Obama Seeks New Syria Strategy to Confront ISIS, Assad
President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for a review of the military strategy in Syria “after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad,” senior U.S. officials and diplomats told CNN.
The review suggests acknowledgement that the U.S. strategy that has emphasized confronting ISIS first in Iraq and then Syria, without emphasizing the removal of Assad, might be untenable.
“The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria,” one senior official said.
The U.S.-led air campaign has angered many Syrians who believe that the strikes have empowered the Assad regime and failed to support the moderate opposition, currently facing a three-front battle against Assad’s forces and extremists from both ISIS and in recent cases Jabhat al-Nusra.
The administration’s efforts to train and equip 5,000 rebels within a year have been stifled by a slow and complicated vetting process, which according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, “had not even begun.”
Other sources denied to CNN that Obama has ordered a review.
“The strategy with respect to Syria has not changed,” said Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council.
The potential review would come before a meeting with more than 30 countries focusing on how to degrade ISIS, according to the U.S. Central Command.
Syrian Authorities Detain Prominent Syrian Dissident
Syrian authorities detained Louay Hussein, a prominent Damascus-based writer and dissident, as he was trying to leave the country, AP reports.
Louay Hussein, leader of Building the Syrian State party and longtime opposition activist, faces “a number of “ready and tailor-made charges,” including “weakening national sentiment and weakening the morale of the nation,” his party claims.
Hussein, who has been detained twice since the beginning of the conflict, was taken to the justice ministry in Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights estimates as many as 85,000 people are currently being held arbitrarily by the regime, the BBC reports.
“A U.N. panel last year accused Damascus of committing a crime against humanity by making people systematically vanish.”
Kurd Forces Block ISIS Supply Route to Kobani
“Kurdish forces blocked a road Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants use to resupply their forces in a Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border,” Reuters reports.
“The [Syrian Kurdish] People’s Protection Units [YPG] targeted IS positions behind the Mashta al-Nur hill and cut off the Halanj-Ain al-Arab road south of the town,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The YPG has been fighting ISIS in Kobani since mid-September and was reinforced by Iraqi Peshmerga fighters in late October. The battle for the town has become a major symbol of resistance against ISIS.
The Peshmerga fighters have had forces retake several villages from ISIS in Kobani but the front lines in the town itself appeared little changed, Reuters reports.
On Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory said at least 865 people, including 50 civilians, have been killed by U.S.-led strikes.
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