The Early Edition: September 26, 2016

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. 

SYRIA

The emergency session of the UN Security Council on Syria ended last night with no action taken, reports the AP.

Russia was directly and repeatedly accused of war crimes at the UN Security Council, accusations centering on its widespread use of “bunker-busting” and incendiary bombs on the civilian population of the rebel-held areas east of the besieged city of Aleppo, Julian Borger and Kareem Shaheen report at the Guardian.

US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power accused Russia of supporting “barbarism” over the bombing of Aleppo, Power and her UK and French counterparts later walked out of the session as the Syrian representative addressed the Council. [Financial Times’ Erika Solomon and Geoff Dyer]

Russia’s bombing of Aleppo “blatantly contradicts Russia’s claim that it supports a diplomatic resolution,” Secretary of State John Kerry and the Foreign Ministers of the UK, France, Italy, Germany and the High Representative of the EU said in a joint statement issued yesterday.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Aleppo since the US-Russia brokered ceasefire broke down last week in the most intense bombing in Syria since the war there broke out, Raja Abdulrahim and Farnaz Fassihi report at the Wall Street Journal.

At least 26 civilians were killed in Assad regime airstrikes in Aleppo yesterday, Syrian activists said. [AP’s Philip Issa and Edith M. Lederer]

Aleppo was hit with dozens of airstrikes by Syrian government and allied forces overnight, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. [Reuters]

The Syrian government and its Russian allies seem to be applying their “kill-all-who-resist” strategy to the most “ambitious” target so far: the rebel-held parts of Aleppo, Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta observe at the New York Times.

The Syria ceasefire collapsed because the US and Russia could not overcome the “distrust and animosity” dividing them, Nathan Hodge writes at the Wall Street Journal.

The world needs to take a “global perspective” in fighting terror, the King of Jordan has said, pointing to Syria and Iraq as examples of where world leaders have failed, the Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports. He also said that one problem in the fight against terror is that the US thinks it knows the Middle East better than the people who live there. 

IRAQ

An “unlikely array” of forces is arriving for the battle to retake Mosul, including Iraqi troops alongside Shiite militiamen, Sunni Arab tribesmen, Kurdish fighters and US special operations forces, Susannah George and Lee Keath report at the AP.

The Pentagon has only a “partial” idea of how many weapons it issued to its many battlefield partners in Iraq. These arms are now part of Iraq’s day-to-day weapons trafficking routine and one reason the country will not recover from its post-invasion problems any time soon, C. J. Chivers observes at the New York Times Magazine.

SAUDI ARABIA and JASTA

A top House Democrat is urging his colleagues to back President Obama’s veto on Friday of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) writing in a letter that the law would weaken the international protections that shied US personnel against prosecution in civil and criminal courts around the world, the Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports.

Rep. Smith’s letter shows opposition to the bill is starting to form publicly, at least in some corners of the Capitol, Seung Min Kim suggests at POLITICO, though she concedes that it is almost certain that Congress will override Obama’s veto.

The 9/11 families could force the first ever override of a veto by President Obama, Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef write at The Daily Beast.

TURKEY

Suspected PKK fighters conducted a bomb attack on a bus carrying military personnel in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast today, killing three and wounding eight others. [Reuters]

Growing financial and legal strain is being placed on US charter schools linked to followers of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom the Turkish government blames for inciting its July 15 failed coup, report Julia Harte and Matt Spetalnick at Reuters.

NORTH KOREA

The US and South Korean navies put on a show of force in the Sea of Japan today, the latest in a series of displays responding to North Korea’s latest nuclear warhead and ballistic missile tests, CNN’s Brad Lendon and Paula Hancocks report.

Two US citizens being held by North Korea as “prisoners of war” are unlikely to be released before the next US president is elected, officials and analysts are beginning to believe. Anna Fifield reports at the Washington Post.

China is investigating a North Korean bank suspected of financing its government’s imports of goods that could be used by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, South Korean media reported today. [AP]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

An underground barrier being built along the Gaza border to defend against Hamas tunnels should be finished in a matter of months, a senior Israeli official said yesterday. [AP’s Daniel Estrin]

Two women were detained by French police in Nice on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, a source familiar with the investigation said yesterday. [Wall Street Journal’s Noemie Bisserbe]

A manhunt for the main suspect in a bomb attack apparently targeting police was staged by Hungarian authorities yesterday, reports Anthony Faiola at the Washington Post.

A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has surfaced in a video posted to social media, rejecting statements by Nigeria’s military that he has been seriously wounded in an airstrike. [Al Jazeera]

A deal ending 50 years of war will be signed by Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timochenko today, Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta report at Reuters.

Japan scrambled fighter jets yesterday after dozens of Chinese military aircraft flew between Japanese islands Okinawa and Miya, the BBC reports. China’s air force flew over 40 bombers and other fighter planes through a straight between the islands on their way to military drills in the western Pacific, Al Jazeera reports.

“Hacked emails, bogus Twitter accounts, smear allegations and backroom deals” characterize the race for the job of UN Secretary-General, Julian Borger writes at the Guardian. The UN is set to hold the fifth of a series of straw polls to pick a winner from the nine remaining candidates today.

“If you knew Putin like we know Putin.” Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast talks to Estonia’s president and Lithuania’s foreign minister about the menace posed to them, Europe and the US by Moscow.

President Obama will leave office having failed to make significant progress on removing child soldiers from the battlefield, despite the tools at his disposal, Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post, citing human rights groups. 

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About the Author(s)

Zoë Chapman

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security, Legal Researcher at UK-based human rights organization, JUSTICE