Western powers could attack Syria within days, envoys from the US and its allies told rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sources who attended the meeting said yesterday.
US forces in the region are “ready to go,” US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, as Washington and its European and Middle Eastern partners honed plans to punish al-Assad for a major poison gas attack last week that killed hundreds of civilians.
Several sources who attended a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday between Syrian opposition leaders and diplomats from Washington and other governments said that the rebels were told to expect military action and to get ready to negotiate a peace.
“The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the [al-]Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva,” one of the sources said.
Syrian National Coalition president Ahmad Jarba met envoys from 11 states in the Friends of Syria group, including US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, at an Istanbul hotel.
UN chemical weapons investigators, who finally crossed the frontline to take samples on Monday, put off a second trip to rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. However, Washington said it already held al-Assad responsible for a “moral obscenity” and US President Barack Obama would hold him to account for it.
However, with Russian and Chinese opposition complicating efforts to satisfy international law — and Western voters wary of new, far-off wars — Western leaders may not pull the trigger just yet. British Prime Minister David Cameron called parliament back from its summer recess for a session on Syria tomorrow.
He and Obama, as well as French President Francois Hollande, face tough questions about how an intervention, likely to be limited to air strikes, will end — and whether they risk handing power to anti-Western Islamist rebels if al-Assad is overthrown.
In an indication of support from Arab states that may help Western powers argue the case for war against UN vetoes from Moscow and Beijing, the Arab League issued a statement holding al-Assad’s government fully responsible for the chemical attack.
Asked if US forces were ready to strike Syria just “like that,” Hagel told the BBC: “We are ready to go, like that.”
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
ROAD TO HISTORY: When Lee Teng-hui joined the KMT, the likelihood of a Taiwanese becoming ROC president, much less its first directly elected one, was hard to imagine Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in the farming community of Sanshi Village, Taihoku Prefecture — now New Taipei City’s Sanzhi District (三芝) — during the Japanese colonial era, and rose to become mayor of Taipei and not only the Republic of China’s (ROC) first Taiwan-born president, but its first directly elected one as well. Educated in the Japanese educational system of the time, Lee, who spoke Japanese, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Mandarin and English, won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He earned a bachelor’s