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Syria Direct: News Update 9-23-2013


September 23, 2013

NewsUpdateSept2013* Al-Arabiya: On Sunday, the President of the Syrian National Coalition,
Ahmad al-Jarba, announced publicly for the first time the group’s willingness to participate in the Geneva 2 conference but on two conditions: First, that negotiations be based upon forming a transitional government with complete sovereignty, and second, that Assad resign as president.

* Turkish President Abdullah Gül said it would be “unrealistic” to have any discussion of the Syrian war without the inclusion of Iran. “Frankly, it’s unrealistic to talk about Syria without Iran. There has yet to be a common understanding with Iran, but you cannot exclude it,” Gül told reporters in New York on Sunday, during which he highlighted “the new era” in Iranian politics with the election of President Hassan Rouhani. On September 21st, the Syrian National Coalition rejected the notion of Iran participating in any negotiations.

* Hurriyet Daily News: In a separate statement also on Sunday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul expressed his concern about jihadi groups advancing in Syria in areas close to the Turkish borders. “Extremists groups are a huge fear for our security,” said the Turkish president, who added that ensuring security along the 910-kilometer border is a challenge.

* Al-Manar: In an interview with Chinese state television Sunday evening, Bashar al-Assad said, “Syria produced chemical weapons decades ago because it was at war and its lands were invaded. We have some chemical weapons, but the Syrian Army uses traditional weapons.” He added, “chemical weapons are in safe places in Syria under the Syrian army’s control. There are some countries trying to encourage terrorists to violent acts against the [weapons] inspectors, so that they accuse Syria of using them.”

* The FSA Joint Command issued a statement detailing violent clashes on Sunday between ISIS and the FSA in the village of Hazana in Outer Idlib. According to the statement, four FSA fighters were killed as well as Abdullah Al-Libi, a Libyan commander of ISIS.  

* SANA news reported no casualties after a mortar shell fell on the Russian Embassy in Damascus on Sunday, while the semi-private Al-Watan daily reported that three Russian Embassy employees were injured in the  incident. 

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