September 8, 2015
*We know it’s Tuesday, but Labor Day still counts as the weekend right?*
In the news:
Several U.S.-led coalition air strikes in Syria and Iraq are currently under investigation amid allegations that over 400 civilians have died as a result of the attacks. The CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces are also reportedly engaging in separate drone attacks against specific ISIS leaders, including one member allegedly responsible for organizing a social media effort to incite others to attack the U.S.
ISIS has spread dangerously close to Damascus, and reports of affiliated attacks in Libya and the Caucasus suggest that its reach is continuing to grow. BBC News further highlights the complexity of the struggle against ISIS with an overview of how it has spread to other conflicts in the Middle East region. ISIS has also continued its attacks against UNESCO World Heritage site Palmyra, destroying the Temple of Bel, and, most recently, three funerary towers. UNESCO has identified this conduct as a war crime.
Unconfirmed evidence emerged that Russia has deployed armed forces and aircraft in Syria to support President Assad. The White House stated that it is monitoring these reports, but did not confirm whether it possessed intelligence that would prove their validity.
Members of al Shabaab killed at least twenty peacekeepers during its attack on the African Union Mission in Somalia (“AMISOM”)’s base, although the group claims the number is closer to fifty. Six peacekeepers, part of the Multinational Force and Observers, were also injured in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Although those responsible are unknown, the region has reportedly seen a growing number of attacks by Islamists affiliated with ISIS. An unknown gunman also killed two Red Cross employees in Yemen’s Amran province, an attack that the ICRC condemned as deliberately targeting aid workers.
Three officers died, and over 140 were injured, during violent clashes between protesters and police outside of Ukraine’s parliament building in Kiev. Ukrainian nationalists do not support Ukraine’s latest move to amend its constitution to grant more autonomy to rebel-held territory in the east of the country. Increased decentralization in the region was a precondition for the ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine negotiated in February. This ceasefire, however, has not prevented small clashes in the east.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has pled “not guilty” at the International Criminal Court, claiming that he had “never attacked civilians” and “always protected them.” Ntaganda is charged with several war crimes, including murder, rape, and the recruitment of child soldiers, among other things, that he allegedly perpetrated during DRC’s 2002-03 conflict.
Around the web:
Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 Report. The Cluster Munitions Coalition annual report, which analyzes state practice in relation to use, stockpiling, production, and removal of cluster munitions, observes that in the past five years, cluster munitions were used in the Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen.
“By Land or By Sea.” Foreign Policy published a slideshow of photographs that highlight the plight of many migrants/refugees from the Middle East, the Balkans, and Africa that travel to Europe to escape conflicts at home. The series has emerged at a time when European countries are struggling to come up with an adequate policy towards the thousands of migrants/refugees trying to reach western Europe from Hungary.
ISIS’ chemical weapons. After reports emerged that ISIS began using chemical weapons in both Syria and Iraq, many wondered whether ISIS had developed these weapons on its own. The Daily Beast addressed this question, taking into account recent evidence suggesting that ISIS may have obtained these weapons from the Assad regime.
On the blog:
Humanity in War Live-Stream Series Conversation with Charles Blanchard on Cyberwarfare. The video for the IHL team’s interview with Charles Blanchard, previous General Counsel of the Air Force and the Army, is now available on the blog.
Out of Focus: Journalism and Modern Warfare. Join the IHL Team on September 22 for a discussion on how modern warfare impacts journalism, and vice versa. Speakers include Anna Nelson, head of Communications and Public Affairs at the ICRC, and Frank Smyth, Executive Director for Global Journalist Security, and Senior Advisor for Journalist Security, Committee to Protect Journalists. The event will be held at the American Red Cross National Headquarters between 1:00-2:30pm, and will also be available to watch on live-stream on our blog.
American University Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Human Rights Essay Award. The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University has released the topic for the 2016 Human Rights Essay Award: Extractive Industries and Human Rights. Deadline for submissions is February 1st. For more information, see our post.