How US Would Conduct the Syrian Rebel-Training Program September 12, 2014
A key component of the Obama administration’s strategy to “degrade and defeat” ISIS in Iraq and Syria is the training and arming of moderate Syrian rebel fighters. But the biggest hurdle might be how the United States would vet those fighters to make sure they can become a viable fighting force able to take on ISIS.
The administration has asked Congress to authorize the training program, as well as the $500 million in funding needed to get the program started.
But the proposed program has raised questions about how it can effectively vet rebel fighters. Since the administration’s national security team first ... Read more
John Kerry Says US Will Train Iraqi Military to Fight ISIS September 11, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. will stand by the Iraqis as they deal with the threat of ISIS and said the country needs an inclusive central government that can lead Iraqi national forces against Islamist militants.
He said it was important that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s new government stand up new Iraqi National Guard units that will protect their home regions, because the Iraqis can’t rely on U.S. airstrikes against ISIS alone.
Obama to Outline ISIS Strategy in Primetime Address
“It will not just be reserved to bombs or direct military assistance. It will be comprehensive, with Iraqi forces on ... Read more
How You Can Help: Syrian Refugee Children September 3, 2014
According to the International Labour Organization, there are an estimated 180,000 to 300,000 child workers in Lebanon, many of them Syrian refugees.
Child labor is illegal in Lebanon but Syrian refugee children can be found everywhere, from agricultural fields to urban streets, selling everything from chewing gum to flowers and tissues.
These children, some as young as 7, and their families fled the conflict in Syria.
Many of the children are from middle class families and were in school in Syria but now they are the ones supporting their families. They wake up at 6 a.m., board a truck and head to the ... Read more
US Airstrike in Somalia Targeted Al Shabaab’s Top Leader September 3, 2014
A United States military airstrike in Somalia on Monday targeted Ahmed Abdi Godane, the head of the militant group al Shabaab, the Pentagon confirmed today.
An assessment to determine if Godane was killed in the airstrike is ongoing. If confirmed Godane’s death would be a significant jolt to the Somali militant group affiliated with al Qaeda that took credit for last year’s deadly attack at a Kenyan mall that killed at least 67 civilians.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that a mix of unmanned and manned aircraft fired Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs at ... Read more
3 Million Refugees Have Fled Syria, UN Agency Says September 1, 2014
More than 3 million people have sought refuge from the fighting in Syria, the United Nations’ refugee agency announced today.
That means the Syrian crisis, which has persisted since a civilian uprising began in 2011, is the biggest refugee operation in the UNHCR’s 64-year history, the agency said.
Escalating Violence Fuels Syrian Refugee Crisis
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UN Calls Syrian Refugee Crisis Worst Since Rwandan Genocide
Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the international effort to help Syrian refugees was insufficient to meet their growing needs and number.
“The world is failing to meet the ... Read more
Locust Swarm ‘Like the Plagues of Egypt’ Descends Upon Madagascar’s Capital September 1, 2014
A swarm of millions of locusts descended upon Madagascar’s capital of Antananarivo on Aug. 28, slowing traffic and blotting out the skies over the city.
Fully-formed clouds of the insects, which have plagued the African nation for more than two years, whizzed through the city’s streets after an urban heat wave attracted the bugs away from their usual rural surroundings.
“It reminds us of the 10 plagues of Egypt,” said Ronald Miller, a missionary working in Madagascar with his family.
Miller captured video of the incident and posted it to his Facebook page.
The current plague began in April 2012, leading to a national ... Read more
Gaza Cease-Fire Holds as Sides Weigh Gains August 27, 2014An open-ended cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip was holding Wednesday, as many people on both sides of the conflict wondered what was gained during 50 days of fighting.
The Gaza war — the third round of fighting since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in 2007 — left more than 2,200 people dead, caused widespread destruction in the densely populated coastal territory and paralyzed large parts of southern Israel during much of the summer.
After more than seven weeks of fighting, the two sides settled for an ambiguous interim agreement in exchange for a period of ... Read more
ISIS Threat Focus on Syria, But US In No Hurry to Act August 25, 2014
America’s top military officials have acknowledged that ISIS will not be defeated without taking the fight to Syria, but the Pentagon on Friday tamped down any expectation that the U.S. could soon ramp up its help for moderate forces opposing Bashar al-Assad and fighting with ISIS in the country.
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James Foley’s Siblings Say US Could Have Done More to Save Him
James Foley Among Many Young, Close-Knit Freelance War Reporters
“I know of no plans to try to accelerate it,” Department of Defense spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters, when asked if the ... Read more
White House Knew of Recent ISIS Threat to Kill US Journalist August 20, 2014
ISIS had recently threatened to kill U.S. journalist James Foley to avenge airstrikes the United States has conducted in Iraq, a senior U.S. official told ABC News.
The White House had been aware of the threat prior to the release of a video Tuesday night that appears to show the beheading of Foley and warns that militants will carry out a similar act against U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who went missing in August, the official said.
ISIS Claims It Beheaded American James Foley
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The International Effort to Free James Foley
President Obama was briefed on ... Read more
The International Effort to Free James Foley August 20, 2014
By MATTHEW MOSK, RYM MOMTAZ and BRIAN ROSS
Before a video surfaced online appearing to show the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley, U.S. officials made repeated efforts to win freedom for Foley, attempting to identify and reach his captors through Turkish, Russian and Czech intermediaries.
While officials continue to study and try to authenticate the grisly video that appears to show Foley’s execution at the hands of a captor from the Islamic jihadist group ISIS, details are now starting to emerge about the fevered efforts to gain his release.
Video Appears to Show Beheading of Journalist James Foley, Who Went Missing ... Read more