The Early Edition: November 7, 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

US-backed Kurdish-led force the Syrian Democratic Forces are clashing with Islamic State fighters north of Raqqa a day after announcing the start of a campaign to liberate the militants’ de facto Syrian capital, the AP reports.

Islamic State militants set off five car bombs aimed at forces advancing on Raqqa, a Kurdish source telling Reuters that the fight to reclaim the city would “not be easy.”

US-coalition airstrikes are supporting the operation, the BBC reports.

US military officials sought approval for the launch of the operation from their Turkish counterparts in Ankara, Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.  US Gen. Joseph Dunford met with the Turkish Chief of General Staff to discuss joint strategies against the Islamic State, the Hürriyet Daily News reports.

It may be some time before the 30,000-40,000-member force reaches Raqqa, military spokesperson in Baghdad Col. John Dorrian warned in an email to Eric Schmitt at the New York Times, adding that the US-led coalition will continue to train and recruit more forces in anticipation of the attack on the city.

Rebel mortar fire on a corridor set aside for them to leave eastern Aleppo broke the “humanitarian pause” Friday, according to Russian and Syrian officials. Sarah El Deeb at the AP reports that no one approached the corridor for most of the 10-hour halt in fighting, and there was no UN monitoring of the exit routes.

IRAQ

Heavy fire is being exchanged between Iraqi Kurdish fighters and the Islamic State around the town of Bashiqa, 13 k.m. from Mosul, Al Jazeera reports.

Iraqi forces have attacked from the east of Bashiqa, simultaneously, Michael Georgy reports at Reuters.

A safe passage for civilians trapped inside Mosul was cleared by Iraqi forces yesterday, enabling thousands to escape, Ben Kesling and Margherita Stancati report at the Wall Street Journal.

Ambulances are being used as bombs by the Islamic State in suicide attacks in the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Samarra, killing at least 21 people yesterday. [BBC]

Honeycomb-like booby-trapped tunnels have been left behind by the Islamic State beneath villages recaptured by Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces heading for Mosul, William Booth and Aaso Ameen Shwan write at the Washington Post.

Officials in Iraq’s Kirkuk have denied reports that some Sunni Arab internally displaced persons had been pushed out of the city following an attack by the Islamic State that left over 100 people dead, Al Monitor reports.

A Japanese journalist suspected of being a member of the Islamic State was handed to the Japanese Embassy by Iraqi authorities today, the AP reports.

The Turkey-Iraqi Kurdish relationship is working for now, with the two nations drawing closer together because of trade, Iranian influence and regional instability, observes Ranj Alaaldin writing at Al Jazeera.

TURKEY

Thirty-six suspected Islamic State militants are going on trial today in Turkey for last year’s double suicide bombings in Ankara which left 101 dead, the AP reports.

Lawyers appointed to the 36 suspects have demanded to withdraw from the case, demands the court is now expected to review, the Hürriyet Daily News reports.

Splinter Kurdish militant group the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a police station in de facto Kurdish capital Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on Friday which killed 11 people, Dion Nissenbaum reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish authorities are using methods reminiscent of those employed by the Nazis in their post-July 15 coup attempt crackdown, Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn accused. [AP]

“I don’t care if they call me a dictator,” Turkey’s President Erdoğan said in response to the criticism, prompted by the arrest of People’s Democratic Party lawmakers and journalists, adding that the West should not hope to “bring Turkey into line.” [Hürriyet Daily News]

RUSSIA

Russian warplanes have been increasingly buzzing the Baltics, Michael Birbaum at the Washington Post explaining how NATO scrambles the jets in response.

“Russian nationalists” were behind an attempt to assassinate Montenegro’s Prime Minister and carry out a coup, according to the country’s chief special prosecutor, the BBC reports.

The Russian government was not involved in the assassination attempt, a Kremlin spokesperson said today. [Reuters]

EUROPE

The US remains committed to Europe, US military leaders in Europe reassured allies and partners in the region. Julian E. Barnes reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Accusations of verbal and physical abuse of several terror suspects have been levied against Belgium police in a report by Human Rights Watch, published last week, Valentina Pop reports at the Wall Street Journal.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The FBI stood by its original decision not to recommend criminal charges relating to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server following a review of a new batch of emails found on a laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Cinton’s aide Huma Abedin, Byron Tau and Devlin Barrett report at the Wall Street Journal.

A team of experts from NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia is analyzing and trying to work out how to legally respond to the hacking of the DNC, Jill Dougherty reports for CNN.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be interviewed at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Nov. 14, Swedish prosecutors said today. [Reuters]

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are providing a “crucial lifeline” to some of the “loudest proponents on Capitol Hill” of dragnet surveillance and torture Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), particularly in recent weeks, The Intercept’s Lee Fang observes.

The Chinese government’s broad new cybersecurity law designed to tighten and centralize state control of cybersecurity is raising concerns among foreign companies operating there, Josh Chin and Eva Dou report at the Wall Street Journal.

Britain’s government will be asked to set up a program based on the controversial Prevent strategy to stop children becoming involved in sophisticated cyber offenses by Dr Jamie Saunders, the director of the national cyber crime unit at the National Crime Agency, Vikram Dodd reports at the Guardian.

Three recent major events show how widespread and dangerous mass surveillance has become in the West, each event highlighting exactly the threats that motivated former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to act as he did, Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Guantánamo Bay parole board will revisit the application of the detention center’s oldest captive Saifullah Paracha, previously declared a “forever prisoner,” who has promised to close his businesses to reassure the US government, Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

A US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan on Oct. 23 killed al-Qaeda’s top leader in the country, Farouq al-Qatani, the Defense Department confirmed. [AP]

American Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman was released by Houthi rebels in Yemen yesterday after being held in captivity for over a year and a half, Carol Morello reports at the Washington Post.

Three US military trainers were killed on Friday trying to enter a military base in Jordan, a defense official confirmed to Foreign Policy.

The tripartite Mechanism coordinated by the UN Mission in Colombia with the Colombian government and the FARC will begin to monitor and verify the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities from today, the UN News Centre reports.

Islamic militants attacked a UN peacekeeping convoy and a military camp in northern Mali killing at least three people, authorities said. [AP]

A former Vietnamese diplomat has backed the Philippine’s policy shift toward China, the AP reports, part of its update on recent developments in the South China Sea.

Militant group Abu Sayyaf claims it kidnapped a German man from a yacht and shot and killed his female companion off the coast of the Philippines, officials said today. Jim Gomez reports at the AP. 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Zoë Chapman

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