May 6, 2013 |
BEIRUT - A leading member of a United Nations investigatory commission says there are “strong concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that Syrian rebels have used the nerve agent sarin. Carla del Ponte, a former prosecutor for U.N. tribunals investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, made the comment in an interview Sunday with a Swiss television channel, the BBC reported . The U.N. panel, known as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, emphasized in a statement Monday that it had reached no conclusions about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war. “I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got ... about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” Del Ponte told Swiss Italian broadcaster RSI. She said the evidence emerged from interviews conducted by investigators with victims, physicians and others in neighboring countries.
September 8, 2013 |
The Obama administration - with the backing of key Republicans in Congress - is poised to embark on a strategy that entails punitive airstrikes on Syrian government positions and stepped-up lethal aid to moderate elements of the Syrian opposition. So far, however, the Syrian opposition has been unable to win significant support from the country's ethnic and religious minorities. Without such support, the opposition is unlikely to prevail even with stepped-up U.S. assistance. Moreover, the inability of the Syrian rebels, who are almost all Sunni Muslim Arabs, to win over the country's Kurds, Alawites and Christians raises the question of whether their victory is even desirable.
November 11, 2012 |
BEIRUT - The deeply divided Syrian opposition took a step toward renewed unity Sunday, forming a new coalition designed to build stronger international support for its goal of ousting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. After more than a week of sometimes contentious discussions in the Qatari capital, Doha, Syrian dissidents said they had come together and formed an alliance with an unwieldy title: the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces.
April 30, 2013 |
BEIRUT -- The head of the powerful Hezbollah movement vowed Tuesday that the Lebanese group and other allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad would not allow the government in Damascus to be overthrown. “Syria has real friends, in the region and the world, that will not let it fall into the hands of America, Israel and Takfiri groups,” Hassan Nasrallah, general-secretary of the Shiite Muslim organization, said in a televised address. The reference to Takfiris was an allusion to Al Qaeda and other Sunni Muslim extremists who denounce Shiites as apostates and view Hezbollah as a mortal enemy. Nasrallah has repeatedly charged that such extremists are prominent in the Sunni-led Syrian rebel forces seeking to oust Assad.
March 7, 2013 |
BEIRUT -- Negotiations were underway Thursday between the United Nations and rebel forces in an effort to secure the release of 21 U.N. peacekeepers being held in southern Syria near the Golan Heights, a Syrian opposition group said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had received word from the rebel battalion responsible for the abduction that insurgents were negotiating with delegates from the U.N. and from the Arab League. There was no official confirmation of talks from either organization.
March 19, 2013 |
BEIRUT -- The major Syrian opposition group early Tuesday elected a U.S.-educated Syrian activist to serve as prime minister of rebel-controlled areas of Syria, news agencies reported. Named to the post was Ghassan Hitto, a native of Damascus who has been living in the United States for decades, working recently as a technology executive, according to various news service reports. Hitto, little known outside Syrian exile circles, has been active in humanitarian efforts to aid Syrians during the nation's two-year conflict, reports indicated.
November 14, 2012 |
The Syrian National Coalition, a new body that aims to unite the Syrian opposition, is slowly gaining recognition from groups in the country. The coalition was formed Sunday after a week of opposition meetings in Doha, capital of Qatar . Opposition groups have been posting statements of support to its official Facebook page . The administrator of the official page posted that the National Coalition had so far received almost 100 statements of...
December 29, 2012 |
MOSCOW -- Syrian President Bashar Assad has no intention of leaving his country and rebels for the time being should put aside the demand that he step aside as a precondition for negotiations, Russia's top diplomat said Saturday following a meeting in Moscow with the United Nations' peace envoy to the conflict. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told him that Assad was determined to “stay in his position to the end and will protect Syrian people, Syrian sovereignty and so on and so forth and there is no chance to change his position.” Brahimi met with the Syrian leader this week before traveling on to Moscow.
January 27, 2014 |
GENEVA -- Peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian war hit an impasse Monday when the most contentious issue -- the future governing structure -- came up for discussion between representatives of President Bashar Assad and the U.S.-backed opposition. However, neither side walked out of the conference, and the United Nations mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he expected that talks between the two sides would resume on Tuesday. Monday marked the third day of the U.N.-sponsored talks and the first that included discussion of the political future of Syria, a volatile issue at the core of the civil war. The Syrian opposition and its supporters, including Washington, view the talks as a means of forcing Assad to cede power after almost three years of destructive civil war. The government says Assad has no intention of stepping down and has tried to shift the focus to fighting terrorism.
March 1, 2013 |
BEIRUT - A flap about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's description of Zionism as a "crime against humanity" overshadowed U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry's visit Friday to Turkey, a key NATO ally. Although the topic of Syria was expected to dominate discussions - both the United States and Turkey are major supporters of the Syrian opposition - Erdogan's remark this week has drawn a firestorm of criticism, including condemnation from the White House, the United Nations and Israel.