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Russia and Turkey Downplay Escalation after Plane Shot Down
Russian and Syrian special forces have reportedly rescued a Russian pilot whose Su-24 warplane was shot down by Turkish F-16s along the Turkey-Syria border yesterday, according to Syrian state media. The plane’s second pilot was shot and killed as he descended by parachute, the Russian military told press. Previously, a Turkmen rebel commander had told ...
Russian and Syrian special forces have reportedly rescued a Russian pilot whose Su-24 warplane was shot down by Turkish F-16s along the Turkey-Syria border yesterday, according to Syrian state media. The plane’s second pilot was shot and killed as he descended by parachute, the Russian military told press. Previously, a Turkmen rebel commander had told reporters that his troops had shot and killed both pilots after they had ejected from the Su-24.
“We have no intention of escalating this incident. We are only defending our own security and the rights of our brothers,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today, noting that Turkey’s Syria policy will not change. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the targeting of the Russian jet a “planned provocation,” but downplayed concerns about a military response. “We’re not going to war against Turkey,” he said today, though Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that there could be economic costs to Turkey in terms of joint projects and Turkish investments in Russia. In response to the incident, Russia will deploy S400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) surface-to-air missiles to Syria.
Suicide Bomber Targets Tunisian Presidential Guard
A suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying members of Tunisia’s presidential guard as it traveled along a major boulevard in Tunis, killing at least 13 people. Tunisia has declared a national state of emergency in response. While Tunisia has been the site of several terrorist attacks in the past couple years, yesterday’s attack is the first suicide bombing in the nation’s capital. No terrorist group has claimed credit for the attack yet.
- The United Arab Emirates has dispatched 450 Colombian mercenaries to augment its ground forces in Yemen, according to the New York Times; the Colombian mercenaries are part of a larger 1,800-person contingent training in the Emirates.
- Brussels has lifted the strictest measures of its lockdown, but is maintaining a heightened alert with a large security force presence as a manhunt for one of the Paris attackers continues.
- A Palestinian man was shot after stabbing an Israeli man in the West Bank, the latest incident in a two-month spate of attacks that has left 19 Israelis and 89 Palestinians, 57 of whom were reported to be attackers, dead.
- Sabra Kesinovic, a 17-year-old Austrian girl who made headlines last year when she traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, is believed to have been beaten to death by the group when caught trying to leave Raqqa.
- The toll of the Islamic State’s bombing of a hotel in Al-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula has risen to seven dead, including two judges, four policemen, and one civilian bystander.
Arguments and Analysis
“Who Are those Syrian Refugees Really?” (Ammar Abdulhamid, Lawfare)
“In the last few days, leading American politicians have compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs and E. Coli; called for favoring Christian refugees over Muslim ones, thus transforming the current situation into a kind of imaginary Muslim-Christian showdown and effectively playing by ISIS’s rules; and called for a registry of all Muslims. As a Syrian asylee who found a safe haven in this country long before the revolutionary upheavals, and as a person whose life experiences took him from being a young radical Imam to an agnostic author and prodemocracy activist who strongly embraces secular values and advocates the right to heresy, I thought it incumbent upon me at this stage to contribute to the ongoing debating regarding Syrian refugees: who they are, what they want, and what can they bring with them by way of contributions.”
“For Money or Liberty? The Political Economy of Military Desertion and Rebel Recruitment in the Syrian Civil War” (Holger Albrecht, Kevin Koehler, and Dorothy Ohl, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
“Military desertions have contributed to Syria’s descent from a peaceful uprising to a full-scale civil war. The regime resorted to executing soldiers who shirked orders to crack down on demonstrations as early as April 2011. But desertion differs from defection. The latter entails both leaving the military and officially joining the opposition. From summer 2011, the defection of rank-and-file soldiers and low- and mid-ranking officers helped the opposition establish defense units that fueled localized insurgencies against state repression. Their military expertise improved the fighting capacities of such small militias. By June 2012, they also took the initiative in establishing the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the opposition’s military wing that promised to lead the early stages of the insurgency.”
-J. Dana Stuster
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images