News Roundup and Notes: December 14, 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

Airstrikes from unidentified fighter jets targeted a school district and other areas in the rebel-controlled Damascus suburb of Douma on Sunday, killing dozens of people including children, according to local rescue workers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Al Jazeera America]

A Russian patrol ship fired warning shots at a Turkish fishing vessel in the Aegean Sea on Sunday, after the fishing boat repeatedly ignored attempts by the Russian ship to make contact, according to a Russian statement. [Wall Street Journal’s Nathan Hodge and Dion Nissenbaum]  And Turkey’s foreign minister said today that his country’s patience with Moscow “has a limit” following the incident. [Reuters]

Thousands gathered in Baghdad on Saturday to protest the presence of Turkish troops in Iraqi territory, demanding their immediate withdrawal. The demonstrations highlight the influence of the country’s Shi’ite militias and political rivals of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, report Susannah George and Qassim Abdul-Zahra. [Washington Post]

Reclaiming Ramadi would give the Iraqi military a “chance to repair its image,” writes Loveday Morris, noting that the country’s Shi’ite militias are not taking part in the offensive to reclaim the city from ISIS. [Washington Post]

A Jordanian woman who came close to joining ISIS discusses the 14-month recruitment process by the militant group including “systematic grooming” of potential recruits and “follow-up on the ground” for travel arrangements. [AP’s Karin Laub and Hamza Al-Soud]

AFGHANISTAN

US Special Operations Forces have quietly taken on a key role in fighting to halt the spread of the Taliban in Helmand Province, where large areas have fallen into the insurgents’ control, Western and Afghan officials say. [New York Times’ David Jolly and Taimoor Shah]

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan published a new special report on Saturday, detailing civilian harm and human rights violations in Kunduz between September 28 and October 13 2015, the duration of the temporary Taliban occupation of the city this year. [UN News Centre]

The UN Security Council has condemned a Taliban attack in the vicinity of the Spanish Embassy in Kabul which left both Afghan police and Spanish National Police injured. [UN News Centre]

GUANTÁNAMO BAY

Former Guantánamo Bay detainee, Shaker Aamer has said he has “no plans to sue” the British government over his imprisonment at the US Naval base. He has claimed that a UK official was present during one occasion of alleged abuse against him. [BBC]

In his first interview since his release in October, Aamer also denounced extremism, strongly criticizing recent attacks in the UK. [AP]

Tony Blair and Jack Straw must admit what they knew about the alleged torture committed against Aamer, former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has said. During Aamer’s interview, he suggested that the former prime minister and former foreign secretary were aware of his treatment. [The Guardian’s Frances Perraudin and Ian Cobain]

US political and military leadership has prejudiced the case against the 9/11 plotters so much that abandoning the death penalty is the only thing that could render the trial fair, said the US Marine lawyer defending alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

World powers backed the formation of a national unity government for Libya yesterday, agreeing to provide economic and security support to assist in stabilizing the country where ISIS has secured a stronghold. [Reuters]  Diplomats from 17 states called on Libya’s political factions to engage in the process, in the hopes of preventing the further spread of ISIS and similar groups there. [New York Times’ Gaia Pianigiani]

A bomb attack in the northwestern Pakistani city of Parachinar killed at least 24 people and injured another 70 yesterday, according to officials. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack. [Al Jazeera America]

Violence in Burundi over the weekend killed 87 people, according to an army spokesman. The violence was sparked by three coordinated attacks on army installations. [Washington Post’s Eloge Willy Kaneza]

Egypt says there is no evidence to support claims that terrorism or other illegal action was involved in the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Sinai on Oct 31. [Reuters]

The EU is set to extend sanctions against Russia, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said, though no decision on the matter will be taken today. [Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman]

A seven-day ceasefire has been agreed by the warring parties in Yemen’s conflict, a day before UN-brokered peace negotiations are set to begin in Switzerland. [Al Jazeera]

The American government paid a ransom in a “botched” effort to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Rep Duncan Hunter alleges. [The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris]

Secretary of State John Kerry described Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the US as “very dangerous foreign policy” as it will serve as a recruitment tool for radical groups. [The Hill’s Vicki Needham]  And Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon argue for why Trump’s approach will only make the country more vulnerable to attack, describing “fear and Islamophobia” as America’s two weaknesses “most likely to erode” US security. [Politico Magazine]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board welcomes a “modest” new Pentagon plan to boost security support for Europe, as the region faces “resurgent threats” from Putin’s Russia to Islamic State terrorism.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will be questioned by Swedish authorities inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. [BBC]

The White House should remove the exception it applies to Korea in its policy against using antipersonnel mines, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

A teacher in a Paris suburb has been attacked in a classroom, by a man expressing his support for the Islamic State. [BBC]

“The right to life and the international law framework regulating the use of armed drones in armed conflict or counterterrorism operations.” Written evidence submitted by Christof Heyns et al to the UK Parliament. 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security