Middle East update: May 26-27 2018

SYRIA A group of ISIS fighters attacked a Syrian military position in Deir Ezzor province overnight and, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killed 35 pro-government troops including nine Russian soldiers–not contractors, but actually active duty soldiers. Russia’s defense ministry has acknowledged four Russian deaths in the attack, which it says also left… Continue reading Middle East update: May 26-27 2018

Middle East update: May 3 2018

SYRIA It was one step forward and one step back in Syria on Thursday. Rebel fighters in the enclave around Yarmouk finally began to evacuate that area (ISIS is still holding out in Yarmouk itself) under the terms of a deal they reached with Damascus and Russia several days ago. However, a group of fighters… Continue reading Middle East update: May 3 2018

Middle East update: February 3-4 2018

SYRIA Obviously the weekend’s big news was the downing of a Russian Sukhoi SU-25 aircraft over Idlib province on Saturday. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham claimed credit for the shoot down and for killing the pilot, who bailed out and made it to the ground but was killed in a subsequent firefight. Assuming HTS did shoot the plane… Continue reading Middle East update: February 3-4 2018

Today in Middle Eastern history: the First Intifada begins (1987)

Originally posted on and that's the way it was:
In contrast with the Second Intifada, which began with a deliberate provocation when Ariel Sharon and 1000 Israeli police officers marched on to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in September 2000, the First Intifada began almost by chance. On December 8, 1987, an IDF truck crashed…

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Lebanon War begins (1982)

The 1982-85 Lebanon War is, if you want to take a big-picture view of things, really a phase of the 1975-90 Lebanese Civil War. But as it involves the invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli army and therefore a substantial reordering of the conflict, it’s also perfectly reasonable to treat it as its own affair.… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Lebanon War begins (1982)

Today in Middle Eastern history: Lebanon’s Bus Massacre (1975)

The Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) lasted a whopping 15 years and resulted in the deaths of as many as 150,000-250,000 (estimates vary) people. By comparison, the Syrian Civil War, which everybody agrees is a catastrophe of epic proportions, has gone on for a mere five years with only a marginally higher death toll (using the… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Lebanon’s Bus Massacre (1975)