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Entries in Wael al-Halki (13)


Syria Today: More Than 100 Claimed Deaths on a "Quiet" Monday

Residents digging through rubble in Kafar Hamra section of Aleppo after Sunday's missile strike

US Cautious About Claims of Regime Use of Chemical Weapons

The White House has been cautious about a French finding that the regime has used chemical weapons.

"We need more information" about claims of such use, spokesman Jay Carney said.

Carney said there is a need to gather more evidence to pin down when chemical weapons were used, who employed them, and what the chain of custody was: "[We must] establish a body of information that can be presented and reviewed, and upon which policy decisions can be made."

Carney had no timetable for when the review might be completed, although he said, "I can assure you that we are working very diligently as an administration with our allies and the Syrian opposition on this matter."

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Syria Today: The Battle for Qusayr

Regime bombardment of the town of al-Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, on Sunday

Deaths in Lebanese City of Tripoli

In two days of renewed fighting in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, five people have been killed and about 50 wounded.

Clashes in Tripoli have recurred since last year between groups supporting and opposing the Syrian regime.


Syrian activists say the latest fighting was ignited by tension over the assault by Syrian force on Qusayr, near the Lebanese border.

Three people were killed in the Sunni district of Bab Tabbaneh and another in the adjacent Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. The fifth fatality was a Lebanese soldier.

Video of Hezbollah Involvement in Qusayr?

An opposition activist claims evidence of involvement of Hezbollah fighters and weapons in the battle for Qusayr near the Lebanese border:

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Syria Today: "US Moving Towards Supply of Weapons to Insurgents"

Claimed footage of US "non-lethal" aid moving to insurgents inside Syria

See also Middle East Today: Palestine --- Assassination of "Bomb-Maker", Killing of Jewish Settler
Tuesday's Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons Attack in Idlib Province?

1920 GMT: Chemical Weapons

Local Turkish officials say they testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties, brought over the border this week, to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack.

The samples were sent to Turkey's forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought from Syria's Idlib Province to the Turkish town of Reyhanli in Hatay Province along the border..

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Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons Attack in Idlib Province?

1506 GMT: Death Toll Rising.

According to the Local Coordination Committees, 105 people have been killed so far today across the country:

34 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its suburbs, among them 13 martyrs in Marjeh explosion; 25 in Hama; 13 in Homs, among them 9 martyrs in Arbaeen neighborhood in Hama; 12 in Idlib; 8 in Daraa; 7 in Deir Ezzor; 5 in Aleppo; and 1 in Lattakia

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) is an activist network operating both inside and outside of Syria. They claim to use stringent verification processes to ensure that a member of the LCC can vouch for any information posted either on their Facebook page or their website. The LCC also cooperates with an independent organization to populate database of those killed in the Syrian conflict, which can be seen at the website for the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria.

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Syria Today: The Insurgent Attacks on Regime Airfields


Syria Live Coverage: Hesitating on Weapons to Insurgents?

1314 GMT: American Arrested for Fighting Alongside Al Nusra Eric Harroun, a 30 year old former American soldier, has been arrested in Washington DC. Harroun has been fighting in Syria alongside the Syrian Islamic group Jabhat al Nusra. He is being charged for using a rocket propelled grenade outside of the service of the US military:

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Iran Live Coverage: President v. Parliament

See also Iran Analysis: The Real Explanation for the Delay in New Nuclear Talks
Iran Live Coverage: Don't Mention the "Free Elections"

2220 GMT: Nuclear Watch. After a few days talking down the possibility of renewed nuclear talks --- and putting the blame on Tehran --- Western diplomats said today that discussions could still resume in January.

The shift follows a phone call on Monday between Helga Schmid, the deputy negotiator for the 5+1 Powers, and her Iranian counterpart Ali Bagheri.

"Consultations to prepare a next round of talks are ongoing," spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

"The powers and Iran are still discussing possible dates for nuclear talks in January," one Western envoy said.

See also Iran Analysis: The Real Explanation for the Delay in New Nuclear Talks

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Iran Live Coverage: Don't Mention the "Free Elections"

See also Iran Feature: Spotlight Returns to Detained Opposition Leaders Mousavi and Karroubi
Sunday's Iran Live Coverage: The Isolation of the Country

1714 GMT: Scare Story of the Day (cont.). I have now read the 154-page report by 5 US analysts and activists being trumpeted in the media as proof that Iran will have a Bomb by mid-2014.

As I anticipated in an earlier entry (see 1546 GMT), the report sets aside careful analysis for supposition, manipulation of some evidence, and ignorance of other facts. It should be treated as a polemic in its calls for tougher sanctions and threat of military action by the US.

1650 GMT: All the President's Men. A court has cancelled the appointment of senior Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi as head of Social Funds Organization.

Mortazavi has long been criticised for his alleged role in the abuse and killing of protesters in the Kahrizak detention centre after the disputed 2009 Presidential election. Although he has not been prosecuted, a court ruled that he should not hold a Government post pending investigation.

President Ahmadinejad defied the order, installing Mortazavi as head of the Social Security Fund in early 2012. The Administrative Court ruled against the appointment --- the Government responded with the circumvention of renaming the agency.

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Iran Live Coverage: A Collapsing Economy?

See also Wednesday's Iran Live Coverage: Ahmadinejad v. Everyone Else

1710 GMT: Economy Watch. A new report by the Iranian Chamber of Commerce indicates that 5931 industrial units --- 67% of those surveyed --- have been shut.

1440 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Ebrahim Raissi, the Deputy Iran Prosecutor General, has promised that indictments in the case of Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, will be issued soon.

Hashemi, accused of financial and electoral fraud by his critics, was detained in September on his return from three years in exile in Britain. He was released on bail last month.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: On Verge of "Hell" or "Sacred Birth"?

See also Sunday's Syria Live Coverage: "220 Executed" as Regime Advances in Homs

1935 GMT: Syria. Brown Moses considers a video, circulating since Saturday, claiming to be of a regime soldier executed by an Islamist brigade in Harem in Idlib Province.

Harem, just over a mile from the Turkish border, was captured by insurgents last week.

1930 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of insurgents blowing up a regime tank today:

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