In the wake of an attack that left four Syrian officials dead, fighting between rebel forces and the Syrian government escalated in two previously quiet urban areas: Aleppo and Damascus. In the first few days of Ramadhan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and reflection, many Damascenes are faced with unexpected food and gas shortages, while many others have fled to Lebanon to wait out the storm. Meanwhile, the Syrian government has acknowledged for the first time that it has chemical and biological weapons, and that they could be used in reaction to a foreign intervention (but not against Syrian civilians). An anonymous Israeli government official has said that his government and the US government have discussed the measures to be taken in the event that al-Assad’s regime collapses.
At least 100 people were killed and 300 wounded Monday in Iraq, making July 23 the bloodiest day since the year began.
Security forces defused a bomb at an intelligence building of the port city of Aden in Yemen.
An unprecedented sit-in in the Southern Lebanese city of Sidon took a more violent turn when a grenade attack damaged some cars but left no casualties.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
Days after the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan met for peace talks, Afghanistan has warned that continued cross-border shelling by Pakistan into Afghan territory could harm relations between the two countries. A US drone strike has killed nine suspected militants in northwest Pakistan (by other counts, 12 suspected militants were killed–or was it 11?). Meanwhile, national security analyst Peter Bergen highlights Pakistan’s strengths in a recent story at CNN. On Sunday, an Afghan soldier killed three NATO-employed civilians who were training police recruits in the normally peaceful city of Herat, Afghanistan.
And in other news…
A justice minister has reported that a man held on suspicion of carrying out a terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Cyprus displayed similar behavior to the suicide bomber who killed six people–five of them Israelis– on a bus in Bulgaria last week. The justice minister declined that there was any direct link between the two men, however.
Areva Inc. and Northrop Grumman have announced that they will provide support cyber security protection of the US nuclear industry.
And at the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko addresses the potential security consequences of the Olympic Games cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the unintentional leak of Stuxnet.