Report

Kurdish Forces Enter Sinjar

Kurdish Peshmerga, supported by U.S. air support and Yazidi militias, have cut off a major Islamic State supply line and entered the city of Sinjar. The fall of Sinjar and threat to displaced Christian civilians prompted the initial U.S. intervention against the Islamic State in Iraq in Summer 2014. “That’s my home, you know,” a ...

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Kurdish Peshmerga, supported by U.S. air support and Yazidi militias, have cut off a major Islamic State supply line and entered the city of Sinjar. The fall of Sinjar and threat to displaced Christian civilians prompted the initial U.S. intervention against the Islamic State in Iraq in Summer 2014. “That’s my home, you know,” a Yazidi fighter told BuzzFeed News. “Today I’m just smiling.” Peshmerga have raised Kurdish flags over major buildings, but there are still concerns that the city may contain tripwire bombs and other traps. Farther south, the Iraqi military said it has begun operations to retake the city of Ramadi, attacking the city from the north and southwest.

In Syria, a U.S. drone strike targeted a vehicle in Raqqa believed to contain Mohammed Emwazi, better known as “Jihadi John,” a British member of the Islamic State who has conducted executions for the group. It is unclear if he was killed in the strike.

Islamic State Claims Bombing in South Beirut

Two suicide bombings killed at least 43 people and wounded 240 others in the Borj al-Barajneh neighborhood of South Beirut. The bombs targeted a Shia community center, near to a Hezbollah-administered hospital. A third bomber was killed in one of the blasts before he could detonate his own explosives. The Islamic State claimed credit for the attack.

Headlines

  • In a new video, the Islamic State threatens to carry out attacks in Russia “very soon” in retaliation for Russia’s air campaign in Syria.

 

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the international community is not near a breakthrough in negotiations on Syria but that a diplomatic effort is necessary; he is traveling to Vienna for a new round of talks on Syria this weekend.

 

  • Three gunmen fired on a church near Cairo yesterday; no one was killed, and the gunmen escaped after a firefight with police.

 

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed that the influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants and refugees in Europe could be part of a “master plan” by “the European left and radical American democrats” to overrun Europe with “future leftist voters.”

 

  • In the aftermath of two cyclones, experts are warning that Yemen could be struck by swarms of locusts taking advantage of the influx of water to breed.

Arguments and Analysis

The Islamic State’s Pattern of Retaliation in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula” (Zack Gold, EgyptSource)

“Since pledging allegiance to ISIS a year ago, however, the renamed Sinai State has repeatedly described its actions as retaliation for various nations’ military strikes against the extremist group in Iraq and Syria. Justifying its attacks within the context of the ISIS-global war first occurred in January 2015. Sinai militants that month blew up Egypt’s gas pipeline to Jordan. Sinai pipeline bombings were a hallmark of ABM and they have been attacked some three-dozen times since Egypt’s 2011 uprising. What made this instance — and others since — different was the Sinai State’s rhetoric in claiming responsibility. Jordan was a member of the anti-Islamic State coalition; as long as this participation continued, warned the ISIS affiliate, no gas would reach Jordan from the Sinai. This rhetorical shift should have been the first indication for nations in the anti-ISIS coalition that the Sinai State may retaliate against their interests in Egypt — and especially in Sinai.”

 

The Hidden Dangers of Safe Zones in Syria” (Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic)

“The appeal is obvious. By constructing a humanitarian ark, protected from air and ground attack, America and its partners might reduce the barbarism of the war and diminish the escalating refugee crisis engulfing the Middle East and Europe. The safe areas could be a stark counterpoint to the brutal ISIS caliphate — a province of peace. Turkey, for example, has long called for a no-fly zone in the north of Syria, to protect civilians from Assad’s air force. France has also floated the possibility of building safe areas for refugees. A number of U.S. congressmen have made similar calls, including the Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Republican Senator John McCain, and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. But, unfortunately, the safe-zone idea faces several — probably fatal — problems. If the U.S. and its partners create a safe zone, they are responsible for the consequences. The international community cannot encourage or pressure vulnerable civilians to gather in one place inside of a war zone — let alone return home from relative safety abroad — unless their protection is guaranteed.”

-J. Dana Stuster

SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

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