Sources: Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition

U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where wounded people affected by an apparent gas attack are being treated, in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya, August 26, 2013. Credit: Reuters
U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital for victims of an apparent gas attack on Monday. Credit: Reuters

Western powers have told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.

“The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva,” one of the sources who was at the meeting on Monday told Reuters.

The meeting at a hotel in downtown Istanbul was between senior figures of the Syrian National Coalition, including its president, Ahmad Jarba, and envoys from 11 core Friends of Syria alliance members, including Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who is now Washington’s pointman with the opposition, the sources said.

Facing Russian and Chinese opposition that could dampen prospects for proposed peace talks in Geneva, Assad’s foes have vowed to punish a poison gas attack in some rebel-held districts of Damascus on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people.

Another source said Ford told Jarba at the gathering that the coalition should “expect appropriate action to deter more use of chemical weapons.”

Jarba offered the 11 nations represented in the Friends of Syria core group a list of 10 proposed targets.

They included the Mezze Military Airport on the western outskirts of Damascus, the Qutaifa missile base north of the city and compounds of the Fourth Mechanised Division, a elite unit headed by Assad’s feared brother Maher and composed mainly of members of his Alawite minority sect.

‘Get team ready’ for talks

The Friends of Syria core group comprises the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

U.N. experts trying to establish what exactly happened in the attack were finally able to cross the frontline on Monday to see survivors — despite being shot at in government-held territory. But they put off a second visit until Wednesday.

“The Americans are tying any military action to the chemical weapons issue. But the message is clear; they expect the strike to be strong enough to force Assad to go to Geneva and accept a transitional government with full authority,” a Syrian opposition figure said.

“The message to the opposition was to get a team ready for Geneva, and be prepared for the possibility of a transition. But we must also be ready for the possibility of the collapse of the regime. If the strike ends up to be crippling, and if they hit the symbols of the regime’s military power in Damascus, it could collapse,” the source said.

The sources said the meeting was planned before the suspected nerve gas attack on the Damascus suburbs, and was originally meant to discuss preparations for the proposed U.S.- and Russian-sponsored Geneva peace conference, which has been repeatedly put off.

Jarba said this month the coalition welcomed participating in Geneva without conditions, but it still expected the meeting to result in a transition that would remove Assad and his top aides from power.

Assad’s foreign minister, Walid Moualem, said in June the authorities were ready to form a broad-based government of national unity, but they would not “head to Geneva to hand over power to another side,” in an indication that Assad was not planning to give up control of the country.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

South Korea ferry disaster: captain's actions 'tantamount to…

The captain and some crew members of the sunken South Korean passenger ferry Sewol have been accused of 'murderous acts' by their own president, after…

News

Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…

News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.