Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
After advancing for days, Syrian forces bombarded the northern rebel town of Jisr al-Shoughour with tanks and helicopter gunships (NYT), clashing with armed civilians and mutinous soldiers and causing thousands of residents to flee across the border to Turkey.
According to the BBC, over five thousand Syrian refugees have registered with Turkish officials, while another five thousand have entered Turkey unofficially. Hundreds more are amassed along the border in Syria, waiting to see whether the army will advance further and seize other rebel strongholds, including the nearby town of Maarat al-Numan.
This interactive feature from the Guardian maps out the advancement of Syrian troops on Jisr al-Shoughour and the movement of refugees toward Turkey.
The military operation is the latest in a series of crackdowns by President Bashar al-Assad's government against a three-month pro-democracy movement that has killed 1,300 civilians (Reuters).
In his blog Pressure Points, CFR's Elliott Abrams criticizes the Obama administration for not publicly calling on Assad to resign.
In a recent essay for the London Review of Books, CFR's Mohamad Bazzi analyzes the Syrian Ba'athist regime's strategy for maintaining power.
This Economist essay argues that the tide is slowly turning against Syria's Assad.
MIDDLE EAST: Yemen Opposition in Transition Talks
With Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment following an attack on his compound, the opposition met with the country's vice president to discuss an eventual transfer of power (al-Jazeera).
Bernard Haykel of Princeton University tells CFR.org the best political solution for Yemen right now would be a national unity council until elections can be held.
PACIFIC RIM: Vietnam Holding Live-Fire Drills
Vietnam's navy is holding live-fire drills in the disputed South China Sea (BBC) amid a heightening dispute over maritime borders with China.
New Zealand: Two earthquakes rocked Christchurch today (SydneyMorningHerald), causing significant damage and prompting evacuations. The quakes are part of a series of aftershocks since a February 22 earthquake that killed 182 people.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Taliban Cede Ground in Afghanistan
The Afghan Taliban have ceded significant ground (NYT) in the southern Helmand province, which Afghans in the region attribute to the thousands of additional U.S. and Afghan troops that have been deployed there.
As President Barack Obama prepares to make a decision on the pace of a U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan ahead of a July deadline, CFR.org reviews analysis of the policy debate in Washington over the objectives of the nearly ten-year military conflict.
Bangladesh: The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party is leading athirty-six hour general strike (al-Jazeera) to protest the government's efforts to amend the constitution. The strike has crippled transportation services and other businesses.
AFRICA: North and South Sudan in Peace Talks
The African Union is hosting peace talks today between north Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir over armed clashes (BBC) in the disputed border town of Abyei, which has caused up to 140,000 people to flee.
Somalia: DNA testing confirmed that al-Qaeda's leader in East Africa, the architect of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings (DailyNation) in Kenya and Tanzania, was killed by Somali government forces at a shootout in the capital of Mogadishu last week.
AMERICAS: Chileans Prepare for Landslides
Following the eruption of the Cordon Caulle volcano (al-Jazeera) in Chile last week, many of the thousands of residents who have already been evacuated from their homes are being ordered to stay in shelters in anticipation of deadly landslides.
United States: International banks and foreign governments are lobbying U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to revise a pervasive U.S. tax law (FT) that will require overseas institutions to report their American clients to the International Revenue Service.
EUROPE: Turkey's Erdogan Wins Third Term
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party won parliamentary elections (DeutscheWelle) by just under 50 percent, short of the two-thirds majority sought to rewrite the country's constitution.
CFR's Steven A. Cook discusses AKP's success and the constitutional stakes in Turkey's election.