News Roundup and Notes: October 24, 2014

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

IRAQ and SYRIA

U.S. military forces carried out six strikes in Syria on Wednesday and Thursday, and a further nine strikes along with partner nations in Iraq, targeting ISIS militants around Mosul Dam, Bayji oil refinery, and Fallujah. [Central Command]  French airstrikes in Iraq have taken out 12 Islamic State buildings, holding an arsenal of weapons, according to France’s chief of staff of armed forces speaking today. [Reuters]

The U.S. and partner countries have carried out 632 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria and dropped more than 1,700 bombs in the campaign against the Islamic State, according to a Central Command statement. [Al Jazeera]

ISIS fighters and Syrian Kurds remain engaged in fierce battles for control of Kobani, with both sides making gains and losing territory in and around the Syrian border town on Thursday. [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones]

Cutting off the Islamic State’s access to revenue. The Treasury Department’s top counterterrorism official, David Cohen, said that the American-led strikes against ISIS-held oil refineries are threatening the group’s key revenue stream [New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis]  In an address yesterday, Cohen suggested Qatar and Kuwait are not doing enough to prevent the financing of ISIS activities [Wall Street Journal’s William Mauldin] Cohen also discussed U.S. efforts to disrupt the group’s method of fundraising through donations made on social media. [The Hill’s Justin Sink]

The Iraqi army is many months away from being ready to launch a sustained counteroffensive against the Islamic State, with any effort in Syria likely to take even longer, according to U.S. military and defense officials. [Reuters’ Phil Stewart]  However, officials remained positive that Baghdad airport was out of the Islamic State’s reach owing to strategic “spoiling attacks” carried out by Iraqi troops. [Wall Street Journal’s Julian E. Barnes]

Islamic State fighters used chlorine gas against Iraqi officers in an attack north of Baghdad last month, according to a report from Washington Post’s Loveday Morris. A National Security Council spokesperson said U.S. officials were investigating the report. [New York Times’ Kirk Semple and Eric Schmitt].

ISIS has identified members of the U.S. media as “desirable targets,” the FBI warned reporters yesterday. [Politico’s Dylan Byers]

President Obama will meet with members of the National Security Council and others at the State Department today to discuss U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State. [The Hill’s Justin Sink] 

U.S. attempts to identify American citizens through the thousands of photos smuggled out of Syria last year have failed, frustrating plans to prosecute officials from the Assad regime in federal courts. [Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin and Adam Entous]

Lebanon will not accept any more refugees from Syria other than in “exceptional” cases, as the country cannot cope with any more, according to the Information Minister. [AP]

An increasing number of Western Muslim women are attempting to join the Islamic State and travel from Europe and beyond to Iraq and Syria. [New York Times’ Steven Erlanger]

The Obama administration has given the Syrian regime “another pass on chemical weapons,” argues the Washington Post editorial board, noting recent reports of fresh chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas.

The New York Times editorial board emphasizes the importance of saving Kobani, noting that a setback there would “show the fragility of the American plan and hand the Islamic State an important victory.”

Mark Perry considers the influence that Gen. Martin Dempsey had on President Obama’s decision to become involved in the situation in Iraq this August. [Politico Magazine]

OTTAWA SHOOTINGS

The man responsible for Wednesday’s attack, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was a Canadian citizen who had reportedly undergone a “radicalization process” and had recently applied for a passport, hoping to travel to Syria, according to Canadian police [Reuters’ Randall Palmer et al.]

A compilation of security video footage shows the movements of Zehaf-Bibeau as the events of the attack in Ottawa unfolded. [CBC News]

The targeting of soldiers “in a mainly tranquil land” is likely to lead to discussion around global action against terror, writes The Economist. And The Guardian editorial board cautions against the “understandable rush for new security legislation in Canada.”

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

Pro-Russian rebels indicated their plans to end the ceasefire in Ukraine’s east, with a rebel leader warning yesterday that “periods of intense hostilities will follow.” [Al Jazeera]

Reuters has found the remains of tanks in eastern Ukraine that have been identified as belonging to the Russian army, according to military experts, offering further evidence of Moscow’s involvement in the conflict.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The CIA is trying to lessen the impact of the upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation methods, by insisting on censoring the pseudonyms used for officers named in the document, according to committee member Sen. Ron Wyden. [AP’s Ken Dilanian]

A Russian who fought alongside insurgents in Afghanistan will be flown to the U.S. to face terrorism charges in a federal court; the first instance of a foreign combatant seized in Afghanistan being brought to the U.S. for trial. [Washington Post’s Adam Goldman]

The Obama administration is seeking support on a possible nuclear deal with Iran from Congress, U.S. policy makers, and other allies ahead of the November 24 deadline. [Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee]

The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement for the wartime control of forces, during a meeting at the Pentagon yesterday. [DOD News]

A suspected Taliban attack on a vehicle in Afghanistan’s Nangahar province today killed five people and injured two. [AP]

Boko Haram militants have reportedly abducted more women close to the border with Cameroon, according to local sources. [New York Times‘ Adam Nossiter]  The Chad Foreign Ministry believes that Nigeria’s secret agreement with Boko Haram to free over 200 abducted girls will go ahead despite breaches of a ceasefire agreement. [Reuters]

Libya’s newly appointed foreign minister expresses hope for a negotiated settlement to end the standoff in Tripoli in an interview with the AP.

Violent unrest in Jerusalem, Israel, is the worst it has been since the first Palestinian uprising, as demonstrations and violence escalated the day after a Palestinian rammed his car into a crowed train station, writes Joshua Mitnick. [Wall Street Journal]

The Swedish government has called off a search for foreign submarines off the east coast of the country. [Wall Street Journal’s Charles Duxbury]  The Economist notes that this week’s search was “vividly reminiscent of a drama from an earlier era,” with comparisons drawn to the Cold War.

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About the Author(s)

Ruchi Parekh

Former Associate Editor at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@RParekh88).

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security