GENEVA -- At least eight massacres have been perpetrated in Syria by President Bashar Assad's regime and supporters and one by rebels over the past year and a half, a U.N. commission said Wednesday.

The commission's probe highlights the worsening pattern of violence against civilians, including executions and hospital bombings, as the government battles to retake lost territory from the rebels, including Islamist foreign fighters who also have carried out war crimes.

"The perpetrators of these violations and crimes, on all sides, act in defiance of international law. They do not fear accountability. Referral to justice is imperative," says the report by the U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria.

The report updates the commission's work since 2011 to mid-July, stopping short of what the United States says was an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack on rebel-held areas that killed hundreds of civilians.

Calling Syria a battlefield where armed forces are getting away with large-scale murder, the commission said that in each of the incidents since April 2012 "the intentional mass killing and identity of the perpetrator were confirmed to the commission's evidentiary standards."

The commission's four independent experts also note that they are probing nine more suspected mass killings since March. In those, it said, the illegal killing has been confirmed but the perpetrator cannot yet be identified. In other cases, it said, the circumstances of the killing were not sufficiently clear to be able to determine the legality.

"Relentless shelling has killed thousands of civilians and displaced the populations of entire towns. Massacres and other unlawful killings are perpetrated with impunity," the commission concludes. "An untold number of men, children and women have disappeared. Many are killed in detention; survivors live with physical and mental scars of torture. Hospitals and schools have been bombarded."

A confidential list of suspected criminals is being produced by the commission and kept under lock and key by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

"It's a long list," one of the commission's members, Carla del Ponte, told reporters on Monday.

The allegations of chemical weapons use received have been "predominantly by government forces," said the commission, but it has not yet been able to determine whether they were used. The commission is expected to eventually weigh in on who bears responsibility, after a separate team of U.N. chemical inspectors reports on any evidence of the use of chemical weapons. That report will not apportion blame.

Since the commission has not yet been given permission to carry out its work in Syria, the information in the latest report was based on interviews conducted in the region and from Geneva, including via Skype and telephone.

The commission said its team of about 20 investigators has carried out 2,091 interviews since September 2011. Most of the information is coming from the 2 million Syrian refugees streaming across the borders into neighboring countries.

The commission created by the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council says both sides have committed heinous war crimes during the 2 1/2-year conflict that has killed over 100,000 people.

In a statement accompanying the report, the commission chaired by Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said most casualties result from unlawful attacks using conventional weapons and any response to end the conflict "must be founded upon the protection of civilians."

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The Guardian reports that despite promising to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons by 2012, the United States still has thousands of tons of lethal gas stored in facilities in Kentucky and Colorado.

According to reporter Paul Lewis, the most recent projections indicate that the weapons dump will not be complete until 2023 -- eight years after Russia said it will be fully rid of nerve agents.

"By missing its deadlines, the U.S. and other countries have arguably breached a founding principle of the same treaty cited as a reason to justify an attack on Syria," Lewis wrote.

Though Syria's chemical weapons stockpile is expected to be much smaller than those of Russia and the U.S., Lewis points out, the delays many countries have experienced in destroying their arsenals indicate the technological and political challenges likely in attempting to disarm Damascus.

Read the full story here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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In an interview with Democracy Now!, Noam Chomsky takes issue with Obama's characterization of the United States as "the anchor of global security" in Tuesday night's address.

Pointing to America's use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, as well as its role in overthrowing democratically elected leaders while ushering in dictatorships across Latin America, Chomsky fervently rejects the president's entire premise for taking military action in Syria.

"The United States is a rogue state," Chomsky said. "It doesn’t pay any attention to international law."

He notes the seeming hypocrisy in calling for Syria to adhere to internationally established norms against the possession of chemical weapons without demanding the same from other countries -- namely, Israel. (As Chomsky points out, the U.S. under Ronald Reagan vetoed UN Security Council resolutions that would have required all nations to observe international law.)

Chomsky sums up Obama's address thusly:

So what he said is, 'I’m going to lie like a trooper about history; I’m going to suppress the U.S. role, the actual U.S. role, for the last seven decades; I’m going to maintain the threat of force, which is, of course, illegal; and I’m going to ensure that the chemical weapons convention is not imposed on the region, because our ally, Israel, would be subjected to it.' And I think those are some of the main points of his address.

Watch the entire interview in the video below, and read the full transcript of the segment here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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Vice President Joe Biden hosted two classified briefings in the White House Situation Room Wednesday for groups of House Republicans, an administration official confirmed to HuffPost. The meetings were not on Biden's public schedule, and according to an attendee, Syria topped the agenda.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said in a tweet this afternoon that his meeting with Biden lasted two hours, and Schock appreciated Biden's "frank discussion and personal outreach."

Just a day earlier, Schock expressed frustration with the Obama administration's shifting position on Syrian chemical weapons negotiations.

“There are so many moving parts,” Schock told Time. “The Administration’s statements continue to change over a 24-hour period. We’re going to strike, we’d like Congress’s approval, we don’t need Congress’s approval—that’s what we heard last week—to now we may not strike if Assad gives up his weapons to Russia.”

-- Christina Wilkie

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David Nakamura posits that one of the toughest challenges Obama faces is getting Americans to care about Syria -- and not simply because of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Washington Post writer notes that the images of children writhing on hospital floors in the aftermath of the Aug. 21 chemical attack may not be informative or graphic enough to elicit the emotional response the administration has hoped for during its strike campaign.

Nakamura writes:

Images of dead bodies or men gasping for air and convulsing may produce a horrified reaction, but they do not necessarily explain to a viewer what happened or why, said Scott Sigmund Gartner, a scholar at Penn State University who has studied the affect of war imagery on the public.

"The images that are the most powerful tells [sic] a story that is understandable without captions, without additional explanation," Gartner said. "The images I’ve seen in the media are terrible; they are horrific. But they do not tell a story about the role of chemical weapons -- and it’s unfair to even ask ... that of an image because with chemical weapons, most of the time there’s nothing to see."

Additionally, Nakamura spoke to an expert who acknowledged that while humans are "hard-wired" to fear poisons and gases, the Syria attack videos "lack raw emotional power compared to bloodier photos and videos that the public has seen from other war zones."

Read the full story here.

--Kavitha A. Davidson

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More details emerged Wednesday about Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to Geneva to meet with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and negotiate a plan to turn over Syria's chemical weapons to international control.

Kerry will depart late Wednesday night accompanied by a team of United States chemical weapons experts, and spend Thursday and Friday in Geneva, according to a State Department spokeswoman. He is scheduled to meet with Lavrov and with United Nations Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. There were no plans Wednesday for Kerry to meet with members of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

The Geneva meetings will give the U.S. an opportunity to evaluate whether the Russian proposal is serious, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The U.S. scientists also will work with their Russian counterparts to "make this effort logistically and technically possible," Psaki said.

The safety of any weapons inspectors or removal teams while in Syria will certainly be part of the discussion, she said.

Psaki said the negotiations between Kerry and Lavrov are separate from early-stage negotiations on Syria held Wednesday in New York between representatives of the five permanent member nations on the U.N. Security Council. She acknowledged, however, that "all these pieces are linked together."

The U.N. negotiations grew tense Wednesday, when Russia rejected a proposal by France and the U.S. for a binding resolution. The resolution would strip Assad of his chemical weapons and impose "very severe consequences" if he failed to comply.

--Christina Wilkie

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Secretary of State John Kerry will be accompanied during his two-day trip to Geneva this week by a team of United States chemical weapons experts. The team will help Kerry negotiate the details of a Russian plan to rid Syria of chemical weapons.

A State Department spokeswoman said the names of the experts would be released when the list was finalized, and that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kerry's counterpart in the negotiations, also will bring a team of scientists and specialists to the meeting.

Despite a bumpy road ahead for any multinational agreements on Syria's chemical weapons, the inclusion of logistics experts and scientists in what was initially called a diplomatic mission underscores how far the U.S. and Russia have come toward an agreement in just 72 hours.

-- Christina Wilkie

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared early on his support for President Barack Obama's plan to take military action in Syria. But according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, that position is not playing well in Boehner's Republican district back in Ohio:

One political expert said Boehner’s support might cost him votes next session for Speaker of the House, but he doubts it would oust him from Congress.

Of the 20 people the Enquirer approached about Boehner, some didn’t even know who he was, much less what was his stance on an attack on Syria.

Other opinions ranged from applauding him for at least making a decision to questions about whether he’s still a conservative. One person said he staunchly agrees with what Boehner did and that politics shouldn’t be involved.

Patricia Harmon, 49, of Middletown, suggested Boehner was a turncoat.

“I thought he didn’t like Democrats. Why is he all of a sudden backing the president?” she said.

-- Amanda Terkel

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Despite President Obama's call for Congress to delay a vote on a military strike against Syria, dozens of Syrians lined up in Damascus for passports to leave the country. Reuters reports that many residents of the Syrian capital appear wary of current negotiations at the U.N. to force Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

"We just decided it was time we got passports for the whole family," Raghad, a mother of three in her thirties, told Reuters. Raghad explained that while the family would not need a passport to cross the border into neighboring Lebanon, it would require documents to leave for a third country. "Now with all this news, what if we went to Lebanon and couldn't return? We need passports in case we have no choice but to travel to a third country," Raghad said. "For now, based on the latest news, we're staying until something changes."

Read the full story here.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community to strip Syria of its chemical weapons, Reuters reports:

Netanyahu said Syria had carried out a "crime against humanity" by killing innocent civilians with chemical weapons and that Syria's ally Iran, who is at odds with the West over its nuclear program, was watching to see how the world acted.

Read the full story here.

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Alexei Pushkov, the head of the lower house of the Russian legislature's foreign affairs committee and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned of consequences if the U.S. strikes Syria.

"This would include the expansion of defensive weapons deliveries to Iran, and discussing the possibility of reviewing our cooperation with the United States on Afghanistan," he said to the lower house, the State Duma, according to Reuters.

Pushkov is known for his hawkish, anti-U.S. views on foreign policy, and he is a member of Putin's party, United Russia. He famously sparked worldwide confusion after tweeting -- and later deleting -- an announcement that Edward Snowden had accepted asylum in Venezuela. He later claimed that he had merely gotten the information from television news.

-- Luke Johnson

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A day after U.S. President Barack Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on whether or not to strike Syria, Syrian president Bashar Assad marked his 48th birthday.

More than two years into the Syrian conflict, the embattled president has as firm a grip on power as ever.

"He is even more the 'boss' than before, even if he can't act without the support of the military and security apparatus," said Nikolaos van Dam, a Dutch diplomat and author of a book on Syria.

Read the full story here.

-- Ryan Craggs

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Syria said on Wednesday that its acceptance of a Russian diplomatic plan to give up its chemical weapons arsenal should not be interpreted as a sign on weakness.

The Associated Press reports:

Cabinet minister Ali Haidar said Syria's chemical weapons, which he described as "the nuclear of the poor," was meant to achieve strategic balance against Israel, "an enemy that we've been fighting for more than 60 years."

He said there was now "a new kind of strategic balance" in place, and consequently Syria can afford to relinquish its stockpile as part of an overall plan and "not out of fear of any enemy." He declined to elaborate.

Read the full story here.

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday he would vote against a resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria, according to Wisconsin talk radio host Charlie Sykes.

In any event, President Barack Obama has asked congressional leaders to delay a vote on the resolution to allow time for a potential diplomatic solution to play out.

-- Luke Johnson

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A French official told the Associated Press that negotiations over a United Nations resolution on Syria started on Wednesday.

The negotiations come in the wake of Damascus' acceptance of a Russian plan that would force Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control. France, Britain and the United States welcomed the plan on Tuesday, but insisted that a binding U.N. resolution should set a timetable for Assad to execute the plan and should stipulate punitive measures in case of non-compliance.

According to the AP, the negotiations over the U.N. resolution are extremely tense. Russia reportedly objects to making the resolution militarily enforceable. Moscow also does not want the resolution to explicitly blame the Assad regime for the chemical attack in Damascus on Aug. 21.

Read more on the negotiations here.

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A U.N. commission announced on Wednesday it believes the regime of President Bashar Assad is responsible for at least eight massacres perpetrated in Syria in the past 18 months. The commission accuses rebel forces of one massacre.

More from the Associated Press:

The commission's probe highlights the worsening pattern of violence against civilians, including executions and hospital bombings, as the government battles to retake lost territory from the rebels, including Islamist foreign fighters who also have carried out war crimes.

"The perpetrators of these violations and crimes, on all sides, act in defiance of international law. They do not fear accountability. Referral to justice is imperative," says the report by the U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria.

Read the full story here.

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As the members of the United Nations debate a Russian proposal to force the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad to surrender its chemical weapons, HuffPost World looks back at the history of conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

Learn more about Syria's past, present and future in our explainer.

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The New York Times reports:

As the United States and Russia searched for a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Syria’s chemical weapons, a four-person United Nations rights panel presented detailed evidence on Wednesday of what they said were war crimes and crimes against humanity still being committed by both sides in the 30-month-old conflict.

Bolstered by arms and money from regional and global powers waging a proxy war, Syria’s government and rebel forces have committed murder, torture, rape and indiscriminate attacks on civilians on a huge scale, believing they can win a military victory and without fear of future punishment, the panel, a Commission of Inquiry, said in a report to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Click here to read more.

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The Associated Press reports:

Sen. John McCain says the cause of rebels fighting Syria's President Bashar Assad has been obscured in the rapid-fire military and diplomatic events following a chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

McCain says, quote, "I feel very badly for my friends in the Free Syrian Army today."

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The Huffington Post's Jen Bendery reports:

Medea Benjamin, the leader of the anti-war group Code Pink and perhaps the most easily recognizable protester in Washington, celebrated her 61st birthday in true form on Tuesday night: at a large protest outside the White House during President Barack Obama's national address on Syria.

The scene on the closed-off street was half party and half war protest. At least 100 people swarmed around a table set up in honor of Benjamin's birthday with free cupcakes and lemonade for anyone who walked up. Two women sang peace songs and played guitar; another guy hauled out a popcorn machine. But nearly everyone was also holding a sign or wearing a sticker opposing a military intervention in Syria.

"It seems very apropos to have a birthday out in front of the White House at a time when we're trying to mobilize for peace, but they're a little nervous about us," Benjamin told HuffPost, referring to police officers' response to the gear Code Pink brought to the scene. "They've got some 9/11 jitters."

Click here to read more.

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Time reports:

Hunting down Syria’s chemical weapons — assuming the Russian-brokered deal to avert a U.S. strike pans out — is going to be a challenge. Destroying them after they are located, assuming that is the path to be followed, will be no day at the incinerator, either.

No one knows that better than the Pentagon.

Click here to read more.

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The Huffington Post's Christina Wilkie reports:

Secretary of State John Kerry will spend much of Wednesday meeting with senior members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, as he attempts to press the case for U.S. engagement in Syria.

Kerry is scheduled to meet one-on-one with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Wednesday afternoon, and address a meeting of the 25-member Foreign Affairs Policy Board Wednesday morning. On Wednesday evening, Kerry will host a dinner for FAPB members at the State Department, according to an official schedule.

Widely considered a godfather of U.S.-Russia relations, Kissinger served as Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford. As the nation's top diplomat, he pioneered the idea of developing a détente, or cooperation based on shared interests, between the leaders of the world's two nuclear superpowers.

Click here to read more.

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A CNN/ORC survey of Americans who watched President Barack Obama speak Tuesday night found many optimistic about a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Syria. But respondents were split on whether Obama had made the case for taking action should negotiations fail. CNN's Paul Steinheuser writes:

A CNN/ORC International survey of speech-watchers conducted immediately after the conclusion of Obama's Tuesday address indicates that 61% support the president's position on Syria, with 37% opposing his response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens ... The poll indicates that nearly two-thirds of those who watched the speech think that the situation in Syria is likely to be resolved through diplomatic efforts, with 35% disagreeing ... According to the poll, those who watched the president were divided on whether Obama made a convincing case in his speech for U.S. military action in Syria, with 47% saying he did and 50% saying he didn't."

The poll's results were influenced by the fact that more Democrats chose to tune in to the speech: The sample was 37 percent Democrats, 20 percent Republicans, and 43 percent independents. Nearly all public polling to date among the general public has found wide opposition to intervention against Syria. In a CNN/ORC survey released Monday, only 39 percent of Americans said Congress should pass a resolution that authorized limited military action.

--Ariel Edwards-Levy

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The AP reports:

ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday he believes the best path forward in Syria is for the United States to work out a deal with Russia for Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

Carter, in an event at The Carter Center, said it would not be a catastrophe if Congress were to vote against President Barack Obama's call for military action against Syria while diplomatic efforts are pursued.

"A lot of presidents have submitted things that were extremely important to us, maybe even more important than bombing Syria, and we've been rejected by Congress," Carter said. "It's just something you have to live with in a democracy."

Click here to read more.

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HuffPost reports:

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he has ordered the military to maintain its posture with respect to striking Syria even as Congress postpones a vote authorizing that strike.

Speaking from the East Wing, he said, "I've ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails."

Click here for more.

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HuffPost is gathering reactions from politicians to Obama's speech.

Click here to read more.

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Click here to read the full text of Obama's speech.

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Loading Slideshow...
  • Syrian refugee, Ahmed al Delly, 59, from Daraa in Syria, reacts as he speaks about his wife, four sons, and two daughters, who are still in Daraa but he has had no contact with them, after the prayer of Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. (AP photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • This image provided by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show mourners next to bodies of victims of an attack on Ghouta, Syria on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

  • This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

  • Columns of smoke rising from heavy shelling in the Jobar neighborhood in west Damascus, in Cairo, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the Media Office Of Douma City, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man mourns over a dead body after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists, in Douma town, Damascus, Syria on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Media Office Of Douma City)

  • Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian man reacts as he carries a dead body of a Syrian girl, after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen)

  • This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen)

  • This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows dead bodies of Syrian citizens in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen)

  • A Syrian family sits in a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • Syrian refugees stand in a queue to receive free food at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • Syrian refugees wait to receive a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • Syrian refugees wait to receive a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • Syrian refugees gather for food aid at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • Syrian refugees wait for food aid at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • A Syrian military soldier holds his AK-47 with a sticker of Syrian President Bashar Assad as he stands guard at a check point on Baghdad street, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • A Syrian military soldier holds his AK-47 with a sticker of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Arabic that reads, "Syria is fine," as he stands guard at a check point on Baghdad street, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

  • This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian man receiving treatment, in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen)

  • Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • A general view of the Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • In this image taken from video posted by Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show a fireball from an explosion at a weapons depot set off by rocket attacks that struck government-held districts in the central Syrian city of Homs on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)

  • Syrian refugees gather for food aid after cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man comforts a child injured by a missile strike in Raqqa, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

  • Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • In this citizen journalism Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, buildings are seen damaged from the shelling of Syrian forces at Karm al-Jabal area in Aleppo province, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

  • In this citizen journalism Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrian rebels open fire as they battle against the Syrian forces in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

  • In this image released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian army soldier stands behind his machine gun during a battle against the Syrian rebels at an unidentified location in Latakia province, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man carries an injured child away from a missile strike in Raqqa, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

  • In this image released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian forces tank fires during a battle against the Syrian rebels at an unidentified location in Latakia province, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • In this image taken from Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, video obtained from the Sham News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a rebel fighter fires a gun in a valley in an unidentified location in Latakia province, Syria. (AP Photo/Sham News Network via AP video)

  • Mansour Mahameed, 26, from Daraa city in Syria, a former Free Syrian Army fighter who lost his leg last March after the Syrian troops bombing, prepares to sit for the Eid al-Fitr prayer that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • Syrian refugees cross into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border point in Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man carries an injured child away from a missile strike in Raqqa, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, dead bodies of Syrian rebels are seen on the ground, killed during ambush by Syrian forces near the Damascus suburb of Adra, Syria, Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA)

  • In this image taken from video posted by Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show a fireball from an explosion at a weapons depot set off by rocket attacks that struck government-held districts in the central Syrian city of Homs on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

  • This image posted on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 purports to show Syrian President Bashar Assad shaking hands with a soldier during Syrian Arab Army day in Darya, Syria. (AP Photo/Syrian Presidency via Facebook)

  • This image posted on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 purports to show Syrian President Bashar Assad walking with soldiers with during Syrian Arab Army day in Darya, Syria. (AP Photo/Syrian Presidency via Facebook)

  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian youths run away from the scene of a missile strike in Raqqa, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)