LATEST: US Opens Door to Iran Taking Part in Syria Conference

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SUMMARY: Last month, after the US pulled back from intervention in support of Syrian insurgents, we suggested that other countries — notably Saudi Arabia — would ramp up their backing in the effort to contain and possibly overthrow President Assad.


On Wednesday, that prediction was bolstered on two fronts.

In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) was withering in his criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had praised President Assad earlier in the day for co-operating with the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program:

How could we praise someone who has killed 110,000 people? It does not matter if these people were killed with chemical weapons or with other weapons; in the end they were killed.

And in Saudi Arabia, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after talks with King Abdullah and other Saudi officials:

Our approach to the situation is identical. We believe in strengthening the Syrian National Coalition and the general staff of General Idriss [head of the Supreme Military Council]

The National Coalition should be strong and respected…We support the Coalition on the military level, as well as the humanitarian and political levels.

Driving home the point of French-Saudi co-operation away from Washington, Le Drian spoke of billion-dollar contracts for Paris to overhaul the Saudi Navy and modernize its air defences.

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Syrian State TV Shows Footage Of Inspectors At Chemical Plant

The Syrian regime continues its propaganda campaign, focussing attention on its apparent compliance with the international team from the Organization for the Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons. This footage, from Syrian State TV, shows inspectors at an undisclosed location, taking samples from what appears to be a chemical plant.

Syrian Coalition: No Dialog With Regime In Geneva II, Iran Must Not Attend

The President of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmad Al Jarba said that the opposition had presented its conditions for participation in the Geneva II, the first oe which is “no dialog with the regime”.

Jarba said that, “some tried to force the SNC into attending Geneva II as the mandatory route for any international interaction with the Coalition, as if the Geneva conference were the revolution’s entrance into the international community.”

He added that the SNC reject Iran’s having “any participatory role” in Geneva II, adding that, “in the case that it wanted this then it must pull out its Revolutionary Guard.”

US Opens Door to Iran Taking Part in Syria Conference

The United States has suggested that it might be willing to endorse Iran taking part in a long-delayed peace conference on Syria — if Tehran publicly backs a 2012 statement that called for a transitional government in Damascus.

The June 30, 2012, “Geneva Communique”, which sought to chart a path to a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, was agreed to by major powers including the US and Russia, as well as some Gulf states, Iraq and Turkey. Iran, not invited to the talks, did not agree to the statement.

On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested that the United States might be better disposed to Iran’s taking part in a Geneva II conference if Tehran were to embrace the original Geneva Communique.

“We’ve been clear, multiple times, about Iran’s destructive role in the Syrian crisis and our expectation that any party that (is) included in Geneva II must accept and publicly support the Geneva communique,” she said.

“If, and this is an if, Iran were to endorse and embrace the Geneva communiqué publicly, we would view the possibility of their participation more openly,” Harf said, later adding the United States would then view its taking part more “favorably.”

(Cross-posted from Iran Roundup)

Putin: Obama Took A Difficult Decision Over Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow had an understanding with Washington regarding the situation in Syria, including the Geneva II peace conference.

“We have a mutual understanding (with the US) of what we should be doing and how we are supposed to do it. I am very happy that President Obama has taken such a position. For him, it was quite a difficult situation to have taken such a decision. This allowed us to avoid tragedy,” Putin told reporters at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.


The Local Coordination Committee claim that 97 people were killed on Monday, including 35 in Damascus and its suburbs — most of them in a regime airstrike on Hamouria — 15 in.Hasaka Province, 14 in Idlib Province, and 13 in Aleppo Province.

The Violations Documentation Center records that 75,139 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 110 from Monday. Of the dead, 56,049 are civilians, a rise of 67 from yesterday.