New round of airstrikes hits Idlib province

Human rights groups fear a humanitarian crisis could be imminent in rebel-held Idlib, Syria, after a ceasefire was not reached and a fresh round of airstrikes were reported. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

Posted: Sep 10, 2018 8:11 AM
Updated: Sep 10, 2018 8:29 AM

Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States. Modeled on the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, which the director of national intelligence prepares for the President almost daily, my Presidential Weekly Briefing focuses on the topics and issues the President needs to know to make informed decisions.

Here's this week's briefing:

Brazil: Stabbing democracy

Democracy in Brazil is literally under assault. Known to many fellow Brazilians as the "Brazilian Trump," Representative Jair Bolsonaro, one of the frontrunners in October's presidential election, was stabbed on Thursday while on the campaign trail. This kind of violence could continue ahead of the presidential election in late October, portending a dangerous trend in South America's largest country.

Unfortunately, Brazil is no stranger to political violence. Earlier this year, a councilwoman in Rio De Janeiro was murdered, and, in May, campaign buses hired by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were shot at in southern Brazil.

While politicians have denounced the Bolsonaro stabbing and police have charged a suspect, the incident could add more fuel to an already fiery situation.

Sympathy generated by it, and the likely withdrawal of Lula, who though leading in the polls, is expected to give up his own campaign bid, means that Bolsonaro will probably advance to a run-off and victory. Lula was convicted and sentenced for corruption and money laundering -- and the Brazilian Supreme Court denied his appeal to continue his campaign from behind bars. A Bolsonaro win would be the latest victory for a far-right candidate in a major democracy.

Bolsonaro is a polarizing figure, known for his racist, homophobic and sexist remarks, including saying a female lawmaker was too ugly to be raped. He's facing charges for speech inciting hatred and rape. Though he denies the charges, and the cases have not yet proceeded to court, it has many voters uneasy.

That said, for other voters, his campaign rhetoric is resonating. He has centered it around draining the Brazilian corruption-laden swamp, which sits well with many Brazilians who have seen massive anti-corruption operations lead to prison sentences for senior public and private sector officials, massive layoffs, strikes and billions of dollars in fines.

Since the country's supreme court decided that Lula, currently serving a 12-year sentence, cannot continue his campaign, he's expected to endorse Fernando Haddad, his running mate, to become the Workers Party (PT) candidate. (Ironically, Haddad was charged with corruption last week, charges that he denies.)

Haddad would have a tough time clawing at Bolsonaro's lead, particularly after the stabbing. So, you should probably count on another far-right, divisive leader coming into power. While his win might have some benefits -- he seems amenable to free market economics -- his expressed admiration for the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil could come at a cost for many Brazilians.

North Korea: If you build it, they will come

There was no rain on Kim Jong Un's military parade on Sunday, and you should expect Kim to keep fine-tuning his words and actions to lower tensions with you -- while he keeps proliferating nuclear bomb materials. Following the latest parade, attended by the number three ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party, he probably thinks that building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction worked out in his favor. Despite amassing illegal warheads and chemical and biological weapons, he has foreign visitors in North Korea (President Moon Jae-in is expected to visit soon) and media coverage is focused on his decision not to display ballistic missiles.

But just because he didn't display them and isn't testing them doesn't mean they do not exist. We assess that Kim is carefully calibrating his messages to you, including his reported statements, relayed through the South Korean national security adviser, that he has faith in you and doesn't talk negatively about you.

The specificity of Kim's comments is likely not coincidental. He may be aware of the attention the White House is paying to Bob Woodward's book "Fear: Trump in the White House" and the negative comments about you in it. He is also probably aware of the anonymous New York Times op-ed by a senior administration official, who also writes negatively about you. He may be trying to purposefully contrast himself with this negativity by relaying that he doesn't sink to such lows.

He is counting on you to have faith in him and in your discussion at the Singapore summit, despite his failure to denuclearize and despite his demands for more concessions. In a recent tweet, you thanked Kim for his unwavering faith, which is probably adding to his perception that you'll maintain faith in him.

We assess that the South Korean delegation may not be an unbiased messenger in this case, and we should analyze the veracity of their message and Kim's sincerity. Remember that it was the South Koreans who passed along Kim's original invitation to meet with you. They may have over-promised on what he was prepared to do without concessions.

Moon is deeply invested in the negotiations between you and Kim and has long favored engagement over military action.

The "elegant" delivery of Kim's personal letter to you is also probably part of his strategy. The more exchanges between you and Kim, the less likely he thinks you are to abandon talks and pivot to another means of getting him to denuclearize.

For Kim, the letters are a way to buy time. He's using this time to ingratiate himself on the global stage and build his own power (militarily and economically), while we suspended a major joint military exercise with South Korea and our maximum pressure campaign dissipates.

Syria: Battle update

We are providing you with an update on an ongoing situation. The assault on Idlib as Syrian and Russian aircraft pound the province, and we assess that it will continue, unabated, until President Bashar al-Assad and his backers raze and "liquidate" this last rebel stronghold. Because of your history of punishing chemical weapons attacks but not other regime atrocities, and the recent Pentagon statement that we will only use force "to defend US, coalition or partner forces, as we have clearly demonstrated in past instances," Vladimir Putin probably doesn't think you'll do anything to stop the assault on Syrians in Idlib.

He expects you to watch the assault, issue some more warnings, and wait for it to be over. If chemical weapons (CW) are used, Assad and Putin probably expect punishment, but we don't think that will deter them from more CW use.

Assad and Putin know that despite US Ambassador Nikki Haley's remarks at the UN and US military exercises in Syria, there have been no additional measures to actually stop the ongoing violence. Russia has warned US troops about their impending operations in the US-controlled area of al-Tanf, but deconflicting military moves to avoid a direct confrontation are nothing new. Putin probably isn't itching for a direct military confrontation with you -- he just wants the US to stay out of the way and knows our troops aren't authorized to fight him or the regime.

You should expect the humanitarian disaster to continue, which will have an ongoing strain not only on the Syrian people but on Turkey, Lebanon and other countries hosting refugees. Once Idlib is taken, Assad and Putin will feel more empowered to do what they want throughout the country, which will be solidly under their control.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 701971

Reported Deaths: 13187
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion958051716
Lake51105939
Allen38867670
Hamilton34212404
St. Joseph33638539
Elkhart27021431
Vanderburgh22016393
Tippecanoe21602212
Johnson17408373
Porter17157297
Hendricks16711310
Clark12640190
Madison12287337
Vigo12139244
Monroe11336166
LaPorte10760204
Delaware10288184
Howard9606211
Kosciusko9051113
Hancock7922139
Bartholomew7839153
Warrick7671155
Floyd7533176
Wayne6871198
Grant6755168
Boone6517100
Morgan6362138
Dubois6068117
Marshall5743108
Dearborn566975
Cass5668102
Henry5558100
Noble536983
Jackson491869
Shelby476895
Lawrence4324118
Gibson426889
Harrison426070
Montgomery416286
Clinton415053
DeKalb405483
Huntington376480
Whitley374939
Miami371365
Knox364889
Steuben361357
Putnam351760
Wabash345877
Jasper344846
Adams337652
Ripley333268
Jefferson310779
White307154
Daviess288699
Wells284780
Decatur278592
Fayette276962
Greene269985
Posey268133
Scott259853
Clay252044
LaGrange250970
Randolph234380
Washington230329
Spencer227431
Jennings224447
Fountain207445
Sullivan207342
Starke201152
Owen191456
Fulton190439
Jay185529
Carroll185220
Perry179136
Orange176253
Rush170224
Vermillion165643
Franklin165135
Tipton160843
Parke143716
Blackford132631
Pike130034
Pulaski112945
Newton102834
Brown99340
Crawford96914
Benton95613
Martin82215
Warren78715
Switzerland7698
Union69510
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1045945

Reported Deaths: 18917
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1214131352
Cuyahoga1060882061
Hamilton778281165
Montgomery49815988
Summit45000907
Lucas39675760
Butler37582568
Stark31296894
Lorain24038472
Warren23805291
Mahoning20777583
Lake19885362
Clermont19387228
Delaware17933130
Licking16066206
Fairfield15618196
Trumbull15500459
Medina14787259
Greene14593236
Clark13542288
Wood12664184
Portage12277194
Allen11281229
Richland11001198
Miami10500212
Muskingum8676127
Wayne8523209
Columbiana8515226
Pickaway8414120
Tuscarawas8347239
Marion8342135
Erie7509153
Ross6687145
Hancock6666123
Geauga6520146
Ashtabula6436164
Scioto6271100
Belmont5578158
Union555147
Lawrence5454102
Jefferson5271147
Huron5265113
Darke5256121
Sandusky5158119
Seneca5084118
Washington5056107
Athens497454
Auglaize473984
Mercer470084
Shelby454689
Knox4363108
Madison420458
Putnam419398
Ashland411586
Fulton406266
Defiance399496
Brown384855
Crawford3848100
Logan371976
Preble369298
Clinton359359
Ottawa354278
Highland345759
Williams321674
Champaign317856
Jackson306151
Guernsey305348
Perry289249
Fayette276748
Morrow274139
Henry262866
Hardin262663
Coshocton257857
Holmes252399
Van Wert238562
Gallia232946
Pike232331
Adams227152
Wyandot225553
Hocking208458
Carroll188547
Paulding168238
Meigs141138
Noble132537
Monroe128741
Morgan106423
Harrison104936
Vinton81314
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 33°
Angola
Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 33°
Huntington
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 33°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 33°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 33°
There will be more clouds around than sunshine for most of the day and highs will top out in the upper 40s.
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