ISW Daily Update March 08, 2017
These are the major events from March 08, 2017 in the theaters and from the trans-national groups that ISW monitors: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, and ISIS.
SYRIA: Deepening U.S. support for the primarily Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) will continue to spark Turkish hostilities, threatening to derail U.S.-backed operations against ISIS in Raqqa city. The U.S. deployed Marines to provide artillery support to SDF operations in Raqqa. Turkey may have responded punitively to increased U.S. support to the SDF by banning U.S. NGO Mercy Corps operations in Syria from Turkey.
IRAQ: The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) reached an agreement with Baghdad to release oil flows through the Ceyhan pipeline from Kirkuk. Concessions to the PUK by Baghdad and personal intervention by PM Abadi likely convinced the PUK to accept a compromise. The PUK still retains physical control of Kirkuk and may therefore re-activate the Kirkuk oil issue as a leverage point against Baghdad.
AFG: Security in Kabul City is deteriorating. ISIS Wilayat Khorasan conducted a complex spectacular attack on the Wazir Akbar Khan Military Hospital involving SVESTS, small arms fire, and a VBIED. The military hospital is a historic symbol of corruption and a lever to damage morale within the ANSF. This attack is part of an emerging trend of ISIS targeting government institutions in Kabul in order to destabilize the Afghan state.
RUS/UKR: Russia seeks to increase its force projection capability by sea and to increase area and access denial, both capabilities aimed to deter and constrain U.S. action in Russia’s sphere of influence. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on March 7 that Russia will focus on producing transport ships, two new frigates armed with Kalibr and Oniks cruise missiles, and anti-air missiles. Russia will continue investing in equipment that will yield maximum political effect for minimum financial cost.
ISIS: ISIS Wilayat Khorasan’s attack against the national military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan demonstrates increased capability and design, reminiscent of attacks by ISIS in Iraq in 2013. ISIS’s central media apparatus also covered the attack in real time, demonstrating their connection to ISIS in Afghanistan. ISIS may be targeting Afghanistan as its primary redundancy for its losses in Iraq and Syria.