World roundup: October 19 2022
Stories from Iran, Russia, the United States, and elsewhere
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham appears to have put the brakes on its recent conflict with the “Syrian National Army” in Aleppo province, due to the intervention of the SNA’s Turkish patron. According to The New Arab, HTS has agreed to withdraw from villages it seized earlier this week, prior to the Turkish deployment on Tuesday. It’s unclear whether it has actually withdrawn from those places, however. It’s also unclear at this point whether HTS intends to withdraw from Afrin, as had been stipulated in a failed HTS-SNA ceasefire agreement on Friday.
Elsewhere, The New York Times is reporting that the Russian military has moved some number of soldiers and an S-300 air defense unit out of Syria for redeployment to Ukraine. The precise number of personnel isn’t clear but it seems to be at least 1200 soldiers and could be significantly higher than that. The air defense unit is notable because it’s likely the S-300 has limited Israeli operations in Syria over the past several years. If the Russians are reducing their presence in Syria that’s also going to make it harder for the Israelis to justify their refusal to supply air defense systems of their own to Ukraine (see below). Part of their rationale for keeping that conflict at arm’s length has been the need to manage their relationship with Moscow so that the Russians and their S-300 wouldn’t interfere with Israeli airstrikes.
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