News Roundup and Notes: January 2, 2015

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.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and partner nations conducted 17 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria on Wednesday, and separately carried out a further 12 strikes in Iraq. [Central Command]

More than 76,000 people died in Syria’s civil war during 2014, including over 3,500 children, making it the deadliest year so far since the conflict began in 2011. The figures were released by London-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone and Mohammad Ghannam]

Over 300 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq’s Anbar province and while not engaged in combat, are seeing the “fighting edging closer,” report Missy Ryan and Erin Cunningham. [Washington Post]

Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders and lawmakers have threatened to seek military assistance from Iran if the U.S. does not respond to demands for troops, weapons and funding. [Al Jazeera’s Suadad al-Salhy]

Jordan has suspended military action against the Islamic State while it attempts to recover a military pilot captured by the terrorist group. [NPR’s Robert Siegel]

Two Italian female hostages are purportedly shown in footage released on New Year’s Eve by the Nusra Front in Syria; the aid volunteers were captured in northern Syria last summer. [The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer and Barbie Latza Nadeau] 

ISRAEL and PALESTINE 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has given the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestinian territory, “his most serious confrontation yet with Israel,” reports Noah Browning. [Reuters]  Jodi Rudoren describes the political fallout following the move and notes that bringing a case “would take longer and face many hurdles.” [New York Times]

The UN Security Council voted to reject a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory within three years and for the two parties to reach a peace deal within one year. [Washington Post’s Carol Morello and Ruth Eglash]

Palestine has invoked its “nuclear option” and the above-described events are “the best evidence of Israel’s perilous standing in the international community,” writes Barak Ravid. [Haaretz]

Israel’s High Court of Justice has rejected a petition against the policy of demolishing terrorists homes, with one judge writing: “cruel killing, time and again, of innocents’ necessitates the use of the emergency regulations.” [Haaretz’s Revital Hovel] 

GUANTÁNAMO BAY

The Pentagon released five Guantánamo detainees to Kazakhstan on Tuesday, bringing the prison camp population down to 127. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

President Obama’s campaign to close the detention center appears to be “going into overdrive,” with more detainees transferred out of the prison in the last two months of 2014 than in the previous three years. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong and Jesse Byrnes]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Pentagon confirmed the death of al-Shabaab’s intelligence chief by a U.S. airstrike in Somalia earlier this week. The Defense Department said the death will “significantly impact” the terrorist organization’s ability to target Somalia and U.S. allies and interests in the region. [DoD News]  A truck carrying Kenyan soldiers was attacked near the border with Somalia yesterday, in a suspected al-Shabaab assault. [Reuters]

At least 20 civilians were killed in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Wednesday after a mortar attack targeted a wedding; the Afghan government has launched an investigation into the incident. [Wall Street Journal’s Nathan Hodge and Habib Khan Totakhil]

The group claiming credit for the Sony hack has threatened to attack an American news media organization, according to an FBI bulletin obtained by The Intercept, reports Jana Winter. Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald explores the disparity between the accounts of the media and security experts on the claim that North Korea was behind the Sony hack. [The Intercept]

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un suggested holding a “high-level summit” with South Korea during a televised address yesterday. [NPR’s Anthony Kuhn] 

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to defeat Boko Haram, after a series of attacks thought to be carried out by the militant group in recent weeks. [BBC] 

A U.S. federal judge has rejected a request by the Boston Marathon bombing suspect to delay the trial and transfer it to another city. [BBC]

A retrial has been ordered by Egypt’s top court in the appeal of the three Al Jazeera journalists, who have been detained in the country for over a year.

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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