– Syrian media reported that President Bashar al-Assad fired Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab but opposition activists countered that he defected. Meanwhile, a Turkish media outlet is reporting that Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Fares, the first Syrian in space, has fled to Turkey after defecting from the Syrian army.
– Syrian forces are threatening to mount a “decisive battle” for Aleppo, the country’s largest city. In the capital Damascus, “militiamen appeared to step up guerrilla-like forays in central districts that were once firmly in the regime’s hands.”
– The Washington Post took a look at what’s going on in Iraq seven months after the U.S. withdrawal: “Iraqis are surprisingly optimistic about the future” but “many people said that their lives were safer and more prosperous under [Saddam] Hussein and that the U.S. invasion was not worth the price both countries have paid.”
– Afghanistan’s parliament dismissed the country’s interior and defense ministers over the weekend leading President Hamid Karzai to try to reassure NATO allies “that he would avoid a vacuum in the two ministries charged with fighting the war and organizing the transition to Afghan control.”
– The New York Times reports: Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians’ bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations.