Last week in the Middle East, overall political violence levels remained stable in Yemen for the third consecutive week, although seeing a slight decline. In Syria, Israeli warplanes targeted Hezbollah positions in Tartous and Quneitra provinces. In Iraq, the Turkish air Operation Claw Lock escalated significantly. In Turkey, Turkish soldiers killed five Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members and an Afghan refugee in separate incidents, while Turkish health workers and lawyers protested across the country against violence targeting members of their professions. In Palestine, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in different violent events in the West Bank.
In Yemen, violence levels remained stable last week with only a slight decline observed. Most truce-related violence took place in the governorates of Hodeidah, Marib, Sadah, and Taizz (see ACLED’s Yemen Truce Monitor for more on truce violations). Clashes in Marib’s southern front on 7 and 8 July led to the first report of Houthi fatalities in the governorate since early May (Khabar News Agency, 9 July 2022).
Meanwhile, no Saudi-led coalition air raids from fighter jets were reported for the 14th consecutive week last week. If the Houthi origin of a possible aerial attack the week prior is not confirmed, last week would also be the 15th consecutive week with no Houthi drone or missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.1An explosion was filmed over Khamis Mushait but neither the Houthis nor Saudi authorities issued communications about it. No further details have emerged since. In Yemen, both Houthi and Saudi-led coalition drone strikes were reported last week, including a Houthi strike that killed two Security Belt fighters in Ad Dali governorate.
At the political level, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg presented a new proposal on the reopening of roads in Taizz and other governorates to the Internationally Recognized Government and the Houthi-run government on 3 July (Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 7 July 2022). Although there were no positive responses directly to the proposal, both parties announced the unilateral opening of some roads (2 December News, 7 July 2022; Yemen News Agency, 7 July 2022).
Separately, the truce parties held the third meeting of the military coordination committee on 5 July, a month after its second meeting. They appointed a working group to form a joint coordination room, tasked with de-escalating incidents (Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 5 July 2022). The parties also agreed to consolidate their commitment to the truce on the occasion of Eid Al Adha, and to moderate their rhetoric (Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 5 July 2022). On 8 July, however, the president of the Houthi-run government stated that a return to military operations could result from the other party’s continued failure to implement the truce (Yemen News Agency, 8 July 2021).
In Syria, Israel resumed airstrikes on pro-Iran militias last week, targeting Hezbollah military bases in Tartous and Quneitra, killing one Hezbollah fighter. Meanwhile, Turkish and rebel shelling of Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG)-controlled areas in northern Syria continued at a similar pace as last week. Shelling and airstrikes continued to center on Aleppo province where two QSD and YPG fighters and one civilian were killed. Elsewhere, shelling and armed clashes between regime forces and opposition and Islamist factions slightly increased in the frontline areas in Idleb and Hama provinces. Russian forces also resumed airstrikes on rebel-held areas in Idleb for the first time in several months.
In Iraq, Islamic State (IS) militants and other armed groups conducted more than twice as many IED attacks last week compared to the week prior. On 5 July, IS militants detonated a roadside IED, injuring seven explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) experts on a bus in Tilkaif district in Ninewa province. Similarly, IS militants conducted an IED attack against Iraqi forces in Sharwain village of Diyala province, killing two fighters. The next day, IS militants also detonated an IED targeting a funeral for the victims of the attack, and another IED targeting Iraqi reinforcements arriving in the village. This violence contributed to the 72% increase in violence in Iraq in the past month relative to the past year flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month.
Meanwhile, airstrike events2Note that one airstrike event can include several airstrikes and that the number of airstrikes can greatly vary from one event to another. As ACLED is an event-based dataset, ACLED records airstrike events rather than airstrikes. This ensures consistency in the data, especially given the overall rare reporting on exact airstrike counts. increased significantly last week compared to the week prior. The trend was driven by an increase in Turkish airstrikes targeting the PKK in Ninewa and Duhok provinces as part of Operation Claw Lock. Last week had one of the highest number of airstrike events since the start of Operation Claw Lock in April. ACLED’s Subnational Surge & Threat Trackers warned of increased violence to come in both Ninewa and Duhok in the past month.
Last week in Turkey, Turkish gendarmerie forces killed five PKK members and one Afghan refugee in separate violent events. Turkish gendarmerie forces killed three PKK fighters, including two of high rank, during an air power-backed operation in Catak district in Van province. They also killed two PKK fighters in a different operation in Sirnak’s Beytussebap district. Separately, gendarmerie soldiers killed an Afghan child after shooting at a vehicle carrying Afghan refugees for not stopping at a checkpoint in Karahisar village in Van. These events contribute to the 100% increase in violence in Van over the past week relative to the past month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker, which first warned of increased violence to come in Van, as well as in Sirnak, in the past month.
Meanwhile, ACLED recorded 45 demonstration events across the country held by Turkish health workers demanding that violence targeting health professionals be prevented after a doctor was killed by a patient’s relative in Konya. Attacks against health workers, usually by patients or their relatives, have increased in recent years in Turkey, with over 300 health workers reportedly targeted in 2021 (Washington Post, 7 July 2022). Additionally, Turkish lawyers and their unions organized 10 demonstration events in different towns to protest the murder of a lawyer in Instanbul and to demand a stop to violence targeting lawyers. The lawyers claim the murder was motivated by a wave of violence targeting public service professionals (Cumhuriyet, 7 July 2022).
In Palestine, three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces last week in different violent events in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians in Jaba village in Jenin governorate in two separate clashes with residents. Israeli forces claim that the first Palestinian was shot at for throwing Molotov cocktails at soldiers, and the second, for attempting to escape arrest (Haaretz, 3 July 2022; AP, 6 July 2022). In another incident, Israeli military forces beat a Palestinian worker to death near Tulkarm city as the worker was trying to cross a security fence to enter Israel. An Israeli source reports that the Palestinian was killed during ‘clashes’ (Jerusalem Post, 5 July 2022). ACLED’s Conflict Change Map first warned of increased violence to come in Palestine in the past month.
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