Night Watch

Afghanistan: Update. Observers from Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's and Abdullah Abdullah's presidential electoral teams quarreled with each-other in the Independent Election Commission office in Kabul.

A news correspondent reported that a number of observers from the two candidates' teams beat each other. The vote audit process was delayed for 15 minutes as a result of the brawl. The vote audit process has been resumed now.

Comment: The surprise is that there have been so few fist fights.

Iraq: Multiple bombings occurred in the Baghdad area. The most deadly attack was in Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood. Two car bombs killed 21 people. A roadside bomb detonated in the al-Zafraniya area of southern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing two and injuring three people. In the Ur district of eastern Baghdad, two car bombs killed 4 people and injured 12.

Comment: Security in Baghdad remains lax. The multiple bombings suggest an attempt to divert pressure on Islamist forces fighting in northern Iraq.

In Mosul, the Iraqi air force attacked a suspected Islamic court and prison building. The government claimed that 300 prisoners held in the basement escaped because of the air strikes. A government statement said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was holding the 300 people for ransom.

A spokesman for Jabbar Yawar, the Secretary-General of the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan, said today that "the Iraqi Peshmerga forces seized control of Wanah and deployed additional forces around the vicinity of Zumar, west of Mosul.

ISIL and the Kurdish militias clashed at a location east of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region. ISIL forces beat back Kurdish attacks and shelled villages in the area. Kurdish TV reported 2 villages within 20 miles of Erbil are now under ISIL control. ISIL and Kurdish forces also clashed at a village 25 miles southwest of Erbil.

Airlines have begun canceling flights to Erbil. Governments, including the US, have issued flight warnings to avoid flying over Kurdistan.

Comment: In the north ISIL is proving that it can stand up to the Kurds. Today's clashes are the closest ISIL forces have come to Erbil. The fighting thus far strongly indicates that ISIL intends to attack Erbil and has the capability to enter if, even if it cannot hold it.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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