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Jun 13, 2013

France gambles on Syrian rebels as arms decision nears

PARIS (Reuters) – It’s a warm day on the Turkish-Syrian border. France’s recently recalled ambassador to Syria is incognito with his deputy and a security agent.

After checking the surroundings are clear, the diplomat pulls out a stash of brown envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars. The recipients are “viable” rebels operating in zones no longer under President Bashar al-Assad’s control.

Jun 13, 2013

Insight: France gambles on Syrian rebels as arms decision nears

PARIS (Reuters) – It’s a warm day on the Turkish-Syrian border. France’s recently recalled ambassador to Syria is incognito with his deputy and a security agent.

After checking the surroundings are clear, the diplomat pulls out a stash of brown envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars. The recipients are “viable” rebels operating in zones no longer under President Bashar al-Assad’s control.

Jun 13, 2013

West to discuss aid with Syria rebel leader; insurgents kill Shi’ites

BEIRUT/PARIS (Reuters) – Western officials will meet the commander of the main force fighting President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday to discuss new aid, diplomats said, signaling a new bid to help mainstream rebels and counter the strength of sectarian militias.

Underscoring the West’s fears of an uncontrolled sectarian bloodbath, activists said Sunni insurgent militiamen had killed some 60 Shi’ites in a town in the east of Syria.

Jun 12, 2013

Khamenei is erasing Iran’s presidency, Bani-Sadr says

VERSAILLES, France (Reuters) – Exiled former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr accused Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday of using this week’s presidential election to weaken the office and cement his own power.

Bani-Sadr, a sworn opponent of Tehran’s clerical rulers ever since being driven from office and fleeing in 1981, told Reuters in an interview that the six remaining candidates in Friday’s poll were separated by only shades of difference on policy.

Jun 4, 2013

France says Syria government used sarin

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that there was no doubt the Syrian government had used nerve agent sarin against rebels, and that all options, including military action, were under consideration.

Increasing reports from the battlefield of the use of chemical weapons have lent urgency to a new diplomatic push to end the war and fuelled some calls for Western intervention in the conflict.

Jun 4, 2013

France says Syrian govt used sarin, all options on table

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that there was no doubt the Syrian government had used nerve agent sarin against rebels, and that all options, including military action, were under consideration.

Increasing reports from the battlefield of the use of chemical weapons have lent urgency to a new diplomatic push to end the war and fuelled some calls for Western intervention in the conflict.

Jun 4, 2013

Mali wants Sahel nations to do more about Islamist threat

PARIS (Reuters) – Mali’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that nations in the Sahara were not doing enough to stop an Islamist threat spreading across the region and urged more intelligence-sharing and joint military operations.

In an interview with Reuters, Tieman Coulibaly also accused Mali’s Tuareg separatist rebels of “Ku Klux Klan” abuses by persecuting non-Tuaregs in Kidal and said this did not bode well for talks aimed at including the northeastern town in next month’s election of a new president to complete a post-coup transition to democracy.

Jun 4, 2013

France says is certain nerve gas sarin used in Syria

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Tuesday it was certain the nerve agent sarin had been used in Syria on several occasions following tests it carried out on samples recovered there.

Increasing reports from the battlefield of the use of chemical weapons have lent urgency to a new diplomatic push to end the war and fuelled some calls for Western intervention in the conflict.

May 31, 2013

France says south Libya Islamists likely behind embassy attack

PARIS (Reuters) – Islamist rebels based in southern Libya were most likely to have been behind an attack on France’s embassy in Tripoli last month, but there were no plans to intervene in the lawless desert region, President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

France, which led international efforts to oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, is concerned that foreign Islamist fighters who escaped after Paris’ intervention in Mali in January are now regrouping in southern Libya.

May 29, 2013

U.N. investigators say most Syria rebels not seeking democracy

PARIS (Reuters) – Most Syrian rebel fighters do not want democracy and the country’s civil war is producing ever worse atrocities and increasing radicalization, independent U.N. investigators said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Paris, Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro said his team of investigators had documented horrific crimes on both sides, although the scale of those committed by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces was greater.