The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 4

The Atlas Newsletter returns to you for weekly international updates.

Good morning everyone,

It's been a quiet week, in relation to the last few we've had. We at Atlas hope to be finalizing a lot of the finer details of the newsletter in the coming weeks, so further feedback is always appreciated. As of right now, this iteration of newsletter will remain a once per week edition highlighting major international news and lightly touching on the specifics. In time we hope to have one newsletter per region to dive into news a bit more in-depth, which you will be able to subscribe to individually. Speaking of, there are other major things planned at Atlas News, so if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for an account and recommend us to some friends for a month of free access to exclusive content, including our mini docu-series and unlimited articles.

That being said, border tensions remain high in several African nations, threatening to turn to war at any moment. Israel, the United States, and the Kurds have stepped up operations in Syria against their respective opponents. Europe discusses further options to provide aid for Ukraine and the U.S. provides a casualty count for the PMC company Wagner Group. Iran and China held an important meeting to discuss future economic endeavors to undermine Western sanctions and Turkey begins to end it's rescue efforts after the earthquake.

Overall, it looks to be just another day at the office. Let's check it out:- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, & the Atlas team


Sunday, February 19, 2023: The perpetual fight in Syria continues well into it's 11th year, with recent events heating up the proxy war between Iran and Israel, as the United States and it's Kurdish allies continue the fight against ISIS, and rescue workers rush to aid those affected by the earthquake earlier this month.

The Israeli Defense Forces launched a strike in Damascus this week, reportedly targeting Iranian officials as they work alongside their Syrian allies in the capital city. Local news reports the attack took place in the suburb of Kafar Sousah in Central Damascus, just after midnight, leaving at least five dead and 15 injured after the building collapsed and nearby structures were severely damaged. Syria's Foreign Ministry said it "expects the United Nations Secretariat and Security Council to condemn Israeli aggression and crimes, take the necessary measures to deter them, hold them accountable, punish their perpetrators, and ensure they do not recur." During the course of the Syrian Civil War, Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes in sovereign Syrian territory, targeting Iranian-backed weapons and troop deployments. Iran has increased it's military and intelligence presence in Syria during the same time, and has been increasing its support towards Hezbollah in Lebanon. Last month, Israel hit the Damascus airport in a similar strike, killing two soldiers and two civilians, according to the Syrian government.

The United States and it's Kurdish partners launched a raid Saturday which captured a senior Islamic State official, believed to be involved in several attacks throughout Syria. The United States' Central Command released a statement saying, "In the early morning of 18 Feb, US Central Command forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) conducted a helicopter raid in Eastern Syria, capturing Batar an ISIS Syria Province Official involved in planning attacks on SDF-guarded detention centers and manufacturing improvised explosive devices." The raid came just a day after U.S. forces and their SDF partners carried out another raid to kill Hamza al-Homsi, a senior ISIS leader. Four service members and a working dog were injured in the attack. The same day, the SDF reported killing a third ISIS leader, Mohannad Al-Sari Al-Fadgham near al-Sabha in Deir Ezzor.

Rescue efforts continue to save people affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria 14 days ago. The death toll continues to climb to 46,000 with about five million left without homes. Efforts are especially difficult in Syria, where rival militia groups continue to fight over the region and officials raise concern over potential terrorism and weapons transfers under the guise of humanitarian aid.


February 17th, 2023 - The US has released a casualty count for the Wagner PMC group in Ukraine, estimating 30,000 casualties, 9,000 of which are deaths. Wagner has been one of Russia’s primary tools in their invasion of Ukraine, seeing heavy use on virtually every front. The group has grown in size exponentially since the wars beginning, though they have announced they will reduce the size of their deployment in Ukraine. They also announced they will no longer be recruiting from prisons, recruits from which according to the UK have a 50% fatality rate.

February 18th, 2023 - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted a meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Munich, during the Munich Security Conference. Though both sides said progress towards a final peace process has been made, comments from each nations leaders after the meeting shows otherwise. Aliyev accused Armenia of occupying Azeri land, as well as demanding that Artsakh’s State Minister, Ruben Vardanyan, leave Artsakh if Azerbaijan is to negotiate with them. Armenia’s Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of adopting a “revenge policy”, questioning whether Azerbaijan attended the meeting in order for “enflaming intolerance, hate, aggressive rhetoric”, or to progress toward peace.

Pashinyan and Aliyev meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (Photo from

February 18th, 2023 - Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki has said Poland is willing to supply Ukraine with much needed MiG jets, but only if a larger coalition of nations, headed by the U.S., agrees to do the same. “Today we can talk about transferring our MiG jets as part of a wider coalition and we are ready for that...Poland can only be a part of a much larger coalition here, a coalition with the United States as a leader”. In recent weeks, Ukraine’s requests have turned to jets as western tanks are soon to be shipped and deployed.

Middle East

February 13th - 16th, 2023 - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, along with 6 of his cabinet members, made a three day long state visit to China, with the two nations having reaffirmed and agreed upon various supports for each other. Economically, Xi Jinping spoke against western sanctions on Iran and agreed to further support Iranian enterprises, who in turn will export high quality product to China. The two nations also agreed to cooperate more strongly on counter-terrorism operations, creating a “moderate middle-way thinking, so as to reduce the space for the development of terrorist forces at its source.” The meeting concluded with Xi receiving a personal invitation to Tehran.

President Raisi and Xi Jinping (Photo from IRNA/Mohammadreza Alimadadi)

February 15th, 2023 - An Israeli cyber-espionage group was exposed by an investigation involving around 30 journalistic outlets. The group, named ‘Team Jorge’, is led by a man named Tal Hanan. They operate a program which oversees over 30,000 advanced bots across various social media platforms which they use for mass disinformation/propaganda campaigns as a hirable service. They primarily work in commercial disputes, but claim to have been involved in 33 presidential elections, “with successful results in 27 of them”.

February 19th, 2023 - Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency has announced that rescue operations for the earthquake 2 weeks ago are expected to be over on the 19th. “The death toll due to the earthquakes rose to 40,642, and the work of searching and rescue for people stuck under the debris has ended in most of the provinces,” said Yunis Sezar, the head of the presidency, on the 18th. That number is for Turkey, alone, with Syria having suffered nearly 6,000 deaths.


February 15th, 2023 - A Rwandan border outpost was attacked by approximately 12-14 soldiers from the DRC, claims the Rwanda government. They allege that the DRC soldiers entered the 'no-mans land' between the two nations at around 4:30AM before firing on Rwanda’s border outpost. Rwanda stated they suffered no casualties and repelled the attack. The DRC, however, refuted these claims, accusing Rwanda of lying. According to the DRC, their troops engaged with “bandits“ in the area.

The official RDF release concerning the incident.

February 19th, 2023 - France’s military operation in Burkina Faso is finally over, after an end of operations ceremony on the 18th and a flag lowering ceremony on the 19th. Since France was asked to leave a month ago, many of their troops have been withdrawn, with only a small number of soldiers remaining, despite operations officially being over. The French military has declined to comment on when their last troops will be leaving.

February 16th, 2023 - Ousmane Sonko, a popular opposition leader in Senegal, was detained and his supporters dispersed by tear gas as tensions grow in the nation. He was detained the same day his awaited trial for various charged was postponed. Particularly, Sonko is being sued by Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang for "defamation, insults and forgery." That being said, he also has a charge of rape against him, the trial of which was postponed at an earlier time to an undetermined date. Sonko denies all the charges against him, saying they are all politically motivated. Many opponents of Senegals presidents have had charges laid against them in recent years, many of which ended their careers. Senegal’s next election is set for 2024.

The Americas

February 20th, 2023 - The Governor of Sao Paulo in Brazil has declared a state of emergency in five towns in Brazil as a heavy storm slams the coast. At least 36 people have been killed as floods and landslides bury entire neighborhoods. Sao Sebastiao, one of the hardest hit areas, saw 24 inches of rain within 24 hours. 35 of the 36 recorded fatalities are from Sao Sebastiao, with the remaining 1 being from a nearby town. Over 100 firefighters have been deployed to the area, but not everywhere is yet accessible as flooding still remains high. Brazilian President Lula is set to visit the affected areas on Monday the 20th.

Sao Sebastiao, one of the hardest hit areas (Photo from Sao Sebastiao City Hall via AFP)

February 18th, 2023 - “Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population -- gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation”. A quote from US Vice President Kamala Harris, as the US has accused Russia of Crimes Against Humanity. "In the case of Russia's actions in Ukraine, we have examined the evidence, we know the legal standards, and there is no doubt, these are crimes against humanity”. She gave reference to the deportation of Ukrainians to Russia, the scores of dead bodies in Bucha after Russian withdrawal, and the bombing of the Mariupol Theatre.

Asia and Oceania

February 20th, 2023 - An Australian Professor and several researchers were taken hostage in Papua New Guinea. PNG Prime Minister James Marape has said that the kidnappers are demanding a ransom for their release and that the government is in contact with them, trying to negotiate the researchers be released “alive and safe”. It is estimated that 4 or 5 people are held captive. Initially a larger group was taken, but the kidnappers released the local guides they had taken captive alongside the researchers. The PM did not say when specifically the group was taken hostage, not offering too many specificities due to the “sensitivity” of the situation.

February 17th, 2023 - Seven people were killed in Karachi, Pakistan, as three Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan attackers opened fire in the Karachi police station. The three men, some of which were suicide bombers, entered the station dressed as police officers. Upon entering the station a firefight broke out, only ending when the three militants were killed after special forces were dispatched. The other four killed were two police officers, one ranger, and one sanitation worker.

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