June 8, 2015
In the news:
Iraqi government forces and volunteer militias are making gains on the outskirts of Ramadi and have liberated the Anbar traffic directorate building from ISIS, which had been being used as a base by ISIS fighters. The efforts are part of an Iraqi offensive to retake Ramadi from ISIS, which took control of the city on May 17. The United States has lost some credibility in Iraq since the fall of Ramadi, and the new influence of Iranian supported militias has left the United States struggling to influence the Iraqi military which it spent $25 billion building.
ISIS continues to advance in Syria, capturing the northern town of Soran Azaz and two nearby villages close to a border crossing with Turkey. The newly captured territory will allow ISIS to move towards the border crossing between the Syrian province of Aleppo and the Turkish province of Kilis. Despite these gains, more than 10,000 ISIS militants have been killed since the beginning of the U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq and Syria, which began nine months ago.
In other ISIS news, a selfie posted by an ISIS militant provided the U.S. Air Force the location of one of the organization’s headquarters compounds, which it promptly destroyed. Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command stated, “It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours”
In Gaza, Hamas forces killed a leader of a Salafist Islamic extremist group, believed to be an Islamic State supporter, on Tuesday during an arrest attempt. Hamas has been targeting Salafist groups since the beginning of May, setting up checkpoints in areas with Salafist supporters and arresting suspected Salafist members. The arrest attempt came hours after ISIS supporters in Gaza issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas to end the campaign against them.
Following Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen which killed 58 people last Wednesday and Thursday, the Houthi rebels agreed to attend United Nations-backed peace talks in Geneva set for June 14. Yemeni politicians indicate that representatives of President Ali Abdullah Saleh will also be joining the peace talks, but southern rebel factions are unlikely to be in attendance.
Around the web:
Drones in the Abbottabad Documents. In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released 103 documents collected during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2001. The Center for the Study of the Drone collected references to drones in these documents to better understand how the threat of drones affected the operations of al-Qaeda.
Autonomous Weapons and Morality. As technology advances towards the use of autonomous weapons, many people are considering whether they can be used in a safe and responsible manner in compliance with international law. This article considers how governments can ensure that automated weapons are safe before they are put into use.
On the blog:
Youth Leadership Summit Participants. Congratulations to North High School and Oxford Academy for being selected to participate in the 2015 Youth Leadership Summit to be held at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DC this upcoming weekend. These two teams created winning IHL Action Campaigns to teach their peers about international humanitarian law. Read all about their campaigns on the blog!