Joan Stoykovich Nelson

Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee
George W. Bush Presidential Center
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Tulsa Republican Club
Heritage Foundation
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Sen. Inhofe: US doesn't have 'the resources' to strike Syria

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 Former Defense Secretaries Criticize Obama Over Syria

Former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta criticized President Obama's strategy regarding the Syrian civil war Tuesday, with both agreeing that Obama should not have sought the approval of Congress for a military strike against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

Speaking at a forum in Dallas, Gates and Panetta, Obama's first two defense secretaries,  disagreed on whether the United States should ultimately carry out a military strike in retaliation for a chemical attack that the U.S. says killed 1,400 people. However, both expressed skepticism (and occasionally sarcasm) about ongoing negotiations, led by Russia, for Assad to hand over his stockpile of chemical weapons to the international community. 

Panetta said he supported a strike because Obama needed to enforce the "red line" he set over Syria's use of chemical weapons.

"When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word," Panetta said.

But Gates said a strike would be like "throwing gasoline on an extremely complex fire in the Middle East." He brought up past interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as examples of how American military action can lead to unintended consequences.

He also dismissed attacking Syria to enforce a red line.

"I believe to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is not a strategy," he said.

Obama had been pushing for a military strike on Syria in retaliation for a chemical attack the U.S. blames on Assad's forces, but that is on hold as a he pursues a diplomatic initiative.

U.S. and Russian officials reached an agreement over the weekend to inventory Syria's chemical weapons programs within a week and remove all of them by the middle of next year. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council were discussing a resolution. The U.S. and France want to include a military option if enforcement fails, which Russia opposes.

Both Gates and Panetta spoke freely -- and often critically -- about how they would handle Syria differently.

Gates, who was appointed secretary of defense by former President George W. Bush and retained by Obama, said he thought America's most recent presidents "have become too quick to reach for a gun to solve an international problem."

He said the U.S. should try to covertly arm "selected rebel groups" in Syria, but not with surface-to-air missiles. The U.S. should also push for Assad to be labeled a war criminal, for warrants to be issued for his arrest and for a seizure of his family's assets abroad, Gates said.

As for negotiations with Russia, Gates said the U.S. should push for more authority and strict demands on complying with any terms of an agreement.

Asked if he trusted Russian President Vladimir Putin, Gates said: "My answer would be, are you kidding me?"

Panetta, who replaced Gates and served until earlier this year, said he would have told Obama not to go to Congress once he decided military action was needed.

"Mr. President, this Congress has a hard time agreeing as to what the time of day is," he said.

For Obama to not back up his words with a strike would embolden Iran on nuclear weapons and other American enemies, Panetta said.

Once the president drew a red line, Panetta said, "Damn it, you've got to do it."

 The Associated Press contributed  to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/18/former-defense-secretaries-criticize-obama-over-syria/?cmpid=NL_morninghl##ixzz2fNircuK1

 

 

 SENATOR JIM INHOFE

RANKING MEMBER OF THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

 

 

Pope Francis has called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East, and the world to be held on September 7, 2013, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.

 

The CatholicTV Network will air this event live at 1PM ET. The event will rebroadcast at 7:30PM on Saturday, September 7th, immediately following the Mass from the National Shrine.

 

The Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria has been announced as the devastation and suffering of the Syrian people continues.

 

 

 

 Free Syrian Army Commander Rejects Ceasefire

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The commander of the Free Syrian Army has made it clear that there will be no ceasefire. Fox News anchor Eric Shawn spoke to General Salim Idris over Skype about the crisis in Syria. The United Nations is currently reviewing the list of Syria's chemical weapons, but General Idris accused the Assad regime of lying and continuing to use the air force to kill civilians. “They are playing games to win time and to deceive the international community.”

General Idris said his group will go to Geneva under one condition: if President Bashar al-Assad leaves power. “Without that, we will not go.”

He maintained that the regime committed war crimes by using chemical weapons on the Syrian people. The only thing that will stop Assad, he told Shawn, is the threat of force. On Sunday morning, the Russian government accused the U.S. of exploitation for insisting that the threat of force be included in the deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.  

 http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/09/22/free-syrian-army-commander-general-idris-rejects-ceasefire

 

 

Some GOP lawmakers skeptical Congress will OK military force in Syria

 Secretary of State John F. Kerry predicted Sunday that the U.S. Congress would not “turn its back” on the Syrian people and U.S. allies in the Middle East, but two leading Republicans on Capitol Hill said prospects for support for the use of military authorization are dim.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said he doesn’t think Congress would approve such an authorization.

“I don’t think they will,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It may sound real easy when people like Secretary Kerry say that it’s going to be quick and we’re going to go in and send a few cruise missiles, wash our hands and go home. It doesn’t work that way.”

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, blasted President Obama and accused him of abdicating his responsibility by waiting for congressional approval, saying Mr. Obama has the authority as commander in chief to act against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Mr. Obama said Saturday he believes he has that authority as well, but that the country and the case will be stronger by going to Congress first.

“If we can’t stop Syria on a red line with chemical weapons, how can anyone expect us to stop Iran with a red line on nuclear weapons?” Mr. King said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think it is going to difficult to get the vote through in Congress, especially when there’s going to be time over the next nine days for opposition to build up to it.”

Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, said Mr. Obama made the right decision by seeking congressional authority.

“I think that if there is another serious incident by the Syrians, if they again use chemical weapons, as Secretary Kerry suggested, the president has already stated he feels he has the international authority to move forward,” Mr. Reed said.

 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/1/some-gop-lawmakers-skeptical-congress-will-ok-mili/

                                           

 Boehner to Obama: How Does Syria Plan Comport With 'Exclusive' Constitutional Power of Congress? Associated Press Interviews John Boehner Speaker of the House:  Interview below.

(CNSNews.com) - House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) sent a letter to President Barack Obama late Wednesday asking the president to tell the nation how his plans for Syria are “legally justified” and how that legal justification comports with the constitutional authority of Congress to authorize military action.

The letter marked a significant shift in both tone and substance from the statement Boehner had issued on Monday urging the president to “consult with Congress” and “explain” to the American people whatever “course of action he chooses” to take.”

“In addition,” Boehner wrote in his Wednesday letter, "it is essential you address on what basis any use of force would be legally justified and how the justification comports with the exclusive authority of congressional authorization under Article 1 of the Constitution.”

Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to “declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” The draft version of this language that was debated in the Constitutional Convention on Aug. 17, 1787 would have given Congress the power to “make war,” according to the notes of the convention made by James Madison.

After Charles Pinckney of South Carolina objected that the legislature’s proceedings would be “too slow”—and recommended the war power be placed in the Senate alone—and Pierce Butler of South Carolina suggested the power be given to the president alone, Madison himself and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts "moved to insert 'declare,' striking out 'make' war; leaving to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks."

Roger Sherman of Connecticut agreed that the “Executive shd. be able to repel and not to commence war.” Gerry himself observed that he “never expected to hear in a republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.” And George Mason indicated his support for the Madison-Gerry amendment, saying he “was agst giving the power of war to the Executive, because not safely to be trusted with it.”

The convention adopted Gerry’s and Madison’s language, believing it had thereby given Congress the power over the initiation of military action except when the president needed to “repel a sudden attack.”

George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, personally adhered to this understanding of the war power when he served as president. In 1793, Washington wrote: “The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress, therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure."

As a presidential candidate, Obama expressed the same view as George Washington when asked about the war power by the Boston Globe in an interview published on Dec. 20, 2007.

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," Obama said then.

On Wednesday, Rep. Scott Rigell (R.-Va.) sent a letter to Obama—co-signed by more than 100 other House members—reminding the president that the Constitution gives Congress, not the Executive, the authority to decide whether to initiate military force except when the president must do so to stop an attack on the United States.

“While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate—and the active engagement of Congress—prior to committing U.S. military assets,” Rigell wrote. “Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

In an interview with CNSNews.com on Wednesday, Rigell--who served in the Marine Corps Reserves for six years and who now represents the congressional district with the largest concentration of U.S. military personnel—said that he was calling on Speaker Boehner to call the House of Representatives back into session now to deter the president from usurping Congress’s power over the use of military force.

“He should be calling the House back right now,” Rigell said of Boehner. “I will be clear on this.”

"I do have a call scheduled with one of our senior leaders this afternoon and I will be making that case," said Rigell. "I think we're at this point, and I regret that we're at this point. But that is where we are.”

In his own Wednesday letter to Obama, Boehner said he had agreed with Obama’s earlier calls for regime change in Syria and for declaring it a “red line” for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons.

“Since March of 2011, your policy has been to call for a stop to  the violence in Syria and to advocate for a political transition to a more democratic form of government,” Boehner wrote Obama. “On August 18, 2012, you called for President Assad’s resignation, adding his removal as part of the official policy of the United States. In addition, it has been the objective of the United States to prevent the use or transfer of chemical weapons. I support these policies and publicly agreed with you when you established your red line regarding the use or transfer of chemical weapons last August.”

Like Obama and Boehner, Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, has advocated regime change in Syria, vocally supporting the Sunni Muslim rebels fighting against Asad, who is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Nusra Front, a part of the rebel opposition to the Assad regime, is an al Qaeda affiliate that the State Department has officially labeled a terrorist group.

In his letter, Boehner asked Obama to answer a series of questions. Among these were: “Does the Administration have contingency plans if the momentum does shift away from the regime but toward terrorist organizations fighting to gain and maintain control of the territory?”

In 2011, Obama used military force to support the rebellion in Libya—and did so without seeking congressional authorization. The U.S.-backed rebels succeeded in overthrowing the Libyan regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Then, on Sept. 11, 2012, Libyan terrorists in Benghazi attacked U.S. State Department facilities there, killing four Americans.

“It will take presidential leadership and a clear explanation of our policy, our interests, and our objectives to gain public and congressional support for any military action against Syria,” Boehner said in his letter to Obama.

“It will take that public support and congressional will to sustain the administration’s efforts, and our military, as well as their families, deserve to have the confidence that we collectively have their backs—and a thorough strategy in place,” wrote Boehner.

Boehner, however, did not say that he was calling the House--which is now in its August recess--back into session. Nor did he say he intended to call a vote in the House on whether to authorize the president to use force in Syria.

 http://cnsnews.com/news/article/boehner-obama-how-does-syria-plan-comport-exclusive-constitutional-power-congress

Lawmakers react to Obama turning to Congress on Syria

Rep. Peter King, Sen. Jack Reed and Sen. James Inhofe on 'Fox News Sunday'

 

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 This Oct. 14, 2013 photo provided by the St. Paul's and St. George's Foundation shows workers preparing to install a statue of Jesus on Mount Sednaya, Syria. In the midst of a civil war rife with sectarianism, a 12.3-meter (40-foot) tall, bronze statue of Jesus has gone up on a Syrian mountain, apparently under cover of a truce among three factions - Syrian forces, rebels and gunmen in the Christian town of Sednaya.

 U.S. BACKED SYRIAN COALITION PLAYS DOWN REBELS' CALL  FOR AN ISLAMIST SYRIA

CNSNews.com) – The U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition put a brave face Wednesday on a declaration signed by some of the most powerful rebel groups inside the country, rejecting the faction as out-of-touch exiles who do not represent the rebellion.

The declaration by at least 11 Islamist factions called on all those fighting to topple President Bashar Assad's regime to unite under a "clear Islamic framework" and commit themselves to shari’a as “the sole source of legislation.”

The statement could signal a collaborative initiative that proves as short-lived as have previous ones – or it could turn out to be of major significance to the future of the anti-Assad rebellion.

Signatories include one of two al-Qaeda affiliates in the country, the al-Nusrah Front, as well as several major rebel groups focused in the north of the country. At least three of the groups until now have been associated with the SNC’s military wing, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), whose supreme military council is led by Gen. Salim Idriss.

The declaration by the Islamist groups came as the SNC’s Turkey-based leaders including its president, Ahmad al-Jarba, are visiting New York for talks with the U.S. and other governments that have thrown their support behind the SNC and Idriss.

The delegation is scheduled to hold a press conference at the U.N. on Thursday morning, but a senior member of its political office, Anas al-Abdeh, issued a statement in Arabic on Wednesday reacting to the development in Syria.

He said the declaration was inappropriate, coming as the SNC delegation was holding talks at the U.N. in a bid to “gain new friends.”

Abdeh said some large rebel factions had not signed the statement, and those that did sign “do not represent the most important free army battalions on the ground.”

He also called it a mistake for those involved in the initiative to have included al-Nusrah, saying the al-Qaeda-linked faction follows an agenda “that is hostile to the [Syrian] national project.”

Abdeh said it was essential that the SNC hold dialogue with the Islamist signatories – with the exception of al-Nusrah – to try to understand and take into account their “points of concern.”

In response to the declaration’s comments regarding shari’a, he said, “It should be known to all that the nature of the future state in Syria is the people’s choice, through the ballot box. No-one has the right to impose guardianship on the Syrian people and declare the type of regime or the law that will govern Syria.”

A senior State Department official briefing reporters in New York on background said the administration had seen the declaration and was discussing it with the visiting SNC representatives.

“We’ve been long working towards unity among the opposition, and have never felt that a divided opposition would be beneficial to anyone but the Assad regime,” the official said.

“We’re still working with the opposition and talking to them about what this means and how we can strengthen the moderate opposition and continue to help them.”

Writing on the Syria Comment blog, analyst Aron Lund said that if the Islamist declaration accurately reflects the views of the signatories and the group does not fall apart, then it amounts to “a very big deal.”

“It represents the rebellion of a large part of the ‘mainstream FSA’ against its purported political leadership, and openly aligns these factions with more hardline Islamist forces.”

Lund, a Swedish Mideast affairs researcher who has published studies on the Syrian opposition, noted that among factions that did not sign the statement was the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) – the second al-Qaeda group active in the anti-Assad rebellion.

He said that may be significant, given recent tensions between ISIS and other factions.

“On the other hand, the statement is in no way hostile to the ISIS. It might in fact suit them pretty well, since it weakens the hand of the Western-backed camp and adds weight to Islamist demands.”

In an earlier background briefing, after Secretary of State John Kerry met with Jarba, a senior administration official mentioned that “a real firefight” was currently underway in eastern Syria between ISIS and FSA forces – “the hardest fighting we’ve ever seen” between the two.

“The people that we support under Salim Idriss are bringing in reinforcements, and it’s a slog right now.”

The administration official also acknowledged concerns about the fact SNC leaders are not based inside Syria.

“I will be the first person to say that there are credibility issues still. They are located in Istanbul and Gaziantep [in south-east Turkey, near the border with Syria]; they’re not located inside Syria.

“And so they are at a disadvantage that way, and it’s a problem.”

The official pointed out that some SNC officials including Jarba have made trips into Syria, but do not live there.

“So they’re going to have to do more to build their own credibility in the country, and we talked about that today too. But they told us they understand that.”

- See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/us-backed-syrian-coalition-plays-down-rebels-call-islamist-syria#sthash.Tw2slos2.dpuf

U.S.-Backed Syrian Coalition Plays Down Rebels’ Call for an Islamist Syria

- See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/us-backed-syrian-coalition-plays-down-rebels-call-islamist-syria#sthash.Tw2slos2.dpuf

CNSNews.com) – The U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition put a brave face Wednesday on a declaration signed by some of the most powerful rebel groups inside the country, rejecting the faction as out-of-touch exiles who do not represent the rebellion.

The declaration by at least 11 Islamist factions called on all those fighting to topple President Bashar Assad's regime to unite under a "clear Islamic framework" and commit themselves to shari’a as “the sole source of legislation.”

The statement could signal a collaborative initiative that proves as short-lived as have previous ones – or it could turn out to be of major significance to the future of the anti-Assad rebellion.

Signatories include one of two al-Qaeda affiliates in the country, the al-Nusrah Front, as well as several major rebel groups focused in the north of the country. At least three of the groups until now have been associated with the SNC’s military wing, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), whose supreme military council is led by Gen. Salim Idriss.

The declaration by the Islamist groups came as the SNC’s Turkey-based leaders including its president, Ahmad al-Jarba, are visiting New York for talks with the U.S. and other governments that have thrown their support behind the SNC and Idriss.

The delegation is scheduled to hold a press conference at the U.N. on Thursday morning, but a senior member of its political office, Anas al-Abdeh, issued a statement in Arabic on Wednesday reacting to the development in Syria.

He said the declaration was inappropriate, coming as the SNC delegation was holding talks at the U.N. in a bid to “gain new friends.”

Abdeh said some large rebel factions had not signed the statement, and those that did sign “do not represent the most important free army battalions on the ground.”

He also called it a mistake for those involved in the initiative to have included al-Nusrah, saying the al-Qaeda-linked faction follows an agenda “that is hostile to the [Syrian] national project.”

Abdeh said it was essential that the SNC hold dialogue with the Islamist signatories – with the exception of al-Nusrah – to try to understand and take into account their “points of concern.”

In response to the declaration’s comments regarding shari’a, he said, “It should be known to all that the nature of the future state in Syria is the people’s choice, through the ballot box. No-one has the right to impose guardianship on the Syrian people and declare the type of regime or the law that will govern Syria.”

A senior State Department official briefing reporters in New York on background said the administration had seen the declaration and was discussing it with the visiting SNC representatives.

“We’ve been long working towards unity among the opposition, and have never felt that a divided opposition would be beneficial to anyone but the Assad regime,” the official said.

“We’re still working with the opposition and talking to them about what this means and how we can strengthen the moderate opposition and continue to help them.”

Writing on the Syria Comment blog, analyst Aron Lund said that if the Islamist declaration accurately reflects the views of the signatories and the group does not fall apart, then it amounts to “a very big deal.”

“It represents the rebellion of a large part of the ‘mainstream FSA’ against its purported political leadership, and openly aligns these factions with more hardline Islamist forces.”

Lund, a Swedish Mideast affairs researcher who has published studies on the Syrian opposition, noted that among factions that did not sign the statement was the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) – the second al-Qaeda group active in the anti-Assad rebellion.

He said that may be significant, given recent tensions between ISIS and other factions.

“On the other hand, the statement is in no way hostile to the ISIS. It might in fact suit them pretty well, since it weakens the hand of the Western-backed camp and adds weight to Islamist demands.”

In an earlier background briefing, after Secretary of State John Kerry met with Jarba, a senior administration official mentioned that “a real firefight” was currently underway in eastern Syria between ISIS and FSA forces – “the hardest fighting we’ve ever seen” between the two.

“The people that we support under Salim Idriss are bringing in reinforcements, and it’s a slog right now.”

The administration official also acknowledged concerns about the fact SNC leaders are not based inside Syria.

“I will be the first person to say that there are credibility issues still. They are located in Istanbul and Gaziantep [in south-east Turkey, near the border with Syria]; they’re not located inside Syria.

“And so they are at a disadvantage that way, and it’s a problem.”

The official pointed out that some SNC officials including Jarba have made trips into Syria, but do not live there.

“So they’re going to have to do more to build their own credibility in the country, and we talked about that today too. But they told us they understand that.”

 

 http://cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/us-backed-syrian-coalition-plays-down-rebels-call-islamist-syria

 Smoke rises from buildings after an airstrike by Syria regime forces in the central province of Hama on Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013. (AP Photo)

Smoke rises from buildings after an airstrike by Syria regime forces in the central province of Hama on Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013. (AP Photo) - See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/us-backed-syrian-coalition-plays-down-rebels-call-islamist-syria#sthash.Tw2slos2.dpuf

 Some GOP lawmakers skeptical Congress will OK military force in Syria

Secretary of State John F. Kerry predicted Sunday that the U.S. Congress would not “turn its back” on the Syrian people and U.S. allies in the Middle East, but two leading Republicans on Capitol Hill said prospects for support for the use of military authorization are dim.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said he doesn’t think Congress would approve such an authorization.


SEE ALSO: Rep. Mike Rogers: Congress will back Obama on Syria


“I don’t think they will,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It may sound real easy when people like Secretary Kerry say that it’s going to be quick and we’re going to go in and send a few cruise missiles, wash our hands and go home. It doesn’t work that way.”

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, blasted President Obama and accused him of abdicating his responsibility by waiting for congressional approval, saying Mr. Obama has the authority as commander in chief to act against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Mr. Obama said Saturday he believes he has that authority as well, but that the country and the case will be stronger by going to Congress first.

“If we can’t stop Syria on a red line with chemical weapons, how can anyone expect us to stop Iran with a red line on nuclear weapons?” Mr. King said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think it is going to difficult to get the vote through in Congress, especially when there’s going to be time over the next nine days for opposition to build up to it.”

Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, said Mr. Obama made the right decision by seeking congressional authority.

I think that if there is another serious incident by the Syrians, if they again use chemical weapons, as Secretary Kerry suggested, the president has already stated he feels he has the international authority to move forward,” Mr. Reed said.

At the same time, Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, echoed Mr. Kerry’s sentiments on CNN by saying he thinks the Congress will rise to the occasion on the issue.

 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/1/some-gop-lawmakers-skeptical-congress-will-ok-mili/

 People stand on a street lined with damaged buildings in the besieged area of Homs January 27, 2014.

Congress secretly approves U.S. weapons flow to 'moderate' Syrian rebels

 (Reuters) - Light arms supplied by the United States are flowing to "moderate" Syrian rebel factions in the south of the country and U.S. funding for months of further deliveries has been approved by Congress, according U.S. and European security officials.

The weapons, most of which are moving to non-Islamist Syrian rebels via Jordan, include a variety of small arms, as well as some more powerful weapons, such as anti-tank rockets.

The deliveries do not include weapons such as shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as MANPADs, which could shoot down military or civilian aircraft, the officials said.

The weapons deliveries have been funded by the U.S. Congress, in votes behind closed doors, through the end of government fiscal year 2014, which ends on September 30, two officials said.

The apparently steady weapons flow contrasts with the situation last summer, when lethal U.S. aid to the Syrian rebels dried up for a time due to congressional reservations.

Congressional committees held up weapons deliveries for months over fears that U.S. arms would not prove decisive in the rebels' efforts to oust President Bashar Assad and his government and could well end up in the hands of Islamist militants.

A U.S. official familiar with recent developments said national security officials and members of Congress are more confident that weapons delivered to southern Syria are going to, and remaining in, the hands of moderate rebels rather than militant jihadist factions.

Congress approved funding for weapons deliveries to the Syrian rebels in classified sections of defense appropriations legislation, two sources familiar with the matter said. It was not clear when the funding was approved, but unclassified defense funding passed Congress in late December.

Some additional budget tweaks may be necessary to ensure that all the approved funding is fully available for disbursement during the current fiscal year.

Yet, officials who support providing U.S. arms to the rebels acknowledge that this has not greatly increased U.S. expectations of victory by anti-Assad forces, whether moderate or militant.

"The Syrian war is a stalemate. The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad; the regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion. Both sides' external allies... are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future," said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA analyst and sometime foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama.

Both U.S. and European officials said that "moderate" rebels had recently consolidated their positions in the Syrian south, where they are pushing out elements linked to al-Qaeda. More militant factions remain dominant in the north and east.

Another recent development favorable to more moderate factions is that Kurdish groups that had been providing weapons and other aid financed by donors in the Gulf state of Qatar indiscriminately to both moderate and religious extremist rebel factions had greatly reduced their involvement in the arms traffic, one of the officials said.

A White House spokeswoman had no comment. Other U.S. agencies did not respond to requests for comment.

As for "non-lethal" aid like communications and transportation equipment, the United States hopes to resume deliveries to moderate groups in Syria soon, a U.S. official said on Monday.

The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria in December after reports that Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in hostile hands.

"We hope to be able to resume assistance to the SMC shortly, pending security and logistics considerations," said the official, referring to the Supreme Military Council moderate rebel group. "But we have no announcements at this time," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Non-lethal aid was resumed to civilian groups in that region in late December.

 U.S. Identifies Citizens Joining Rebels in Syria, Including ISIS

WASHINGTON — American intelligence and law enforcement agencies have identified nearly a dozen Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militant group that the Obama administration says poses the greatest threat to the United States since Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

As ISIS has seized large expanses of territory in recent months, it has drawn more foreign men to Syria, requiring more American and European law enforcement resources in the attempt to stop the flow of fighters, senior American officials said. And as a result of the increasing numbers of men, ISIS is now recruiting foreign women as jihadist wives.

 ISIS has become more attractive to would-be militants because, unlike Al Qaeda, it has seized territory that it rules by strict Islamic law. “ISIS is able to hold itself up as the true jihad,” said a senior American official. “They’re saying: ‘Look at what we are doing, what we’re accomplishing. We’re the new face. We’re not just talking about it. We’re doing it.’ ”

ISIS’ attraction to some is based on its reputation for brutality. On Thursday, that reputation grew worse when it was revealed that it had waterboarded four hostages early in their captivity — including the American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded this month.

Over all, American intelligence officials said the number of Americans who have joined rebel groups in Syria — not just ISIS — had nearly doubled since January. The officials now believe that more than 100 Americans have fought alongside groups there since the civil war began three years ago.

The agencies have been able to specifically identify Americans fighting for ISIS based on intelligence gathered from travel records, family members, intercepted electronic communications, social media postings and surveillance of Americans overseas who had expressed interest in going to Syria, the officials said.

Many more Europeans have joined the fight against President Bashar al-Assad — more than 1,000, according to many estimates. The British government has identified about 500 of its citizens who have gone to Syria, according to a senior British official. About half have returned to Britain, and a small number have died on the battlefield, the official said.

Senior American officials acknowledge that as the conflict in Syria and Iraq drags on, it is becoming harder to track Americans who have traveled there. In many instances, the American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are learning that Americans are there only long after they have arrived.

In the latest example of how difficult it is for the United States to track its citizens, the F.B.I. on Thursday was trying to verify reports that two more Americans had been killed fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, at least four Americans have died fighting for rebel groups, including Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, a Minnesota man who was fighting for ISIS when he was killed last weekend by a rival group backed by the United States.

Another challenge that the intelligence and law enforcement authorities say they face is a difference from previous conflicts: The Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight have little in common. The conflict has attracted both men and women, including some who were raised as Muslims and others who converted from Christianity, and they have come from different parts of the United States.

One trend the authorities have detected in recent months is that the American recruits are younger. They are now mostly in their late teens or early 20s, the officials said.

 

The territorial gains by ISIS, and its attempt to govern towns and cities in eastern Syria and western Iraq, have forced it to recruit foreigners not just for the battlefield. The group has tried to lure doctors, oil field workers and engineers to live in, and help run, the caliphate it claims to have established, according to the officials.

The F.B.I.’s psychological analysts at Quantico, Va., armed with court-approved powers, are increasingly monitoring the activities of Americans who have expressed extremist views in jihadist chat rooms and on websites. It is an effort to chart their radicalization, law enforcement officials said.

But ISIS and other violent Islamist groups operating in Syria have not been deterred by the American efforts. In Minneapolis, for example, Abdirizak Bihi, director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, said that young Somali women were being recruited by violent Islamist groups to support Syrian militants.

Mr. Bihi said that despite efforts to combat the recruiting, multiple Somali families in the city had “lost their girls to Syria.”

“We are frustrated because nobody’s helping us,” he said. “We’re losing everything we have.”

In Europe, where larger numbers are leaving for Syria, officials share the same concern and are working closely with the American authorities to coordinate measures to stem the flow and track those who return.

But the ISIS-led fighters who swept into Mosul, Iraq, in June and advanced south to within 60 miles of Baghdad, the capital, have built considerable momentum in recruitment.

“There’s certainly been a P.R. boon for them,” said Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

New attention was focused on ISIS on Thursday when The Washington Post reported that the group had waterboarded at least four of its Western hostages. The hostages were tortured in other ways as well, American officials said, but the waterboarding disclosure was considered significant because the practice was used during the George W. Bush administration on detainees held in the fight against terrorism.

Some senior American officials warned that Americans might face the same treatment if they were captured abroad.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/world/middleeast/us-identifies-citizens-joining-rebels-in-syria.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LedeSum&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1

 SENATOR JIM INHOFE 

JOSE DIAZ-BALART DISCUSSES AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY AGAINST ISIS

 

A Rogue State Along Two Rivers

HOW ISIS CAME TO CONTROL LARGE PORTIONS OF SYRIA AND IRAQ

 OPEN INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC  CLICK

 
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
 
International outrage against the ISIS group grew again Saturday after they released a video appearing to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines
 
 

 John Kerry: "We are at war" with ISIS

 Secretary of State John Kerry backtracked on the language he had used to describe the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL), saying in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that, "we are at war" with the group.

"I think there's frankly a kind of tortured debate going on about terminology," said Kerry, who rejected the word "war" in an interview with CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan last week and warned that people shouldn't get "war fever."

"In terms of al Qaeda, which we have used the word 'war' with, yeah...we are at war with al Qaeda and it's affiliates. And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense," Kerry said. "But I think it's waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, lets consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL."

Kerry has been traveling throughout the Middle East working to build a coalition of nations to fight ISIS in capacities ranging from carrying out airstrikes alongside the U.S. to providing humanitarian aid. International outrage against the group grew again Saturday after they released a video appearing to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.

Although Kerry said that some countries have offered to send troops to fight the Islamic militants on the ground in Iraq and Syria, "we are not looking for that at this moment" and is not yet ready to announce which country will take what actions.

Kerry said the Syrian opposition forces will serve as the troops on the ground in the fight.

"The Syrian opposition is on the ground and one of the regrettable things is, it has been fighting ISIL by itself over the course of the last couple of years. And it's one of the reasons that they've had a difficult battle," Kerry said. "Now, with the air support and other efforts from other countries, they will be augmented in their capacity."

The president has requested authorization from Congress to further train and equip the rebels, but will have to wait a few more days for lawmakers to vote on the issue.

But Kerry was confident that every aspect of the plan the president put forward in a speech to the nation last Wednesday night will be carried out by the U.S. and it's allies.

"People should not think about this effort just in terms of strikes. In fact, as some have pointed out, that alone is not going to resolve this challenge," he said.

One thing he rejected was the possibility of coordinating with the Syrian government. The Syrian Foreign Minister has said that his country welcomes U.S. airstrikes and would like to coordinate.

"We're not going to coordinate it with Syria," Kerry said. "We will certainly want to de-conflict and make certain that they're not about to do something that they might regret even more seriously. But we're not going to coordinate, it's not a cooperative effort. We're going to do what they haven't done, what they had plenty of opportunity to do, which is to take on ISIL and to degrade it and eliminate it as a threat."

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/john-kerry-we-are-at-war-with-isis/

British PM David Cameron vows to "destroy" ISIS

|Reacting to the beheading of a British aid worker by ISIS, Prime Minister Cameron said his country will do everything it can to end the extremists’ terror campaign. He described the act depicted in an online video as “pure evil”. Charlie D’Agata reports.

 

 UNITED STATES NAVY ON USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH

U.S. AIRCRAFT PREPARE FOR ANTI-ISIS CAMPAIGN

 Senator Inhofe "one size fits all" approach will not work in Iraq/Syria

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) criticized the White House strategy in Iraq and Syria by raising publicly, a point that is being discussed privately, and widely in military and intelligence circles.

Inhofe said the administration’s position that they will employ the same strategy used in Yemen and Somalia, does not acknowledge the clear differences in the adversary, ISIS, and conditions on the ground.

Yemen is a government that has given tacit approval to the US drone campaign and Somalia lacks a coherent government to object to the campaign. Inhofe says this cookie cutter approach by the President does not recognize that ISIS holds more territory (size of Great Britain), has more money, has 10-thousands of fighters, and in both Iraq and Syria there are functioning governments, and in Syria an air defense system.

While the targeted killing campaign has taken out leadership in Yemen and Somalia, both groups have found ways to replace.  By example, al-Shabaab replaced Godane who was killed in an airstrike earlier this  month – within days.

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/special-report-bret-baier/blog/2014/09/16/senator-inhofe-one-size-fits-all-approach-will-not-work-iraqsyria

Rep. Cole: "President shouldn't rule anything out"

Published on Sep 18, 2014

Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) appeared on MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner to discuss the recent House vote that authorized the president's request to combat ISIL through training and arming Syrian rebels. Cole stated that the president shouldn't rule out any tools or resources for combating ISIL. (September 18,

 

Inhofe on situation in Syria, calls for U.S. support of the Kurds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today about the situation in Syria, specifically calling for U.S. support of the Kurds with air support, intelligence, and equipment:

“Today’s tactical strikes against ISIS are long overdue.  While the White House has been paralyzed by handwringing and indecision, ISIS now operates the largest terrorist safe haven in the world. Now more than 35,000 lives are threatened for simply being in the religious minority, and ISIS' strength and influence poses a direct threat to the U.S. We knew this could and likely would happen.  I'm glad the President finally is beginning to recognize the severity of the threat in Syria. He waited to act until the situation became a security and humanitarian crisis.

“As I've said many times before, the President must come forward with a clear and compelling strategy for Syria and the broader region. I believe a vital component of any strategy must involve direct assistance to the Kurds, who have proven to be a steadfast partner of the United States. They have shown themselves willing and able to fight against ISIS, but are finding themselves outgunned and need more support.  I’ve met with President Barzani on several occasions, and trust his judgment in this crisis to request assistance from the U.S. We need to provide them with air support, intelligence, and equipment, such as small arms, ammunition, and anti-tank weapons. The Kurds have played a vital role for the U.S. in the region, and it is critical we stand by their side.”

http://www.inhofe.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/inhofe-on-situation-in-iraq-calls-for-us-support-of-the-kurds

A Turkish soldier watches the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, September 24, 2014.  

Islamist fighters advance in Syria despite U.S. strikes

DAMASCUS/MURSITPINAR Turkey Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:58am BST

(Reuters) - U.S. and coalition planes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria again on Wednesday, but the strikes did not halt the fighters' advance in a Kurdish area where fleeing refugees told of villages burnt and captives beheaded.

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at the United Nations, asked the world to join together to fight the militants and vowed to keep up military pressure against them.

"The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force, so the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death," Obama said in 40-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted Britain to join U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State militant group after the Iraqi government requested London's help. He recalled parliament to secure its approval for military action.

Cameron said in an address at the United Nations that a comprehensive strategy was needed to combat Islamic State.

"Our strategy must work in tandem with Arab states, always in support of local people, in line with our legal obligations and as part of a plan that involves our aid, our diplomacy and, yes, our military," Cameron said. "We need to act and we need to act now."

A third night of U.S.-led air strikes late on Wednesday targeted Islamic State-controlled oil refineries in eastern Syria as the United States and its partners moved to choke off a crucial source of revenue for the militant group, U.S. officials said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined in the strikes by piloted and drone aircraft targeting facilities around al Mayadin, al Hasakah, and Abu Kamal, the U.S. military said.

The military said the targeted refineries, which are prefabricated and constructed off-site so they can be transported and made operational quickly, were capable of producing millions in revenue and provided fuel for Islamic State operations.

The United States on Wednesday also designated two dozen individuals and groups as foreign terrorists or terrorist facilitators, enabling it to freeze assets and block financial transactions as part of its offensive against Islamic State.

Syrian Kurds said Islamic State had responded to U.S. attacks by intensifying its assault near the Turkish border in northern Syria, where 140,000 civilians have fled in recent days in the fastest exodus of the three-year civil war.

Washington and its Arab allies killed scores of Islamic State fighters in the opening 24 hours of air strikes, the first direct U.S. foray into Syria two weeks after Obama pledged to hit the group on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border.

But the intensifying advance on the northern town of Kobani showed the difficulty Washington faces in defeating Islamist fighters in Syria, where it lacks strong military allies on the ground.

"Those air strikes are not important. We need soldiers on the ground," said Hamed, a refugee who fled into Turkey from the Islamic State advance.

Mazlum Bergaden, a teacher from Kobani who crossed the border on Wednesday with his family, said two of his brothers had been taken captive by Islamic State fighters.

"The situation is very bad. After they kill people, they are burning the villages. ... When they capture any village, they behead one person to make everyone else afraid," he said. "They are trying to eradicate our culture, purge our nation."

FRENCH HOSTAGE KILLED

Islamist militants in Algeria boasted in a video they had beheaded a French hostage captured on Sunday to punish Paris for joining air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq. French President Francois Hollande confirmed the execution.

"My determination is total and this aggression only strengthens it," Hollande said. "The military air strikes will continue as long as necessary."

The United States said it was still assessing whether Mohsin al-Fadhli, a senior figure in the al Qaeda-linked group Khorasan, had been killed in a U.S. strike in Syria.

A U.S. official earlier said Fadhli, an associate of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was thought to have been killed in the first day of strikes on Syria. The Pentagon said any confirmation could take time.

Washington describes Khorasan as a separate group from Islamic State, made up of al Qaeda veterans planning attacks on the West from a base in Syria.

As Obama tried in meetings in New York to widen his coalition, Belgium said it was likely to contribute warplanes in the coming days, and the Netherlands said it would deploy six F-16s to support U.S.-led strikes.

The initial days of U.S. strikes suggest one aim is to hamper Islamic State's ability to operate across the Iraqi-Syrian frontier. On Wednesday U.S.-led forces hit at least 13 targets in and around Albu Kamal, one of the main border crossings between Iraq and Syria, after striking 22 targets there on Tuesday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a body which monitors the conflict in Syria.

The U.S. military confirmed it had struck inside Syria northwest of al Qaim, the Iraqi town at the Albu Kamal border crossing. It also struck inside Iraq west of Baghdad and near the Syria Kurdish capital Arbil on Wednesday.

An Islamist fighter in the Albu Kamal area reached by phone said there had been at least nine strikes on Wednesday by "crusader forces." Targets included an industrial area.

Perched on the main Euphrates valley highway, Albu Kamal controls the route from Islamic State's de facto capital, Raqqa, in Syria to the front lines in western Iraq and down the Euphrates to the western and southern outskirts of Baghdad.

Islamic State's ability to move fighters and weapons between Syria and Iraq has provided an important tactical advantage for the group in both countries: fighters sweeping in from Syria helped capture much of northern Iraq in June, and weapons they seized and sent back to Syria helped them in battle there.

France, which has confined its air strikes to Iraq, said it would stay the course despite the killing of hostage Herve Gourdel, 55, a mountain guide captured on vacation in Algeria on Sunday by a group claiming loyalty to Islamic State.

In a video released by the Caliphate Soldiers group entitled "a message of blood to the French government", gunmen paraded Gourdel's severed head after making him kneel, pushing him on his side and holding him down.

DAMASCUS: CAMPAIGN GOES 'IN RIGHT DIRECTION'

The campaign has blurred the traditional lines of Middle East alliances, pitting a U.S. coalition comprising countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against fighters that form the most powerful opposition to Assad on the ground.

The attacks have so far encountered no objection, and even signs of approval, from Assad's Syrian government. Syrian state TV led its news broadcast with Wednesday's air strikes on the border with Syria/Iraq, saying "the USA and its partners" had launched raids against "the terrorist organisation Islamic State."

U.S. officials say they informed both Assad and his main ally Iran in advance of their intention to strike but did not coordinate with them.

Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have joined in the strikes. All are ruled by Sunni Muslims and are staunch opponents of Assad, a member of a Shi'ite-derived sect, and his main regional ally, Shi'ite Iran.

But some of Assad's opponents fear the Syrian leader could exploit the U.S. military campaign to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of Western countries, and that strikes against Islamic State could solidify his grip on power.

ISLAMIC STATE ADVANCES ON KURDS

Even as Islamic State outposts elsewhere have been struck, the fighters have accelerated their campaign to capture Kobani, a Kurdish city on the border with Turkey. Nearly 140,000 Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey since last week, the fastest exodus of the entire three-year civil war.

An Islamic State source, speaking to Reuters via online messaging, said the group had taken several villages to the west of Kobani. Footage posted on YouTube appeared to show Islamic State fighters using weapons including artillery as they battled Kurdish forces near Kobani. The Islamists were shown raising the group's black flag after tearing down a Kurdish one.

A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the advance had been rapid three days ago but was slowed by the U.S.-led air strikes.

But Ocalan Iso, deputy leader of Kurdish forces defending Kobani, said more militants and tanks had arrived in the area since the coalition began air strikes on the group.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Steve Holland, Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations, Phil Stewart and David Alexander in Washington, Patrick Markey in Tunis, Tom Perry, Sylvia Westall, Mariam Karouny, Laila Bassam, Alexander Dziadosz in Beirut, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Anthony Deutsch in The Hague; Writing by Peter Graff and Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by David Stamp, Chizu Nomiyama and Ken Wills)

  http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/09/25/uk-syria-crisis-idUKKCN0HJ1HX20140925

 

 

UN: Hundreds of  Christian Catholics  Will Be 'Massacred' If ISIS Takes Kobani

At least 500 Christian Catholics who remain trapped in the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani are likely to be "massacred" if it falls to the Islamic State group, the U.N. envoy to Syria warned Friday, calling on the world to help avert a catastrophe as the extremists pushed deeper into the embattled town.

Staffan de Mistura raised the specter of some of the worst genocides of the 20th century during a news conference in Geneva, where he held up a map of the town along the Syria-Turkey border and said a U.N. analysis shows only a small corridor remains open for people to enter or flee Kobani.

The dramatic warning came as the Islamic State group pushed into Kobani from the south and east, taking over most of the so-called "Kurdish security quarter" — an area where Kurdish militiamen who are struggling to defend the town maintain security buildings and where the police station, the municipality and other local government offices are located.

The onslaught by the Islamic State group on Kobani, which began in mid-September, has forced more than 200,000 to flee across the border into Turkey. Activists say the fighting has already killed more than 500 people.

"The city is in danger," said Farhad Shami, a Kurdish activist in Kobani reached by phone from Beirut. He reported heavy fighting on the town's southern and eastern sides and said the Islamic State group was bringing in more reinforcements.

U.S.-led airstrikes against the extremists appear to have failed to blunt their push on Kobani. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that with the new advances, the Islamic State group was now in control of 40 percent of the town.

The Observatory, which collects its information from a network of activists on the ground in Syria, said a suicide bomber from the Islamic State group blew his car up near the Grand Mosque just west of the security quarter, but there was no immediate word of casualties.

The U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the U.S.-led coalition conducted nine airstrikes in Syria on Thursday and Friday. It said strikes near Kobani destroyed two Islamic State training facilities, as well as vehicles and tanks. Another strike in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour — controlled by the extremists — destroyed an Islamic State armored vehicle staging facility, it said.

On Friday, the militants shelled Kobani's single border crossing with Turkey in an effort to capture it and seal off the town, a local Kurdish official and Syrian activists said.

The official, Idriss Nassan, said Islamic State fighters aim to seize the crossing in order to close the noose around the town's Kurdish defenders and prevent anyone from entering or leaving Kobani.

By midmorning Friday, occasional gunfire and explosions that appeared to be rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells could be heard from across the border in Turkey, and plumes of smoke were seen rising in the distance. The Observatory said the militants shelled several areas in Kobani, including the border crossing.

"Daesh is doing all it can to take the border crossing point through the farmlands east of the city," Nassan said, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the Islamic State group. "They think there might be help (for the Kurdish militia) coming through the crossing so they want to control the border."

In Geneva, de Mistura said that a U.N. analysis of the situation on the ground shows that only a small portion of the town remains open for people to enter or flee. He said there were 500 to 700 elderly people and other civilians still trapped there while 10,000 to 13,000 remain stuck in an area nearby, close to the border.

De Mistura invoked the genocides in Rwanda in 1994 and in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995 as he appealed to the world to prevent another catastrophe.

If the town falls to the Islamic State fighters, "we know what they are capable of doing," said the Italian-Swedish diplomat, who was appointed to the U.N. post in July.

The civilians of Kobani "will be most likely massacred," de Mistura said. "When there is an imminent threat to civilians, we cannot, we should not be silent."

"You remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot. And probably we never forgave ourselves for that," he said. In both Rwanda and Srebrenica, the U.N. had troops on the ground but they failed to save the lives of the civilians they were mandated to protect.

There are no U.N. troops in Syria. Turkey has deployed troops and tanks across the border, but despite U.S. pressure, Ankara has said it will not join the fight unless the U.S.-led coalition also goes after the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

De Mistura appealed to Turkish authorities to allow volunteers and equipment to flow into Kobani and help its Syrian Kurdish defenders.

Without more such help, he added, Kobani is "likely to fall."

The fight over Kobani has eclipsed the larger Syrian civil war, where Assad's forces continue to fight rebels seeking to topple him in many parts of the country.

On Friday, activists said at least nine civilians were killed in a government airstrike that targeted the village of Harra in the southern province of Daraa. More than 20 people were also killed a day earlier in government airstrikes in Damascus suburbs, they said.

The Syrian National Coalition, Syria's Western-backed main opposition group, accused Assad of "openly exploiting" the coalition's war against the Islamic State group to continue killing Syrians.

 http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Syria-un-massacre-kobani/2014/10/10/id/599933/?ns_mail_uid=80841506&ns_mail_job=1589938_10102014&s=al&dkt_nbr=fyactcwh

"Islamic State AGAINST IRAQ & SYRIA" ISIS

Islamic State Attacks Syrian Kurds border town

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 01:06

Islamic State militants set their sites on the Christian Catholic Syrian border town of Kobani, as fierce fighting drives thousands of locals to seek refuge in Turkey. Deborah Gembara reports.

CLICK FOR VIDEO

 
 TRANSCRIPT

*****REUTERS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY VIDEO POSTED TO A SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITE***** With their stronghold of Raqqa under attack by U.S. forces, Islamic State militants are advancing on the Kurdish border town of Kobani. Video uploaded to a social media website illustrates the apparent ferocity of the onslaught. The militants are determined to erase all signs of the Syrian Kurds who live here, removing images of their leaders and triggering a mass exodus of terrified residents across the border into Turkey.

SOUNDBITE: Syrian Kurdish Refugee, Ali Abdurrahaman Saying (Kurdish): "The Islamic militants are attacking us. There is a war out there. They are advancing so we had to flee. Our children are devastated. They are starving." More than 140,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey since IS militants launched their offensive on Kobani last week, causing a refugee crisis that Turkish officials fear will only get worse.

 

PRAYERS FOR KOBANI

 Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 00:28

Imams pray as tanks patrol the Turkish border across from Kobani. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

TRANSCRIPT

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Imams prayed on the Turkish border on Saturday as the nearby Syrian town of Kobani was relatively calm following weeks of clashes. No sign of fighting could be seen from the Turkish side of the border as soldiers continued to patrol the area where Islamic State militants and Kurdish rebels have been clashing over the strategic Syrian town. The fate of Kobani has become a credibility test of the international coalition's response to the threat from the militants. U.S. Central Command says American aircraft carried out six strikes against militants near Kobani on Thursday and Friday.

 CLICK FOR VIDEO

 CHINA FIGHTER PLANE IN INTERNATIONAL AIR

 

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CLICK SYRIA CONFLICT ONE