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
An alliance of Free Syrian Army (FSA)-linked groups have demanded that Moscow stop bombing rebel groups as a condition to cooperation talks between Russia and rebel forces. A spokesperson denied earlier reports that the FSA rejected an earlier offer of military assistance from Russia. [Reuters]
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a qualified apology for the Iraq war, saying that he is sorry for the “fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” but declined to apologize for the war itself or the ousting of Saddam Hussein, in an interview on CNN with Fareed Zakaria. [The Guardian’s Nicholas Watt]
Blair also commented that the 2003 Iraq invasion was responsible in part for the rise of the Islamic State. [Reuters] Martin Chulov explains just how critical the Iraq war was to the rise of ISIS, at the Guardian.
Footage has been released of a joint US-Kurdish raid on an ISIS prison in Iraq during which 70 hostages were rescued. [AP]
Defense Secretary Ash Carter described the US train, advise and assist mission in Iraq as “combat” on Friday, commenting on the death of Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler during the raid. [Defense One’s Gayle Tzemach Lemmon]
An Arab Israeli paraglided into Syria on Saturday to join Islamic State-affiliated rebel forces. [The Daily Beast’s Shira Rubin] The incident “highlights new dangers” for Israel and signals “changes in the balance of power along the Golan border.” [Haaretz]
The head of the House Intelligence Committee has called on the White House to put forward a long-term strategy for the fight against the Islamic State. [The Hill’s Lydia Wheeler]
“The needed concessions are not from the combatants in Syria, but from the proud nations that claim to want peace but refuse to cooperate with one another,” writes former US President Jimmy Carter at the New York Times.
“Where Russian and American weapons have been fired in Syria,” from the New York Times.
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
A US-brokered deal aimed at diffusing tensions has not succeeded, violence continuing in Israel despite the agreement between the US, Jordan and Israel aimed at clarifying guidelines for the management of Jerusalem’s holy sites. [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones; Washington Post’s Hugh Naylor]
Palestinian leaders have dismissed a proposal to install security cameras in the al-Aqsa mosque compound, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed hope that the agreement with the US and Jordan maintaining the status quo would help ease tensions. [The Guardian’s Ian Black]
An Israeli was wounded today during a stabbing attack near Hebron in the West Bank. The attacker was shot and killed by IDF forces. [Haaretz]
A roadside bomb has killed two employees of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission after it hit their vehicle in the country’s eastern Nangarhar province. No group has claimed responsibility though the Taliban is suspected. [AP]
The Taliban is quietly starting conversations with Moscow and former Soviet states on the Afghan border, aimed at considering ways to tackle the Islamic State. Sami Yousafzai provides the details at The Daily Beast.
Democrats on the Benghazi panel will not resign, ranking Democrat Rep Elijah Cummings has said, citing the need to defend “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” [The Hill’s Bradford Richardson]
The House Benghazi Committee is considering how hard to pursue the Hillary Clinton email controversy amid mounting Democratic accusations of overreaching. [Politico’s Rachael Bade]
The Wall Street Journal editorial board opines that Clinton’s Benghazi testimony “turned up new information that relates directly to the former Secretary of State’s political character and judgment as a potential Commander in Chief.”
A firefight following a raid on houses in Turkey’s southeast today has left two policemen and seven ISIS militants dead. [Reuters]
The cost of replacing and maintaining Trident, Britain’s nuclear deterrent will be as much as $265 billion, a figure much higher than expected, according to figures calculated by lawmakers and Reuters.
Russian submarines and spy ships are operating close to the undersea cables responsible for carrying most of the world’s Internet communications, a situation of concern for US military and intelligence officials. David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt report. [New York Times]
Yemen is “ablaze,” said the UN special envoy to that country, urging for peace talks aimed at bringing the civilian suffering to an end. [UN News Centre]
Strange noises and vibrations at night in the cell of an accused 9/11 plotter may be caused by a covert Pentagon program revealed last week, the lawyer of Ramzi Bin al Shibh told a military judge yesterday. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]
The EU and Balkan states have agreed a 17-point plan for managing the flow of refugees in the Balkans, including the creation of 100,000 places in receptions centres along the route between Greece and Germany. [The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis]
Surplus military equipment should not be withheld from local law enforcement because of how it looks, argues Jonathan Thompson, the chief executive and executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. [Washington Post]