New Wrinkles


May 4, 2016

In the News

The ceasefire in Syria paved the way for the “largest ever” siege evacuations, with around 500 wounded people evacuated from four towns.

After a halt in the peace talks in Syria, the “fragile truce” ended as fighting erupted in Aleppo. Government forces targeted the civil defense with two airstrikes and one missile launch, and left five rescue workers dead. Meanwhile, around 200 civilians were killed last week due to the recent upsurge in fighting. Russian officials say peace talks will resume on May 10th.

A Doctors Without Borders hospital was attacked late last week in Aleppo leaving at least fourteen patients dead as well as three doctors including one of the last pediatricians in the city.

An extra “wrinkle” has emerged after clashes between Kurdish militias and Syrian government forces took place in northeastern Syria, adding another layer of violence to the conflict.

Despite a general policy against imposing legal categories to acts of violence – saying these are matters for courts not politicians – the British Parliament has unanimously condemned ISIS of genocide against the Yazidis and the Christians. The US Congress, US administration, European Parliament and the Council of Europe have already made similar declarations.

In Jerusalem, Israeli officials are investigating a bombing that blew up two buses last week. Hamas has claimed responsibility.

The Taliban hit Kabul with a devastating attack after announcing earlier this month that they will commence their spring offensive. With sixty-four people killed and over three hundred wounded, this is the deadliest attack in years.

In a speech, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced an intent to escalate the fight against the Taliban, advocating harsher policies, demanding that Pakistan arrest and turn over Taliban leaders, and focusing more on “defensive and war preparation.”

According to US Air Force data for 2015, unmanned aircrafts are accounting for more strikes in Afghanistan than conventional warplane attacks. The data shows an increase in drone strikes from 5% in 2011 to 56% in 2015 and 61% in the first quarter of 2016.

China is pushing for stronger military ties with Afghanistan as they work with Pakistan and the US to promote peace talks between the Taliban insurgency and the Afghanistan government. A member of the Chinese Central Military Commission, Fang Fenghui, has discussed China’s desire to join and promote counter-terrorism mechanisms.

As South Korean military officials are concerned that North Korea is preparing a fifth nuclear test, it appears that North Korea has launched a ballistic missile  from a submarine in the Sea of Japan. South Korea’s fears may not be unfounded as satellite images suggest that North Korea is resuming activity near its main nuclear test site.


Around the Web

A War of Perception. CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh analyzes the validity of claims that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan is a “war of perception,” and that the Taliban is winning.

Effects of Child Soldiering. Justice in Conflict’s recent symposium on the prosecution of child soldiers sheds light on the International Criminal Court case against Dominic Ongwen, who was abducted by the LRA when he was nine years old. The defense in the case claims that the status of Ongwen when he entered the LRA – a kidnapped, orphaned, and abused child – is fixed throughout his roughly thirty years with the group, and, as such, he lacks individual criminal responsibility.

Jus ad Bellum in Japan’s National Security Law. Craig Martin discusses on Opinion Juris the recent revisions to Japan’s national security laws and the interaction–and possible clash–of these new laws with the war-renouncing provisions in Japan’s Constitution.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to ISIS. Foreign Policy’s Marwan Hisham writes about his time hitchhiking out of ISIS controlled territory, and how his experience introduced him to Syria’s economy and the oil trade.


On the Blog

Where We Are Needed: The Law and Humanitarian Response. Join us for a live-stream discussion on the frameworks governing responses to conflict and disaster with the IHL team’s Christie Edwards and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institution for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict, Emanuela-Chiara Gillard. Send us your questions using #HumanityinWar and watch the event at on Wednesday May 4th, 2016 at 6 PM EDT!

Become a Member of Our Team! The IHL Team is looking for a Legal Fellow to join our IHL legal education program from September 2016 – August 2017. More information is available here. To apply, please send a cover letter, CV, and writing sample to by June 1, 2016!

International Humanitarian Law: A Primer for Professionals. Register for one of our upcoming one-day workshops from 9 am to 4:45 pm on May 12th or June 9th. Audience members will learn to recognize and understand situations where international humanitarian law is applicable. CLE credits are available! Contact us at to apply and obtain more information.

IHL Action Campaign. Follow the work of the IHL Action Campaign, and our other youth education program updates!

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