Soldier guilty of war crime
For the first time in six years of war, a member of the Syrian military has been convicted of a war crime. The perpetrator: a low-level soldier who is now in Sweden as a refugee. The crime: violating human dignity by posing with his boot on a corpse. The sentence: eight months in a Swedish prison. Anticlimactic? At first glance, yes. But the ruling is a landmark event, legal experts and human rights advocates say, and offers a glimmer of hope that courts outside Syria can hold at least some war criminals accountable on all sides of a conflict that has claimed nearly half a million lives.
Ex-President Talabani dies
Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader who used pragmatism, guile and an outsize personality to navigate a hazardous course in Mideast politics, has died at age 83. He survived guerrilla war, the terrors of Saddam Hussein and shifting alliances to become the first president of Iraq under its postwar constitution. He died in Berlin of a brain hemorrhage and a stroke, his second since 2012, according to a spokesman for Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Leaders defend Iran deal
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that they believe the United States should stay in the Iran nuclear deal, staking out a position at odds with President Donald Trump’s only days before he decides whether to certify that Tehran is in compliance with the deal. Mattis also sought to assure lawmakers that Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan represents the best approach for winning the war.
Inmate gets new sentence
Duane Buck, a black Texas inmate who earlier this year won a Supreme Court order for a new punishment hearing because his death sentence may have been tainted by references to race, has accepted a life prison term plus two 60-year sentences.