News Roundup and Notes: October 28, 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. forces continued to target ISIS over Sunday and Monday, carrying out four strikes in Syria and a further seven airstrikes in conjunction with partner nations in Iraq. [Central Command]  The Pentagon has increased its cost estimate of the operation against the Islamic State to $8.3 million per day. [The Hill‘s Kristina Wong]

The U.S. has announced an “information coalition” with Arab and European countries to complement the military coalition against ISIS, which will be aimed at combating online recruitment by the group. [Haaretz’s Ahmed Hagagy]

Militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and other rebel groups attacked the Syrian city of Idlib, temporarily seizing government buildings and killing dozens of regime soldiers before the fighters were pushed back. [BBC]

The battle for the Syrian city of Aleppo risks destroying the Western-backed moderate Syrian opposition, prompting many Free Syrian Army commanders to express frustration with the U.S. focus on defending Kobani. [The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer]

The Lebanese military has succeeded in retaking the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood of Tripoli from militants linked to the Syrian civil war. [Al Monitor’s Ashley Gallagher]  Anne Bernard discusses the “sectarian wedge” pushed into Lebanon from Syria and the threat it poses to the “country’s fragile stability.” [New York Times] And Hugh Naylor explores the impact that Sunni militant attacks are having on the strength of Hezbollah both in Syria and at home in Lebanon. [Washington Post]

Turkey is coming under increasing pressure from the Syrian war, amid fresh evidence of Islamic State-linked jihadist activity in southern Turkish cities, requiring Ankara to raise its terror threat level. [Wall Street Journal’s Joe Parkinson and Emre Peker]

The residents of the Iraqi city of Mosul, now under Islamic State rule, are being repressed by the group and facing serious economic collapse. [The Guardian’s Mohammad Moslawi et al]

A new Islamic State propaganda video shows British hostage John Cantlie providing a tour of Kobani and claiming that the battle for the city is almost over, dismissing Western media coverage of the fighting as inaccurate. [Washington Post’s Adam Taylor]

The New York Times hosts a Q and A with C.J. Chivers about his recent story on investigating abandoned chemical weapons in Iraq.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. Marines and U.K. armed forces left Regional Command Southwest in Afghanistan’s Helmand province yesterday. [Central Command]

With the Taliban not yet defeated in Helmand province, Sean Barberry considers whether the Afghan army will be able to fend off the terrorist group without the assistance of U.S. and U.K forces. [NPR]

Eight people were killed and ten injured in a Taliban attack on government offices in the northern city of Kunduz yesterday, “punctuating” the group’s recent advances in the country. [New York Times’ Azam Ahmed]

The first month of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s time in office has been marked by violence with at least ten terrorist incidents in Kabul since the start of his presidency, according to an AP tally.

Taliban insurgents are reportedly in control of about 80% of the Gizrab district in Uruzgan province, a region which had revolted against its Taliban leaders four years ago and been lauded by the international community as a success story. [The Guardian’s Sune Engel Rasmussen]

Americans are skeptical of the value of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, according to a new BBC poll.

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

Russia will “recognize the results” of the separatists’ rival elections planned for November 2 in eastern Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today. [BBC]

President Petro Poroshenko began coalition talks with two other pro-Western political parties yesterday, ahead of the final results of Sunday’s parliamentary election. [Wall Street Journal’s Nick Shchetko and Paul Sonne]

The next parliament “simply cannot afford to sink back into the infighting and corruption that have been the hallmark of Ukrainian governments past,” warns the New York Times editorial board.

The Russian government is likely sponsoring an extensive hacking campaign dating back to 2007, with targets including NATO, U.S. defense contractors, and the Georgian government, according to a new report from security company FireEye.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The FBI has identified the suspected “second leaker” involved in turning over sensitive documents relating to the government’s terrorist watch list to journalist Glenn Greenwald, although some intelligence officials are concerned that the Justice Department no longer has an “appetite” for leak cases. [Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff]

The FBI created a bogus Seattle Times Web page and posted a fake story in order to plant software on the computer of an individual suspected of being behind a number of bomb threats to Timberline High School in 2007. [Seattle Times’ Mike Carter]

The U.S. Postal Service approved close to 50,000 requests from law enforcement agencies last year to secretly monitor mail for the purpose of criminal and national security investigations. [New York Times’ Ron Nixon]

The U.S. Army has begun quarantining soldiers returning from the Ebola mission in West Africa, despite showing no symptoms of infection and not believed to have been exposed to the virus. [Reuters’ Phil Stewart and Steve Scherer]

Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Ottawa today to offer “steadfast U.S. support” to Canada following last week’s terrorism related assaults. [Department of State]  Canada’s chief of police said yesterday that the gunman responsible for the attack in Ottawa was “deliberate and lucid” in a video he recorded before conducting the attacks. [Wall Street Journal’s Paul Vieira]

The Israeli Prime Minister’s decision to fast-track plans for 1,060 new settlements in East Jerusalem is unlikely to satisfy domestic political rivals, but is likely to further strain Israel’s reputation internationally, write Isabel Kershner and Jodi Rudoren [New York Times]  Jordan will request an emergency UN Security Council meeting on behalf of the Palestinians who have requested they do so due to “dangerously escalating tensions” in East Jerusalem. [AP] 

Egypt will build an eight-mile barrier along its border with Gaza following last week’s attack in the Sinai province, intended to prevent the flow of Islamists coming to and from Palestinian territory. [Fox News’ Paul Alster]  President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi expanded the country’s military powers yesterday to enable civilians to be prosecuted in military courts. [Washington Post’s Erin Cunningham]

Fighting in the central Yemen town of Radda has killed at least 250 people in the last three days during clashes between Houthi rebels and a tribe in the region. [Al Jazeera America] 

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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