Israel conducted air strikes early Wednesday on several Syrian military sites in what it says were retaliation for a bombing Tuesday that injured four soldiers in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. According to the Syrian army, the Israeli attacks targeted three sites near the town of Quneitra, killing one person and injuring seven others. The Israeli military said the strikes across the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan Heights hit a Syrian army training facility, a military headquarters, and artillery batteries that had "aided and abetted" the bombing. On Tuesday, an explosive device was detonated when Israeli soldiers were patrolling in the village of Majdal Shams. It was the third attack or attempted attack along Israel's northern border in the past two weeks, and while there have been several reported strikes by Israel on Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon, this is the first publicly acknowledged Israeli attack on Syria since the beginning of the civil war three years ago. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, "We see the Assad regime as responsible for what is happening under its authority" and warned that it would pay a "high price" for helping militant groups seeking to harm Israel.
The Lebanese army has dismantled roadblocks and reopened the road leading to the predominantly Sunni town of Arsal, near the Syrian border. Residents of the mainly Shiite neighboring town of Labweh blocked the road accusing Arsal of harboring Syrian rebels, sparking protests that forced the closure of several major roads in the capital of Beirut and in the eastern Bekaa Valley, and triggering clashes with security forces. Tensions have escalated since the Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah fighters, overtook the Syrian border town of Yabroud on Sunday. Meanwhile, the United States has ordered the closure of Syria's embassy in Washington, D.C., and its consulates in Michigan and Texas. The move is not a formal break of relations, but blocks Syria's envoys to the United States from carrying out diplomatic and consular duties. The newly appointed special envoy for Syria, Daniel Rubinstein, said the decision was "in consideration of the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people."
- Two Egyptian army officers and five militants were killed Wednesday in a gunfight that erupted after a raid on a bomb and weapons storage facility in Qalubiya province.
- An armed man killed six people and himself Wednesday at a statistics office in Turkey's northeastern province of Kars, reportedly over a workplace dispute.
- Iran's senior negotiator said it is "too early" to draft text for a final nuclear agreement as Wednesday's talks with world powers are expected to focus on the Arak heavy water reactor.
Arguments and Analysis
'Iraqi Kurds: Yesterday's victims show little compassion?' (Saladdin Ahmed, Al Jazeera)
"There is no doubt that Iraqi Kurds have faced gross injustices throughout the last century - from British colonial air raids to Saddam Hussein's chemical attack on Halabja on March 16, 1988 as part of his 'Anfal' campaign. Along with the rest of Iraq, they also suffered 12 years of crippling UN-backed sanctions. For this reason, one would imagine Iraqi Kurds would feel a sense of solidarity with their brethren in -- and from -- the Kurdish regions of Syria (otherwise known as Rojava).
But this is not the case. In addition to the high-handed position the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has taken towards the burgeoning Kurdish movement in Rojava, the tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds currently seeking refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan are subjected to racism and exploitation at every turn."
'What's the story with Morning Glory?' (Hussein Ibish, Now)
"The tensions that fueled everything that led up to, and is following from, the Morning Glory affair boil down to what is driving almost all of the major fault lines in Libya: everyone wants the largest slice of the petroleum pie they can grab. As militias and politicians scramble for control of it, Libya's energy sector lies in tatters and is operating at a tiny fraction of its normal, let alone potential, capacity.
So the Morning Glory story is that a country that ought to be booming with oil wealth is ripping itself to pieces -- and ripping itself off -- in a series of conflicts driven largely by an effort to control that potential wealth. And because of that struggle, presently Libya has no oil wealth at all."
-- Mary Casey & Cortni Kerr
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