Top of the Morning: Militants Attack Major Pakistani Air Base; ‘Clearest Sign Yet’ That Syria Conflict is Spilling Over To Lebanon

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Militants Attack Major Pakistani Air Base

Media reports have speculated that some of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is housed at this base, making this confrontation very worrisome. “Suspected Islamist militants early on Thursday attacked a major Pakistani Air Force base where some of the country’s nuclear weapons are thought to be stored, setting off a heavy gun battle in which eight attackers and one security official were killed. The attack on the Minhas air force base in Kamra, 25 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad, was a stark reminder of the militants’ determination to attack Pakistan’s most sensitive installations despite ongoing military operations in their tribal hide-outs. The sprawling air base, in the Attock district of Punjab, is believed to be one of the locations where elements of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile, estimated to include at least 100 warheads, is stored. It is also home to a variety of warplanes, including American-built F-16s, and contains a factory that makes JF-17 fighter jets in conjunction with China. The assault came amid mounting speculation that Pakistan’s military was preparing to carry out an operation in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan, in the tribal belt — a longstanding demand of the United States.”  (NYT

‘Clearest Sign Yet’ That Syria Conflict is Spilling Over To Lebanon

A wave of retaliatory kidnappings in Lebanon is heightening concerns that the Syria conflict cannot be contained to Syria. “Enraged Lebanese clansmen attempting to win the release of a relative they say is being held by rebels in Syria kidnapped as many as 40 Syrians with alleged ties to the rebel Free Syrian Army on Wednesday, in one of the clearest signs yet that the conflict in Syria is spilling over its borders and destabilizing its neighbors. The abduction of the Syrian men and a Turkish national in Lebanon came just a day after an Internet video was circulated showing Hassan al-Meqdad, a Lebanese citizen, being interrogated by a Syrian rebel while three gunmen stand behind him. In the video, Meqdad says he is a sniper who was sent to Syria by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement as part of a group of 1,500 fighters with instructions to help the Assad government. Hezbollah issued a statement Tuesday denying that Meqdad was a member. Meanwhile, Col. Malik Kurdi, a deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army, said he could not confirm whether Meqdad was being held by FSA fighters or members of another armed group in Syria. In a nearly identically posed video broadcast Wednesday, three gunmen stand behind two captured Syrians with a banner behind them reading ‘Al Meqdad Clan,’ as a Meqdad member asks them questions in the presence of reporter from the Lebanese MTV news channel. (WaPo