Briefing: Syrian government behind April sarin attack, says UN

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Update

  • South Korea has deployed the rest of the Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system that came from the United States earlier this year. The move has alienated the Chinese government which is threatened by the missile defense system’s radar capabilities, as well as many South Korean citizens who see the recent military buildup as dangerous. Over 30 protestors, were injured after clashing with police forces at the THAAD installation site.
  • President Donald J. Trump sided with congressional Democrats when deciding the duration of a hike in the debt ceiling, the federal government’s borrowing limit. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, President Trump and the Democratic leadership agreed to raise the debt ceiling for three months instead of the six months to one year preferred by Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and congressional Republicans.
  • The Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons during the country’s civil war, but United Nations investigators say this is not true. The investigators confirmed in a report that it was Syrian forces who carried out the sarin-attack in Khan Sheikhoun in spring???, killing at least 83 civilians, which then prompted a U.S. strike in retaliation. The report said that chemical weapons have been used more than 20 times during the war. “Government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas”, the report said. In June, the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that sarin, an odourless nerve agent, was used in the attack, but not who was responsible. The new report is based on information accessed from satellite images, video, photos, medical records, and over 300 interviews.

Earlier

  • Myanmar President Aung San Suu Kyi has responded to sharp criticism of her inaction in the face of violence against the Muslim minority Rohingya. An estimated 125,000 have been driven from their homes. Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi said that “terrorists” were behind “a huge iceberg of misinformation”, after United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned against the risk of ethnic cleansing. In an exclusive this morning, Reuters reports that Myanmar government forces have been laying landmines along the border with Bangladesh, with the possible intention of blocking the path of the fleeing Rohingya.
Library image of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar effective leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Library image of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar effective leader Aung San Suu Kyi
  • The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the EU’s ultimate arbiter, has dismissed complaints from Hungary and Slovakia over a Brussels edict that orders them to accept a certain number of asylum seekers.  The Eastern European states had argued that their populations could not absorb the required numbers from Muslim majority countries, but the Luxembourg-based tribunal upheld the European Commission’s right to order them to accept their share of refugees coming in through Italy and Greece.

What we’re reading and watching

  • “Eight Hundred Thousand People with Dreams to Be Deported by One with Delusions” is the New Yorker’s scathing assessment of President Donald J. Trump’s decision to unwind the so-called “dreamers” programme, that allows people who arrived in the U.S. as children a longer period to apply for work permits.
  • The Guardian has obtained a leaked document on Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy. Some of the key points it outlines include restricting what EU family members can come to the UK, which could potentially split up thousands of families, prioritizing British workers and ending free movement.
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