Tuesday Briefing: Iran said Israel killed top generals

Also, the U.S. could vote on aid to Ukraine in the coming weeks.
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Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

April 2, 2024

Author Headshot

By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering an Israeli strike in Syria that targeted Iranian commanders and negotiations in the U.S. on aid for Ukraine.

Plus, risky climate experiments.

A man stands in front of a destroyed building with the Iranian flag in the background.
The strike hit the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria. Omar Sanadiki/Associated Press

Israeli strike killed Iranian commanders, Iran said

At least seven officers including three generals overseeing Iran’s covert operations in the Middle East were killed in an Israeli strike in Syria yesterday, according to Iranian and Syrian officials.

The strike on the Iranian Embassy complex in Damascus appeared to be among the deadliest attacks in a yearslong shadow war between Israel and Iran.

Among those killed was Gen. Mohamad Reza Zahedi, 65, who oversaw Iran’s covert military operations in Syria and Lebanon, two other generals and four officers, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement. Four Israeli officials confirmed that Israel had carried out the attack.

Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Hossein Akbari, said in a statement that the Iranian consulate’s building came under attack by two F-35 fighter jets. “This attack will have our fierce response,” he said, according to Iranian media.

Details: The strike targeted a secret meeting between Iranian intelligence officials and Palestinian militants to discuss the war in Gaza, Iranian officials said. Among them were leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group armed and funded by Iran.

In Gaza: Israel withdrew from Al-Shifa, a major hospital, after a two-week battle, leaving widespread devastation.

A tight frame of House Speaker Mike Johnson. He is wearing a dark suit with a red tie and is standing in front of American flags.
House Speaker Mike Johnson is openly discussing how to structure aid to Ukraine. Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

Movement on U.S. aid to Ukraine

Mike Johnson, the speaker of the House of Representatives, has begun publicly laying out potential conditions for extending new military assistance to Ukraine. It’s the strongest sign yet that Johnson, a Republican, plans to defy critics in his own party and push through the aid package.

His comments strongly suggest that the aid, which has been stalled for months, could clear Congress within weeks. The main obstacle standing in its way has been Johnson’s refusal to bring it up in the House in the face of hard-right opposition. Now, the question appears to be not whether Johnson will allow aid to come to the floor, but in what form and when.

Details: Johnson suggested that some of the aid could be paid for by selling off frozen Russian sovereign assets. Only about $5 billion in Russian assets are held in the U.S. More than $300 billion in Russian central bank assets are stashed in Western nations.

A night cityscape of Mumbai.
The most visible improvements to India’s economy are in infrastructure. Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

India’s economy under 10 years of Modi

In the decade since Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister, the country’s economy has almost doubled. That strong growth — and its accompanying optimism among Indian consumers — are key to his bid for a third term, which Modi seems set to win in elections that begin on April 19.

But the economic reality is more complicated than the winning story told by the Modi campaign. While the economy is growing, Modi has benefited from geopolitical currents that have made India more attractive to global financiers. The expansion has also been unequal. The bulk of India’s growth depends on those at the top of the income ladder, and a large proportion of India’s underemployed work force is still waiting to benefit from the success.

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MORE TOP NEWS

Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves his hands.
Opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now control six of Turkey’s 10 largest cities. Yavuz Ozden/Dia Images, via Associated Press

U.S. election

  • Donald Trump: The former president is inspiring devotion by mimicking tropes of Christianity, like ending his rallies with a churchlike ritual.
  • Misinformation: China’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to influence the U.S. election are raising alarms in Washington.

MORNING READ

A person cleans the clear casing that covers an advertisement for the movie “Oppenheimer” in Tokyo.
“Oppenheimer” is Japan’s highest-grossing foreign film so far this year. Yuichi Yamazaki/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Eight months after its U.S. release, “Oppenheimer” is confronting Japanese audiences with the flip-side American perspective on the most scarring events of Japan’s history.

While some viewers lamented the movie’s exclusion of scenes from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, others said they recognized the film had another story to tell.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

We hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, which is made possible through subscriber support. Subscribe to The New York Times.

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ARTS AND IDEAS

Amid swirls of snow, two tall, gray industrial structures, covered with louvers, stand at an angle to each other atop concrete pillars.
Mammoth, a giant machine in Iceland, will pull carbon dioxide out of the air. Francesca Jones for The New York Times

New climate technology

In the past, investors wrote off technologies that re-engineered the natural environment to counteract climate change. Ideas like sucking carbon dioxide out of the air or adding sulfur dioxide to clouds to block the sun were considered too expensive, too impractical or too sci-fi to be taken seriously.

But as climate dangers worsen and nations fail to meet goals of slashing emissions, some of these technologies are quickly moving to the mainstream despite concerns from scientists.

Some fear that the projects, which are broadly known as “geoengineering,” could distract policymakers from the more urgent work of reducing fossil fuel emissions. Others worry that the interventions could open a Pandora’s box of new problems.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A tray of six fried chicken cutlets on a blue dish, along with a cup of chili oil and a bowl of greens.
Matt Taylor-Gross for The New York Times

Fry: Add chile crisp to breaded chicken cutlets.

Read:Table for Two,” by Amor Towles, is a collection of stories about New York and Los Angeles.

Listen: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is back for a new season of her podcast in which she interviews older women.

Dress: Can I wear open-toed sandals at work?

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

You can email us at briefing@nytimes.com.

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