Posted by: Chuck | September 16, 2013

TODAY’S NEWS ROUND UP


Syrian rebel groups sought to buy materials for chemical weapons, prosecutors say Sept. 2013 A public prosecutor completed his indictment as part of the probe into the chemicals seized in the southern province of Hatay on Sept. 12, claiming that jihadist Syrian rebel groups were seeking to buy materials that could be used to produce highly toxic sarin gas. The indictment, which included transcripts of several phone conversations between the suspects involved, said that a 35-year-old Syrian citizen, identified as Hytham Qassap, established a connection with a network in Turkey in order to procure chemical materials for the al-Nusra Front and jihadist Ahrar al-Sham Brigades. The indictment rejected the legitimacy of the suspects’ claim that they were unaware the chemicals they tried to obtain could be used to produce sarin gas.

CIA begins delivering weapons to Syrian ‘rebels’ 11 Sept. 2013 The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war. The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month.

Syria crisis: US ‘to drop military threat’ 14 Sept. 2013 The US will drop its insistence that a UN resolution on Syria must be backed by military force, officials say, after strong objections from Russia. US and Russian diplomats say the two sides are edging closer to a deal on Syria’s chemical arsenal, as talks in Geneva enter a third day. They are thrashing out the technical details of the disarmament process.

Russia sends missile cruiser to Mediterranean as Syria tension mountsCountry’s biggest naval deployment since USSR days sent to sea’s east as US also beefs up maritime presence in region 12 Sept. 2013 Russia has dispatched a “carrier killer” missile cruiser and other ships to the eastern Mediterranean in its largest naval deployment since Soviet times. Both Russia and the US have been beefing up their naval presence in the Med over the past several weeks. The destroyer Smetlivy left a naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Tuesday on a mission to the Syrian coast, a military source told the state news agency Interfax on Thursday.

U.S. troops oppose strikes on Syria by 3-1 margin 11 Sept. 2013 To the list of skeptics who question the need for air strikes against Syria, add an another unlikely group — many U.S. troops. “I haven’t heard one single person be supportive of it,” said an Army staff sergeant at Fort Hood who asked not to be identified by name. A Military Times survey of more than 750 active-duty troops this week found service members oppose military action in Syria by a margin of about three to one.

U.S. total of Syrian gas deaths could include bomb casualties – sources 12 Sept. 2013 One of the most precise and dramatic details cited by the Obama administration as proof that Syrian forces used chemical weapons in an August 21 attack was the death toll, which an official U.S. government assessment put at 1,429 people, including 426 children. Some U.S. congressional sources are now casting doubt on those figures. Three congressional sources told Reuters that administration officials had indicated in private that some deaths might have been caused by the conventional bombing that followed the release of sarin gas in suburban Damascus neighborhoods.

UN team finds no proof on chemical weapons in Syria – UN team also charged that anti-government groups ‘committed war crimes,’ including murder, torture and hostage-taking’ 12 Sept. 2013 United Nations investigators have listed a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Syria, but provided no conclusion on the issue of chemical weapons use. “On the evidence currently available, it was not possible to reach a finding about the chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrators,” the team probing human rights violations in Syria said in its latest report on Wednesday. It was clear however that “the majority of casualties result from unlawful attacks using conventional weapons,” the Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in a statement.

Assad: Israel should be first to disarm 13 Sept. 2013 Syria President Bashar Assad says Israel should be the first to disarm from weapons of mass destructions, since it has nuclear, biological and chemical arms. He added on Thursday that that all countries in the Mideast should be held to international protocol in order to achieve stability in the region. Syria decided to cede control of its chemical weapons because of a Russian proposal and not the threat of US military intervention, Interfax news agency quoted President Bashar Assad as saying in an interview with Russia’s state-run Rossiya-24 channel. “Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision,” he said.

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