The Middle East Channel

Syrian Airstrikes Kill Dozens in Raqqa

Syrian government warplanes struck the northern city of Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold, Tuesday killing dozens of people, according to residents and activists. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Syrian aircraft conducted at least 10 strikes, with the majority concentrated in the eastern portion of the city. The activist group reported 95 people ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Syrian government warplanes struck the northern city of Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold, Tuesday killing dozens of people, according to residents and activists. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Syrian aircraft conducted at least 10 strikes, with the majority concentrated in the eastern portion of the city. The activist group reported 95 people were killed, including 52 civilians. Islamic State militants pushed the remaining government forces from Raqqa province in August, and captured an air base. U.S.-led airstrikes have also hit several targets in Raqqa province, though a U.S. official said coalition forces had not carried out airstrikes in the area in the last 24 hours. While U.S. officials have acknowledged that coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants may benefit the Syrian government, they have said they are not coordinating with regime forces.

Headlines

The IMF said Egypt's economy is beginning to recover, however called for further subsidy reform and suggested a more flexible currency rate. Republicans are increasing pressure to introduce new sanctions against Iran as escalating opposition in Washington and Tehran threatens extended nuclear negotiations. Houthi rebels clashed with members of al-Ahmar tribe in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa Wednesday killing up to seven people. Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing permitting thousands of stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza, but continued to prevent travel from Gaza into Egypt. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticized a bill that would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people saying it countered the vision of the country's founders. 

Syrian government warplanes struck the northern city of Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold, Tuesday killing dozens of people, according to residents and activists. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Syrian aircraft conducted at least 10 strikes, with the majority concentrated in the eastern portion of the city. The activist group reported 95 people were killed, including 52 civilians. Islamic State militants pushed the remaining government forces from Raqqa province in August, and captured an air base. U.S.-led airstrikes have also hit several targets in Raqqa province, though a U.S. official said coalition forces had not carried out airstrikes in the area in the last 24 hours. While U.S. officials have acknowledged that coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants may benefit the Syrian government, they have said they are not coordinating with regime forces.

Headlines

  • The IMF said Egypt’s economy is beginning to recover, however called for further subsidy reform and suggested a more flexible currency rate.
  • Republicans are increasing pressure to introduce new sanctions against Iran as escalating opposition in Washington and Tehran threatens extended nuclear negotiations.
  • Houthi rebels clashed with members of al-Ahmar tribe in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa Wednesday killing up to seven people.
  • Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing permitting thousands of stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza, but continued to prevent travel from Gaza into Egypt.
  • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticized a bill that would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people saying it countered the vision of the country’s founders. 

Arguments and Analysis

The Syrian Conflict and the Ascendancy of the Lebanese Armed Forces‘ (Basem Shabb, Middle East Institute)

"The Syrian conflict has been detrimental to Hezbollah’s political standing as well. In addition to antagonizing the Sunni Lebanese and Palestinians, Hezbollah’s involvement inflamed sectarian tensions. Despite a few Sunni defections, the LAF shows little signs of fracturing though Sunnis constitute almost half of the forces. In a recent bold move, the LAF took control of Tripoli, the second largest and predominantly Sunni city in north Lebanon with a sizeable Alawi community. Tripoli had been a hotbed of Sunni radicalism and had seen violent clashes between Sunni radicals and Alawi fighters supported by Hezbollah. The LAF move was endorsed by all Lebanese leaders, including those from the Sunni community.

Thus, despite sectarian tensions the LAF has overwhelming popular support in countering extremism and terrorism. In contrast, Hezbollah has lost ground politically and is overstretched militarily. The political void Hezbollah has left behind is gradually being replaced by a more assertive LAF."

Tunisian youth skip presidential vote‘ (Eric Reidy, Al Monitor)

"Just as in the parliamentary elections, the Tunisian High Commission on Elections is reporting strong overall turnout, around 64% of registered voters. Many Tunisians ages 18-29, however, appear to have been pushed away from electoral politics.

The sense of disillusionment can be traced back to the high expectations young people had following the revolution, which was sparked by youth frustration with unemployment, economic marginalization and lack of social and political freedoms, Missaoui said. ‘They feel that their revolution was stolen by political parties,’ he said."

Human rights abuses ‘leave a third of Libyans with mental health problems’‘ (Ian Black, The Guardian)

"’Our data supports the allegations that widespread … and gross human rights violations have taken place in Libya,’ says the report, which seeks to assess Libya’s mental health needs and was co-authored with Benghazi University. The survey – based on 2,692 household interviews – was completed in October 2013. The situation may have worsened since then, it concludes.

Data revealed that 29% of individuals reported anxiety and 30% depression. Stress levels showed a preoccupation with political instability (63.6%) followed by the collapse of the country (61.2%), insecurity about ‘life right now’ (56.6%) and insecurity about the future (46.4%). Nearly 30% reported being exposed to violence during demonstrations."

Mary Casey-Baker

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