Aug 25 2014
A group of ISIS fighters have captured their third military base in the north eastern part of Syria. The move is the latest in the rebel group’s efforts to claim parts of northern Syria and Iraq as a new Islamic State. Meanwhile, a US journalist named Peter Theo Curtis was released by his captors over the weekend in the Syrian Golan Heights, after nearly 2 years. His release was apparently the result of negotiations brokered by Qatar. The news comes as allegations have surfaced that the person who beheaded another American journalist James Foley, last week, could be a British Egyptian rapper named L Jinny.
The United Nations on Friday released for the first time in many months a new estimate on how many Syrians have died in the war that began more than 3 years ago. Just over a year ago, the UN estimated that 93,000 had been killed. Now, it says the death toll is at least 191,000. These new figures cover the conflict from its start in March 2011, to April of this year, and are acknowledged to be a gross underestimate. While it is not known how many of the dead are civilians vs. armed combatants, about 85 % of the dead are male. More than 8,000 are recorded to be children under the age of 18 but the ages of the vast majority of victims has not been recorded so the real number could be much higher.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Navi Pillay strongly condemned the killings, calling them “scandalous,” and “wholly avoidable human catastrophe.”
Meanwhile, US military officials have begun openly discussing the idea of expanding the US’s air war in northern Iraq to Syria. At a Pentagon briefing on Friday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, together with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the growing danger of the Sunni militant group ISIS, and hinted that the operation may need to expand into Syria. Dempsey called the border between the two “essentially non-existent.”
GUEST: Ramah Kudaimi is a Syrian-American activist based in Washington DC. She has a Masters in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University