Last week in the Middle East, Houthi forces conducted a drone attack on Ad Dabbah oil terminal in the south of Yemen amid continued failures to renew the truce. Turkey launched Operation ‘Claw-Sword’ targeting Syrian Democratic Forces (QSD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) northern Iraq. Retaliatory cross-border shelling from Syrian Kurdish groups reportedly killed three civilians and injured 17 others in Turkey, including Turkish security personnel. Nationwide demonstrations in Iran declined despite increased violence in the country’s eastern and western regions, while Iranian football fans held protests in Qatar in solidarity with the demonstrations. In Palestine and Israel, two Israelis and three Palestinians were reportedly killed during separate violent events in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In Yemen, Houthi forces conducted a drone attack on Ad Dabbah oil terminal on the southern coast of the country on 21 November, exactly one month after a similar strike on 21 October. Like in October, last week’s strike took place as an oil tanker was about to dock and load crude oil, forcing the tanker to leave. While Internationally Recognized Government (IRG) forces intercepted most of the drones used in the attack, one made it through air defense systems and damaged the oil platform (Yemen News Agency – IRG, 21 November 2022). The tanker was not damaged in the attack.
Houth forces claim drone attacks on Yemen’s southern oil ports since the end of the truce have been an attempt to defend a “sovereign national treasure” (Twitter @Yahya_Saree, 21 November 2022). By preventing oil exports and depriving the IRG of its main source of revenue, however, Houthi forces are reportedly attempting to force the IRG into accepting their conditions to renew the truce (Sana’a Center, 14 November 2022). According to UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg, mediation efforts to renew the truce remain ongoing (Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, 22 November 2022).
Turkish forces launched Operation ‘Claw-Sword’ against QSD and YPG positions in northern Syria and PKK positions in northern Iraq last week, leading to a spike in violence in northern Syria. The operation was launched in response to the Istanbul bomb attack on 13 November, which Turkey claims was carried out by PKK militants. As part of the operation, ACLED recorded more than 90 airstrike events1Note 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. in Syria last week, most of which were centered on Al Hasakeh, Aleppo, and Ar Raqqa provinces and resulted in dozens of reported fatalities. The launch of Operation ‘Claw-Sword’ contributed to the 372% increase in violent events in Al Hasakeh last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. The tracker also warned of increased violence in Al Hasakeh during the preceding four weeks. In retaliation for the launch of Operation ‘Claw-Sword’, the Liberation Army of Afrin and YPG shelled the border towns of Oncupinar in Kilis province and Karkamis in Gaziantep province in Turkey, reportedly killing at least three civilians in Karkamis town.
The launch of Operation ‘Claw-Sword’ also saw a notable increase of Turkish airstrikes against PKK militants in northern Iraq last week. However, overall fighting between the PKK and Turkish forces continued to decrease for the seventh consecutive week.
Elsewhere in Iraq, Iraqi armed forces and Popular Mobilization Forces targeted IS hideouts in Al Anbar, Kirkuk, and Diyala provinces last week. These trends contributed to the 250% and 600% increases in violent events in Diyala and Kirkuk, respectively, last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. This tracker also warned of increased violence in Diyala during the preceding four weeks. Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) conducted artillery and drone strikes against Kurdish militant groups in Erbil, Al Sulaymaniyah, and Kirkuk provinces for the second consecutive week.
In Iran, nationwide demonstration events triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini significantly declined last week following an increase the week prior. Meanwhile, outbreaks of violence during demonstrations in West Azerbaijan province increased markedly last week compared to the week prior. A similar increase in violence was noted in demonstrations denouncing police violence against Balochi ethnic groups in Sistan and Balochistan last week. Police used live ammunition to disperse demonstrations in both provinces, reportedly killing at least 13 people. These trends contributed to the 150% increase in violent events in West Azerbaijan last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in West Azerbaijan during the preceding four weeks.
Iranian football fans in Qatar held demonstrations during Iran’s FIFA World Cup matches on 21 and 25 November in support of the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iran. Protesters were confronted by pro-government demonstrators on the latter occasion. During the match on 21 November, Iranian players refused to sing their national anthem, allegedly in solidarity with demonstrators in Iran (CNN, 21 November 2022). However, they sang the anthem during their second match after their families in Iran were allegedly threatened with imprisonment and torture (CNN, 29 November 2022).
In Palestine and Israel, two Israeli civilians and three Palestinian rioters were reportedly killed last week during violent events in Jerusalem and the West Bank. On 23 November, two separate bombing attacks targeted Israelis at bus stops in Jerusalem, one in Ramot in East Jerusalem and the other in Givat Shaul neighborhood in the western part of the city. The bombing in Givat Shaul reportedly killed two Israeli civilians, including a dual Israeli-Canadian teenage boy, and injured at least 18 others. Three Israelis were injured in the bombing in Ramot. While no armed group claimed the attacks, multiple Palestinian armed factions – including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – praised them (Times of Israel, 23 November 2022).
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Israeli forces shot and reportedly killed three Palestinian rioters in separate clashes in Jenin city and Nablus city last week. In Jenin, Israeli forces reportedly killed a Palestinian in riots that erupted after Israeli forces raided Jenin city to arrest a wanted Palestinian. Israeli forces also clashed with Palestinian armed factions – including the PIJ and Hamas — during the raid. In Nablus, Israeli soldiers clashed with militants from the Lion’s Den and other Palestinian armed groups, as well as rioters, after entering the town to secure a visit by Jewish settlers to Joseph’s Tomb. Two Palestinians were reportedly killed in the clashes, including a 16-year-old boy. ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker also warned of increased violence in the West Bank during the preceding four weeks.
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.