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Daily Brief: Aleppo Cease-Fire Unsteady as Clashes Persist

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August 11, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Aleppo Cease-Fire Unsteady as Clashes Persist

Russia announced the start of a daily three-hour pause (Reuters) in military operations in Aleppo on Thursday to allow humanitarian aid to enter the besieged city, but clashes persisted, according to rebel forces. Meanwhile fifteen doctors in the rebel-held part of eastern Aleppo wrote a letter appealing (Guardian) to U.S. President Barack Obama for an intervention to stop aerial bombardments. Separately, at least three people died and others suffered injuries from a suspected chemical attack (Al Jazeera) on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, according to a hospital and rescue organization. The gas in the dropped barrel bombs is believed to be chlorine.


"Precisely because this status quo is unsustainable for either side, the fighting is intensifying, with Russia launching airstrike after airstrike and Hezbollah and other foreign Shiite militias pouring in more troops to back regime forces. In close-quarter urban combat, however, the effectiveness of Russian air sorties has been limited. And those bombs, despite causing widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, so far have failed to significantly reverse rebel gains," writes Yaroslav Trofimov in the Wall Street Journal.

"In Aleppo, the major divide between rebels and pro-government factions is not based on sectarian opposition—except for the pro-government Christian minority—but mainly on social class divisions and the historic urban-rural cleavage. Therefore, the chances for an anti-Assad uprising in western Aleppo are nonexistent. If the rebels want to conquer the government-held portion of Aleppo, it will be with a hard fight," writes Fabrice Balanche at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"The Security Council's goal has been a negotiated political solution that would end the war by putting into place a coalition government of pro-Assad and opposition forces to govern the country as Mr. Assad is eased out of power. But years of talk and failed diplomatic efforts have resulted in no progress in reducing civilian suffering, much less an end to the fighting," writes the New York Times.


Chinese Ship Sinks After Collision in East China Sea

A Chinese fishing boat sank (Japan Times) after colliding with a Greek merchant vessel near the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea on Thursday. The Japanese Coast Guard rescued six Chinese crew members and searched for eight others who were missing.

This CFR InfoGuide provides background and analysis on China's maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas. 

AUSTRALIA: Australia blocked bids (Bloomberg) from China and Hong Kong for the country's electric network Ausgrid on Thursday, citing national security concerns.


Afghanistan Sends Reinforcements to Stem Taliban Advance in Helmand

The Afghan army rushed reinforcements (RFE/RL) to Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province, Wednesday amid clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants. Early Thursday, Afghan troops retook (TOLO News) the Nawa district in Helmand after it fell to the Taliban on Wednesday. Separately, a U.S. and NATO commander said India should increase its military assistance (IBT) to Afghanistan.

This CFR InfoGuide explores the reemergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN: Fourteen people were wounded in a blast (AP) targeting a vehicle escorting a judge in the southwestern city of Quetta. On Monday a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital killed more than seventy people and injured more than one hundred others.


Libyan Forces Take Sirte HQ From Islamic State

UN-backed Libyan forces claimed to have seized (NYT) the self-proclaimed Islamic State's headquarters in its stronghold of Sirte, a northern coastal city. The militant group has sought to expand its presence beyond Iraq and Syria.

Battlefield success won't eliminate the threat of the Islamic State, says New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi in this CFR Interview.


Zambia Votes in General Elections

Zambians vote (AFP) in parliamentary and presidential elections on Thursday. At least three people have been killed in clashes between supporters of President Edgar Lungu and his main rival Hakainde Hichilema. Lungu beat Hichilema by fewer than 28,000 votes in 2015 elections.

SOMALIA: Kenyan fighter jets targeted (Daslan Radio) al-Shabab bases in the southern town of Jilib in Somalia, according to a military official.


Germany Considers New Security Measures in Wake of Attacks

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière unveiled a series of proposals to boost security following deadly attacks earlier this summer. Proposals include a cybercrime unit (DW), easing the deportation (WSJ) of foreigners deemed a threat to public security, and stripping German citizenship for dual citizens who have fought abroad for terrorist organizations.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the challenges in addressing the flow of migrants to Europe.

RUSSIA: Moscow accused Kiev of carrying out armed incursions (BBC) in Crimea on Wednesday, an accusation Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denied. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.


Canadian Police Shoot Dead Terror Suspect

Police forces in southern Ontario shot dead (CBC) a suspect in a counterterrorism raid on Wednesday. The man, an Islamic State sympathizer, was arrested in June 2015 and later released on bond.

URUGUAY: Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said that Uruguay has been invited by Colombia and Peru, members of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc, to upgrade commercial agreements (MercoPress) and form a free trade area. The country will sign a free trade agreement with Chile in October and is working to update its existing treaty with Mexico, the other two members of the Pacific Alliance.  Uruguay is a founding member of Mercosur, another sub-regional bloc, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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