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Entries in John Kerry (35)


Syria Today: Political "Chicken" and the Russian Missiles

Bashar al-Assad & Vladimir Putin Syrian National Coalition: No Part in Conference Without Assad Exit

The opposition Syrian National Coalition has officially confirmed that it will not participate in a proposed international "peace" conference in Geneva next month without a guarantee that President Assad will leave power.

The committee adopted a declaration amid a week-long meeting in Turkey, "The participation of the Syrians in any conference is tied to the presentation of a deadline for a solution and giving the necessary binding international guarantees."

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Middle East Today: Israel & Palestine --- US "Peace Plan"? More Rhetoric About "Private Investment"

US Secretary of State John KerryIraq: At Least 33 Killed in Bombings

At least 33 people have been killed in the latest series of explosions in the capital Baghdad.

The attacks targets targeting mainly Shia districts of the city.

Earlier this month, more than 200 people were killed in a week in bombings and other attacks, in the most serious of violence this year.

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Iran Today: Jalili Ramps Up Election Campaign

Jalili Supporters At Friday's Tehran Rally

Presidential Election Watch: Qalibaf To Hit Yazd On Campaign Trail

Presidential candidate and Tehran mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf is to visit Yazd Province on Sunday, Fararu reports.

Qalibaf's campaign chief, Gholam-Ali Sadih, said that the Tehran mayor will address various groups of people in Yazd, including students and faculty from various universities and other higher education institutes there.

In a speech Friday on the anniversary of Iran's liberation of Khorramshahr during the Iran-Iraq War, Qalibaf said that Iran had tremendous natural and human resources but "mismanagement, deficiencies and a move away from Jihadist culture" is hampering the country.

The liberation of Khorramshahr was a "turning point" for Iran, and a symbol of Iran's "sacrifice, struggle and resistance" as well as of those who were the "true followers of the Imam", he added.

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Middle East Today: US Protests Israel Legalisation of 4 West Bank Outposts

Givat Assaf Outpost in the West Bank(Photo: Haaretz)

Iraq: More Deaths in Bombings

At least 13 people have been killed in bomb attacks today in Iraq, a day after a wave of bombings across the country left at least 76 people dead.

In the latest attacks, three people were killed when two bombs went off simultaneously in Tuz Khurmato, a town populated mainly by ethnic Turkmen and claimed by the government in Baghdad and ethnic Kurds.

Gunmen and a suicide bomber killed three people in an attack on an army patrol in a Sunni area of Tarmiyah, 50 kilomatres (30 miles) north of Baghdad.

Further north, six people died and dozens were injured when three bombs exploded in the cattle market in al-Aruba district in Kirkuk.

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Syria Today: US and Russia Manoeuvre Over Support for Assad

1930 GMT: Even Government Sources Admit Baniyas is Different.

The Baniyas massacre on Syria's coast may be a singular event that stands out as being dramatically different than all the other massacres. For starters, the scale of the massacre is at least among the worst of all of Syria's massacres, though some reports suggest that it may be magnitudes worse than any event that has taken place since the start of this crisis. Also, this incident had a clearly sectarian nature to it that is not disputed - Alawite militias loyal to President Assad targeted Sunnis, many of them children, and killed them en masse. In a thorough, nuanced, and eloquent description of the massacre, the New York Times' Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada point out that the Assad government typically blames civilian deaths on "terrorists" even when their own forces and loyalists are implicated. This time, however, even the government admitted that its people were responsible for a mass killing, though they tell a different tale than Baniyas's residents:

Multiple video images that residents said they had recorded in Bayda and Ras al-Nabeh — of small children lying where they died, some embracing one another or their parents — were so searing that even some government supporters rejected Syrian television’s official version of events, that the army had “crushed a number of terrorists.”

One prominent pro-government writer, Bassam al-Qadi, took the unusual, risky step of publicly blaming loyalist gunmen for the killings and accusing the government of “turning a blind eye to criminals and murderers in the name of ‘defending the homeland.’ “

The article chronicles some of the evidence and eyewitness reports. It also argues that there were those who were trying to break with the sectarian nature of the killings even while the violence was ongoing. In the end, however, it's a must-read article on a story that has been under-reported.

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Syria Today: A Short-Lived Move for Political Talks?

2026 GMT: Rebels Launching Attack in Idlib.

There are reports from every corner of Idlib province that the rebels are in the initial stages of a major offensive against Idlib city and several other Assad strongholds that remain in the province. The offensive is being called "The Retribution for Baniyas," referencing the sectarian massacre that may have claimed hundreds of lives last week. The rebels are reportedly bringing significant amounts of firepower, from Grad rockets to tanks, artillery to mortars, into this fight. We've already seen many videos that reportedly show a significant amount of firepower on the move tonight, though we're still working to verify the locations.

This video reportedly shows a rebel tank attacking an Assad military installation in Idlib:

2008 GMT: US Ambassador inside Syria?

Analysts have been waiting for the arrival of more non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebels from the United States. NPR's Deborah Amos reports that some of that delivery may have arrived, accompanied by the US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford:

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Syria Today: US and Russia Propose New Political Talks

1614 GMT: Al Nusra Behind "Chemical Weapons" Attacks?

There are two developments in the case of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Saraqib. Over the last several days, arms experts we've worked with have become aware that some of the devices found at the site of two chemical weapons sites resemble Indian riot control devices. NBC's Richard Engel reports:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The device in question, analyzed by EA here, appears to resemble a riot-controlled device developed by an Indian company, "Tear Smoke Unit." We contacted TSU before the Richard Engel report, but have yet to hear back.

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Syria Live: "The Regime Used Chemical Weapons" Campaign

Claimed footage of the destruction of the Ummayad Mosque in Aleppo

See also Syria Analysis: Could Hezbollah Involvement Spark Sectarian Violence
Wednesday's Syria Live: The Fight Near the Lebanese Border

1740 GMT: Chemical Weapons. Two significant updates about our previous story that the US now says Assad has used chemical weapons in Syria....

Danger Room reports that there is clear and unambiguous evidence, based on blood samples of the victims, that sarin gas was used by the Assad regime, according to an unnamed American intelligence official:

“This is more than one organization representing that they have more than one sample from more than one attack,” the source tells Danger Room. “But we can’t confirm anything because no is really sure what’s going on in country.”

What’s clear is that the samples are authentic, and that the weapons were almost certainly employed by the Assad regime, which began months ago mixing up quantities of sarin’s chemical precursors for an potential attack, as Danger Room first reported.

“It would be very, very difficult for the opposition to fake this. Not only would they need the wherewithal to steal it or brew it up themselves. Then they’d need volunteers who would notionally agree to a possibly lethal exposure,” the source adds.

This assessment sounds definitive, as if the US is certain sarin was used. It is also a lot stronger rhetoric than the official statement originally leaked through Secretary of Defense Hagel.

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Syria Analysis: Chemical Weapons, the US, and the Insurgency

The use of chemical weapons or their possession by the "wrong" forces, while genuinely considered a threat by US and European governments, has been used to date to justify the build-up of a multi-national base in Jordan, with training and the supply of weapons to insurgents.

The US Secretary of State, though indirectly and carefully, opens up the prospect: will the chemical weapons argument now be used to escalate that support, possibly moving it into the open?

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Syria Live: International Support for the Insurgency? 

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US Secretary of State John Kerry at Saturday's Friends of Syria meeting

See also Bahrain (and Beyond) Live: The Protests, the Opposition, and the Grand Prix
Saturday's Syria Live: "Terrorists Eliminated by Army Operations"

1935 GMT: Opposition Criticises Lack of International Action

Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian National Opposition Coalition, has confirmed the resignation he announced last month.

A Coalition official said, "Khatib is resigning to denounce the international community's lack of real action on behalf of the Syrian people," after the opposition requested "specific, precise and immediate action to protect Syrian civilians from the use of ballistic missiles and chemical weapons".

Khatib had met US Secretary of State John Kerry before Saturday's Friends of Syria meeting. Kerry announced a doubling of "non-lethal" aid to $120 million from Washington, but it was not enough to satisfy the Coalition.

"The result in Istanbul was less than the Syrian people expected," Hisham Marwa, a senior member of the Coalition, said. "The US said that the use of chemical weapons was a red line for the Assad regime but the regime is using them and nothing has happened. We expected more. Russia sends Assad tonnes of weapons every week."

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