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Syria Crisis: U.S. Weighs Diplomatic, Military Options

While the U.S. pursues a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis by sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with his Russian counterpart in Geneva, Switzerland, it has also started arming the rebels.

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He invoked God, the pope and the rule of law, and recalled a time when the United States and Russia were allies “and defeated the Nazis together.”

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Vladimir Putin (credit: gov.ru)

But don’t think for a moment that Vladimir Putin has lost his edge. In a bluntly worded commentary published in Thursday’s New York Times, the Russian president castigated the idea of American “exceptionalism,” essentially called the United States an international bully and said he “carefully studied” President Obama’s speech Tuesday to the nation on Syria, and determined that he disagreed with it.

Still, Putin said his “working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust,” and he welcomed Obama’s willingness to work with Russia on a plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.

“If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust,” he wrote. “It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.”

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

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A burned out vehicle sat on the streets of Aleppo, Syria

A new United Nations report asserts that both sides in the Syrian civil war have committed grave crimes in violation of international law.

Government forces continue to attack civilian populations in what amounts to crimes against humanity, says the report, released Wednesday by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

But anti-government groups, in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad, have themselves committed war crimes, including murder, torture and hostage-taking, the report states.

The report provides details on nine massacres that it is investigating, eight believed to have been carried out by the government and one by the opposition.

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Syria has accepted a Russian proposal aimed at averting a U.S. military strike, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

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President Barack Obama meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office on July 29. (Credit: Chuck Kennedy / White House)

After “a very fruitful round of talks” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday, “we agreed to the Russian initiative,” Syrian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was quoted as saying.

China also said it welcomes and supports the proposal, the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

Like Russia, China is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and has used its veto power to block some resolutions against Syria.

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Russia’s proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control was a “potentially positive development,” but could be a stall tactic, President Barack Obama told CNN on Monday.

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Bashar al-Assad

“We’re going to run this to ground,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, adding that the United States will work with Syrian ally Russia and the international community “to see if we can arrive at something that is enforceable and serious.”

Obama said the new proposal that emerged Monday from Russia resulted from his threat to attack Syria for violating an international ban on using chemical weapons, as his administration contends occurred on August 21 in suburban Damascus.

He and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the Syrian chemical weapons and the U.S. push for a military response at last week’s use in Syria last month at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Obama told Blitzer.

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WASHINGTON — The White House faces the strong possibility of a defeat over Syria that could seriously damage the president for the rest of his tenure, a peril the administration will battle this week as members of Congress return to work and open a decisive chapter of the Obama presidency.

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Hundreds of people at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood on Sunday protest the possibility of a U.S. strike against Syria. (Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Administration efforts to seek support from lawmakers, including personal phone calls by the president, so far appear to have changed few minds.

Nor has the support of top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders in both houses, who have lined up behind President Obama’s plan to punish the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for what U.S. officials say was a poison gas attack last month near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people.

Administration officials say they remain optimistic about winning a vote in the Senate, expected later this week. Vice President Joe Biden hosted Obama and six GOP senators for dinner at the vice presidential residence Sunday night.

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WASHINGTON –- The planned military strikes on Syria would be “targeted, limited” and wouldn’t seek to topple the government of President Bashar Assad or even force it to peace talks.

They would also be punishing and “consequential” and would so scare Assad that he would never use chemical weapons again.

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President Obama is scheduled to address the nation about the Syrian crisis.

U.S. airstrikes would change the momentum on the battlefield of the Syrian civil war. But the war will grind on, unchanged, perhaps for years.

As administration officials lay out their case in favor of a punitive attack on Syria, they have been making all of these seemingly contradictory contentions, confusing supporters and providing rhetorical weapons to their opponents.

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KTLA) — Dozens of protesters marched in the heart of Hollywood Sunday to demonstrate against proposed U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Estimates of 100 people gathered at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue for the rally.

The protest remained largely peaceful, police said.

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Protesters rallied in Hollywood against U.S. military action in Syria.

The demonstrators carried signs calling for peace and chanted, “Hands off Syria.”

On the organizers’ Facebook page, a post read “We will rally on Sunday September 8th, the day before the U.S. congress returns from recess on Monday September 9th to debate military intervention in Syria.”

Pictures posted to the page showed LAPD officers on horseback and on bicycles monitoring the rally.

There were no reports of any arrests.

Paris (CNN) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Sunday from Paris, where he met with Arab League ministers, said Saudi Arabia has approved international military intervention in Syria.

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John Kerry

“They support the strike,” Kerry said after meeting with Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia is a diplomatic heavyweight in the Arab world, but hasn’t publicly called for an international military reprisal after a reported chemical weapons attack last month by the Syrian military against rebels.

With its vast air force and bases, Saudi Arabia could offer a lot of resources to Western militaries.

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U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held what each man described Friday as a “constructive” talk about Syria, though there’s no indication it produced any breakthrough consensus.

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President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2009 at his dacha outside Moscow. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

What began as small talk after Putin approached Obama led to the two pulling up chairs in the corner of the room and talking almost entirely about Syria for 20 to 30 minutes, as other leaders watched, a senior Obama administration official said.

Afterward, Obama described the exchange on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Russia as “candid” — but acknowledged that Putin was unlikely to support his call for military action against Syria.

Putin gave reporters a similar account, adding, “He doesn’t agree with me, I don’t agree with him, but we listened to each other.”

Click here to read the full story on CNN.com.

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