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  • #AceNewsGroup 11:12 on January 5, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , kind support, , , ,   

    #AceNewsGroup says to All its Readers “Thank You for 1000 Likes on Our Posts” 

    WP Like Button#AceNewsGroup says today marks another milestone for our group and it is all thanks to you the readers kind support and all your likes, as we have reached 1000 and we could not do it without your support.

    So all l can say is a great big thank you from the Ace News GroupThanks in all languages   


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  • #AceNewsGroup 17:40 on December 3, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, , International observance, , , ,   

    #AceWorldNews says “We Need a Concerted Action to Eradicate Modern Day Forms of Slavery” 

    Am I not a man emblem used during the campaign...

    Am I not a man emblem used during the campaign to abolish slavery. The image is from a book from 1788, so there can be no effective copyright. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    According to the  “Top United Nations officials marking the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery ” yesterday with a call for concerted action to eradicate the contemporary forms of this heinous practice.

    “It is vital that we give special consideration to ending modern-day slavery and servitude which affects the poorest, most socially excluded groups – including migrants, women, discriminated ethnic groups, minorities and indigenous people’s,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp“>said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 2 December.

    The International Day marks the date in 1949 of the adoption by the General Assembly of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The focus of the day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

    Today, 21 million women, men and children are trapped in slavery all over the world, according to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), which has teamed up with prominent artists, athletes and advocates in its campaign to “End Slavery Now.”

    Mr. Ban noted that there has been important progress in the last year, including stronger legislation and greater coordination by a number of countries to combat slavery. Also, more and more businesses are working to ensure their activities do not cause or contribute to contemporary forms of slavery in the workplace and their supply chains.

    “I strongly support these initiatives and urge all Member States to ratify the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, develop robust and effective domestic legislation and boost enforcement on the ground.  The partnership of the private sector in implementing these efforts is critical,” said the Secretary-General.


    Slavery (Photo credit: quadelirus)

    He also urged continued support for the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, which has helped restore human rights and dignity to tens of thousands of children, women and men for over 20 years, he said.

    General Assembly President John Ashe said in his message that the Day serves as a reminder to all people that, much like its historical antecedent, modern slavery is an egregious violation of a person’s basic human rights. “The majority of those who suffer are the most vulnerable and marginalized in society,” he <“http://www.un.org/en/ga/president/68/news/international_day_for_the_abolition_of_slavery2013.shtml“>stated.

    “Each year, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are kidnapped and sold into bondage across international borders. Trafficking in persons is an issue of great global concern and affects almost all countries,” Mr. Ashe noted.

    “This inhumane activity continues to flourish owing to vast economic disparities between nations, increasing flows of labour and commodities across international borders and transnational organized criminal networks.”

    He called on Member States to eradicate slavery in all its forms; to boost initiatives that promote social inclusion; and to end all forms of discrimination. “We must promote and protect the rights of those most vulnerable within our societies, and help to restore the dignity of victims of slavery.”

    New York, Dec  2 2013 11:00AM


  • #AceNewsGroup 19:56 on December 2, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Premier League   

    Cameron’s Visit to China the People Or the Profit 

    Camerons Visit to China#AceWorldNews says the British Prime Minister David Cameron flew into China saying he wanted to lay the groundwork for a multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between Beijing and the European Union, despite growing unease about his own country’s membership in the bloc.On a three-day visit with a delegation of around 100 business people, the largest-ever British mission of its kind, Cameron said he wanted his country to play an important role in China’s expansion as the world’s second biggest economy is talking about opening up its markets.“China’s transformation is one of the defining facts of our lifetime,” Cameron wrote in Caixin, a Chinese weekly news magazine, on the eve of the visit.

    “There is a genuine choice for every country over how to respond. They can choose to see China’s rise as a threat or an opportunity. Britain’s answer is clear. We want to see China succeed,” continued Cameron.

    Cameron’s push for an E.U.-China trade deal will irritate the European Commission, which is understood to be strongly opposed to such a move on the grounds that it risks flooding the bloc with cheap Chinese imports and comes as the bloc is embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over solar panel exports.

    It is also likely to be seized upon by political opponents, as he has put a question mark over Britain’s continued membership of the 28-nation E.U. by promising Britons an in/out referendum on leaving the bloc if re-elected in 2015.

    “I now want to set a new long-term goal of an ambitious and comprehensive E.U.-China Free Trade Agreement,” Cameron wrote.

    “And as I have on the E.U.-U.S. deal, so I will put my full political weight behind such a deal which could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year,” promised Cameron.

    Cameron is expected to raise the subject in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday. His office said he was the first European leader to champion such a deal in this way.

    He had already discussed the idea of an E.U.-China trade deal with other E.U. member states, it added. Such a deal would address services liberalization and better intellectual property rights protection.

    Cameron told reporters on the plane to Beijing he was aware the idea was not universally popular among E.U. member states, but said it could be a chance to tackle Beijing on intellectual property rights and trading standards.

    “It’ll be the normal thing in the EU which will be a discussion where there will be some skeptics. There will be some enthusiasts and I think the enthusiasts have the wind in our sails,” said Cameron.

    Human Rights

    British finance minister George Osborne opened the door to further Chinese investment in Britain during a visit to Beijing last month, during which he announced less stringent rules for Chinese banks operating in London in a push to make the British capital the main offshore hub for trading in China’s currency and bonds.

    He also paved the way for Chinese investors to take majority stakes in future British nuclear plants.

    Camerons Visit to Dalai LamaCampaigners have often accused Cameron of putting trade before human rights. On this trip, activists want him to raise what they say are rights abuses in Tibet.

    A senior source in his office said before the trip that Britain had turned the page on a rift with China over Tibet, adding that Cameron had no plans to once again meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader-in-exile, after their meeting last year angered Beijing.

    Asked on the plane whether he would be raising Tibet, Cameron was non-committal, but said nothing was “off limits” in Britain’s relationship with China.

    As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Cameron said the two countries would also discuss Iran and North Korea.

    Cameron visited a training academy for Jaguar Land Rover sales staff in Beijing on Monday to mark its official opening as the carmaker unveiled a deal worth 4.5 billion pounds to provide 100,000 cars to the National Sales Company in China.

    England’s Premier League is also expected to announce an agreement with the Chinese Super League to develop football in China and boost the Premier League’s profile.

    Xavier Rolet, the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, is travelling with Cameron.

    The business delegation also includes Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline. The company was drawn into a bribery case in China earlier this year which resulted in police detaining four Chinese GSK executives.

    Peter Humphrey, a British man running a risk advisory group, was also detained and is still being held.

    VOA NEWS  


  • #AceNewsGroup 18:17 on November 29, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Lord Resistance Army, LRA, , , ,   

    Security Council: Reports on LRA “Massacres in Villages and Mutilating of Boys to Prevent Them Becoming Child Soldiers and Forcing Girls into Sexual Slavery” 

    Rebels in the north of the Central African Rep...

    Rebels in the north of the Central African Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    #AceHumanRightsNews says reiterating its strong condemnation of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its use of children in armed conflict, the Security Council today demanded that the group immediately cease all hostilities, release all abductees’, and disarm and demobilize.

    Issuing presidential statement the Council urged the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the UN political and peacekeeping missions in the region, and the Organization’s other relevant presences, to enhance their support for the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy to address the threat and impact of the activities of the LRA. It called on the international community to support the implementation of the Strategy where possible.

    The LRA, notorious for carrying out massacres in villages, mutilating its victims and abducting boys for use as child soldiers and forcing girls into sexual slavery, was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged it. It then exported its activities to Uganda’s neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.

    English: Shaded relief map of the Central Afri...

    English: Shaded relief map of the Central African Republic. Cropped caption: Base 802739 (B01340) 2-01 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The 15-member body reiterated its strong support for the African Union Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA, commending the “significant” progress by the African Union Regional Task Force. It urged all regional Governments to fulfil their commitments under the Initiative and provide basic provisions for their security forces.

    Welcoming steps taken to deliver an enhanced, comprehensive and “more regional” approach to the humanitarian situation, the Council underlined the primary responsibility of States in the LRA-affected region to protect civilians.  In that context, it welcomed efforts by the DRC, South Sudan, Uganda and the CAR, in coordination with the African Union, to end the LRA threat, urging additional efforts from those countries, as well as others in the region.

    Further, the Council expressed serious concern that the increased security vacuum in the CAR continued to negatively affect counter-LRA operations. As LRA attacks have reportedly taken place outside the Task Force’s principal area of operations, it emphasized the need for strong coordination among the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), the Task Force, and the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) in the context of protecting civilian activities and counter-LRA operations.

    Regionally, the Council encouraged the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to reinforce efforts to address the LRA through improved responsiveness to imminent civilian threats, training and capacity-building of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration, and resettlement programme to encourage further LRA defections.

    In addition, the Council urged MONUSCO and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to enhance their cooperation with the Regional Task Force to coordinate operations, patrols and protection of civilians strategies, and to provide logistical support within their existing mandates and resources.  It took note of reports of a LRA base in the disputed enclave of Kafia Kinga, on the border of the Central African Republic, and between South Sudan and Sudan.

    New York, Nov 25 2013  7:00PM

  • #AceNewsGroup 15:21 on November 27, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Asbestos, Bruce Vento, , Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, Identity theft, Member of Congress, PR Newswire, ,   

    Congress the Other Day Forced Asbestos Victims and Their Families to Release Private Information that will Put Them at Risk of Identity Theft 

    United States House of Representatives Seal

    United States House of Representatives Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)


    #AceWorldNews  says ” Asbestos Victims React To House Vote On H.R. 982 a few days ago that requests them to release private information ,that will put them at risk of identity theft”


    Leaders of the Asbestos Cancer Victims Rights Campaign today reacted strongly to the 221-199 vote to pass the FACT Act, H.R. 982, by the House of Representatives.


    Susan Vento, widow of Rep Bruce Vento (D-MN):


    “I’m deeply disappointed in the vote, but grateful to the Members of Congress who stood up for asbestos victims and their families in opposing legislation that hurts cancer victims. We will continue to oppose this legislation and ensure that it never becomes law.”


    Judy Van Ness, widow of Naval Veteran Richard L. Van Ness, commented after the vote:


    Congress today forced asbestos victims and their families to release private information that will put them at risk of identity theft. This delays and could deny badly needed compensation to victims and their families.”


    Contact: Joy Howell, ACVRC
    202-828-7838, c-202-302-5932







    English: photograph of Bruce Vento from http:/...

    English: photograph of Bruce Vento from http://bioguide.congress.gov (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


    SOURCE  Asbestos Cancer Victims Rights Campaign


    Asbestos Cancer Victims Rights Campaign


    WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –




  • #AceNewsGroup 18:21 on November 26, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Colombo, Crisis intervention, , Elimination of Violence Against Women, High Commissioner, International Day, , Psychotherapy, Royal Highness,   

    “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women” 

    #AceWorldNews says that on 25 November 2013 it was “International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women”   

    On 25 November 2013, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the British High Commission recalled the recent visit of The Duchess of Cornwall to Women In Need (WIN)’s Colombo Crisis Centre during Her Royal Highness’ stay in Sri Lanka.

    Established in 1987, WIN provides services and support for women and children subject to domestic and other forms of violence. They operate in all nine provinces in the country.

    WIN’s work covers several areas: medical, psychological counselling, temporary shelter and legal. They provide crisis intervention services in hospitals, a 24 hour hotline accessible to women who are subject to violence, counselling desks in six police stations island-wide and training for counsellors. WIN is the only organisation in the country that offers a multi-faceted approach to victims/survivors of violence. WIN also works with men and boys on a campaign called “Men against Violence Against Women”.


  • #AceNewsGroup 18:26 on November 25, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , Bemba, , , Cuno Tarfusser, , , Jean-Pierre Bemba, Movement for the Liberation of the Congo   

    ICC Announces Arrest of Four Men Linked to Trial of Former Dr Congo 

    English: International Criminal Court (ICC) logo

    English: International Criminal Court (ICC) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    #AceWorldNews says four people have been arrested for alleged witness tampering in the war crimes trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced.

    The four men are accused of “corruptly influencing witnesses before the ICC and presenting evidence that they knew to be false or forged,” according to a <“http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/press%20and%20media/press%20releases/Pages/pr962.aspx“>news release  from The Hague-based Court.

    It is alleged that the suspects were part of a network for the purposes of presenting false or forged documents and bribing certain persons to give false testimony in the case against Mr. Bemba, whose trial started in November 2010.

    The four men, arrested today and yesterday following a warrant issued on 20 November by Judge Cuno Tarfusser, include Mr. Bemba’s Lead Counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba taken into custody by Belgian authorities, and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a member of Mr Bemba’s defence team and case manager, who was arrested in the Netherlands.

    English: DR Congo 2006 presidential election c...

    English: DR Congo 2006 presidential election candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The two other men are Fidèle Babala Wandu, a member of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo – who was taken into custody in the DRC – and Narcisse Arido, a Defence witness, who was arrested by French authorities.

    “On behalf of the Court, the Registrar of the ICC, Herman von Hebel, expressed his gratitude to the States’ authorities for their cooperation,” the ICC said, adding that these are the first arrests made in relation to such charges before the Court.

    Mr. Bemba is the alleged President and Commander-in-Chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo being tried for two counts of crimes against humanity (rape and murder) and three counts of war crimes (rape, murder and pillaging) allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).

    Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.

    New York, Nov 24 2013  6:00PM


  • #AceNewsGroup 18:19 on November 19, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , Guy Ryder, , Lilianne Ploumen, , , RMG,   

    Nearly 3.5 Million Garment Workers in Bangladesh, Beset by Industrial Accidents and a Staggering Loss of Life, will get Essential Support to Improve Working Conditions 

    Flag of the International Labour Organization....

    Flag of the International Labour Organization. Based on an image at Flags of the World. Français : Drapeau du Organisation internationale du travail Italiano: Bandiera dell’Organizzazione Internazionale del Lavoro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    #AceWorldNews says nearly 3.5 million garment workers in Bangladesh, recently beset by industrial accidents and a staggering loss of life, will get essential support to improve working conditions, strengthen labour inspection and upgrade building and fire safety at their workplaces, thanks to a new programme in partnership with the United Nations.

    “The rapid growth in Bangladesh’s garment industry has provided vital jobs to women and men and is helping to pull them and their families out of poverty. However, there is an urgent need for decisive and collaborative action to make decent work a reality,” stated Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO).

    “This programme will improve conditions of work, especially safety, and help generate sustainable economic growth and investment,” he added in a news release.

    The new multi-year programme, carried out in partnership with the Governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada, will boost the efforts already underway by Bangladesh and its partners in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector.

    The RMG sector is vital to the economy of Bangladesh, which exported goods worth $19.3 billion for the 11 months that ended in May 2013 – nearly 12 per cent more than a year earlier.

    Among other things, the programme will focus on supporting the Bangladeshi National Action Plan for Fire and Building Safety, developed in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse this April. The Plan calls for an assessment of all active export-oriented, RMG factories in Bangladesh to be completed by 31 December 2013.

    Graduates at TVET Reform Project RMG Course Gr...

    Graduates at TVET Reform Project RMG Course Graduation (Photo credit: ILO in Asia and the Pacific)

    The Plan is supported by other parallel initiatives focused on the RMG sector in Bangladesh, namely the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh – signed by over 80 leading clothing brands and retailers – and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a binding five-year initiative undertaken by North American apparel companies and retailers to improve safety in more than 500 factories.

    The Netherlands, as the current co-chair of the donor coordination group in Bangladesh, strongly supports the adherence to international labour standards on workplace safety and protection of worker’s rights.

    “Never in the history of the garment sector have we seen such an opportunity for improvement of labour conditions. With the signing of this agreement, the Netherlands with the ILO and our fellow donors will allow millions of workers in Bangladesh to live healthy and decent lives,” said the country’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen.

    ILO noted that during the past year, the RMG industry in Bangladesh has been rocked by several major industrial accidents leading to large-scale worker protests calling for improved building and fire safety, better working conditions and higher minimum wages. These actions have resulted in work disruptions in hundreds of factories.

    ILO members

    ILO members (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    “The Bangladeshi authorities are responding to these concerns and supporting the programme, which will start with a complete fire safety and structural assessment of all active RMG factories and, where necessary, initiate remedial action,” said the agency.

    The programme also has the support of Bangladeshi employers’ organizations and unions. The Government for its part is moving to significantly improve the capacity of its inspection system by equipping and training current and new factory inspectors and introducing oversight to address integrity and increase transparency.

    Additionally, the programme will train workers, supervisors and managers in the RMG sector to improve their capacity to ensure workplace safety including the prevention of violence.

  • #AceNewsGroup 21:30 on November 15, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , Hundred Flowers Campaign, , Mao, , , Peking University, People's Daily,   

    Sixty Years of Chinese Censorship – Still People Do Not Have Freedom 

    English: Reporters Without Borders 2009 Press ...

    English: Reporters Without Borders 2009 Press Freedom Index world map. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    2 May 1956 – “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend”

    A speech by Mao in May 1956 launched the Hundred Flowers, a movement of openness that was followed by a crackdown on intellectuals. It was a notable example of Mao’s use of the press. Both movements, the Hundred Flowers and its ensuing corollary, the Anti-Right Movement, were launched through the media.

    His first speech seemed to partially lift the threat that had been hanging over journalists until then. Mao himself encouraged intellectuals to criticise the party with the aim of improving it. People’s Daily announced shortly afterwards that it would cover both socialist and capitalist countries, and all subjects, “agreeable or not.” In another sign of openness, the head of Xinhua went to London and Paris to seek inspiration from the way European news agencies worked. A People’s Daily editorial went to so far as to criticise the haste of political leaders “to do everything overnight.”

    The first “dazibao” – calling for the creation of a “democratic garden” – was posted on a wall at the prestigious University of Beijing on 17 May 1957. The poster, in which the author expressed his views in large characters, would soon be adopted by the Party as a recurrent tool for encouraging the masses and later civil society to express their grievances.

    This period of openness did not last. The counter-movement, an Anti-Right campaign, was launched in June 1957. An editorial in People’s Daily on 8 June denounced those who were trying to use the rectification campaign (the Hundred Flowers) to wage class struggle. In the end, around 400,000 “rightists,” including many journalists and intellectuals, would be sent to re-education camps.

    Extract Courtesy of Reporters without Borders – de veronique   

    This Article should not be alter or changed in anyway without express permission of the writer. Thank you Editor   

  • #AceNewsGroup 13:08 on November 14, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Black, , , Mary Emma Thames, Miranda, Miranda warning, New trial, , , State attorney general, ,   

    No Miranda Rights in 1944 Caused African-American Boy Named George Stinney To Be Falsely Accused Without Any Representation in South Carolina in the 1950’s – But after 70 Years Could Justice Soon Be Served 

    George Stinney, 1944, executed at age 14 years old

    George Stinney, 1944, executed at age 14 years old (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    “In a South Carolina prison on June 16, 1944, guards walked a 14-year-old Black boy, bible tucked under his arm, to the electric chair. He used the bible as a booster seat. At 5′ 1″ and 95 pounds, the straps didn’t fit, and an electrode was too big for his leg. The switch was pulled, and the adult sized death mask fell from his face. Tears streamed from his wide-open, tearful eyes, and saliva dripped from his mouth. Witnesses recoiled in horror as they watched the execution of the youngest person in the United States in the past century.

    George Stinney was accused of killing two White girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames. Because there were no Miranda rights in 1944, Stinney was questioned without a lawyer and his parents were not allowed into the room. The sheriff when said that Stinney admitted to the killings, but there is only his word — no written record of the confession has been found. Reports even said that the officers offered Stinney ice cream for confessing to the crimes.

    Stinney’s father, who had helped look for the girls, was fired immediately, and ordered to leave his home and the sawmill where he worked. His family was told to leave town prior to the trial to avoid further retribution. An atmosphere of lynch mob hysteria hung over the courthouse. Without family visits, the 14-year-old had to endure the trial and death alone.

    The court appointed Stinney an attorney — a tax commissioner preparing for a Statehouse run. There was no court challenge to the testimony of the three police officers who claimed that Stinney had confessed, although that was the only evidence the prosecution presented. There were no written records of a confession. Three witnesses were called for the prosecution: the man who discovered the bodies of the two girls and the two doctors who performed the post-mortem. No witnesses were called for the defense. The trial took place before a completely White jury and audience (Blacks were not allowed entrance), and lasted two and a half hours. The jury took ten minutes to deliberate before it returned with a guilty verdict.”

    A few years ago, a family claimed that their deceased family member confessed to the murders of the two girls on his deathbed. The rumored culprit came from a well-known, prominent White family. Members of the man’s family served on the initial coroner’s inquest jury, which had recommended that Stinney be prosecuted.

    The legal murder of George Stinney will forever haunt the American legacy. Although the world and this nation have undoubtedly changed for the better, race still often collides with justice and results in tragedy. Cases like George Stinney’s cannot be erased, should never be forgotten, and are an important chapter in the story of Blacks in America.”

    Courtesy of : Timothy Rae Ofwgkta Havens whose mother is Sarita Havens of #IloveHistoryandResearch saw this story on the internet the other day and it messed with my emotions. It’s about an African-American boy named George Stinney who was falsely accused without any representation in the South Carolina in the 1950’s.

    Editor’s Comment: This story moved me so much l just had to publish and spread the news about this little boy. Though according to a recent article in related articles below from RT.com Civil Rights Activists are calling for a new investigation.

    In their article, they state the youngest American to be executed in the twentieth century may be granted a new trial nearly 70 years after his death because a growing group of supporters, citing new evidence, have pushed for a new trial. so maybe one day we may see #justice4people          

  • #AceNewsGroup 13:12 on October 31, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: David Freud Baron Freud, , , , , , , Self-employment, Social security, , , Working tax credit   

    Universal Credit Simplifying the Welfare System by Making People Pay 

    Ace News Group For a while l have followed the roll-out  by the UK Government of  their “Universal Credit” scheme, its is billed by politicians as the way to simplify the welfare system ,by guiding people back into work!

    Of course as with all “Government Initiatives” there is a person tasked to front this policy in this case it is Iain Duncan Smith and so far he is keeping a lot of people in this country happy with the result! The reason being that the emphasis is for those that work and pay their taxes, whilst the scroungers get it all for free! Now everyone wants a government to spend their taxes wisely, so it is a winner as far as it goes!

    So concept good on the face of it, but as my personal investigations have uncovered, behind what looks good for some, hides the real truth for others! In this instance the part in this latest system about “Making Sure Work Pays” well my insider source says it does, for the contracted service companies that get paid for providing a job, any job, as long as you work!  Now the pay can be low, the conditions can be unfair and the consequences can lead to tribunals and even dismissal ,as my source has confirmed. But as long as you do not turn up on the unemployment register as an applicant claiming welfare benefits ,that suits this government just fine!

    As a lot of people are aware a number of employers have signed up to this contract and it enables these companies to get cheap labour, on short-term contracts and unburden the register for the unemployed, massaging the figures and making this government, look as if they are looking after the people’s interest.

    So it is a real vote winner for the government, welfare system and unemployment!

    But these companies do not care about all that, they just want you to work in any job, and of course they get paid for providing such a service, but according to my source their tactics are not very humane, their interview techniques are questionable and their methods would lead one to believe we are back in the 1930’s not living in this day and age. The problem is that my source had to take a job working on a third-party contract for a Property and Maintenance Services company ,providing their services to the NHS and on a 24 hour call-out arrangement, being told  that he would receive a vehicle, mobile phone and only be on call-out every two weeks. Sounds great and so with no choice he took it ,against my best advice as the contract was exceptionally onerous, to say the least!

    That was 6 months ago, since that time the mobile phone, has one feature the employer can ring him, no call back or checking procedure, the van never arrived, he now works every weekend using his own vehicle, and never sees his wife ,or his very ill house bound mother! His time at the company has gone from bad to worst as refusal to do these hours, has brought him into conflict and recently before the disciplinary board, and he is now awaiting an appeal!

    Now upon reading this you would think that these are all excuses ,he does not want to work! Well l can tell you l have known this person all of my life, and he is nearly 60 years old now! He has worked all his adult life from the age of 16, but has been unlucky like so many to be made redundant 4 times, and he has always done his job to the best of his ability!

    So you might say, why is this situation not well-known, well of course these so-called interviews are carried out behind closed doors, so nobody gets to see or hear how they get you to agree to a job! This can include standing you in the middle of a room full of people and publicly humiliating you, saying you are lazy and a burden on the state, so if you do not take the job we offer you, we can make a phone-call and stop your benefits! Of course they couch it in such a manner, saying words like we could, as we have been given the job of getting you off the unemployment register and into work.

    What they do not say is that for everyone who takes a job they received a payment, so the incentive to get people a job, any job is paramount as more that stop taking benefits, the more money they make!


    At present there is an appeal under-way and the story of this tribunal will be written in part two, but suffice to say for now my source has asked me not to share his name ,or the name of the company! Also l will eventually after more investigation name the company tasked by this government to carry-out these recruitment services and where in the country this took place!

    Of course for all those that want to look at the government’s way of providing Universal Credit here is a link explaining it all, together with a small  snippet the scheme:

    Department of Work and Pensions Introducing Universal Credit:

    We are introducing Universal Credit in 2013 for people who are looking for work or on a low-income. Universal Credit brings together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment. It will:

    • encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours by making sure work pays
    • smooth the transitions into and out of work
    • simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper to administer
    • reduce the number of people who are in work but still living in poverty
    • reduce fraud and error

    Read More at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/simplifying-the-welfare-system-and-making-sure-work-pays

    or download this PDF: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253919/uc-faqs.pdf

  • #AceNewsGroup 18:30 on October 29, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Goma, , , , , United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,   

    UN: Security Council Echoes Condemnation and Pledges On-Going Support to Protect all Civilians of Dr Congo 

    The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of...

    The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The Security Council today condemned “in the strongest terms” the attacks by M23 rebels against the United Nations Mission in North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), resulting in the death of a Tanzanian peace keeper.

    In a statement to the press, the members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the family of the peace keeper killed in the attack, as well as to the Government of Tanzania and to the UN mission, known by the French acronym, MONUSCO.

    Council members also called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo swiftly to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    “They also expressed their condolences for the loss of civilian lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in Rwanda following shells landing on its territory,” the statement says, stressing that the members of the Council reiterated their full support for MONUSCO and called on all parties to cooperate fully with the mission.

    The Council in its statement echoes a similar expression of condemnation by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who yesterday pledged the Organization’s ongoing commitment to take “all necessary actions” to protect civilians in the country.

    According to UN chief’s statement, the attacks occurred as MONUSCO supported action being carried out by Congolese Government Forces (FARDC) to protect civilians on the Kiwanja-Rutshuru axis, 25 kilometres north of Goma, which the main city in the vast country’s eastern region.

    Further to the statement, Mr. Ban said the UN remains committed to taking all necessary actions in line with Security Council resolution 2098 (2013) to protect civilians in eastern DRC.

    By that resolution, adopted in late March, the Council approved the creation of its first-ever “offensive” combat force, intended to carry out targeted operations to “neutralize and disarm” the notorious M23, as well as other Congolese rebels and foreign armed groups in the east.

    In the past year, clashes have continued sporadically throughout the DRC’s eastern region, with rebels briefly occupying Goma, in November 2012. The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people, exacerbating an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region which includes 2.6 million internally displaced persons and 6.4 million in need of food and emergency aid.

  • #AceNewsGroup 17:53 on October 29, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, , , , , , United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, , ,   

    UN:Expert on Democracy States there can be No Democracy without Freedom of Opinion 

    English: The United Nations Security Council C...

    English: The United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York, also known as the Norwegian Room Français: La Salle de réunion du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies à New York Nederlands: De Zaal van de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    There can be no democracy without freedom of opinion, a United Nations independent expert said today, highlighting the importance of access to information as he also presented his ideas on making the main bodies of the UN – the General Assembly and the Security Council – more democratic.

    “You should not be subjected to the pressures, the intimidation, whether by Government or by the private sector, which would force you into self-censorship,” Alfred M. de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told the UN News Centre following a briefing to journalists in New York.

    “If you censor yourself, if you cannot articulate your needs, if you cannot articulate your priorities, then whatever you do, putting a little cross in a ballot box, etc, does not represent your view. It is an act of desperation,” he stressed.

    Earlier in the day, Mr. de Zayas spoke to the General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee), to which he presented 35 recommendations on international and national diplomacy, as well as studies to be carried out ranging from self-determination to issues related to indigenous people’s, war and peace and civil society.

    “One of the problems that we have in the human rights community is that special interests often forget the interests of other victims, and there’s competition among victims expressions that are unnecessary,” he said, adding also that some victims are viewed as being “privileged” while others are more “excluded.”

    Among those recommendations is the idea of establishing a world parliamentary assembly, or a UN parliamentary assembly, as a consultative body to the General Assembly, which would enhance the possibility of citizens participating in global decision-making and give greater voice to civil society.

    Mr. de Zayas also highlighted international democracy deficits prevalent in the UN Security Council, and advanced the idea of phasing out the veto power available to the 15-member body’s five permanent States – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

    “The UN system is not very democratic, everyone knows that the Security Council is not democratic,” said the independent expert.

    Speaking following a press conference heavily attended by representatives of indigenous groups, Mr. de Zayas said he wanted to show a “degree of solidarity” them.

    He urged a workshop to be held which would focus on implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples whom he called “the forgotten victims” and “the unsung heroes.”

    “You cannot turn the clock back, you cannot give the island of Manhattan back to the indigenous, but on the other hand, you can ensure that the indigenous can maintain their way of life,” Mr. de Zayas said.

    He also called for the media to take up the issue and inform the public about the Declaration.

    Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

  • #AceNewsGroup 17:36 on October 29, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , Greiff, , , , Pablo de Greiff, , , , ,   

    UN:Justice Must be Integral to Future Sustainable Development Agenda 

    United Nations UN has stated that Justice must be integral to any future  SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Agenda, as Justice, security and development cannot be promoted one at the expense of the other, either through reductionism or strict sequencing, a United Nations independent expert today urged following his briefing to the General Assembly.

    Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence spoke to journalists in New York after briefing the General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee) on his work.

    “An interest in justice and rights is part of popular aspirations that ought to be captured by ongoing development discussions,” Mr. de Greiff said, telling the international community and particularly those involved in creating a sustainable development agenda following the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), about the relevance of justice and rights.

    Referring to his report, the Special Rapporteur said that the MDGs and other development frameworks have failed to track either existing legal obligations or popular aspirations related to justice.

    He highlighted the importance of transitional justice measures as mitigating some of these developmental blockages, in particular if a comprehensive approach is pursued.

    Human rights violations, when left unaddressed can have an effect in creating a downward shift in people’s expectations,” he said, adding that people will shift their preferences downward rather than live in a permanent state of defeated expectations.

    The UN independent expert also said that massive human rights violations undermine social trust and civic participation by having a marginalizing effect not just on the victims but on  other members of society, undermining their trust in trust in each other and in the institutions of the State.

    Mr. de Greiff also raised the concerns associated with continuing to silo security, justice and development, keeping resources available for them different tracks.

    Any new development agenda must satisfy a sort of “Tunisia test”, the Special Rapporteur said, which also stress good governance and equitable access to justice systems.

    “Even from the point of view of security and development, failing to take justice seriously makes it more difficult for security forces to achieve their proper goal,” he said.

    United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

    United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.


  • #AceNewsGroup 19:43 on October 28, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: Agshin Mehdiyev, , , , , , OIC, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, ,   

    UN:Security Council Recognised and Encouraged Active Contribution of Organisation of Islamic Co-operation 

    Map of nations in Organization of the Islamic ...

    Map of nations in Organization of the Islamic Conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The Security Council today recognized and encouraged the active contribution of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the work of the United Nations in the fields of peacemaking, preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peace building.

    Reading out a statement, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan, which holds this month’s rotating presidency of the Council, said the 15-member body “recognizes and further encourages” the active contribution of the OIC in the work that aims to realize the purposes and principles embodied in the UN Charter.

    “The Council notes the commitment of both the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of tolerance and peace, and calls for enhanced cooperation to promote better understanding across countries, cultures and civilizations,” according to the statement.

    During the meeting which preceded the statement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7233“>urged the OIC and all leaders to “do everything possible to repair rifts and rebuild confidence between Muslim communities as well as stem the influence of radical armed groups and violent extremists.”

    The UN chief urged partnerships to be strengthened between the UN and OIC which “could be uniquely placed” to launch a major initiative with partners to help end the “profoundly worrying” heightened tensions between Sunni and Shia communities in Syria and other parts of the world.

    “This upheaval that has caused the loss of so many civilian lives and represents such a threat to wider security,” Mr. Ban stressed in his remarks to the 15-member Council.

    The UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been “making progress” in dismantling and destroying the Syrian chemical weapons programme, said Mr. Ban, while urging continued efforts to reach a comprehensive political agreement “which reflects the will of the Syrian people.”

    150 px

    150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Highlighting other regions where the OIC would play a positive role, the top UN official highlighted that organization’s potential role to help break the status quo in the occupied Palestinian territory and forge a way forward in the Middle East peace process within the agreed frame.

    He also cited the OIC’s plans to visit Myanmar and welcomed the delegation’s “constructive engagement” to reduce tensions.

    Mr. Ban also highlighted the OIC’s efforts in Afghanistan and Sudan, and urged further partnerships in Mali, following the milestone presidential election there.

    Noting that the OIC and its member States have made significant efforts to mitigate the terrorist threat, the UN chief stressed the importance of addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of extremism and terrorism, including by strengthening efforts to peacefully resolve conflict, promote the rule of law, protect human rights and ensure good governance.

    “Terrorism is not associated with any particular religion, culture or people’s,” he said. “However, in recent years, terrorist violence has disproportionately affected countries that are members of OIC, from the Sahel and North Africa to the Middle East and South Asia.”

    He noted that the importance of intercultural dialogue between and within faiths “is more important than ever” and urged continued efforts to foster a culture of peace and co-existence through efforts such as the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

    In 2005, an initiative of Spain and Turkey created the UN Alliance of Civilizations, a forum where civil society, governments and the private sector could learn from each other and stand up for tolerance and inclusively and against extremism and polarization.


  • #AceNewsGroup 18:55 on October 27, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   

    Nineteen Islamist Groups Fighting to Topple President Bashar al-Assad have Rejected Outright a Mooted US-Russian #Peace Initiative for #Syria 

    Courtesy of Voice of Russia

    19 Islamist rebel groups bow out of Syria peace talks

    Photo: EPA

    Nineteen Islamist groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad have rejected outright a mooted US-Russian peace initiative for Syria dubbed Geneva 2, a statement said.

    “We announce that the Geneva 2 conference is not, nor will it ever be our people’s choice or our revolution’s demand,” the groups said in a late Saturday statement read in an online video by Ahmad Eissa al-Sheikh, chief of the Suqur al-Sham chief.

    “We consider it just another part of the conspiracy to throw our revolution off track and to abort it.”

    The statement also warned that anyone who went to such talks would be committing “treason, and … would have to answer for it before our courts”.

    The statement comes weeks after dozens of major rebel groups across Syria said the Western-backed opposition umbrella grouping the National Coalition had “failed”.

    The Geneva talks slated for next month aim to bring rebel and regime representatives to the table in a bid to seek a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict, which according to a rights group has claimed more than 115,000 lives since it erupted in March 2011.

    The National Coalition is to meet on November 9 to decide whether to take part in the peace talks but has stated emphatically it will only attend if there are guarantees they Assad will step down.

    Assad for his part has said “the factors are not yet in place” for such talks, and he has repeatedly rejected negotiations with any group with ties to the rebels or to foreign states.

    Among the signatories to Saturday’s statement are powerful Islamist groups Liwa al-Tawhid, Ahrar al-Sham, Suqur al-Sham and Ahfad al-Rasul, which has fought against Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters in Syria.

    Read more:

    Kerry and Lavrov discuss planned Syria conference

    Lavrov, Brahimi agree to continue work on convocation of Geneva-2 conference

    UN Syria peace envoy says Iran should come to Geneva talks

    Geneva-2: Obama knows Americans can’t use force – expert

    Syria opposition to decide November 9 on Geneva talks

     Voice of Russia, AFP
    Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_27/19-Islamist-rebel-groups-bow-out-of-Syria-peace-talks-5278/

  • #AceNewsGroup 15:39 on October 27, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Cape of Good Hope, , James Lancaster, , , Robben Island, , Thomas Smythe   

    The Robben Island Declaration Timeline of History 

    In support of Occupied Palestine l thought l would provide a post with a link below ,out-lining their plight and request for freedom of 
    Palestinian people have struggled for decades for justice and the realisation of their inalienable rights. These rights have been repeatedly reaffirmed by countless United Nations resolutions. Universal values, international legality and human rights cannot stop at borders, nor admit double standards, and must be applied in Palestine. This is the way forward to a just and lasting peace in the region, for the benefit of all its people’s. 
    Occupied PalestinePlease read more and add your support by re-blogging their great article at: http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/the-robben-island-declaration-for-the-freedom-of-marwan-barghouthi-and-all-palestinian-prisoners-by-mrn1sa/
    Timeline of Events:  
    Chinese fleet rounds the Cape of Good Hope and most likely sets food on the Island. In 1421, Chinese Emperor Zhu Di dispatched a huge armada of ships to sail around the world. The armada split into four fleets under the overall command of Admiral Zheng He. In August of 1421, the fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope and relatively accurately mapped the continent for the first time. While we have no evidence of the crews setting foot on either Robben Island or the mainland, it is presumed that they would have done so.
    Portuguese discover the Island. Some 67 years later the Portuguese were the first Europeans to round the Cape. The skipper of the 2nd Ship of the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias was probably the first European to set foot on Robben Island to remove meat and eggs.
    Portuguese set up a base in cave which they name ‘Portugal Cave’. In 1496, the Portuguese landed again on Robben Island and set up base in a cave which they called Portugal Cave. The present day harbour was built next to the cave which was to become the whaler Murray’s abode at Murray’s Bay. The cave no longer exists.
    Antonio de Saldanha and his men kill animals on the Island. Antonio de Saldanha retreated to Robben Island after a skirmish with the Khoe on the mainland, where he was wounded. On Robben Island, de Saldanha and his men set about killing as many penguins, seals and tortoises as they could. It is because of the many seals that were on the Island that the Dutch were later to name the island Robben, the Dutch word for seal.
    Sheep are introduced to the Island. Sir James Lancaster & Admiral Raymond were the first to introduce sheep to Robben Island, so that they would multiply and provide for future visitors. This was an important recognition of the strategic importance of the island to maritime traffic and a form of international cooperation. This practice of leaving livestock was continued in 1608 by the Dutch Admiral Cornelius Maaklof.
    Island is used as a mail station. Through records it is clear that by the time John Saris was retrieving mail from a rock on Robben Island, the practice of using the island as a mail-station was a common maritime practice. Robben Island was a post office of sorts, and played an important role in international communications.
    Chief Xhore chases British convicts to Robben Island. After being lured aboard the British ship the Hector in 1613, Chief Xhore and a companion were kidnapped and taken to England. Xhore’s companion later died en route. Sir Thomas Smythe of the British East India Company had designs for colonising the Cape of Good Hope, by sending out 100 convicts annually. Xhore was to be trained as an interpreter and facilitator of this plan, but Xhore hated his time in England and constantly demanded to be returned home. A year later, he was returned to Table Bay.
    Xhore had learnt much about the British, and this knowledge ultimately lead to his effective resistance against Sir Thomas Smythe, who had tried to settle the Cape with convicts. Xhore chased the settlers off to Robben Island, but later in 1625, Xhore was killed by the Dutch. Xhore’s sons participated in the first Khoe-Dutch war in 1658, and among other marks made on history, Xhore will be remembered as the first black South African to go to England.
    Convicted prisoners, sent to the Cape by Sir Thomas Smythe, escape to Robben Island.
    Under the patronage of King James I of England, Walter Peyton was sent to the Cape with nineteen convicted prisoners from Newgate Prison by Sir Thomas Smythe of the British East India Company. The aim of this was to establish a Penal Colony and supply station.
    An ex-officer and convicted highwayman by the name of Crosse was left behind as a leader of 10 convicts set ashore with guns, ammunition and supplies. The convicts soon got into conflict with the Khoe, lead by Chief Xhore. Having received more supplies and a longboat from the passing ship of Edward Dodsworth, Crosse fled from the mainland to Robben Island with 8 men and one boy.
    Nine months after having been left at the Cape, the British ship ‘New Years Gift’ collected 3 survivors off Robben Island. Ironically it was Chief Xhore who told the British visitors about the men then stranded on Robben Island. Crosse saw the ships at anchor and was washed out to sea and drowned during trying to reach the ships with a raft made from the wrecked long-boat.
    Three more convicts are placed on Robben Island. Under orders, English Captain Benjamin Joseph once more deposited 3 convicts on Robben Island in 1617, but a few days later a fifth ship in the fleet, picked them up again for unknown reasons.
    Robben Island, along with Table Bay, is claimed by the British. Table Bay and Robben Island were formally claimed by the British as crown possessions of King James I of England. Thereafter, the English practiced a very casual approach to the possession, and the Cape remained a hospitable sojourn for all international maritime traffic.
    Chief Autshumato is trained and taken to Robben Island with other Peninsula Khoe.
    In a similar move to the 1613 events surrounding Chief Xhore, the English took Chief Autshumato to Bantam in Java for a year (probably 1631) where he was taught the essentials of the English language. In 1632, in an act of assisted migration, Autshumato and 20 other Peninsula Khoe were then taken to Robben Island by the English to act their as postal and maritime monitoring agents.
    In the same year, Autshumato convinced the Dutch to bring over 30 more Peninsula Khoe to Robben Island. Thus it came to be that Autshumato acted as an agent for both the Dutch and the English. Autshumato was able to communicate in English, Dutch, French and Portuguese, and became an astute diplomat, yet official history portrays him as an ignorant beachcomber.
    Autshumato is also recorded as saying to visiting French ship in 1632 that he was “Au service de messejieurs Holandois et de messejieurs les Anglois.” [In the service of the Dutch men and English men]
    Ringleader of a mutiny attempt banished to Robben Island
    The former Governor of Batavia, Hendrik Bouwer, arrived in Table Bay in 1636 and ruled on a mutiny attempt which happened on one of the ships in the Dutch fleet. The ringleader was keelhauled, banished and abandoned on Robben Island.
    Khoe leave Robben Island. By 1638, due to the depletion of food (penguins, seals, cormorants and eggs) on the island, the Khoe moved back to the mainland.
    Khoe re-introduced to Island
    The Europeans had grown use to the safe haven and services offered on Robben Island, so in 1639 Johan Albrecht von Mandelslo deposited fifteen Goringhaicona Khoe on Robben Island, 4 men, 8 women and 3 children, to continue to offer a service.
    Jan van Riebeeck and Captain Sijmon Turver land on Robben Island
    With a permanent Dutch settlement established on the mainland, van Riebeeck attempted to land on Robben Island in July 1652 and almost got killed in the rough seas and south-easterly squall. On 14 September, he successfully landed on the island with Captain Sijmon Turver, exactly where today’s harbour stands. Soon after this, regular parties were sent out to collect penguins, eggs and seals.
    Robben Island used as a food station. At this time, The Cape mainland settlement was still insecure and inhospitable, and Robben Island was used as an emergency ‘pantry’ for the Cape Town VOC garrison. The garrison at this stage was largely comprised of Javanese Mardijkers. A vegetable garden was established and flocks of sheep introduced.
    An overseer of the island was appointed by van Riebeeck, Corporal Robbeljaert who was put in charge of a few shepherds who were also sent to the Island. Rabbits and dassies were also introduced, and in June 1655 van Riebeeck also organised pig breeding on Robben Island. Several more men were then sent to the island to engage in caring for the animals and gardens.
    Lighthouse erected and the first prisoners introduced
    A small Platform was erected on the highest point on Robben Island, upon which a fire was kept burning at night, when ships of the DEIC could be seen off the port. This was also the first year that an official group of prisoners was sent to the island, even although Robben Island had not yet been established as a convict workstation.
    The first recorded ship wreck is that of the Schapejacht in August 1660.
    Robben Island becomes a formal prison
    Jan van Riebeeck concluded his time as Commander at the Cape in 1662. He was succeeded by Zacharias Wagenaar, who was attributed as the man who promoted Robben Island as a formal organised prison where prisoners could be put to hard labour quarrying for blue stone and lime.
    Convicts escape the prison on Robben Island
    Five Khoe convicts achieved what was thought to be impossible. They managed to steal a rudderless boat and successfully made it back to the mainland.
    Two slaves sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island
    Two slaves were sentenced for stealing food (vegetables) and had their ears cut off. They were also sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island where they were kept in chains.
    Exiles and other captives kept in slavery
    An Englishman scholar, David Tappen, captured by the Dutch and forced to serve on the Dutch ships, spent time on Robben Island and wrote the following:
    “On Robben Island are set the rebellious rulers brought from the East Indies, where they must end their lives in very bad conditions, since many of them who are now at the Cape must now work like slaves for their living, and often get more kicks than ha’pence for their hard tasks such as carrying wood and stones, burning lime etc. To this Robben Island come not only the rebellious East India rulers and other black folk, but also rebellious Dutch who are kept in slavery there for some years.”
    Slaves prisoners on Robben Island. Prisoner lists of 1686 show numerous slave names as prisoners on Robben Island, names such as Jacob van Macassar and Arrie van Bengal. Many Chinese slave/convicts were also sent to Robben Island.
    Successful escape from Robben Island by swimming to the mainland. In 1690, a convict by the name of Jan Rykman successfully escaped Robben Island by swimming to the mainland.
    Falsely accused sent to Robben Island. Dorha, a successful Chainouqua trader, (loyal to the Dutch) and his brother-in-law (of the Hessequa) are banished to Robben Island by Simon van der Stel and the Council of Policy, on trumped-up charges (latter repealed by the DEIC) to rob Dorha of his amassed cattle and curtail his successful trading system.
    Dorha, as a successful trader in the inland areas, was a threat to the corrupt company officials who were dominating the trading processes. Dorha was a victim of a volte-face plot, which saw the company officials ally themselves to his enemy Koopman, leader of the Soeswa. In 1695, Dorha was exonerated and released from banishment on Robben Island but never regained his former prestige and was murdered by Koopman in 1701.
    Shipwreck on Robben Island
    The yacht Dageraad from Goude Bay ran ashore on the Western side of the island. Sixteen of the crew were drowned.
    Sheikh Noorul Mubeen was exiled from the Indonesian Archipelago and banished to Robben Island, but escaped by unknown means. Legend has it that he swam to the mainland where he was found by slave fishermen and hidden on the mountainside. A Karamat shrine in Oudekraal marks his burial-place.
    The Prince of Madura was banished to Robben Island with 7 of his followers, after being captured by the Dutch in the Straits of Madura. He died on Robben Island in 1754 and his body was returned to Batavia after a petition by his son.
    Tuan Matarah Sayed Abduraghman Motura (Matirim) was exiled from the Indonesian Archipelago (probably Sumatra) and banished to Robben Island where he died. A Karamat shrine on Robben Island marks his burial place and is visited by pilgrims.
    A Prince of Tadore in the Tiranate Islands, Tuan Guru, who traced his ancestry to the Sultanate of Morocco, together with Callie Abdul Rauf, Noro Imam and Barodien were said to have conspired with the English against the Dutch.
    They were captured by the Dutch and brought to the Cape as state prisoners and incarcerated on Robben Island. Tuan Guru was later released to the mainland in 1792, and Barodien and Rauf died on Robben Island. Taun Guru died in 1807 and a Karamat Shrine marks the place of his burial on Signal Hill.
    Tuan Nuruman arrived in Cape Town as a slave and was housed in the Slave Lodge. In 1786, he was found guilty of assisting a group of fellow slaves in an escape bid and sent to Robben Island. Years later, when released from the Island he settled as a freed slave and officiated as an Imam. He died in 1810 and a Karamat Shrine marks his grave on Signal Hill.
    Murray installed himself as a Whaler on the island, next to the present-day harbour, and settled in Portugal Cave with his wife and children. Since then the Bay was called Murray’s Bay.
    The first lepers were moved (from Hemel en Aarde, near Hermanus) to Robben Island and housed in existing buildings.
    Cemetery below Minto’s Hill is established, and acts as a burial ground for staff of the island during the Leprosy Settlement and Convict Station until 1923.
    Robben Island Lighthouse was built on Minto Hill. In 1938, a self-contained generating plant was installed to produce electric lighting of 464 000 candle-power. A fog-horn was installed in 1925.
    Langalibalele, Chief of the AmaHlubi, and his people worked in Kimberley and in the process acquired arms. Fearing an uprising, the Hlubi were ordered to surrender their arms by the British. They refused and fled towards Basutholand for refuge but were waylaid by troops at the top of the Drakensberg Pass. Langalibalele was brought back in chains and tried for treason and rebellion. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. The Cape Town township Langa is named after him.
    A small restaurant and refreshment station is opened. The Island population was then 1070 of whom 800 were male.
    A gardening campaign was started by Dr. Impey and Lady Loch, and was promoted by the famous brewer Mr. Ohlsson who paid for a plantation to be laid out on the western shore at his expense. Much of this was destroyed in the Second World War for security reasons.
    Over 70 000 trees were planted at this time including thorn trees, tamarisks, firs, pines, wattles, manatoka, cypresses, acasia, salinga and belhambra. The gardening campaign was at its strongest from 1882-1912.
    During this time, Franz Jacobs lead a protest and wrote to petition the Queen to improve the terrible Leper conditions on Robben Island.
    Chaplain and Dr. Ross oppose female lepers being brought to the Island because of intercourse between male and female lepers.
    The postmaster brings out the first Robben Island Newspaper, the Robben Island Times. It cost two pounds a year to produce.
    Female leper is block built to the north of Murray Harbour.
    New buildings are built for male lepers, in the area that stretches from village to the leper cemetery south of Murray Bay.
    Tramway line is built. A 18inch gauge tramway line was laid from the boathouse to the general stores and ran to all of the key off-loading points of the island. Trolleys were drawn by mules.
    A Library is opened with 1548 volumes. A magistrate’s court was also started and the librarian doubled as resident magistrate, Mr L Powys-Jones. The Island school ceased to be a mission school and became a government school.
    Guest house is built for the resident chaplain of the Dutch Reformed Church
    The post of chaplain became necessary with the increase in leprosy patients. 
    Residence built for the Commissioner of the Island. The Commissioner was brought in as an administrator when the surgeon-superintendent of the hospital had difficulties subduing violence and dissatisfaction among leprosy patients about their forced residence on the Island. The building would later become a mess hall for officers in WW2.
    The Church of the Good Shepherd is consecrated in 1895. This was a Leper Church for men designed by Sir Herbert Baker. A carved figure of the Good Shepherd was brought from Oberammergau (famous for religious plays). A Leper church for women was called the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. A Catholic Chapel and a Dutch Reformed church was also established.
    Faure Jetty completed. This jetty acted as a replacement jetty as the one below an old Convict station was destroyed by storms.153 trips were made in 1896 by the steam ferries Tiger, Magnet and Pieter Faure.
    Leper Children and Anglican Nuns move to the Island. The Anglican sisterhood took over the children’s leper home, catering for 26 children, into their care. They were recalled to England in 1926 and the children returned to the compounds.
    After years of argument, the government agreed to remove the mental patients from the island so that they may be integrated into more humane institutions of care on the mainland.
    Lepers removed from Robben Island
    All leper buildings, with the exception of the Church of the Good Shepherd, are burned and demolished.
    Island acts as Military base. The Department of Defence established fortress Robben Island to guard Table Bay. Murray Harbour, an airstrip and gun batteries were built. A maze of tunnels and bunkers were carved into the island. It was a military fortress in every aspect and home to thousands of servicemen and women.
    The vast majority had no idea of Robben Island’s painful past and little consciousness of the pain that would be coming, yet these men and women had been mobilised to fight fascism and Nazism in Europe.
    Robben Island is used as a naval base. Robben Island was taken over by the SA Navy as SAS Robben Island with a population of 1200 – 1500.
    Declaration of Robben Island as an Apartheid era Prison. The National Party Minister of Justice declared that the island would once more serve as a prison. As far as possible, all military installations were to be dismantled and relocated to the mainland. Access to the island was to be restricted and suitable prison structures constructed.
    1961 – 1991
    Maximum security prison for political prisoners.
    1961 – 1996
    Medium security prison for criminal prisoners. The first political prisoners began to arrive in 1961. These early prisoners had to participate in the completion of Robben Island’s maximum security prison structures. Along with ANC and PAC prisoners, there were members of many other organisations including the SA Congress of Trades Unions, the SA Communist Party, South West African Peoples Organisation, National Liberation Front, the Non-European Unity movement, the Liberal Party, AZAPO, the APDU, BCM, UDF and others.
    After the Rivonia trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and other senior ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. Over the next three decades, thousands of political cadres of all persuasions and all ranks were brought by ferry to be imprisoned on the island. PAC leader, Robert Sobukwe, was initially sentenced to three years imprisonment; because the government were not prepared to release him, they passed a special law in parliament which allowed them to keep Sobukwe in prison without charges, indefinitely. It was called the Sobukwe clause.
    After the unbanning of political organisations and the release of Nelson Mandela by FW de Klerk in 1990, a slow process of releasing all political prisoners unfolded.
    January, Nelson Mandela leaves South Africa for military training.
    March, Mandela receives training from the Algerian National Liberation Front at bases of the latter across the border in Morocco.
    All political prisoners had been released from Robben Island.
    The last of the Common Law Prisoners leave the island
    1 January, The Robben Island Museum was officially opened.
    Robben Island became a World Heritage site. The museum and heritage site is visited by thousands of tourists each year.



  • #AceNewsGroup 13:03 on October 26, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , Chemical warfare, , , , , , , UN News, ,   

    #SYRIA, Chemical Weapons Watchdog Adapts to War Publicity #Peace 

    150 px

    150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


    After years of remarkable but largely unheralded success at ridding the world of mustard gas and deadly nerve agents like sarin and VX, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have now been thrown into entirely new territory – working amid Syria’s bloody civil war and in the glare of the media following a surprise Nobel Peace Prize win two weeks ago.

    The acronym “OPCW” would likely have been met by blank stares a few weeks ago.  Now, even though the organisation has been thrust into the limelight, relatively few people understand its mandate or the dangerous work undertaken by its inspection teams.

    “This is an organisation that for 16 years has carried out its work very quietly. I would say we have even shunned publicity…but now, we’re trying to make it work for us,” said Franz Ontal, head of inspector training for the <“http://www.opcw.org/“>OPCW.

    In an interview with UN News Centre, Mr. Ontal, himself a former inspector, spoke of efforts to ensure that the 27-member team, working jointly with the United Nations in the embattled suburbs of Damascus, will carry out its tasks in a high-pressure setting while maintaining staff safety.

    He added, not without some pride, the watchdog agency is honoured by the Nobel win and that its inspectors are well-prepared for both the hostile environment in Syria and the media spotlight.

    Earlier this month, the UN Security Council endorsed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s proposal to deploy up to 100 UN and OPCW experts in a multi-phase operation to carry out its resolution on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment, scheduled for completion by 30 June, 2014.

    The Council passed its measure after Syria agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention following a chemical weapons attack in late August that killed hundreds of people in the Ghouta suburb. An initial UN-led team that was headed to inspect that incident came under sniper fire. While no one was injured, one vehicle in the convoy was severely damaged, forcing the team to postpone its activities for a day.

    WMD world map

    WMD world map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Both incidents threw into stark relief the deepening crisis in the country, where more than 100,000 people have already lost their lives and some 6.5 million others have been driven from their homes since protesters first sought the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad’s Government in March, 2011.

    The UN has called the OPCW into service as the implementing body of the 1997 Convention. It is responsible for monitoring and verifying chemical weapons destruction and has carried out inspections in Iraq and continues to work with, among others, the United States and Russia in destroying large stockpiles. In a recent success, the OPCW oversaw the destruction of 85 per cent of post-conflict Libya’s mustard sulphur agent.

    Yet, while the agency has tackled many challenges in the past, its current mission in Syria is different, said Mr. Ontal, underscoring that the war-time setting has added “another layer of concern” to the inspectors’ work.

    Normally confronted with stress related to dealing with hazardous materials, they are also carrying out their dangerous task while wearing flack vests and helmets to protect them from stray bullets and flying shrapnel.

    “These are two levels of stress that should never meet, but this is the environment in which we are working in Syria,” he said.

    Under such conditions, the joint OPCW-UN team will use the spotlight “to show that we are carrying out our duties responsibly.” Indeed, Mr. Ontal said: “We are in Syria to do a job. We want to show that we are not there to take sides. We are impartial and we plan to carry out our work in a professional and transparent way.”

    The inspectors have been on the ground since early October but are just now wrapping up their first week of activities with the UN under the Council’s official mandate.

    Spokesman Michael Luhan said this week the OPCW is confident Syria will meet the 1 November deadline for destroying all equipment used in the production chemical agents. He also flagged another milestone reached, adding that a complete, official, inventory of all Syria’s chemical weapons, munitions, and production facilities, was expected to be delivered to the Organisation’s headquarters ahead of schedule.

    Still, despite steady progress and cooperation on the ground, Mr. Ontal worries.

    “I’m an inspector myself. So I feel I speak from both sides and say that we just want to get everybody back home safely,” he said, noting that the organisation has a very good safety record – there have been injuries but no casualties – “and we want to keep that record and end our mission in Syria with no casualties.”

    “Also, I want us to do a good job. This is a tremendous responsibility given to us by the international community and we want to complete it in the safest most effective, efficient and transparent way.”

    • kaligrafinusantaraonline 14:04 on October 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Hopefully joint UN team – OPCW can finish the job properly as said by Mr. Ontal.
      thank you for sharing this post


      • Ace News Group 14:33 on October 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I total agree and all l would like to see is Peace for the people that are suffering these atrocities! This war has been going on for 2 years plus, but until the world’s media got involved on the Chemical Weapons, very few people were aware of over 100,000 plus people dying.


  • #AceNewsGroup 12:37 on October 23, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Chen Yongzhou, , , , , Yongzhou, Zoomlion   

    ‘Please Release Him’ Plea for Detained Journalist 

    Editors Comment:  This story below is the extract that has been translated from Chinese {Simplified Han} that has been copied and pasted as Chen wrote! No  changes have been made and the link and my thanks for his provision of such is detailed at the bottom of this extract! I make no apologies for the grammar – as it was just translated as he wrote!  

    It is a plea by a Chinese reporter to release this journalist from detention: world.time.com  commented as follows:

    English: New building of the city administrati...

    English: New building of the city administration of Changsha, Hunan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    New Express has a message for China’s censors: We may be small, but we have backbone.  On Wednesday the Guangzhou-based newspaper published a front-page call for the release of its reporter Chen Yongzhou. Chen was detained by police in Hunan province while investigating a state-linked firm. The three-character headline, ‘Please Release Him’ was printed in a large, bold font above the fold.

    Extract: Completely without any changes as follows:    

    Our readers, our reporter Chen Yongzhou Zoomlion reported financial problems, and then he was captured provinces Changsha police on charges of alleged damage to business reputation.In this regard, we want to cry –   Please release   my newspaper, though small, poor bones, there are so two of the   newspaper commentator ■   If you are a reporter, wrote some criticism of a company report. One day, the police caught your uncle.   Please do not excited.People are justified – “alleged damage to business reputation crimes” – none of your days, dozens of days, look always be right?   Now, the New Express reporter Chen Yongzhou we, unfortunately, has become the hapless guy.   We would like to draw your own two ears.   Because we always thought that as long as done responsibly reported that there would be no problem; event of a problem, we advertised corrections, apologize; really serious, court, lost the case, how lose lose on how the close to close, that is deserved.   But the fact is, we are too naive.   Chen Yongzhou get through the three days and three nights, finally saw the lawyer, said that he could boil a thirty days, and more, can not say it.   Tears.   It should be said, our understanding of this sudden blow to keep a great deal of restraint – on Friday morning, the man was taken away, we did not say anything; On Saturday, we did not say anything; Sunday, we did not say anything; Monday we did not say anything; yesterday, we did not say anything.   Because we always want to, human security is the first one, if forbear under the table and effort can change back to a lively splash colleagues, is worth – the reader dwellers, especially peers forgive, we do without regard to justice, there is no sacrifice and devotion to the revolutionary courage, really weak, really selfish, really shameful. However, we do not regret it. Because the police although not a gun, very powerful, Zoomlion has given Changsha pay a lot of taxes, is very powerful, but after all, are still class brethren, there are contradictions also contradictions among the people thing.  If God can give us a chance, we would say: The policeman, in conjunction Brother, I beg you, put Chen Yongzhou it!   If God only gives us a chance to speak, we would say: We carefully checked Guo Chen Yongzhou right Zoomlion of all 15 critical reports, only the fallacy of “advertising and entertainment expenses 513 000 000″ written in the wrong the “advertising costs 513 million.” If policeman discovered my newspaper, although power to do and not to explore the evidence, please publicity, we must take my hat off.Because we still believe – at least there are so few days – you, like us, with full respect for the law.  We want to thank the four Changsha police uncle, is that you shut one eye, last night, Chen Yongzhou shivering little wife to safety from their own home away from home.   We also thank you, there is no atmosphere on the use of high-grade secret weapon, you identified the suspect, the economic center director in one fell swoop. Incidentally, he was really not at home, afraid to go home a few days earlier on. Really.   Oh, and Gao Hui, beloved Zoomlion Assistant Chairman, we have a few months ago has sued you infringement, I hope you face to the point, what should a complaint, we will not suddenly take you down to – – Each year, we pay very little tax, the turnover is far from tens of billions.   Your fellow Hunan Zeng wrote a couplet, “meaning the spring to feed a regiment, propped two poor bones.” My newspaper, though small, poor bones, there are two of you.

    Courtesy and with thanks to http://epaper.xkb.com.cn/view.php?id=891639


  • #AceNewsGroup 18:35 on October 22, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , Edwards, , , , , , , ,   

    #Syria has fully co-operated with Joint OPCW-UN Mission to Destroy Chemical Arsenal #Peace 

    150 px

    150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The Syrian Government has been fully cooperating with the destruction of its chemical weapons programme, the head of the joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations today said.

    “To date, the Government of Syria has fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission,” said Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag in a <“http://www.un.org/sg/offthecuff/index.asp?nid=3144“>statement from Damascus.

    She noted that the timeframes are “challenging” given the goal of eliminating the country’s chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014.

    Inspections so far have been conducted at 17 sites, the OPCW confirmed today. At 14 of these sites, the inspectors carried out activities related to the destruction of critical equipment to make the facilities inoperable.

    “The Technical Secretariat continues to assist Syria in Damascus in finalising its initial formal declaration covering its chemical weapons and related facilities,” the OPCW noted on its website.

    Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is racing against time to help Syrians prepare for oncoming winter as temperatures across the region are already dropping.

    Spokesperson Adrian Edwards <“http://www.unhcr.org/526659cb6.html“>told journalists in Geneva that UNHCR relief aid has been delivered to some 2,500 people who have now been evacuated from Mouadamiya in Rural Damascus, where thousands are still believed to be trapped.

    In addition to monitoring the general condition and protection concerns of these internally displaced people, UNHCR delivered relief items including mattresses, blankets, cooking sets, hygienic supplies and other aid.

    WAGGGS-UNHCR badge

    WAGGGS-UNHCR badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Humanitarian agencies have been denied access to Mouadamiya for months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Its chief, Valerie Amos, reiterated in recent days calls on all parties to agree an immediate pause in hostilities there and to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver life-saving treatment and supplies in areas where fighting and shelling is ongoing.

    Last week, through local partners, UNHCR delivered aid within the hard-to-reach city of Raqqa to more than 10,000 people. Raqqa, located in northern Iraq, hosts internally displaced people from Deir es Zour and from Aleppo, 160 kilometres to the west.

    “UNHCR observed that many of the displaced are living in buildings that lack windows, doors and electricity. People in this area will soon urgently require thermal blankets and plastic sheets to deal with winter temperatures,” Mr. Edwards said.

    The conflict, which began in March 2011, has claimed over 100,000 lives, sent more than 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced 4.5 million within Syria.

    “Virtually every town and city across Syria is affected by the conflict or hosts traumatized, displaced people,” the spokesperson said.

    Women told us they lacked privacy in the collective shelters, Mr. Edwards noted. He added concerns about the vulnerability of women, many heading broken households.

    In addition, the UN agency is worried about the impact of the crisis on young people, almost two million of whom have dropped out of school and a growing number of which are being exploited for labour or recruited into armed groups.


  • #AceNewsGroup 17:09 on October 22, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , Friends of Syria Group, , , , , , , ,   

    Friends of #Syria Meeting to be Hosted in London#Peace 

    William Hague speaks on behalf of ‘London 11’ after core group of the Friends of Syria and President of National Coalition meet in London.

    After the conclusion of a core group of the Friends of Syria meeting which he had hosted in London, the Foreign Secretary spoke on behalf of the group.

    The Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

    We have just concluded an important and productive meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Friends of Syria core group, including the President of the Syrian National Coalition.

    We have met against the backdrop of the regime’s escalating use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force against the people of Syria. They are using tanks, torture, artillery, SCUD missiles, air attacks; laying siege to desperate people; and presiding over the creation of a humanitarian catastrophe.

    Members of the opposition have spoken powerfully about people starving and women and children suffering at the hands of the regime. The only sustainable way to end this conflict and the suffering of innocent Syrian civilians is through a political transition in Syria. The purpose of our meeting today has been to send a signal of our resolve, our unity and determination in brining that about, building on the diplomatic progress made during the UN General Assembly last month.

    We have agreed a number of important steps today:

    First, we agreed that we would put our united and collective weight behind the UN-led Geneva II process, which must lead to establishing by mutual consent a Transitional Governing Body with full executive powers as set out in the Communiqué in 2012. By definition that means that it can only be agreed with the consent of the Syrian National Coalition. So Assad will play no role in that future Government of Syria.

    Second, despite the enormous challenges faced by the Syrian opposition, we urged the National Coalition to commit itself fully to the Geneva II process and to lead and form the heart of any opposition delegation. Geneva offers the Syrian people the best hope to improve their lives.

    Third, we agreed with them that we will provide the intensive political and practical support that will be required to give the Geneva II process the best chance of success.

    Fourth, we agreed a set of principles, attached to today’s communiqué, that underline the unity of our approach to the Geneva II process as the Friends of Syria core group.

    We agreed the Syrian opposition, including the moderate armed groups, and moderate opposition represented by the coalition continue to need our strong collective backing. There can be no peaceful and political settlement in Syria without the participation of the moderate opposition. So we pledged further support to them.


    Syria (Photo credit: Yishac – Isaac Alvarez i Brugada)

    President Al Jarba attended lunch and made clear, as in New York, his support. We are as clear as he is that Assad has no part in the future of Syria.

    The UK will continue to support the opposition in its efforts to help and protect the Syrian people from the murderous abuses of the regime through the more than £20 million in support to the opposition that we have provided this year. This is support that to helps to save lives and provide services to the Syrian population – including search and rescue equipment and training, power generators, communications, support and training to civil administrations.

    Between now and Geneva II Conference, we plan to announce a further package of UK support, including substantial non-lethal support to the National Coalition working with General Idris of the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council. This assistance is likely to take the form of communications, medical, and logistics equipment. It will help them to save lives on the ground.

    None of us has lost sight of the deepening humanitarian disaster.

    As winter approaches, the risks are growing to the nearly 7 million Syrians in need. This is compounded still further by the actions of the regime. The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said yesterday that the UN continues to be denied access on the ground to those in need of humanitarian assistance by obstacles placed by the Syrian regime. In the suburbs of Damascus, many innocent Syrians remain trapped as a result of the regime’s siege tactics. This is unacceptable and full and uninhibited access for humanitarian aid to people in need must be allowed.

    We have intensified the humanitarian support our eleven countries are providing, and encourage others to do the same through further funding pledges and we will be pressing the case for humanitarian access as called for by the UN Security Council on 2 October.

    The UK is the second largest humanitarian donor to the Syria conflict with over £500 million of aid allocated to date. Yesterday, we announced a further £15.5 million of lifesaving support to Palestinian refugees both inside Syrian and in neighbouring countries. This will include food for over 150,000 people and clothing for people in need of urgent help.

    Our eleven countries will continue to work closely together in the weeks leading up to a Geneva Conference to ensure it has the best possible chance of success, and the people of Syria finally get the political transition they so desperately need and deserve.


  • #AceNewsGroup 19:37 on October 19, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Moadamiyeh, , , , ,   

    #SYRIA: UN Humanitarian Chief Urges Safe Passage for Civilians Trapped in Rural Damascus 

    English: Emblem of the United Nations. Color i...

    English: Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36 from the image at http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/maplib/flag.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The United Nations humanitarian chief on Saturday called for a ceasefire in Moadamiyeh in Rural Damascus to allow aid agencies access to evacuate thousands of civilians trapped by the ongoing conflict in Syria.

    “The humanitarian community has stressed time and time again that people must not be denied life-saving help and that the fighting has to stop,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said in a <“https://docs.unocha.org/sites/dms/Documents/Statement%20by%20USG%20Valerie%20Amos%20on%20Moadamiyeh,%20Syria%2019Oct2013.pdf“>statement.

    Humanitarian agencies have been denied access to Moadamiyeh for months, the statement noted. Although the evacuation of more than 3,000 people took place on Sunday, the same number or more remain trapped. There are reports of continued shelling and fighting in the area, preventing the completion of the rescue operation.

    “I call on all parties to agree an immediate pause in hostilities in Moadamiyeh to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver life-saving treatment and supplies in areas where fighting and shelling is ongoing,” said Ms. Amos, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

    Those already evacuated from Moadamiyeh received immediate assistance from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, UN humanitarian agencies and partners, local businesses and private individuals, including food, medical treatment and psycho-social support.

    Ms. Amos said she continues to be “extremely worried” by the situation unfolding across Syria where ordinary women, children and men are facing horrific violence and brutality from all sides of the conflict.

    Thousands of families also remain trapped in other locations across Syria, for example in Nubil, Zahra, old Aleppo town, old Homs town and Hassakeh.

    “Civilians must be allowed to move to safer areas without the fear of attack,” stressed Ms. Amos.

    “It is vital that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws to protect civilians and to allow neutral, impartial humanitarian organizations safe access to all people in need, wherever they are in Syria.”

    The conflict, which began in March 2011, has claimed over 100,000 lives, sent more than 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced 4.5 million within Syria.

    #AceWorldNews #syria #peace


  • #AceNewsGroup 17:26 on October 19, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Executive Order 10995, Executive Order 11921, , , ,   

    FEMA Most Powerful Organisation in the World – Executive Orders – Video Now 

    Is not for protecting the people as much as it is for protecting the government.
    See text of H.R.645

    These are just a few of the Obama nations executive orders.

    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 10990 allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.
    • FemaEXECUTIVE ORDER 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 10998 allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11005 allows the government to take over rail-roads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11049 assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.
    • EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months.

    Courtesy of True Activist – Read more: http://www.trueactivist.com/fema-camp-has-begun-homeless-first/

  • #AceNewsGroup 20:51 on October 18, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , $32 billion, , December 2012, GRETA, , , ,   

    UN Rights Expert Joins Call for Concerted Global Action to Fight Human Trafficking 

    Human Trafficking petition hand in

    Human Trafficking petition hand in (Photo credit: 38 Degrees)

    A United Nations independent expert, along with two other key human rights mechanisms today stressed the importance of partnerships as the “backbone” of global efforts to tackle the scourge of human trafficking.

    “Partnership is the backbone for effective coordinated efforts to implement a human-rights based approach while addressing this multi-faceted phenomenon,” <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13869&LangID=E“>said  the human rights experts from the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE), on the occasion of the European Anti-Trafficking Day.

    “Cooperation between origin, transit and destination countries, but also with regional and international mechanisms, as well as private stakeholders such as multi-national corporations and civil society organizations, is essential for comprehensive responses to trafficking in persons.”

    The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ezeilo, underlined that trafficking is a grave violation of human rights which leads to further abuses.

    “The rights of victims should be the beating heart driving all efforts towards eradicating this phenomenon which leads thousands of women, girls, men and boys in situation of profound exploitation and violence,” Ms. Ezeilo said. “The victims, whose rights are stolen, have to be protected, assisted, provided remedies, and re-integrated.”

    Trafficking of women, children and men

    Trafficking of women, children and men (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry which has trapped some 21 million men, women and children in forced labour. According to 2005 estimates released by the International Labour Organization (ILO), profits generated in the sex industry alone are as high as $32 billion a year. Furthermore, nearly one-third of all victims of human trafficking officially detected around the world between 2007 and 2010 were children, according to a report released in December 2012 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) citing data from 132 countries.

    The President of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), Nicolas Le Coz, emphasized that countries have a responsibility under international and European law to provide protection to victims to ensure their moral and physical integrity and prevent re-victimization, including by prosecuting and punishing the traffickers.

    “Given the worrying proportions human trafficking has taken, there is a need to move from a national security model to a human rights-based approach in order to better identify and assist victims of trafficking who are often undocumented migrants,” Mr. Le Coz said.

    For the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, “the realization of a victim’s right to effective remedies is at the core of the human rights-based approach as redress and compensation are the key stepping stones on the path to full recovery and social inclusion without fear or stigma.”

    The three international expert mechanisms stressed that “a universal human rights-based approach is paramount to end human trafficking in the world today.”

    #AceWorldNews  #HumanRights  #Trafficking


  • #AceNewsGroup 19:43 on October 18, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   


    Flag of United Nations Refugee Agency

    Flag of United Nations Refugee Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    With the numbers of Syrians seeking safety in Europe on the rise, the United Nations refugee agency <“http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=526108d89&query=Italy“>said today it is concerned about difficulties displaced people face during their passage and at borders, including the risk of drowning at sea.

    Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), cited the case of a boat carrying between 400 and 500 Syrians and Palestinians that sank in the Mediterranean last Friday. Only 200 people have been rescued.

    “We are disturbed that the cause of the tragedy could well be attributed to shots that were fired after the boat left Libya, injuring four passengers and damaging the hull,” Ms. Fleming told a news conference in Geneva.

    The same day, she noted, a boat sank just off Alexandria in Egypt with an estimated 112 passengers on board, 40 of whom were Syrian. Twelve bodies were recovered, including five children. The survivors are being held in detention facilities in two police stations.

    They were among a growing number of Syrians trying to cross the Mediterranean from Egypt to Italy because of anxiety about their security, according to UNHCR. Many mention physical assaults, verbal threats, detention and deportation.

    The Egyptian Government estimates that some 250,000 to 300,000 Syrians currently reside in Egypt, of whom more than 122,000 are registered with UNHCR.

    Between January and the end of September, at least 7,557 Syrians and Palestinians arrived on the coast of Italy, including 6,233 since August in 63 boats. This compares to about 350 Syrians in 2012. Most of the Syrian refugees that reach Italy continue on to other countries in Europe in search of asylum.

    UNHCR was particularly concerned about the increasing number of unaccompanied children making the voyage. As the cost of travel can range from $2,000-$5,000 per person, some families opt to send their children alone or with relatives or friends.

    “UNHCR notes with concern that over 800 Syrians have been arrested in Egypt since August for attempting to illegally depart and 144, including 44 children, have been deported to third countries,” said Ms. Fleming.

    “Although charges have not been laid, approximately 589 Syrians remain in administrative detention, including women and 84 children. UNHCR is seeking access to the detained in order to properly verify numbers, conditions, and needs, or provide legal assistance,” she added.

    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...

    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    UNHCR recognizes that a number of countries in North Africa are increasingly affected by the displacement caused by the Syria crisis, placing additional demands on their infrastructure and resources. Given the dramatic needs of Syrian refugees, which are likely to continue and grow in the immediate future, reinforcement of capacity to receive them in North African countries is increasingly urgent, the agency stressed.

    UNHCR is working with Governments, the European Union and other partners to put in place a comprehensive response to saving lives of refugees and migrants at sea. It is calling for a number of measures to prevent further tragedies and increase responsibility sharing.

    Generous approaches to protection are needed, Ms. Fleming noted, including non-penalization of those arriving without identity documents, offering flexibility in the application of family reunification criteria and procedures, dispensing with certain visa requirements, and facilitation of the entry of Syrians for work, study, family or humanitarian purposes under national programmes.

    More than 100,000 people have been killed since opposition groups first sought the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad in March 2011. The conflict has also sent 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced some 4.5 million people internally.


  • #AceNewsGroup 18:08 on October 17, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Royal Commission, , , UN Commission of Inquiry, , , ,   

    Press release – Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012 – 2013 – #Syria 

    Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

    Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Latest update: 30 September 2013

    The human rights situation in Syria has continued to deteriorate in the period between July and September 2013. The conflict has reached devastating proportions: more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed, 6.8 million are in need inside Syria and over 5.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, with over 2 million people fleeing to neighbouring countries. Nearly a third of the Syrian population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

    In light of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the UK announced a further £100 million of humanitarian assistance on 25 September to help get essentials such as food, water and medicine to Syrian people in dire need. This brings the UK’s total to half a billion pounds, the UK’s largest response to a single humanitarian crisis. This reflects the scale, despair and brutality of the situation.

    We remain in full support of the UN Commission of Inquiry, who continue to gather evidence of human rights violations and abuses with the aim of bringing those responsible to account. Their latest report, published on 11 September, highlighted how civilians are continuing to suffer from the ongoing fighting. The report described crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed by the regime and its forces, and serious violations committed by extremist anti-regime armed groups. The report concluded that there is no military solution to the conflict, and that a political solution founded upon the tenets of the Geneva communiqué is the only path to peace.

    Against this background, the UK welcomed the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of a new resolution on 27 September, which condemned the use of chemical weapons, called for the perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses to be held to account and demanded full access for the UN Commission of Inquiry and humanitarian workers. The resolution also condemned the use of chemical weapons and contained language on preventing sexual violence.

    On the same day, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, ending a 17-month stalemate in the Security Council on Syria. The UK strongly supported this resolution, which is a welcome step towards our broad objective of achieving a political solution to end the crisis. We continue to work towards a second Geneva conference to bring all sides together. We are appalled by the chemical weapons attack in Damascus on 21 August, which led to the death of hundreds of civilians and wounded many more. All evidence points towards government responsibility for the attacks. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have consistently made clear that those responsible for the most serious international crimes in Syria should be held to account, and we believe the situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

    Since April 2012, we have committed over £40.5 million in non-humanitarian assistance to address the Syria crisis. This includes support to the moderate opposition, local councils, human rights defenders and civil society. We have provided equipment to help protect these groups and enable them to provide security and services to the Syrian people; this equipment includes armoured vehicles, body armour, generators, communications equipment and training for human rights activists.

    Latest update: 30 June 2013


    Syria (Photo credit: ewixx)

    In the period between April and June 2013, the human rights situation in Syria continued to deteriorate. Over 93,000 Syrians have died, more than 1.6 million are refugees and 4.25 million have been displaced within Syria due to the conflict.

    We remain in full support of the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry, who continue to gather evidence of human rights violations and abuses with the aim of bringing all those responsible to account. Their latest report, published on 4 June highlighted the new levels of brutality evident in the conflict; including documented cases of the use of chemical agents, the systematic imposition of sieges, forcible displacement and sexual and gender based violence and abuse. The report notes that whilst anti-government armed groups have also committed war crimes, their violations and abuses did not reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia.

    The UK welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a new resolution on 14 June, which strongly condemned the intervention of all foreign combatants, including those fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime. It urged all parties to refrain from any actions which may contribute to an increase in the number of violations of human rights and international law. The resolution stressed the need to follow-up on the Commission of Inquiry’s report and conduct a transparent and independent investigation into all violations of international law by all parties.

    We also welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s previous resolution adopted on 28 May, centred upon the Syrian government’s siege of Al-Qusayr. The resolution strongly condemned the violations of international law by Syrian authorities and government-affiliated militias, in particular the regime’s use of ballistic missiles and other heavy weapons against the people of Al-Qusayr. The resolution demanded that the Syrian authorities allow free and unimpeded access by the UN and humanitarian agencies, and requested that the Commission of Inquiry urgently conducts a comprehensive inquiry into the events in Al-Qusayr. In a statement on 4 June, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, reiterated the request, calling on Assad’s forces to allow immediate humanitarian access to Al-Qusayr.

    The UK remains committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria. As the Geneva Communiqué states, the public services must be preserved or restored. This includes the military forces and security services. However all governmental institutions and state offices must perform according to professional and human rights standards. We also condemn in the strongest possible terms all human rights violations and abuses in Syria, committed by anyone, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians. We call on all sides to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws, noting the particular responsibility of the Syrian authorities in this regard.

    There are now 1.6 million refugees registered/in process in neighbouring countries, and nearly a third of the Syrian population is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The UK is doing all it can to help all those affected by the violence and is playing a leading role as a bilateral donor to the international humanitarian response. We have already contributed £173 million in humanitarian aid so far. This has provided food for over 132,000 people across Syria, clean drinking water for almost 1 million people and almost 300,000 medical consultations. As announced at the G8, the UK is now set to double its contribution, bringing our total support to £348 million, with over £100 million going to the UN appeals. The funding includes our ongoing humanitarian aid, as well as development assistance to Jordan and Lebanon, both of whom have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees in recent months.

    The UK has also continued to provide support via non-lethal assistance, geared towards strengthening the moderate opposition, supporting civil society and helping to reduce the effects of regional spill over. This assistance includes training for human rights activists, communications equipment, body armour and water purification kits. This has brought the total of our non-lethal assistance to £30million.

    Further Information

    Read and comment on the country of concern – Syria

    Read and comment on the Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012 in full


  • #AceNewsGroup 22:00 on October 15, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , British Council, , , , , , , , , , the British Council   

    British teachers form partnerships with Lebanese and Jordanian schools to provide support for Syrian refugee children.

    British secondary school pupils will help Syrian counterparts who are refugees affected by the crisis, through a twinning initiative announced today by International Development Secretary Justine Greening.

    The scheme, run through the British Council, will partner UK schools with Lebanese and Jordanian schools teaching Syrian refugee children. British school children will get the chance to link up with refugee children and hear first-hand about the reality of life from those who have been affected by the situation in Syria.

    Under the initiative, British teachers and educators will form partnerships with schools in the region and provide support to their counterparts on a range of issues such as:

    • specially tailored teaching and learning resources to show schoolchildren in the UK the impact of the Syria crisis;
    • Syrian, Lebanese and British children sharing their experiences through Skype and letter writing; and
    • opportunities for teachers to share ideas, lesson plans and to work on joint projects together.
    Coat of arms of Lebanon Deutsch: Wappen von Li...

    Coat of arms of Lebanon Deutsch: Wappen von Libanon Español: Escudo de Líbano עברית: סמל לבנון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The scheme will focus initially on schools in Lebanon, which currently hosts more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugee children, an even higher number than there are Lebanese children. The scheme plans to expand to other schools in Jordan and more widely across the region.

    Justine Greening said:

    “Syrian secondary school children should not miss out on an education because their country is at war. We must do all we can to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children, and I want to give their UK counterparts and teachers the chance to play their part in our support.

    Teachers in Syria’s neighbouring countries are working tirelessly to ensure that everyone in their classroom has the chance to learn, no matter where they are from. But they are under tremendous pressure from cultural and language differences and the sheer weight of numbers of refugee children.

    “This initiative will give British teachers and educators the chance to make a direct difference. It will also pave the way for British school children and Syrian refugee children to build friendships, share their experiences and gain a better understanding of the wider world they are all growing up in.”

    The initiative will build on the Connecting Classrooms programme that the British Council already runs, drawing on existing partnerships with 20 schools in Jordan and Lebanon. In particular, it will work with schools in Lebanon where 20-30 per cent of pupils are refugees, in order to identify areas where support is most needed. The UK is already working with partners in Lebanon to identify the particular needs of schools there and how best to respond to these.

    Over the next two months, the British Council will run a recruitment drive to find new UK schools to partner with 16 Lebanese partner schools already looking for links with the UK. It will also prioritise UK-Lebanon/Jordan links for future school partnership application rounds (25 October 2013 and February 2014), with a focus on those schools in Lebanon and Jordan particularly affected by high numbers of refugee pupils.

  • #AceNewsGroup 17:49 on October 14, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Palestine refugee camps, , , , Refugee camp, , , ,   


    English: UNRWA logo UNRWA logo

    English: UNRWA logo UNRWA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees today called on all parties in Syria to stop the violence in refugee camps and other civilian areas, following violence near the Dera’a camp which killed seven Palestinians.

    “Reports from Dera’a of the further loss of Palestinian lives are deeply distressing,” <“http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/unrwa-deplores-violence-dera%E2%80%99-refugee-camp-southern-syria-which“>said Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, the Director of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Syria.

    “UNRWA repeats its calls on all parties to desist from conducting armed conflict in Palestine refugee camps and other civilian areas and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

    Initial reports indicate that on Saturday, the Dera’a Palestine refugee camp was directly affected by intensive armed conflict, killing seven refugees and injuring 15 others.  As a result of the fighting, UNRWA’s Primary Health Care Centre and Women’s Programme Centre sustained heavy damage.

    The Dera’a Health Centre was reconstructed and fully re-equipped with donor funds in June 2008. Prior to the conflict, the centre offered a wide range of health services to over 25,000 Palestine refugees residing in Dera’a camp and the surrounding areas. The outbreak of war in 2011 caused many refugees to seek safety outside the camp and for many months had prevented the health centre from functioning normally, UNRWA said in a news release.

    The agency appealed to all sides and to the international community “to urgently resolve the Syria conflict through a peaceful process of mediation and dialogue,” adding that the conflict is aggravating the already severe human suffering endured by Syrians and Palestinians alike.

    Despite extreme challenges, UNRWA continues to support some 420,000 Palestine refugees in Syria with health care, primary education, cash transfers, food assistance, psycho-social support access to micro-finance and other humanitarian services.


  • #AceNewsGroup 20:44 on October 13, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Coleen Rowley, , , Ray McGovern, Sam Adams Award, Thomas Andrews Drake,   

    #Edward-Snowden – Receives Sam Adam Award in Moscow 

    FIRST VIDEO: Snowden receives Sam Adams Award in Moscow

    Published time: October 11, 2013 23:55
    Edited time: October 12, 2013 18:09

    Still from Wikileaks
    Download video (17.57 MB)
    Image representing Edward Snowden as depicted ...

    Image by None via CrunchBase

    The first videos of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have surfaced since he received asylum in Russia. The footage, provided by WikiLeaks, was taken during the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence awards ceremony.

    The video fragments of a meeting, attended by the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, former NSA executive Thomas Andrews Drake and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, and Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks – all whistleblowers in their own respects – were released by WikiLeaks on Friday.

    In the first video appearance since he was granted asylum in Russia, Snowden spoke about US government transparency and dangers to democracy caused by the NSA mass spying programs.

    “This is not about any sort of particular program, this is about a trend in the relationship between the governing and the governed in America,” Snowden said speaking about the government transparency situation in the US. “That is increasingly coming into conflict with what we expect as a free and democratic people. If we can’t understand the policies and the programs of our government, we cannot grant our consent in regulating them.”

    “As someone very clever said recently, we don’t have an oversight problem in the US we have an undersight problem.”

    The problem has grown up to a point where Americans have “an executive, the Department of Justice, that’s unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera but they’ll stop at nothing to prosecute someone who told them the truth,” Snowden added.

  • #AceNewsGroup 16:24 on October 13, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , Al-Sharqiya, Caicedonia, , , Mohamed Ghanem, Mohamed Karim al-Badrani, , , ,   

    United Nations Urges Investigation – into – Murder of Two Iraqi Journalists 

    The UN headquarters in New York

    The UN headquarters in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    New York, Oct  9 2013  2:00PM
    The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today denounced the killing of two Iraqi journalists and called for an immediate investigation into their deaths.

    “I condemn the murder of Mohamed Karim al-Badrani and Mohamed Ghanem,” <“http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/director_general_urges_investigation_following_murder_of_journalists_mohamed_karim_al_badrani_and_mohamed_ghanem_in_iraq/“>said the Director-General of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.

    “It is essential that the authorities investigate these cases and bring their culprits to trial. Letting such crimes go unpunished severely undermines journalists’ ability to carry out their professional duties, and societies’ freedom to engage in open and informed debate.”

    The two broadcast journalists were shot dead on Saturday while filming a report about a market in Mosul for the independent television channel Al-Sharqiya. Their deaths bring to three the number of journalists murdered in Iraq this year.

    Ms. Bokova also denounced the shooting of a Colombian newspaper vendor José Darío Arenas, who was an occasional contributor to the newspaper he sold, EXTRA del Quindí.

    Mr. Darío Arenas was killed on 28 September in the city of Caicedonia because of an article he wrote in the newspaper.

    “An attack on a vendor because of the content of the media is an attack on press freedom,” the Ms. Bokova said, and called for an investigation into the murder.

    “It is important to ensure that the distributors of news enjoy the same safe working conditions we demand for all those working on the gathering of news.”

  • #AceNewsGroup 15:45 on October 13, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , Boat, Capsizing, , , , Italian Australian, , ,   

    Calls For Action To Protect Human Rights – After Lampedusa Tradegy 


    Lampedusa (Photo credit: Dorli Photography)

    Following reports of a second ship capsizing off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the international community to protect the rights of migrants and take action to prevent such tragic incidents.

    “The Secretary-General is deeply saddened to hear reports of the loss of lives as another boat carrying migrants capsized yesterday off the coast of Italy, only a few days after the tragic incident near Lampedusa which had already claimed more than 300 lives,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/?nid=7196“>statement.

    According to media reports, at least 27 people died and 221 were saved on Friday after their boat capsized near Lampedusa.

    The incident occurred just over a week after more than 300 migrants, mostly Ethiopian, lost their lives when their boat caught fire half a mile from the coast, leading the vessel to capsize in the same area.

    “The Secretary-General calls on the international community to take action to prevent such tragedies in the future, including measures that address their root causes and that places the vulnerability and human rights of migrants at the centre of the response,” the statement said.

  • #AceNewsGroup 13:18 on October 12, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , National Park Service, , , ,   

    Chaos and Corruption in Obama’s Washington 

    Official photographic portrait of US President...

    Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





    Chaos and Corruption in Obama‘s Washington


    How many actually signed up, sir?” Wallace asked Lew.”You know, they have six months to sign up. This is a big decision. We never-”

    “How many signed up?” Wallace asked again.

    “I don’t have the exact number, but the question isn’t how many — the question –

    “Do you have any number?” Wallace asked. “Because the government has refused to tell us how many.”

    “It’s the wrong question. It’s the wrong question,” Lew said.

    “No it isn’t,” Wallace replied.

    “The right question–” Lew said, but again, Wallace cut him off.

    “The question is, how many people have actually signed up?” Wallace asked.

    “Chris, we know that people take time to make important decisions like this. They go on(line), they compare their options. The fact that so many millions of people rushed to get information is a very good sign.”

    “The answer is they couldn’t,” Wallace said.

    I’ll spare you the rest as it went on like this for some time. It took a newspaper based in another country to get the answer about how many signed up. London’s Daily Mail broke the news that only 51,000 were able to “apply” for insurance on the failing Obamacare government web sites.

    Some in the liberal press did their best to provide cover. The Washington Post called the effort to track the data “tricky business.” While Mother Jones said it doesn’t even matter how many people signed up, but then parroted the Post’s excuse: “…getting lots of uninsured people into private health plans…is maddeningly difficult and time-consuming,” writer Stephanie Mencimer complained.

    The only reason the number “doesn’t matter” to the Left is because the number is embarrassingly low. You can bet if the number represented good news for the president, it would have been on the tip of the tongue of every Obama administration spokesperson throughout the federal leviathan – and page-one material for the liberal press.

    But that wasn’t the big news during the Obamacare launch. No, the headline was the fact that people couldn’t sign up even if they wanted to due to a massive breakdown in the system: a problem that has yet to be fixed! “The second week of Obamacare enrollment started a lot like the first: with error messages,” reported Politico.

    Glitches continued crippling online enrollment in new Obamacare exchanges on Monday, despite assurances by the White House that the consumer experience would markedly improve this week.

    The Obama administration deployed senior officials over the weekend to emphasize that problems on the enrollment site, HealthCare.gov, were primarily the result of intense interest from prospective enrollees. But their claims were undercut by a Sunday evening Wall Street Journal report claiming serious design flaws in the system’s infrastructure.

    According to The Associated Press, the system was “drawing lots of rotten tomatoes” with only 1 in 10 reported successes on the system. CBS This Morning reported that media outlets are having a difficult time finding anyone who has actually been successful (and I’m sure it’s not for lack of trying). One computer programmer summed it up: “It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it.” (Digital Trends called the system a “befuddled beast” noting that the website alone cost $634 million. By way of comparison it took Facebook six years to receive $600 million in operating funds.)

    Even liberal political activist John Stewart, typically an apologist for all things Obama, made a mockery of the Obamacare launch during a “cringeworthy” interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week: “I’m gonna try and download every movie ever made,” The Daily Show host quipped, “and you’re gonna try and sign up for Obamacare-and we’ll see which happens first.”

    We already know that Obamacare makes a mockery of the rule of law. See, for instance, our lawsuit for Dr. Larry Kawa’s Kawa Orthodontics, LLP trying to get Obama to follow his own darn healthcare law.

    Now it is clear Obama isn’t following his own law because he can’t make it work. This is no surprise to constitutional conservatives who understand that the markets for health care are exceedingly complex and can’t be managed by socialists in Washington.

    While Obamacare was busy tanking, the National Park Service (NPS) continued its oppressive blockades – even shutting down enterprises not run by the government. It all started last week when World War II heroes were denied access – from seeing their own memorial – by National Park Service personnel because, they were told, of the government shut down.

    But here’s the thing. There is no basis for the memorial to be shut down. And it cost the Obama administration more money to keep the memorials closed than to keep them open, as required, 24 hours a day!

    One might think that the National Park Service would shrink in embarrassment, especially after the veterans moved past the blockades to complete their mission, leading to major national news coverage. But what did the NPS do? They doubled down!

    There’s the Claude Moore Colonial Home in McLean, Virginia, closed by the NPS even though the service hasn’t operated that site since 1980. When the farm resisted, noting that it was operated with private donations and volunteers, the NPS caved and allowed it to reopen.

    The Park Service doesn’t own Mount Vernon either, but that didn’t stop the NPS from closing that facility. And Mt. Rushmore? The NPS “went the extra mile and put out orange cones to block the little scenic overlook areas on the roads near Mount Rushmore. You know, just to make sure no taxpayers could catch a glimpse of it,” writes The Weekly Standard in an editorial.

    “Think about that for a minute,” the editorial continues. “The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close.”

    Unless, of course, a group of leftists would like to use the “closed” federal parks to conduct a protest. Which is exactly what happened this week.

    Just days after World War II veterans were denied access to their memorial, a large group of illegal alien amnesty activists began setting up for a national demonstration (Camino Americano) on the “closed” mall area adjacent to Capitol Hill.

    “Rally organizers said that they would be allowed by the NPS to carry out their protest under their First Amendment rights,” The Washington Examiner reported.

    Only a corrupted presidential administration, completely out of touch with the Constitution and all reason, could justify denying military veterans an opportunity to visit a memorial built in their honor while defending the rights of the illegal immigration lobby to have its say.

    Unlike most Washington politicians, we won’t let these scandals lie. We have filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to try to expose the truth about the Obamacare debacle. And we have a filed a half-dozen document requests to expose the full facts about the National Park Service desecration of our nation’s war memorials and parks. We’ll keep watch for you and the other patriotic Americans who are horrified at the chaos and corruption here in DC. With vigilance and diligence, we can begin to get this town back under control.

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  • #AceNewsGroup 11:14 on October 12, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , Demographics of Jordan, , , , Mafraq, , , ,   

    UK Support for Jordan’s – Hard-Pressed #Syrian Refugees 

    Jordan will receive urgently needed support to ensure essential public services keep running as Syrian refugee numbers continue to grow

    Jordan will receive urgently needed support to keep essential public services running and prevent tensions between local people and growing numbers of Syrian refugees, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today.

    The UK will provide £12 million over the next two years to ensure that local Jordanian municipal governments can meet the needs of both host communities and refugees who have fled the fighting in Syria.

    Competition for jobs is increasing, houses built for refugees require electricity and water, and rubbish is piling up. British support will help to maintain road construction and maintenance, waste collection, street lighting, pest control and water supplies. It will focus on areas with high numbers of refugees, particularly in northern Jordan.

    Justine Greening said:

    The people of Jordan have been incredibly generous in opening their doors to Syrians in desperate need. But with around 250,000 refugees arriving in 2013 alone, the Syrian crisis is placing a huge strain on communities and services.

    Some neighbourhoods now have twice as many people living there as before, so it makes sense to invest in schools, health and other basic services to help everyone who has been flung together through no fault of their own.

    Our support is vital for refugees, the host communities and for Britain too, because a region able to absorb refugees in the short or medium term is resolutely in our interests.

    More than 520,000 refugees have now fled to Jordan to escape the fighting in Syria, around half of them children. Although many are in camps like Za’atari, more than two-thirds are staying in towns and cities where they share space, resources and services with their Jordanian hosts.

    The Government of Jordan estimates the financial impact of providing public services at about $250 million for 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 and municipalities have struggled to maintain services in the face of rapidly growing numbers of users.

    The rising demand and lagging supply of housing has led to significant increases in rental costs, especially in northern towns, and renting suitable and affordable housing has become harder for Jordanians. Investors have been constructing new housing, which has resulted in the establishment of new neighbourhoods needing roads, street lighting and connections to electricity, water and sewage networks.

    Rubbish is piling up in many urban centres. In cities like Irbid and Mafraq, waste has doubled by some accounts, leading many municipalities to overwork their waste collection fleets.

    In addition, high unemployment has highlighted the need for municipalities to take on a more active role in promoting local economic development and creating job opportunities.

    This new funding commitment is in addition to the £500 million that the UK has now committed in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the largest ever response from the UK to a single crisis. This is providing support including food, medical care and relief items for over a million people in Syria and the region.

    Notes to editors

    1. The new funding comes from the Arab Partnership Economic Facility and will be channelled through the World Bank-managed Jordan Emergency Services and Social Resilience Programme.
    2. The funding commitment was announced by the International Development Secretary in Washington today, at a World Bank-run event which was also attended by the Jordanian Minister for International Co-operation, Dr. Ibrahim Saif.
    3. https://www.gov.uk/government/world/syria
  • #AceNewsGroup 20:11 on September 3, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Ali Larijani, , , August, , , , , CBS, , Chemical Weapons Convention, , , , Faisal Mekdad, , , , , , , Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Iran), , , , , , , , , , , , September 7 2013, , Stephen Rapp, , , , , , , , , ,   

    #Syria Crisis Live – As it happens – when it happens #peace 

    International pressure has been building for a military strike on Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. The West has laid the blame at the feet of President Assad, as UN experts collected chemical samples on-site.

    All Syria’s chemical weapons production lines destroyed – OPCW

    Published time: October 31, 2013 11:45

    An image grab taken from Syrian television shows an inspector from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria (AFP Photo/Syrian television )
    Download video (15.31 MB)
    Damascus has met the first disarmament deadline, having destroyed all previously declared chemical weapons production and mixing equipment, the international watchdog has confirmed.

    The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has acknowledged that Damascus has complied with the watchdog’s decision, adopted on September 27, on complete elimination of chemical weapons and means for production in Syria before November 1.

    Teams of experts have visited 21 out of 23 declared chemical weapon production sites (with 41 buildings and structures) and witnessed destruction of equipment at the facilities. The only two uninspected facilities were “too dangerous” to visit, but inspectors have confirmed that equipment from those two had been previously evacuated to safe locations and also destroyed.

    “The OPCW is satisfied it has verified, and seen destroyed, all declared critical production/mixing/filling equipment from all 23 sites,” the OPCW document states.

    PCW Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, has already welcomed a group of eight inspectors back to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague. They had worked in Syria as part of the Advanced Team since October 1.

    Yet thousands of tons of warfare agents and chemicals remain to be eliminated.

    Earlier Ahmet Üzümcü confirmed that Syria declared the possession of 1,300 tons of chemicals and precursors needed for chemical weapons production, as well as over 1,200 empty chemical munitions.

    The process of elimination of all Syria’s chemical weapons is expected to take nine months.

     An image grab taken from Syrian television on October 19, 2013 shows an inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. (AFP Photo/Syrian television)An image grab taken from Syrian television on October 19, 2013 shows an inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. (AFP Photo/Syrian television)

    It must be mentioned that on October 11 the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Prize for unprecedented efforts in eliminating chemical weapons. Over the 16 years of the OPCW’s watch, more than 80 percent of chemical weapons stockpiles worldwide have been eliminated.

    The program of total elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal was initiated by Moscow after the August 21 attack in Damascus, where malefactors of disputed origin used homemade chemical agents to slaughter civilians.

    Some US allies in the Middle East called on Washington to start military aggression against Syria, on the pretext that it was the regime of President Bashar Assad that had used chemical weapons against its own people.

    The US administration accepted Russia’s proposal to force President Assad to give up chemical stockpiles, amid accusations from allies that Washington was breaking its promise to launch a military strike on Assad if he crossed the ‘red line’ of resorting to chemical weapons.

    However, Washington opted not to be dragged into yet another military conflict in the Middle East.

    UN inspectors visit 21 of 23 chemical sites in Syria

    The security situation in Syria has prevented international inspectors from visiting two remaining chemical weapons sites, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Inspectors have visited 21 out of 23 chemical sites, Itar-Tass reported. “The two remaining sites have not been visited due to security reasons,” the Hague-based international watchdog said in a statement. It added that Syria has presented in time a formal declaration on its chemical weapons program, including a schedule of their destruction.

    Friday, October 11

    Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical W...

    Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Plaque (Photo credit: PEO, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives)

    08:00 GMT: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is set to go to the OPCW, the organization currently tasked with overseeing Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal handover to international hands – according to a Norwegian public broadcaster.

    03:25 GMT: Nearly two dozen of the commentators who appeared on major media outlets to discuss a possible US military strike on Syria had relationships with contractors and other organizations with avested interest in the conflict, according to a new report.

    OPCW Update – October 9  

    150 px

    150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    New York, Oct  9 2013  3:00PM
    The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today called on all parties in the Syrian conflict to cooperate so that a joint United Nations mission tasked with overseeing the destruction of the country’s chemical stockpiles can carry out its work as quickly as possible.

    “We have urged all parties in Syria to be cooperative and to contribute positively to this mission,” the OPCW’s Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, said during a press conference in The Hague, and added that temporary ceasefires will permit the experts to carry out their work.

    “Much depends on the situation on the ground,” he said, stressing that the deadline for destroying the chemical weapons is “extremely tight” and that there have been significant logistical and security challenges.

    “I think that the elimination of those weapons is in the interest of all. Therefore, if we can assure some cooperation by all parties and some temporary ceasefires could be established in order to permit our experts to work in a permissible environment… I think the targets could be reached,”

    The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution two weeks ago calling for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof.”

    The destruction of chemical weapons facilities, stocks and associated material is the responsibility of the Syrian Government, since neither the OPCW nor the UN is mandated to conduct actual destruction activities.

    An advance team for the UN-OPCW mission began its work on 6 October, and Mr. Üzümcü said some equipment has already been destroyed. He added that first verification activities have to be completed by the end of this month and production facilities will have to be rendered unusable by that time as well, with the view of destroying all chemical weapons capabilities by mid-2014.

    Mr. Üzümcü said Syrian authorities have been cooperative so far, and added that 12 additional experts were deployed to Damascus, the capital, today.

    Monday, October 7

    12:45 GMT: People in countries whose governments are not directly involved in the Syrian crisis mostly oppose military intervention against the government of President Bashar Assad, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. Overall, 52 percent of people surveyed in September favored military intervention and 57 percent were against their own country taking part in such an operation.

    The survey was conducted in 15, mostly European countries, but excluded Iran, Russia and China, which are supporting Damascus in the ongoing crisis, as well as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, which are most directly involved in the rebels’ fight against the Syrian government.

    In the survey, Argentina was the country most strongly opposed to military intervention in Syria, with 68 percent of people against it.

    Some 36 percent of people surveyed said that Assad’s government was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, the accusation which the US voiced as a reason for a possible strike in Syria. About a quarter believe that both the Syrian army and the opposition used chemical weapons at some point of time, while another quarter said they didn’t know who was behind the attacks.

    12:37 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has posted a statement on its website, saying that Syria is being “cooperative” in the operation to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.

    “Discussions were held with the Syrian authorities on the disclosure which Syria earlier provided to the OPCW on its chemical weapons program,” the statement said, adding that the talks were “constructive.”

    Saturday, October 5

    6:00 GMT: The Syrian government has gone beyond its pledge and handed over additional information on its chemical weapons program to international experts. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the new data had been received by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the OPCW countries should expect an update by Tuesday.

    Thursday, October 3

    18:00 GMT: The initial United Nations report on how Syria will dispose of its chemical weapons will be presented on October 7, says Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin.

    “The chemical weapons experts are already in place in Syria, and have started work” Churkin told Rossiya-24, a Russian news channel.

    “The UN Secretary General’s report on October 7 will indicate what role the United Nations will play in the carrying out of the chemical weapons resolution passed by the Security Council.”

    16:26 GMT: An international team of chemical weapons experts who arrived in Damascus on Tuesday has been making “encouraging initial progress” according to the UN. It is working towards the full elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles  – a task they believe to be achievable by mid-2014.

    “Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered,” said the UN statement.

    Tuesday, October 1

    14:50 GMT: The Israeli ambassador to Moscow, Dorit Golender, has said that her country backs the plan to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. “Israel has welcomed the US-Russia plan. But results are determined by deeds,” Golender told RIA Novosti.

    12:26 GMT:
     The team of twenty international OPCW inspectors who are tasked with the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria have entered the country from Lebanon over the Masnaa border.

    11:30 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed doubts that the West will be successful in getting the Syrian opposition to take part in the ‘Geneva-2’ peace conference due to be held mid-November.

    “Regarding opposition representation – this remains to be settled. Until recently we have been relying on our Western partners who pledged to push the opposition to the negotiations table and we hoped they would manage it quickly. But so far they have not succeeded. And I am not sure they will by mid-November” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference.

    11:00 GMT: Russian representatives will work alongside the OPCW inspectors in Syria and take active part in the operation to dismantle chemical weapons in the country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters.

    Monday, September 30

    20:43 GMT: Work on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria will begin October 1, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed. “The beginning of this joint operation is scheduled for tomorrow,” he stated at a briefing in New York. Nesirky added that a group of UN experts have returned from Syria and said their report will be completed by the end of October.

    20:19 GMT: Turkey’s parliament will debate the motion to authorize military strikes on Syria this Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told Turkish media.

    15:05 GMT: China says that it will send its experts to oversee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

    13:45 GMT: China has condemned an attack on its embassy in Damascus, in which one embassy staff was injured. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has also demanded that “all parties in Syria strictly adhere to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and ensure the safety of diplomatic organizations and their members in a proper way.”

    Earlier on Monday, Chinese media reported that an area adjacent to the country’s embassy in Damascus was shelled by mortar rounds, and that one of the shells exploded in the embassy’s yard, damaging one building and injuring at least one member of staff. The diplomatic mission temporarily suspended its work, but no evacuation of staff was reported.

    11:31 GMT: The team of UN experts investigating use of chemical weapons in Syrian civil war left Damascus on Monday after completing their six-day mission to investigate several cases of alleged chemical weapons use in the country. The investigators’ report, on seven separate cases of alleged use of chemical weapons during the Syrian conflict, is due to be presented sometime in October.

    09:38 GMT: France was ready to launch air strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities on Sept. 1, Le Nouvel Observateur reported, but the country’s president, Francois Hollande, had to call the operation off after President Barack Obama decided to seek approval from the US Congress for a military operation against Syria. France’s Rafale fighter jets had planned to launch missiles while flying the Mediterranean, without entering Syrian airspace, the news magazine reported.

    08:56 GMT: The Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, which advises the European Union on human rights issues, plans to hold an urgent debate on Syria on Oct. 3 in Strasbourg, France.

    Russia’s representative to the assembly, Duma Foreign Affairs committee chairman Aleksey Pushkov, told journalists that the assembly should pass a resolution on the conflict.

    “Syria is the key issue in international politics and there is no doubt that PACE should have a resolution,”Pushkov said, adding that there had been a “serious evolution” in the country. “While two years ago, the prevailing view was that there was a democratic revolution in Syria and people are fighting tyranny, now opinions have changed toward Russia’s stance on this issue,”  Pushkov said.

    Sunday, September 29

    21:13 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have seen a “positive start” to their work in Syria, Itar-Tass reports, citing an OPCW brief in the Hague. “So far our interaction with the Syrians has been very businesslike and very efficient,” said an OPCW official. Both parties’ intention is to develop a relationship based on mutual trust, saying that the OPCW team of experts have no reason to believe that the Syrian government is trying to hide its chemical weapons. The OPCW brief also said that no unannounced inspections of chemical weapons sites are planned, as that would facilitate mistrust between the two sides.

    Saturday, September 28

    20:07 GMT: Damascus will not accept any transition plan that excludes President Bashar Assad, Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem told AP Saturday on the sideline of the UN General Assembly. “For the Syrian people, Bashar Assad is the elected president until mid-2014, when presidential elections will be held,” al Moallem said. Earlier the foreign minister told RT that the Syrian civil war could end in weeks if the West and Gulf States stopped supporting the insurgents on the ground.

    18:50 GMT: Russia reached its aim of making sure professionals from the international chemical weapons watchdog are the main actors regarding the UN resolution on Syria, and that there are no loopholes for military action, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov told Russia’s Channel One News.

    Lavrov admitted the Russian-American compromise on the UNSC resolution “did not come easy.” But the Russian side has “achieved its goal” in that the resolution on Syria, supporting another document by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), “remains within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué.”

    00:17: GMT: The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlining the details of taking under international control and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

    The target date for a new peace conference in Geneva was set for mid-November. However, the Syrian opposition should be represented at the Geneva peace talks in a single delegation, the Secretary-General said.

    The adopted resolution calls for consequences if inspectors decide that Syria has failed to fulfill its obligations.

    Friday, September 27

    22:50 GMT: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has adopted a decision on Syria chemical arms by consensus, the UK ambassador to the UN said.

    The Executive Council has adopted the decision regarding #Syria

    — OPCW (@OPCW) September 27, 2013


    22:30 GMT: The meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is taking place several hours later than planned. This could push back the timeframe of the Security Council vote on a draft resolution even further.

    The UK ambassador to the UN has announced that the meeting of OPCW in the Hague has been delayed until delayed until 00:30 local time or 18:30pm EDT. The OPCW Executive Council was earlier planning to meet at 22:00 Friday.

    The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet at 20:00 EDT for a ministerial level vote on a draft resolution on Syrian chemical weapons.

    Thursday, September 26

    17:10 GMT: France has stated that progress is being made over a UN Security Council resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons.

    Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that “France’s demands have been satisfied at this point,” and that talks have “progressed overall,” following Wednesday’s meeting of five powers. However, there remain“some issues to clarify” before a resolution is adopted, he told reporters.

    17:00 GMT: Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Martin Ban Ki-Moon said that the format of a meeting on Syria involving Ban Ki-moon, Lavrov and Kerry is broadening and will naturally involve United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi. “We already said that a trilateral meeting with Minister Lavrov, Secretary of State Kerry, as well as the Secretary General, and naturally Mr. Brahimi, would take place. This format is now expanding,” he said.

    15:55 GMT: UN chemical arms experts have started their mission the day after returning to Syria. For security reasons, their schedule and the sites they will visit have not being disclosed. According to UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, the UN experts’ agenda will depend on the situation. Syria initially agreed to allow UN experts to visit three different locations. The teams will focus on examining 14 alleged attacks when chemical weapons or chemical agents were used.

    Wednesday, September 25

    08:54 GMT: UN chemical experts have once again returned to Damascus, AFP says.

    Tuesday, September 24

    17:00 GMT: The solution to the Syrian conflict must be a political one, as too much time has been wasted in solving the country’s crisis, French President Francois Hollande said in his speech at the opening day of the UN General Assembly.

    But the French president reiterated that the UN Security Council resolution on Syria should include the application of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the use of military force.

    16:44 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has approved a draft resolution on Syria, a diplomatic source told the RIA Novosti news agency. The source added that the organization did not have any outstanding issues with the proposal, and added that the UN Security Council would draft a resolution only after the OPCW presented its version.

    14:00 GMT: Military victory in Syria is “an illusion,” with “political settlement” being the only way out of the crisis in the country, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he addressed world leaders in his opening speech at the General Assembly.

    The UN chief has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad, the country’s opposition and “all those in this hall with influence over them” to work immediately to arrange a second Geneva peace conference aimed at reaching a political solution.

    13:28 GMT: While concentrating on chemical weapons, the international community mustn’t forget that the flow of conventional weapons to Syria also remains a pressing issue, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said at the opening of the organization’s General Assembly in New York.

    “We can hardly be satisfied with destroying chemical weapons, while a wider war is still destroying Syria. The majority of the deaths in Syria were caused by normal weapons and I call on foreign powers to halt the flow of arms into the country,” he said.

    “The Syrian government must commit to its pledges over its chemical weapons arsenal,”
     Ban added.

    07:30 GMT: UN chemical weapons inspectors are to return to Syria on Wednesday to continue their mission, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

    The experts were sent to investigate several cases of alleged use of chemical weapons, but their work was disrupted by the August 21 attack, which killed an estimated 1,400 people. The team was redirected to the location of the new incident to conduct a probe and produce an intermediate report on it. However, they were expected to continue their initial mission later.

    “We are satisfied that our persistent calls for the return of the UN inspectors for an investigation of the previous episodes have finally borne fruit,” the Russian diplomat commented.

    Russia criticized the intermediate report presented at the UN last week, which some Western countries took as blaming the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for the attack. Moscow says the evidence is not conclusive and argued that a more comprehensive assessment of the situation would prove that Syrian rebels could have been involved in both this and previous attacks.

    Saturday, September 20

    09:30 GMT: Russia could change its position on Syria if it is discovered that President Bashar Assad is“cheating”, the head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Ivanov said.

    “I’m speaking theoretically and hypothetically, but if it appears certain to us that Assad is cheating, we may change our position,” Ivanov said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies ‘Global Strategic Review’ conference in Stockholm.

    Ivanov also questioned how the world would respond if it turns out that both Damascus and the Syrian opposition had deployed chemical weapons.

    “Just imagine what the international community would do then,” he questioned.

    Ivanov reiterated that Russia saw no other option than to navigate the ongoing crisis in Syria diplomatically, adding that within a week the full extent of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal would be known.

    Friday, September 20

    09:30 GMT: Russia could change its position on Syria if it is discovered that President Bashar Assad is“cheating”, the head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Ivanov said.

    “I’m speaking theoretically and hypothetically, but if it appears certain to us that Assad is cheating, we may change our position,” Ivanov said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies ‘Global Strategic Review’ conference in Stockholm.

    Ivanov also questioned how the world would respond if it turns out that both Damascus and the Syrian opposition had deployed chemical weapons.

    “Just imagine what the international community would do then,” he questioned.

    Ivanov reiterated that Russia saw no other option than to navigate the ongoing crisis in Syria diplomatically, adding that within a week the full extent of Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal would be known.

    18:10 GMT: The US will thoroughly examine data on Syria’s chemical arsenal, which the government of Bashar Assad passed to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. Syria has already forwarded the OPCW a draft record of its chemical arsenal, she added.

    14:29 GMT: Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, have held telephone consultations on the situation in Syria in view of the agreement to place all the country’s chemical weapons under international supervision. The call was initiated by the American side, the Russian Foreign ministry said.

    13:18 GMT: Damascus has submitted a detailed index of its chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the group told Reuters on Friday. The OPCW won’t release details of what it has received, AP reports.

    On Saturday, Russia and the United States reached a deal on a framework that will see the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid- 2014. Under the plan, the Assad government had one week to hand over an inventory of its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria is believed to have around 1,000 metric tonnes of chemical agents.

    Meanwhile, the OPCW has postponed a meeting on Syria originally set for this Sunday, AFP reports. No new date has been given for the meeting.

    12:40 GMT: RT’s Maria Finoshina, currently in Syria has spoken to Maaloula residents who were forced to flee their predominantly Christian village when it was seized by jihadists. Having found temporary asylum in Damascus, they still live in fear having not overcome the shock of what had happened. They are also worried about the fate of their missing relatives. Very few are ready to speak to journalists as a result.

    12:20 GMT: Finland is ready to provide its experts for destroying the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry statement, cited by Itar-Tass news agency.

    11:50 GMT: The Syrian government is expected to submit data concerning its chemical weapons to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by September 22, according to the spokesman for the watchdog, Michael Luhan.  

    11:20 GMT: Up to 400 Russian citizens could be fighting in Syria now, according to Sergey Smirnov, first deputy head of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

    We estimate that around 300-400 people have left Russia for Syria. They will come back and that represents a big threat,” he said.

    Thursday, September 19

    20:00 GMT: French President Francois Hollande has suggested that Paris could arm Syrian rebels, but do it carefully enough to avoid the weapons falling into the hands of jihadists.

    On delivering weapons, we have always said that we want to control these supplies so that they do indeed go to the Free Syrian Army … because they represent the Syrian National Coalition that we recognize as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and today they are caught between a hammer and an anvil. The hammer is the air strikes and actions of the Syrian regime and the anvil is radical Islam,” Hollande said as cited by Reuters.

    French President Francois Hollande (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)French President Francois Hollande (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

    The French president highlighted Russia supplying arms to the Syrian government as one of the reasons for his decision to provide the rebels with arms.

    19:26 GMT: US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the UN Security Council to take action on Syria next week.

    The Security Council must be prepared to act next week,” Kerry told reporters. “It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria’s chemical weapons.

    Kerry said that although the UN mission in Syria had no mandate to determine who was behind the Ghouta chemical attack which claimed hundreds of lives in August, the facts provided by inspectors clearly implicate that Bashar Assad’s government is to blame.

    18:30 GMT: Christian leaders from the World Council of Churches (WCC) are planning a summit on Syria, similar to the Geneva II negotiations world powers have long been trying to hold.

    There is no military solution to Syria,” the general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, told journalists. “Now is the time to say everyone has failed and there has to be a change and that change has to include all parties and that includes the president [of Syria].

    17:45 GMT: The World Bank has said that the refugee crisis engulfing Lebanon as a result of the Syrian civil war will cost the country $7.5 billion.

    17:40 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, will meet Sunday to discuss the Russian-US plan to destroy Syria’s arsenal, it said.

    17:30 GMT: Bulgaria has asked the EU for aid to help it cope with Syrian refugees, the interior minister said Thursday.  Over 4,000 illegal immigrants, about half of them from Syria, are seeking asylum in Bulgaria and Sofia says its capacity is at breaking point.

    17:25 GMT: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he doesn’t foresee NATO playing a role in the agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, but said that individual NATO countries may help to implement it.

    14:15 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he believes the use of chemical weapons in Damascus on August 21 was a provocation on the part of the Syrian rebels.

    We have every grounds to believe that it was a provocation. Of course, it was adroit and clever, but, at the same time, primitive in terms of technical performance. They took an old Soviet-made missile, which was taken out of service in the Syrian army long ago. It was most important to have ‘made in the USSR’ written [on the missile],” Putin said at the Valdai discussion forum on Thursday.

    12:30 GMT: Russia is ready to take part in the transportation and destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, according to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu

    What awaits us is a huge and serious task to fulfill, and we are only at the beginning of the process,” said Shoigu as cited by Vesti24. “Whatever role we get when it comes to international control [of Syrian chemical weapons] –  be it transportation or destruction – Russia and its military forces are naturally ready to take it on.”

    12:15 GMT: An estimated 130 French nationals or immigrants are now fighting in Syria, according to the country’s Interior Minister, Manuel Valls.

    It worries me because they could represent a potential threat [to France] upon their return,” Valls said, as cited by France 24.

    The Minister specified that the number is bigger than in other recent conflicts in the region, such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

    12:00 GMT: Turkey has shut one of its border gates to Syria following fighting, which took place in the Syrian town of Azaz near the Turkish frontier.  Two rebel groups reportedly confronted each other – an Al-Qaeda affiliated group clashed with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, according to a Turkish official, cited by Reuters.

    The Oncupinar border gate has been closed for security reasons as there is still confusion about what is happening on the Syrian side. All humanitarian assistance that normally goes through the gate has ceased,” the official said.

    11:25 GMT: Russia is completely ready for the possible evacuation of its citizens from Syria in case it is needed, according to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, cited by RIA news agency. Seven thousand Russian citizens are currently in Syria. The Minister said he was ordered by President Putin to prepare the evacuation plans.

    Wednesday, September 18

    23:58 GMT: The US is working with Syrians to collect evidence to use against President Bashar Assad, who should “absolutely” be tried for crimes against humanity, a top US official on war crimes said.

    “Enormous crimes have been committed that can be traced directly to the highest levels of the Syrian regime,” Stephen Rapp, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, told Yahoo News on Wednesday.

    Rapp added that the mounting evidence would make prosecution easier than cases “we’ve seen at the international level against a chief of state.”

    “Without question, there are credible, very credible allegations of crimes against humanity, murder, rape, mutilation, other crimes,” Rapp said. “And, of course, since we now have a civil war these become war crimes as well.”

    Stephen Rapp (AFP Photo/Armin Weigel)Stephen Rapp (AFP Photo/Armin Weigel)

    Rapp said that Syrian partners have obtained more than 200,000 pages of documents which are now being analyzed in a special location that the US helped establish in Europe.

    “We’re working with Syrian groups, educating them, training them in how to find this information, identifying it, and measuring shell holes, and determining what direction the shells came from, other things like that ” Rapp said.

    Rapp acknowledged the hurdles surrounding a possible criminal case, including reservations from Russia. In the meantime, the accumulation of evidence will go on.

    “Our preference is to work with Syrians, with people in the region, with international players and work toward establishing some kind of hybrid, or mixed court,” he said. “That will take time, [but] it could be begun even before there was an end to the conflict.”


    Tuesday, September 17

    16:50 GMT: In response to Russia’s criticism of the recent report on the Aug.21 chemical weapon attack, the UN says it is “indisputable” and “thoroughly objective”. 

    “The findings in that report are indisputable,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. “They speak for themselves and this was a thoroughly objective report on that specific incident.”

    16:42 GMT: NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says military options should remain“on the table” in negotiations with Syria.

    Rasmussen said he supports the recent US-Russian agreement under which the Assad regime says it will give up its chemical weapons arsenal.

    “I would expect the Syrian regime to fully comply with the demands of the international community and in the case of non-compliance we will need a very firm international response,” NATO chief said after meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

    Rasmussen stressed that it is “crucial that the UN Security Council expeditiously adopts a firm resolution that can constitute the framework for a swift, secure and verifiable elimination of all chemical weapons in Syria”

    “I do believe that the credible threat of military action was the reason why diplomacy got a chance and I think in order to keep momentum in the diplomatic and political process the military option should still be on the table,” he told reporters.

    12:47 GMT: The chief UN chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom says his experts will return to Syria “within weeks” to complete the investigation that was interrupted by August 21 attack in Damascus suburb. The team will evaluate “allegations of chemical weapons use from both sides, but perhaps mainly from the Syrian government’s side.”

    Sellstrom said he does not see a need for more investigations of the August 21 attacks, but if the team“receives any additional information it will be included next time we report,” he added.

    12:30 GMT: President Assad thanked Russia for helping Syria confront a “savage attack”, AFP reported.

    12:25 GMT: Syrian government says it is sure the UN will not vote for the resolution on Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, regulating the use of military force on behalf of the council, AFP reported citing Faisal Mekdad, the deputy foreign minister of Syria.

    “I think it’s a lie that Western countries use. We think this will never be used. There is no justification for that,” Mekdad said.

    21:53 GMT: Syria has handed over new evidence to Russia that the chemical weapons were used by the armed opposition, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov told RIA Novosti“That is really true. Just now we were given evidence. We need to analyze it.”

    21:33 GMT: Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that Russia is disappointed that the UN inspectors’ findings are “politicized” and “biased” in nature, adding that without the complete picture of what is happening in Syria, the conclusions can only be described as one-sided.

    “We were disappointed to say the least, with the approach adopted by the UN and the UN inspectors, who were in Syria, which was very selective and incomplete, without regard to the circumstances, and was compiled without the collection of materials in the other three sites,” Ryabkov said.

    20:55 GMT: In response to a question from a journalist on whether the chemical weapons deal gives Syrian President Bashar Assad job security, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that any government in place would be in charge of seeing it to the end.

    “Any individual, any government that is in place, whether that’s a transitional government, whatever it may be, would be in charge of implementing this. And that is the body that would work through this,” she said.

    20:40 GMT: The draft UN Security Council resolution on chemical weapons in Syria was presented at the meeting of the five permanent UN members, RIA Novosti cited a UN source as saying. “France, Great Britain and the United States introduced a draft resolution today at a meeting of the five in New York,” the source said, adding that Russia and China will be studying the resolution.

    20:36 GMT: Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that the first round of talks with Syrian foreign minister Walid Moualem in Damascus was constructive. There are hopes for more positive discussions on Wednesday, Ryabkov said.

    19:39 GMT: Syria’s army has confirmed that its military helicopter, which was shot down by Turkish forces on September 16, violated the neighboring country’s air space.

    The helicopter was on a reconnaissance mission, inspecting the infiltration of terrorists across the border, and mistakenly entered Turkish airspace, the military said in a statement released by Syria’s SANA news agency.

    The harsh reaction from Turkish side – particularly, the fact that the helicopter, not tasked with any fighting mission, was downed as it headed back to Syria – reveals the real intentions of Erdogan’s government, which is seeking escalation at the Syrian border, the statement added.

    18:50 GMT: Russia urges the interested parties not to hurry with throwing unsubstantiated accusations of chemical weapons use against the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said.

    “Simplistic and groundless accusations against the Syrian authorities, which, in fact, remove all responsibility from the opposition, are childish and inappropriate,” he stressed. “As it’s thorough and, more importantly, professional establishment of cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, for which the fresh UN inspectors’ report stands for.”

    18:43 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held a phone conversation with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, discussing the details of the US-Russia deal, which calls for the Syrian government’s chemical arsenal to be placed under international supervision and subsequently destroyed.

    “We hope that our British partners would get seriously involved in the implementation” of the Syrian chemical weapons accord, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said.

    18:00 GMT: The UNSC resolution on Syrian chemical weapons should be binding and guarantee that the chemical arsenal will be destroyed in accordance with the agreement reached between the US and Russia in Geneva, Ban Ki-moon said.

    17:09 GMT: The UN report on the Syrian chemical attack on August 21 does not show that Assad forces used sarin gas, the UN Secretary General said. The statement came in response to Western countries, which said the report proves the chemical weapon attack was perpetrated by government forces.

    “If you read the report, you will understand that there are no conclusions on where those rockets were fired from,” Ban said.

    16:36 GMT: The United States, Russia, Britain, France and China are expected to meet in New York to discuss a draft resolution on destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal based on a US-Russian agreement, Reuters reports citing a US official.

    “Today, the P5 members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia, China) will meet to discuss the joint P3 (US, UK, France) draft Security Council Resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons program,” Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the UN, said in an email.

    16:34 GMT: While Russia’s deputy foreign minister is negotiating with the Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moualem, there are media reports emerging saying that the Syrian government passed its allies evidence that proves that the rebels were behind the attack in Ghouta on August 21.

    However, RT’s Maria Finoshina, who is currently at the meeting, says there are no details about the report.

    14:41 GMT: Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, will arrive in the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday to hold talks with the country’s foreign minister, Walid Moualem, Russia’s Foreign Ministry told RT.

    14:18 GMT: The implementation of the US-Russia deal on chemical weapons in Syria has topped the agenda of the Moscow meeting between the Russian President’s plenipotentiary for Middle East issues, Mikhail Bogdanov, and the Syrian ambassador to the country, Riyadh Haddad.

    The officials also shared the view that a political settlement to the crisis in the Middle eastern state must be reached as soon as possible based on the Geneva Communique, which calls for a peace conference on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

    Monday, September 16


    19:06 GMT: Russia expects the draft UNSC resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, which is now being prepared by France, Britain and the US, will be based on agreements reached at the meeting between Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

    “I hope, this draft resolution will be based on what was agreed in Geneva and will not contain elements they [France, Britain and the US] sometimes introduce in public statements,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

    18:21 GMT: The inspection team concluded that the munitions linked to one of the impact sites, called Site 1 in the report, matched types of the Soviet-made M14 artillery rocket, “with either an original or improvised warhead.” The UN experts suggested that based on the “orientation and impact craters” and other damage in the area, the rockets were fired from an unspecified area to the northwest.

    18:36 GMT: After the presentation of the UN report, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, said that she was convinced, based on the technical details from the inspectors, the weapons belonged to forces loyal to President Assad’s regime.

    “Now the mandate of the UN chemical weapons team was, as you well know, not to investigate capability. But the technical details of the UN report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack,
    ” Power told reporters at a news conference.

    16:23 GMT: The UN Secretary General said the conclusions drawn in the report are “overwhelming and indisputable”.
    “The facts speak for themselves,” he added.

    Ban called the attack in Ghouta “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja in 1988.”

    15:35 GMT: Turkish warplanes have shot down a Syrian helicopter after it crossed 2 km into Turkish air space, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc, has admitted.

    “It was continuously warned by our air defense but as the violation continued, it fell on Syrian soil at 2:25 pm [1125 GMT], having been hit by missiles from our planes,” he told assembled journalists.

    Arinc said that the fate of the pilots was unclear. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based NGO, claimed that one of the men has been captured by anti-Assad rebels.

    12:50 GMT: The head of the UN panel on war crimes in Syria claims that 14 cases of chemical attacks are currently being investigated.

    12:40 GMT: The US, UK and France are pushing for more aid to the Syrian rebels, while also pressing President Assad to deliver on his promise of handing the chemical weapons arsenal over to international hands.

    But they still argue that no end to the conflict is in sight, unless Assad leaves.

    08:44 GMT: France, Britain and the US will press for a strong UN Security Council resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, the French president’s office says. They want the document to include detailed and binding dates for the planned dismantling of the stockpile.

    01:23 GMT: A Russian newspaper Kommersant has published a response from Rep. Steve Israel to President Vladimir Putin’s editorial in the New York Times last week that stirred a lot of controversy among US officials while generally getting support among the American public.

    In his letter Israel says that if diplomacy fails the US should act to prevent the spread of chemical weapons “without boots on the ground and in a limited, focused and swift way.” He argues that “Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly” and that “we don’t want Syria’s chemical weapons to fall into the wrong hands -including some elements of the rebel forces in Syria.”

    In regards to Putin’s comment on American exceptionalism, Israel wrote:

    “If your leaders are serious about truly creating a regimen to control and contain chemical weapons in Syria under international supervision in a transparent, verifiable and effective way, then we will be able to add this to the latest example of exceptional achievements partnered by our two nations.”

    Sunday, September 15

    19:28 GMT: On Monday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will present a report by the UN team on the chemical weapons in Syria.

    Ban earlier revealed the report will give “overwhelming” confirmation that arms of mass destruction were used in an attack near Damascus on August 21.

    “Therefore, I’m sure that there will be surely the process of accountability when everything is over,” he said.

    However, the UN team is not expected to say who was responsible for the attack as it was only tasked to either confirm or deny the use of chemical agents.

    19:15 GMT: Iran has information that it’s the rebels, not the government forces, who used chemical weapon in Syria, according to Iran’s new Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

    “The chemical weapons are still in the possession of extremists and terrorists in Syria, which threatens not only Syria,” Zariff told Lebanese TV channel, Al-Mayadin.

    Iran condemns the use of weapons of mass destruction – no matter, who resorted to using it and who suffered from it, the Foreign Minister added.

    19:02 GMT: French President Francois Hollande has said military action against the Assad regime in Syria is still an option. France insists the UNSC resolution on Syria should include sanctions in case Damascus failed to hand over it chemical weapons to international control. However, Hollande did not specify what sanctions.

    “There should be the possibility of using military force, otherwise the resolution will not have power,”Hollande said.

    Speaking on French prime-time television, he said resolution could be voted by the end of the week.

    13:10 GMT: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed the country’s hope that the Russian-US deal for bringing Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal under international control would result in its “complete destruction”, Reuters reports.

    “We hope the understandings reached between the United States and Russia regarding the Syrian chemical weapons will yield results,” the PM said, speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Middle East war.

    “These understandings will be judged by their result – the complete destruction of all of the chemical weapons stockpiles that the Syrian regime has used against its own people,” Netanyahu added.

    12:26 GMT: The Arab League welcomed Saturday’s agreement between the US and Russia to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile by mid-2014 in exchange for military non-intervention, AFP reports.

    07:27 GMT: Syrian opposition group National Coaltion of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces demanded that the international community forced the Syrian Army to stop using its air superiority, after Damascus agreed to dispose of its chemical weapons stockpile.

    “The prohibition of chemical weapons, the use of which has left more than 1,400 civilians dead, [should] be extended to the use of ballistic missiles and aircraft against urban areas,” the coalition said in a statement.

    07:00 GMT: Iran said the deal between Russia and the US for the removal of Syria’s chemical arsenal was a sign of “rationality” in American behavior, Iranian ISNA news agency quotes.

    Ali Larijani, a speaker at the Iranian parliament, spoke at a Saturday news conference, saying that a US strike would only result in larger regional conflict and would constitute a breach of itnernational law, and that the US has realised this.

    “We are hopeful that American politicians have some rationality so they avoid extremist behavior, and the events of the last few days and the decisions that have been taken indicate this rationality,” he said.

    Iran's Parliament speaker Ali Larijani.(Reuters / Faisal Mahmood)Iran’s Parliament speaker Ali Larijani.(Reuters / Faisal Mahmood)

    5:37 GMT: US Secretary of State John Kerry is to make a brief stop in Jerusalem on Sunday for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the US-Russia deal to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

    He will then travel to Paris for further discussion on Syria with his French and British counterparts Laurent Fabius and William Hague, respectively. Kerry is also scheduled to meet with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Saud Al Faisal, while in Paris.

    04:53 GMT: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has welcomed the deal between Russia and the United States concerning the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, AFP reports.

    “The Chinese side welcomes the general agreement between the US and Russia. This agreement will enable tensions in Syria to be eased,” he said during the visit of his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

    The French FM, who arrived to Beijing Sunday morning, called this “a significant step forward”, adding that “we must move forward on the basis of this general agreement.”

    Saturday, September 14

    21:03 GMT: Syria has welcomed the agreement reached in Geneva between the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry.  In a statement by the Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, Damascus has assured the implementation of the deal  as the “sole exit” from the crisis, expressing Syria’s welcome of the ”credible international initiatives, first and foremost the Geneva 2 conference.”

    20:30 GMT: The Syrian National Coalition has appointed a new interim Prime Minister. The main Western-supported opposition alliance has named Ahmad Saleh Touma, a dentist and a political activist, to be their leader during a meeting in Istanbul.  Touma is the second politician to fill the leader’s post after Ghassan Hitto resigned in July.

    “Syria will be the republic of humans where there will be no place for killers and criminals,”
     Touma said shortly after his appointment.

    20:12 GMT:
     NATO has welcomed the breakthrough in negotiations on Syria, praising the diplomatic effort of the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

    “This is an important step towards the goal of ensuring the swift, secure and verifiable elimination of Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons. Full and unreserved Syrian compliance is now key,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

    19:58 GMT: In its first reaction to a deal struck between John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Iran – the main ally of the Syrian government said that Washington now has no excuse to attack Syria.

    “The new situation means in fact that any pretext for the United States and certain countries to engage in military action against Syria has been removed,”
     Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister said.

    19:35 GMT: US Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have criticized Russian-American agreement on the Syrian chemical weapons calling it a start down a “diplomatic blind alley,”reports Reuters.

    The senior lawmakers said in a statement that the deal reached between Lavrov and Kerry in Geneva will afford Syria’s Assad months to “delay and deceive” while more people die in the Syrian war.

    It requires a willful suspension of disbelief to see this agreement as anything other than the start of a diplomatic blind alley, and the Obama administration is being led into it by Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin,” the statement reads.

    U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Senator John McCain.(Reuters / Mike Theiler)U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Senator John McCain.(Reuters / Mike Theiler)

    18:40 GMT: The UN has confirmed receiving the documents that Syria submitted for joining the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The Convention will enter into force for the Syrian Arab Republic on the 30th day following the date of deposit of this instrument of accession, namely on 14 October 2013,” the UN press office said in a statement, Reuters cites.

    18:00 GMT: The European Union said Saturday it welcomed the Russian-US deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and offered to help in implementing the agreement.

    “I welcome the agreement reached today between the United States and the Russian Federation to ensure the swift and secure destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and programme,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

    16:10 GMT: US President Barack Obama has said he welcomes progress reached between Moscow and Washington on Syrian chemical weapons. However, if diplomacy fails the US remains prepared to act. 

    15:55 GMT: Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba, has applauded a Russian-led proposal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. The former leader wrote “the intelligent Russian initiative” meant “the risk that the conflict explodes with its lamentable consequences seems to have diminished.” 

    The US and Russia reached an agreement Saturday at talks in Geneva to implement the plan.

    15:49 GMT: US military has not made any changes to force posture following the American-Russian agreement on Syria, the Pentagon says as cited by Reuters.

    The credible threat of military force has been key to driving diplomatic progress, and it’s important that the Assad regime lives up to its obligations under the framework agreement,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

    15:01 GMT: There are 45 facilities in Syria that develop or store chemical weapons,believe US experts according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

    “Most likely, there are 45 facilities associated with the chemical weapons’ program “, the newspaper quoted an unnamed US official. The official added that the US and Russia agree on the fact that the stockpile of chemical weapons in Syria is estimated at about one million tons.

    14:46 GMT: A representative of the Syrian top-brass has dismissed as groundless earlier statements by the head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) regarding the alleged moving of part of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal to neighboring Iraq and Lebanon.

    This is an absolutely groundless lie,” a senior member of the Armed forces told RIA Novosti.

    13:23 GMT:

    Have spoken to Secretary Kerry. UK welcomes US-Russia agreement on #Syriachemical weapons. Urgent work on implementation now to take place

    — William Hague (@WilliamJHague) September 14, 2013


    13:06 GMT: The head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has accused the government of President Bashar Assad of moving part of its chemical weapons to neighboring Iraq and Lebanon over the last few days in a bit to avoid detection by international inspectors.

    Damascus did not immediately reply to the accusations.

    FSA chief General Selim Idriss earlier in the day refused a US-Russian deal to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international control so as to avert the potential of a Western strike against the country.

    “The Russian-American initiative does not concern us. It only seeks to gain time,” Idriss said.

    “We completely ignore this initiative and will continue to fight to bring down the regime,”
     he told a press conference Saturday in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

    Idris considers the US-Russia plan as a blow to rebel forces, who have been battling for two-and-a-half-years to topple the Assad government.

    12:57 GMT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has promised his full support in implementing the Geneva agreement reached Saturday by Russia and the US on eliminating Syrian chemical weapons.

    12:42 GMT: France has welcomed the deal between Russia and the United States on destroying Syria’s chemical weapons.

    The draft agreement reached in Geneva about eliminating the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons is an important step forward,” Reuters reported French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as saying in a statement.

    11:43 GMT: The President of Syria’s Supreme Military Opposition has said the Russian initiative on the Assad government’s chemical weapons will not solve the conflict that has raged for two years.

    10:41 GMT: The US is ready for military action if diplomacy fails on Syria, President Obama said.

    Friday, September 13

    20:50 GMT: The United States has accepted that Russia will block any efforts at the UN Security Council to authorize military action against the Syrian government, senior White House officials conceded Friday, AFP reports.

    The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a UN report on a chemical weapons attack that occurred in a Damascus suburb will chip away at Moscow’s claim rebel forces were responsible. They admitted, however, that the new findings set to be published Monday will do little to persuade the Kremlin that military action is the right course.

    The officials maintain the US still has the option of acting unilaterally or cobbling together a coalition if the Russian backed initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control falls through. They further said Western powers would beef up a draft resolution against Syria with tougher sanctions, but not military action,in the hope that Moscow will drop its veto.

    20:40 GMT: The United States and Russia will enter their third day of negotiations on ending Syria’s chemical weapons program, a US official said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry will join negotiators before holding a joint press conference later on Saturday.

    “This morning’s meeting has started,” Reuters cites the US official as saying.

    Both sides view the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles as a necessary precursor to finding a political solution in a country that has embroiled in civil war for over two years.  

    22:14 GMT: Republican Senator John McCain said he would love to write a response to Vladimir Putin’s recent Op-Ed in the New York Times and his spokesman, Brian Rogers, confirmed that McCain will submit a piece in the Russian newspaper Pravda.

    “We would be only pleased to publish a story penned by such a prominent politician as John McCain,”Dmitry Sudakov, the English editor of Pravda, told Foreign Policy.

    McCain’s submission in both Russian and English is expected by next Wednesday at the latest.

    18:45 GMT: France, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have agreed to strengthen the Syrian opposition in its battle with President Assad.The Elysee said in a statement Friday that President Hollande and the ministers from the three countries“agreed on the need to strengthen international support for the democratic opposition.”18:30 GMT: President Barak Obama said Friday, after a meeting in the White House with the emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, that he hopes talks on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons will be successful but he will insist that any deal is “verifiable and enforceable”.18:15 GMT: The US State Department said Friday it is confident that the UN report on the 21 August chemical weapons attack in Damascus will say that they were used but is unlikely to assign blame.18:10 GMT: The Russian Foreign Ministry announced Friday that US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi agreed at a meeting in Geneva that only a political solution will end the civil war in Syria.The ministry also said that they had agreed to meet in New York at the end of the month for more talks on Syria on the sidelines of UN General Assembly meeting.18:00 GMT: The French, British and US foreign ministers will meet for lunch in Paris Monday to discuss the Syrian crisis, France’s foreign ministry announced Friday.17:35 GMT: Speaking by phone to AP from the Netherlands the head of the UN chemical weapons inspection team, Ake Sellstrom, says he has completed his report on Syria and will deliver it to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the weekend.“It’s done, but when to present it is up to the Secretary General,” he said.17:30 GMT: A UN report will show that chemical weapons were used on August 21 in Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday.Ban’s comments at the UN Development Forum in New York said that the inspectors’ report will be released “as soon as possible.”“I believe that the report will be an overwhelming, overwhelming report that chemical weapons (were) used, even though I cannot publicly say at this time before I receive this report,” he said.A UN team has been analyzing evidence gathered in Syria about the attack, which the US government says was launched by Assad’s forces and killed 1,400 people.However, the chief UN weapons inspector, after confirming to AP that the report was completed, declined to comment on its conclusions.Ban said he was “very much troubled” by divisions over Syria among members of the US Security Council, which has been unable to adopt any resolutions on Syria during the now 2 1/2-year civil war.He said that if the deadlock at the UN continues, it will represent a “failure.” Ban said that Syrian President Bashar Assad had “committed many crimes against humanity” and should be held accountable when the conflict is over.16:50 GMT: Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, argued against premature forecasts and speculation about what the international community would do to resolve the Syrian crisis.“Any arguments outside of the current dialogue in Geneva between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry should not have the right to exist,” Peskov said. “The stakes are so high, so ghostly is the glimmer of hope, that it is better to refrain from commenting on the modalities of possible proposals.”
    16:48 GMT: Egypt supports neither of the parties in the Syrian conflict, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told RIA Novosti news agency, but instead is calling for a political solution to the crisis within the framework of the so-called “Geneva-2” peace conference.”We want to achieve a political solution to this problem based on the principles of Geneva-2 that will preserve the integrity of the Syrian state,” Fahmy said.“We have no authority, and we do not seek to support any particular government there, it is a Syrian decision. We want to preserve Syria, a state that is threatened with break-up. We have supported the Syrian revolution in the sense of the aspirations of the Syrians to a better, free and democratic life. We have condemned many steps of the Syrian government, but we are against the division of Syria, its division on religious principles. There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis.”Fahmy added: “The former president [Mohamed Morsi] said that he wanted to start a holy war in Syria. We’re not going to wage it. This is an irresponsible statement that does not correspond with our national interests.”

    16:20 GMT: Al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria have declared an offensive against two other insurgent factions in the Syrian opposition. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have accused each other of attacks and collaborating with the government. Analysts have reported an inclease in clashes between rebels in recent months mainly over territory and the spoils of war.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

    16:15 GMT: UN chief Ban Ki Moon has said that Syrian President Assad has committed many crimes against humanity.

    Referring to a UN report into the use of chemical weapons he said, “I believe that the report will be an overwhelming report that chemical weapons (were) used even though I cannot publicly say at this time before i receive the report.”

    16:00 GMT: The UN has said that Syria’s application to the chemical weapons treaty is not complete. The UN has asked Syria for more information in order to join the chemical weapons convention. The UN declined to say what information was actually missing.

    15:50 GMT: A new report from the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria has documented the brutal tactics used by the Syrian government are using against civilians, including electrocution, rape and getting medical professionals to torture hospital detainees. It also fingers the rebels for using brutal methods but to a lesser degree.

    15:45 GMT: Human Rights Watch accused Syrian government forces and pro-regime militias Friday of carrying out summary executions in predominately Sunni Muslim towns along the Mediterranean coast in May in which at least 248 people died.

    15:40 GMT: Around 3,300 Syrians have arrived in Italy by boat over recent weeks the UN refugee agency said Friday. Many have come from troubled Egypt, where they at first found a haven from violence and bloodshed.

    15:33 GMT: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad had requested technical assistance in joining the group.

    12:11 GMT: The UN has asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry to help a team investigating human rights violations get into Syria.

    “The Human Rights Council has repeatedly called upon the Syrian authorities to grant access to the members of the commission of inquiry,” wrote U.N. Human Rights Council president, Remigiusz Henczel, in a letter to the two diplomats, adding that previous requests had fallen on deaf ears.


    12:00 GMT: Unnamed US officials talking to the Wall Street Journal allege that a secret Syrian military outfit has been dividing the countries chemical weapons arsenal between up to 50 different sites. The top secret group, known as Unit 450, has been moving stocks around for months in the hope of avoiding detection, in the event of US airstrikes.

    09:14 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry have agreed to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 28 to further discuss kick starting the stalled Geneva II peace conference on Syria.

    Speaking alongside Kerry and Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, said ongoing work to hand to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control was a necessary step for convening the Geneva II conference.

    Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (R) speaks on September 13, 2013 during a press conference with United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry after their high-stakes talks on Syria's chemical weapons at the UN headquarters in Geneva. (AFP Photo/Larry Downing)Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (R) speaks on September 13, 2013 during a press conference with United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry after their high-stakes talks on Syria’s chemical weapons at the UN headquarters in Geneva. (AFP Photo/Larry Downing)

    “We look forward to working on the chemical weapons [issue] in Syria. This is extremely important in itself, and it is important for us in trying to successfully organize the Geneva II conference,” Brahimi said.

    Lavrov and Kerry both expressed hopes that talks on Syria’s chemical weapons would revive efforts at coming to a political settlement in the country.

    08:45 GMT: Iran has backed Russia’s initiative to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and the decision by Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention

    “We would like to support all these efforts … the Russian initiative and Syria’s decision to join the convention focused on chemical weapons,” Reuters cites President Hassan Rouhani as saying at a summit of a regional security group led by China and Russia.

    08:25 GMT: China’s Foreign Ministry welcomed on Friday a decision by Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    Damascus has promised to submit all of the documents to the United Nations needed to join the treaty over the next several days. A month after signing the convention, Syria says it will hand over all the information regarding its chemical weapons stockpiles to relevant international bodies.

    Syrian President Bashar Assad said his decision to place the country’s chemical weapons under international control was prompted by Russia, and a US threat to attack the country following an August 21 attack in a Damascus suburb did not “influence the decision.”

    08:16 GMT: Secretary of State John Kerry said talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday night regarding the ongoing crisis in Syria were “constructive.”

    Kerry, who met with Lavrov and Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, kicked off the first round of negotiations regarding Russia’s initiative to see Syria’s chemical weapons brought under international control.

    Lavrov, who also met with his Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrisov in Astana on Thursday, said “I’m positive there is a chance for peace in Syria, and it cannot be missed.”

    “It is necessary ensure Syria’s adherence to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which would entail a declaration of Syria’s chemical weapons storage sites and the disclosure of its chemical [weapons] program,”
     he said.

    Russia remains opposed to efforts within the UN Security Council to force Syria to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal under the threat of force.

    07:12 GMT: Russia welcomes Syria’s decision to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is aimed at prohibiting chemical weapons use, President Putin said.

    Putin said, “I think we should welcome this decision of the Syrian leadership and I would like to hope that this will be an important step in dealing with the crisis.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) at the 13th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Bishkek. (RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) at the 13th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Bishkek. (RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)

    Russia’s President stated, “This confirms the serious intentions of the Syrian partners.” The leader underlined, “We consider intolerable any foreign military intervention into this country without the UN Security Council sanctions.” He also stressed, “The efforts that have been recently made have permitted to decrease the direct threat of a military operation.”

    Thursday, September 12

    23:15 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet in Geneva for talks on Syria on Friday, a diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

    20:14 GMT: After the UN accepted documents from Damascus concerning Syria joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, Syria has “legally speaking” become a full member of the treaty, Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said.

    “Legally speaking Syria has become, starting today, a full member of the convention,” Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told reporters in New York.

    18:30 GMT: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeated the view of the Pentagon that Russia is “isolated and alone” in denying Assad has used chemical weapons.

    17:55 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said now that Syria has agreed to Moscow’s proposal to put its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, there is a chance to convene the peace talks on Syria, Geneva-2, that will help end the ongoing conflict.

    We proceed from the premise that the solution to this problem makes any military strike against Syria unnecessary,” he said at a media conference in Geneva, ahead of talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

    17:50 GMT: The US says there is no change in its position that Bashar al-Assad absolutely must not be part of Syria’s political future, despite Washington’s willingness to work with Assad on chemical weapons removal.

    17:45 GMT: The US says it accepts that the removal of chemical weapons from Syria is complicated and will “take some time”.

    17:40 GMT: The US has said that it will not allow Syria to use accession to the anti-chemical weapons treaty as a stalling tactic and that the option of military strikes is still on the table.

    16:30 GMT: A spokesman for the UN has said that they have received documents from Damascus concerning Syria joining the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Convention came into force on 29 April 1997 and is signed by 189 countries.

    “In the past few hours we have received a document from the government of Syria that is being translated, which is to be an accession document concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters

    16:00 GMT: The US has said that Russia is “isolated and alone” in blaming the Syrian rebels for the Chemical attack in a Damascus suburb that killed almost 1500 people on the August 21.

    “Russia is isolated and alone in blaming the opposition. We’ve seen no credible reporting that the opposition has used chemical weapons in Syria,” Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters Thursday.

    15:30 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in Geneva for talks with Secretary of State John Kerry. The US President, Barak Obama, has said he hopes the outcome will be positive, according to a statement issued by the White House Thursday.

    14:30 GMT: Syria will start passing information on its chemical weapons to international organizations a month after it signs the Chemical Weapons Convention, President Bashar Assad said in an interviewwith Rossiya-24 TV channel.

    It does not mean though that mean the country “will sign the documents, fulfill the obligations and that’s it,” Assad said. “It’s a bilateral process aimed, first of all, at making the US stop pursuing its policy of threats against Syria.”  He added that a lot would also depend on the extent to which Russia’s proposal is accepted.

    No country in the Middle East, including Israel, should possess weapons of mass destruction, Assad said, adding that removing WMD would protect the region and the world from devastating and expensive wars in future.

    11:30 GMT: The European parliament has passed a resolution welcoming the proposal for Syria to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control. The document urges a similar UN resolution to be passed in order to ensure Syria’s compliance with its pledge to cooperate with the international community.  

    11:15 GMT: Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague says any Syrian chemical weapons deal must identify all such arms and ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands, according to Reuters.

    11:00 GMT: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan says he does not believe that Damascus is sincere in its pledge to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons to international control.

    Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP Photo)Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AFP Photo)

    The Assad regime has not lived up to any of its pledges, it has won time for new massacres and continues to do so,” Erdogan said in a speech, as cited by Reuters. “We are doubtful that the promises regarding chemical weapons will be met.”

    10:48 GMT: Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, said the US’s participation in international military campaigns has only been making the country weaker.

    All of the recent wars have made the US weaker, not stronger. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand: a new war will once again hit America itself,” Pushkov tweeted.

    10:40 GMT: Prior to his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry due later in the day, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomed Syria’s readiness to place its chemical weapons under international control.

    I am certain that there’s a chance for peace in Syria,” said Lavrov at a meeting with students in Kazakhstan. He added the military intervention would only further destabilize Syria and the region, according to Interfax news agency.

    The US has called on Syria to quickly declare the size and scope of its chemical weapons.

    It’s doable, but difficult,” a US official was cited by AFP.

    7:40 GMT: The primary western-backed Syrian rebel leadership council has rejected a Russian initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, the group said in a video statement.

    “We announce our definitive rejection of the Russian initiative to place chemical weapons under international custody,” Reuters cites Salim Idriss, head of the rebel Supreme Military Council, as saying in a video posted online late on Wednesday.

    On Monday, Russia called on Syria to turn over its chemical weapons for destruction and sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention so as to avert Western military intervention in the country. The Syrian leadership agreed to the Russian initiative later that evening.

    06:21 GMT: Russian and US chemical weapons experts are set to participate in negotiations between Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The talks are to focus on the chemical weapons crisis in Syria.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov(L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov(L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

    05:34 GMT: A senior Israeli official has said that Russia’s plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria could be a solution to the conflict. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the international community would need a guarantee from Moscow that “Syria is cleansed of chemical weaponry.”

    “I cannot say that we have full faith, but if this Russian proposal … will really remove the chemical weaponry from Syria, first of all, and will then dismantle it … then this is a way to end this tragedy and a way to end this threat too,”
     Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Israel’s Army Radio.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to be “stripped of its chemical weapons” on Wednesday, but stopped short of openly voicing his support of the Russian initiative. Damascus has accepted the proposal and agreed to hand over its chemical weapons stash to international control.

    01:55 GMT: Over the past two weeks the CIA has started delivering weapons to the Syrian opposition, the Washington Post cites US officials and Syrian figures. Vehicles, communications equipment and advanced combat medical kits also been given to Syria by the US State Department.

    The arms shipments, which include light weapons and munitions, started arriving in Syria at the time when President Obama was expected to order missile strikes against Damascus.

    01:17 GMT: The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from all over the world, will result in more innocent victims and escalation of the conflict beyond Syria’s borders,President Putin wrote in the New York Times.

    In a lengthy piece titled A Plea for Caution from Russia, the President reminded that the United Nations was created as a universal instrument for preventing devastating wars and that taking military action without Security Council authorization would be against international law.

    “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States,” Putin added.

    Wednesday, September 11

    20:32 GMT: The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have started a closed-door meeting on the situation in Syria. The meeting where the envoys are expected to discuss the French proposed resolution, it follows a gathering of representatives from Britain, France and the US earlier on Wednesday.

    18:50 GMT: Russia has submitted to the UN Security Council documents providing evidence that chemical weapons were used by rebel forces, Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Aleksandr Zasypkin told Al Mayadeen channel, reports RIA Novosti.

    18:41 GMT: The US Administration insists that Syrian President Assad should resign from power, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says. She added that this “political decision” would require a dialogue between Syria’s conflicting sides.  

    17:46 GMT: American arms experts are going to Geneva with US Secretary of State John Kerry, where he will meet on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for talks on Syria, AFP reports.

    The talks are expected to last for at least two days, possibly more, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a media briefing, Reuters reports.

    While in Geneva, Kerry also plans to meet with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

    16:53 GMT: The five permanent UN Security Council members – Russia, China, Britain, France and the US – will hold a closed-door meeting to discuss France’s draft resolution on chemical weapons in Syria, a UN source told Itar-Tass.

    16:20 GMT: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged the US and Russia to tackle the obstacles to delivering aid in Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are to meet in Geneva on Thursday to discuss Russia’s plan to transfer Syrian chemical weapons to international control.

    Both Syrian government forces and rebels are preventing medical assistance from reaching the sick and wounded, Reuters cited Red Cross president Peter Maurer as saying.

    We need political and diplomatic support for independent humanitarian action,” Maurer told journalists.

    14:53 GMT: Russia has formally handed over a plan for “establishing international control of chemical weapons in Syria” to the United States, Russia’s Interfax and Itar-Tass news agencies reported, citing sources.

    “We are hoping to discuss it in Geneva,”
     a source in the Russian delegation said.

    14:10 GMT: Israeli president Shimon Peres said he trusts the Russian and American presidents regarding a deal to reach a peaceful solution to the Syrian chemical weapon problem.

    I know both President Obama and President Putin, and I am convinced that if an agreement is reached it will be reliable, explicit and significant,” he said at an Israeli Navy graduation ceremony, reports The Times of Israel.

    Diplomacy is always preferable to war but the main issue at present is integrity and in particular the integrity of the #Syrian regime.

    — PresidentPeres (@PresidentPeres) September 11, 2013

    12:03 GMT: NATO supports efforts to control and eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, an official in the alliance told Itar-Tass, commenting on Russia’s proposal to Damascus to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control.

    “Efforts to ensure the control of and ultimate destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons are positive and we support the UN in this area; however, the details of these proposals are not yet clear,” the source said. “The international community has a responsibility to make sure that the longstanding norm and practice against the use of chemical weapons is maintained, and violators are held accountable.

    11:23 GMT: Syria’s National Coordination Committee (NCC) has suggested placing chemical weapons under Russia’s control, the rebel Syrian organization said in a statement.

    The NCC said that it has submitted its proposal to the Russian ambassador to Beirut as well as to the foreign ministries of Egypt and Iraq.  The organization – which is at odds over a number of key issues with another opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC) – also called for the so-called “Geneva-2” peace talks on Syria to begin immediately.

    07:46 GMT: Russia has handed the evidence over to the UN Security Council, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, Aleksey Pushkov, stressed.

    “We have the basis to think not only the Syrian government has them [chemical weapons]…but we suspect that those weapons have been used by the rebels several times,” he indicated.

    01:43 GMT: Addressing the nation, the US president has asked Congress to postpone a vote on military action in Syria as diplomacy is pursued to put chemical weapons beyond the regime’s reach, but called on the military to maintain pressure on the Syrian government.

    Tuesday, September 10

    20:19 GMT: A total of 33 countries have now signed a joint statement on Syria condemning the chemical attack on August 21 and blaming the Syrian government for it, the White House said. Eight more countries voiced their support of the “efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.”

    20:07 GMT: US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva to discuss Syria’s chemical weapons on Thursday, US officials told Reuters. Lavrov is expected to share Russia’s proposals on securing Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control for review by the US administration.

    19:14 GMT: The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Secretary of State John Kerry and Minister Sergey Lavrov have agreed on a possible bilateral meeting soon to discuss initiative on Syria’s chemical weapons.

    “The two have agreed to work together, including the possibility of holding a bilateral meeting in the coming days to discuss concrete ways of fulfilling the initiative of putting Syrian chemical weapons under international control,” the Foreign Ministry said following a phone call between Lavrov and Kerry.

    Russia’s proposal to remove Syrian chemical weapons is expected to be formally sent to the US later on Tuesday, John Kerry said after the call.

    19:03 GMT: UN Security Council closed-door meeting called by Russia has been canceled, according to the Council’s current president Australia’s Ambassador to the UN, Gary Quinlan.

    Following withdrawal of the request for consultations, Security Council meeting scheduled for 4pm will not proceed #OzPrez #UNSC

    — Gary Quinlan (@AustraliaUN) September 10, 2013

    18:45 GMT: President Obama has reportedly called on the US Senate to postpone the vote on possible military actions in Syria until the diplomatic solution is discussed, according Politico newspaper which cited a source from the closed-door meeting.

    18:43 GMT: John Kerry said that any Syria weapons deal must be struck in a binding UN Security Council resolution.

    17:20 GMT: Barack Obama and Francois Hollande have refused to rule out the possibility of a military strike against Syria, following a telephone conversation.

    “The heads of state highlighted their preference for a diplomatic solution but they also underlined the importance of keeping all options open,” said a statement from Hollande’s press office.

    17:15 GMT: Moscow has called an emergency closed-door consultations at the UN Security Council to discuss its chemical weapon removal plan. The round-table is expected to begin at 8 pm GMT Tuesday.

    16:45 GMT: Moscow will propose a draft statement by the chairman of the UN Security Council, supporting the initiative to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons to international control, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

    The issue was discussed during a phone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.

    “[Lavrov] said that Russia, on its part, is submitting a draft statement for the UN Security Council’s chairman, welcoming the… initiative and calling on the UN Secretary General, the general director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and all the interested parties to make efforts to facilitate the implementation of this proposal,” the ministry’s statement said.

    During the call, Lavrov said described as “unacceptable” a French proposal to adopt a Security Council resolution blaming President Assad’s government for the chemical weapons attack.

    15:32 GMT: With regards to the size of a US strike on Syria, Sec. Kerry told lawmakers in the House that the White House wants a limited strike that would pale in comparison to other recent military operations. “It’s not Iraq, it’s not Iran, it’s not a years’ war,” he said.

    “I have said that this will be meaningful, it will be serious, the Assad regime will feel it,” Kerry said, “…but compared to Iraq, Kosovo, Libya—it’s small. It is not any of those things.”

    15:28 GMT: Britain and France, along with the US, are expected to table a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons to the UN Security Council later Tuesday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said.

    “If this is a serious proposal then we should act accordingly and I think a UN Security Council resolution is a good idea,” Cameron said.

    14:47 GMT: The US is waiting to see a real and verifiable plan from Russia for removing chemical weapons from Syria, but it won’t wait long and won’t allow President Bashar Assad to use it as a delaying tactic, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

    “We’re waiting for that proposal. But we’re not waiting for long,” Kerry told a hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. “President Obama will take a hard look at it. But it has to be swift, it has to be real, it has to be verifiable. It can’t be a delaying tactic.”

    US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks as US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) watches while testifying on Syria to the House Armed Services Committee on September 10, 2013 in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.(AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan) US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks as US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) watches while testifying on Syria to the House Armed Services Committee on September 10, 2013 in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.(AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

    14:46 GMT: Answering to how America should proceed with regards to a strike on Syria following news of a possible compromise brokered by Russia, Sec. Kerry said, “The use of force should absolutely not be off the table.”

    14:38 GMT: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told representatives in Congress that a US strike on Syria, as outlined by President Barack Obama, would degrade the Assad regime’s chemical weapons capabilities without jeopardizing America’s security interests any further.

    Hagel also said that authorizing the use of military force would not open the door for an indefinite operation overseas. “We will not send America’s sons and daughters to fight another country’s civil war,” Hagel said. “We are not contemplating any kind of open ended intervention or an operation involving American ground troops. A political solution created by the Syrian people is the only way to ultimately end the violence in Syria.”

    14:25 GMT: US Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking before a House panel in an attempt to garner congressional approval for a strike against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. “Thirty-one countries support US holding Syria accountable,” Kerry told lawmakers. Should the US not launch a military strike, he cautioned, America’s “ambivalence” and “weakness” would not be projected onto its adversaries.

    The risk of not acting is much greater than the risk of acting,” Kerry said.

    14:02 GMT: The US Senate may not vote this week on the authorization for military strike against Syria, congressional aides said. Congressional leaders also said they want to wait for the public’s response to President Barack Obama’s address to the American people, which is expected Tuesday night. The House Democratic lawmaker said that White House aides told House Democrats that diplomacy, rather than military action, is now the priority on Syria.

    14:01 GMT: As international attention switched to the discussions between Russian and Syria, activists said that Syrian government warplanes have bombed rebellious districts of Damascus for the first time since the August 21 poison gas attack.

    Rebels said the air strikes were a demonstration that the government now believed the West had lost its nerve.

    “By sending the planes back, the regime is sending the message that it no longer feels international pressure,” Reuters reported Wasim Ahmad, a rebel activist in the Mouadamiya district of Damascus, as saying.

    13:37 GMT: Syria said it has signed “major contracts” with Iran that would cover its needs for food, medical and other supplies, state television in Damascus reported.

    11:45 GMT: British Prime Minister David Cameron says serious questions need to be answered about the Russian proposal for Syrian chemical weapons handover, his spokesman said. Meanwhile Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK has to “make sure that this is not just a device to fool the world.”

    11:35 GMT: The Arab League supports Russia’s initiative on putting over Syrian chemical weapons stockpile under international control, the organization’s chief Nabil el-Araby said, according to AFP. He told reporters in Cairo the League will “soon issue a statement announcing its support officially” of the Russian plan.

    11:05 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama discussed the idea of putting Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal under international control at the time of the G20 summit, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov told Reuters, without giving further details.

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes US President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg.(AFP Photo / Yuri Kadobnov)Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes US President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg.(AFP Photo / Yuri Kadobnov)

    09:53 GMT: Iran now has strong proof of terrorists using chemical weapons in August’s attack, the country’s deputy foreign minister said in Moscow today.

    “As far as chemical weapons use by terrorist groups is concerned, we, together with Russia, have strong proof… some of it is obvious. For example, in December of last year we received information that two capsules containing sarin gas are being transported inside Syria by terrorists.”

    09:49 GMT: Despite news that France is on-board with the decision to place Syria’s chemical arsenal under international control, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at a press conference on Tuesday that this does not exclude the possibility of a military strike on the country, RIA Novosti says.

    “Following Russia’s lead, we saw our determination to act supplemented by a new path. We will follow this path, but we do not wish for it to become an evasive maneuver. Therefore, all options remain on the table.”

    09:35 GMT: Tehran says it is certain that the Syrian regime has not participated in August’s chemical attack. This comes from Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Hosseyn Amir Abdollahian’s statement in Moscow.

    “We believe the Syrian government has not used chemical weapons [and that] Damascus will give the utmost consideration to any political decision,” the Deputy FM said.

    09:30 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that Russia, together with Syria, is working on a concrete plan for putting its chemical arsenal under control.

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Libyan counterpart Mohammed Abdulaziz in Moscow, September 10, 2013.(Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Libyan counterpart Mohammed Abdulaziz in Moscow, September 10, 2013.(Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

    09:25 GMT: According to AFP, France is to propose its own Syria resolution at the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

    09:20 GMT: China promises to back Russia’s proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal over for international control – Reuters reports.

    GMT 07:50: Members of a UN human rights conference in Geneva were presented accounts of international experts, Syrian public figures and Russian news reporters covering the Syrian conflict, which back Russia’s opposition to the US plans for a military intervention in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.

    The speakers argued that the suspected sarin gas attack near Damascus on August 21 was likely a provocation of the rebel forces and that a military action against the President Bashar Assad government will likely result in civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe affecting the entire region.

    Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Shaam News Network)Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Shaam News Network)

    Evidence for the Russian case, including numerous eyewitness reports and results of investigations of the chemical weapon incident by activists, were handed over to a UN commission of experts probing the Syrian crisis, the ministry said.

    Monday, September 9

    23:14 GMT: Hardline Republican Senator John McCain said the US should get on board with Russia’s proposal for Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community.

    “If there is an international [agreement], if you have the guidelines, the requirements, the reporting, the dates— all of that guided by a very detailed resolution to the UN Security Council, I think that you can’t say no to it even though I’m very dubious that this is a real proposal,”
     McCain told Time magazine. “I think it’s just a stalling tactic but to reject it out of hand is obviously not something that you can do.”

    22:19 GMT: President Obama said he is willing to “absolutely” put on pause the limited strike option on Syria if President Bashar Assad accepts Russia’s proposal to hand over control of the country’s chemical weapons to the international community.

    U.S. President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Chris Wallace (R), anchor of "Fox News Sunday", in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington September 9, 2013.(Reuters / Pete Souza)U.S. President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Chris Wallace (R), anchor of “Fox News Sunday”, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington September 9, 2013.(Reuters / Pete Souza)

    “Let’s see if we can come up with language that avoids a strike but accomplishes our key goals to make sure that these chemical weapons are not used,” the US president said during an ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer – one of many he gave on Monday.

    Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that a test vote on a resolution to strike Syria will be postponed.

    20:50 GMT: American public opinion is mounting against US military strikes against Syria, according to a new poll by Pew Research and USA Today.

    In the past week, Pew has found in its surveys the contingent of those polled that are opposed to missile strikes has gone up 15 percent in a week to 63 percent. The number who favor action in Syria has basically held consistent in that time period at 28 percent, from 29 percent last week. The number of undecideds on the matter has gone down to 9 percent from 23 percent.

    Seventy percent of self-identified Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats are against US aggression in Syria. The number of those opposed to strikes has gone up among all three political identities.

    AFP Photo / Joan JenningsAFP Photo / Joan Jennings

    The new poll was conducted Sept. 4-8, among 1,506 adults nationwide.

    19:52 GMT: Chemical weapons being handed over under international control is “worthy of close scrutiny” but acceptable “under at least three conditions,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. The conditions include a quick handover of control over the weapons and permission to further destroy them. He also said the operation should only take place after a UN Security Council resolution. Fabius added that Assad will face consequences if he fails to comply.

    19:48 GMT: In response to Russia’s proposal, Syria’s  top rebel commander has accused President Bashar Assad’s regime and Moscow of deceit.

    “We call for strikes and we warn the international community that this [Assad] regime tells lies, and the liar [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is its teacher. Putin is the biggest liar,” Free Syrian Army chief Selim Idriss told Al Jazeera. 

    “The regime wants to buy time to save itself,” Idriss added. He also warned “decision makers” against falling into Assad’s “trap of deceit and dishonesty.”

    18:44 GMT: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is taking Russia’s proposal to Syria very seriously, adding that a Syrian chemical arms handover would be an “important” step.

    Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks about the situation in Syria after meeting with US President Barack Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on September 9, 2013.(AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks about the situation in Syria after meeting with US President Barack Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on September 9, 2013.(AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

    “This is about protecting the Syrian people… and our friends in the regions… If the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control… that would be an important step. But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction,” she said.

    However, Clinton then said that she supports President Barack Obama’s attempts to seek military action against Syria and called on Congress to approve it.

    18:41 GMT: The US Senate has set a procedural vote to take place on Wednesday on whether to authorize President Barack Obama to use “limited military action” against Syria.

    17:59 GMT: Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken echoed Harf’s statement indicating that the US will take a “hard look” at the Russian proposal.

    “We haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, we haven’t had a chance to talk to the Russians about it,” he said. “We would welcome Assad giving up his chemical weapons…that’s the whole unfortunately the track record to date…doesn’t give you a lot of confidence…that said we want to look hard at what the Russians have proposed.”

    17:54 GMT: State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US has “serious and deep skepticism” about the statements from Russia and Syria.

    “If we see any indication that this latest statement has any merit, the US will look at it,” Harf said. But“everything we have seen from the Assad regime points in the opposite direction.”

    “We’ll have to take a hard look at the Russian statement … so we understand exactly what the Russians are proposing here,” State Department spokeswoman said. “Clearly we have some serious skepticism.”

    17:46 GMT: A new poll conducted by AP, September 6-8, shows that a majority of Americans oppose a US strike on Syria. Most of those who took part in the survey said they are sure that even a limited attack that President Obama is seeking approval for will drag the US into a long-term commitment of military force in Syria.

    At the same time, some 20 percent of respondents said they believe that US military involvement would prevent other countries from using their own weapons of mass destruction in the future.

    17:44 GMT: Cyprus said it will not take part in any kind of strike on Syria, if it comes to that.

    “It’s clear that in no case will it become a launch pad of military operations, or a target of attacks,” Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

    A Typhoon jet of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) lands at a British base at Akrotiri, near the city of Limassol August 29, 2013.(Reuters / Yiannis Nisiotis)A Typhoon jet of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) lands at a British base at Akrotiri, near the city of Limassol August 29, 2013.(Reuters / Yiannis Nisiotis)

    At the same time, Nicosia would be ready to offer assistance to third-country nationals evacuated from the Middle East as a significant number of countries asked Cyprus to host its nationals and offer humanitarian aid if necessary.

    17:12 GMT: Fourteen more countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kosovo, which is not universally recognized as an independent state, have backed a statement condemning the Assad regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21 and called for a strong international response to bring the Syrian government to account, the White House said.

    In total, 25 countries are now supporting the statement as the US is seeking an international coalition for military strikes against Syria.

    12:27 GMT: Freed after being kidnapped in Syria, Belgian teacher and writer, Pierre Piccinin da Prata, has said that the Syrian regime did not use chemical weapons. “This is my moral duty to tell [sic] about this,” he said in an interview with the RTL-TV channel. “This is not Assad’s government who used sarin gas or any other combat gas in [the] Damascus area. We are sure about this after we accidently heard a conversation between rebels.”

    12:08 GMT: US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the Syrian President “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community” to avoid a military strike on the country.

    Following Kerry’s statement, a US State Department spokeswoman clarified that Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons”.

    “His (Kerry’s) point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That’s why the world faces this moment,” the spokeswoman said.

    09:10 GMT: During a media briefing in London with US Secretary of State John Kerry, the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the UK and the US will continue working with all sides, including Russia, to overcome the crisis in Syria.

    Hague also noted that UK’s objectives and efforts on solving Syria conflict remain “closely aligned” with US.

    Sunday, September 8

    17:35 GMT: Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense shield west of Jerusalem, AFP reports. A military spokeswoman declined to comment on the move, saying only that “defense systems are deployed in accordance with situation assessments.

    17:01 GMT: Russia has evacuated 70 more people from Syria, the Emergencies Ministry told RIA Novosti news agency. The plane, which supposedly departed from Latakia, had Russian nationals and other CIS citizens on board.

    16:58 GMT: German intelligence has concluded that Bashar Assad may not be personally behind the chemical attack on Damascus’s outskirts, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported.

    Intercepted radio messages reportedly revealed that Syrian commanders had been asking the country’s leader to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months. Based on the messages, German intelligence believes the attack might have been initiated at a lower level than the presidential palace.

    16:19 GMT: President Barack Obama’s address to the nation on the Syrian crisis is scheduled for 9:00pm EST Tuesday evening (01:00am GMT Wednesday morning).

    14:58 GMT: Syrian President Assad has talked to the American media for the first time in two years. CBS’ Charlie Rose spoke to the President; however, the full interview will only be available on Monday on the Face the Nation TV-show.

    Syrian president Bashar al-Assad denied to CBS being behind chemical attack.

    14:11GMT: Both the soldiers of President Bashar Assad and the rebels troops agree that the expected US-led strikes against Syria won’t change the situation in the country, ITV News international editor, Bill Neely, wrote in his article for the Guardian paper.

    “The Americans can shoot their missiles but they’ll get nowhere. Our real enemy is over there, on the ground – Al-Qaeda!” a veteran governmental soldier said.

    “How can it be that America is going to fight us, on the side of Al-Qaeda?”
    a young Syrian army commander wondered. “How can America be against a secular country and for Islamists, who kill their prisoners and dump their bodies in a well?”

    While one of the rebels stressed that “the Americans will scratch the surface, hit 5 per cent of the regime’s power and save face. That won’t save us from another attack.”

    Syrian rebels clash with government forces (unseen) at a military airport in Syria's northeastern city of Deir Ezzor on July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Karam Jamal)

    13:28 GMT: The British people oppose any military attack on Syria even if they were presented with undeniable evidence that the government of Syrian president Bashar Assad used sarin gas against its own citizens, an IMC Research opinion poll for the Sunday Telegraph revealed.

    A large proportion of voters (46 per cent) said they wouldn’t want the country’s MPs to stage a second Commons vote on joining the US-led military operation in Syria, if UN weapons inspectors confirm that the August 21 attack involved chemical weapons.

    The poll also revealed that 47 per cent believe that the British role in the Syrian crisis should be limited to “providing aid to refugees,” with only 19 per cent speaking up for military involvement.

    13:24 GMT: With tensions mounting in the Middle East and the number of Syrian refugees reaching 2 million, UNICEF continues to provide urgent life-saving supplies to children inside Syria and in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, the organization’s press release said.

    12:45 GMT: The US authorities have supplied the Japanese government with evidence aimed at convincing the country’s cabinet that forces of Syrian president, Bashar Assad, used chemical weapons near Damascus on August 21.

    The source in the government has confirmed to Kyodo news agency that the materials were received, but didn’t disclose the specific content of the evidence.

    12:28 GMT: A Russian Emergencies Ministry plane has arrived in the Syrian port city of Latakia to pick up Russians and CIS citizens wanting to leave the country in anticipation of the US strikes, RIA-Novosti news agency reports.

    A team of rescuers and psychologists is onboard to assist the passengers during the flight. Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman, Irina Rossius said.

    All the people, who desire to leave, are already in the Latakia airport, with their numbers currently being determined.

    Il-76.(RIA Novosti / Vladimir Baranov)

    12:11 GMT: The spread of chemical arms is “a bigger issue than Syria,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said, calling for a tough response to the alleged use of poison gas in the Middle Eastern country.

    “I do believe very strongly that the world must stand up against the use of chemical weapons,” he told the BBC. “The risks of not doing so in my view are greater than the risks of doing so. Allowing the spread of use of chemical weapons in the 21st century is an evil that we have to stand up to, one way or another.”

    US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is to arrive in London on Sunday for talks with Hague as part of his European tour to gain support for the strikes against the targets of Bashar Assad’s government.

    The British parliament has rejected joining the US-led military operation in Syria, with the Foreign Secretary saying that, despite him fully backing the American plan, the government is “not planning” another vote on the issue “unless the circumstances change dramatically.”

    11:47 GMT: The Brazilian state and its citizens will always support the Syrian people, Brazil’s defense minister Humberto De Azevedo Viana Filho said on his visit to Istanbul, adding that his country stands for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    “Brazil is always on the side of dialogue as a solution to the problems,” the minister is cited as saying by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. “However, our country is definitely against the use of chemical weapons, which is accepted as an international crime in Brazil. From the very beginning, we have had a clear stance towards such countries as Syria which has killed its own people.”

    08:58 GMT:Turkey spotted “movements” on the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkish jets have been put on standby in case there are any borer violations, IHA reports.

    The Turkish Sabah newspaper added that the “have the permission to open fire in case of hostile movement”. Earlier, a loud explosion was heard on the border.

    01:44 GMT: The US Senate Intelligence Committee has released a compilation of 13 videos presented to the committee as proof of the alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb on August 21.

    The committee said in a statement: “Each of these 13 videos explicitly claim to show victims of a chemical or poison gas attack. At the request of Chairman Feinstein, these videos were selected by the Open Source Center to depict a representative range of YouTube content posted regarding the reported 21 August chemical weapons (CW) attacks in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria. All of the videos were posted on YouTube by pro-Syrian opposition users. With one exception, all 13 videos were posted by a pro-opposition Internet news channel that consistently posts user-created videos concerning the Syrian conflict. The news channel does not primarily generate content, but instead re-posts content originally posted by others.”

    Saturday, September 7

    19:48 GMT: Over 200 protesters have gathered at the White House before marching to Capitol Hill in a demonstration opposing possible US military strikes against Syria.

    The protest is one of several planned rallies taking place in cities across America. A larger demonstration is scheduled to take place in Washington on Monday.

    Congressional officials report that by a margin of 100 to one, people are telling the elected representatives from their district that they should vote ‘no’ on the war resolution,” Sarah Sloan of the ANSWER Coalition, which organized the protest, said in a statement. “Because of the deep split inside the political establishment, what the people do can make a huge difference.”

    People march from the White House to the US Capitol in Washington against US intervention in Syria on September 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

    19:34 GMT: The US has no plans to evacuate all of its employees from Beirut, Lebanon ahead of a possible military strike against Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

    The Syrian crisis does affect Lebanon. But we do not want it to spill over in the region,” Kerry said after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

    Kerry acknowledged, however, that that the number of American employees in Lebanon has been reduced “for security reasons.”

    18:01 GMT: Hundreds of pilgrims have arrived in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican to join Pope Francis in prayer for Syria. The head of the Catholic Church has invited people of all faiths to join in a day of fasting and prayer to call for an end to the Syrian conflict.

    During this week’s G20 summit, the Pope called on world leaders to seek peace in Syria through diplomatic means and to lay aside the “futile pursuit” of a military solution.

    Pope Francis (2ndL under the awning) presides over the mass vigil for prayer for peace in Syria in Saint Peter square at the Vatican, on September 7 2013. (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)Pope Francis (2ndL under the awning) presides over the mass vigil for prayer for peace in Syria in Saint Peter square at the Vatican, on September 7 2013. (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)

    17:50 GMT: US President Barack Obama has made no decisions about waiting for a UN weapons inspectors’ report on chemical arms used in Syria, and he is keeping all of his options open, US Secretary of State John Kerry said after meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

    17:40 GMT:
     French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius believes a military strike against Syria is the key to a political solution to the country’s conflict.

    Fabius added that all the members of the UN Security Council should denounce the Syrian government and support the use of force.

    The statement came after the French FM’s meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who agreed with his counterpart, adding that “[Syrian President Bashar] Assad must be punished.”

    17:17 GMT: A rally against the expected US-led military operation in Syria is continuing for a second day in front of the American Embassy in al-Metn’s Awkar neighborhood, east of the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

    “Syria, the land of Arabism and resilience, is in danger. But the country does not want protection as it safeguarded Arabs for a long time. It needs Arabs to stand by its side instead of calling on foreign countries to destroy it,” Naharnet quoted activist Ali Taleb as saying.

    “The American Spring will not be achieved through Damascus, and certainly not through Beirut,”
     he said.

     protester holds a poster burning on which is depicted former US president George W. Bush taking off a mask of current President Barack Obama during a demonstration of supporters of Syrian regime near the US embassy, east of Beirut against a possible US military strike on Syria on September 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)protester holds a poster burning on which is depicted former US president George W. Bush taking off a mask of current President Barack Obama during a demonstration of supporters of Syrian regime near the US embassy, east of Beirut against a possible US military strike on Syria on September 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)
    Lebanese supporters of Syrian regime, shout slogans during a demonstration near the US embassy, east of Beirut against a possible US military strike on Syria on September 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)Lebanese supporters of Syrian regime, shout slogans during a demonstration near the US embassy, east of Beirut against a possible US military strike on Syria on September 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)

    14:31 GMT: Lebanese authorities have intensified security measures across the country “in the wake of tensions in the Middle East and possible U.S. military action against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons,” the Lebanese Higher Defense Council told Al Arabiya.

    11:44 GMT: The European Union’s Catherin Ashton claims that available information is enough to constitute strong evidence of the Syrian regime’s responsibility for Augusts’ chemical attack.

    11:20 GMT: President Obama said that a small military force may be needed in Syria after all, to deter future chemical weapons attacks – according to Reuters. Although he said on his weekly radio and internet address that a protracted conflict like “Iraq or Afghanistan” is not something he wants.

    11:18 GMT: German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said he will join the G20 declaration calling for military action against the Syrian regime.

    11:15 GMT: According to a survey carried out by the French newspaper Figaro, two-thirds of the French (68 percent) are against international military action on Syria, regardless of what their government chooses to do.

    02:52 GMT: As Congress debates Syria military strikes, the US has issued travel warnings to Americans for Lebanon and southeastern Turkey based on possible violence in those countries bordering Syria, the US State Department announced Friday. In addition, the U.S. has also ordered its diplomats to leave both countries as a precautionary measure.

    “Security of our people and our facilities in the region is of utmost concern to everyone here,” State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf said, adding that she was not aware of any specific threats.

    20:51 GMT: The UN has drawn up emergency plans for a military strike on Syria, but at the same time will continue to deliver aid to the region, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said after her trip to Damascus, AFP reported.

    “We continue to update and look at our contingency planning,” Amos stated, noting that the UN has great concern for its staff on the ground and still has “a commitment to continue our humanitarian operations.”

    Valerie Amos (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)Valerie Amos (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

    20:35 GMT: US Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, an aide close to President Obama, told NPR Friday that military action in Syria is unlikely without congressional approval. Blinken asserted that “the president has the authority to act” if Congress votes down the proposal next week, but “it’s neither his desire nor intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him.”

    18:55 GMT: Syrian President Bashar Assad barely used any of his chemical weapons stockpile in the alleged attack near Damascus on August 21, according to the US Ambassador to the United Nations.

    “We assess that although Assad used more chemical weapons on August 21 than he had before, he has barely put a dent in his enormous stockpile,” Samantha Power said at the Center for American Progress think-tank in Washington.

    “We have exhausted the alternatives” to military action, she said, adding that Assad counted on Russia’s support.

    17:23 GMT:  Friday, September 6th, a so-called Tweet storm rages on the popular networking service for awareness on #OpSyria911. Organizers of the storm, Anonymous hacktivist group, urged opponents of a military intervention to “call, fax, email, and write a letter to your representatives and voice your disdain for any military actions intruded on the Syrian people.”

    15:59 GMT: The Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America issued a joint statement on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Nations Leader’s Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia regarding the crisis in Syria.

    “The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.  The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere.  Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons,”
     the joint statement issued by the White House read.

    “We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children.  The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.

    We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated. Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.”

    The family photo during the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg (AFP Photo)The family photo during the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg (AFP Photo)

    The statement went on the show its support for a UN Security Council resolution, but “recognized” the Council had remained paralyzed for two years.

    The statement further condemned “in the strongest terms” human rights violations in Syria on all sides.

    15:52 GMT: France says that any military action against Syria would only entail military targets so as to avoid civilian casualties. President Francois Hollande said all G20 states has condemned the use of chemical weapons and agreed they were deployed in Syria. He further warned that if the UN Security Council could not agree on a response to the attack, a coalition must be created to respond. He did say, however, that France would wait on conclusions from UN inspectors investigating the August 21 attack in a Damascus suburb before deciding to act.

    “We shall await the report of the inspectors just as we will await (US) Congress,” he told a news conference after a summit of G20 nations in St. Petersburg, in reference to US President Barack Obama’s decision to ask for Congressional approval before launching a strike.

    15:38 GMT: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday almost all of the leaders at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg accepted that an operation needed to be carried out against Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in  a Damascus Suburb on August 21.

    “Almost all the leaders who have attended the summit are closely following the massacre the Syrian regime carried out on its people and the leaders have expressed that an operation is extremely necessary against Damascus,” Reuters cites Erdogan as saying.

    15:20 GMT: The Russian Foreign Ministry has asked the world to consider claims made by Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib – mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria – who told RT there is proof the footage of the alleged chemical attack in Syria was fabricated.

    Mother Agnes Mariam el-SalibMother Agnes Mariam el-Salib

    “I maintain that the whole affair was a frame-up. It had been staged and prepared in advance with the goal of framing the Syrian government as the perpetrator,” she said.

    “The key evidence is that Reuters made these files public at 6.05 in the morning. The chemical attack is said to have been launched between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning in Guta. How is it even possible to collect a dozen different pieces of footage, get more than 200 kids and 300 young people together in one place, give them first aid and interview them on camera, and all that in less than three hours? Is that realistic at all? As someone who works in the news industry, you know how long all of it would take.”

    15:15: GMT: US President Barack Obama refused to say directly what he would do if Congress doesn’t approve Syria strikes when asked the question at the press conference during the G20 summit.

    However he said that “given Security Council paralysis on this issue, if we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical weapons use, then an international response is required, and that will not come through Security Council action.”

    15:07 GMT: The alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria was “carried out by rebels as a provocation”to create the possibility for a foreign intervention, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters at a press conference during the final day of the G20 summit.

    While Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Italy are among the major world’s economies which oppose the intervention, only Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia and France join the US in its call for military action in the war-torn country, adding that the UK Prime Minister’s position was not supported by his citizens.

    In case of intervention, Putin stressed that Russia will help Syria as “we are already helping, we send arms, we cooperate in the economic sphere, we hope to expand our cooperation in the humanitarian sphere, which includes sending humanitarian aid to support those people – the civilians – who have found themselves in a very dire situation in this country.”

    13:54 GMT: The discussion of the Syrian issue at the G20 summit in St Petersburg has not decreased the possibility of a military operation against the republic, says British Prime Minister David Cameron.  He said that although the talks were very helpful, the summit was never about making a decision on the matter.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron (AFP Photo / Yuri Kadobnov)British Prime Minister David Cameron (AFP Photo / Yuri Kadobnov)

    If the United Nations Security Council fails to agree on a resolution authorizing military intervention in the Syrian conflict, action without its approval can’t be ruled out either, Cameron said.

    The UK, along with several other members of the group, agreed to seek free access for humanitarian aid to Syria through the UN, he told a media conference at the end of the gathering.

    13:42 GMT: Russia President Vladimir Putin and US leader Barack Obama have discussed Syrian crisis on the sidelines of G20 summit in St Petersburg, says Russian presidential aid Yuri Ushakov. However, “there remains a difference in opinions” following the meeting, Ushakov said. Putin and Obama have agreed to continue discussing the settlement for the Syrian crisis on the level of their foreign ministers.

    13:03 GMT: A military strike on Syria will put an end to all the efforts made by the UN-Arab League envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to politically resolve the conflict, agreed the participates of the G20 summit breakfast meeting, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

    “I cannot say that this was the prevailing opinion, but many responsible states are coming to a very clear understanding that the use of force, bypassing the UN Security Council, will put an end to all efforts for a political resolution and carrying out the Geneva-2 peace conference made by Lakhdar Brahimi,” Lavrov said.

    “Our common conclusion is to do everything possible to prevent the military scenario in Syria,” Lavrov added. “There is still time for this.”

    The US did not participate, while Canada, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Senegal, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Turkey, France and Russia were present at the meeting. 

    12:40 GMT: The Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan has said that almost all leaders at the G20 summit in St Petersburg accept the need for a military operation against Syria.

    Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a working meeting of the G20 summit of heads of state and government, heads of invited states and international organizations in Saint Petersburg (AFP Photo)Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a working meeting of the G20 summit of heads of state and government, heads of invited states and international organizations in Saint Petersburg (AFP Photo)12:00 GMT: The U.S. has ordered its diplomats to leave Lebanon as Congress debates Syria military strikes, in a move that will be interpreted that the possibility of a military strikes has moved a step closer.The US State Department has ordered nonessential U.S. diplomats and family members to leave Lebanon due to security concerns. They have also urged US citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns.“The Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to threats to U.S. Mission facilities and personnel,” a statement on the Beirut embassy’s website said.11:55 GMT: The Geneva II peace conference is under threat in the current situation, said UN-Arab League envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi during the G20 summit held in St. Petersburg, Russia.11:50 GMT: The Syrian government has announced that it is offering a bounty to anyone who captures a“non-Syrian terrorist”, or helps to apprehend one, state television said. A bounty of 500,000 Syrian pounds (roughly $4,000) will be offered for capture, while 200,000 Syrian pounds (about $1,500) goes to anyone who gives information regarding terrorist locations.The statement said the identities of those who provided information would be kept secret and their“protection ensured”. Concerning Syrian rebels who informed on their comrades, state television added, that they would be granted amnesty and “their affairs will be settled.” 
    11:29 GMT: Moscow has warned Washington against staging attacks on Syria’s chemical weapons depots.“With particular concern, we perceive the fact that among possible targets for attacks are objects of military infrastructure securing the safety of Syrian chemical weapons arsenals,” according to a statement in the comment of the Department of Information and Media relations of the Russian Foreign Ministry, issued on Friday. 
    “In this regard, we would like to warn the US government and its allies from inflicting any assaults on chemical facilities and adjacent territories,” the document says.11:22 GMT: The crisis in Syria should be resolved through political means and not a military strike, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg in Russia.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the first working session of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg (AFP Photo)Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the first working session of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg (AFP Photo)”A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root,” Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying. “We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action,” he added.
    10:50 GMT: The UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed receipt of a request from Russia to estimate the impact if a missile were to hit a small Syrian reactor that contains radioactive uranium.“I can confirm that the IAEA has received a formal request from the Russian Federation. The agency is considering the questions raised,” IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an email to Reuters.A military strike on Syria could have catastrophic effects if the research reactor near Damascus was struck “by design or by chance,” Russia said in a statement earlier this week.
    10:32 GMT: British scientists found traces of sarin gas in soil and fabric samples collected in Syria, the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed earlier reports, BBC states.
    9:43 GMT: EU defense ministers have agreed that embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons in an attack in a Damascus suburb on August 21, reports AFP.Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama told G20 leaders in St. Petersburg that the US was “confident” Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons. Obama urged the G20 leaders to support the international ban on chemical weapons and authorize the use of military force against Syria.
    7:55 GMT: A Russian parliamentary delegation will not travel to Washington to meet with Congress to discuss Syria, announced Russian lawmaker and State Duma representative, Sergey Naryshkin. 
    03:48 GMT: US President Barack Obama instructed the Pentagon to expand the list of potential Syria targets as a reaction to new intelligence that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been moving troops and chemical weapons equipment, military officials told the The New York Times. This means that the original list of at least 50 major sites will be further expanded.

    US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad) US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

    03:20 GMT: The US State Department responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks that US Secretary of State John Kerry “lied” about the influence of Al-Qaeda in Syria, saying that it is“preposterous” and a mischaracterization of what America’s top diplomat actually said.

    Kerry is “not losing sleep after such a preposterous comment that was based on an inaccurate quote and was completely mischaracterized,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.

    Putin made his remarks on Wednesday, reportedly referring to the Secretary of State’s testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee a day earlier, where Kerry said that Al-Qaeda’s presence within the Syrian opposition has not been increasing.

    02:00 GMT: US Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean are “fully ready” to launch cruise missiles into Syria as part of a US military campaign that would not involve “extraordinary” monetary costs, a top admiral said Thursday.

    Greenert, a chief naval operations officer who focuses on preparedness of Navy forces, also seemed to confirm the rough estimate made by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, when he told Congress that a US campaign in Syria would likely cost“tens of millions” of dollars.

    “The numbers are nagging but they’re not extraordinary at this point,” Greenert said at an event held by the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute, though defense budget analysts say Hagel’s figure is a low estimate.

    Friday, September 6 

    20:51 GMT: The UN has drawn up emergency plans for a military strike on Syria, but at the same time will continue to deliver aid to the region, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said after her trip to Damascus, AFP reported.

    “We continue to update and look at our contingency planning,” Amos stated, noting that the UN has great concern for its staff on the ground and still has “a commitment to continue our humanitarian operations.”

    Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...

    Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Thursday, September 5

    23:50 GMT: Pope Francis called on world leaders attending the G20 summit in Russia to seek peace in Syria through diplomatic means, laying aside the “futile pursuit” of a military solution.

    In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is hosting the G20 summit, Francis said that lopsided global interests have blocked a diplomatic course in the Syrian conflict and have led to the “senseless massacre” of innocent people.

    “To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution,”
     Francis wrote.

    Pope Francis.(Reuters / Tony Gentile)Pope Francis.(Reuters / Tony Gentile)

    21:00 GMT: US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Thursday there is “no viable path forward” in the UN Security council on Syria, accusing Russian leaders of holding the council hostage to protect President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

    I was present in the meeting where the UK laid down the resolution, and everything in that meeting, in word and body language, suggests that that resolution has no prospect of being adopted, by Russia in particular,” Power said. “In the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its responsibilities, including as a party to the chemical weapons convention.”

    20:45 GMT: President Obama has forgone a trip to California, instead remaining in Washington, “to work on the Syrian resolution before Congress,” the White House has announced. Obama was scheduled to speak at the AFL-CIO’s quadrennial convention in Los Angeles and attend a party fundraiser which has been postponed.

    The president departed Washington Tuesday night for a trip to Sweden before heading to the G20 summit in Russia. Obama will return to the US on Friday. Both chambers of Congress are scheduled to debate US military action in Syria on Monday.

    20:24 GMT: US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is “guardedly optimistic” that the Senate will vote to authorize limited missile strikes against Syria, a Democratic aide said on Thursday, as cited by Reuters. The aide said the Senate will likely vote on President Obama’s use-of-force resolution on Wednesday, in an attempt to nullify an expected entanglement with Republicans.

    Reid did not attend the meeting with Obama earlier this week in which Democrat and Republican leaders were briefed on the details of the Syrian conflict. Reid told reporters that he has been in daily contact with the president and “has all the information he needs.”

    17:07 GMT: The UK has fresh evidence of use of chemical weapons in the Syrian capital, Damascus, British prime minister, David Cameron, told the BBC.

    He said evidence of the Bashar Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons was “growing all the time” and UK scientists were investigating the alleged attacks on 21 August.

    “We have just been looking at some samples taken from Damascus in the Porton Down laboratory in Britain which further shows the use of chemical weapons in that Damascus suburb,” Cameron said.

    The PM also denied claims he has “no hand to play” over Syria after losing a vote on UK military action in Syria, saying that Britain would lead calls for more action on aid for refugees and push for fresh peace talks.

    16:18 GMT: Moscow is puzzled by the Pentagon’s claims that Russia has been shipping chemical weapons or the means to develop them to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, the head of the Kremlin’s administration, Sergey Ivanov, said.

    “I’ve heard this statement, spoken in diplomatic language, I was very surprised and even shocked by it,”Ivanov is cited as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency.

    The official added that no matter how Congress votes on the use of force against Syria, the decision by the US lawmaker still won’t be “legitimate”.

    Ivanov also said that Russia has boosted its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea in order to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria in case of an attack.

    15:22 GMT: Leaders of the BRICS countries expressed their concerns on Thursday that military action against Syria could damage the world economy, a spokesman for the Russian president said.

    “It was noted within the BRICS dialogue that among factors that could negatively affect the global economic situation are the consequences of the eventual foreign intervention into Syrian affairs. Such consequences can have an extremely negative effect on global economy,” the spokesman said.

    The BRICS association includes the emerging economies of Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

    15:15 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to hold talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem on September 9 in Moscow, according to Russian Foreign Ministry.

    “In accordance with an agreement reached, Moscow will host talks between Russia’s Foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, Walid al-Moualem,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website.

    The talks will focus on the comprehensive review of all aspects of the current conflict in Syria, according to the statement.

    “In Moscow, we remain convinced of the need for a speedy end to the violence and suffering of the civilian population in Syria and the path of a political settlement without external military intervention avoiding the UN Security Council,” the ministry’s statement said.

    14:40 GMT: Russia is not blocking the work of the UN Security Council, but “calls for all its partners for objective assessment of the situation” concerning Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the G20 briefing.

    “Russia is attempting to call on its partners, including partners in Washington, for an objective assessment of the situation, without taking decisions before the official verdict of the UN experts working in Syria,” Peskov said.

    Only after the UN experts announce their legitimate conclusion on if the chemical weapons were indeed used in Syria, “then it is necessary to sort out who was behind their use,” Peskov stressed.

    “We cannot accept the evidence that, in our view, does not represent any evidence, that is far from being convincing,” Putin’s spokesman said.

    13:33 GMT: Heavy clashes between Syrian government forces and militants of the Al-Qaida affiliated group, Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front), have been going on in the mountains surrounding the UNESCO-listed Christian village in western Syria after the insurgents attacked and held it overnight, AP reports, citing the UK-based Observatory for Human Rights.

    Militants reportedly left the village of Maaloula early on Thursday, with locals saying they saw them patrolling the streets on foot and in vehicles at night, as well as surrounding the village church and mosque. According to AP speaking with witnesses over the phone, the villagers fear the rebels will return.

    12:34 GMT: Iran will support Syria “to the end” in the face of a possible US-led military strike, Iran’s elite Quds Force unit commander Qassem Soleimani has said.

    “The aim of the United States is not to protect human rights … but to destroy the front of resistance [against Israel],” Soleimani was quoted as saying by AFP citing local media.

    “We will support Syria to the end,” he added in a speech to the Iranian Assembly of Experts, without elaborating.

    However, Iran’s Defense Minister, Hossein Dehqan, ruled out sending troops or weapons to Syria.

    “The Syrians do not need us to provide them with weapons because they have a defensive anti-aircraft system themselves,” Dehqan was quoted as saying.

    12:20 GMT: The UN inspectors will not reveal the preliminary results of the probe into alleged chemical weapons use in Syria on August 21 near Damascus until the probe is completed, Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for UN Secretary General, has said.

    “There will be no disclosure of the preliminary findings. There will only be final results after all the samples are analyzed,” Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman was quoted as saying by Interfax.

    European Council President Herman van Rompuy said earlier on Thursday he expected the UN Secretary General to share the tentative findings of the UN chemical weapons inspectors on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

    11:48 GMT: The international community should focus on a political solution for the Syrian crisis, said the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

    “The European Union is certain that the efforts should be aimed at a political settlement,” Barroso told reporters at the G20 briefing.

    11:39 GMT: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, slammed the US for using the alleged chemical weapons use as a “pretext” for intervention in Syria.

    “In the case of Syria, the chemical attack is a pretext… The Americans try to play with words and pretend that they’ve become involved in this case for humanitarian aims,” Khamenei said, at a meeting of the Iranian Assembly of Experts.

    Khamenei then warned the US would “suffer loss” in Syria, should they launch a military strike.

    “I believe the Americans are making mistakes in Syria and they have felt the impact and will certainly suffer loss,” he said.

    11:09 GMT: Seventy percent of Germans are against military intervention in Syria. However, 65 percent consider it a possibility, according to a survey ordered by the ZDF TV channel.

    10:15 GMT:  UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will push for an international conference to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria during the G20 summit.

    “While the world is focused on concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria we must push even harder for the International Conference on Syria to take place in Geneva,” said Brahimi in a statement.

    05:12 GMT: Russia has sent an official request to meet the US lawmakers with the aim of lobbying them on Syria. It’s after earlier speculations that Russia will send a delegation to Washington, DC.

    02:52 GMT: While calling for reconciliation and denying his government used chemical weapons, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad told the Wall Street Journal if the US attacks Syria, Damascus would strike back not only at Israel, but also neighbors Jordan and Turkey if they participate in hostilities.

    “Once the war starts nobody can control what will happen,” he said. “We believe that any attack against Syria will definitely result in chaos in the entire region if not beyond.”

    He also said US strikes would strengthen rebel groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda rather than the moderate opposition forces the US has supported.

    02:41 GMT: The Vatican will host a day of fasting and a four-hour prayer vigil Saturday in St. Peter’s Square in opposition to US military strikes in Syria, the AP reported. The Vatican has invited bishops’ conferences the world over to host local version of the vigil.

    In recent speeches, tweets and remarks, Pope Francis has called for a negotiated settlement to the Syrian conflict while condemning use of chemical weapons. “War never again! Never again war!” he tweeted earlier this week.

    With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons.

    — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 3, 2013

    Hagel BioGuide

    Hagel BioGuide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Wednesday, September 4th 2013

    23:58 GMT: Russian lawmakers have announced plans to meet with US congressional leaders to discuss Syria, according to CNN. Previous reports speculated that Russia would send a delegation to Washington but it is not clear whether they will arrive before Monday, when the Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to debate a bill authorizing military force in Syria.

    House Speaker John Boehner, however, has already declined the invitation, according to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, who did not provide a reason.

    At this particular point, my understanding has been that relations between members of Congress and the Russian parliament have been very sour,” Dick Lugar, the former head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN. “I don’t think a delegation from Russia will make any difference in terms of congressional votes. But at the same time there may be the possibility that dialogue could lead to other positive things.”

    23:35 GMT: The Pentagon has issued a clarification to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s assertion Wednesday that Russia had supplied chemical weapons to Syria.

    During the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on potential use of force against Syria, Hagel alluded to Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. When asked where they came from, Hagel said, “Well, the Russians supply them. Others are supplying them with those chemical weapons. They make some themselves.”

    Pentagon spokesman George Little explained in a statement Hagel was referring to the “well-known conventional arms relationship between Syria and Russia.”

    The full statement from Little:

    “In a response to a member of Congress, Secretary Hagel was referring to the well-known conventional arms relationship between Syria and Russia. The Syrian regime has a decades-old largely indigenous chemical weapons program. Currently, Russia provides the Syrian regime a wide variety of military equipment and support, some of which can be modified or otherwise used to support the chemical weapons program. We have publicly and privately expressed our concern over the destabilizing impact on the Syrian conflict and the wider region of continued military shipments to the Assad regime.”

    22:00 GMT: The White House praised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for passing an authorization of military force against Syria hours after questioning top administration officials on potential strikes.

    “We commend the Senate for moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of our national security,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

    The resolution now goes to the full Senate for debate. The bill needs 60 votes to ultimately pass.

    21:53 GMT: Former Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib has not fled the country, state television reported Wednesday.

    “There is no truth to what the media has reported on the travel of former defence minister Ali Habib Mahmoud outside of Syria and he is still in his home,” Syrian state television quoted an official source as saying.

    A top member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition had previously told Reuters Habib had defected to Turkey.

    21:43 GMT: Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.

    A statement released by the ministry on Wednesday particularly drew attention to the “massive stove-piping of various information aimed at placing the responsibility for the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria on Damascus, even though the results of the UN investigation have not yet been revealed.”

    By such means “the way is being paved for military action” against Damascus, the ministry pointed out.

    But the samples taken at the site of the March 19 attack and analyzed by Russian experts indicate that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the rebels, the ministry statement suggests, outlining the 100-page report handed over to the UN by Russia.

    21:23 GMT: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel insisted that any military strike on Syria for use of chemical weapons would significantly reduce President Bashar Assad’s military might.

    “The president has said … this would not be a pin prick. Those were his words. This would be a significant strike that would in fact degrade his capability,” Hagel said during a hearing in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which will consider authorizing use of military force in the coming days.

    Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry agreed that “likelihood is very high” Assad would use chemical weapons again should the US not use force.

    Hagel added during the hearing that a limited military strike campaign in Syria would likely cost “tens of millions” of dollars.

    “We have looked at the different costs, depending on the different options,” Hagel said. “It would be in the tens of millions of dollars, that kind of range.”

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP)

    21:00 GMT: During Wednesday afternoon’s hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested that the Assad regime received some of their alleged chemical weapons arsenal from Russia.

    There’s no secret that the Assad regime has had chemical weapons, significant stockpiles of chemical weapons,” Hagel said.

    When asked by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) to elaborate, Hagel responded, “The Russians supply them, others are supplying them with those chemical weapons, they make some themselves.”

    18:13 GMT: Rep. Brian Higgins (D-New York) questioned the United States’ potential involvement in the Syrian civil war by insisting that the US should concentrate on its domestic endeavors, not efforts abroad.

    The American people are sick and tired of war,” Higgins told Secretary of State John Kerry. “It’s time to nation build — in America.”

    18:07 GMT: Answering critique from Rep. Ted Deutsh (D-Florida) about America’s potential role in the Syrian civil war, Secretary of State told the committee, “The United States of America is not being the world’s policeman.”

    17:23 GMT: Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that a meeting and potentially a vote could occur as early as 2 p.m. local time, or 1800 GMT, today.

    16:48 GMT: According to Reuters, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote later today on the draft resolution presented on Tuesday which would authorize the use of military force in Syria

    16:36 GMT: Secretary of State John Kerry is again the lead witness during a Congressional hearing in Washington, this time one hosted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    During Wednesday afternoon testimony, Kerry said that new evidence has surfaced only hours earlier linking Assad’s regime to the August 21 attack near Damascus that the White House says killed over 1,400 people.

    Meanwhile, anti-war protesters with the group Code Pink assembled during the hearing seated behind Kerry. International television cameras captured the demonstrators with symbolic “blood” on their hands.

    During Tuesday’s hearing in the Senate, Code Pink co-founder Madea Benjamin was ejected from the facility during an outburst that occurred moments into the meeting.


    14:58 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized remarks made by the US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Congressional debate, saying Kerry “lied” by claiming there was no Al-Qaeda militants fighting in Syria and that the military strike against President Assad will not boost the terrorist network’s presence in the region.

    “Well, he [Kerry] lies. And he knows that he lies. This is sad,” Putin remarked as he spoke to human rights activists on Wednesday, saying that the Al-Nusra Front terrorist organization, which pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, has been at the forefront of the rebel groups fighting Assad’s forces, and that the US is well aware of that.

    Speaking of Kerry’s confidence in that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, Putin recalled former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s rhetoric on the eve of American invasion in Iraq. It later turned out that all Powell’s arguments that Iraq had chemical weapons “did not hold water,” the Russian President stressed.

    13:40 GMT: President Barack Obama said the credibility of the US Congress was on the line regarding the need to uphold a ban on chemical weapons in Syria.

    “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line,” he told a news conference in Sweden. “America and Congress’s credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important,” Obama added.

    13:16 GMT: US President Barack Obama urged the international community to respond effectively to chemical weapons’ use in Syria during his statement at a press conference in Sweden.

    A “real strong message” to Assad must be sent to ‘degrade’ his ability to use chemical weapons again, the President added.

    Obama stated that he was not required to submit proposals for military action to Congress for approval, but also said that not doing so was no empty exercise.

    10:20 GMT: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey would take part in nay international coalition against Syria but didn’t say whether that would include military action.

    00:47 GMT: A new US Senate draft resolution for authorizing use of military force in Syria sets a 60-day deadline, with one 30-day extension possible, while barring ground forces.

    The resolution was drafted by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. The resolution needs 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster by opponents.

    The draft follows Tuesday’s hearing on Syria featuring testimony from US Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

    00:30 GMT: Though not yet in session, members of the US House of Representatives have released two separate draft resolutions on potential US military action in Syria, Politico reported.

    Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), a top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, offered a resolution calling for President Obama to consult with Congress within 60 days to provide information on nine fronts to justify the use of military force.

    The resolution would require a summary of “attempts to build a coalition; a ‘detailed plan for military action in Syria, including specific goals and military objectives;’ what would qualify as degrading the chemical weapons supply; an explanation how a limited military strike would encourage regime change, prevent terrorists from taking control of power or weapons, secure the chemical weapons and deter their future use; how a strike would prevent Iran and Russia from keeping Assad in power; information about Al Qaeda’s access to weapons; an explanation of whether weapons from Libya are being used by the Syrian opposition and an estimation of the cost.”

    The other resolution, offered by Democrats Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), is also supportive of a Syria attack but seeks to narrow the scope of any such action. Their resolution bars use of ground forces, limits attacks to 60 days while prohibiting a second series of attacks — unless the Obama administration has proof Assad used chemical weapons again — and says an attack on Syria can only happen to prevent use, not stockpiling, of chemical weapons.

    Tuesday, September 3rd 2013 


    Syria (Photo credit: ewixx)

    18:24 GMT: Russia’s missile defense system “proved its effectiveness” after it was put on high alert following the Israeli-US test launch of a ballistic missile in the Mediterranean, said Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov.

    Russia is ready for “any actions, in any circumstances” Antonov stressed, praising the Russian defense reaction as “prompt and adequate.” The missile was launched in the direction of Russia’s borders, he said, adding it was “self-evident” that President Putin was immediately informed as the Commander-in-Chief.

    Describing the Mediterranean as a modern “powder keg,” Antonov called for the US “not to play with fire,” and said it should show more responsibility for both regional security and world peace.

    He reminded that the US and the USSR signed an agreement binding both parties to give notification of missile launches in advance, which is still valid between the US and Russia.

    17:26 GMT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said he intends to bring the issue of the escalating Syrian crisis to the top of the G20 summit’s agenda.

    Ban stressed that the use of military force is only legal in self-defense, or with the authorization of the UN Security Council. He also called for holding the Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria as soon as possible.

    The UN Chief also reminded that UN investigators are set to return to Syria to investigate several other cases of alleged chemical weapons use.

    16:10 GMT: Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said she believes Congress will support a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syria.

    Pelosi made her remarks after meeting the president and congressional leaders at the White House.


    • Ace News Group 18:00 on October 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Hugh Robertson today met with campaigners from Oxfam to discuss shared concerns about the conflict in Syria.


    • Ace News Group 15:16 on October 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      New York, Oct 4 2013 4:00PM
      The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is reviewing additional information received from Syria in connection to its chemical weapons stockpiles, a United Nations spokesperson said today, ahead of onsite inspections and initial disabling of equipment which could start as early as next week.
      Later that day, the UN Security Council unanimous adopted resolution 2118 (2013), calling for the for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW


    • John Balter 22:07 on September 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

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