Two drone strikes targeted the Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria on May 11, the Rojava Information Center (RIC) said in a tweet. For the past weeks, Turkish-backed Syrian rebel factions have been shelling villages in the countryside around Kobani with howitzers and mortars. The attacks are apparently being launched from the area of Jarabulus immediately to the west, which is held by Turkish occupation forces and allied militias. According to the RIC, some 35 drone attacks on the Kobani area have already "killed at least 13 people & injured 34 in 2022 alone." (Kurdistan24, Kurdistan24, ANHA)
In Episode 120 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg invites the enmity of his comrades on the left with a long-overdue deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, genocide-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In relentless sycophantic interviews, Chomsky inevitably opposes a no-fly zone for Ukraine, war crimes charges against Putin, or even sanctions against Russia, on the grounds that such moves would lead to nuclear war. He offers no acknowledgment of how capitulating to Putin's nuclear threats incentivizes such threats, and the stockpiling of the missiles and warheads to back them up. This is part of a long pattern with Chomsky. He has repeatedly engaged in ugly and baseless "false flag" theorizing about the Syria chemical attacks, leading activists in the Arab world to accuse him of "regime whitewashing." He similarly abetted Bosnia genocide revisionism and (especially through his collaborations with the late Edward Herman) denial of the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. All this can be traced to the analytical and ultimately moral and intellectual distortions of the so-called "Chomsky rule"—the notion that we are only allowed to criticize crimes committed by "our" side. An illustrative irony is that Chomsky will cynically exploit the suffering of the Palestinians to distract from and relativize the oppression of Uyghurs in China, yet his stance on Palestine is actually timid and cowardly—clinging to a "two-state solution," and opposing BDS as a form of pressure on Israel. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Facing long lines and bread shortages, Lebanon's government has been forced to give private importers $15 million to bring more wheat into the country. But it's a short-term fix for a government that is broke and waiting for the IMF to approve a bailout deal. And nations across the Middle East may be looking for similar solutions as they struggle with the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine—both countries are key wheat producers, and exports are effectively cut off by the war. Oxfam is warning that wheat reserves could run out within weeks in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Mercy Corps reports that food prices are up in rebel-held northwest Syria, where food security was already a major concern. Last month Egypt put a cap on unsubsidized bread prices before they could get too high. Yemen, which imports the vast majority of its food, is of particular concern as it already has so many hungry people and is heavily dependent on Ukrainian wheat. Last week, UNICEF said that "the number of malnourished children [in the region] is likely to drastically increase."
Ukrainian officials are accusing Russian forces of having used chemical weapons on the besieged Azov Sea port city of Mariupol on April 11, causing troops and civilians alike to develop respiratory symptoms. The claim first emerged from the Azov Battalion, a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard involved in the defense of the city, which posted to its Telegram channel: "Russian occupation forces used a poisonous substance of unknown origin against Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol, which was dropped from an enemy [unmanned aerial vehicle]. The victims have respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome."
Rights organizations and monitors in Ukraine are collecting evidence of Russian war crimes to turn over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and say they have documented hundreds of atrocities. Gyunguz Mamedov, the former head of the "War Department" in the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's office, which was formed to investigate abuses after the eruption of the Donbas conflict in 2014, reported on March 25 that the coalition Ukraine5AM had documented 388 war crimes committed by Russian armed forces in Ukraine. The coalition is currently made up of 23 human rights organizations and scores of independent investigators. Mamedov mentioned the shelling of civilian buildings and intentonal targeting of civilians; attacks on hospitals and medical staff; as well as abductions of officials and other civilians.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for ballistic missile attacks on northern Iraq's Kurdish regional capital of Erbil on March 13, saying that the strikes targeted an Israeli "strategic center" in the city. Iranian state media reported that the missiles were aimed at "Mossad bases" in Erbil. The IRGC had days earlier vowed to seek revenge against Israel, saying the Zionist state will "pay the price" for killing two of its guards in recent Israeli air-strikes on targets in the Syrian capital Damascus. Erbil's governor Omed Khoshnaw denied any Israeli military or intelligence presence in the city, calling the accusation "baseless." The estimated 12 rocket strikes took no casualties, but caused damage to civilian properties and triggered panic among the populace in neighborhoods of Erbil. (Rudaw, Rudaw, Al Jazeera)
Two media outlets have been ordered closed and two journalists arrested by the autonomous administration in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria, according to local reports. Kurdish broadcaster and news site Rudaw—based in Erbil, Iraq—was suspended from working in the enclave, known as Rojava, by a Feb. 5 order of the Autonomous Administration of North & East Syria. In a statement on its website, Rudaw Media Network called the order "a crime against freedom of the press in Western Kurdistan." Rudaw is affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the ruling party of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, which also operates as an internal opposition in Syria's Rojava region.
Syria's declaration to the United Nations of its chemical weapons program cannot be considered accurate due to gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council on Jan. 4. Izumi Nakamitsu urged the country to cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), adding that "full cooperation" is "essential to closing these outstanding issues." The UN disarmament chief was presenting an update on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) regarding the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons program.