Weekly News December 19th – 23th

Monday 19:

Jordan: a group of four armed men have assaulted a popular Jordan tourist attraction. After a heavy gunfire, the armed men fled into the castle of Karak city taking some tourists as hostages. These have been liberated by the security forces, however ten Jordan nationals and a Canadian woman were shot dead during the gunfire and 27 people were wounded. Police also found suicide belts and weapons, which had been hidden by the attackers. There was still no claim of responsibility on the attack, however Jordanian police is working to find these men. (BBC)

 Syria: the UN Security Council unanimously voted for a controlled evacuation of Aleppo. With Russian backing, the UN will deploy observers in the city, who will monitor the evacuation and report every happening to the UN headquarters. These observers will not only monitor the evacuation process but will also pay attention to the safety of the citizens that remained in the city. The resolution was drafted from France; Russia had vetoed numerous similar resolution before this one and for many it was a surprise that this vote was accepted by every part in the Council. (Al Jazeera)

Russian President Putin asked Iranian President Rouhani in a phone call to find a solution soon for the Syrian crisis. Mr. Putin is hoping to reach a deal between the Syrian governments and its opposition and wishes to organise the talks in Kazakhastan. The call came in the eve of a meeting in Moscow of the foreign ministers of Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran. (Reuters US)

Turkey: a police officer shot dead the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara. The man was then killed by Turkish special forces. Russian ambassador was visiting an art exhibition and was shot by an off-duty police officer while having a speech in front of photographers and journalists. The killer shouted “do not forget Aleppo”, which means that his actions are the backlash of Russian involvement in Syria. Mr. Putin commented that the answer to similar issues is to “step up against terrorism” and he is intended to discover “the hand” behind this murder.

 Tuesday 20:

Germany: on Monday evening at around 08.00 p.m. a truck has driven on the crowd at the Christmas Markets in Breitscheidplatz in the city district of Charlottenburg in Berlin. Twelve people have died and 48 were wounded. A man from Pakistan was captured on the same evening some two kilometres from Breitscheidplatz, however he does not seem to be linked to the attack. The truck employed belongs to a Polish transport company, the owner of the company affirmed he had lost contact with the driver on Monday afternoon. It is still unclear who exactly is behind the incident and there is no link with the Daesh. On Tuesday morning, the police irrupted into Berlin’s bigger refugee centre without any results. (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Jordan: four police officers and one suspect were killed during an operation linked to Sunday’s events in Karak city. After the claim from the Daesh of responsibility for Sunday attack, two more suspects were arrested by Jordanian security forces. The exchange of fire occurred in the village of Wesya in the outskirts of Karak city. Police affirmed that the perpetrators of the attack were Jordanian nationals. (Al Jazeera)

Turkey: after the assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey, an armed men fired shots outside the US embassy in Ankara. The embassy then decided to close its mission in Ankara, Istanbul and in the southern city of Adana. The man who fired shots in the air was overpowered by the embassy security service and no one was wounded. The embassy is positioned just on the other side of the street where the exhibition took place and the Russian ambassador was killed. It is not clear whether the two happenings have any connection, however the embassy was closed as pre-emptive measure. (Al Jazeera)

Wednesday 21:

Germany: the police has identified Anis Amri as responsible of the attack on the Christmas market in Berlin. The police found his passport and his fingerprints in the truck. The man, a 24-year old Tunisian, has been under investigation from the German police for planning an attack, according to the interior minister of North-Rhine Westphalia. (BBC)

Iraq: Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that civilians suffer the consequences of the fighting between the Iraqi troops and Daesh militias. Civilians have been targeted by IS fighters for not willing to join them as the army advances in Mosul. Furthermore, people are targeted by IS fire but also by US-led coalition strikes. At least 19 people have died in the last month due to crossfire. HRW has reminded that targeting civilians is a war crime and has required both parties to spare them. (Al Jazeera)

Thursday 22:

Greece: UNHCR and EU’s Echo, together with the Greek government, have been criticised by other aid groups for mismanaging refugee camps in Greece. The EU aid department known as Echo has provided the UN refugee agency and the Greek government with large amount of funds in order to prepare approximately 45 refugee camps for the winter. Refugees were supposed to be transferred to heated containers or in insulated tents, however some people have just received warm clothes and bedding to face snow in early December. Journalist from The Guardian after visiting refugee camps in northern Greece concluded that 15 camps were not properly equipped to face low temperatures. (The Guardian)

Iraq: at least 23 people have died in an attack north of Mosul. The Iraqi army has reported that Daesh was responsible for the attack. The Centre of Operational Coordination against the IS said that it occurred in the city of Gogjali, not far from the centre of the battle against IS in Iraq. 15 of the dead people were civilians. (L’Orient Le Jour)

Lebanon: new Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently appointed as minister for women’s affairs Mr. Jean Ogasapian. This has been highly criticised and addressed to as a typical example of “mansplaining”. Feminist groups in Lebanon urged for protest against this choice, which is accompanied by the presence of just one woman in the cabinet. Commentators on social media strongly satirised the appointment of a man in a ministry to defend women’s rights. KAFA, an important women’s rights organisation, called for protest under the slogan “no women, no legitimacy”. (The Guardian)

Syria­: according to UN figures, 34,000 people have been evacuated by the city of Aleppo. The process is approaching an end, which will sign the official control of the city by the regime after many years of fighting. UN envoys have reported the difficulty of the evacuation process, whereby thousands of people have spent hours waiting in sub-zero temperatures. The next problem appears to be Idlib due to the mounting fear that the city will face a similar situation as Aleppo. (The Daily Star)

In the evening of Thursday, the Syrian government has announced that the city of Aleppo has been fully recaptured from rebel fighters. After a deal that has given the army the control of the city and has allowed every opposition forces to leave the city peacefully, the Syrian government is now in control of the city. This is the most important victory for Assad in six years of conflict and was made possible thanks to its allies Russia and Iran. (Al Jazeera)

United States: after the Egyptian request to UN Security Council to immediately halt illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, the Council will express a vote on the issue. However, Mr. Donald Trump addressed the decision as “unfair” for the Israeli people few hours before the vote. President-elect Trump added that the resolution should be vetoed by the United States. Israeli PM affirmed on twitter that the United States should veto the resolution. (Al Jazeera)

Friday 23:

Italy: Berlin killer Anis Amri has been found and shot dead near Milan during a routine check. The man was asked to show ID by two police officers and then responded by shooting to one of them, who was wounded. Anis Amri had just arrived in Milan after having travelled via France. The confirmation of his identity came from the fingerprints and from a close collaboration between German and Italian police. Italian police and antiterrorism department are now running investigations over possible links that the man may have with other persons in the city of Milan and Sesto, where he was found. (La Repubblica)

A video was released by Daesh’s Amaq news agency and it shows Anis Amri’s declaration of alliance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The man also called for other people to take revenge against “crusaders” bombing Arab countries. The video was recorded before Berlin attack. (The Guardian)

Libya: a Libyan aircraft with 118 people has been hijacked and diverted to Malta by two supporters of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The two men have diverted the flight armed with a gun and a grenade; they landed in Malta in order to ask for asylum in the small island of the Mediterranean. The Maltese Prime Minister communicated that the hostages have been released and the hijackers have been searched and taken into custody by the authorities. The Libyan UN-backed Government of National Accord has confirmed that the two men were Gaddafi supporters. (Al Jazeera)

Israel: a U.S. senator who oversees the United States’ UN funding threatened to curb the aid to the international body in case the resolution over illegal Israeli settlements would be approved. The vote is expected to be on Friday. (The Daily Star)

Meanwhile, Egyptian President al-Sisi, who proposed the resolution to the UN Security Council earlier this week, received a call from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and decided to postpone the vote. Furthermore, according to Reuters news agency, Obama administration has planned to abstain from the vote, in a sharp break to U.S. policy on resolutions concerning Israel. This caused additional concern in Israeli Prime Minister and Trump, who will try to do hinder Obama’s decision. (The Guardian)

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