Beirut – Fighters loyal to al-Qaida have opened up a new offensive against a U.S.-backed rebel group that once escorted U.S. Sen. John McCain into northern Syria, according to Internet postings and news accounts.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, an al-Qaida affiliate whose fighters come from a wide range of nationalities, launched attacks on the Northern Storm Brigade late Tuesday night, hitting Northern Storm positions in a string of villages along Syria’s border with Turkey.
The fighting between the Islamic State and Northern Storm is a setback for U.S. plans to assist so-called moderate rebels so that they become dominant in northern Syria. Northern Storm is affiliated with the Supreme Military Command, the rebel military faction through which the United States and its allies have said they would funnel all military supplies to the rebels.
But the U.S.-backed rebels so far have shown little ability to resist the al-Qaida-linked fighters.
Head of extremist right-wing party jailed
Athens, Greece – The head of Greece’s extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party was jailed early today, pending trial on charges of running a criminal organization in an investigation into his party triggered by the killing of a left-wing rapper.
Nikos Michaloliakos, who is a sitting member of Parliament, was ordered remanded in custody after overnight testimony that lasted for more than six hours.
Michaloliakos and five of his party lawmakers were among 20 people arrested over the weekend in a crackdown against the Nazi-inspired party following the Sept. 17 fatal stabbing of rap singer Pavlos Fyssas.
The government, which has vowed to eradicate the group, has argued Golden Dawn has been acting as a criminal organization rather than a political party.
Court deems ID checks on minorities legal
Paris – A French court on Wednesday rejected claims that police identity checks on 13 people from minority groups were racist, saying officers didn’t overstep any legal boundaries.
The decision upended a bid to rein in law enforcement officers often accused of racial profiling. Lawyers for the plaintiffs pledged to appeal – up to the European Court of Human Rights if need be.
Anti-racism groups say that nonwhite French – particularly blacks or those of Arab origin – face routine discrimination that diminishes their chances of finding jobs, getting into nightclubs and carving out a place for themselves in mainstream society.
Such discrimination, they contend, also subjects minorities to humiliating public identity checks.
The plaintiffs – who range from students to delivery personnel – sought $13,000 each in the case. Their lawyers also wanted changes in the law that would require police to provide written reports of ID checks and spell out “objective grounds” for conducting the checks.