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Obama denies asking for expanded list of Syria targets

Obama denies asking for expanded list of Syria targets
US media reported that President Barack Obama asked the Pentagon to expand the list of targets in Syria over Assad allegedly mobilizing troops ahead of a possible military strike. At a G20 press conference, Obama however refuted the reports.

Initially, 50 sites were chosen to carry out the potential air strike aimed at “deterring and degrading” Assad’s ability to use his resources, but now new sites are set to appear on the list, according to New York Times.

The targets include the military units that reportedly store and prepare chemical weapons, military headquarters, as well as the rockets and artillery that allegedly launched the attacks. Other sites the US is going to target include air defenses, long-range missiles and rockets, which can also deliver the weapons.

Currently, even those US congress members who are in favor of the military action insist on strict time and limits of the intervention. Plus, the lawmakers demand to precise the type of strikes that is to be conducted.

The US has allegedly revised the plan of the attack 50 times, Fox News reported. 

Obama said while giving his closing speech at the G20 summit in St Petersburg that the “report is inaccurate”.

The Obama administration is currently considering sending US military trainers to work with Syrian rebels, US officials told AP. Should the training take place, it would happen outside Syria, most likely in Jordan. No decision has so far been made, but the discussions on the issue are going on in the US leadership.

America and France accuse Assad’s forces of orchestrating the chemical weapons attack at the end of August – an assault which left 1,400 people killed, according to the Obama administration.

Doctors Without Borders has stressed that the number of the dead is likely lower. Russia also pointed out that it doesn’t find the US proof convincing.

Meanwhile, RT’s Maria Finoshina, who is currently in Damascus, attempted to go the Maaloula village, “just one hour’s drive to the north of the capital.”

The RT team wanted to go to explore the information about the clashes in the village, but were warned by the army that it could be “a one-way ticket,” as the road to the village is not safe and even if they get there, “snipers are active on the ground.”

The fighting in the village is reportedly between the army and Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group which is believed to be the most successful and most aggressive opposition group. It is listed as a terrorist organization by the UN and the US, in particular.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber struck a checkpoint next to Maaloula, and later a car exploded at a checkpoint. Residents of the village have been saying that the militants managed to take over a mountain top, the Safir Hotel, and have been firing from that point.

Maaloula is in fact a special place, as it is an Orthodox Christian hub close to the Syrian capital. There is a Christian shrine there that dates from the 4th century, and a Catholic church in the village.

RT spoke with a nun from Latakia, who expressed her concerns over the current situation in Syria and threats from rebels for the Christian minority in the war-torn country.

“How can the international community ignore the brutal killing spree in Latakia on August 5? An attack that affected 500 people, including children, women... In a village where they massacred all the residents and burnt down their houses. In another village, almost all of 2,000 locals were killed, only 10 managed to escape. Twelve Alawite villages were subjected to this horrendous attack. It was a true slaughterhouse. People were mutilated and beheaded. There is even a video that shows a girl being dismembered alive,” the nun said.