Turkey builds border wall inside Syria
International | Meanwhile, the Assad regime escalates fighting in Idlib
by Mindy Belz
Posted 5/03/19, 03:10 pm
SYRIA: The Assad regime with Russian air cover has carried out attacks on what was a demilitarized zone. In what’s become a familiar pattern, the Syrian army escalated attacks to defeat al-Qaeda-linked militant groups controlling Idlib, killing an estimated 50 civilians over the last two weeks and forcing thousands to flee. Kurdish forces in the northeast report that those al-Qaeda affiliates from Idlib are moving into Afrin—an area taken by Turkey last year. There Arab jihadist groups already took over homes and a church belonging to Christians and Kurds (my previous reports on that situation here and here). Turkey has begun building a border wall around the region, separating it from Syria.
INDIA: Cyclone Fani made landfall near Puri around 8 a.m. Friday with winds of more than 120 mph, as authorities evacuated more than 1 million people in what is expected to be the worst cyclone since a 1999 storm killed 10,000.
COMOROS: At least 38 people are dead and 45,000 homes destroyed from Cyclone Kenneth, which struck the Comoro Islands and Mozambique just weeks after Cyclone Idai. Most of Comoros remains without power, while Cyclone Idai’s cost in Mozambique—where 1,000 people died—is estimated at $1 billion, or 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
BURKINA FASO: Gunmen who attacked a Protestant church Sunday asked the pastor and five others to convert to Islam before they killed them. In the video released this week of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he highlighted the expansion of the group into West Africa and accepted pledges of loyalty from the group believed behind this attack.
UNITED STATES: The sentencing memo for Najibullah Zazi, the Manhattan vendor convicted in a 2009 plot to bomb New York City subways, tells us a lot about leading terrorist networks and how they gain traction in the United States. Zazi will likely be released from prison soon, after a federal judge on Thursday, citing his cooperation, granted a lenient sentence.
SAUDI ARABIA: Retired four-star Army Gen. John Abizaid, arrived in Riyadh on Thursday, filling a critical U.S. ambassador post vacant since President Donald Trump took office more than two years ago. Trump nominated Abizaid last November, after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.
SWITZERLAND: For one wealthy Italian woman in a silver Audi, it takes four Tibetan antelopes to make one shahtoosh scarf. Global demand for the $20,000 accessory items has wiped out 90 percent of the Tibetan antelope population.
WEEKEND LONG READ: George Packer profiles looming diplomat Richard Holbrooke—right down to the extra socks stashed next to classified documents in his leather attaché case.
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