European dealmaking on Syria as U.S. tries to build coalition
September 7th, 2013
04:41 PM ET

European dealmaking on Syria as U.S. tries to build coalition

By Elise Labott

You may have been surprised by the about-face by French President Francois Hollande who - after initially stressing the need for urgent action on Syria while insisting there was no need to wait for the United Nations inspectors' report on the August 21 attack - said on Friday that he now wants to wait for their findings.

Then, Saturday in Lithuania after four hours of talks with Secretary of State John Kerry, the European Union foreign ministers issued a statement blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the chemical weapons attack, calling it a "blatant violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity" and calling for a "clear and strong" international response.

But the statement said U.N. inspectors investigating the incident should report their initial findings before any action is taken.

What's going on?

It is all about European politics.

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Filed under: Europe • Kerry • Security Brief • Syria • United Nations
Syria: EU urges strong response, as Kerry seeks support for military action
September 7th, 2013
07:51 AM ET

Syria: EU urges strong response, as Kerry seeks support for military action

By Elise Labott and Laura Smith-Spark

The European Union called Saturday for a "clear and strong" international response to the Bashar al-Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said U.N. inspectors investigating the incident should report their initial findings before any action is taken.

The statement came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to persuade skeptical European allies to join an international coalition on Syria after a Group of 20 summit ended Friday with a stalemate between Washington and Russia.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton read the statement, which she said reflected the position of all EU members, after four hours of talks Saturday between Kerry and EU foreign ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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September 7th, 2013
07:47 AM ET

Iran may be planning to retaliate if U.S. strikes Syria, official says

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

The United States has obtained intelligence indicating that Iran "may be planning" a retaliatory strike against the American Embassy in Baghdad if the United States launches a military strike against Syria, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

He said that Iran has "a lot of Shi'a friends" in Iraq that would be willing to carry out an attack.

The official was responding to a Wall Street Journal report that the United States intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the embassy "and other American interests in Baghdad," if the United States struck Syria militarily for alleged chemical weapons use.

The State Department had no comment on the report, but added it had not taken any action in terms of security at U.S. diplomatic posts in Iraq.

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Filed under: Iran • Iraq • Syria
Alerts go to law enforcement ahead of 9/11 anniversary
September 7th, 2013
07:42 AM ET

Alerts go to law enforcement ahead of 9/11 anniversary

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Reporter

Federal authorities have issued a series of general alerts to law enforcement for vigilance with the approach of the Sept. 11 anniversary and a possible U.S. military strike in Syria, law enforcement officials said.

U.S. law enforcement officials say there's no indication of specific plots in the Unites States related to the 9/11 anniversary, which is the first since the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

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