Obama administration ends Pentagon program to train Syrian rebels
The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on ISIS in Syria. Pentagon officials are expected to announce the termination of the program officially today. US officials said new efforts would focus on embedding recruits with established Kurdish and Arab units rather than sending them directly into front-line combat. [NYTAP, 10/9/2015]

Gulf States to increase arms supplies to Syrian rebels
Saudi Arabia and its allies are reportedly increasing up their supply of weapons to Syrian opposition groups in response to Russia’s increasing military support of President Bashar al-Assad. The Gulf countries will increase military aid to groups who are not affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), including the Free Syrian Army and Jaysh al-Fatah (which has ties to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front). The Russian intervention appears to have frozen what some analysts saw as a rapprochement between Moscow and Saudi Arabia over the Syria conflict. [Al Jazeera, 10/9/2015]

ISIS kills three Assyrian Christian captives
ISIS militants have killed three Assyrian Christian captives who were among nearly 200 Christians abducted earlier this year in northeastern Syria. The three men were killed late last month but the news emerged this week when a video showing their deaths was released, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported. One of the men says in the video that ISIS will begin executing other prisoners if the militants’ demands are not met. The militants have also destroyed numerous churches and Christian shrines in their campaigns. [ReutersThe Guardian, 10/9/2015]

ISIS advances on Syria’s Aleppo
ISIS advanced to the closest it has ever been to the Syrian city of Aleppo at dawn on Friday. “Dozens of combatants were killed on both sides,” SOHR said. In a surprise advance marking ISIS’ biggest gain in months, jihadists routed Syrian rebels from at least five villages and threatened the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syria’s second-largest city, activists said. The seizure of these positions brought the jihadists to about 12 miles from the front line where regime forces are positioned. [Washington PostAFP, 10/9/2015]

France strikes ISIS in Syria
France said Friday it had carried out a second wave of strikes overnight on ISIS targets in Syria and accused Russia of failing to target the group. “Two Rafale jets dropped bombs on an IS training camp. The objectives were accomplished,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, adding that more attacks would follow. As with a first wave of strikes on September 27, the attacks focused on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria. “We know that in Syria, in particular around Raqqa, there are training camps for foreign combatants whose mission is not to go fight for [ISIS] in the Levant but to come to France, to Europe, to carry out attacks,” said Le Drian. He said France’s air strikes were complicated by the fact that ISIS uses human shields. [AFP, 10/9/2015]

Turkey dismisses PKK ceasefire announcement
Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan dismissed reports that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was preparing to announce a unilateral ceasefire that would last until Turkey’s November 1 elections on Friday. Yalcin said Turkey would maintain its battle against the PKK until it gets “results.” [AP, 10/9/2015]