The fiercest fighting in months raged in the divided Syrian city of Aleppo last Friday, as two groups of rebel insurgents — a new one that includes the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and one formed in May by local factions —carried out a new offensive on government-held areas. The fighting in Aleppo, Syria’s industrial and economic capital and its largest city before the war, underscored the lack of progress from international leaders in finding a political solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, Turkey, Syria’s neighbour and a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, announced that it had sent reinforcements to its borders, raising speculation of an imminent intervention.
Suspected Boko Haram gunmen rounded up scores of men in mosques in northeast Nigeria last Wednesday and began shooting indiscriminately, killing up to 150 people in three locations. If confirmed, it would make it the group’s sixth attack in the last week and count among the bloodiest orchestrated by the extremist group this year. The massacres took place as men were breaking the daily Ramzan fast in Borno State, the centre of Boko Haram’s bloody campaign against the government. Officials believe the terror group has been responding to the belligerent tone of Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, who has vowed to wipe out Boko Haram.
Last week the United Nations declared its highest level humanitarian emergency in the war-torn country after more than 30 civilians were killed under fire from Houthi rebels in Yemen’s Aden. Meanwhile, in the central city of Taez, pro-government forces launched a manhunt for 1,200 escaped prisoners, including al-Qaeda members, allegedly freed by retreating rebel forces. At the end of the week, Houthi rebels said a pause in fighting to last until the end of Ramzan was under discussion with the United Nations to allow for deliveries of humanitarian aid, a break that has been backed by the US and the EU.
The Palestinian forces under President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) arrested 108 Hamas members in a series of overnight raids that started last Thursday in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The raids were termed as the largest security crackdown since 2007, with some reports claiming that several senior Hamas members were also arrested. A Hamas spokesperson said the “crazy” security measures were aimed at stopping the recent spate of attacks against Israel. The arrests came amid the latest in a wave of violent events in the area during Ramzan: one Palestinian teenager was shot and killed by Israeli forces when he hurled stones and rocks at an army vehicle on Friday.
A key Taliban commander in Afghanistan, Hajji Wazir, was killed in a raid last week. The police said the commander of Taliban militants in west Afghanistan, was chalking out a terrorist plan in a house when the security forces raided the house and killed him. The killing could be a major setback to the Taliban outfit in the Herat and adjoining provinces as Wazir commanded some 500 militants. The raid came days after Taliban upped its offensive, targeting a Nato military convoy in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul. Two Nato personnel and one Afghan civilian were killed in the attack.
Compiled by Sagar Shah