Seoul, South Korea – North Korea fired three missiles off its eastern coast today, South Korea said, in what was likely to be seen as a message of defiance to the United States on its Independence Day holiday.
The launches, which came two days after North Korea fired four short-range missiles, could further escalate tensions in the region as the U.S. tries to muster support for tough enforcement of the U.N. resolution imposed on the communist regime for its May nuclear test.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying the missiles appeared to be a type of Scud missile. North Korea’s Scuds are considered short-range.
U.S. strikes target Mehsud followers
Islamabad, Pakistan – The followers of one of Pakistan’s most feared Taliban commanders, Baitullah Mehsud, came under a fresh round of U.S. drone attacks Friday in bombings that killed at least six people, according to Pakistani government officials.
The missile attacks targeted a suspected Taliban camp and a religious school used by fighters in the rugged tribal border region of South Waziristan, said a local official from the region and a resident, who said at least 13 people were killed.
Such U.S. strikes have become the focus of widespread outrage among Pakistanis and an uncomfortable issue with the country’s civilian and military leadership, who privately support them but must be sensitive to public animosity.
The most recent attacks targeting Mehsud’s network, however, suggest that there is a new level of coordination and common strategy between Pakistani and U.S. efforts.
Assad invites Obama to visit
Damascus, Syria – Syrian President Bashar Assad sent a July 4 message full of praise to President Barack Obama on Friday and invited him to visit Syria – the latest signs Damascus is hedging its bets in Mideast politics, warming up to its rival the United States at a time when its longtime ally Iran is in turmoil.
The United States and its Arab allies have been hoping to pull Syria out of the fold of Iran and Islamic militant groups in the region.
Damascus so far appears unlikely to take such a dramatic step, but it does appear worried about Iran’s reliability and the long-term impact of that country’s post-election unrest. Also, its Lebanese ally Hezbollah suffered a setback when its coalition failed to win June parliament elections, beaten out by a pro-U.S. bloc.