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.

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.

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."

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.

MarineCorps NewYork / Creative Commons

Wednesday is November 11, a date originally designated by President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I. After World War II, however, it was renamed Veterans Day to honor all Americans who have served. 

The FBI Agents Association honored fallen colleagues and the former head of U.S. Special Operations in a star-studded charity gala in Washington on Wednesday.

The second-annual awards dinner generated money to help provide scholarships for children of FBI workers and funds that offer "special assistance" to agents and their families.

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.

Victor Suwatcharapinun / CPBN

In the days leading up to Veterans Day, WNPR brings you stories from veterans and those in their communities.

Gulaid Ismail is a veteran of the Iraq War.

The U.S. Army / Creative Commons

A new memoir from British Middle East expert Emma Sky provides an insider’s account of the Iraq war. This hour, we talk to Sky about her book called The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry stepped before a packed auditorium Thursday. He was at Indiana University for the opening of a school of international studies.

"I have managed to completely forget that when running for president in 2004, I was crushed in Indiana," he quipped.

Kerry was welcomed Thursday as he promoted the Obama administration's recent international agreements, like deals on Pacific trade and Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama said on Thursday that slowing down the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is "the right thing to do."

"Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be," Obama said, so the United States will leave 9,800 troops in the country through most of 2016. By 2017, about 5,500 troops will remain in a few bases across the country.

Obama said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will remain focused on two non-combat objectives: to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida.

Pete Souza / White House

Senior administration officials say President Barack Obama will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017.

Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET.

The United States has shelved a program that was intended to train moderate Syrian rebel fighters.

As we've reported, the $500 million program, which sought to train 5,400 fighters, has failed. At last count, the U.S. said it had been able to train only about 60 fighters.

Russian cruise missiles that were fired from warships in the Caspian sea and were intended to hit Syrian targets crashed in Iran, instead, a U.S. official tells NPR's Tom Bowman.

Tom reports that the missiles landed in a rural area of Iran. Local television, Tom reports, said "that something crashed and exploded near the northern city of Tekab, shattering windows and leaving a large crater."

A day after the Russian navy fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria — and two days after Russia's warplanes veered into Turkey's airspace — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance "is able and ready to defend all allies, including Turkey, against any threat."

The international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is calling for an international investigation into what it calls a war crime in Afghanistan — Saturday's U.S. airstrikes that killed 22 people, including medical staff and patients at the organization's hospital in Kunduz.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

NATO in Afghanistan says it will lead an investigation into an airstrike in Kunduz this weekend that hit a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital, killing 22 people — an attack that the humanitarian organization, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has called "a war crime."

A U.S.-led airstrike on the northern Afghan city was carried out Saturday, but the circumstances surrounding it remain murky. NATO acknowledges only that the raid occurred near the charity's hospital.

Taliban forces stormed the Afghan city of Kunduz on Monday; after several days of fighting, Afghan forces claimed to have retaken the city.

Updated at 10:00 a.m. ET Sunday

An aerial attack carried out by U.S. forces appears to have badly damaged a Médecins Sans Frontières trauma center in the Afghan city of Kunduz in the early hours on Saturday, killing 19 people — 12 staff working for the international aid organization and seven patients, including three children.

Thirty-seven were injured in the attack, according to MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

"All indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international Coalition forces," MSF said.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

In a new development that could change the dynamic of Syria's civil war, Russian military began carrying out airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday. Russia says it will target ISIS fighters as part of a plan to fight terrorism.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby says a Russian official informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad about the missions and also requested that American military aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during Russian operations.

After nearly 10,000 refugees and migrants entered Croatia in the past two days, the country has placed its army on alert to deploy on the country's border with Serbia. People who were turned away by Hungary now see Croatia as an alternate route into European Union countries.

Reporting from the Croatia-Serbia border, Lauren Frayer spoke to Jamal al-Shahoud, a refugee from Syria, who told her, "Here no food, no water. No buses, no trains. Nothing here. Just tired."

Lauren reports for our Newscast unit:

Connecticut Veterans Voice Support for Iran Deal

Sep 17, 2015
CPBN Media Lab

Connecticut resident and former Marine Gulaid Ismail served in Fallujah, Iraq in 2005 when he was 27 years old. Ismail enlisted after 9/11 and said he sees serving in the military as his patriotic duty.

"I didn’t want to just enjoy the liberties, and not say that I had a helping hand, you know, with regards to that," Ismail said. He supports the Iran Deal.

Army veteran Giselle Jacobs, also from Connecticut, agrees. She served in Germany in 1984 when she was 20 years old.

Dominic Chavez / World Bank

Senator Chris Murphy is joining Connecticut advocates to call for a big increase in the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the United States.

U.S. Department of State / Creative Commons

Ever since a photo of a Syrian boy dead on a beach made the rounds of the internet, there has been a new focus on the refugee crisis. The United Nations reports more than four million registered Syrian refugees and the country's neighbors are taking the brunt of the strain. Now Europe is struggling to handle a flood of migrants to that continent. Germany is among the countries imposing border controls in response to the flood of refugees who survived the long and dangerous journey away from war.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Roman Lutsiuk, a Ukrainian volunteer soldier, was wounded twice in combat — first losing several fingers, and then, after returning to the front, sustaining serious injuries after being shot several times in the abdomen. 

He’s now receiving care at Yale-New Haven Hospital. In October, he'll undergo major reconstructive surgery to organs in his digestive system. 

During a meeting with all 27 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Tuesday, Turkey said it wanted to give the members a heads up that at some point it may need their help fighting against the self-declared Islamic State.

Turkey called a rare Article 4 meeting of the NATO allies after it began an air campaign against ISIS targets in Syria.

Peter Patau / Flickr Creative Commons

For over a decade now, when we've heard about military drones, we've likely been hearing about the Predator-- that peculiar, pilotless aircraft, patrolling the deserts and preying on its targets below. Indeed the iconic image of this modern day killer and tales of its near-autonomous deeds have been featured in the news, magazines and even Hollywood movies.

Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET

President Obama has warned that the campaign against the so-called Islamic State "will not be quick" as he cited gains made in Iraq and Syria by the coalition fighting the militant group.

"This will not be quick," Obama said at the Pentagon. "This is a long-term campaign."

Menemsha Films

Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized the rescue of more than 600 children just before the start of World War Two, has died in England. He was 106 years old. 

One of the people he saved now lives in Hartford.


A U.N. envoy to Syria this week has condemned what he calls the “unacceptable" use of barrel bombs by the Assad regime. On Monday, an important cultural heritage site was the target of one of those bombs.