Syrian rebel groups have walked away from preliminary peace talks planned for Kazakhstan later this month. They claim Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, violated the days-old truce. News reports say that Syria's air force, along with Hezbollah and Shia militias, have launched bombing raids on Wadi Barada, just outside of Damascus. The region supplies the main drinking water for roughly four million people in Damascus and the surrounding area.
In other regional news, a global manhunt is on for the man suspected of killing 39 people in an Istanbul, Turkey nightclub. Islamic State claimed responsibility. And recently, Russia, Iran and Turkey formed a “Troika” of cooperation to deal with regional challenges such as Syria and terrorism.
We get an update on the Middle East and Turkey from Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan. He publishes the blog Informed Comment. Cole’s most recent book is The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East.