Diplomatic efforts intensify on corralling Syrian chemical arms
President Barack Obama said in a speech on Tuesday that he had asked the Congress to put off a vote on his request to authorize the use of military action to let diplomacy play out.
“In reflecting on the President’s speech .... and the many briefings I have received on Syria, despite my best attempts to discern it, I am left with the conclusion that the administration’s strategy on Syria is incoherent and inconsistent. While I believe we have important strategic interests in the region, I could not at this time support committing U.S. military force in Syria in the absence of a well thought out strategy and plan to achieve definable military objectives that are consistent with our national security interests and those of our allies.”
In a reminder of the mounting atrocities committed in the Syrian civil war that began in 2011, a report by a U.N. commission of inquiry released in Geneva documented eight mass killings, attributing all but one to government forces.
The commission, led by Paulo Pinheiro of Brazil, urged the U.N. Security Council to hold perpetrators accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The non-binding declaration by the State Duma, the lower chamber dominated by the Kremlin-controlled United Russia party, echoed the vociferous opposition by President Vladimir Putin to U.S. military action.
The violence continued inside Syria. Fighters from an al Qaeda-linked rebel group killed 12 members of the minority Alawite sect in central Syria after seizing their village, an opposition monitoring group said.
Syrian government forces and rebels are both preventing medical assistance in particular from reaching the sick and wounded, ICRC President Peter Maurer said.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said he hoped that a U.S. promise to pursue diplomacy to remove the threat of chemical weapons in Syria was "serious," the state news agency IRNA reported.
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