Senior Correspondent, Syria
Khaled's Feed
Jun 4, 2013

Syria’s chemical weapons program was built to counter Israel

AMSTERDAM/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria, defeated by Israel in three wars and afraid its arch enemy had gained a nuclear arsenal, began in earnest to build a covert chemical weapons program three decades ago, aided by its neighbors, allies and European chemical wholesalers.

Damascus lacked the technology and scientific capacity to set up a program on its own, but with backing from foreign allies it amassed what is believed to be one of the deadliest stockpiles of nerve agent in the world, Western military experts said.

May 31, 2013

Syrian opposition, Assad dim outlook for peace talks

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition cast doubt on Friday on hopes of any meaningful progress in planned international peace talks after President Bashar al-Assad said only a referendum could decide whether he should leave power.

Russia and the United States are trying to draw Assad’s representatives and his opponents into a conference in Geneva on forming a transitional government in an effort to end a civil war that has killed more than 80,000 people.

May 31, 2013

Syrian opposition admits liberals after inconclusive talks

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition, under pressure to broaden its Islamist-dominated leadership, struggled to overcome deep rifts on Thursday and form a united front for a proposed international conference to try to end the Syrian civil war.

Delegates at inconclusive talks in Istanbul agreed to add 14 named members of a liberal bloc led by veteran figure Michel Kilo to the 60-member assembly of the Syrian National Coalition, the closest body that President Bashar al-Assad’s foes have to an overall civilian leadership in the two-year-old uprising.

May 30, 2013

Syrian opposition admits liberals to anti-Assad coalition

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition, under pressure to broaden its Islamist-dominated leadership, struggled to overcome deep rifts on Thursday and form a united front for a proposed international conference to try to end the Syrian war.

Delegates at talks in Istanbul agreed to add 14 members of a liberal bloc led by veteran figure Michel Kilo to the 60-member assembly of the Syrian National Coalition, the closest body that Assad’s foes have to an overall civilian leadership in the two-year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

May 30, 2013

Syrian opposition admits liberals to widen anti-Assad coalition

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syria’s divided opposition, under heavy pressure to shake up its Islamist-dominated ranks, struck a deal on Thursday to present a more representative image to the world before a proposed international peace conference.

Delegates at talks in Istanbul agreed to admit a liberal bloc led by veteran figure Michel Kilo into the Syrian National Coalition, which acts as the civilian opposition leadership in the two-year conflict with the Damascus government.

May 30, 2013

Syrian opposition says peace talks must mean Assad exit

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Syrian opposition said on Wednesday it would only take part in planned international peace talks if a deadline was set for a settlement that forces President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.

In its first official reaction to the Geneva conference being prepared by the United States and Russia, the opposition coalition adopted a declaration calling for “binding international guarantees” for any resolution of Syria’s two-year-old conflict.

May 29, 2013

Opposition in Syria slams coalition in exile ahead of peace talks

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Opposition groups on the ground in Syria slammed their counterparts in exile for undermining the rebellion and lacking legitimacy, laying bare chronic divisions among the foes of President Bashar al-Assad ahead of a planned peace conference.

A meeting of the exiled National Coalition members in Turkey has so far failed to agree to attend the Geneva conference, provisionally planned for June, or who should represent them, and is deadlocked over Western-backed proposals to widen its membership.

May 28, 2013

Syrian opposition disarray threatens international support

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Diplomatic efforts intensified on Tuesday to solve a crisis in Syria’s opposition which threatens to derail a planned peace conference and rob the Islamist-dominated alliance of international support.

After six days of talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition has failed to agree on the wider involvement of a liberal opposition bloc, to the dismay of Western and some Arab backers keen to reduce the influence of Islamists.

May 27, 2013

Syrian opposition shake-up falters ahead of peace conference

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A crisis in Syrian opposition ranks deepened on Monday when a Western and Arab-backed liberal bloc was offered only token representation in the Islamist-dominated Syrian National Coalition.

To the dismay of envoys of Western and Arab nations who have been monitoring four days of opposition talks in Istanbul, the 60-member coalition thwarted a deal to admit a bloc headed by opposition campaigner Michel Kilo with up to 22 new seats.

May 26, 2013

Syrian opposition unity talks hit snags before peace conference

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Talks by Syria’s opposition to choose a new leadership before an international peace conference stalled on Sunday over proposals to lessen Qatar’s influence on the rebel forces, opposition sources said.

The disarray in the opposition ranks emerged as the Syrian foreign minister said President Bashar al-Assad’s government would take part “in principle” in the conference, which could take place in the next few weeks in Geneva.