Overall, New Year's Eve, 2017 was mostly quiet around the world, thankfully. There were, of course, numerous incidents, but few major ones. Here's to hoping the trend continues...
We will start off the new year with the New Year's Eve attack on the upscale "Reina" nightclub in Istanbul.
At least thirty-nine people are dead, and another sixty-nine wounded following what appears to be an attack on a popular nightclub in the Turkish capital. Reports are still confused, but Turkish police seem to have settled on the idea that only a single shooter was involved, a shooter who is still at large.
While there is video of a shooter, descriptions of the attack from survivors and victims tend to indicate more than one shooter being involved. In a manner similar to the massacre at the "Pulse" attack in June of 2016, there are serious questions on the number of attackers, given the level of casualties. There is, however, early evidence from on-scene statements at the Reina indicating the possible use of hand grenades in the attack.
Elsewhere in the Central Command Region, aside from the normal levels of fighting, there have been relatively few major incidents:
* An ugly report has surfaced, indicating that about two hundred and fifty ISIL terrorists are holding as many as 8,000 people - mostly women and children - against their will in the town of Anah, in Al Anbar. Most of the troop's leadership cadre have apparently fled into Syria in the past weeks, ahead of Iraqi Government Forces preparing to move into the area in force.
* Although there is a terminology gap in the translation, it appears that ISIL terrorists intercepted an Iraqi military intelligence operative as he attempted to infiltrate the terror group's stronghold in the town of Sharqat, in the Salahuddin Governate. The operative was apparently executed shortly after his capture; Iraqi forces later recovered his remains.
This is interesting (and honestly, rather heartening), because it indicates a distinct lack of discipline among the terror group's thugs in the area, in marked contrast to 2013-2014. Any kind of intelligence operative is an absolute gold mine of information, if they can be captured alive. Simply executing him outright, indicates that either those capturing him didn't realize that he was an intelligence operative, and simply executed him arbitrarily; realized what he was, and didn't care; or realized what he was, and executed him because they see no need for his information, indicating that they see no way out, as the Iraqi's close in.
Whatever the case, this is a good sign pointing to the continuing deterioration of ISIL training, of the declining quality of their thugs, and of their increasing desperation.
* Finally, for Iraq, this week saw the combat debut of Iraq's new CH-4 UCAV force, in a strike that killed an estimated twenty terrorists near Mosul, in Iraqi Kurdistan, as the offensive to retake the city - the first major city to be captured by the terror group - continues to grind forward.
* In Helmand, Taliban forces continue their sabotage campaign, destroying seven bridges in December. Afghan security are currently sweeping the roads to uncover local guerilla hideouts, in an attempt to cut down on the highly disruptive attacks.
* In the tiny nation of Gambia, where the results of the December 1, 2016, elections are being contested by the current President (who has commanded the tiny state since seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1994), the government of the United Kingdom has issued a travel advisory, warning of possible political unrest in January of 2017, as the scheduled transfer of power nears.
The opposition of President-Elect Adama Barrow has vowed to go ahead with the planned inauguration of the new government on the 19th of January. President Jammeh has filed a petition with the country's Supreme Court, alleging that irregularities in the voting should cause a new election; the Court is scheduled to review the petition on January 10th.
Complicating matters further, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated that it intends to intervene - staging from neighboring Senegal - if Jammeh refuses to leave office on the 19th. In response, Jammeh has declared this decision to be "a declaration of war".
The potential for serious unrest in the West African state is extremely high.
* The ISIL-aligned terror group Boko Haram used a 10 year old girl as a suicide bomber in an attack on a market in the city of Maiduguri. The girl was killed, and several civilians were wounded. Another young girl was killed by a mob before she could detonate her device; police EOD officers defused the explosive vest. This has been an ongoing tactic by the brutal terror group, which has been bedeviling West Africa since 2002.
*Al-Shabaab terrorists attempted to overrun a government checkpoint in the town of Afgooya, a district capital some 25km (18mi) from the national capital of Mogadishu, killing at least six and wounding at least seven others. The town has changed hands frequently in the see-saw battles in the Lower Shebelle region in the last several years.
* Coming from the notoriously restrictive news agencies of the nominally-Communist state, is a remarkable story of an attack on a Communist Party building in Karakax County, in the restive Xinjiang Region. Four "thugs" (as described by the government) drove a car into the courtyard of the building, and detonated an explosive device. One person was killed and wounding three others. Security responded, killing all four attackers.
The Xinjiang region - home to the largely-Muslim Uyghur people, among others - has witnessed frequent unrest in recent years, which the Chinese government has responded vigorously to.
A new Radical Anarchist guerilla/terror group has apparently emerged. The group - "Antagonistic Nuclei of the New Urban Guerrilla" - claimed responsibility for staging an arson attack on a municipal bus in the capital of Santiago, on December 28th. Little information is currently available on the group, indicating that it is likely brand new, and extremely limited in scope, membership, financing and capabilities.
The shaky ceasefire in the Donbass region appears to have collapsed, with an abrupt series of artillery attacks throughout the region. News remains sketchy, but the MilitaryGazette continues to monitor the situation.
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