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.


Syrian rebel fighters and their families arrived in Idlib city overnight following their withdrawal from Homs under a ceasefire agreement with the government, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Reuters]

Syrian opposition groups will begin talks in Riyadh today to discuss the formation of committee for future peace negotiations, one of the most challenging subjects in talks aimed at creating a unified position among Assad’s opposition. [Reuters] “Uniting the opposition is crucial,” writes Janine di Giovanni, arguing that there can be no lasting peace without Syrians at the center of talks. [The Guardian]

The US will deploy attack helicopters and additional personnel to assist Iraqi forces in their campaign to retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday. [New York Times’ Helene Cooper et al] Iraqi forces succeeded in repelling Islamic State counterattacks in Ramadi yesterday, backed by US-led air power. [Wall Street Journal’s Ben Kesling and Ghassan Adnan]

Defense Secretary Ash Carter placed blame on congressional defense leaders for holding up funding for the fight against ISIS and taking too long to confirm important Pentagon nominees, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. [Politico’s Austin Wright]

UK airstrikes in Syria will target Islamic State infrastructure, including oil wellheads, weapons arsenals and supply routes through Iraq, the country’s defense minister, Michael Fallon said. [Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Winning] Fallon arrives in the US today for two days of talks with Defense Secretary Ash Carter. [Washington Post’s Karla Adam]

The UK will work together with Russia in the fight against ISIS, British sources have said. [The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour]

Turkey’s prime minister suggested that Russian airstrikes in Syria are assisting the Islamic State and further accused Moscow of conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Turkmen in that country. [Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum]

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the fight against ISIS as his country “must analyse everything happening on the battlefield,” reports Jesse Byrnes. [The Hill]

Minnesota man, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame has been accused of conspiring to assist the Islamic State. [AP]

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and partner military forces conducted four airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Dec. 8. Separately, coalition forces carried out a further 22 strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]


The death toll from a Taliban attack on Kandahar airport rose to 50, including 38 civilians. The last of the attackers was killed late yesterday more than 24 hours after they first infiltrated the air base. [Reuters] It was the biggest attack by the insurgents since they briefly captured Kunduz in Septemeber. [Washington Post’s Sayed Salahuddin] 

Two Afghan men who were in the US for training have gone missing from Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, two days before they were scheduled to finish training and return home. [New York Times’ Christine Hauser] 


San Bernardino shooting. The couple responsible for the fatal shooting attack in California were radicalized before they met online and were married, senior law enforcement said yesterday, and Syed Rizwan Farook may have plotted an attack as early as 2012. The new evidence suggests that they were planning violent action even before ISIS rose to prominence in 2014. [New York Times’ Michael D. Schmidt and Salman Masood]

A teenager and another man were arrested in Sydney following a counterterrorism operation and have been charged with “conspiracy to conduct an act in preparation for a terrorist act,” Federal Police said. [BBC]

Five Palestinians have been arrested on suspicion of supporting ISIS, obtaining rifles and practicing shooting, according to Israeli officials. [New York Times’ Isabel Kershner and Diaa Hadid]

The encryption debate has been reinvigorated following terrorist attacks in Paris and California, though it is not yet clear whether the San Bernardino and Paris attackers used encrypted communications. [Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima]

At least 9,115 people have been killed in hostilities since the outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine last April. [UN News Centre; New York Times’ Nick Cumming-Bruce]

“Inside the NSA’s hunt for hackers.” From Darren Samuelson at Politico.