National Security Brief: April 24, 2012

— Violence continues in Syria as opposition representatives report that regime forces shelled Homs and Hama after U.N. observers left those cities. Syria’s capital city of Damascus also experienced heightened unrest after a Syrian intelligence officer was killed in a car blomb blast today.

— Iranian media reported that Iran disconnected several of its main Persian Gulf oil terminals from the Internet this week. Technicians said they were trying to respond to intensifying cyberattacks on the Oil Ministry and its affiliates.

— The White House Office of Management and Budget said in a letter to the Government Accountability Office that the Veterans Affairs Department’s budget is exempt from sequestration, a decision hailed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

— The Pentagon’s new “Defense Clandestine Service,” working closely with the CIA — two organizations who have often been at odds over the use of special forces — will boost the military’s espionage operations overseas.

— Withdrawing weapons, vehicles and supplies from Afghanistan will cost U.S. taxpayers between $5 and $10 billion, reports The Washington Examiner.

— The Egyptian government rejected requests by eight U.S. groups, including President Jimmy Carter’s center, to operate in the country on the grounds that they infringe on Egyptian sovereignty.

— Turkish media reports said Turkey blocked Israel’s participation in a May NATO summit because of the Jewish State’s refusal to apologize for an incident in May 2010, even as top NATO officials denied Israel was ever invited.

— After pushing South Sudan from a disputed oil field on its border, Sudanese planes are still bombing towns in the South, drawing condemnation from U.N. officials on the ground and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.