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And I'm Melissa Block.
The President of the U.N. General Assembly said today that at least 80,000 people have been killed in Syria's two-year civil war, and that most of those casualties were civilians. The assembly also approved a resolution today calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. But that vote was largely symbolic; the resolution is unenforceable.
The Obama administration says it's considering providing arms to rebels fighting to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad if the U.S. can confirm his forces did in fact use the debilitating nerve gas sarin in recent attacks. Coupled with news that Israel reportedly launched an airstrike at a target in Syria to prevent a shipment of missiles from reaching Hezbollah, these events could represent a game changer in the conflict-ravaged nation.
Originally published on Sun April 28, 2013 7:53 am
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stands with an Egyptian army official as he salutes before laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Wednesday in Cairo, Egypt.
Credit Pool / Getty Images
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday tried to tone down Israeli claims that the Syrian government has been using chemical weapons.
Chemical weapons use is important, because the United Staes has repeatedly said their use marks a "red line" in the conflict. President Obama and the United Nations have warned President Bashar Assad not to use them.
The United Nations is launching an investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the announcement during a media briefing on Thursday.
"I have decided to conduct a United Nations investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria," Ban said according to Reuters. He said the investigation will focus on "the specific incident brought to my attention by the Syrian government."
The use of chemical weapons is a big deal because the United States has declared that its "red line" in the conflict.