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US begins delivering aid to rebels in Syria
The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear – a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.
The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Barack Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month.
The arms are being delivered as the United States is also shipping new types of nonlethal gear to rebels. That aid includes vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment and advanced combat medical kits.
– Washington Post

Diplomats eye control of Syria’s weapon stash

– Key international players were moving on two diplomatic fronts Wednesday to try to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, and a fresh effort appeared to be underway to get the government and opposition to peace talks.

The five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, who have been deeply divided over Syria, met late Wednesday to discuss what to include in a new resolution requiring that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile be secured and dismantled.

They later left Russia’s U.N. mission without commenting.

At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were heading to Geneva with teams of experts for broader-ranging talks today about the nuts and bolts of putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and destroying them, diplomats said.

The U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, was also heading to Geneva to be available to meet Kerry and Lavrov, whose efforts to start peace talks to end the 2 1/2 -year Syrian conflict have been stymied by a government offensive and a deadly suspected poison gas attack on Aug. 21.

The flurry of diplomatic activity comes after the threat of U.S. strikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime and a surprise offer from Kerry that Syria could avert U.S. military action by turning over “every single bit of his chemical weapons” to international control within a week.

Russia, Syria’s most important ally, and Assad’s government quickly agreed on the broad proposal, but details of the plan still need to be worked out.

While serious differences have already emerged – especially on whether a U.N. resolution should be militarily enforceable as the U.S. and its Western allies are demanding – the diplomatic moves represent the first major effort in more than a year to try to get supporters of the Syrian government and opposition on the same page.

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