Battle for Ramadi

ISIS attack Iraqi base

  • ISIS fighters staged an assault on an Iraqi army base on the outskirts of Ramadi on Friday, less than a week after Iraq's military claimed it had liberated to city. 
  • Ramadi fell to ISIS in May last year after an embarrassing withdrawal by government forces.

  • The assault was repelled by Iraqi forces backed by American air support. 

  • On Friday, the UN said over 800 Iraqis died as a result of conflict in November, including 489 civilians. *


Terror in Paris: The November 13th Attacks

The investigation

 

  • On November 18th, French police carried out a dramatic operation in the Parisian suburb of Saint Denis. 

  • The anti-terror raid on an apartment block led to the arrest of eight people and the deaths of three suspected terrorists. 

  • One of the dead was a woman who blew herself up as police approached.

  • Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is suspected of orchestrating the Paris attacks, also died during the raid. 

  • The 28 year old Belgian national returned to Europe from Syria earlier this year via Greece unbeknown to French intelligence services according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

  • Mr. Cazeneuve said that despite arrest warrants being in place for Abaaoud, France only became aware of his return from Syria after the Paris attacks. 

  • Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that the raid neutralised a terror cell that was preparing to act - eight people were arrested and at least two people, both suspected terrorists, were killed. 

  • An operation by Belgian police in Molenbeek on November 16th ended without any arrests being made - a spokesman for the town's mayor told Buzzfeed officers were looking for the wanted Salah Abdeslam. 

  • Mohammed Abdeslam, who was among those released in Belgium - two of his brothers have been implicated in the attacks, said his family's thoughts were with the victims. He has urged his brother Salah to hand himself in to authorities. 

  • Prosecutor Molins said on November 24th that authorities suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks who died in the Saint Denis siege, was planning an attack on La Defense financial district on November 18th or 19th. 

  • Also on November 24th, police in Belgium issued an arrest warrant for Mohamed Abrini - police say the 30 year old was filmed with the wanted fugitive Salah Abdeslam two days before the Paris attacks and was seen driving a Renault Clio that was later used in the attacks.

 

The response

  • Addressing both houses of parliament on November 16th, President Hollande said the attacks were planned in Syria and organised in Belgium. 

  • On November 19th, the National Assembly approved a three month extension to the state of emergency by 551 votes to 6. 

  • On November 17th, France invoked the European Union's mutual defence clause - becoming the first country to do so. 

  • EU interior and justice ministers met on November 20th and agreed to finalise an EU passenger name record system by the end of the year, in addition to other measures to strengthen controls at external borders. 

  • President Hollande was in Washington DC on November 24th to meet with President Obama and is due to travel to Moscow on November 26th to meet with President Putin. 


What is the EU's mutual defence clause? 

Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which has never before been invoked, obliges EU member states to provide aid and assistance 'by all means in their power' if another member state is the victim of an 'armed aggression' on its territory.

The clause calls on the EU to use 'all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the member states' to protect civilians and democratic institutions from any terrorist threat. 


 

  • President Obama, speaking at the G20 in Turkey, reiterated his position that using ground troops against ISIS would be a mistake.

  • France and Russia have intensified airstrikes on the ISIS, particularly its stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. 

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron said on November 16th that security services had foiled seven terror plots in the past six months - Mr. Cameron also said that he would not bring a vote on airstrikes in Syria to parliament as he feared such a motion would be defeated. 

  • EU justice and home affairs ministers will hold an emergency meeting on November 20th following the attacks in Paris - among the subjects discussed will be a European 'passenger name record', firearms security and the reinforcement of controls at external borders. 

  • President Obama described as 'shameful' the rhetoric from some Republican Party presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush, who have said that the United States should only accept non-Muslim Syrian refugees. 

  • A number of governors in the U.S have said they would refuse to admit Syrian refugees into their states. 

  • On November 19th, The House of Representatives passed a bill that would introduce stringent restrictions on the acceptance of refugees from Syria and Iraq - individual applications would require approval from leading national security figures under the proposed legislation, which was backed by 47 Democrats despite opposition from the White House. 

  • The UN Refugee Agency has warned against demonising refugees in the wake of the Paris atrocities. 

  • President Obama and President Putin spoke at the sidelines of the G20 summit in Turkey on Sunday - the two leaders agreed on the need for a political transition and a ceasefire in Syria according to an unnamed U.S official who spoke to Reuters. 

  • Security fears led to football matches in Brussels between Belgium and Spain and in Hannover between Germany and The Netherlands being abandoned - Belgium has raised its terror threat level, while the situation in Hannover remains unclear. 

The victims

 

  • All 130 people killed in the November 13th atrocities have now been identified. 

  • A minute's silence was observed in Paris and in cities across Europe at 12pm CET on November 16th. 

 
 

U.S solider killed in Iraq rescue operation

70 ISIS held hostages rescued early on Thursday

 

  • Central Command said the operation was led by Kurdish Iraqi forces with U.S Special Ops providing advise and assistance.

  • The Pentagon said in a statement that the hostages, including 20 Iraqi security force members, faced 'imminent mass execution'.

  • A U.S soldier was wounded during the operation and later died of his wounds, Press Secretary Peter Cook said.

  • The solider was named on Friday as Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, aged 39.