New Group of U.S.-Trained Rebels Enter Syria

New Group of U.S.-Trained Rebels Enter Syria

A new tranche of 75 U.S.-trained Syrian rebels entered Syria from Turkey with U.S. air cover and have joined units in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The new fighters will work mostly with Division 30, a group with which the United States has strong ties and which received many of the initial 54 rebels to complete the U.S. training course. The U.S. military declined to comment on the Syrian Observatory’s report — “We won’t get into details on where and when (US-trained rebels) enter the fight for operational security reasons,” a Pentagon spokesman said. The new deployment comes just days after Gen. Lloyd Austin, U.S. CENTCOM commander, conceded that only “four or five” U.S.-trained Syrian rebels remain in the fight in Syria.

IAEA Granted Access to Iranian Military Site

Representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency, including its director-general, Yukiya Amano, visited Iran’s Parchin military site to investigate nuclear weapons research that may have occurred there in the early 2000s. Iran has barred inspectors from the site for nearly a decade but is allowing access in accordance with obligations made under the P5+1 nuclear agreement reached in July. Amano also met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran during the visit.

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  • Severe airstrikes in Yemen conducted by the Saudi-led anti-Houthi coalition struck a school affiliated with ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and a UNESCO heritage site in Sanaa, as well as targets in the city of Ibb and Saada province.


  • Yemen’s Houthi rebels released two U.S. citizens, a British citizen, and three Saudis who have been held by the group since earlier this year; the freed Americans have been flown to Oman, which helped arrange their release.


  • A bomb exploded in Cairo and wounded two people, possibly targeting a building that contains offices of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


  • In addition to its effort to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States would raise its caps on refugee immigration from 70,000 to 100,000 people for the 2017 fiscal year.


  • Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke to a rally of tens of thousands of people in Istanbul condemning the resumption of terrorist attacks by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) after the collapse of a ceasefire this summer.

Arguments and Analysis

Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Confronting Difficult Truths” (Doris Carrion, Chatham House)

“None the less, many Jordanians feel they are worse off because of the Syrian refugees. This is partly a matter of perception. It mirrors events of around a decade ago when Iraqi refugees in Jordan were widely held responsible for economic downturns actually caused by the broader regional crisis. Unfortunately, the rise in the population has affected public services for all, particularly in the northern governorates. The quality and availability of education and healthcare have declined as overburdened facilities have struggled to cope with the significant increase in numbers of students and patients. Schools are overcrowded, even though a double-shift system has been introduced in which Jordanians are taught in the mornings and Syrians in the afternoons. People wait a very long time before receiving medical attention. Local water shortages have also increased. Municipalities lack sufficient capacity and funding to deliver and maintain essential services for the tens of thousands of new residents, the arrival of whom has created a need to build new roads, expand the electricity infrastructure and collect much more waste. Local residents have also expressed concerns about drug use and the availability of guns, both of which they associate with the arrival of refugees. On a number of occasions, local stories about Syrians have proved false. These real or perceived impacts are a major source of resentment among both the inhabitants most affected and Jordanians across the whole country.”


Lebanon’s Silence over Sabra and Shatila is Shameful” (Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch)

“Part of the challenge in Lebanon has been how to deal with the violent legacy of the past while confronting an ever-violent present. How to hold past perpetrators accountable when more recent crimes — the new rounds of political fighting in May 2008 or more recently in Tripoli, for example — go unpunished. And yet, it may be that the only way out of Lebanon’s never-ending cycle of violence and impunity, is to finally deal head-on with the past. It is too late to hold Hobeika accountable, but it is not too late to ask questions about his role and that of his men in the massacre. Such questions about the past are the essential first step to end the rampant impunity and complacency in the country.”

-J. Dana Stuster