22 Maggio, 2024

Mediterranean Security Update

Syria. Syrian rebels and their families began evacuating from a district of the capital Damascus for the first time on 8th, bringing the government closer to recapturing the entire city. The deal to evacuate Barzeh district mirrors similar agreements for opposition-held territory elsewhere in the country, allowing fighters safe passage in exchange for surrender. On 11th the US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has fully captured the city of Tabqa and a strategic dam nearby from ISIL. The recapture of Tabqa leaves no other major ISIL-held urban settlements on the eastern road to Raqqa. US President Donald Trump on 9th authorized the direct shipment of arms to the YPG to facilitate the takeover of Raqqa, drawing intense opposition from Turkey. On 14th more than 1,500 rebels and their family members left the devastated district of Qaboun on the edge of Damascus, as the Syrian army and its allies continue to advance in areas in and around the capital.
Libya. Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar on 8th launched an offensive to oust jihadist from their last two strongholds in Benghazi. Many jihadists found refuge in Al-Sabri and Souq al-Hout districts after the LNA drove them from the city’s western districts in March. While international attention is focused on the north of Libya, the South has felt out of radar but it remains a very unstable and conflicting area. Here an interview with Claudia Gazzini, Crisis Group’s Libya Senior Analyst, on the meeting between Sarraj and Haftar. Despite the UN embargo of arms purchase on Libya, the United Arab Emirates has deployed combat aircraft to eastern Libya for the forces led by Khalifa Haftar. In fact due to satellite images at least six “Archangel” aircraft were spotted in eastern Libya.
Tunisia. Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi has ordered the army to protect the output of the country’s main resources following a wave of protests over unemployment and worsening economic conditions. This is the first time that troops in Tunisia have been deployed to guard industrial installations.
Iraq. US-backed Iraqi forces have pushed deeper into the last pocket of Mosul controlled by the Islamic State. ISIL fighters have now been dislodged from all but a handful of districts in the western half of Mosul including the Old City, where the group is expected to make its last stand, taking advantage of narrow streets and its dense population. However, the fight against ISIS is not limited to Mosul, indeed on 11th Iraqi forces have launched a broad operation to root out ISIS fighters who have been harassing security forces in remote border areas in Anbar province.
Egypt. The Egyptian government is fighting against terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere in the country, but according to Foreign Affairs its war is falling.

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