May 2nd, 2013
08:01 AM ET

Syria: Obama and Assad share 'red line'

Chemical weapons are a "red line" for Syria, too, a top government official said Thursday.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al Zoubi said in an exclusive interview with CNN that a hard-line Islamist rebel group has used chemical weapons during the civil war and his government "would never use" such munitions "if we had them."

"President Obama says chemical weapons are a red line," al Zoubi said. "Then he is in direct accordance with President (Bashar al-) Assad who also thinks that chemical weapons are a red line."

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April 23rd, 2013
08:37 AM ET

Israeli official: Syria using chemical weapons

The Syrian government is using chemical weapons against rebel forces, the head of the Israel Defense Forces' intelligence research departments said Tuesday.

"In all likelihood they used sarin gas," Brig. Gen. Itai Brun said Tuesday in a speech at a conference in Tel Aviv. This comes as a civil war between the government and rebels rages across Syria - which borders Israel.

Analysts believe the Syrian government may have one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world. The supply is believed to include sarin, mustard and VX gases, which are banned under international law. Syria has denied the allegation.

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April 5th, 2013
03:53 PM ET

Al-Assad warns of domino effect

If the Syrian government falls, other countries in the region could suffer, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a Turkish news outlet Friday.

The embattled leader told Turkey's Ulusal TV that neighboring states who should be allies instead are being influenced by foreign powers.

"A fight in Syria would affect countries in the region. And perhaps with a domino effect will impact faraway countries as well," al-Assad said. "The Arab states that have not supported the Syrian regime are those that are not independent actors but rather under the guidance of foreign countries."

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Filed under: Syria • World
April 2nd, 2013
01:57 AM ET

Syria opposition: March deadliest month

The brutal civil war in Syria claimed more than 6,000 lives in March alone - making it the deadliest month since the conflict began a little more than two years ago, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday.

The group said 6,005 people were killed in Syria last month. That's more than all the deaths that occurred in the first nine months of the war.

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Syrian opposition opens embassy in Qatar
Ghassan Hitto (2R), Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib (L) and George Sabra (R) and a Qatari official (2L) at the embassy inauguration.
March 27th, 2013
02:23 PM ET

Syrian opposition opens embassy in Qatar

Syria's opposition opened an embassy Wednesday in Doha, Qatar, a day after Arab League representatives meeting there allowed the rebels to take Syria's seat at the summit.

The embassy is the first for the Syrian National Coalition, which has been recognized by more than 100 nations as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

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Syrian rebel army chief injured in blast
Dissident Syrian army chief Riad al-Asaad is in stable condition after a blast targeted his car.
March 25th, 2013
03:27 AM ET

Syrian rebel army chief injured in blast

Rebel Free Syrian Army Chief Riad al-Asaad is in stable condition after blast targeted his car, the group's spokesman said.

Al-Asaad, who is not related to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was injured during a visit to Deir Ezzor, Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Almokdad said.

However, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria - and opposition group - disputed reports that al-Asaad was injured, saying a man with a similar name was actually wounded.

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March 24th, 2013
06:15 AM ET

Mikati steps down, upends Lebanese politics

The news of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati's resignation spurred fierce weekend clashes in his hometown, the coastal city of Tripoli.

Residents lobbed rockets and fired bullets at one another Saturday, leaving at least three people wounded, state news agency NNA reported.

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March 21st, 2013
10:25 AM ET

U.N. will probe Syria's chemical weapons claim

The United Nations will probe Syria's claim that rebels may have used chemical weapons in the country, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday.

Opposition groups, meanwhile, have insisted that the Syrian regime itself used such weapons.

Syria asked for a U.N. investigation of its claim, and Ban said he has a mandate to consider such a request from any member state. So the U.N. probe will focus on the government's allegation.

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March 20th, 2013
02:40 PM ET

Obama, Netanyahu exchange assurances on Iran, Syria, Palestinians

President Barack Obama is visiting Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank for the first time since he became president. He and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint news conference Wednesday evening in Jerusalem.

[Update 3:16 p.m.] The news conference has concluded.

[Update 3:15 p.m.] Netanyahu said the United States and Israel have a "common assessment" on Iran's progress in developing a nuclear weapon.

[Update 3:09 p.m.] Obama said that he "purposely did not want to come here and make some big announcement that might not match up to the reality" on the ground regarding the Middle East peace process.

[Update 3:04 p.m.] "I think there is time to resolve this issue diplomatically," Obama said about tension over Iran's nuclear program.

[Update 2:56 p.m.] Obama said that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, adding that "we will do what is necessary in preventing Iran from getting the world's worst weapons."

Netanyahu said he was "absolutely convinced" that Obama is "determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."

[Update 2:52 p.m.] Obama said he has ordered an investigation of whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, adding he was "deeply skeptical" of any claim the opposition had used them.

"Once we have established the facts, I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game-changer," Obama said, stopping short of saying what he would do if Syria had crossed his "red line" for stronger action.

[Update 2:49 p.m.] Obama said the Syrian government's "use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would be a serious and tragic mistake," adding that Damascus "will be held for accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists." 

[Update 2:45 p.m.] Obama said he and Netanyahu discussed extending U.S. assistance for Israel beyond the 2017 deadline of the current agreement between their countries.

 [Update 2:42 p.m.] Netanyahu said Wednesday that he hoped the visit by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry can "help us turn a page in relations" with Palestinians seeking their own state.

[First post 2:38 p.m.] Netanyahu said Wednesday that diplomacy and sanctions have not stopped Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon so far, adding that a peaceful solution also requires a clear and credible threat of military action.

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March 20th, 2013
11:28 AM ET

Official: Israel believes chemical weapons used in Syria

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says "it is clear for us here in Israel" that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and an international response to the crisis should be "on the table in the discussions between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama" during the president's trip to Israel.

When pressed during an interview in her Tel Aviv home, Livni wouldn't say whether there is evidence that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has directed the use of any chemical weapons.

But she said this development poses a direct threat to Israel, which shares a border with Syria. Livni told CNN that "the appearance is that it's not going to be only in Syria, but that Hezbollah can reach all these chemical weapons and use them against Israel in the future."

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March 20th, 2013
07:38 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

The murder trial of Jodi Arias has gripped the nation.  Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial.

Today's programming highlights...

9:45 am ET - Syria crisis hearing - With new allegations of chemical weapons being used in the conflict, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will look at how the United States should respond to the fighting in Syria.

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March 19th, 2013
06:57 PM ET

House intel chair: 'High probability' Syria used chemical weapons

There is a "high probability" that Syria used chemical weapons during fighting with opposition forces, though a final verification is needed, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.

"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Rogers, R-Michigan, told CNN. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used."

Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN's "Situation Room" about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a "red line" that could lead to the United States' getting involved militarily in the conflict.

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March 19th, 2013
10:55 AM ET

Syrian regime, rebels make chemical claims

The specter of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war emerged on Tuesday, with the government and rebels each blaming the other side for using such munitions.

The embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad accused rebels Tuesday of a deadly chemical weapons missile attack. At least 25 people died and dozens more were injured Tuesday in the town of Khan al-Asal in Aleppo province, Syrian state media said, quoting government figures. Rebels rebuffed the claims and blamed the regime.

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March 19th, 2013
01:57 AM ET

U.S.-educated Kurd to lead Syrian opposition

Hopes for a peaceful, credible alternative to Syria's embattled government now rest largely on the shoulders of a U.S.-educated Kurdish businessman.

A Syrian opposition alliance elected Ghassan Hitto, an information technology executive, to lead its provisional government.

Hitto went to college in Indiana and lived for many years in Dallas.

The role of the provisional government he will lead will likely be spelled out at a Tuesday news conference by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

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March 18th, 2013
10:26 PM ET

Syrian opposition group selects leader

The main Syrian opposition umbrella group, meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, has chosen a U.S.-educated Kurdish businessman to head its provisional government, an opposition activist who attended the vote said Monday.

Ghassan Hitto, an information technology executive who went to college in Indiana and lived for many years in Dallas, was elected Monday to lead a government whose specific role may be spelled out at a planned news conference Tuesday.

Hitto was born in Damascus and is a member of the board of the Syrian American Council, the council said in a news release after the vote.

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March 18th, 2013
01:51 PM ET

Syrian jets fire into Lebanon, reports say

Two Syrian jets fired three rockets that hit empty buildings near the Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border Monday, a local source said. There were no injuries, according to the source.

Also, Lebanese state-run news agency NNA reported that Syrian warplanes attacked sites in northern Lebanon.

This latest violence comes as the Syrian conflict enters its third year. The unrest started in March 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad's government launched a fierce crackdown on protesters. The discontent evolved into a full-blown civil war that has left more than 70,000 dead and more than 1 million refugees.

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March 16th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Rights group: Syria expanding use of cluster bombs

More civilians in Syria are dying because government forces are using increasing numbers of cluster bombs in residential areas, a rights group said Saturday.

Human Rights Watch says its researchers have identified 119 locations across Syria, where at least 156 cluster bombs have been used from August to mid-February.

The result is "mounting civilian casualties," the rights group said.

Human Rights Watch said it has investigated two cluster bomb attacks in the past two weeks - in Deir Jamal, near Aleppo, and Talbiseh, near Homs.

These attacks killed 11 civilians, including two women and five children, and injured 27 others, the rights group said.

"Syria is expanding its relentless use of cluster munitions, a banned weapon, and civilians are paying the price with their lives and limbs," said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch.

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Filed under: Syria • Uncategorized • War • World • World Update
March 15th, 2013
08:17 AM ET

Source: U.S.-trained rebels return to Syria

The first Syrian rebels trained by U.S. military and intelligence officers in Jordan returned to Syria on Thursday, a senior rebel spokesman told CNN.

About 300 rebel fighters received specialized training in Jordan in the use of various weapons, including anti-tank, anti-aircraft and other types of advanced systems, the spokesman said.

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France: We must arm Syrian rebels now
French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius addresses members of parliament on March 12, 2013 in Paris.
March 14th, 2013
03:47 AM ET

France: We must arm Syrian rebels now

With the carnage in Syria mounting out of control, there's only one thing left to do, France says: Lift a European Union embargo and start arming rebels.

"We must convince our partners, particularly in Europe, that we have no other choice but lift the arms embargo in favor of the (opposition) Syrian Coalition," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius wrote in an op-ed for the French newspaper Liberation.

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March 13th, 2013
12:20 AM ET

2 million Syrian kids suffer trauma, disease

The Syrian civil war has taken a massive toll on those who have no part in the fighting - children, the aid agency Save the Children said Wednesday.

More than 2 million children have been afflicted by trauma, malnutrition or disease, the group said.

In addition, one in three children have been injured, the report said.

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