Syria - live updates
Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/4/2013 1:03:42 AM
by Chad Pergram via twitter edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/4/2013 1:09:56 AMU.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to formally write and amend proposed Syria authorization at 11:30 am ET on Wednesday.
Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 9/4/2013 1:16:55 AM
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 10:01:21 AMTurkey ready to join any coalition against Syria - PM
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey would take part in any international coalition against Syria, but stopped short of saying whether that would include military action.
"We have said that we are ready to take part in any kind of coalition and we perceive this as a coalition of volunteers," Erdogan said without elaborating, shortly before leaving for the Group of 20 meeting in St. Petersburg.
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 10:11:34 AMU.S. Congress fight over Syria pits establishment versus upstarts
(Reuters) - The U.S. Congress, which votes largely along party lines on most issues, is displaying a different kind of split in the debate over Syria: Experienced lawmakers who support President Barack Obama's plans for military action are lining up against more sceptical and rebellious newcomers mostly from the ideological edges of both parties.
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 10:15:43 AM
Syrian people carry their belongings as they enter Turkey with their family from the Turkish Cilvegozu border gate, located opposite Syrian commercial crossing point Bab al-Hawa in Reyhanli, Hatay province, September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
by politicshomeuk via twitter 9/4/2013 11:22:25 AMCameron: "We must not in any degree give up our utter revulsion at the chemical attacks we have seen." #PMQs
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 11:33:49 AMRussia sends missile cruiser to Mediterranean - Interfax
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is sending a missile cruiser to the east Mediterranean to take over the navy's operations in the region, state agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday, as the United States prepares for a possible military strike in Syria.
The ship, Moskva, will take over operations from a naval unit in the region that Moscow says is needed to protect national interests. It will be joined by a destroyer from Russia's Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet.
Moscow has been Assad's most powerful ally, protecting him from consecutive U.N. security resolutions aimed at pressuring him to end violence. Russia insists the conflict must be solved through political dialogue in which Assad must take part.
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 12:21:41 PM
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 12:42:16 PMCameron: Syria will use chemical weapons again without U.S. strike
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday he believed the Syrian government would use chemical weapons against its own people again if the United States stepped back from taking military action against it.
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 1:05:38 PMPutin's response: U.S. Congress has no right to "legitimise aggression" against Syria.
Reuters_Jillian Kitchener 9/4/2013 1:22:24 PM
A man and boys inspect a site hit by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Nigel Stevenson (Reuters) 9/4/2013 1:24:31 PMHeadlines from Stockholm press conference:
President Obama says the international community cannot be silent in face of "barbarism" of Syrian chemical attack, effective response is needed. Obama says failure to respond to Syrian chemical attack would increase risk of further attacks.
- Credibility of U.S., Congress and intelligence community is on the line -- not his credibility personally -- in need to uphold chemical weapons ban and respond to Syria attack.
- "I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line" against the use of chemical weapons
- Has no intention of repeating intelligence mistakes of Iraq war in response to Syria, that evidence is clear that Syrian government used chemical weapons.
- Believe Congress will approved military action against Syria but that as U.S. commander in chief he reserves the right to act in nation's security interest
- Was not required to submit proposed military action to Congress for approval, but also that he [Obama] is not doing so as an empty exercise
- "Always hopeful" that Russia's Putin will change his position on supporting Syria's Assad and will continue to engage with Russia on the issue
- Obama has made appeals directly to Putin on Syria but so far Putin has resisted efforts to achieve U.N. Security Council action
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 1:37:14 PM
President Obama during his news conference in Stockholm. REUTERS/Jonas Ekstromer/Scanpix Sweden
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 1:43:32 PMObama says Syria puts international community's credibility on line
STOCKHOLM - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the credibility of the U.S. Congress was on the line in the need to uphold a ban on chemical weapons and to respond to Syria's chemical weapons attack.
"My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line," Obama told a news conference in Sweden.
"America and Congress' credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important," Obama added.
(Reporting by Steven Holland, writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Mike Collett-White)
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 1:44:05 PMEXCLUSIVE: Former Syria defence minister breaks with Assad-Labwani
AMMAN - Former Syrian Defence Minister General Ali Habib, a promiment member of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect, has defected and is now in Turkey, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition told Reuters on Wednesday.
"Ali Habib has managed to escape from the grip of the regime and he is now in Turkey, but this does not mean that he has joined the opposition. I was told this by a Western diplomatic official," Kamal al-Labwani said from Paris.
If his defection is confirmed, Habib would be the highest ranking Alawite figure to break with Assad since the uprising against his rule began in 2011.
(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Editing by William Maclean and Mike Collett-White) Read the full report here.
by gregorydjohnsen via twitter 9/4/2013 1:45:17 PMIntervention in Syria is being talked about and debated as a one-off sort thing, hard to game out scenario where that holds true post bombs
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 1:46:31 PMU.S. Senator McCain does not back Senate panel draft authorizing force in Syria
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on military affairs, said on Wednesday he does not support a Senate panel's draft resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria.
"There are a number of people who are unhappy," McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee draft was narrower than the request made by President Barack Obama, and the panel, of which McCain is a member, may vote on it later on Wednesday. McCain has long favored U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Vicki Allen)
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 1:47:50 PMObama says hopes Putin will change position on Syria
STOCKHOLM - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he hoped that Russian President Vladimir Putin would change his position on Syria.
"Do I hold out hope that Mr. Putin may change his position on some of these issues? I'm always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him," Obama told a news conference in Sweden.
Obama added that he had made appeals directly to Putin on Syria, but so far he had resisted efforts to achieve U.N. Security Council action.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Roberta Rampton, writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Mike Collett-White)
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 1:53:20 PMFrom Politico: On Syria, House GOP won't follow their leaders www.politico.com
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 1:59:52 PM
Hagel and Dempsey heading to a closed door Senate hearing on Syria at the Capitol today. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 2:02:05 PMTurkey warns on Syrian refugees if no response to chemical attack
GENEVA - The Syrian refugee crisis may worsen if there is no international reaction in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Wednesday.
"If the same trend continues... and there is no international reaction to it, we are scared neighbouring countries face much bigger numbers of refugees," he said at a news conference in Geneva.
(Reporting by Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay)
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 2:05:09 PMWhat would a U.S. strike on Syria mean for Iran?
If one thing could scuttle Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's big plan - to fix Iran's economy by winning some relief from Western sanctions - a U.S. strike on Tehran's ally Syria is it.Read the full analysis by Yeganeh Torbati here.
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 2:13:14 PMUpdated exclusive: Former Syrian defense minister breaks with Assad, senior opposition member says. Read here.
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 2:21:43 PMLA Times: U.S. figure for casualties in Syria attack much higher than others www.latimes.com
Anush Elbakyan, Video producer 9/4/2013 2:26:10 PMVladimir Putin warns West on Syria action. Watch: bo.st
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 2:27:21 PMGuardian: Comparing the intelligence dossiers on the attack www.theguardian.com
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 2:35:02 PMPutin presses US Congress over Syria, says Kerry lied
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the U.S. Congress had no right to approve the use of force against Syria without a decision from the U.N. Security Council, and that doing so would be an "act of aggression".
He said "anything that is outside the U.N. Security Council is aggression, except self-defence. Now what Congress and the U.S. Senate are doing in essence is legitimising aggression. This is inadmissible in principle."
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 2:35:42 PMFrench PM: not acting in Syria would send wrong message to Iran
PARIS - France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Wednesday if there was no response to the chemical attack in Syria it risked sending Iran the wrong message on its nuclear program.
"To not act would be to put in danger peace and security in the entire region. What credibility would our international commitments against non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons stand for?" Ayrault told a parliamentary debate on Syria.
"What message would this send to other regimes, and I am thinking like you of Iran and North Korea? The message would be clear: You can continue." Iran rejects Western accusations that it is seeking to build the atomic bomb.
(Reporting By John Irish; editing by Mark John)
Colin.McDonald 9/4/2013 2:38:43 PMPolls released yesterday showed low levels of support for Syria intervention among Americans -- 19 percent in favor according to Reuters/Ipsos, 29 percent according to Pew -- which does not bode well for Obama's more immediate audience in Congress. Josh Kraushaar at National Journal throws cold water on the view that intervention support from top House Republicans Boehner and Cantor indicates a potential shift in Congress, where self-preservation often rules:
For vote-counting purposes, the most important divide isn't between hawks and doves. It's between members in tough districts and safe seats. With military intervention unpopular, few at-risk members are sticking their necks out to support the president, even those from his own party. These members are acutely sensitive to public opinion, and self-survival is often more important than taking one for the team.
This commentary in the Wall Street Journal sums up an alternative angle, those who see Obama utilizing growing Republican support as part of a historical and political tendency to largely forgo partisanship at the "water's edge," or on matters of war:
Some of this is due to the GOP tradition that developed during the Cold War of deferring to presidential war powers and thus repudiating the party's pre-World War II isolationism. Another explanation is a general GOP tenet that the U.S. military is a source for good in the world. This is in contrast to the post-Vietnam Democrats, most of whom have sought to restrain presidential war powers and U.S. action overseas.
The political irony is that if Mr. Obama's Syrian resolution passes next week, it will owe more to these GOP leaders, and to Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham, than it will to the President's own arguments or his overall credibility as Commander in Chief.
This Reuters piece by Richard Cowan and Caren Bohan posits there may be more at play in any final Syria vote tally than traditional party lines -- and that this may too could bode ill for the president on authorization to use force. Cowan and Bohan report that a growing strain of libertarian and independent-minded lawmakers, including Iraq War veteran and freshman Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), disagrees on intervention with their more experienced colleagues and may find unlikely allies who share their skepticism on Syria strikes:
Many say it is too early to call the vote. But some early estimates of how members could line up point to a group of House liberal Democrats, including some Congressional Black Caucus members, leaning against the resolution and joining hands with their ideological opposites - conservative and libertarian Republicans who eagerly have defied their leaders' wishes on several major issues earlier this year.
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 2:46:00 PMWP interactive: Where the votes stand on Syria www.washingtonpost.com
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 2:56:52 PMForeign Affairs: What the absence of drones from the Syria debate means about their usefulness www.foreignaffairs.com
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 2:59:03 PMPolitico: Ted Cruz: U.S. not 'Al Qaeda's air force' www.politico.com
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 3:10:05 PMU.S. Senate panel considers delaying vote on Syria authorization
WASHINGTON - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee may delay a vote on an authorization for the use of military force in Syria that was expected on Wednesday, aides to committee members said, after some senators said they were unhappy with its wording.
Senators from the 18-member committee were in a classified hearing on Syria on Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
Aides said they expected a decision after that session.
The committee had been expected to vote on Wednesday in a business meeting starting at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT) on a draft authorization for the use of force in Syria that is narrower than the request made by President Barack Obama.
But some members, including the influential Republican Senator John McCain, said they were unhappy with the compromise crafted on Tuesday by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the committee's chairman, and Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the panel.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Vicki Allen)
Colin.McDonald 9/4/2013 3:14:09 PMSen. Rand Paul had a heated exchange with John Kerry during yesterday's Senate hearing as he challenged the president's constitutional authority to intervene in Syria without Congressional approval, and whether he may do so should a vote in Congress fail:
Today, Paul submitted a brief amendment to the Syria resolution stating that the president would be violate the Constitution should the U.S. strike Syria without authorization from Congress. The amendment cites Obama's comments in 2007 that the president cannot unilaterally launch an attack without an imminent threat to the nation. Reason has the report and the below embed of the amendment:
Over at National Journal, Beth Reinhard sees the Syria debate as a prime political opportunity for Paul given his libertarian roots and adversarial relationship with Democrats, not to mention the difficult position in which Paul's possible presidential rival Marco Rubio finds himself trying to balance between strong anti-intervention sentiment among Americans and his more hawkish foreign policy positions.
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 3:14:42 PM
Free Syrian Army fighters rest inside a room in the old city of Aleppo, September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman
Colin.McDonald 9/4/2013 3:33:01 PMThe Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which held yesterday's public hearing on a Syria force authorization, may delay voting on the resolution that had been scheduled for 11:30am ET today, Reuters Congressional Correspondent Patricia Zengerle reports.
The 18 committee members are in a classified hearing with John Kerry, whose testimony highlighted yesterday's public hearing, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. A final decision on whether to vote is expected after the classified hearing, aides said. The committee members returned to Washington a week before the end of the summer recess, and a vote to move the resolution out of committee would mark progress toward the full Senate vote that Majority Leader Harry Reid promised for next week as soon as all senators return.
For his part, Kerry will be moving from the Senate classified briefing to a public hearing before the counterpart House Foreign Affairs Committee, set to begin at noon ET (we plan to have streaming video right here shortly).
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 3:35:37 PMDavid Rohde: The debate we should be having on Syria
Syria is on a path to become a failed state split between Sarin-wielding Alawites and Sunni jihadists. [...] A gaping hole in the president’s response to Syria is that it does not grapple with the core question: what should America’s role in the Middle East be? Defender of chemical weapons bans? Defender of oil flows? Defender of Israel and no one else?Read more here.
Jeremy Schultz 9/4/2013 3:38:40 PM
Gallery: Syria in ruins preview.reuters.com
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 3:43:41 PMGerman spy agency sees Assad behind gas attack, cites phone call
BERLIN - A Hezbollah official said in a phone call intercepted by German intelligence that President Bashar al-Assad had made a mistake in ordering a poison gas attack last month, suggesting the Syrian leader's culpability, participants at a security briefing for German lawmakers said.
According to participants at a confidential meeting on Monday, attended by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the head of the BND foreign intelligence agency told the lawmakers its indications of Assad's responsibility for the Aug 21 incident included an intercepted phone call believed to be between a high ranking member of the Hezbollah Lebanese Shi'ite militant group and the Iranian embassy in Damascus.
In the phone call, the Hezbollah official says Assad's order for the attack was a mistake and that he was losing his nerve, the participants reported the BND briefing as saying. Both Iran and Hezbollah support Assad.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, editing by Gareth Jones and William Maclean)
Clare Richardson 9/4/2013 3:50:21 PMBill Schneider: The politics of Syria
If Obama orders a strike on Syria after Congress has voted 'no,' House Republicans will likely move to impeach him. It’s the pretext they’ve been looking for.Read more here.