Lavrov, Kerry 'Agree On Need' For Syria Peace Conference
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have agreed on the need to start a Syrian peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible.
Lavrov made the remarks after talks in Washington on August 9 with Kerry.
Lavrov said he and Kerry agreed they should meet again by the end of August to prepare for the proposed Geneva talks.
Kerry said Russia and the United States needed to find ways to work around their differences on Syrias civil war, and to make progress on missile defense, Afghanistan, and nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea.
The talks came as the political mood between Moscow and Washington hit a low point with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this week canceling an upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confer during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington on August 9.
And here are two reports from 2 other organizations that comport with 1000+ casualties, the first one is IN GHOUTA.
1. The Unified Medical Revolutionary Office of Eastern Ghouta reported that 1,302 were killed in the attack, about 70 percent of whom were women and children, al-Baik said.
At least 9,838 others were wounded, he said.
2. In a Saturday report, the Foundation for Defence of Syrian Human Rights claimed the regime used chemical weapons 28 times between July 13th and August 21st. There were 23 incidents in and around Damascus, most recently the attack in Eastern and Western Ghouta, which killed a total of 1,845 and injured 9,924, it said.
Charles Duelfer was a top U.N. inspector in Iraq during the 1990s. After the U.S. invasion in 2003, he led the CIA's Iraq Survey Group, which continued to look for weapons of mass destruction. He's author of "Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq."
CHARLES DUELFER: If it is a sophisticated kind of a rocket or an artillery shell, such as the Syrian army would have, you can tell.
There's different reservoirs for the components of the sarin gas if they're there which are made to mix when it's fired. They're able to look at the type of gas, the sarin gas. Some of it is more sophisticated than others. For example, if it were just made up by insurgents, an ad hoc group, as some are suggesting as one alternative, they wouldn't have something called stabilizers or preservatives in it.
Serious Syrian army stuff has been on the shelf for a long time. It's like Wonder Bread. It has got something in the agent which will keep it active for years.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, come back to the intelligence community. And I say that because the British intelligence just put out a report today saying it is highly likely that the regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on 21 August.
CHARLES DUELFER: Presumably, the British and Americans have very similar sets of intelligence. They have got presumably agents on the ground. Presumably, they can hear what's going on.
One would think that the NSA, which is so prominent in the news these days, is listening carefully to the types of communications going on. Now, that communication can sometimes be ambiguous. But if you put all that together, it can clearly point in the direction of one actor in this, and I think there's probably, as has been said, the preponderance of evidence, public or nonpublic, does fall on the side that it's the Syrian government that did this.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the important context here, of course, is what happened in Iraq, where you were involved, where you looked at what happened afterwards. To what degree has what happened there affected how these kinds -- how this kind of work is done?
CHARLES DUELFER: Well, the weapons inspectors, it turned out, did a much better job than anyone thought.
Their techniques and methods have improved a fair amount. On the other hand, the intelligence community, they have had their fingers burned. They got it massively wrong in 2002 and 2003. So they are going to be very reluctant to make categorical statements like slam dunk to the policy-makers.
They will caveat their language, and that in effect is going to make policy-makers' life a little bit more difficult. It's also interesting that, like 2002-2003, Washington in a way is now seeing the U.N. processes as a bit of a problem. They're teed up and ready to go, and you hear language coming out of the White House which in a different time you could equally hear coming out of Bush White House, where they're seeing the U.N. process, well, it's slow, it's ponderous, and people can slow down the process. It's an encumbrance.
So there are many similarities, but I would finally say the evidence is much stronger in this case than it was in 2003. There's much more data.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, when you look at something like -- there was an article earlier this week in Foreign Policy about an intercepted phone call supposedly between Syrian army officials talking about this attack.
Does that feel helpful, either on the intelligence side? Does that remind you of things from Iraq, where you might wonder about it?
CHARLES DUELFER: What disturbs me about that is that it suggests that there's a lot of confusion on the part of the Syrian government.
One of the nightmare scenarios we have in all this is that all these weapons, which we know that they have, can fall out of their control. The one positive thing that anyone can say about Bashar is that he had control over these weapons. If that's coming apart, then we have got a problem that's even bigger than we thought.
Apparently German intelligence are also dupes of teh evil Obama.
German intelligence: Syria chemical attack may have been an overdose
Source: The Guardian
In the high-stakes drama over chemical weapons use in Syria, the US, France and Britain have all made clear that they hold the Assad regime responsible for the Ghouta attack on August 21st. Syria rejects the charge, and like its close ally Russia, blames the rebels. Neither have yet produced any evidence to support their position. Germany's intelligence assessment adds some intriguing new detail.
According to Der Spiegel, Gerhard Schindler, the head of the BND external intelligence service, told MPs in Berlin on Monday that while there was still no "incontestable proof," analysis of the evidence has led his service to believe that Assad's regime is to blame. Schindler also emphasized that the rebels were unable to carry out such a concerted attack.
In line with the three other western assessments, the German spy chief stressed the size of Syria's CW arsenal and its ability to use it. Schindler also believes CW had been used on a smaller scale before August 21. Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee assessment counted 14 separate incidents though it has not publicized its evidence. Schindler said that in the earlier attacks the poison gas mixture was diluted, explaining the much lower death tolls in those assaults.
There is a twist: "It could also be the case that errors were made in mixing the gas and it was much more potent than anticipated," Schindler said. Estimates of fatalities range from the US figure of 1429 to the French one of 281.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/on-the-middle-east/2013/sep/04/syria-assad-obama-germany
U.S. Will Grant Recognition to Syrian Rebels, Obama Says
WASHINGTON President Obama said Tuesday that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that countrys legitimate representative, in an attempt to intensify the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to give up his nearly two-year bloody struggle to stay in power.
But it marks a new phase of American engagement .. The United States had for much of the civil war largely sat on the sidelines, only recently moving more energetically as it appeared the opposition fighters were beginning to gain momentum and radical Islamists were playing a growing role.
Experts and many Syrians, including rebels, say the move may well be too little, too late. They note that it is not at all clear if this group will be able to coalesce into a viable leadership, if it has any influence over the fighters waging war with the government or if it can roll back widespread anger at the United States.
Not everybody who is participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people that we are comfortable with, Mr. Obama said in an interview on the ABC program 20/20. There are some who I think have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda.
Mr. Obama notably did not commit himself to providing arms to the rebels or to supporting them militarily with airstrikes or the establishment of a no-fly zone, a stance that has led to a rise of anti-American sentiment among many of the rebels.
The United States is helping to train rebels at a base in the region and for the first time offering armed groups nonlethal equipment, according to the New York Times.
The training mission, already under way, represents the deepest American involvement yet in the Syrian conflict, though the size and scope of the mission is not clear, nor is its host country. The offer of non-lethal assistance is expected from Kerry at a meeting on Thursday in Rome with opposition leaders.
Despite hopes in Damascus, President Obama has not backed off his demand that Mr. Assad step down. The administration has also kept up economic pressure on his government and has increased nonlethal aid to the opposition while calling for a negotiated settlement to the fighting.
But the United States has signaled growing discomfort with the rising influence of radical Islamists on the battlefield, and it remains unwilling to arm the rebels or to consider stepping in more forcefully without conclusive evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, as some Israeli officials assert.
The tightly constrained U.S. effort reflects Obama's continuing doubts about being drawn into a conflict that has already killed more than 100,000 people and his administration's fear that Islamic militants now leading the war against President Bashar Assad could gain control of advanced U.S. weaponry.
The training has involved fighters from the Free Syrian Army, a loose confederation of rebel groups that the Obama administration has promised to back with expanded military assistance, said a U.S. official, who discussed the effort anonymously because he was not authorized to disclose details.
Plan To Arm Syrian Rebels Moving Forward After Congressional Hurdles Lifted
U.S. Still Hasn't Armed Syrian Rebels
By ADAM ENTOUS and NOUR MALAS CONNECT
In June, the White House authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to help arm moderate fighters battling the Assad regime, a signal to Syrian rebels that the cavalry was coming. Three months later, they are still waiting.
The delay, in part, reflects a broader U.S. approach rarely discussed publicly but that underpins its decision-making, according to former and current U.S. officials: The Obama administration doesn't want to tip the balance in favor of the opposition for fear the outcome may be even worse for U.S. interests than the current stalemate.
U.S. officials attribute the delay in providing small arms and munitions from the CIA weapons program to the difficulty of establishing secure delivery "pipelines" to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands, in particular Jihadi militants also battling the Assad regime.
I was within 70 miles - kind of thought I'd do better.
Here's what the last 500 players thought.
You were better than 85% of them. People should ask you for directions!
from someone who studies munitions as well.