For the night of 16 March 2014
North Korea: South Korean press reported North Korea fired 25 short-range missiles/rockets from an east coast firing range late Sunday. They flew about 70 kilometers into the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
South Korean media described this as a provocation.
Comment: This is the third session of what looks like live-fire crew training. Winter training by the Korean People's Army peaks in the last two weeks of March, except for the air force which continues training into April most years.
Syria: Government forces backed by Hizballah fighters took full control of the Syrian town of Yabroud on Sunday after driving out rebel fighters, according to Syrian state media. A rebel spokesman said the opposition fighters withdrew from Yabroud to villages in the countryside.
Comment: Control of Yabroud will help the Syrian government maintain security on the main highway from Damascus to the Syrian Mediterranean ports and the Alawite heartland.
The capture of Yabroud, the last rebel strong point near the Lebanese border, will enable the government to choke off opposition supplies from Lebanon. It also inflicts a demoralizing defeat on the opposition.
Ukraine-Crimea: The BBC and other news services reported that exit polls indicate 80% of registered voters participated and 95.5% of the votes favored joining Russia. Crimean authorities announced they will send a formal request to Russia on Monday.
President Putin said the Crimeans have expressed their will and exercised their right of self-determination in accordance with international law. He also indicated that Russia would begin actions immediately to accept Crimea into the Russian Federation.
No news services have reported disorders in Crimea during or after the voting. News services have related multiple sightings and reports of Russian military convoys moving in Crimea, outside the naval base at Sevastopol.
Comment: As an act of self-determination, the referendum appears as genuine as any. That is the problem with Wilson's idea of self-determination: no one knows where, how or when to draw the line that forbids people from choosing for themselves, without using coercion.
End of NightWatch for 16 March.
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