Syria attacks supposed 'safe zones,' U.S. offers no help to rebels
Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories
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- An emboldened President Bashar al-Assad is moving to retake control of what were supposed to be Syria's ceasefire safe-zones
- Meet some of the incredible Canadians graduating from high school this year
- Thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Tehran today, clashing with police outside Iran's parliament in a protest against rising prices and a crumbling economy
- Missed The National last night? Watch it here
Syria's 'safe zone' under attack
The Syrian government is pounding a rebel-held enclave along the Jordanian border with barrel bombs, missiles and artillery, as an emboldened President Bashar al-Assad moves to retake control of what were supposed to be ceasefire safe-zones.
The fighting in Daraa province, along the country's southwest frontier, started last week and picked up steam over the weekend as it became clear that no one is coming to the aid of the anti-government Free Syrian Army (FSA).
On Friday, Nikki Haley, America's ambassador to the United Nations, was talking tough about the Syrian attacks, saying they "unambiguously" violated the ceasefire. She warned that Russia "will ultimately bear responsibility for any further escalations."
But by yesterday, the Guardian was reporting that representatives of the FSA — a group that was armed and financed by the CIA until last July — have been quietly told not to expect any military assistance from American forces.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Russian warplanes are now joining in the attacks, which have killed at least 28 civilians since last week.
Daraa was the birthplace of the Syrian revolution. A group of teenagers started spray-painting anti-Assad graffiti in 2011, sparking demonstrations that spread across the country. It has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting throughout the seven-year civil war.
Government troops now control the eastern half of the city, but the rebels still hold the west and most of the surrounding countryside.
Even as the fighting escalates in the south, Assad is turning his attention to the other remaining rebel stronghold in Idlib province to the north.
"We will fight with them and return control by force. It is certainly not the best option for us, but it's the only way to get control of the country," he said.
According to the UN, more than 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict and 5.6 million Syrians have fled the country, with a further 6 million people displaced within its borders.
David Common on assignment
The news this spring has been dark — full of bad people doing bad things. Even in perpetually cynical newsrooms, we needed an antidote. So we wrote to dozens of schools across the country and asked about some of their most inspiring students from the Class of 2018.
The responses were incredible, and the job of shortening the list to three students was challenging.
Kardeisha Provo was the first we met.
At 18, she has become the unofficial voice of her hometown in North Preston, N.S. As Canada's only all-black community, it has a rich history but became known more for a series of shootings.
"Often in the world, black people are labelled as being violent, being people who won't amount to things," Provo, a top student and prolific volunteer, told us when we met.
"I wanted change that narrative and spread a positive light on the successes of our people."
Kardeisha's method is a personal video blog. She has addressed the violence head-on, but also broadcasts the good, from sports events to the challenges faced by teenagers in the community.
Rather than accept outsiders defining the community only for the violence it has experienced, she's been credited with helping those who live in North Preston to write their own history.
And the confidence it has built shows — especially when Kardeisha walks down the street through the small community. Not a single car drives by without stopping to talk to her. At a young age, she's a leader beyond just her peers.
- Watch David Common's feature on some of the most remarkable members of Canada's 2018 graduating class tonight on The National, on CBC Television and streamed online
- Read the CBCNews.ca online feature
- Like this newsletter? Sign up and have it delivered by email.
- You may also like our early-morning newsletter, the Morning Brief — start the day with the news you need in one quick and concise read. Sign up here.
Economic unrest in Iran
Thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Tehran today, clashing with police outside the country's parliament in a protest against rising prices and a crumbling economy.
The anti-government protests are said to have been the largest in Iran's capital since 2012, when international sanctions over Iran's nuclear program were causing severe economic hardship.
Videos posted to social media show crowds marching through Tehran's Grand Bazaar, encouraging merchants to close their shops in solidarity. And little later, police firing tear gas at chanting demonstrators outside the nearby parliament building.
The value of the rial, Iran's currency, has plummeted since President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose U.S. sanctions. It is now trading at 90,000 for one American dollar on the black market, more than double the rate at the end of last year.
The Iranian government has tried to stop the slide by setting a fixed U.S. exchange rate of 42,000 rials, but hard currency is in short supply, making it difficult for businesses to purchase foreign goods. For example, the Financial Times reports that the cost of Hyundai Tucson has risen from 1.7 billion rials to 3.7 billion in just one year.
In December and January, a wave of similar protests against galloping inflation and rising unemployment spread across the country, eventually involving 75 cities and towns. At least 25 people were killed and 5,000 arrested as the government tried to stifle the movement.
Last week, President Hassan Rouhani approved a plan for designated protest zones in Tehran, including soccer stadiums, parks and a site near the parliament, where citizens will be allowed to express dissent as long as they don't violate "Islamic principles." But history suggests that the size of such rallies is likely to be carefully managed, and that only a certain level of anti-government criticism will be tolerated.
A few words on …
The challenges facing Canada's peacekeepers in Mali:
Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canada's chief of defence staff, spoke with Adrienne Arsenault in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mali?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mali</a> to outline the objectives of the first substantial Canadian peacekeeping mission in nearly two decades. | <a href="https://t.co/e9eDpxPXhu">https://t.co/e9eDpxPXhu</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CAF?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CAF</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/adriearsenault?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@adriearsenault</a> <a href="https://t.co/RHKx6gyvRE">pic.twitter.com/RHKx6gyvRE</a>—@CBCTheNational
Quote of the moment
"Your whole character is torn apart and stripped down and you're villainized."
- RCMP Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Greenwood, the lead plaintiff in a new $1.1 billion class action suit against the force, on the alleged bullying and harassment he endured after passing on reports that fellow officers were on the take.
What The National is reading
- Mali 'far messier' than other peacekeeping missions, says Canada's defence chief (CBC)
- Erdogan win has Turkey 'entering era of one-man rule' (BBC)
- Algeria abandons 13,000 migrants in the Sahara desert (CBC)
- Trump no longer listening to his defence secretary, officials say (NBC)
- $6 million malpractice settlement for N.S. boy who suffered brain damage at birth (CBC)
- French police arrest 10 suspects over plot against Muslims (RFI)
- Harley-Davidson to move some production out of U.S. after European tariffs (CNN)
- Russian vodka pulled from Alberta shelves over Communist-style logo (Edmonton Journal)
Today in history
June 25, 1983: The Guess Who, together again
Would fans shell out "as much as $20" to see four "almost 40 and fatter" musicians run through their decade-old hits? Given that the reunion tour kicked off in Winnipeg — the Guess Who's hometown — the answer was a resounding yes. The real thrill here though is hearing The National anchor George McLean pronounce "rock 'n roll" like it's a foreign word.
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