1) General John Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, admitted today that an American airship did mistakenly fire on a Doctors without Borders hospital and that the command came from the U.S. military. While the order originated with the U.S. chain of command, Campbell said to the Senate Armed Services Committee that U.S. forces would never purposefully target a hospital. Additionally, suicide bombers attacked an intelligence center in the capital of Kabul. The Taliban has taken credit for the bombing.
1) NATO has denounced Russia’s violation of Turkish airspace. A Russian plane, part of the air campaign against ISIS in Syria, crossed over the border into Turkey. Russia has also received criticism of the campaign in general which Western military experts say focuses not just on ISIS but other moderate rebel groups. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says this will escalate the conflict in Syria.
1) Russia and the U.S. have stepped up talks concerning Syria on the sidelines of the UN summit. Russia has been increasing its military presence in Syria to “fight ISIS.” Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two parties agree to a few basic points on the conflict in Syria: that the country needs to be united, secular, and that ISIS must be stopped. Areas of disagreement remain over the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. After talks, President Vladimir Putin announced he would not send in ground troops, but would consider airstrikes. He added that Russia would cooperate with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.
1) The UN’s general assembly meeting which marks its 70th anniversary starts today. Major points on the agenda include ISIS, Syria, and the refugee crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama both addressed the assembly, mostly focused Syria. Iran’s President will also be addressing the meeting. Climate change and the ideals of the UN were also brought up in opening remarks from other world leaders.
1) A stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia led to the death of more than 700 Muslim pilgrims, making their journey to Mecca as a part of the annual Islamic religious season called Hajj. Another 800 were wounded. The beginning of the incident has been described as a surge of people on local pathways, which caused many people to fall and then be trampled in the panic.
1) Saudi Arabia now leads more than 10,000 troops in Yemen, which includes 1000 soldiers from Qatar, as they attempt to take back control of the country from the Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia backs Yemen’s internationally recognized government-in-exile. Saudi Arabia has continued to hit the rebel-held capital city of Sana’a with ferocious airstrikes. The bombing targeted Houthi leader’s homes, military bases, and their security headquarters. The upscale of forces in the region is in response to a Houthi attack that killed 60 fighters aligned with Saudi Arabia. The Houthi rebels also claim to a have a U.S. captive, Scott Darden, who was working on logistics for humanitarian resources in the region. He was taken hostage in March.
1) New reports show an increased Russian presence in Syria. In a call between Sec. of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kerry expressed concern about a buildup of Russian troops and military hardware deliveries. Russia says weapons delivery are to combat ISIS activity in Syria. Russia has backed President Assad’s agenda in the country and has pushed the UN to work with Assad for a humanitarian solution to the crisis. The U.S. has requested that Greece not allow Russia to use its airspace to fly in any more supplies. Meanwhile in Syria, ISIS has taken control of the last of the country’s oilfields. France is also considering airstrikes in the region.
1) In response to heavy air attacks orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have stepped up their response. They have launched a new campaign in the Houthi-held capital of Sana’a, raiding and arresting local citizens. More than 50 people were detained. Saudi Arabia sent new military forces to back the government-in-exile led by President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, currently sheltering in Marib.
1) After setting bombs on another ancient temple in Palmyra and detaining more than 200 protestors, ISIS managed to find the time to release another brutal propaganda video. The video depicts four Iraqi Shiite “spies” being burned alive. It does not mention the location of the graphic murders. One website, with a link to the original video claims the translation of the clip’s title is “Punish With An Equivalent Of That With Which You Were Harmed.”
1) In the past 10 days, the Syrian military has killed 247 people in the Damascus area. At least 50 of these deaths were children. Most of the airstrikes were concentrated in rebel-held Douma. The Civil Defense, a rescue operation, has declared the city a disaster area.