Top of the Morning: Battle for Aleppo; USA Puts the Squeeze on Paul Kagame

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

The Battle for Aleppo

Syria’s second city has been the focus of very heavy fighting for nearly one week. Now, there’s word that Assad is rushing heavy weaponry to the city to prevent it from falling. This, of course, raises the prospect and likelihood of significant civilian casualties. “Syrian forces have intensified their firepower against a rebel challenge in Aleppo with activists reporting attack helicopters and fighter jets strafing opposition targets and artillery bombardments of several neighborhoods. Local activist Mohammed Saeed said there were clashes overnight that stretched into a sixth day on Thursday in parts of the city of three million, Syria’s commercial hub. On Wednesday and Thursday, he said government forces have relied more heavily on intense firepower from the air.’ Regime forces have been randomly shelling neighborhoods and the civilians are terrified,’ he told the Associated Press via Skype.” (WSJ

USA Puts the Squeeze on Paul Kagame

The USA has traditionally been timid in its dealings with Rwandan president Paul Kagame, stemming largely from guilt over the west’s inaction during the 1994 genocide. This is why it was particularly noteworthy to see that the State Department is starting to apply some serious pressure on Kagame over Rwanda’s suppor for rebels in the eastern DRC. “The head of the US war crimes office has warned Rwanda’s leaders, including President Paul Kagame, that they could face prosecution at the international criminal court for arming groups responsible for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Stephen Rapp, who leads the US Office of Global Criminal Justice, told the Guardian the Rwandan leadership may be open to charges of “aiding and abetting” crimes against humanity in a neighbouring country – actions similar to those for which the former Liberian president,Charles Taylor, was jailed for 50 years by an international court in May.Rapp’s warning follows a damning United Nations report on recent Rwandan military support for M23, an insurgent group that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since April as it has seized territory in the eastern DRC.” (Guardian