News Roundup and Notes: September 28, 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

Russia has concluded an accord with Iraq, Syria and Iran, agreeing to share intelligence on the Islamic State, it was announced yesterday. The act is the latest attempt by Moscow to “expand its political and military influence” on the Syrian conflict, reports Michael R. Gordon. [New York Times] The move may further sideline the US in battle against the militant group, reports Loveday Morris. [Washington Post]

US and Russian officials held side talks at the UN General Assembly yesterday, ahead of today’s discussions between President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin. [Wall Street Journal’s Matt Bradley et al]

President Putin gave an interview with CBS News “60 Minutes.” Putin expressed that the emphasis in Syria should be fighting the Islamic State rather than removing President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian leader also criticized the Obama administration’s program for training Syrian rebels. 

France conducted airstrikes in Syria targeting an Islamic State training camp in the east of the country yesterday, President Hollande said from New York. [France 24]

Israel hit two Syrian military posts with artillery fire in retaliation after two rockets from the conflict-ridden country landed in Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. [AP] 

The most important issue to be tackled in Syria is terrorism, according to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaking to NPR, adding that Iran needs to prop up the Assad regime to avoid a power vacuum in the region.

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power defended the much-criticized US strategy of training Syrian rebels, in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“The rise of ISIS and the logic of fanaticism,” from Elliot Ackerman, at The Intercept.

Onboard a US aircraft carrier in the coalition against ISIS, from the Washington Post’s Nicole Crowder. 

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The UN General Assembly this week will mark 70 years of the international body. NBC News presents some of the expected highlights from nations “at the fore of global crisis and conflicts.”

“All eyes” are on the Syrian war as the General Assembly opens today, the gathering coming at what seems to be a “pivotal moment” in the conflict there, reports Somini Sengupta. [New York Times]

Speaking at the General Assembly yesterday, President Obama called for “collective action” to tackle world crises, emphasizing diplomatic solutions over military force as global conflicts multiply. [Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin] And Peter Baker and Gardiner Harris analyze US relationships with global powers going into the General Assembly, describing it as a “little like a high school reunion with motorcades.” [New York Times]

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani will likely receive a warmer welcome to the international forum than in previous years, with businesses eager to enter Iran following the conclusion of the nuclear accord with the P5 +1 in July, suggests Thomas Erdbrink. [New York Times]

President Raúl Castro of Cuba is expected to acknowledge warming relations between his country and the US, during his address to the General Assembly today. [New York Times’ Azam Ahmed]

YEMEN 

A Saudi helicopter attack on a Yemeni village yesterday is said to have killed 30 civilians, according to residents and medics. Saudi officials have dismissed the allegations as “totally false.” [Reuters’ Mohammed Ghobari]

A Saudi general has died as a result of injuries incurred along the Saudi frontier with Yemen. About 100 Saudi military personnel have been killed as a result of the conflict. [Reuters]

IRAN 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has proposed a prisoner swap with the US, including the Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian who is being held on espionage charges. [Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon]

Some of the Republican presidential candidates’ criticism of the Iran deal was “quite laughable,” according to President Hassan Rouhani, commenting on the fact that some of them “didn’t know where Iran was geographically,” in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“The first step toward the most significant and hard-fought diplomatic achievement of Obama’s presidency began with an uncomfortable night in a vacant house far from Washington DC.” Indira A.R. Lakshmanan provides the “inside story” on the Iran nuclear deal, at Politico Magazine.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

The last British resident held at Guantánamo Bay has been cleared for release, Defense Secretary Ash Carter informed Congress. The move will likely “ease a point of diplomatic tension” between the US and the UK, reports Charlie Savage. [New York Times] Shaker Aamer has been held since 2001, though never charged with a crime. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the “drip, drip, drip” of revelations over her use of a private email server is beyond her control, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” [Reuters’ John Whitesides] 

Taliban fighters carried out an early morning raid on the strategic Afghan city of Kunduz, attacking it from three directions, security sources say. It is the second time this year that the insurgents have threatened to seize the provincial capital. [BBC; Al Jazeera]

Clashes took place for a second day at al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, after Israeli security forces stormed the mosque and fought Palestinian worshippers inside. [Al Jazeera]

UK troops are to be deployed to Somalia and South Sudan to help foster “less terrorism and less migration,” part of a program training African peacekeeping forces, Prime Minister David Cameron said. [The Guardian]

English-speaking female jihadis are using social media to call on western women to join them with ISIS in Libya, report Shiv Malik and Chris Stephen. [The Guardian]

An attack on UN peacekeepers in Mellit, North Darfur today was condemned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. [UN News Centre]

“Martin Dempsey’s world is falling apart.” James Kitfield explores the “crises mounting perilously even as Dempsey formally leaves office.” 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security