Weekly Security Update 26 Sep - 02 Oct 2013

Further evidence of this regional spread as well as the somewhat confusing and toxic situation it is causing can be seen in recent clashes between rebel groups and Syrian Kurdish rebels.  Syrian rebels and AQ - linked fighters clashed with Kurds in northern Syria on Thursday.  The heavy fighting in the town of Atma on the border with Turkey's Hatay province followed outbreaks of internecine conflict by rival rebel forces elsewhere, which have undermined their military campaign to topple President Bashar al-Assad.  At least 15 fighters have been killed in two days of clashes around Atma. The fighting pits Syrian Kurds, alarmed by what they see as Islamist encroachment in northern Syria, against Arab rebels who suspect the Kurds of seeking secession.  Faced with what they see as a shared Kurdish threat, moderate Free Syrian Army rebels fought in Atma alongside one another only a week after the two factions fought each other in another border town.

Furthermore, Erbil came under attack this week as militants launched a coordinated suicide and car bomb attack on the headquarters of the security services in the capital of Iraq's usually peaceful Kurdistan, killing six people in the first major assault there since 2007.  Kurdistan has largely managed to insulate itself from the violent instability that afflicts the rest of Iraq, however the direct threat to protect regional Kurdish interests made by the KRG a few weeks ago, and recent fighting against Sunni rebel groups, may well have had its consequences.

Security forces said the attack began early on Sunday afternoon when they opened fire on a minivan that tried to enter their compound on Sixty Metre road in the capital Erbil without authorisation. The driver detonated his vehicle at the entrance.  Four suicide bombers armed with guns and grenades then tried to force their way inside but were shot down, the Iraqi Kurdish security forces added in a statement.  An ambulance also exploded at the scene apparently driven by a militant but another security source said a car blowing up nearby caused the blast.  In all six militants and six members of the security forces were killed and at least 42 others wounded, the authorities said. Security across the city was tight after the attack.

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