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August 23rd, 2013
08:18 AM ET

Syria and the Obama's 'Red Line'

International eyes remain on Syria, where anti-regime activists say hundreds were killed in an alleged massacre.

At least a thousand victims, many of them women and children, are reported dead in a possible chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Disturbing images from that alleged attack continue to call more attention to the region, raising questions, once more, about President Barack Obama's "red line."

State Dept. Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki addressed the situation to the press, saying “the president has directed the Intel community to, here in the United States, to urgently gather additional information. That is our focus on this end.”

“The U.N. is asking the Syrian government to allow a chemical weapons inspection team to investigate,” reports CNN’s Jill Dougherty.

“U.S. officials say, so far they, cannot ‘conclusively determine’ whether chemical weapons were used. And they're not saying exactly what President Obama would do if they were.”

If these reports are found to be true, Psaki said “this would be an outrageous and flagrant escalation of the use of chemical weapons” by the regime and “the president has a range of options to consider” in that case.

Just last August, President Obama drew his red line, saying: "A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.”

But Senator John McCain argues that means nothing to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Sen. John McCain told CNN, “The president of the United States says, that if he uses these weapons that it would be a quote "red line and a game changer". He now sees that as a green light, and that is the word of the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously.” 

McCain believes it's time to take military action, but the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey urges caution.

"The use of U.S. Military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict."

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Filed under: Chemical Weapons • Security • Syria
August 21st, 2013
10:33 AM ET

Claims of Chemical Weapons Massacre in Syria

Reports of a massacre in Syria has surfaced this morning.

Activists says forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons during a heavy bombardment of a rebel-held stronghold east of Damascus.

They say hundreds are dead and wounded. The Syrian government meanwhile denies the claims.

“It's very difficult to get accurate information out of Syria, but the images that are emerging are absolutely horrific,” reports CNN”s Arwa Damon.

Many images are of child victims lying on the floor, doctors in some cases trying to resuscitate them.

One doctor told CNN people are dying from asphyxiation.

“The doctors are really working under very primitive conditions,” Damon says, because they lack the drugs needs in the case of a chemical attack

Follow along at CNN.com for the latest in the story.

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Filed under: Chemical Attack • Syria
June 14th, 2013
06:04 AM ET

White House: Syria has used sarin gas on its own people – Barbara Starr has the latest

The White House is now saying it is clear that Syria used chemical weapons, including sarin nerve gas, on its own people, killing as many as 150 rebels.

The big question being asked now is how forcefully will the White House respond? Barbara Starr is following the developments.

"Pressure is growing on president Obama to act," Starr says. “The White House says it will boost military support to the rebels, but won't say exactly how.” Arming the rebels may be an option, Starr reports.

Posted by
Filed under: Civil War • President • Syria • White House
June 14th, 2013
06:04 AM ET

Syrian govt. troops feel momentum is in their favor – Frederik Pleitgen reports live from Damascus

The White House is now definitively saying that it is clear that chemical weapons were used in "small amounts" on the Syrian people.

The big question raised now is how forcefully will the White House respond? Frederik Pleitgen is following the developments live in Damascus.

“The big concern here for the Syrian government is of course, or would be, the establishment of a no-fly zone here in this country,” Pleitgen reports.

“Right now, the Syrian government believes it has the momentum on the battlefield. But of course, increased U.S. Involvement could quench that.”

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Filed under: "Red Line" • Chemical Weapons • Civil War • Syria
May 31st, 2013
08:30 AM ET

American woman killed in Syria; state TV claims she was fighting for rebels – Nick Paton Walsh reports

CNN is reporting that an American woman has been killed in Syria in the midst of its civil war. She has been identified as Nicole Lynn Mansfield. Syrian TV reports that Mansfield, 33, from Flint, Michigan, was killed by government forces while fighting for rebels in Syria.

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh is tracking the latest developments live from Beirut.


Filed under: Michigan • Middle East • Syria
May 28th, 2013
12:04 PM ET

Russia To Ship Weapons To Syria: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports

Syria's State TV Revealed That Russia Is Shipping Air-Defense Missiles To Syria. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.

This comes after Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made a secret trip to Syria to visit with opposition leaders.

READ MORE: Report: Rockets launched from Syria strike Lebanon


Filed under: Syria
April 26th, 2013
07:10 AM ET

U.S. intel claims evidence Syria used chemical weapons – how will world react? Arwa Damon on possible next steps

FROM CNN WIRES:

(CNN) - The United States has evidence that the chemical weapon sarin has been used in Syria on a small scale, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.

But numerous questions remain about the origins of the chemical and what effect its apparent use could have on the ongoing Syrian civil war and international involvement in it.

This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Arwa Damon looks at possible next steps after U.S. admits it has evidence that Syria used chemical weapons on rebels.

READ MORE: U.S.: Intelligence points to small-scale use of sarin in Syria


Filed under: Syria
March 22nd, 2013
05:53 AM ET

President Obama spends final day of historic Mideast journey at holy sites in Israel before last stop in Jordan

FROM CNN WIRES:

After putting himself in the middle of the historic tensions between Israelis and Palestinians this week, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday wraps up his first trip to Israel since becoming president. He then moves on to another of America's closest allies in the region - Jordan, a military and intelligence partner, which has been facing trying times.

Obama is devoting his last hours in Israel and the Palestinian territories to cultural endeavors.

With Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president and Secretary of State John Kerry visited the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, where Obama placed a stone on top of the tomb.

From there, the delegation went to the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli Prime Minister who was assassinated in 1995. Obama also laid a wreath and a stone there. The stone for Rabin's grave came from the grounds of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington.

Obama and the Israeli leaders also visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, where the president turned up the "eternal flame" of remembrance of the 6,000,000 Jewish victims of Nazi death camps in World War II.

Before continuing on to the last stop of his trip, Obama with visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is on the West Bank, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Obama then travels to Jordan, where he will meet with King Abdullah II, who has faced harsh criticism lately from his country's people.

READ MORE: Obama travels from Israel and Palestinian lands to Jordan


Filed under: Israel • Israel-Gaza conflict • Jordan • Palestine • Refugees • Relief • Syria • World
March 21st, 2013
06:57 AM ET

Multiple investigations launched into reports of chemical weapons in Syria – Barbara Starr reports

U.S. intelligence officials say there is so far no evidence of chemical weapons used in Syria, but they are conducting their own investigation as to what happened there, Barbara Starr reports. CNN has learned new details about how the CIA is trying to find answers, including information that intelligence officials are talking to rebels and defectors to learn what they know, she says.

Officials tell CNN, military analysts are also looking at reports from Syrian doctors and videos from the attacks to see if the symptoms and conditions of the patients in them match those of a potential chemical attack. They are investigating satellite imagery to identify movement of chemical weapons and intercepting cyber chatter about attacks as well, Starr reports. 

“Now, officials tell us, because the U.S. has no operatives and no U.S. military personnel on the ground inside Syria, this is going to be very tough to prove," Starr says. "And it may take them some time, if ever, to figure out exactly what happened here.”

Posted by
Filed under: Chemical Weapons • Syria
March 20th, 2013
07:35 AM ET

White House says reports of chemical weapons in Syria being taken 'very seriously' – Chris Lawrence reports

In Syria, the Assad regime and rebel forces are both accusing each other of using chemical weapons. Syrian state media claimed yesterday that opposition forces launched a chemical attack in Aleppo province, killing at least two dozen people and injuring more than 100. Rebels deny that charge and accuse the government forces of shelling a town near Damascus with chemical rockets.

The White House is continuing to keep a close eye on the situation there. Chief of Staff Denis Mcdonough told CNN's Jake Tapper that the president takes the reports, quote "very seriously." The statement now raises questions whether that means the United States would take some kind of military action. Chris Lawrence is live at the Pentagon with the latest on this developing story.


Filed under: Civil War • Syria
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