UN Envoy Announces Possible Aleppo Truce
Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus has said it is willing to suspend bombing the city of Aleppo in a trial cease-fire, according to the United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Misttura. “The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all aerial bombing … and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all ...
Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus has said it is willing to suspend bombing the city of Aleppo in a trial cease-fire, according to the United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Misttura. “The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all aerial bombing … and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all over the city of Aleppo from a date which we will be announcing from Damascus,” de Mistura said at the United Nations. For months the UN envoy has been pushing for temporary cease-fires between government and rebel forces in order to allow humanitarian aid to besieged areas and potentially create political space for longer-term negotiations. Aleppo has been the site of some of the fiercest fighting between Syrian government forces and a variety of rebel groups. Just before de Mistura’s announcement the Syrian army captured a number of villages near Aleppo, threatening to cut off vital supply lines for the rebels. Syrian rebel groups have not yet agreed to take part in the temporary truce, saying they will wait to judge the government’s commitment to honoring it.
The Islamic State launched a major attack on Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, including the towns of Gwer and Makhmour, both of which were re-taken by Kurdish forces months ago. The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition has been unable to conduct airstrikes in the area because frontline between Kurdish and Islamic State is too small.
- Four police were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in central Tunisia by al Qaeda-linked militants.
- A report by Israel’s state comptroller accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara of excessive spending and improper use of state funds.
- Argentina has asked the United States to discuss with Iran the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center in the ongoing nuclear talks between Washington and Tehran.
- Islamic State militants burned to death 45 people in the town of al-Baghdadi in western Iraq, according to the local police.
Arguments and Analysis
What ISIS Really Wants (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic)
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
The Epicenter of Iraq’s Next Civil War (Jesse Rosenfeld, The Daily Beast)
In a recent interview with the London-based Arabic daily newspaper Al Hayat, Barzani said that “We will not allow any forces to enter Kirkuk,” in a message clearly directed at Iranian-backed Shia militias.
The increasing split that threatens to turn into open armed conflict between the Shia militias and Kurdish forces is just the kind of thing the shrewd jihadists of ISIS have exploited in the past, moving into vacuums of power created by corruption and infighting among their opponents to built their pop-up empire in Iraq and Syria. And Kirkuk, with its oil, would be a major prize.
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