also reported that it had fired RPG rockets at an Egyptian army checkpoint near the Rafah port (Haqq, July 7, 2018).
  • On July 9, 2018, ISIS’s Sinai Province released photos documenting the execution of Jamil Jum’ah Hamad, who was suspected of collaboration with the Egyptian army south of Rafah. The photos show Hamad digging his own grave and then being beheaded by an ISIS operative (www.k1falh.ga, website affiliated with ISIS, July 9, 2018).
Jihadi activity in other countries
Tunisia

Tunisian National Guard patrol attacked

  • Tunisian authorities reported that on July 8, 2018, “terrorist operatives” attacked a patrol of the Tunisian National Guard in Ayn Sultan, northwestern Tunisia (near the border between Tunisia and Algeria). Six patrol members were killed and three wounded. The Uqba bin Nafi Battalion, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM, the Al-Qaeda branch in North Africa) claimed responsibility for the attack (Al-Bawaba, July 9, 2018).