The powerful brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is suspected of authorizing the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians, according to a United Nations official who monitors armed conflicts in the region.
France, the U.S. and other countries are showing little confidence in the week-old Syria cease-fire, increasing the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to halt the violence while aiding his opponents.
Sometime after midnight on a recent Thursday in Damascus, restaurant manager Aziz Asfahani joined friends at the newly opened Bartini lounge bar, where Syria’s elite dine and dance till dawn on tabletops to the thump of patriotic songs.
Western plans to pressure Syria’s regime to negotiate with the opposition are complicated by the differing short-term strategies and long-term political goals of the groups opposing President Bashar al-Assad.
The “Friends of Syria” gather tomorrow in Tunisia to seek ways to oust President Bashar al- Assad, who has dug in with increasing violence against civilian opponents after two failed UN Security Council measures.