“KNOW BETTER WITH MESOP” : Blast in Syrian Kurdish City Kills Dozens

Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter

Forty-four people were killed in the predominantly Kurdish Syrian city of Qamishli after a truck and motorcycle laden with explosives were detonated Wednesday (AP). The self-proclaimed Islamic State praised but did not claim the attack (NYT), which targeted a conscription center run by Kurdish police and a local defense administration (Middle East Eye). A UK-based monitoring group said the attack was the deadliest on the city in recent years (Reuters). Kurdish forces recaptured much of the province where the attack took place last year and are part of a U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Islamic State-held town of  Manbij (AP), also in northern Syria. Meanwhile, the United States has suspended more than $200 million in contracts for humanitarian aid in the country amid allegations of widespread fraud (WaPo).


“Qamishli is a center of activity for Rojava, an enclave that Kurds began carving out in 2012 early in the Syrian civil war, and of the Democratic Union Party, which has gotten arms, equipment and training from the United States, and some smaller Kurdish parties. Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party to be a front for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a militant group that has waged an insurgency in Turkey for decades. Meanwhile, a humanitarian crisis has been intensifying in Aleppo, a large city in northwestern Syria that is divided between rebel and government forces,” Hwaida Saad writes for the New York Times.

“ISIS is battling Kurdish forces, specifically the YPG militia, in the northern Syrian provinces of Hasaka and Aleppo. The Kurdish forces are fighting alongside Arab forces in what is known as the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the United States. After losing swathes of territory to Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in 2015, ISIS has targeted Qamishli, as well as the provincial capital, Hasakah city. In April, a suicide bomb killed six members of the Kurdish security forces while, in July, an ISIS suicide blast killed 16 people in Hasakah. The bomb blasts on Wednesday come as the U.S.-backed coalition and the SDF advance on ISIS in the town of Manbij, also in northeastern Syria,” Jack Moore writes for Newsweek.

“Thomas Melito, a senior official at the Government Accountability Office, which issued a report this month on improving oversight of Syria aid programs, said he did not believe USAID or the State Department had ‘any inkling’ of how much money had been lost. The problems underscore a wider dilemma: how to deliver aid in a war zone where most fear to travel. The U.S. is the leading humanitarian donor in Syria, but most of the $5.5 billion in American aid has been distributed through the United Nations and a host of partner organizations,” Louisa Loveluck writes for the Washington Post.