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The Early Phoenix January 19, 2024

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Russian Aerial Patrols Intensify Over the Syrian Golan Heights, Khamenei Calls for Continued Fighting

 

TOP HEADLINES:

  • Unprecedented Russian Aerial Patrols Over Syrian Golan Heights.
  • Khamenei Calls for Continued Fight, Commends Houthi Attack on Israeli Supply Line.
  • Mass Gatherings Respond to Ayatollah Khamenei’s Call in Support of the Palestinian Cause.
  • Türkiye Concerned About U.S. Pursuit of Dominance in the Black Sea.
  • Egypt Foils Major Drug Smuggling Attempt, Seizes Massive Drug Haul on Its Border with Israel.

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

1. Intensified Conflict in Gaza: IDF Claims Major Advances, Al-Qassam Brigades Report Israeli Losses.

In the latest developments in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have announced significant progress in their military operations. According to the IDF, they have successfully demolished Hamas’s primary rocket and weapons manufacturing zone in central Gaza, including an extensive underground tunnel network. Additionally, the IDF reported the targeted killing of Wael Makin Abdallah Abu-Fanounah, identified as the Deputy Head of Propaganda for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in an airstrike. The IDF’s statement also highlighted the capture of key sites in Khan Yunis, a region where intense clashes have been ongoing. According to the IDF, their forces have seized control of the Hamas “Martyrs Brigade” site in Khan Yunis, claiming to have eliminated numerous fighters and uncovered a significant cache of weapons, ammunition, and intelligence documents. This marks the southernmost point of the Israeli forces’ advance in the area. In contrast, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, have provided a conflicting narrative about the situation in Khan Younis. They claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on Israeli soldiers in Khan Yunis, including the destruction of tanks and vehicles. Al-Qassam also reported blowing up a house and targeting an Israeli foot patrol, asserting significant losses to the IDF.Furthermore, the Israeli army has disclosed their ongoing efforts to locate the bodies of hostages in Gaza Strip cemeteries. The IDF is preparing to establish a presence along the Gaza Valley axis, a crucial area bisecting the Strip from east to west. According to Israeli newspapers, the Israeli Defense Forces managed to find the bodies of 21 hostages during today’s operation on Friday, January 19, 2024. In a separate development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in consultation with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Minister Ron Dermer, has decided to transfer Palestinian Authority tax revenues to a third country. This third country has pledged not to forward these funds to Hamas in the Gaza strip, marking a significant shift in the handling of Palestinian Authority resources. This series of events highlights the escalating tensions and the complex nature of the conflict. Both sides continue to assert their own narratives and claims of success amid persistent violence and strategic maneuvers. It’s crucial to conclude today’s report by addressing the concerning medical situation in Rafah, located near the Egyptian border. Given its proximity to Egypt, the urgent delivery of medical supplies to this area is imperative.
2. Criminal Complaints Filed Against Israeli President Herzog During Davos Participation. Criminal complaints have been filed against Israeli President Isaac Herzog during his participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos. According to the Swiss Attorney General’s office, these complaints will be reviewed in accordance with official legal procedures. Subsequently, the issue of the Israeli president’s immunity in this context will be examined. It is worth noting that the provided Arabic media reports did not specify the nature of the charges brought against President Herzog in this criminal complaint.

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★ YEMEN

3. Mass Gatherings Respond to Ayatollah Khamenei’s Call for Palestinian Support.

In a captivating display of unity, civilians gathered in massive assemblies on Friday, immediately following Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s address. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, called for continued military actions against Israeli interests in his speech. Under the banner of supporting the Palestinian cause, this large-scale gathering took place. These actions come in response to the United States’ designation of the Houthi group as terrorist organizations. The Houthis accused the United States of being the “mother of terrorism” during the rallies they organized in cities like Sanaa, Taiz, and Hodeidah. These organized events highlight the Houthi group’s political agenda, which is heavily influenced by Iran’s directives. The danger in this situation lies in the potential escalation of regional instability, which poses a threat to the interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East. The American Center for Studies of the Levant has translated some of the slogans circulated today in six Yemeni cities under Houthi control to clarify some of the malicious methods employed by the group to brainwash civilians and sow hatred based on false and dangerous information. It is essential to watch the translated video in English. According to local experts’ assessments, a comprehensive awareness campaign based on accurate information should be organized to shape a public opinion grounded in facts against the piracy activities carried out by the Houthi group.
4. U.S. Airstrike Claims Lives of Hezbollah Lebanese Experts in Yemen’s Hodeidah Province. The U.S. airstrike in the Al-Luhayyah area of Yemen’s Hodeidah province, near the Red Sea, has resulted in the loss of several Hezbollah Lebanese experts. The attack, which specifically targeted a military site in the Jadda mountain area north of Hodeidah, has confirmed the deaths of two Hezbollah experts.

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★ IRAN

5. Khamenei Calls for Continuing Battles as He Applauds Houthi Attack on Israeli Lifeline.During today’s Friday prayer, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, commended the Houthi rebel group’s audacious strike on Israel’s critical supply route, lauding their courage in the face of U.S. threats. Khamenei called for the persistence of battles and endeavors in the Middle East region. In another significant development, Admiral Shahram Irani of the Iranian Navy announced that the aging Iranian destroyer, Alborz, would provide escort to Iranian oil tankers navigating the Red Sea. He pointed out that “some world powers hesitate to deploy forces in this strategic area.” Furthermore, Admiral Irani highlighted the outcomes of recent actions by Houthi forces at sea, notably the targeting of the American vessel, ‘Ginco Picardie,’ in the Gulf of Aden. This incident has had significant consequences, causing insurance companies to withhold war risk coverage for American, British, and Israeli ships operating in the Red Sea, underscoring the Houthi’s effective disruption of U.S. and British interests.

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★ LEBANON

6. Israel Conducts 12 Airstrikes in Southern Lebanon. Israel executed approximately 12 airstrikes on Friday in southern Lebanon. The strikes were concentrated between the towns of Ramieh and Aita al-Shaab, as reported by the Lebanese National News Agency. The Israeli air missiles reportedly led to considerable environmental damage within the targeted zones, notably resulting in the destruction of extensive tree-covered areas. On Friday, January 19, 2024, Israeli enemy soldiers deployed between the Al-Summaqa and Ramtha sites in Shebaa Farms, targeting them with a Burkan missile, resulting in a direct hit.

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★ SYRIA

7. Israeli Strikes in Southern Syria Amid Missile Launches Towards Golan. The Israeli military conducted airstrikes on locations in the countryside of Quneitra province in southern Syria in retaliation for missile launches from Syrian territory towards the occupied Golan Heights. According to reports, 12 shells hit areas in western and central Quneitra on Thursday, January 18, targeting agricultural lands near Tasil, Tal al-Jumou’, Tal al-Jabiya, and “Brigade 112”. There were no immediate reports of casualties from these incidents.
8. Unprecedented Russian Air Patrols in Syria’s Golan Heights. On January 3, Russia established two military points in southern Syria, citing a rise in provocations in the demilitarized zone. Subsequently, on January 18, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the initiation of military air patrols along the “Bravo Line” in the Golan Heights, which serves as the demarcation line between Syria and Israeli-occupied territory. Admiral Vadim Collet of the “Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Parties in Syria, stated that these air patrols aim to monitor the situation along this disengagement line. Former Syrian officers, trained by Russians for decades, suggest that the recent establishment of military points and air patrols in Syria serves two interconnected purposes: reinforcing Russia’s influence in a strategic region by demonstrating strength and commitment to the Syria-Israel ceasefire, while also gathering vital intelligence along the contentious border for broader geopolitical strategies, highlighting Russia’s sustained Middle East interest.
9. Dead in Jordanian Airstrikes on Sweida: Tragedy Unfolds as Homes and Warehouse Targeted. In a devastating turn of events, Jordanian warplanes conducted airstrikes in two southeastern regions of Sweida, resulting in the tragic loss of 8 lives, including two children and four women. The airstrikes, which took place after midnight on Wednesday-Thursday, targeted homes and a warehouse. As a result, multiple casualties have been reported, with the possibility of more victims still trapped under the rubble. The local population has issued urgent pleas for rescue teams to assist in the aftermath of these deadly attacks. Additionally, a warehouse in the village of Mleih in southeastern Sweida sustained damage, though no human casualties have been reported from this location so far. This tragedy has left the community in a state of shock and mourning, underscoring the urgency of conducting an immediate assessment of Jordan’s military capabilities in its ongoing battle against Captagon smugglers.

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★ TURKIYE

10. Turkiye Signals Potential Further Military Operations in Iraq and Syria and Issues Direct Threat to Talabani. The Turkish Ministry of Defense hinted at possible additional military operations in Iraq and Syria, underscoring ongoing regional tensions. This announcement follows reports of the United Kingdom, under Bafel Talabani’s leadership, maintaining contact with the PKK despite Turkiye’s repeated warnings. Turkish Minister Fidan, addressing the GNAT (Grand National Assembly of Turkiye), issued a final warning to Talabani, indicating that new, unspecified measures might be implemented. While the nature of these measures remains undisclosed, there is growing speculation about whether military intervention is among the considered options.
11. Turkiye Fears U.S. Aims to Dominate the Black Sea. Recent developments have intensified Turkiye’s concerns regarding the US Black Sea strategy. Ankara perceives the strategy’s objectives – enhancing security, energy security, and economic development – as ambiguous, with a lack of transparent implementation methods. This ambiguity, coupled with historical contexts of US engagements in the region, fuels Turkish skepticism. Disagreements over the Black Sea’s governance further exacerbate tensions. Turkiye, valuing regional control, contrasts with the US view favoring international oversight. Turkiye’s strategic maneuvers within NATO, aimed at moderating US influence in the Black Sea, reflect its commitment to safeguarding regional interests against perceived external overreach.
12. Turkish Government Media Reports on Military Operations in Northern Syria. Turkish government media reported that its military operations in northern Syria have significantly disrupted the PKK, a designated terrorist organization. The focused attacks by the Turkish Armed Forces targeted oil production facilities controlled by the PKK, leading to a shift in their operations to tanker-based oil transportation. This change comes as a direct response to the destruction of their facilities. The oil, allegedly extracted under US oversight in the Qamishli region, is being smuggled from the Rimeylan and Kahtaniye oil fields. Observations from Mardin’s Nusaybin district indicate a strategic movement of these tankers, scheduled at intervals and routed through populated areas, to minimize detection.
13. Dollar Rises to $1 = 30.5 Turkish Lira Amid Turkiye’s Strategic Economic Revamp. With the Turkish Lira at $1 = 30.5, Turkiye’s economic reforms are drawing global investor interest. These reforms aim to bolster the economy, attract foreign investment, and stabilize currency. Focusing on government bonds and high interest rates, these measures are expected to improve financial stability and lead to credit rating upgrades, signaling international confidence in Turkiye’s economic strategy.

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★ The Arabian Gulf

14. Saudi Arabia Calls for Ceasefire as Prerequisite for Israel Normalization and Peace Roadmap for Yemen at Davos.

In a significant statement at the Davos Forum, Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, affirmed the necessity of a ceasefire as a fundamental precondition for initiating normalization talks with Israel. This declaration comes amid Western media reports speculating about the possibility of an imminent peace agreement between the two nations. Princess Reema emphasized the pain and trauma experienced by both parties, underscoring that the immediate priority should be to halt violence and achieve peace.

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★ EGYPT

15. Egypt Thwarts Major Drug Smuggling Attempt.

The Egyptian military successfully intercepted a significant drug smuggling operation on its border with Israel, seizing 660 pounds or 300 Kilograms of narcotics and neutralizing three smugglers. This operation, reported on January 19, 2024, marks the second successful interception within a week. Earlier, the Egyptian army had foiled a similar attempt, leading to one smuggler’s death and six arrests. Concurrently, the Israeli army engaged in a border clash with gunmen, resulting in casualties and an injured Israeli soldier.

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📌 Incase you missed it,

📰 The Early Phoenix January 18, 2024

🌍 The Region January 8, 2024

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🔗 Follow the latest news from the American Center for Levant Studies via Google News

 

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