U.S. Airstrikes Assist Iraqi and Kurdish Forces to Break the Siege on Amerli

The United States carried out airstrikes on Saturday assisting the Iraqi military, Shiite militias, and Kurdish forces to break a two-month siege led by Islamic State militants on the northern Iraqi Shiite town of Amerli. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the strikes were in support of a humanitarian aid operation. The Untied ...

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

The United States carried out airstrikes on Saturday assisting the Iraqi military, Shiite militias, and Kurdish forces to break a two-month siege led by Islamic State militants on the northern Iraqi Shiite town of Amerli. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the strikes were in support of a humanitarian aid operation. The Untied States, along with Britain, France, and Australia, air dropped emergency supplies to the town of around 15,000 people, which is home to Iraq's Turkmen minority group. The Iraqi and Kurdish forces were additionally aided by Iranian advisors. On Monday, Iraqi and Kurdish forces pushed into the surrounding villages and the town of Suleiman Beg. Meanwhile, Amnesty International released a report Tuesday citing evidence that Islamic State militants are carrying out "a wave of ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq. The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Monday to send a team of 11 investigators to conduct an inquiry into suspected atrocities committed by Islamic State militants.

Syria

Al-Nusra Front has confirmed it captured 44 U.N. peacekeepers Thursday in the Golan Heights and issued demands for their release. The group demanded to be taken off the U.N. terrorist list, for the delivery of humanitarian aid to parts of Damascus, and for compensation for the killing of three of its fighters who died in clashes with U.N. troops. Renewed fighting erupted between al-Nusra Front fighters and the Syrian army in the Golan Monday, though it was unclear if government forces had regained control over the Quneitra crossing.

The United States carried out airstrikes on Saturday assisting the Iraqi military, Shiite militias, and Kurdish forces to break a two-month siege led by Islamic State militants on the northern Iraqi Shiite town of Amerli. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the strikes were in support of a humanitarian aid operation. The Untied States, along with Britain, France, and Australia, air dropped emergency supplies to the town of around 15,000 people, which is home to Iraq’s Turkmen minority group. The Iraqi and Kurdish forces were additionally aided by Iranian advisors. On Monday, Iraqi and Kurdish forces pushed into the surrounding villages and the town of Suleiman Beg. Meanwhile, Amnesty International released a report Tuesday citing evidence that Islamic State militants are carrying out "a wave of ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq. The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Monday to send a team of 11 investigators to conduct an inquiry into suspected atrocities committed by Islamic State militants.

Syria

Al-Nusra Front has confirmed it captured 44 U.N. peacekeepers Thursday in the Golan Heights and issued demands for their release. The group demanded to be taken off the U.N. terrorist list, for the delivery of humanitarian aid to parts of Damascus, and for compensation for the killing of three of its fighters who died in clashes with U.N. troops. Renewed fighting erupted between al-Nusra Front fighters and the Syrian army in the Golan Monday, though it was unclear if government forces had regained control over the Quneitra crossing.

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

Islamism beyond the Muslim Brotherhood‘ (Yasmin Moll, Social Science Research Council

"With some exceptions, such as analyses published in this series, most scholarly accounts dovetail with media framings of Egypt’s fraught political scene since the 2011 revolution as primarily a struggle between secularism and Islamism. But the ‘secularism versus Islamism’ narrativ­e is a political one-it performs important legitimizing labor for a plethora of social actors in Egypt, from the Brotherhood­ to deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak’s allies and both liberal and leftist activists alike. It is, however, of very limited analytical utility in making critical sense of what is actually at stake in the current impasse for the many Egyptians who do not subscribe to a secularized conception of government, yet whose religiosity cannot be conflated with the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Against the odds: Syria’s flourishing mediascape‘ (Enrico De Angelis and Donatella Della Ratta, Al Jazeera)

"Since the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, grassroots media outlets have been flourishing within the country and among the diaspora. In a recent study commissioned by Danish NGO International Media Support, we have counted more than 93 online and broadcast radio stations, printed magazines and online publications, and web-based news agencies. And more are being launched, day by day, inside Syria, and at the initiative of Syrians living in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Germany, Jordan, Egypt, and the Netherlands."

IS back in business‘ (Peter Harling, Le Monde diplomatique)

"Part of its success stems from its consolidation strategy. Its aim is not so much to conquer the world, despite the claims of propagandists and critics alike, but to root itself firmly in the territory it occupies. This inclines it to greater pragmatism than is generally acknowledged. Until recently at least, its fighters would hold western captives to ransom, where previous generations of jihadists would have killed them for shock value. The filmed decapitation of journalist James Foley is thus a significant departure from recent practice. IS fighters expend great effort fighting for oil wells, which give them a high degree of financial autonomy. They are happy to attack weak Sunni rivals in selected areas, but have little appetite for confronting more serious adversaries: they mostly shun the fight with the Syrian regime, steer clear of taking Iraq’s Shia militias head-on, and when needed have moderated their antagonism towards Kurdish factions, who also defend their turf fiercely."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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