Conflict update: December 15, 2016

This has to be short again tonight. I’ve had very little time to spare today.


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Aleppo as of December 13 (Wikimedia | Kami888)

Roughly 3000 people were evacuated from eastern Aleppo today, the first full day that the ceasefire/evacuation deal between the rebels and the Syrian government was in place. That’s barely a fraction of the 50,000 people estimated to still be inside the city, but it’s a start, and things apparently went well enough that the evacuations will continue for at least a second day. Which is something. The UN Security Council will hold a session on Aleppo on Friday. Which is not something.

John Kerry called what’s happened in Aleppo “nothing short of a massacre” today, and, well, yeah. When two countries spend months bombarding a city by air on a near-daily basis, you tend to see massacre-type effects. But Washington is still banging the drum for some kind of negotiated settlement to the civil war, and it’s hard to know if they mean it or they’re just paying lip service on the way out the door. Frankly I’m not sure which would be worse. This conflict has long passed the point where negotiations are possible. There’s no credible opposition that could sit at a table opposite Bashar al-Assad, who has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians, and reach a legitimate deal. There’s no opposition left that could negotiate a deal that would sideline or even mildly slow down the most extreme elements of the array of rebel forces. If the rebellion wasn’t already owned by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, clearly belngs to them now, and they’re not going to negotiate, nor would anybody want to negotiate with them. They’re also not going to stop fighting, especially not as long as aid from the Persian Gulf keeps pouring in, and they will have no problem turning Syria’s battlefield civil war into a guerrilla/terrorist civil war.


“Dozens” of ISIS fighters were killed yesterday as Iraqi forces continued their advance through eastern Mosul. In particular, the Iraqis were approaching the al-Salam Hospital toward the center of the city, which they briefly seized a few days ago before having to retreat because they’d overextended themselves and were heavily counterattacked by ISIS.


Investigators have found “traces of explosives” on the bodies of victims recovered from the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed on the way back to Egypt from Paris in May. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft, and it’s still not clear that it was downed deliberately.


Settlers in the Amona outpost, a West Bank settlement so illegal that even the Israeli government says it’s illegal, are refusing to leave their squatter settlement and appear to be getting ready to resist the Israeli government if it tries to remove them. Keep an eye on this story.


A car bomb, likely courtesy of al-Shabab, killed six people in Mogadishu.


Russian authorities are reportedly “conducting a special anti-terrorism operation” in the city of Samara, which sits a short distance north of the Caucasus and is one of the country’s largest cities. They say they’ve uncovered an ISIS-linked threat.

Meanwhile, the EU announced that it will extend its Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia at least into the middle of next year.


Rebels in India’s northeastern Manipur state killed four Indian police officers in an attack on a police patrol. Authorities are blaming the National Socialist Council of Nagaland.

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