U.S. airstrikes last week reportedly killed "scores" of Russian mercenaries allied with the Syrian government. Bloomberg reported Tuesday that a significant number of Russian contract soldiers fighting for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were among the hundreds of soldiers who stormed an oil refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-allied soldiers last week in eastern Syria. The U.S. reacted with airstrikes, which the Syrian government has labeled an unnecessary act of "aggression," CNN says.
What is bizarre about this incident is that it apparently occurred against the wishes of the Russian government. Bloomberg described the attack on the refinery as a "rogue" strike, and the Russian government relayed to the U.S. that it had no hand in the operation. The U.S. has reportedly accepted this version of events. Where the U.S. and Russian stories diverge, however, is regarding the death count. Three Russian sources who spoke to Bloomberg say that upwards of 200 "mostly Russian" mercenaries were killed in the attack and subsequent airstrikes. The U.S. claims the death toll is closer to 100.
Even as the death count is disputed, Bloomberg says that either number would be "about five times more than Russia's official losses since it entered the [Syrian civil] war in 2015."
California police reportedly protected white nationalists in 2016 clashes with 'anti-racist' demonstrators
California police perpetrated a "cover-up and collusion with" white nationalist demonstrators after a 2016 rally, The Guardian reported Friday. Authorities investigating a violent clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters apparently "sought the prosecution of activists with 'anti-racist' beliefs," The Guardian wrote, citing court documents.
The rally in question occurred in June 2016 in Sacramento, California, where counter-protesters disrupted a white nationalist demonstration organized by the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), which The Guardian describes as a "neo-Nazi group." Multiple people were stabbed in the ensuing violence, and three counter-protesters who were injured at the rally were charged with assault and incitement of a riot.
The counter-protesters are now fighting to have the charges dismissed, citing documents about the rally from the California Highway Patrol that they claim reveal that state officials protected and cooperated with white nationalists to bring charges against activists. The documents focus specifically on officers' interactions with Doug McCormack and Derik Punneo, two members of the TWP. One document reportedly details a police officer telling McCormack, an organizer of the rally, that he would try to prevent McCormack's identity from being revealed in a public records request.
A separate victim, who was stabbed at the rally, identified Punneo as his attacker. But Punneo was never charged with any crime, and after he was arrested on an unrelated charge, authorities investigating the rally visited him in jail and told him, "We're pretty much going after [the counter-protesters.] ... We're looking at you as a victim," The Guardian reported, citing CHP recordings.
Steve Grippi, the prosecutor in this case, denied that authorities aided the white nationalists and told The Guardian that the activists who were stabbed had been "uncooperative" with the investigation. Read more at The Guardian. Kelly O'Meara Morales