This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism. Subscribe here to receive this round-up by email.
Please take a moment to register your support for A Day Without News, a just-launched initiative to address the targeting of journalists in armed conflict. The launch marks the anniversary of the deaths of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik.
- Thursday was the deadliest day for the city of Damascus since the war began: 83 were killed in a series of blasts, the biggest of which killed 61.
- A UN-commissioned inquiry released findings that the conflict is “increasingly sectarian.” The 131-pg report offered evidence of war crimes on both sides (mostly Assad’s forces, but both sides) and urged The Hague to take action on prosecution.
- A rocket attack in Aleppo, Syria on Monday killed at least 31 people.
- Qatar provided $100m in support to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
- According to Turkish intelligence, the Syrian government has fired more than 40 Scud missiles at rebel targets in northern Syria.
- Photos of the Free Syrian Army’s reliance on DIY weaponry.
- An Israeli soldier posted an Instagram photograph of a Palestinian child in his crosshairs.
- Israel released part of a report on the death of “Prisoner X,” the prisoner who committed suicide in solitary confinement in Israeli prison in 2010, recently identified as Australian-Israeli Benjamin Zygler.
- Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners went on a one-day fast in solidarity with four long-term hunger strikers (one of whom has been refusing food intermittently for more than 200 days). Protests in the West Bank have also been fueled by solidarity with these prisoners in Ofer.
- Tunisian PM Hamad Jabali resigned after failing to form a coalition government to try and calm the political crisis following the death of Chokri Belaid. On Tuesday, Standards and Poors downgraded Tunisia’s credit rating as a result of political upheaval.
- The AP found a photocopy of an Al-Qaeda tip sheet on avoiding drone strikes in a vacated building in northern Mali.
- Thousands of Egyptian protesters shut down the road to a major port in Port Said on Wednesday. The shutdown occurred on the 4th day of general strike, refusing to accept Morsi’s attempts to placate them.
- A Lebanese military court charged former information minister Michel Samaha and Brig. Gen. Ali Mamlouk with conspiring to assassinate political and religious leaders.
- Security forces in Aden, Yemen, fired on protesters demonstrating for southern independence, killing at least 4.
- Saudi Arabia swore in 30 women to the formerly all-male Shura council.
- NASA reports on findings of freshwater losses in the Middle East.
- Iran has begun installing high-tech machines at their uranium enrichment sites, which puts them closer to nuclear warhead capabilities.
- The annual UN report on civilian casualties shows that they have slowed for the first time in six years in Afghanistan as the war winds down.
- The use of drone strikes in Afghanistan, however, has risen dramatically (posing an American threat to civilians even as the war draws down).
- Senator Lindsey Graham openly cited the figure of 4700 dead from US drone strikes, the first time a government official has done this.
- NATO is seriously considering funding a 350,000-strong Afghan security force through 2018.
- Afghans have arrested senior Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammed.
- The deaths of 89 people in a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan lead to protest and demonstration by 15,000 Shi’ites demanding action be taken against the militants targeting them.
- A unit of the Chinese military has been connected to the bulk of cyberattacks on the US. The American computer security firm Mandiant released this 60-page, detailed report on PLA Unit 61398.
- The BBC posted a photo by Patrick Baz from Sarajevo in 1992 on its website and Vladimir Vrnoga, now living in California, recognized himself as the 17-year-old in the photo.
- “El Chapo” Guzman, the most powerful and most wanted drug lord, may have died yesterday in a shootout in a Guatemalan jungle.
- According to Human Rights Watch, Mexican security forces have participated in some way in more than half of the 250 disappearance the watchdog group has documented during Calderon’s time in office. It says Mexico has failed to properly investigate these disappearances.
- Three Birmingham men have been found guilty of terrorism charges.
- The judge presiding over the 9/11 war crimes tribunal is granting defense lawyers access to Camp 7, the secret section of the prison where their clients are held.
- Marine Gen. John Allen is retiring, declining the position of supreme allied commander in Europe. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove is said to be the likely choice for the position.
Photo: Ramallah, West Bank. Palestinian protesters demonstrating in solidarity with four hunger striking prisoners in Ofer shield themselves with a car seat during clashes with Israeli soldiers. Bernat Armangue/AP.