Obama addresses the nation on Syria | Minnesota Public Radio News

Obama addresses the nation on Syria

Reuters world editor Clare Richardson, online editor Mark Kolmar and community manager Margarita Noriega provide real-time coverage of events as they continue to unfold since last week's alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.

  • A Reuters correspondent in Syria, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, reports on the mood in Damascus:

    Shops in Damascus are open, and traffic chokes the main thoroughfares, but the mood in the capital, exhausted by more than two years of civil war, is growing restive as Syria faces the prospect of a military strike by Western powers.

    Despite the bustle of daily life in those areas of the city not directly caught up in conflict, there is apprehension at what foreign intervention would look like but also hope.

    "The big fear is that they'll make the same mistakes they made in Libya and Iraq. They'll hit civilian targets, and then they'll cry that it was by mistake, but we'll get killed in the thousands," said Ziyad, a man in his fifties.

    Read the full article here.
  • The State Department press briefing has changed subject and spokesperson Marie Harf is now discussing Egypt. You can watch the live feed here.
  • Video: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told a Damascus news conference on August 27 that “no country in the world uses weapons of mass destruction against its own people”. According to the news bulletin here, al-Moallem said in the event of a military strike against it, Syria would “defend [itself] with all available means”.

  • Syria chemical attack threatens our security - UK's Hague

    LONDON - Britain's national security will be undermined if it fails to challenge the Syrian government over the use of chemical weapons against its own people, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday.

    Full Article
  • Britain seeks U.N. support for action over Syrian chemical attacks

    LONDON - Britain will put a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemning attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and authorising 'necessary measures' to protect civilians from chemical weapons, Prime Minister David Cameron said.

    Full Article
  • A view of buildings damaged by what activists say is shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in the Damascus suburbs of Arbeen August 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Dar

  • A Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighter (L) provides cover for his fellow fighter inspecting a body, which according to the FSA was one of the forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, during an offensive to seize Aleppo's town of Khanasir August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

  • A Free Syrian Army is pictured through a hole in the old city of Aleppo August 27, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

  • UN Syria envoy Brahimi says international law is clear that UN Security Council decision is needed for military action - @Reuters
  • German foreign minister says urges all members of UN Security Council, especially Russia, to back resolution on Syria - @Reuters
  • Israel's Arab Bedouin citizens feel betrayed by eviction plan http://reut.rs/17jaVZH via @SheikhNB @Reuters
  • Military intervention in Syria would need U.N. approval: Brahimi

    Any U.S. military action taken in response to apparent chemical weapons attacks in Syria would need to be approved by the U.N. Security Council, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday.
    "I think international law is clear on this. International law says that military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council. That is what international law says," he told a press conference in Geneva.

    "I must say that I do know that President Obama and the American administration are not known to be trigger-happy. What they will decide I don't know. But certainly international law is very clear."

    (Reporting by Tom Miles, editing by Stephanie Nebehay)
  • Israel deploys full missile defences against Syria - radio

    JERUSALEM - Israel is deploying all of its missile defences as a precaution against possible Syrian retaliatory attacks should Western powers carry out threatened strikes on Syria, Israeli Army Radio said on Wednesday.

    Citing secrecy requirements, it did not give details on the number or locations of the interceptor batteries. Systems employed by Israel's air defence corps include the short-range Iron Dome, the mid-range Patriot and the long-range Arrow II.

    Facing potentially imminent attack by the United States and other Western powers over its alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels, Damascus has hinted it could shoot back at its old foe, the Jewish state. Israel is also braced for rocket salvoes from Hezbollah, Syria's Lebanese militia ally.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that his country wanted to keep out of the Syrian crisis but would "respond forcefully" to any attempt to attack it.

    (Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Jeffrey Heller/Mark Heinrich)
  • German Foreign Minister urges Russia to back UN resolution on Syria

    BERLIN - Germany on Wednesday urged states, especially Russia, to support a British draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and authorising 'necessary measures' to protect civilians.

    "We welcome the British initiative to get the U.N. Security Council to again consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We urge all members of the Security Council, in particular Russia, to seize this opportunity and contribute to a common stance by the global community against the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction in Syria," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

    (Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Madeline Chambers)
  • French parliament to debate Syria on 4th September

    PARIS - The French parliament will hold an extraordinary session on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Syria, government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.

    "The president has taken the decision to summon parliament on Wednesday to assess the situation in Syria," she said following a cabinet meeting.

    President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that parliament would be informed as soon as possible about decisions on any action in Syria.

    (Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by James Regan; Editing by Jon Boyle)
  • Vehicles playing pro-Assad songs driving through Damascus today. REUTERS/ Khaled al-Hariri

  • The NSC agreed unanimously that the use of chemical weapons by Assad was unacceptable - and the world should not stand by.

    — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 28, 2013

  • Iraq says it is on high alert for expected strike on Syria

    BAGHDAD - Iraq has put its security forces on high alert ahead of an expected international strike on neighbouring Syria, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday.

    Western powers are weighing up options for possible military strikes against Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb last week that killed hundreds of civilians.

    "All political and security powers in Baghdad, the provinces and all over Iraq, announce the highest level of alert," Maliki said in a weekly televised statement which focused mainly on Syria.

    Iraqi authorities are taking necessary measures to prevent "dangerous developments which may result from the Syrian crisis and the talk about an expected strike," he said.

    Iraq has reinforced security along its 680 km (422 miles) desert border with Syria, making it the most heavily guarded Iraqi frontier. Iraq's Shi'ite-led government says Syria's civil war is fuelling attacks in Iraq by al Qaeda-linked groups, who have been operating on both sides of the frontier.

    The Baghdad government, which opposes any international military strike on Syria, is struggling with its own Sunni Islamist insurgency and sectarian tensions have risen since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

    (Reporting by Raheem Salman, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Jon Boyle)
  • U.N. experts return to Damascus hotel after visit to poison gas site

    BEIRUT - The team of United Nations chemical weapons experts returned to their hotel in central Damascus on Wednesday after inspecting the scenes of an apparent poison gas attack on several suburbs outside the Syrian capital last week, a Reuters witness said.

    (Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
  • Iran's Khamenei says U.S. intervention in Syria would be disaster

    DUBAI - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday U.S. intervention in Syria would be "a disaster for the region", the ISNA state news agency reported, as Western powers made plans to hit Damascus over a chemical weapons attack.

    Full Article
  • UK national security council unanimously backs action on Syria

    LONDON - Britain's National Security Council unanimously backed action against Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday, a day after he set out the case for a targeted military strike.

    "The NSC (National Security Council) agreed unanimously that the use of chemical weapons by Assad was unacceptable - and the world should not stand by," Cameron said on his official Twitter feed after a meeting of the high-level security body.

    (Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
  • Evidence points to use of chemical weapons by Assad forces - NATO

    BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday information from a variety of sources pointed to President Bashar al-Assad's forces being responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

    Speaking after a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels, Rasmussen said any use of such weapons was "unacceptable and cannot go unanswered", although he did not suggest any response.

    "This is a clear breach of long-standing international norms and practice... Those responsible must be held accountable," he said in a statement.

    Rasmussen said the military alliance would keep the situation in Syria under "close review".

    (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Luke Baker)
  • Free Syrian Army fighters escort a convoy of U.N. vehicles carrying a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts during their visit at one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus' suburbs of Zamalka August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter dives into a crater filled with water in Deir al-Zor August 27, 2013. The crater was caused by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

  • Gallery: Israelis line up for gas masks preview.reuters.com

  • Low probability of Syria attacking Israel as a result of Western powers' expected attack on Syria - @idfonline
  • READER COMMENT: information from a variety of sources pointed to President Bashar al-Assad's forces being responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria" who are those sources?? and what is the evidence they all refer to?? and why is no one asking those questions?
    by brainstorm@gmx.at edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 8/28/2013 2:14:59 PM
  • UK's Hague says it's time the U.N. shouldered its responsibilities on Syria

    LONDON - British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Wednesday for the United Nations Security Council to try to stop the bloodshed in Syria by agreeing a UK-backed resolution to take "necessary measures" there to protect civilians.

    "We believe it's time the U.N. Security Council shouldered its responsibilities on Syria which for the last two and a half years it has failed to do," Hague told reporters, saying he feared Russia and China would block the resolution.

    (Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Stephen Addison)
  • A U.N. chemical weapons expert is pictured during his visit to one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus' suburb of Zamalka August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

  • Very smart New York Times story attempts to answer: Why would Assad launch such an attack now? http://nyti.ms/1cgvwyY
    by Jim Roberts via twitter edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 8/28/2013 3:47:23 PM
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Britain on Wednesday that the U.N. Security Council should not consider a draft resolution in response to an alleged chemical arms attack in Syria before U.N. inspectors report on their findings there.

    Lavrov told British Foreign Secretary William Hague, whose country has proposed a resolution that would authorise measures to protect civilians, it is necessary "to wait for the results" from the U.N. inspectors, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. (Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
  • Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari arrives to address the media at the United Nations Headquarters in New York August 28, 2013. Syria's U.N. envoy on Wednesday requested that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon order a U.N. team of chemical experts currently in Damascus to investigate three rebel attacks in which he said Syrian soldiers inhaled poisonous gas. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • Senior Obama administration officials will brief U.S. congressional leaders on the situation in Syria on Thursday, a congressional aide said on Wednesday. The briefing by senior White House and national security officials will be with leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives as well as with the chairmen and ranking members of national security committees.

    READ: Obama administration officials set briefing for Congress
  • PBS NewsHour Video: President Barack Obama said he had not yet made his decision regarding a U.S. strike on Syria during an interview with PBS NewsHour senior correspondents Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. The president said that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime alleged use of chemical weapons would factor into his calculation and he warned that the Assad should be held accountable.

  • Letter from 116 House members to U.S. President Obama urging he get Congressional authorization prior to any military action against Syria. Via @MarkKnoller on Twitter.

  • Reuters Picture: U.N. chemical weapons experts wearing gas masks carry samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 28, 2013.

    U.N. chemical weapons experts investigating an apparent gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus made a second trip across the front line to take samples. (Photo REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah)

  • The Syrian government asked the United Nations to keep weapons inspectors in Damascus beyond their Sunday deadline, which could complicate the timeline for a widely expected U.S. military strike, reports The Washington Post.

    READ: Syria wants U.N. inspectors to stay longer; could forestall U.S. military strike (Washington Post)
  • Syria crisis tests U.S. defense chief wary of war

    Since U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel left for Southeast Asia last week, he has been wrestling with a dilemma at the heart of Washington's policy on Syria and Hagel's own guiding philosophy - when and how to go to war.

    Read more
  • U.N. chemical weapons team to leave Syria by Saturday morning - Ban

    VIENNA - U.N. inspectors, in Syria to determine whether forces have used chemical weapons in the civil war, will continue their investigations until Friday and plans to leave by Saturday morning, the U.N. chief said.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Vienna, said he had spoken to U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday about the situation in Syria, discussing how "we can expedite the process of investigation."

    "I have also expressed (my) sincere wish that this investigation team should be allowed to continue their work as mandated by the member states," Ban told reporters on Thursday.

    "I told him that we will ... share information and our analysis of samples and evidence with members of the Security Council and United Nations members in general," he said.

    U.N. chemical weapons experts began a third day of investigations into an apparent poison gas attack last week which killed hundreds of civilians, visiting rebel-held territory outside Damascus.

    "They (the inspection team) will continue investigation activities until tomorrow, Friday, and will come out of Syria by Saturday morning and will report to me," Ban said.

    (Reporting By Fredrik Dahl and Eric Auchard; Editing by Jon Boyle)
  • Britain sends six RAF jets to Cyprus in defensive role

    LONDON - Britain is sending six RAF Typhoon jets to Cyprus as a defensive measure amid growing tensions over Syria and talks of Western military intervention.

    A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said the air-to-air interceptor jets would be deployed to the British Akrotiri base in Cyprus on Thursday.

    "This is purely a prudent and precautionary measure to ensure the protection of UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region," the spokesman said.

    "This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria."

    Cyprus is just 200 km (120 miles) from the Syrian coast. Britain also has warships in the Mediterranean.

    (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Stephen Addison)
  • France says political solution the ultimate goal for Syria

    PARIS - French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday a political solution must remain the focus for Syria but that could only happen if the international community can halt the killings and better support the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

    "Everything must be done for a political solution but it will only happen if the coalition is able to appear as an alternative with the necessary force, notably from its army," Hollande told reporters after meeting the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmed Jarba.

    "We will only manage this if the international community can put a temporary stop to this escalation in violence, of which the chemical attack is just one example," Hollande said.

    (Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
  • If it turns out that the rebels used chemical weapons too - as UN suggested in May - are we going to bomb them too? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22424188
  • Free Syrian Army fighters run to take cover from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad near Aleppo International airport August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat

  • Free Syrian Army fighters run to take cover from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad near Aleppo International airport August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat

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