Middle East

One of two crew members survived the shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey on Tuesday, Russian officials say, and was rescued by a Syrian commando unit in an operation that ended early Wednesday.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's still unclear how the U.S. Senate will respond to the House of Representatives' bill that would tighten the vetting process for refugees from Syria and Iraq. 

President Obama and French President François Hollande promised to increase cooperation and expand attacks against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

During a joint press conference with Hollande at the White House, Obama said that the United States and France "owe our freedom to each other."

After the Paris attacks, Obama said, "our hearts broke too."

"In that stadium, concert hall, restaurants and cafes we see our own," Obama said. "Today we stand with you."

Let's start with one thing that's clear and simple in Syria's messy war: Many foreign powers are engaged in the battle, and all share the goal of beating back the Islamic State.

This very loose grouping includes Turkey and Russia, who aren't best friends, but at least have this common interest in Syria that would seem to override any inclination to confront one another.

Dominic Chavez / World Bank

In a 289 to 137 vote last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would tighten the vetting process for refugees from Syria and Iraq. The measure passed despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama -- a threat Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan says "baffles" him.

Turkey says that after issuing 10 warnings in five minutes, two of its F-16s shot down a Russian warplane that Turkey claims violated its airspace.

State Senator Elaine Morgan (R-Hopkinton), who attracted national criticism for an email in which she condemned Muslims, released a statement Friday defending her concerns about admitting Syrian refugees into the US.

Some Americans have taken to Twitter and threatened to move to Canada if the U.S. welcomes Syrian refugees. Perhaps they haven't been paying attention to news north of the border.

Justin Trudeau's campaign pledge to resettle refugees in Canada helped sweep him into the prime minister's office last month. His new government is adamant it will go through with an ambitious plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year — just six weeks away.

shadyart87 / Creative Commons

Two members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation voted with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives Thursday to strengthen the vetting procedure for Syrian refugees entering the U.S.

The House of Representatives has easily passed a GOP-authored bill to restrict the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to America by requiring extra security procedures.

The bill — called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, or the American SAFE Act of 2015 — would require the secretary of Homeland Security, the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence to sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria, affirming he or she is not a threat.

Aliyya Swaby / New Haven Independent

A young Syrian family is now living in New Haven after Indiana officials objected to plans for the refugees to resettle in their state. Local officials scrambled to accommodate the family of three. 

At every turn, this year's presidential campaign has proved conventional wisdom wrong. The aftermath of the Paris attacks might be another example.

As soon as the attacks were over, a chorus of (establishment) Republican voices predicted that the new focus on national security and terrorism would change the dynamic of the Republican race. This was the tipping point, they declared, that would finally usher out the outsiders leading the polls — Donald Trump and Ben Carson — in favor of more serious, experienced candidates.

Aida Mansoor / Muslim Coalition of Connecticut

In his latest book, author and scholar Moustafa Bayoumi takes a critical look at what it means to be Muslim-American in post-9/11 society.

When the French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle reaches its position near Syria's coast, it will find what until recently might have seemed an unlikely ally: a Russian guided missile cruiser. A U.S. official says Russia is newly receptive to cooperation in Syria.


The civil war in Syria has claimed thousands of lives and led millions of Syrians to seek refuge in other countries, including the U.S. Federal officials said just 2,100 of them have been resettled in the U.S. so far.

In Connecticut, there's been a developing grassroots effort over the last several months to help Syrian refugees.

The Obama administration is working to stem the backlash against its plans to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.

As of late Tuesday, 30 governors — 29 Republicans and 1 Democrat — had expressed opposition to bringing in refugees after European officials confirmed one of the terrorists who attacked Paris last week was a Syrian who had registered with E.U. officials while traveling through Greece seeking asylum.

Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET

Governors in 30 states across the country have now publicly asked for the resettlement of Syrian refugees to stop until security concerns can be addressed.

Those states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Dominic Chavez / World Bank

More than two dozen U.S. governors are publicly opposing the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the wake of attacks in Paris last week.

But in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy said the state will continue to welcome refugees who undergo a rigorous security screening. 

On the final day of national mourning, Paris is still trying to regain a sense of normalcy, after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks Friday left 129 people dead.

It's hard, NPR's David Greene reports. For example, he met 23-year-old Anne Sophie Pratta, who was making her way back to her apartment Monday night.

She said when she got on the train, everyone was looking at each other.

Following a meeting of the Group of 20 in Turkey, Russian president Vladimir Putin signaled that his country's isolation from the West may soon be a thing of the past.

Putin said Russia had proposed cooperating with the United States and others in the fight against terrorism, but that the U.S. rebuffed Russia's offer.

"Life indeed moves on, often very quickly, and teaches us lessons," Putin said. "It seems to me that everyone is coming around to the realization that we can wage an effective fight only together."

Plane Crash Was A 'Terrorist Act,' Russian Officials Say

Nov 17, 2015

The Russian government has determined it was a bomb that brought down a Russian plane over Egypt, killing all 224 people on board.

"One can unequivocally say that it was a terrorist act," Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia's Federal Security Service, said at a meeting chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bortnikov said that "traces of foreign explosives" were found on the wreckage.

In the cinderblock Iraqi villages clustered around Mount Sinjar's rippling, craggy slopes, the mood is euphoric.

Fighters who retook the city late last week from ISIS — with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes — race along cratered roads, cheering children crammed in the back of their trucks, flags cartoon-bright in the pure, intense winter sunshine.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

One of the suicide bombers who struck Paris on Friday has been identified as a Syrian who passed through Greece as an asylum-seeker this year and registered with European authorities.

That fact has spurred a strong reaction from many politicians here in the United States over the resettlement of Syrian refugees, with swift opposition from many Republican governors, and one Democrat, to further resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states.

Christiaan Triebert / Creative Commons

The Paris bombings and shootings are the latest in a string of attacks by the Islamic State. Mourners around the world have gathered to show support for the victims and world leaders are responding politically and militarily. This hour, national security expert and Connecticut native Scott Bates discusses what the appropriate response should be.

We also hear from a University of Connecticut student responding to racist graffiti on his friend Mahmoud's door.

President Barack Obama held a press conference from a global summit in Turkey on Monday. He said reducing the territory controlled by the Islamic State group, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria will reduce the flow of fighters and lessen the threat it poses. Watch his address and press conference below.

Friday's attacks in Paris have cast a shadow over the Group of 20 summit, which opened Sunday in Antalya, in southern Turkey. Leaders of 20 major economies agreed to step up the battle against ISIS and to ease the wider conflict in Syria.

In the wake of Friday's coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, the French people — and supporters around the world — have been grieving. More than 120 people died in explosions and gunfire when well-coordinated teams of assailants struck at least six sites across the city.

A Russian aircraft carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members has crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, according to Egyptian authorities. The Airbus A321 lost contact with both Egyptian and Russian officials after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on a flight to St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Russian Aviation Agency says the airliner was a charter flight carrying tourists back from a popular Russian vacation spot, NPR's Corey Flintoff tells our Newscast unit. The plane was operated by Metrojet, a small airline formerly called Kolavia.

Sergey Borisov/iStock / Thinkstock

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is making another push for mental health reform in Congress that he hopes will overhaul and strengthen the mental health care system. He joins us from Washington, D.C. to explain the legislation and to discuss some recent news on the U.S. policy on Syria and use of drones. 

We also talk to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal about an Obama administration proposal to help address Puerto Rico's fiscal challenges. 

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the U.S. will begin to increase the tempo of an air campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

"We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," Carter said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.