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Daily Brief: Fighting in Aleppo Intensifies as Rebels Seek to Break Siege

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August 3, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Fighting in Aleppo Intensifies as Rebels Seek to Break Siege

Fighting has intensified in Syria's second-largest city as rebels fight to lift the government siege of the eastern part of Aleppo and advance on the western part of the city (Guardian). The offensive, launched by a broad coalition of fighters, is attempting to cut off the government's supply lines. Rebel fighters set off a large tunnel bomb (BBC) under the district of Ramouseh, where they are concentrating their efforts. Meanwhile Russian air strikes in support of government troops have reportedly intensified. Aleppo has been divided between the government-controlled west and rebel-controlled east since 2012.


"This week's insurgent counterattack comes at a transitional moment in the ongoing war, with rebel groups in the city fighting both to survive and remain relevant as a national force in the face of regime advances and the growing influence of extremist groups throughout the country," writes Jared Malsin in Time.

"Wiping out terrorist groups in Syria is an important goal and, after years of death and destruction, any agreement among the country's warring parties or their patrons may seem welcome. But the Obama administration's plan, opposed by many within the C.I.A., the State Department and the Pentagon, is flawed. Not only would it cement the Assad government's siege of the opposition-held city Aleppo, it would push terrorist groups and refugees into neighboring Turkey. Instead, the United States must use this opportunity to take a harder line against Mr. Assad and his allies," write Dennis B. Ross and Andrew J. Tabler in the New York Times.

"The battle for Aleppo has always been a microcosm of the Syrian war's local and international dynamics and balance of power. The regime's advances are less a result of increased capability rather than a convergence of complex external circumstances. The fortunes of the various belligerents will wax and wane from hereon, but the United States seems guaranteed to lose in the continuing war for Aleppo," writes the Atlantic Council's Faysal Itani.


North Korea Launches Missile Toward Japan

North Korea fired a medium-range ballistic missile (Yonhap) that landed in the sea near Japan Wednesday. North Korea, barred by the UN from developing ballistic missiles, had threatened to respond after the U.S. and South Korea announced plans to deploy a missile defense system in the South last month.

AUSTRALIA: The government is allowing the inhumane treatment of refugees (Al Jazeera) detained on the island nation of Nauru as a way to deter others from attempting to migrate to the country, according to a joint report from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.


Government: Hundreds of Pakistanis Fighting in Foreign Conflicts

As many as 650 Pakistanis are fighting in conflicts (Dawn) in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Central Asian states, and elsewhere, according to the government. Intelligence agencies fear their return to Pakistan could cause sectarian violence.

INDIA: Nearly two dozen people are missing after a bridge connecting the Indian cities of Mumbai and Goa collapsed Wednesday (CNN). The collapse sent two buses with twenty-two people on board plunging into the Savitri River.


Emirates Flight Crash Lands in Dubai

An Emirates flight with three hundred people aboard crash landed at the Dubai airport Wednesday (AP). All crew and passengers were evacuated safely, but the crash shut down traffic at the airport.


South Africa Votes in Local Elections

Polls opened Wednesday in local elections (BBC) seen as a key test for President Jacob Zuma and the long-ruling African National Congress.

CFR's John Campbell discusses inequality as it relates to South Africa's elections in this Expert Brief.

SOUTH SUDAN: Millions of people are in need of assistance (Al Jazeera) amid recent fighting, according to the UN's humanitarian chief.  Up to five million people are in need of food and more than sixty thousand have fled to neighboring Uganda.


Erdogan Accuses West of Supporting Terrorism and Coup

Speaking from his palace in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan accused (Reuters) Western countries of supporting terrorism and coups. He questioned Turkey's relationship with the United States and renewed demands that the U.S. extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he says planned July's failed coup. Gulen, who has lived in the United States since 1999, denies involvement with the coup attempt.

CFR's Steven A. Cook writes about Erdogan's response to the attempted coup in this article.

FRANCE: French President Francois Hollande slammed (AFP) U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump following the candidate's criticism of the parents of a slain Muslim-American soldier. He said if Trump is elected, "there will be consequences, because a U.S. election is a global election."


Maduro Promotes General Indicted by U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro elevated a general (WSJ) indicted this week by the United States on drug trafficking charges, naming him interior and justice minister. Gen. Néstor Reverol is accused of helping traffickers smuggle thousands of pounds of cocaine to the United States.

COLOMBIA: Authorities will begin deporting (Miami Herald) more than 1,200 Cuban migrants who were stranded in the country when Panama shut its southern border in June. The migrants were traveling to the United States, which allows special immigration privileges to Cubans who arrive on dry land.

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