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WORLD
September 5, 2013 | By Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - A fierce lobbying effort by the White House and the support of congressional leaders for a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria has done little to sway some lawmakers more concerned about the overwhelming opposition of their constituents. The White House said officials, including President Obama, have had discussions with 185 lawmakers through Thursday, consultations that continued with another bipartisan, closed-door briefing at the Capitol. But lawmakers who were inclined to vote against authorizing force to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons emerged from the briefing unswayed.
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WORLD
April 24, 2014 | By Nabih Bulos
AMMAN, Jordan -- Video has surfaced that appears to show antitank guided missiles in the hands of a rebel faction operating in southern Syria, the latest indication that sophisticated U.S. weaponry is making its way to antigovernment fighters in Syria. The video, posted April 13 on YouTube, seems to depict a fighter from a group called the Omari Brigades firing a BGM-71 TOW missile at what appears to be a bunkered Syrian army tank. Although other videos circulating on the Internet have shown rebel groups in northern Syria firing TOW missiles, this marks the first time the U.S.-made weapon has appeared publicly in the arsenal of insurgents in southern Syria, a key front close to the Jordanian border.
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WORLD
August 7, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - They begin lining up early here for the comforting illusion of stability in uncertain times. "Dollars provide some security," explained Abu Mohammed, a young man in jeans and a T-shirt who was one of scores enduring long waits to exchange Syrian pounds for U.S. currency. The demand for scarce greenbacks at exchanges in the Syrian capital is just one symptom of the economic woes facing Syria, which long was regarded as one of the Middle East's most livable places.
WORLD
April 22, 2014 | By Raja Abdulrahim
The World Food Program gives out most of its food aid to Syria in government-held areas, with only a quarter of the distributions occurring in rebel-controlled territory, according to latest figures from the U.N. agency. The findings underscore the obstacles facing the WFP, which is the major distributor of food aid in Syria, in getting help to rebel-held areas. Many of those zones are under frequent bombardment by Syrian forces, making access dangerous for aid workers and their drivers.
WORLD
September 14, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - U.S. officials seldom conceal their contempt for Syrian President Bashar Assad, but Secretary of State John F. Kerry credited Assad's government Saturday with a not-insignificant achievement: Safeguarding the nation's chemical armory in the midst of a raging civil war. That fact, Kerry emphasized, helped make possible an "ambitious" U.S.-Russian plan to eliminate Syria's substantial chemical weapons stores. "One of the reasons that we believe that this is achievable is because the Assad regime has taken extraordinary pains in order to keep control of these weapons," Kerry told reporters Saturday in Geneva after outlining the U.S.-Russian initiative.
NEWS
August 30, 2013 | By Paul Thornton
Remember that "red line" President Obama drew on Syria and chemical weapons? Perhaps it's more of a dotted line. At least twice since the president made the remark in August 2012 that the use of poison gas in the Syrian civil war would be a game-changer in the U.S. decision on whether to intervene militarily, Bashar Assad's forces appear to have crossed that line. So far, no U.S. missiles have been lobbed toward Damascus. Several readers have noticed. Only now it looks as if the Obama administration will follow through on its threat of military action against Assad.
WORLD
January 2, 2013 | By Ned Parker
BEIRUT, Lebanon --An American journalist was reported missing in Syria on Wednesday, six weeks after he was reportedly abducted by armed men. James Foley, 39, was taken by gunmen on Nov. 22 in the northern province of Idlib, his family said. Foley, a freelancer, had reported previously from Syria, Iraq and Libya, where he was held prisoner in 2011 by government forces during that country's civil war. Most recently, he had been shooting videos in Syria for Agence France-Presse.
NEWS
November 27, 2011 | By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Arab efforts to reach a compromise with Syria over its bloody crackdown on dissent appeared  to be all but over Sunday as foreign ministers meeting in Cairo voted overwhelmingly to impose punishing sanctions against the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad. The rare move by the Arab League, an organization often criticized as spineless and ineffective, came after Syria repeatedly ignored deadlines for accepting Arab observers to monitor a peace agreed to earlier this month.
NEWS
March 4, 2012 | By Maeve Reston
Shortly after President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Mitt Romney argued in Georgia that the president's approach to Iran had failed the American people and made the nation less secure. "If Barack Obama is reelected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change," Romney told a crowd of more than a 1,000 people at a pancake breakfast that his campaign hosted in this Altanta suburb. Romney, who flew to Georgia from Ohio and was headed to Tennessee, mocked Obama's speech earlier on Sunday at AIPAC, accusing the president of doing little to address Iran's nuclear threat and charging that he had missed an opportunity when dissidents took the streets in Tehran.
WORLD
April 25, 2013 | By Alexandra Zavis and Emily Alpert
Syria is believed to have a large stockpile of chemical weapons. U.S. intelligence agencies now suspect that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has used small amounts of these chemicals against rebels fighting to unseat him, an assessment shared by Britain, France and, most recently, Israel. So what is known about Syria's chemical weapons? A report citing Turkish, Arab and Western intelligence agencies estimated that Syria has about 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stored at about 50 sites, mostly in the north of the country.
WORLD
April 21, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - Presidential elections will be held in Syria on June 3, the government announced Monday, even as a mortar barrage on the capital highlighted the relentless violence in the country. President Bashar Assad is expected to run and handily win a third seven-year term, though new laws mean he could face a challenger for the first time. Assad has yet to officially declare his candidacy. The United States and allies calling for Assad to step down denounced the planned balloting as “absurd” and a “parody of democracy,” in the words of a tweet from Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman.
WORLD
April 20, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos
DAMASCUS, Syria - President Bashar Assad made a symbolic Easter visit Sunday to the heavily damaged town of Maaloula, a Christian landmark enclave recaptured from Islamist rebels last week by government forces. The president's visit, broadcast on state television, underscored his efforts to portray himself as a defender of Christians and other minorities as he prepares for an expected reelection bid in the midst of a devastating war now in its fourth year. Maaloula and several of its historic churches sustained significant damage during heavy fighting and bombardment.
WORLD
April 18, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - The thud of mortar shelling alternated with tolling church bells Friday as the Christians of this capital's ancient Bab Touma district marked Good Friday amid extremely tight security. The Easter Week processions that once featured tens of thousands walking the cobblestoned streets of the Old City now are confined to the close vicinity of churches. Soldiers and militiamen checked everyone coming and going on Friday; vehicular traffic was largely closed off as a precaution against car bombs.
WORLD
April 16, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos
MAALOULA, Syria - From the debris-strewn front garden of the Safir Hotel, Syrian military commanders barked orders to troops taking cover in the smoke-shrouded maze of streets below. "If you hear any movement, throw hand grenades immediately!" a general advised on his two-way radio as he peered at the battle unfolding like a distant video game at the bottom of the hill. On Tuesday, Syrian forces were targeting the remnants of a rebel force in this historic town, long a center of Christian worship and pilgrimage.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014
Patrick Seale Patrick Seale, 83, a veteran British journalist whose books established him as the leading expert on modern Syria, died Friday in London, according to family and friends. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer last year. Seale is best known for his authoritative biography of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad, "Assad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. " Published in 1988, the book is considered the definitive work on Assad, the father of Syria's current leader.
WORLD
April 14, 2014 | By Sherif Tarek
The United Nations human rights chief condemned widespread torture by all sides in the Syrian conflict, citing examples such as that of a detained 26-year-old woman who was raped, had her teeth pulled out and was beaten with electrical cables. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report released Monday that it had interviewed individuals who spent time in detention facilities in Syria. It did not identify them by name. It said the young woman reported that she had been tortured during repeated nightlong interrogation sessions.
WORLD
September 21, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - At age 70, Ahmad Saidi took up arms after the slaying of his son, a father of five who was killed when a remote-controlled bomb blew up his car. A neighbor suspected in the attack was later overheard bragging about his "gift" for the Saidi family. "This is our homeland," Saidi, a textile merchant, said this week as he stood in camouflage pants amid the shrapnel-scarred interior of the Zubair Mosque, where even a stack of Korans had been shredded by bullets. "We will die defending it. " The defiant septuagenarian with the patrician crown of snow-white hair and matching beard is not a soldier with the Syrian army or a militant in a rebel brigade.
WORLD
May 12, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT -- Syria on Sunday rejected Turkish charges that Damascus was behind a pair of devastating car-bomb attacks in the southern Turkish town of Reyhanli that killed 46 people and left scores injured. The strikes have stunned Turkey and exacerbated already-high tensions between the neighboring nations about the civil war raging inside Syria. Turkish officials have publicly linked the bombings to Syria's intelligence service -- a charge denied Sunday by Omran al-Zoubi, the Syrian information minister.
NEWS
April 12, 2014 | By Kari Howard
One of the qualities I value most in the writers of the Great Reads are their powers of observation. I'm a big believer in showing, not telling -- in giving those little scenes and details that make readers connect to people whose lives might seem impossibly remote from theirs. The writer of Friday's powerful Great Read, Raja Abdulrahim, is particularly gifted: She finds those moments when she's directly in the line of fire in Syria. In Friday's story, Raja, who has made her way into rebel-held territory many times during the three-year conflict, wrote from Aleppo, where life alternates between terror and a grotesque version of normalcy.
WORLD
April 12, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - Each side in the Syrian conflict blamed the other Saturday for an alleged poison gas attack that reportedly injured scores of civilians in the central province of Hama. There was no independent confirmation of a chemical strike, which reportedly hit the village of Kfar Zeita, an agricultural center northwest of the provincial capital, Hama. Fierce clashes between rebel and loyalist forces have been reported in the area. Various pro-opposition accounts said a government air raid Friday in Kfar Zeita included bombardment with an unspecified chemical agent, causing choking and suffocation among scores of residents.
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