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National Security Brief: September 27, 2011

— NATO commander in Afghanistan Lt. Gen. William Caldwell said 800 more U.S. military trainers will be sent to the war-torn country to assist the Afghan army. Meanwhile, after “10 years of training and billions of dollars spent,” only two Afghan National Army battalions can operate independently, “although they still rely on coalition partners for logistical, medical, and maintenance support.”

— Caldwell also said the U.S. military hopes to reduce the amount it spends training the Afghan military by half — or $6 billion per year — over the next several years, partly, he said, because commanders expect the Taliban insurgency to decline.

— New reports on a 2007 ambush of U.S. and Afghanistan soldiers reveals that Pakistanis opened fire on the Americans as they attempted to resolve a border dispute on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

— The Syrian government has asked oil companies to cut production after an EU embargo on Syrian oil led to a backlog of crude oil in storage facilities.

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— Syrian security forces escalated in the restive city of Homs after several defecting soldiers reportedly set up ambushes. Four defectors were killed.

— U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford reports that the Syrian government is arresting and torturing Syrians whose family members in the U.S. have spoken out against the regime.

— U.N. Undersecretary-general Lynn Pascoe warned that the international community should “establish control over the large stocks of sophisticated arms” left over from deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s forces — including chemical weapons. Pascoe said they risked falling into the hands of terrorists.   — Israel announced the construction of 1,000 new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, further shifting the demographic balance and sealing Israeli dominance over what Palestinians had hoped would be their future capital.