News Wrap: ‘Friends of Syria’ Bolster More Global Support for Syrian Opposition
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HARI SREENIVASAN: World powers gathered in New York today to discuss ways to bolster support for Syria’s opposition. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted the Friends of Syria group along the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
Two of Syria’s key allies, Russia and China, were not included in the talks. Clinton said the U.S. was offering the opposition an additional $45 million in non-lethal and humanitarian aid. She also used the opportunity to single out Iran for aiding forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The regime’s most important lifeline is Iran. Last week, a senior Iranian official publicly acknowledged that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are operating inside Syria. There is no longer any doubt that Tehran will do whatever it takes to protect its proxy and crony in Damascus.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the U.S. has intelligence that shows the Syrian regime has moved some of its chemical weapons to better secure them.
He also said the major stockpiles at main sites are believed to be secure. In August, President Obama threatened U.S. action if Syria moves or uses its chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, in Syria, the battle for control of the northern city of Aleppo intensified, as rebels made their broadest push yet to drive Assad’s forces out. Heavy clashes were reported, with government troops firing tank and mortar shells, while rebels fought back with heavy machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. It was the heaviest fighting the city has seen in two months.
In Iraq, some 80 inmates, including al-Qaida militants, escaped from a prison. The jailbreak happened overnight in Tikrit after several convicts seized weapons from a prison storeroom. They clashed with security guards for hours before overpowering them and breaking free. A dozen people were killed, including 10 guards. Iraqi officials said 36 of the inmates were later recaptured.
Police in Minneapolis said the gunman in an office shooting yesterday had been fired hours before he killed four people and then himself. Another of the shooting victims died in the hospital today. Last evening, dozens of police and SWAT team officials swarmed a Minneapolis neighborhood after a man opened fire at a sign-making business. The company’s owner and a UPS driver were among those killed. Three other people were injured in the shootings.
The U.S. Postal Service will miss its next payment to the Treasury that is due on Sunday. The $5.6 billion will be its second default in as many months. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he has already slashed as much as he can from the agency’s operating cost without legislative approval. Congress left Washington for election season without approving any fix. The Postal Service has recommended eliminating Saturday mail delivery as one cost-cutting measure.
Bank of America has agreed to pay more than $2 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit with shareholders. The lawsuit stemmed from Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch during the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Investors claimed the bank made misleading or false statements about both companies’ financial health. The settlement still needs court approval to go through.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.