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Sep 20, 2013

Hundreds of Syria rebels pledge loyalty to Qaeda groups: activists

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hundreds of rebels have pledged allegiance to al Qaeda-affiliated forces in northern and eastern Syria, activists and Islamist sources said on Friday, strengthening the group’s control in the region.

Not only individual fighters, but entire units have joined the small but powerful al Qaeda-linked groups – the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – in recent days, according to the sources inside Syria.

Sep 3, 2013

Obama presses Congress as Syria refugee crisis mounts

BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Barack Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to approve U.S. strikes on Syria soon as the United Nations said two million Syrians had fled a conflict that posed the greatest threat to world peace since the Vietnam war.

Having startled friends and foes alike in the Middle East by delaying a punitive attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Congress reconvenes and agrees, Obama met congressional leaders at the White House to urge a prompt decision and assure them it did not mean another long war like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Aug 31, 2013

Islamist rebels go into hiding ahead of Syria strikes

BEIRUT (Reuters) – An anticipated U.S.-led strike on Syria has not only put government forces on alert, it has also alarmed rebels, in particular Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda who worry they too are targets.

The United States said on Friday it was planning a limited response to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a “brutal and flagrant” chemical weapons attack it says killed more than 1,400 people in Damascus two weeks ago.

Aug 31, 2013

Syrian rebels plan raids to exploit Western strikes: commander

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Opposition fighters across Syria are preparing to launch attacks that exploit anticipated U.S.-led military strikes, but there are no plans to coordinate with Western forces, a Syrian rebel commander said on Saturday.

The United States said on Friday it was planning a limited response to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a “brutal and flagrant” chemical weapons attack it says killed more than 1,400 people in Damascus 10 days ago. Washington has five cruise-missile equipped destroyers in the region.

Aug 31, 2013

International weapons experts leave Syria, U.S. prepares attack

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N. experts left Syria on Saturday after investigating a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians, and the United States said it was planning a limited response to punish Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for the “brutal and flagrant” assault.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States, which has five cruise-missile equipped destroyers in the region, was in the planning process for a “limited, narrow” military action that would not involve boots on the ground or be open-ended.

Aug 28, 2013

U.N. Council set for Syria clash as West readies attack

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The United Nations Security Council was set for a showdown over Syria on Wednesday after Britain sought authorization for Western military action that seems certain to be vetoed by Russia and probably China.

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. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pleaded for them to be given the time they need to complete their mission.

Aug 27, 2013

Washington warns Assad over ‘undeniable’ chemical weapons attack

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT (Reuters) – The United States put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on notice on Monday that it believes he was responsible for using chemical weapons against civilians last week in what Secretary of State John Kerry called a “moral obscenity.”

“President (Barack) Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people,” Kerry said in the most forceful U.S. reaction yet to the August 21 attack.

Aug 26, 2013

UN inspectors reach Syria gas victims despite coming under fire

BEIRUT, Aug 26 (Reuters) – U.N. chemical weapons inspectors
in Syria met and took samples from victims of an apparent poison
gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Monday after
the U.N. team themselves survived a gun attack on their convoy.

A Syrian doctor told Reuters from the town of Mouadamiya
that investigators from the United Nations had crossed the
frontline from the centre of the capital, which remains under
the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The U.N. said
the shooting crippled one vehicle but mentioned no injuries.

Aug 26, 2013

U.N. experts in Syria head to site of poison gas attack

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N. inspectors left central Damascus on Monday to investigate sites of an alleged chemical weapons strike on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said, after calls from Western powers for military action to punish what may be the world’s worst chemical attack in 25 years.

Syria agreed on Sunday to allow the inspectors to visit the site. But the United States and its allies say evidence has probably been destroyed by heavy government shelling of the area over the past five days. It said the offer to allow inspectors came too late.

Aug 24, 2013

On Syria, Obama says no rush toward costly interventions

BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Barack Obama called the apparent gassing of hundreds of Syrian civilians a “big event of grave concern” but stressed on Friday he was in no rush to embroil Americans in a costly new war.

As opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad braved the frontlines around Damascus to smuggle out tissue samples from victims of Wednesday’s mass poisoning, Obama brushed over an interviewer’s reminder that he once called chemical weapons a “red line” that could trigger U.S. action.

    • About Erika

      "I am a correspondent based in Dubai, where I focus mainly on political and general news in the UAE and the greater Arab Gulf region. I previously worked for Reuters in the Palestinian territories."
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