NEWS ABOUT: Bashar al-Assad

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White House Wants $500M for Syrian Opposition

Request to Congress says recipients will be vetted

(Newser) - President Obama promised back in May to help the Syrian opposition in its fight against Bashar al-Assad, and today he made that promise a lot more tangible. The White House asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip the opposition forces, reports USA Today . With the conflict spilling over... More »

Syria Begins 'Blood Election'

Assad certain to win 'sham' multi-candidate vote

(Newser) - Thousands of Syrians lined up outside polling centers in government-controlled areas around the country to vote today in a presidential election that Bashar Assad is widely expected to win but which has been denounced by critics as a sham. The balloting comes amid a devastating, three-year civil war that activists... More »

As UN Envoy Quits, France Says Assad Using Chemicals

Regime has continued using chemical weapons: French diplomat

(Newser) - First it was Kofi Annan; now his successor, Lakhdar Brahimi, is also stepping down as the UN and Arab League's special envoy to Syria. "He has faced almost impossible odds, with a Syrian nation, Middle Eastern region, and wider international community that have been hopelessly divided in their... More »

Sources: Assad Dumped Chlorine From Helicopters

But no official confirmation yet

(Newser) - The US is looking into whether a toxic chemical was deployed in areas of Syria that are controlled by rebel forces seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said today the chemical was likely chlorine, if it was used. She said officials were still trying... More »

Syria Opposition: Images Show Regime Used Poison Gas

Country ships out another baatch of chemical weapons

(Newser) - The Syrian government and the opposition have blamed each other for reported poison gas attacks in the rebel-controlled village of Kfar Zeita; now, the opposition says it has images that point the finger at the regime. Activists released images and video of an unexploded canister marked with the chemical symbol... More »

US Looking Into Reports of Poison Gas in Syria

Both sides blame each other for alleged toxic gas attack

(Newser) - The US ambassador to the United Nations said today that reports of a poison gas attack in a rural village north of Damascus were so far "unsubstantiated," adding that the United States was trying to establish what really happened before it considers a response. Both sides in Syria'... More »

Security Council Unites on Syria: Don't Block Aid

Russia joins in resolution, but strips it of language on sanctions

(Newser) - The UN Security Council united for the first time on a resolution on Syria's humanitarian crisis today, demanding that President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition provide immediate access everywhere in the country to deliver aid to millions of people in desperate need. The fate of the Western... More »

Where Did Syria Extremists Come From? Iraq's Prisons

ISIS ranks fueled by what it termed 'Operation Breaking the Walls'

(Newser) - The most extreme faction in Syria didn't just spring up naturally—it was purposely built through a series of daring Iraqi prison breaks, the New York Times reports. With demand for fighters high, and the US recently departed, the group now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and... More »

Syria, Opposition Meet for First Time, Silently

They don't address each other, only the UN mediator

(Newser) - Small steps: The first face-to-face meeting between Syria's government and the opposition hoping to overthrow Bashar al-Assad started and ended after barely a half-hour today. The two sides faced each other silently as a UN mediator split the distance between them and laid groundwork for talks intended to lead... More »

Syria Peace Talks Open—Unpleasantly

Sides take firm stances in opening speeches

(Newser) - With more than 100,000 dead in a divided Syria, government and opposition leaders are in Switzerland today for year-in-the-making international peace talks. Direct talks haven't even begun yet (that comes Friday), but so far, the tone at the "Geneva II" talks has been far from friendly, the... More »

Invite Could Kill Year-in-Making Syria Peace Talks

Opposition threatens to pull out

(Newser) - This week's Syria peace talks in Switzerland have been in the works for more than a year, but they're in danger of falling apart before they begin. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to join the talks, sparking protests from the US and causing Syria's... More »

Kerry: Syria Opposition Must Join Peace Talks

Both sides must accept future leader, he says

(Newser) - John Kerry has urged the Syrian opposition to attend next week's peace conference in Switzerland, saying any individual chosen to lead a political transition in the war-torn country must be acceptable to both the government and opposing forces.The opposition groups, which will vote today whether to attend the... More »

Now European Spies Are Meeting With Assad

Opposition is concerned about cooperation

(Newser) - For the first time since Europe withdrew its ambassadors from Syria, European intelligence agencies met recently with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss extremists—and the move is sparking concern among Assad's opponents. The purpose of the meetings was to share information on European jihadists who are currently working... More »

Assad Backers Hack Microsoft Twitter... Again

Syrian Electronic Army tweets through 2 company accounts

(Newser) - Ten days ago, Syrian regime supporters the Syrian Electronic Army broke into Microsoft's Skype social media accounts; today, the group tweeted through both the Microsoft News and Xbox Support accounts, ZDNet and the Next Web report. "Don't use Microsoft emails(hotmail,outlook),They are monitoring your accounts and... More »

Volunteer Surgeon Held by Syria Is Dead

UK's Abbas Khan was due to be released this week

(Newser) - A young British doctor who traveled to Syria as a volunteer to treat civilians is dead under suspicious circumstances after more than a year in custody, reports the Daily Mail . The official story is that surgeon Abbas Khan, 32, hanged himself in his cell with his pajama bottoms, reports the... More »

Syria Fires Official After He Met With US

While peace talks become increasingly less likely

(Newser) - Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil was yesterday given the boot for holding meetings "without coordinating with the government," the New York Times reports. The meetings in question? The one he had with the US ambassador to Syria on Saturday may be at the top of the list;... More »

Assad Makes a Funny: I Deserved the Nobel

Meanwhile, terrible things continue happening in Syria

(Newser) - That Bashar al-Assad sure is a kidder. When asked today to comment on the Nobel Peace Prize—which was awarded to the UN group currently working to dismantle his chemical weapons arsenal—the Syrian ruler quipped that it "should have been mine," the AFP reports. The comment came... More »

Assad: I Won't Make Peace Deal With Rebels

But admits his gov't has made mistakes

(Newser) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad admits he's made mistakes ... but gassing his own people wasn't one of them. "We did not use chemical weapons," he insists in a new interview with German magazine Der Spiegel . "This is a misstatement. So is the picture you paint of... More »

Assad: I May Run Again Next Year

But not if Syrians don't want me: interview

(Newser) - Syrian president Bashar Assad says it's still too early to say whether he'll run for re-election in next year's presidential vote. Assad says "the picture will be clearer" in the next four to five months because Syria is going though "rapid" changes on the ground.... More »

Syria's Assad: I'll Comply With UN Resolution

Says he's open to talks with opposition if they give up their arms

(Newser) - Bashar al-Assad is vowing to stand by the terms of the United Nations' resolution last week to destroy Syria's chemical weapons, reports the AP . "Of course we have to comply," he told Italian television in an interview today. "This is our history to comply with every... More »

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