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Mon Sep 9, 2013, 01:54 PM


"Live" Minute-by-minute Updates on Syria Situation Here via The Guardian


Guardian Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts and national security editor Spencer Ackerman are reporting out a stranger-than-usual day in the national capital:

16m ago
Hillary Clinton is speaking on Syria as prelude to her comments at a forum on illegal wildlife trafficking, where she is appearing with her daughter, Chelsea.

Clinton is taking the Russian proposal very seriously.

She starts rather weakly:

"A vigorous and important debate is under way in Congress and around kitchen tables," Clinton says. This "challenge catalyzed the kind of debate that I think is good for our democracy."

Then Clinton shifts, referring to the "fluid situation in the last several hours." She says she just spoke with president Obama about Syria.

She has three points:

1) Assad action "demands strong response from the international community.

2) International community cannot ignore ongoing threat from Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles. "This is about protecting the Syrian people... and our friends in the regions... If the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control... that would be an important step. But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction.

This discussion only could take place in the context of a credible military threat by the United States.

3) the broader conflict in Syria is a threat to regional stability of our allies and partners... as well as a humanitarian catastrophe. She mentions 2m refugees.

Then, abruptly, she shifts to illegal wildlife trafficking.

Updated 9m ago
27m ago

Here's a summary of where things stand:

The White House says it is taking a "hard look" at a Russian proposal for Syrian president Bashar Assad to place his chemical weapons arsenal under international control and then destroy them.

However Obama administration officials said that the proposal amounts so far only to talk, that Damascus and Moscow have a dismal track record and that the proposal may be a "stalling tactic."

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made the proposal, subsequently welcomed by the Syrian foreign minister, after US secretary of state John Kerry said Monday morning that Assad could resolve the crisis by surrendering control of "every single bit" of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.

The US state department soon retracted Kerry's statement, calling it a "rhetorical argument" [sic]. A spokeswoman later called Kerry's remarks "rhetorical and hypothetical."

At least 49 people have died from violence in Syria on Monday, including 25 in Damascus and environs, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist group.

The White House continued its aggressive push to win congressional support for US strikes on Syria. National security adviser Susan Rice said the chemical attacks in Syria are a "serious threat to our national security" including to "citizens at home."

US popular support for military strikes on Syria continues to fluctuate between nonexistent and anemic according to polls.

Clips from President Barack Obama's interviews with the major US cable and network TV outlets were to air at 6pm ET. Syrian president Bashar Assad sought to address the American people in an interview with Charlie Rose (transcript) in which he denied using chemical weapons. "The first question that they should ask themself, what do wars give America?" Assad said.

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