Syrian forces gathered near a restive border town, now nearly deserted of residents, in a continued crackdown on the three-month old uprising against the leadership of President Bashar Assad.
Assad’s government alleges 120 of its security forces were killed this week in the rebellious town of Jisr al-Shughour. Despite the military show of force near the town, Syrians in other parts of the country were reported to be ready to take to the streets for renewed protests.
According to the Associated Press, about 2,800 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey since the nationwide uprising against Assad began. The NewsHour looked at the situation in Jisr al-Shughour and diplomatic reaction to Syria’s crackdown on Thursday’s program:
Gates Calls NATO’s Future ‘Dim’
Outgoing defense chief Robert Gates offered a blunt assessment of the future of U.S. commitment to NATO in a speech in Brussels, saying that without more military and political will, the alliance faces a “dim, if not dismal” future.
Some of the frustration stems from the war in Afghanistan, which is being administered under NATO command. Gates has questioned why NATO has been unable to supply more “boots on the ground” and military strength to the Afghan effort. Other concerns involve reductions in Europe’s defense budgets.
“In the past, I’ve worried openly about NATO turning into a two-tiered alliance between members who specialize in ‘soft’ humanitarian, development, peacekeeping and talking tasks and those conducting the ‘hard’ combat missions — between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership, be they security guarantees or headquarters billets, but don’t want to share the risks and the costs,” the secretary said in an address to the alliance’s Security and Defense Agenda assembly.
According to Gates, this could be a final blow for the NATO structure.
“What I’ve sketched out is the real possibility for a dim, if not dismal future for the trans-Atlantic alliance,” he said. “Such a future is possible, but not inevitable. The good news is that the members of NATO - individually and collectively - have it well within their means to halt and reverse these trends and instead produce a very different future.”
Sprouts to Blame for E.coli Outbreak in Europe
It’s official: German sprouts are to blame for a toxic outbreak of E. coli in Europe that has killed at least 29 people and sickened thousands.
Investigators have been tracing the food sources from many of those who have been sickened by the outbreak. Initial tests from an organic farm in Lower Saxony had proved negative, but officials were able to link several patients to 26 restaurants that serve produce from the farm.
“In this way, it was possible to narrow down epidemiologically the cause of the outbreak of the illness to the consumption of sprouts,” Reinhard Burger, president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center said at a press conference with the heads of Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and Federal Office for Consumer Protection. “It is the sprouts.