Turkey arrests opposition leaders; Six villages taken in Mosul fight; US boosts efforts to secure the election; Things falling off military planes; and just a bit more...

Kurdish crackdown precedes a bombing in Turkey. A car bomb detonated near a police station in the southeastern Turkish city of  Diyarbakir this morning, killing eight people and wounding another 100, Reuters reports with this by-now standard context: “Southeastern Turkey has been rocked by political turmoil and violence for more than a year after the collapse of a ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy.”

Shortly before the car bomb, Turkish security officials carried out a series of midnight raids arresting 12 leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic (HDP) political party. Affiliated with the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces, HDP is “the third largest party in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, with 59 seats. Parliamentarians in Turkey normally enjoy immunity from prosecution, but the pro-Kurdish party’s immunity was lifted this year.”

The Guardian reports that two leaders of the party, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were arrested “along with at least 10 MPs” in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakır, Van and Bingöl.

During the arrests, Turkish officials shut down social media sites YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

The official justification: the 12 had refused “to give testimony for crimes linked to ‘terrorist propaganda,’” The Guardian writes. “Turkey accuses the HDP of links to the PKK, which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU and Turkey.”

Another possible reason for the round-up: “The Syrian Democratic Forces are the only force that will take part in the operation to liberate Raqqa and we informed the (international U.S.-led) coalition forces that we reject any Turkish role in the Raqqa liberation operation,” SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters on Thursday.

Adds Reuters: “Since it was formed in early 2015, the SDF has seized large swathes of territory along the Syria-Turkey border from Islamic State and pushed the jihadist group back to within 30km (18 miles) of Raqqa.”

And some of that territory in northern Syria, the far northwestern Afrin villages of the Afrin villages of Erebûyeran, Alçiya and Seir Bencîk in particular, reportedly came under more rocket fire from the Turkish military on Thursday, ANHA Hawar News Agency reported.

For what it’s worth: The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, told reporters Thursday the U.S. military already has enough troops assembled—including the SDF and the roughly 10,000-strong Syrian Arab Coalition—to isolate the ISIS-held city of Raqqa, Syria. How many in all? “Ballpark, somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000,” Dorrian said.

He added, “We do understand that there is a political dimension [to retaking Raqqa] and a local acceptance dimension to this fight. And we want to make sure that the right forces are going in there. And then we want to set diplomatic conditions so that they will be successful and be able to go in there and fight Daesh unconstrained.” Anyone’s guess how that looks now that Ankara has stepped up its pressure on SDF-linked figureheads in Turkey.

In Mosul, Iraq’s special forces are probing deeper, clawing back six more villages in the last 24 hours using bulldozers and tanks, and this morning losing at least one M-1 Abrams (but fortunately not the personnel inside), Kurdistan24, Agence France-Presse and AP report.

The latest: “Friday’s early morning advance began with artillery and mortar strikes on the Aden, Tahrir, and Quds districts, west of special forces’ footholds in the Gogjali and Karama neighbourhoods, Lt Col Muhanad al-Timimi said. Both sides opened up with small arms and mortar fire after an artillery barrage by special forces before their advance.”

AFP has more from the scene: “The gunfire was almost uninterrupted and reports from the front crackling into CTS radios said ISIS had set up barriers and laid bombs along the streets to slow the advance.”

There are also fighters with rocket launchers hiding on roof tops, Reuters reports: “Mosul residents, speaking to Reuters by telephone, said Islamic State fighters were deploying artillery and rocket launchers in and near residential areas. Some were hidden in trees near the Wahda district in the south, while others were deployed on the rooftops of houses taken over by the militants in the Ghizlani district close to Mosul airport, they said.” More here.

ISIS reported more than a half-dozen suicide operations in the vicinity of Mosul on Thursday; and they just announced their first of Friday about two hours ago, reportedly in eastern Mosul near the Iraqi SOF, terrorism analyst Charlie Winter writes this morning.

ISIS is also reportedly taking children ages 9 and up from homes in Mosul.

Iraqi forces have found quite a few surprising items in their march to Mosul, including an epic earth borer, bomb factories in churches, tanks hidden in houses, little girls with white flags, and fake wooden Humvees.

An Iraqi war robot may also be taking part in the Mosul offensive, Slate reports. They take their jump from a tweet by the Popular Mobilization Units, who shared a photo on Tuesday of their “robot…with thermal optic gun and rocket support for Iraqi special forces.”

Adds Slate: “The robot in the picture looks similar to one reported on by the Baghdad Post and Defense One in August, which was reportedly built by two unnamed brothers and shown off at a weapons expo in Baghdad earlier this year. It’s known as Alrobot, which, in case you couldn’t guess, is Arabic for robot.”

Read all about the Defense One take, via Tech Editor Patrick Tucker, here.

And speaking of the PMUs, they claim this morning to have completely severed Mosul from Raqqa—as well as claiming to have notched more than 1,300 km² of turf from ISIS en route to Tal Afar, Iraq.

Apropos of nothing: Here’s a few artillery launches from Q-West last night.

An Iraqi farmer says his sheep, now coated in the black soot of burning Iraqi oil, are all dying.

And take a look at those Iraqi skies, via this stark photo from Buzzfeed’s Mike Giglio.

Bring on the American paratroopers. Some 1,700 troops from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team are headed to fight ISIS. They’ll be rotating in to replace the 101st’s own 2nd BCT training Iraqi forces, Military.com reported Thursday off an Army release. More here.

From Defense One

Less than two weeks to the Defense One Summit! DARPA chief Dr. Arati Prabhakar is speaking; you should come. Join Army Secretary Eric Fanning, USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, White House counterterrorism advisor Lisa Monaco, and many other national-security leaders on Thurs., Nov. 17, in Washington, D.C. Register here.

No, the National Guard Can’t “Secure” the Election // Tech Editor Patrick Tucker: By design, the role of the military in voting-related activities is highly limited. Proposed legislation may change that.

Americans Are For Smart Engagement // Daniel DePetris: Polls show the public wants all options explored, including diplomacy, before military force is even considered.

Global Business Brief: November 3 // Marcus Weisgerber: The next revolution in space; Lockheed decries latest F-35 order; A new path for special-operations weapons?

Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1952, the National Security Agency was established. (Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: the-d-brief@defenseone.com.

“Phase two” of Syrian rebels’ renewed offensive on Aleppo kicked off Thursday with a series of car bombs and a flood of armed motorcyclists from the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

That operation launched hours before a 10-hour humanitarian pause took hold of the city this morning, and it’s still largely holding, AP reports. “A pro-government Facebook news platform Aleppo Shahba News Network says designated corridors have been opened for the fighters and civilians but the Observatory says no one has used them so far. Rebel spokesman Yasser Al-Youssef says helicopters are hovering over the area.” That, here.

Spotted in Aleppo: a red Austin Healy.

A video from ISIS released Thursday appears to show an ATGM hitting a Russian helicopter in Homs, Syria.

ICYMI: Russia has “ghost soldiers” secretly dying for the Kremlin in Syria, Reuters reported Thursday. More in their investigative piece, here.

Moscow may have just sent high-speed patrol boats to its special forces in Syria. That, here.

Insurgency is getting much worse in Somalia, Reuters reports. “Islamist rebels have intensified their attacks in Somalia, detonating larger, more sophisticated devices, bringing in more foreign expertise and doubling the death toll from last year,” they write, citing experts and an upcoming report from the UN.

The evidence: “Security experts say the plot behind a plane attack in February in particular showed the expanding skillset of al Qaeda-aligned al Shabaab militants and possible links to Islamist insurgencies in the Middle East and other areas. Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, killed 470 people in Somalia in the first seven months of 2016, up from just under 200 for all of 2015 and fewer than 50 in 2010, according to figures given to Reuters by Nairobi-based thinktank Sahan Research. Al Shabaab insurgents detonated five truck bombs in Somalia this year, punching through defensive barriers at military camps and other sites that car bombs would have struggled to penetrate, said Greg Robin, an IED expert at Nairobi-based thinktank Sahan Research. Truck bombs were previously rare.” More here.

Also in Somalia this week: "Unidentified warships hit several targets in and around Qandala [where ISIS recently set up on Somali coast] on Wednesday.  Near villagers heard several large explosions but could not tell further information," according to Somalia’s Puntland Goobjoog news.

For more on ISIS assault of the village of Qandala, The New York Times has this.

Defending against “worst case” scenarios on Election Day. The U.S. government “is mounting an unprecedented effort to counter [Russian] cyber meddling” in next week’s presidential election, NBC News reports. “The effort is being coordinated by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, but reaches across the government to include the CIA, the National Security Agency and other elements of the Defense Department,” they write, citing current and former officials.

On the radar: “Officials are alert for any attempts to create Election Day chaos, and say steps are being taken to prepare for worst-case scenarios, including a cyber-attack that shuts down part of the power grid or the internet. But what is more likely, multiple U.S. officials say, is a lower-level effort by hackers from Russia or elsewhere to peddle misinformation by manipulating Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.”

They’re also looking out for a repeat of the incident on October 22 when “someone weaponized the internet of things,” as our own Patrick Tucker and Caroline Houck reported at the time.

Adds NBC: “Officials were reluctant to discuss how they might be respond to such "influence operations," other than to say they will make efforts to counter misinformation and keep open communication nodes.” More here.

THAAD has a timeline for its Korean deployment, Stars and Stripes reports. The anti-missile system should arrive on the southern peninsula somewhere between eight to 10 months, Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces-Korea, told “a seminar hosted by the Association of the Republic of Korea Army in Seoul” this morning. More here, or via South Korea’s Yonhap News, here.

Take a look at the “many planes of China,” via a visual explainer from PopSci’s Jeffrey Lin and Peter Singer writing off the recent 2016 Zhuhai Airshow. From bombers to small drones, combat and scout helicopters to its flashy J-20 stealth fighter, catch all those airframes (as well as various associated payloads), here.

Finally this week—From the Dept. of Things Falling Off Planes: The refueling boom fell off a U.S. Air Force KC-10 tanker during a Tuesday exercise in Idaho, landing in a hayfield near Mountain Home Air Force Base. Via Military.com, here.

And on Oct. 25, a six-pack of training bombs and a training missile fell off “a military plane” flying over Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Officials blame mechanical failure. AP, here.