FROM Erika Solomon
Aleppo evacuation resumes Another day brings another fragile ceasefire in Aleppo. The International Committee of the Red Cross says buses and ambulances are now evacuating people — after the first convoy was fired on by snipers. Erika Solomon, Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times , joins us from Beirut.
The battle over Aleppo brings new pleas for intervention Rebel forces in Syria won a rare victory this month by getting some food to 300,000 starving citizens trapped by constant bombing in the city of Aleppo. The US reportedly looked the other way while moderates teamed up with a former affiliate of al Qaeda. Nevertheless, a crisis of massive proportions is still growing. America's Holocaust Museum, is among those demanding action. President Obama's legacy has already been called into question. But, despite speculation that Russia's involvement is timed to the US election, the Trump and Clinton campaigns have had very little to say.
Peshmerga Troops Traveling to Kobani For the first time since a brutal civil war first began, troops from a Western-backed foreign nation have arrived in Syria. They are Kurdish peshmerga from Iraq, coming through Turkey to battle ISIS forces in the besieged town of Kobani. Erika Soloman is Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times .
Al Qaeda-Related Suicide Bombers Attack Iranian Embassy in Beirut Iran's embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was attacked by two suicide bombers today, one captured on video rushing the outer wall and the other reportedly in a nearby parked car. At least 23 people are dead, including an Iranian cultural attaché. Erika Solomon, who is in Beirut for Reuters , has an update.
Obama Still Cautious on Syria Response Horrific reports including grisly video show that chemical weapons have killed hundreds in Syria, including children. Has President Obama's "red line" been crossed? Rebel forces blame the Assad regime, while Assad claims the rebels did it to trigger support from international forces. UN inspectors have arrived in the country, but have not been allowed to visit the scene. If they were, could they prove the case one way or the other? We hear what President Obama said today about a host of bad options and what it would take for the US to intervene.
US to Arm Syrian Rebels Last night, the Obama White House announced that the US would provide direct military aid to some of the Syrian rebels, because the al-Assad government crossed that "Red Line" by using chemical weapons. There won't be boots on the ground. So far, it's small arms and ammunition. Is a wider war possible? Is it too late for diplomacy? We hear about the available options and possible outcomes, including spillover into the rest of the Middle East.
Syria’s Chemical Weapons and Obama’s “Red Line” Last week, Britain and France asked the UN to investigate evidence that Syria has used chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war. Yesterday, Israel’s top military intelligence analyst said photographs from attacks near Aleppo and Damascus show victims with constricted pupils foaming at the mouth—possible signs of the nerve agent sarin. He told an international conference in Jerusalem that, without “appropriate reaction,” Syria might conclude such use is “legitimate.” The Syrian government concedes it has chemical weapons but promises not to use them—unless there is foreign intervention. President Obama has said even moving such weapons around would be a “game changer” and constitute a “red line.” But just what did he mean? If there’s persuasive evidence, and the US fails to act, will Syria be emboldened by what seems a hollow warning? Available options include arming some rebels, establishing a “no-fly zone” and trying to seize or destroy the weapons. We’ll look at the prospects for increased US involvement.
Is It Time to Intervene in Syria? Syria's Bashar al-Assad has called for elections, even as his army continues to bombard residential neighborhoods the Assad government calls "havens for terrorists" inspired by foreign enemies. Army defectors and others are fighting back as best they can. Some 25,000 civilians have managed to flee to destinations including Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. We hear the stories of refugees, get reports on anti-government forces and update international calls for humanitarian intervention.
Syria's Civil War Syria's civilian death toll is now estimated at 6000 people, as tanks and machine guns continue to bombard residential neighborhoods the Assad government calls "havens for terrorists" inspired by foreign enemies. Army defectors and others are fighting back as best they can. Some 25,000 civilians have managed to flee to destinations including Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Refugees say they're bribing soldiers to help them get out of cities where food, water and medical care are in short supply. Meantime, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has announced a referendum in ten days to amend the constitution, limit his term in office and set up elections. France wants the UN to protect "corridors" for humanitarian relief, but Russia says that might "legitimize regime change."
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?