Syria Today Live Coverage : Away from Chemical Weapons, The Regime Presses Its “Conventional” Offensive / ASSAD BOMBS HOSPITAL

LATEST: Kerry: UN Resolution Not “Lifeline” for Assad / EAworldvie – by Scott Lucas

SUMMARY: While the world awaits Monday’s report by United Nations inspectors into the August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus, the Assad regime is pressing its offensive near Damascus and in parts of northern Syria.

Sunday’s attacks included bombardment of the Damascus suburbs of Muaddamiyyat Ash-Shaam — site of one of the August 21 chemical strikes — and Darraya. Footage emerged from earlier in the week of “barrel bombs” dropped on Saraqeb in Idlib Province and the bombing of a makeshift hospital in al-Bab in Aleppo, which has been pounded for several days by Syrian forces.

Meanwhile, the United Nations report, which is not mandated to ascribe responsibility for the August 21 attacks, is unlikely to have any political impact. It has been overtaken by the US-Russia framework agreement, adopted on Saturday, for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons stocks — and by the further military developments.

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Kerry: UN Resolution Not “Lifeline” for Assad

Previewing today’s report by United Nations inspectors and possible Security Council discussions on the Syrian regime’s stockpile and use of chemical weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said any UN resolution is not a “lifeline” for President Assad, who has “lost all legitimacy”.

An Attack on Obama’s Leadership by US Officials Through the Wall Street Journal

In the guise of an in-depth report, The Wall Street Journal — using “more than two dozen interviews with senior White House, State Department, Pentagon and congressional officials and many of their counterparts in Europe and the Middle East” — has launched an attack of President Obama’s leadership:

When President Barack Obama decided he wanted congressional approval to strike Syria, he received swift —and negative — responses from his staff. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned he risked undermining his powers as commander in chief. Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer pegged the chances of Congress balking at 40%. His defense secretary also raised concerns.

Mr. Obama took the gamble anyway and set aside the impending strikes to try to build domestic and international support for such action.

He found little of either. Congress’s top leaders weren’t informed of the switch until just an hour or so before Mr. Obama’s Rose Garden announcement and weren’t asked whether lawmakers would support it. When the president’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, announced the decision on a conference call with congressional committee leaders, some were so taken aback they seemed at first to misunderstand it.

The Journal summarizes:

Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it. A president who made a goal of reducing the U.S.’s role as global cop lurched from the brink of launching strikes to seeking congressional approval to embracing a deal with his biggest international adversary on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Latest Scare Reports on the Insurgency

Two reports this morning making scary claims about “extremists” taking over the Syrian insurgency….

The Daily Telegraph uses a press release from IHS Jane’s and a sound-bite from one of its staff to proclaim, “Nearly Half Rebel Fighters are Jihadists or Hardline Islamists“.

See Syria Video Analysis: How Media Obsession with “Extremism” Misleads Us

There is no support in the article for the numbers: around 100,000 opposition fighters, “around 10,000 jihadists”, “another 30,000 to 35,000…hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists”, a “further 30,000 moderates”.

There is no definition of “hardline Islamists”, nor is there any evidence for the assertion, “Two factions linked to al-Qaeda…have come to dominate among the more extremist fighters.”

The article promises that the Jane’s report will be published later this week.

One media outlet is quick to celebrate the “findings”: Iran’s Press TV exults, “A British defense study shows that about 100,000 foreign-backed militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups, are fighting in Syria against the government and people.”

Meanwhile, CNN uses a suicide bombing in August’s insurgent capture of Menagh Province — an event exaggerated at the time by media — an interview with an activist, and other sweeping claims to portray the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham taking control of the insurgency.


The Local Coordination Committees claim 91 people were killed on Sunday, including 27 in Damascus and its suburbs and 14 in Aleppo Province.

The Violations Documentation Center puts the number of dead at 73,194 since the conflict began in March 2011, an increase of 112 from Sunday. Of the dead, 54,979 are civilians