The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

May, Tories maintain lead ahead of June election:  Two weeks following a surprise call for snap elections, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party is preserving a comfortable lead over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour opposition.

According to four major polling samples ahead of the June 8 elections, Tories hold double-digit leads, three of which give May’s conservatives as much as a 19 percent advantage over Labour.

Local elections held nationwide on Saturday indicate Conservatives are preparing for sweeping gains in the House of Commons as Labour is reported to have lost a staggering 380 council seats and UKIP surrendering 80.

Russia, Turkey, Iran reach agreement on Syria safe zones:  Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran have concluded an agreement which will establish “deescalation zones” in four areas of Syria.

The agreement went into effect Saturday.

According to the agreement, the entire Idlib Governorate, located in northern Syria, the Al-Rastan Plain in central Syria, the East Ghouta region near Damascus and both the Dara’a and Al-Quneitra Governorates in southern Syria fall under a protective sphere.

Under the terms of the accord, hostilities between all warring parties in the safe zones will cease, humanitarian aid is to be delivered, efforts to restore basic electrical and water service will proceed, and refugees and displaced persons are allowed freedom of movement.  Similarly, aircraft are prohibited from entering the airspace over the safe zones.

Sex trafficking, smuggling exposed at U.S. base in Iraq:  According to an Associated Press inquiry, Sallyport Global, a Virginia-based security contractor which has been awarded in excess of $700 million in contracts from the U.S. government, disregarded blatant violations at Balad Air Base in Iraq.

Paramount among the allegations is Sallyport ignored alcohol smuggling, theft, security violations, and sex trafficking. Sallyport’s employees are alleged to have participated in the wrongdoing.

The charges came to light after several employees probing the irregularities were dismissed and a review by auditors over a contract renewal discovered improprieties.

A spokesman for Sallyport has denied the charges.

U.S. troops posted at Syria-Turkey border to protect Kurds:  One week following a Turkish airstrike killed 25 Peshmerga and Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) troops in neighboring Syria and Iraq, U.S. troops have reportedly been deployed along the Turkish-Syrian border to discourage further attacks on both Kurdish groups.

Turkey says it struck PKK Kurds in the strike, which it claims is a terrorist organ.

Kurdish YPG and the Kurdish Peshmerga are allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

Map showing control of northern Syria

 

The U.S. has reportedly placed 500 troops along the Syrian side of the Al-Hasakah Governorate’s border with Turkey in northeastern Syria.

11 indicted over refugee deaths in Hungary:  Hungarian authorities have indicted 11 men for their role in the 2015 suffocation deaths of 71 migrants from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan seeking asylum in Europe.

The men are believed to be part of a larger human trafficking ring operating in Europe.  Four of the 11 have been charged with murder.

Prosecutors say the four men loaded the 71 victims into a truck and attempted to drive to Serbia to sell the migrants.  One hour into the journey, the driver ignored the pleas of the victims and later abandoned the truck on the side of a road in Austria.

Conflicting accounts over U.S. troop role in Iraq after ISIS defeated:  An AP report declaring the U.S. intends on maintaining a troops presence in Iraq following the defeat of ISIS is being disputed by Iraqi Prime Haider al-Abadi.

AP reported Friday al-Abadi was in the midst of discussions with the White House to arrange a long-term U.S. troop presence to maintain order and prevent militant uprisings after the ISIS threat is eliminated. Al-Abadi refuted the report, saying American troops which remain in Iraq post-ISIS would fill a needed role as advisors to the Iraqi military only.

Currently, the U.S. has a contingent of approximately 7,000 troops in Iraq, most of which are training Iraqi soldiers, conducting special operations against ISIS and coordinating with Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIS.

 

[Reuters] [France 24] [Kurdistan24] [The Telegraph] [OCCRP] [AP] [RealClear Defense]