News Roundup and Notes: October 6, 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

NATO has condemned Russia for violating Turkish airspace. Ankara has threatened to respond after it reported two incursions in two days, and has for a second time summoned Moscow’s ambassador to Turkey. [Reuters’ Ayla Jean Yackley and Humeyra Pamuk]

Russia has begun moving artillery and ground forces toward Hama, Syria. [NBC News]  Russia announced yesterday that “volunteer” ground forces would join the fight in Syria. [New York Times’ Andrew E. Kramer and Anne Bernard]

CIA-backed Syrian rebels have been the target of a string of Russian airstrikes for days, leading the US to the conclusion that it is a deliberate effort by Moscow, reports Adam Entous. [Wall Street Journal]

Syrian opposition rebel groups are pushing for a unified response to Russian airstrikes and promised to attack Russian military forces in Syria. [Al Jazeera]

Russian airstrikes keep targeting medical facilities and vehicles inside Syria, writes Michael Weiss, citing reports that a strike in Idlib province on Saturday destroyed an emergency ambulance center. [The Daily Beast]

Car bombings across Iraq killed at least 56 people yesterday. [AP]

The EU needs to take greater action in Syria in order to control the refugee crisis, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. [New York Times’ James Kanter and Tim Arango]

Patterns of Russian and American airstrikes in Syria demonstrate the two countries’ divergent strategies. Graphics available at the New York Times.

Congress could send a “strong signal” to Moscow of the cost of its involvement in Ukraine and Syria by enacting new sanctions on Russia, argue Paula J. Dobriansky and David B. Rivkin Jr. [Wall Street Journal]

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and coalition military forces carried out eight airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Oct 5. Separately, military forces conducted a further 13 strikes on targets in Iraq. [UN News Centre]

“Till Martyrdom Do Us Part.” Life for women under the Islamic State, from Kevin Sullivan at the Washington Post.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan forces called in the airstrike that targeted a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen John F Campbell said at the Pentagon yesterday. Campbell suggested that the Taliban was ultimately at fault for the incident by deciding to fight in a highly-urbanized area. [The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman]  The US commander also conceded that initial reports that the strike were to protect US troops under a direct threat was incorrect. [New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg]

The airstrike against medical facilities could amount to a war crime, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said. [Reuters]

White House press secretary Josh Earnest avoided describing the attack as a “war crime,” emphasizing that the situation was still under investigation, speaking with reporters yesterday. [The Hill’s Kevin Cirilli]

The incident poses “tough legal questions;” Michael Pizzi speaks to experts about the complex situation. [Al Jazeera America]

The New York Times editorial board writes that the Pentagon assertion of “collateral damage” in Kunduz was “outrageous and dehumanizing,” calling for an independent panel to be established to collect all relevant information so as to understand “what went so horribly wrong.”

“From mistake to justification.”  Glenn Greenwald considers the “radically” changing story about the airstrike, arguing that standard “obfuscation tactics” by the US are failing in this situation due to the nature of the target: western-based medical professionals. [The Intercept]

Taliban insurgents have launched hit-and-run attacks against Afghan security forces attempting to clear Kunduz city of fighters. [Reuters’ Mirwais Harooni]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israel has razed the homes of the families of two Palestinians responsible for attacks on Israel last year. [The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont]  And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested the establishment of a mechanism to expedite the legal process involved when dealing with the demolition of terrorist homes. [Haaretz’s Barak Ravid]

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed yesterday after Israeli security forces fired at stone-throwers in the West Bank. [AP]

Five members of Hamas have confessed to the fatal shooting of an Israeli couple last week, Israeli authorities announced yesterday. [New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren and Diaa Hadid]

Is the third Palestinian intifada about to happen, or has it already begun? Asks Peter Beaumont at the Guardian.

YEMEN

A missile attack targeted a hotel in the port city of Aden housing Yemeni officials including the country’s prime minister and vice president, Khaled Bahah. As yet it is unclear who was responsible for the attack. [Al Jazeera; Reuters]

The prime minister escaped unharmed from the attack which left an unknown number of people killed or injured. [AFP; The Guardian]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A data-transfer pact between the US and the EU has been held as invalid by the European Court of Justice; the decision raises questions of how global tech giants can continue to collect, manage and analyze the data of their users in the EU. [New York Times‘ Mark Scott]  Danny O’Brien provides further details at EFF.

“Edward Snowden: Spies and the Law.” NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden gave an interview on the BBC’s “Panorama,” broadcast last night. In the interview, Snowden said that the US justice department has made no effort to discuss a plea deal with him that could see his return from Russia. [The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill]  He also commented on GCHQ’s ability to take over people’s smartphones, saying that there is “very little” that can be done to stop them. [BBC]

Despite the conclusion of the nuclear accord, “battle lines have deepened” in the Middle East, writes Laurence Norman, citing Russia’s move to harness closer ties with Iran on Syria during last week’s UN General Assembly. [Wall Street Journal]

Hillary Clinton has released a new campaign advert which accuses the GOP of using the House committee on Benghazi as a political tool; the television ad is an attempt to turn the tables ahead of her testimony before the committee. [Washington Post’s Anne Gearan]  And the Democratic minority on the committee plan to release a transcript of a closed-door interview with an ex-senior Clinton aide, in defiance of the committee’s Republican leaders. [Reuters’ Susan Cornwell and Jonathan Allen]

UN negotiations on the future of lethal autonomous weapons are facing delays which may undermine efforts for a pre-emptive ban, preventing the “killer robots” from becoming reality, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has said. [The Guardian’s Harriet Grant]

Al-Qaeda has announced the death of Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of North Africa’s most wanted extremists, an Algerian news channel has reported. [New York Times’ Carlotta Gall] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security