Eye on Extremism: September 6, 2023

Reuters: Burkina Faso Says 53 Soldiers, Volunteers Killed In Clashes With Militants

“Seventeen soldiers and 36 volunteer fighters have been killed in heavy clashes with militants in northern Burkina Faso, the army said on Tuesday, the worst attack in months in the West African country that for years has been overrun by hardline militants. Burkina Faso has been battling armed groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, in its desert north since 2015. Attacks have worsened this year, making the country the epicentre of a violent movement that has also engulfed poverty-stricken Mali and Niger, killing thousands and forcing millions from their homes. Efforts by the army to retake areas have often led to huge increases in violence. The latest fighting in Burkina Faso took place on Monday in Yatenga province, where the army has been trying to reconquer territory to allow displaced villagers to return home, the statement said. Operations were still under way in the area. Burkina Faso saw two military coups last year, triggered in part by insecurity. After the second one in October, Burkina Faso ordered French forces to leave amid growing tension between the junta and Paris.”

Associated Press: Fighting Between Rival US-Backed Groups In Syria Could Undermine War Against The Islamic State Group

“The weeklong clashes between rival U.S.-backed militias in eastern Syria, where hundreds of American troops are deployed, point to dangerous seams in the coalition that has kept a lid on the defeated Islamic State group for years. That could be an opportunity for the radical group to reemerge. The violence also points to rising tensions between Kurds who dominate the region and the mainly Arab population, opening the door for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran, to try to make inroads in an oil-rich territory where they seek to drive out U.S. troops and restore Damascus’ rule. Eastern Syria has largely been off the world’s radar, particularly in the United States. But the U.S. has had some 900 troops stationed there alongside an unknown number of contractors ever since the defeat of the Islamic State group in 2019. The troops, who first arrived eight years ago, work alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of militias dominated by Kurdish fighters.”


BBC: Syria: Dozens Killed In Fighting Between SDF And Arab Tribesmen

“The fighting erupted after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested the head of a tribal militia backed by Arab clans with which it worked in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. The unrest later spread north and west to Hassakeh and Aleppo provinces. The UN has received unconfirmed reports of 54 civilians dying in attacks. Critical infrastructure is also said to have been destroyed or damaged, including at least two hospitals and three water treatment facilities. The US, which has hundreds of troops in SDF-controlled areas to counter the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), has urged all sides to cease fighting immediately and come to a peaceful resolution. A US-led global coalition relied heavily on the SDF and its allies to drive IS militants out of tens of thousands of square kilometres of northern and eastern Syria between 2015 and 2019. The Syrian government controls adjoining territory west of the River Euphrates, along with allied militias backed by Iran. The government accuses the SDF of "separatism", but they have largely avoided conflict during the 12-year civil war.”

CNN: The Videos ISIS Didn’t Want You To See: How Grainy Security Footage Could Help Hold Abusers To Account

“The footage is mundane and revelatory all at once. The hallway, filmed from an unmoving closed-circuit camera, appears unremarkable. It’s the point in time, and the people in the former children’s hospital, that make the hours and hours of video from this and other cameras on site extraordinary. ISIS fighters roamed the hallways of this building complex in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which they had claimed as a headquarters. They moved blindfolded prisoners. They struck them with sticks. They walked past a man being tortured – straining to stand, arms tied aloft behind his back. They felt at ease. They removed their masks. For months in 2013, the security cameras recorded the events, seemingly unbeknownst to the building’s occupants. ISIS put considerable effort into its propaganda videos, and many show no small measure of criminality and violence. But they were carefully crafted. The footage from the children’s hospital in Aleppo’s Qadi Askar neighborhood is what ISIS didn’t want you to see.”

Middle East

Wall Street Journal: Palestinian Authority Fights Its Own People In Struggle To Survive

“When Palestinian security forces last week tried to remove barricades preventing Israeli soldiers from entering a refugee camp, local residents were incensed. A resulting gunfight between militants and Palestinian security forces ended with a 25-year-old man shot dead and a growing sense of resentment among ordinary Palestinians who see their government as inept, corrupt and, some say, a collaborator with Israel in occupying the West Bank. “After this, everything is broken,” said Mohammed, who saw the fight break out from his falafel shop. “We have no trust in them.” Standoffs such as the one in Tulkarem are becoming more common as the Palestinian Authority tries to reassert its grip on power and prevent its rivals and a range of militant groups from gaining influence. It has been dangerously weakened over the past year in the midst of a flood of illegal weapons into the area and anger over near-daily incursions by the Israeli military that have made 2023 one of the deadliest years for Palestinians in nearly two decades. In recent weeks, the semiautonomous authority has been pursuing a sometimes violent crackdown on militants and arresting hundreds of political rivals, part of a do or die effort to maintain its hold over the West Bank.”


Military Africa: Egyptian Peacekeepers Exit Mali

“In a significant development, over 460 peacekeepers hailing from the Egyptian combat and convoy escort battalion of MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) bid farewell to the city of Gao, located in northern Mali, on Friday, July 28. This moment marked the conclusion of their commendable mission, which spanned over a year and encompassed various challenging tasks. Throughout their tenure, these peacekeepers carried out convoy escorts from Gao to Tessalit, navigating the intricate routes that took them through Kidal and Aguelhok. Their journey was fraught with peril as they encountered an increased threat from improvised explosive devices employed by armed terrorist groups operating in the region. Their missions, executed with unwavering commitment, played a pivotal role in securing logistical convoys and safeguarding civilians in a volatile environment. Beyond their core responsibilities, the Egyptian Blue Helmets engaged in a multitude of civil-military activities.”


Garowe Online: US Injects $2 Million To Somali Army, To Bolster Al-Shabaab War

“The government of the United States has yet again injected more funds into the Somali National Army [SNA], further showcasing the commitment to the fight against Al-Shabaab, a group that has destabilized the Horn of Africa nation for the last two decades. On Tuesday, Washington pumped $2 million to support the ongoing crackdown against Al-Shabaab militants even with the presence of the US Africa Command, which has been playing a pivotal role in the fight against Al-Shabaab. The US Africa Command trains and equipped SNA besides providing aerial surveillance. A statement released by the US embassy in Mogadishu revealed that the money has been channeled through the UN Support Office in Somalia [UNSOS], and will ‘finance transport and in-theater medical evacuation for Somali Security Forces in line with the UNSOS mandate.’  The UNSOS is the arm with jurisdiction to provide logistical support to the Somali National Army and regional troops in the Horn of Africa nation. Other troops getting support through UNSOS are the peacekeepers serving under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS].”

United Kingdom

Reuters: UK To Declare Russia's Wagner A Terrorist Organisation

“The Russian mercenary Wagner Group is set to be proscribed as a terrorist organization by the British government, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, making it illegal to be a member or to support the group. A draft order due to laid before parliament will allow Wagner's assets to be categorised as terrorist property and seized, the ministry said in a statement. Britain's interior minister Suella Braverman described the Wagner Group as "violent and destructive", adding it "acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin's Russia overseas". Across Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa, Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and "barbarous murders", the statement said, calling it a threat to global security. "They are terrorists, plain and simple - and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law," she said. The order is expected to come into force on Sept. 13, after which it would be a criminal offence to belong to or promote the group, arrange or address its meetings and carry its logo in public, punishable by up to 14 years in jail.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On September 15, 2019, a truck bomb exploded outside of the Al-Rai Hospital in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate, killing 12 civilians and injuring many more. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. 

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