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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

Top 5 Headlines: 

  • U.S. Shoots Down Turkish Drone in Syria
  • Syria: 123 Dead in Drone Strike & Turkish Airstrikes
  • Israel’s Weapons Aid Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Iran Unveils ‘Kaman-19’ Drone
  • Newly Planted Landmines in Yemen

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

Currencies:

$1 SYRIA IRAN IRAQ EGYPT TURKIYE ISRAEL
13,050 49,900 1,307 30 27.8 3.8

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

SYRIA

  1. SPECIAL ACLS REPORT:  New Crisis as U.S. Shoots Down NATO Ally Turkiye’s Drone in Syria. The week began with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan asserting that the perpetrators of a recent Ankara attack had entered Turkey from Syria. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) refuted these claims, stating no transfer of forces from northeastern Syria to Ankara had taken place. The U.S. State Department, represented by Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel, announced it could not confirm Turkey’s allegations and clarified that the U.S. views the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Syria as separate from the PKK.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin subsequently urged Turkey to de-escalate tensions and adhere to deconfliction protocols in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart. A source in the Turkish Ministry of Defense asserted that operations against the PKK/YPG would continue, labeling them as ‘legitimate targets.’ The source also emphasized that Turkey could employ various strategies other than ground advancement to combat terrorism, including potential ground operations in northern Iraq.

On Thursday morning, Turkish forces targeted 16 sites in northern Syria, including the Odeh oil field in Qamishli, causing significant material damage but no reported casualties.

In response to these escalating actions, the U.S. Pentagon confirmed it had downed a Turkish drone near American forces in Syria, citing it as a potential threat. This marks the first time Washington has shot down an aircraft belonging to Turkey, a NATO ally. Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder expressed regret over the incident but stated it was “necessary to protect American forces in Syria.” He added that U.S. forces had detected Turkish drones conducting strikes within half a kilometer of American troops and made the decision to shoot it down in self-defense.

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  1. Unknown drone strikes the Military school in Homs Killing 123. Located northwest of Homs, about 100 kilometers away from the nearest fighting front, 160 kilometers from the Al-Tanf base, and 300 kilometers away from areas controlled by SDF east of the Euphrates. 

A drone strike followed by explosions struck the Military College during a massive graduation ceremony killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 400 others. Though virtually impossible to achieve, the Assad media and its Russian affiliates Sputnik quickly announced that the attack came from terrorist groups without any further explanations. 

After the drone attack on the Military College in Homs, a private source told Syria TV that regime members corralled attendees of the graduation ceremony into the basement of Homs Hospital and restricted their exit. Photos circulated by loyalist pages showed a significant civilian presence at the ceremony.

The unanswered questions surrounding the drone attacks resulted in the death of 123 among them are 54 civilians, including 39 children and women, which is the highest toll since 2018. The total number is 400, including dead and injured (SOHR). The Syrian Observatory Director raises questions about the recent drone attacks, noting that Russian authorities are aware of the aircraft types and their origins. He questions the likelihood of HTS being responsible, given the drones’ range and the choice of targets. He points out that if HTS were behind the attacks, more strategic locations and high-ranking officials would have been targeted. The director suggests that drones alone cannot explain the high number of casualties.

Even Assad’s media professionals later expressed skepticism towards the regime’s Ministry of Defense, which blamed “armed terrorist gangs” in Idlib. Hezbollah-affiliated journalist Hussein Murtada posted on X that the situation represents a new development demanding a “clear and strong response.”

Iran Implicated in Homs Military College Massacre: Alawite Activist Dr. Abdel Nasser Al-Naqri Reveals Inside Collusion. Syrian Alawite activist Dr. Abdel Nasser Al-Naqri accused Iran of masterminding the devastating attack on the Military College in Homs, which left dozens of Assad’s forces and their families dead and wounded. In a video, Al-Naqri claimed to have “very accurate information” implicating Iran and Hezbollah, challenging Russian and Assad regime forces to prove otherwise. He alleged internal collusion, stating that the head of the Military Intelligence Branch in Homs was complicit in the attack. Al-Naqri revealed that areas within the college were rigged with explosives and officers were directly targeted with Doshka bullets. Criticizing Bashar al-Assad, he warned that any Shiite terrorist from Lebanon and any Iranian would be targeted, starting in Homs. He dismissed the regime’s narrative and urged an inspection of the victims’ bodies to corroborate his claims (Sham News). 

The first revenge attack launched by the Russian air force on Idlib shortly after killed 5 people and wounded 38. The Syrian Civil Defense Organization, commonly known as the White Helmets, issued a report confirming an escalation in deliberate targeting of civilians by regime forces in northwestern Syria.

The Syrian regime, in collaboration with Russia, then targeted more than 15 cities, towns, and villages in Idlib and Aleppo with heavy artillery and rocket launchers raising the death toll to 15 including women and children. The attacks also damaged vital public facilities, including a Civil Defense Center and four schools. Observatory 80, specializing in monitoring military movements, reported that Russian warplanes used vacuum missiles in strikes on Al-Qarqour village and Al-Nahr Al-Abyad area.The European and French envoys to Syria, along with the UN, have expressed deep concern over the escalation and called for a nationwide ceasefire. 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Troops May Extend Stay in Iraq and Syria. Turkish authorities indicate that their military presence in Iraq and Syria could be extended for another two years due to ongoing security concerns (Iraqi News). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

  1. Israel’s Arms Supply to Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. Israel and Azerbaijan have expanded their strategic alliance, but it’s the discreet arms supply from Israel aiding Azerbaijan’s recent recapture of Nagorno-Karabakh that’s drawing attention. This development comes as the two nations also signed a space cooperation agreement at the International Astronautical Congress in Baku, focusing on joint projects in space technologies and Earth observation. The arms deal has raised questions about Israel’s geopolitical interests and its influence on regional conflicts (Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post).
  2. Five Israeli Undercover Soldiers Injured in Tulkarm Camp Operation. An operation in the Tulkarm Palestinian refugee camp resulted in injuries to five members of the Israeli undercover unit, Musta’ribin, three of them seriously. The injuries occurred due to a grenade ricochet. The operation also led to the death of two Palestinians and the arrest of two others. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of being responsible for operations against Israel (Syria TV). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

IRAN

  1. Iran Conducts Naval Drills Featuring Suicide Drones. The Iranian Army has initiated military drills involving various types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including the Karrar drone, aimed at navy targets. The drills come amid heightened tensions with the UK and European forces, who maintain sanctions against Iran for its role in supplying drones to Russia in the Ukraine conflict and for its non-compliance with the nuclear deal. The exercises also occur just two weeks before the “Sunset Clause” deadline, which could lift sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missiles and drones if the country complies with nuclear deal obligations (Sharq Awsat).
  2. Iranian Girl in Coma After Altercation with Hijab Enforcer, Echoes of Mahasa Amani. Iran Faces Calls to Disclose Full CCTV Footage Following Teen’s Coma in Hijab Enforcement Incident. Iranian opposition and human rights groups are demanding the release of complete CCTV footage after 16-year-old Armita Geravand fell into a coma following an alleged altercation with a hijab enforcer on the Tehran metro. While authorities claim she fainted due to low blood pressure, witnesses say she was physically attacked for not wearing a hijab (The Guardian). 
  3. Iran Unveils ‘Kaman-19’ Drone Capable of Disrupting Foreign Drone Communications. Iran has introduced a new drone, the “Kaman-19,” which can disrupt communication between foreign drones and their ground bases. The announcement comes amid international criticism of Iran’s drone program, particularly after the country provided “kamikaze” drones to Russia’s military in 2022. Iranian officials argue that drones are essential for their national security, with nearly 200 drones patrolling strategic waters in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman (Jerusalem Post). 
  4. UK Oil Trader Dodges Criminal Fraud Charges Over Iranian Crude Disguised as Iraqi Oil. Francesco Mazzagatti, a prominent UK oil trader, has had criminal fraud charges dismissed by a Milan judge over allegations that his firm disguised Iranian crude oil as Iraqi oil in a potential violation of US sanctions. The case, known as the “White Moon” incident, involved about 700,000 barrels of oil that were initially shipped to Italy before being returned to the Middle East. Mazzagatti still faces commercial fraud claims from Italian prosecutors (Bloomberg).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

IRAQ

  1. Macron to Visit Iraq Amid Regional Tensions. French President Emmanuel Macron is set to visit Iraq, a move seen as France’s attempt to strengthen its diplomatic ties in the region (Iraqi News). 
  2. Iraq Central Bank Bans US Dollar Transactions to Limit Financial Crimes, Evade Iran Sanctions. Starting January 1, 2024, the Central Bank of Iraq will prohibit cash withdrawals and transactions in US dollars as part of an effort to curb financial crimes and evade US sanctions on Iran. The move is also aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on the dollar, and comes after the US took action against 14 Iraqi banks for illegal dollar use (Al Jazeera).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. UAE Approves Mega Gas Project Ahead of COP28. The UAE has approved a large-scale gas project just weeks before the COP28 climate conference, sparking debates on its commitment to environmental sustainability (New Arab). 
  2. Saudi Women in Workforce Lag Behind Global Average. Despite recent reforms, the number of women in Saudi Arabia’s workforce still lags behind the global average (Middle East Eye). 
  3. Newly Planted Landmines Discovered in Yemen After Each Ceasefire. Saudi-backed Project Masam has removed over 417,000 landmines and other explosives in Yemen since June 2018. Despite truces, Houthi forces continue to lay mines, posing significant risks to civilians. The managing director of Project Masam, Ousama Algosaibi, urges international organizations to document the ongoing crisis (Arab News).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Egypt’s Political Landscape: No Challengers for Presidency Egypt’s National Elections Authority announced that no other candidates have registered to challenge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the upcoming elections (Ahram Online). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 6, 2023

LEBANON

  1. Lebanese Foreign Minister Warns of Existential Threat from Syrian Exodus; Calls for Border Demarcation with Israel . In an exclusive interview with Al-Hurra TV, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bouhabib emphasized the existential threat posed by the large influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. He also discussed the urgency of demarcating land borders with Israel and mentioned ongoing American mediation in the matter. Bouhabib warned that the situation could lead to further alienation between Lebanon, Western countries, and potentially Europe, which is already grappling with a refugee crisis (Al Hurra). 

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