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"Among the criteria decided on in the Cairo meeting is that the ministers would be above 35 years old, revolutionaries, technocrats and from outside the coalition.
The officials said they were not sure whether the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad were preparing to employ the chemical weapons, or rather use them to deter the West from aiding the rebels.
“It’s in some ways similar to what they’ve done before,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told the New York Times. “But they’re doing some things that suggest they intend to use the weapons. It’s not just moving stuff around. These are different kind[s] of activities.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in September that Syrians have moved some of their chemical weapons capability to better secure it, but the country's main chemical weapons sites remain intact and secure under government control.
Panetta said U.S. intelligence showed the major Syrian sites were secure in government hands, but some chemicals had been moved.
The murder of Nujeen Dirik, the 42 year old Kurdish female militia leader from Aleppo, by the FSA is likely to spark revenge killings. The FSA in Aleppo lured Dirik into a trap by making a deal to exchange bodies of the dead and kidnapped supporters. When Dirik led a group of Kurdish fighters to the anti-regime insurgents to make the hand-off, she was snatched. A week later she was killed by the FSA rather than traded.
Dirik headed a militia unit charged with protecting the Ashrafiyeh and Sheikh Maqsud districts of Aleppo. This was a clear show of force by the FSA meant to demonstrate to the Kurds not to try to intimidate FSA insurgents. The Kurds may suck up this defeat and choose not to launch a war of vengeance, but it is unlikely that they will not make a move to reassurt their control over the Ashrafiyeh neighborhood that was penetrated by FSA troops last week.
Turkey remains hostile to both Kurdish parties, which say that it helped plan the Syrian rebels’ attack on the PYD in Ras al-Ayn. Barzan Iso, an independent Kurdish Syrian journalist, says the Syrian rebels used Turkey as a base from which to bash the PYD on November 8th. “The operation wasn’t about kicking out Assad’s forces,” he says. “It was to dislodge the PYD.” A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman disagreed: “There is now a pattern of Free Syrian Army forces liberating towns [in Syria], doing the job, and the Kurds then trying to move in and take over.”
Initial reports based on FSA claims and somebody’s friend who spoke to someone in Aleppo on the phone had the rebels taking 90 percent of the city and cooperating with Kurdish militias, but less than a day later these claims were revealed to be false. It seems the Popular Protection Unit (YPG), a Kurdish militia set up to protect the Kurdish areas from opposing forces, repelled the FSA.
...The following day, the FSA once again tried to enter the Kurdish neighborhood known as Ashrafiya. This video purports to show them firing at a civilian demonstration protesting the FSA and regime coming into the neighborhood, a Kurdish stronghold.
Fighting surged over the summer, and Ankara has accused its former ally and now adversary Assad of arming the militants.
A powerful car-bomb has exploded in Homs in central Syria, killing at least 15 civilians and wounding dozens more.
A video uploaded to the internet purports to show the aftermath of the explosion in the city’s Hamra district. Many residential buildings were caught in the blast.
One witness warned that the number of dead is likely to rise because many of the injuries sustained by the survivors were very serious.
The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed.
The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion.
...If the NDAA goes into effect in its current form, the State Department and Pentagon can bypass manipulating mainstream media outlets and directly disseminate campaigns of misinformation to the U.S. public.
Lebanese troops fought with Syrian rebels on the border between the two countries on Sunday, in what a security source said was the first such clash between Lebanon’s army and the rebels.
The clash occurred when a Lebanese border patrol spotted the rebel fighters along the border and the rebels opened fire to prevent the patrol from approaching, a Lebanese military source said. He said there were no casualties.
Unidentified Syrian gunmen opened fire across the border on a Lebanese army post in the Bekaa Valley on Sunday, an army statement said, adding that troops shot back.
"At 6:30 pm (1630 GMT), gunmen opened fire from across the border in Syria at a Lebanese army post in the Masharia al-Qaa area" of the Bekaa, the statement said. "Troops in the post responded by shooting back," it said, adding that no casualties were registered.
When the group Jabhat al Nusra first claimed responsibility for car and suicide bombings in Damascus that killed dozens last January, many of Syria’s revolutionaries claimed that the organization was a creation of the Syrian government, designed to discredit those who opposed the regime of President Bashar Assad and to hide the regime’s own brutal tactics.
Nearly a year later, however, Jabhat al Nusra, which U.S. officials believe has links to al Qaida, has become essential to the frontline operations of the rebels fighting to topple Assad.
Mahmoud said he saw no reason to hold elections if Assad falls.
“Eighty percent of Syrians want Islamic law,” he said.
Many fighters said they were aware of the accusations about Nusra’s links to al Qaida. But they generally discount the importance of those ties when speaking with journalists.
“In Europe, they consider all Muslims terrorists, not only Jabhat al Nusra,” Mahmoud said.
Still, there are moments when Nusra’s ideology shines through.
“When we finish with Assad, we will fight the U.S.!” one Nusra fighter shouted in the northeastern Syrian city of Ras al Ayn when he was told an American journalist present. He laughed as he said it and then got into a van and drove off, leaving the journalist unable to ask whether it had been a joke.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a landmark visit to Istanbul on Monday to discuss their differences over the crisis in Syria.
Russia objects to Turkey’s request to NATO for the deployment of Patriot missiles near its volatile border with Syria. It has warned that such a move could spark a broader conflict that would draw in the western military alliance.
But Turkey insists the U.S.-made Patriots would be used for purely defensive purposes...
...a Turkish official has said. “It depends when the sight visiting team of NATO finishes its report. The number of Patriot batteries and their locations will be decided after the visiting team reports back to the alliance.