National Security Brief: Syrian Rebels Make Gains

— The head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Syrian rebels captured an oil field in the country’s east Sunday after three days of fierce fighting with government troops protecting the facility.

— The New York Times reports: Syria’s fractious opposition groups began negotiations in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday to forge a more unified front to reshape the political landscape in the country’s civil war.

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu downplayed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s suggestion that he would give up the so-called “right of return,” a core issue in dispute with Israel. Meanwhile, Israel’s president praised Abbas’s comments as a “brave and important public declaration” by a “real partner for peace.”

— The Wall Street Journal reports: The Afghan government said it is considering expelling the staff of an influential global conflict-resolution think tank over a recent critical report, fueling concerns about Kabul’s tolerance of dissent. In a report released in October, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group outlined the risks of the U.S.-led coalition’s withdrawal and warned that Afghanistan may slide back into civil war if it doesn’t hold free and fair presidential elections in 2014.