TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Weighs Military Action Against ISIS in Syria

"If you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you wherever you are"

The United States is open to the possibility of military action against Islamist militants in Syria, a top Obama Administration official said Friday, warning that the U.S. will “do what is necessary to protect Americans.”

“We’ve made very clear time and again that if you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you wherever you are,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters. “And that’s what’s going to guide our planning in the days to come.”

President Barack Obama has resisted pressure from both outside and inside his administration to take a more muscular approach in Syria, where a bloody civil war has claimed 191,000 lives in recent years, according to a new United Nations estimate Friday. But the emergence of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which released a graphic video last week depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley, has raised the stakes—and has seemingly made American officials, already engaged in targeted military action in Iraq, more willing to consider doing so on the other side of the border.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that any strategy against ISIS would have to include action against militants in Syria, and Rhodes didn’t disagree with that assertion Friday.

“Well, we certainly agree that any strategy to deal with the [ISIS] organization has to deal with both sides of the border, Iraq and Syria,” Rhodes said. “The strategy that we are already undertaking does address that in the sense that we are providing training and equipping and assistance to the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish security forces who are fighting them on the ground in Iraq.

“We are also providing support and military assistance to the moderate Syrian opposition,” he added. “What we would like to see is those efforts squeeze the space where [ISIS] operates.”

Rhodes cautioned that no decisions have been made.

“I don’t want to get ahead of decisions the President hasn’t been presented with, specific military options outside of those carrying out the current missions in Iraq,” he said. “But we would certainly look at what is necessary in the long term to make sure we’re protecting Americans.”

TIME Syria

U.N. Slams World Leaders Over Inaction in Syria as Death Toll Surpasses 191,000

"It is scandalous that the predicament of the injured, displaced, the detained... is no longer attracting much attention"

The United Nations said Friday that more than 191,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s civil war began in March 2011, as a top U.N. official lambasted the international community for its “paralysis.”

The U.N. reported that 191,369 people were killed between March 2011 and April 2014, more than double the figure the U.N. reported a year ago, when it said 92,901 people had died. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the true death toll is likely even higher because it reported only deaths that it was able to confirm.

“I deeply regret that, given the onset of so many other armed conflicts in this period of global destabilization, the fighting in Syria and its dreadful impact on millions of civilians has dropped off the international radar,” Pillay said in a statement. “The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis.”

More than 17,000 women and 2,000 children have been killed in the conflict, which has forced more than 2.9 million people to flee the country.

“It is scandalous that the predicament of the injured, displaced, the detained, and the relatives of all those who have been killed or are missing is no longer attracting much attention, despite the enormity of their suffering,” Pillay said.

TIME

C. African Republic Prime Minister Names Cabinet

(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — The prime minister of Central African Republic has named a 31-member cabinet, including representatives of two groups that have been involved in horrific violence for more than a year.

Mahamat Kamoun announced the cabinet Friday just hours after interim President Catherine Samba-Panza reiterated confidence in his ability to lead the country to elections next year.

The cabinet includes three Seleka and two anti-Balaka members.

The mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition toppled the president of a decade last year but was soon accused of human rights abuses. The Christian anti-Balaka militia attacked the capital last December, unleashing brutal violence. A U.N. force is expected to take over peacekeeping next month.

Samba-Panza appointed Kamoun, a Muslim, after firing her government earlier this month. Some Seleka leaders have said he doesn’t represent them.

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 10 Fun Photos To Start Your Weekend

From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the World Band Pipe Championships, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME China

U.S. Furious After Chinese Fighter Jet Does Barrel Roll Over American Aircraft

In this Pentagon handout, a Chinese fighter jet is seen from a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft during an incident in which the Pentagon says the Chinese jet came dangerously close to the American aircraft. Department of Defense

The Chinese warplane flew close to a U.S. patrol jet and did a barrel roll over the plane

The United States has formally complained to Beijing over an aerial maneuver conducted by a Chinese fighter jet over international airspace, with the Pentagon calling it an “aggressive and demonstrated a lack of due regard for the safety and well-being of the U.S. and Chinese aircrews and aircraft.”

According to a Pentagon official, a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol jet was flying a routine mission east of Hainan Island Tuesday when a Chinese J-11 warplane passed directly beneath the plane three times, coming as close as 50-100 feet. The Chinese jet then came from beneath, passing the U.S. plane at 90 degrees with the belly of the plane — and its weapons payload — on display.

Finally, the Chinese jet came within 20 feet of the U.S. plane before doing a barrel roll over the plane, the Pentagon official said.

“This incident is the most recent in a rising trend of nonstandard, unprofessional and unsafe intercepts of U.S. aircraft that we have observed since the end of 2013,” the official said, calling it “one of the most unsafe intercepts since the 2001 EP-3 collision,” in reference to an incident in which a Chinese fighter and American aircraft collided in the same area as this week’s incident.

TIME Ukraine

Russian Artillery Units Are Firing at Ukrainian Soldiers, NATO Says

A pro-Russian gunman is seen through a shrapnel hole after shelling in Donetsk on August 22, 2014.
A pro-Russian gunman is seen through a shrapnel hole after shelling in Donetsk on August 22, 2014. Dimitar Dilkoff—AFP/Getty Images

The move marks an escalation in a conflict over a region embroiled in war between Ukraine's central government and pro-Russian separatists

Updated 5:57 p.m. on Aug. 22

Artillery units being operated by Russian soldiers have crossed into Ukraine and are firing on Ukrainian forces, Western officials said Friday, in an apparent escalation of the ongoing conflict along the border.

“We have seen the use of Russian artillery in Ukraine in the past days,” U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters Friday, calling it part of “a pattern whereby we’ve seen firing from within Russia into Ukraine, and we’ve seen a disturbing movement of Russian artillery and military equipment into Ukraine as well.”

Rhodes also called on Russia to remove a convoy of trucks that recently entered Ukraine, which Moscow says are bringing aid but whose arrival was not coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Ukraine has called the entry of the trucks a “direct invasion.”

“Russia should take the opportunity to remove this convoy from within Ukraine,” Rhodes said. “If they don’t, they will face additional costs and consequences from the United States and our partners in the international community.”

Russia has long been accused by the West of lending support, including arms and sometimes clandestine personnel, to pro-Russian separatists in the eastern half of Ukraine, but comments by Rhoades and NATO leaders marked the first time Western powers have accused Moscow of directly invading Ukrainian territory with Russian military units and personnel.

A NATO spokeswoman said the military alliance has received multiple of Russian forces being directly involved in recent days, the New York Times reports, “including Russian airborne, air defense and special operations.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a statement from Brussels, said the group has “also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.”

Rasmussen condemned Moscow for allowing an ostensibly humanitarian economic convoy to enter Ukraine with no involvement from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which typically coordinates such missions. He went on to blame Russia for escalating tensions with a military buildup along the Ukrainian border.

“This is a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments, including those made recently in Berlin and Geneva, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia,”Rasmussen said. “It can only deepen the crisis in the region, which Russia itself has created and has continued to fuel.”

The Obama Administration also condemned the latest Russian movements.

“At the same time as Russian vehicles violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia maintains a sizable military force on the Ukrainian border capable of invading Ukraine on very short notice,” National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “It has repeatedly fired into Ukrainian territory, and has sent an ever-increasing stream of military equipment and fighters into Ukraine.”

TIME

Sunnis Pull Out of Iraq Talks After Mosque Attack

(BAGHDAD) — Two Sunni parliamentary blocs have suspended talks on forming a new Iraqi government to protest an attack on a Sunni mosque that killed at least 64 worshippers during Friday prayers.

The blocs affiliated with Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al-Mutlak are demanding that outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the main Shiite parliamentary bloc hand over the perpetrators within 48 hours and compensate the families of victims.

The move poses a major challenge to prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite who is struggling to cobble together a new government that can confront Sunni militants who have seized much of northern and western Iraq.

It was not immediately clear who carried out Friday’s attack, which the lawmakers blamed on “militias” in an apparent reference to Shiite armed groups.

TIME

Israeli Boy Killed in Palestinian Mortar Attack

(JERUSALEM) — Israeli rescue officials say a 4-year-old boy has been killed in a mortar attack near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The attack occurred early Friday evening in a southern Israeli village along the frontier.

Eli Bin, head of Israel’s national rescue service, confirmed the death in TV interviews.

It was the first Israeli death since a new round of fighting erupted on Tuesday between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers following the collapse of cease-fire talks in Cairo.

In six weeks of fighting, more than 2,000 Palestinians and 68 Israelis have died.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Aug. 15 – Aug. 22

From ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and the killing of Hamas leaders in Gaza to Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME ebola

Nigeria Confirms 2 New Ebola Cases

Nigeria Ebola
Nigerian health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria on Aug. 4, 2014. Sunday Alamba/AP

The two are the first infected people who didn’t have contact with the ill traveler

Nigeria’s health ministry confirmed Friday two new cases of Ebola in the country, the first people to come down with the disease who didn’t have direct contact with an infected traveler who brought the virus into the country from nearby Liberia.

Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said both newly infected people are the spouses of two caregivers who contracted the virus and later died after giving treatment to Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American man who flew into the country infected with the virus last month.

Sawyer passed Ebola on to 11 other individuals before he died. The two new infections plus Sawyer bring the total number of Ebola patients in Nigeria during this outbreak to 14, five of whom have died while another five have recovered.

[AP]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,338 other followers