U.S. Strikes Islamic State Positions From TurkeyThe United States has launched (Reuters) its first air strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria from Turkey, ahead of what Ankara says will be a comprehensive campaign against the militant group. , Islamic State militants captured (AP) a strategic town in Syria's central Homs province after clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States and Russia agreed to back (NYT) a UN draft resolution to identify who used chemical weapons in Syria. Separately, Iran is expected to propose (RFE/RL) a Syrian peace plan to the UN and offered to help mediate the conflict.
ANALYSIS"The Obama administration hopes the new military pressure in Syria will convince Assad to accept a political process that would lead to a change of leadership in Syria, if not a full change of regime. With Saudi Arabia and Russia both interested, this diplomatic track shows some promise," writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post."If there is a legal basis for which the Obama administration has made this latest policy decision to protect Pentagon-backed rebels from the Assad regime, it has never been stated publicly. Again, the White House or the Pentagon should immediately articulate this legal basis publicly, but given their pattern of behavior we certainly should not expect them to do so," writes CFR's Micah Zenko in a blog post."Ankara has established 25 refugee camps, and reports say they are relatively well-run. The problem is the cost—Ankara estimates that it has spent nearly $5.6 billion on refugees since the beginning of the crisis. Combined with its flagging economy, it is not clear how much longer Turkey can continue shouldering the burden. The sooner the fighting in Syria ends, the sooner these refugees can return home," writes Ian Bremmer in TIME.