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Missile strikes hit Syrian opposition-held oil sites, reportedly killing 1 and injuring at least 11

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UPDATED AT 3:49 PM (EST)

Ballistic missile strikes hit oil tankers and markets across northern Syria on Friday near the Turkish border.

The strikes killed one person and wounded at least 11 others, Turkish state media and a source from the Turkish-backed faction that controls the region told Reuters.

Explosions rocked local oil refineries near the northern Syrian towns of al-Bab and Jarablus, sparking huge fires, a witness and Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency said, according to Reuters.

The source in the National Army, which controls areas of northwest Syria where Turkish troops have a presence, told Reuters that missile strikes had caused the blasts, injuring 11 individuals.

Anadolu said that they were ballistic missiles and that it was not clear who carried out the strikes, which it said injured 18 people, according to Reuters.

Turkey has supported insurgents who sought to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though al-Assad, with Russian and Iranian assistance, has pushed back the fighters to an area in the the war-torn country’s northwest.

At the time of publication, reports are indicating that strikes were carried out by either Russian or Syrian government forces, specifically against oil markets controlled by opposition forces in northern Syria. Moreover, the reports are conflicting about whether the missiles were the Syrian Army’s OTR-21 Tochka-U or the Russian’s Iskander.

One strike hit oil tankers in al-Hamran, which is near Jarablus and northwest of the northern Syria town of Manbij, resulting in a massive explosion.

The exact location of theses strikes was determined as the al-Hamran crossing between the TFSA (Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army) and SDF-controlled (Syrian Democratic Forces) areas, according to a report. The supposed target were reportedly trucks smuggling oil.

Three missiles hit the al-Hamran crossing, according to Syrian journalist Mohamed Rasheed, “causing huge explosions and burning fuel vehicles at the targeted place.”

It has also been reported that a subsequent strike hit an oil market in the TFSA-held town of Tarhin, which is north of al-Bab. Reporting thus far has indicated that two missiles were launched from the major city of Aleppo.

These missile strikes come one week after U.S. President Joe Biden in his first known use of force as commander-in-chief launched an airstrike against an Iranian-backed militia target in Syria, which drew harsh criticism from both the political left and right.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Thursday that there was initially supposed to be a second airstrike the same day as the aforementioned one, but that Biden called it off at the last minute due to an intelligence report saying that there was a woman and some child at the site of the second Iranian-backed militia target.

RELATED: Report: Biden called off a second Syria airstrike last week

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Columbia alumni are also anti-Israel, threaten to withhold $77 million in donations

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2,000 people claiming to be Columbia University alumni have signed a letter pledging to “withhold all financial, programmatic, and academic support” from the institution until it meets the demands of anti-Israel protesters. The result is $77 million in donations is at risk.

National Review reports that the letter, addressed to Columbia president Minouche Shafik and the school’s trustees, expresses support for the protesters who oppose the university’s “continued collaboration with the Israeli government’s ongoing genocidal violence against Palestinians.”

“The movement for Palestinian liberation, on campus and globally, is often led by Jewish people of many nations,” the letter says. “Weaponizing claims about antisemitism to silence student speech is based on faulty logic, harms Jewish students, and distracts from true antisemitism, including the attempts by a craven American right to tokenize, exploit, and appropriate Jewish trauma and resilience.”

There does not appear to be a process to verify that people who sign the letters are, in fact, Columbia alumni. It allows people to sign anonymously.

The letter condemns the “administration’s brutal repression of student speech and assembly,” specifically president Shafik’s decision to call in the New York Police Department Strategic Response Group on protesters. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters were arrested at Columbia and at the City College of New York on April 30, including some who barricaded themselves inside a campus admissions building.

Signatories of the letter are pledging to withhold donations until the university meets 13 demands, including: that it divests from companies that “fund or profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation of Palestine”; calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war; removes Shafik as president; bans the NYPD from campus; and drops charges against student activists, reverses disciplinary measures against them, and finances the healthcare for students who were “brutalized” by the police.

The website where the letter is shared claims that the signatories have previously provided over $67 million in financial contributions to Columbia, and that over $77 million in donations are now at risk.

The letter also claims that the university “failed to hold accountable the former Israeli soldiers who carried out a chemical attack on protesting students in January 2024.” That seems to be a reference to an incident involving anti-Israel protesters who told the student-run Columbia Spectator that during a demonstration earlier this year they were sprayed with “skunk,” a chemical developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

While this letter is from supporters of the anti-Israel protesters, Columbia has also received pushback from opponents who say the school is allowing protesters to break the law, disrupt the educational environment, and harass Jewish students, adds National Review.

On Monday, 13 federal judges sent a letter to Columbia leaders saying they will no longer hire the school’s students as clerks due to their behavior and the school’s mismanagement of anti-Israel protests, writing that “Columbia has disqualified itself from educating the future leaders of our country.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia alumnus, said in April that he would withhold donations from the university due to the anti-Israel protests.

“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken.”

 

 

 

 

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