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Assad’s Newest Ally: Venezuelan Congressman Goes to Syria to Fight Rebels, the U.S.


“Syria needs full support against these criminals,” wrote Venezuelan lawmaker Adel el-Zabayar in a letter to his country’s National Assembly this week. He was requesting indefinite leave from office in order to fight alongside the Syrian army, having arrived in the country two weeks ago to visit his ill mother. With the upcoming threat of military attack by the US, he has decided to stick around and fight. “Without doubt, I’ll have a weapon,” he told TIME by telephone early on Friday morning local time from a site he said was around 50 miles south of Damascus near the city of Sweida. “I’m on the battlefield now.” Zabayar has no formal weapons training and is currently carrying out more administrative tasks on the battlefield, he says, alongside government fighters.

The 49-year-old congressman, who is of Syrian descent though was born in Venezuela’s central city of Ciudad Bolívar, seems to have…

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For Turkey, Planned U.S. Missile Strikes on Syria Not Good Enough


For some American allies, such as the UK, whose parliament seemed to reject any armed involvement in Syria on Thursday, punitive airstrikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad might be too much to stomach. For others, it may be too little. As the U.S. readies to proceed with limited missile strikes against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed over a thousand people last week, Turkey, a key regional ally and Syria’s neighbor, seems to want more than Washington is willing to give.

The Obama administration signaled Friday that any action against Syria would be brief and measured. Turkey, however, having declared it would join any international coalition against Assad, with or without U.N. backing, has made it equally clear it wants a more robust intervention. On Wednesday, according to Turkish media, Ahmet Davutoglu, the country’s Foreign Minister, counseled his US counterpart John Kerry that…

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