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New leader of the Free Syrian Army: We warned the Americans about ISIS​

August 29th, 2014
10:10 AM ET

by Henry Hullah

The Free Syrian Army is on the verge of collapse.

Fighting on two fronts, it is not only battling the Assad regime but must also stop the march of the barbaric militant group ISIS across Syria.

For General Abd al-Ilah al-Bashir, the newly appointed leader of the FSA, continued American airstrikes could be key to aiding his army's fight against ISIS.

"The American airstrikes could help the revolutionaries to destroy this organization and make them step back," he told the program.

Christiane Amanpour asked the leader of the Free Syrian Army if he had been in contact with the American government as the threat of ISIS began to grow in Syria, were they made aware of just how big a threat this group could have grown to be?

"We met with the Americans a few times and we warned them of the danger of this organization and we showed our readiness to fight against them because it's dangerous, not only for the region, but the whole world," the General said.

"We are ready to defend the whole world. But we did not get much support or help to do that."

Earlier in the week, The U.K.'s Ambassador to the United Nations told the program that "ISIS is a monster that the Frankenstein of Assad has largely created". The General made clear that he also believed the government of Bashar al-Assad is to blame for this barbaric organisation. ​

"We are convinced that it is part of the Assad regime. And they have complete coordination with members of this regime and they lead and they coordinate with the Syrian regime."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

UK's Ambassador to the U.N.: ISIS is a monster that the Frankenstein of Assad has largely created​

August 26th, 2014
03:07 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

After the cataclysmic conflict between Israel and Gaza-based militants, some hope came today with an Egypt-brokered peace deal.

Christiane Amanpour asked the British Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Lyall Grant if he was hopeful.

"This is very good news, but we've seen truces before." he told her, "Just a ceasefire, if it gets back to the status quo, is not going to provide a long-term solution to the crisis."

"We need something that is: A) sustainable, and B) acts as a bridge to serious status negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel."

"We have to move on from this cyclical crisis to something that is more sustainable."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gaza • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Beaten and shot in Syria

July 2nd, 2014
06:52 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

"I was marched up to him and I said to him - because I didn't have anything else to say - 'I thought we were friends.' And he pulled his pistol and shot me."

This is reporting in Syria.

With the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria threatening Baghdad and continuing its brutal fight in Syria, few people know the extremist groups of the region like Anthony Loyd, who has been on more than a dozen reporting trips to Syria since the war began.

On his latest such venture, in May, he was double-crossed by a man he considered his friend.

"This was a guy and his gang who I've known for over two years and stayed with on several occasions," Loyd told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Hakim, he said, was a midlevel commander in a small town - someone who had always treated him "with great decency and hospitality, as befitting a Muslim host in the Middle East."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Syria ‘a festering wound’ that fostered ISIS, says former Saudi intelligence chief

July 1st, 2014
02:59 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Syria, “a festering wound that collects the worst bacteria in the world,” is largely responsible for the strength of groups like ISIS, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“My personal view is that the conflict in Syria particularly has been a main source of this growth in these terrorist activities.”

A day after the leader of ISIS declared an Islamic “caliphate,” the group is calling on Muslims around the world to unite around its “Islamic state.”

Saudi Arabia – Iraq’s neighbor and regional Sunni power – believes that will never happen, but is nonetheless sounding the alarm.

“It's a terrorist organization that has specialized in brutal killings,” al-Faisal said. “So it is a danger to the whole area and I think to the rest of the world.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

British Counter-Intelligence expert Richard Barrett: Western nations have acted 'a bit too late' in Syria

June 10th, 2014
11:30 AM ET

By Henry Hullah

The inaction of the West has prompted Muslims from across the globe to make the treacherous journey to Syria to join the even more dangerous civil war that has been waged for almost two years.

12,000 fighters have flooded Syria, more even than went to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, have created a violent reaction in western nations known as 'blowback'.

British Counter-Intelligence expert and veteran Intelligence officer Richard Barrett told Amanpour that "In many ways, the Western nations, as Mr. Brahimi suggested, are in a bit of a bind here. What is the correct policy to conduct towards Syria? And I think the retiring ambassador, Robert Ford, also suggested this. It's now a bit too late. But with hindsight, you would have done things differently. But that's always the way. And very, very hard now for Western nations to correct a policy which would satisfy all their citizens that they were doing the right thing."

Amanpour asked if there was any way the U.K., France or even the United States could prevent foreign fighters in Syria returning and encouraging domestic terrorism.

"I mean, there's a big difference I think about being motivated to go as a foreign fighter and coming back as a domestic terrorist. But nonetheless, it doesn't take many. And if it's only 1 percent of 3,000 people already and counting, then that's going to be quite a problem".


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria • United Kingdom

Former Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi: I resigned in protest

June 9th, 2014
05:38 PM ET

By Henry Hullah,

Once Special Envoy to Syria for the Arab League and the U.N., Lakhdar Brahimi left his post on May 14th of this year.

He went out with a bang, telling Amanpour he resigned in protesting f the world’s refusal to act in Syria.

“I resigned because I was getting nowhere and it was the only way for me to protest the total inattention of the international community and the region to the situation in Syria”

It was a move that echoed the resignation of Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford in February.

“I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy”, said Ford just last week.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Syria jihadist training ‘worst since Afghanistan in 1980s’

June 3rd, 2014
03:20 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The volume for foreign fighters seeking to battle jihad in Syria is “more significant than every other instance of foreign fighter mobilization since the Afghanistan war in the 1980s,” the International Center for the Study of Radicalization claims.

“What’s happening right now in Syria is truly profound,” Peter Neumann, director of the center, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“The old al Qaeda, I believe, is no longer that relevant. In five years’ time we may well be talking about a different kind of organization, and one that like Afghanistan in the 1980s has been created in Syria.”

Western powers are scrambling to deal with the very real national security blowback that is emerging from the Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford: I could no longer ‘defend the American policy’

June 3rd, 2014
10:48 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, who left his post just a month ago, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that he could no longer stand behind his government.

“I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy,” he said. “We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground, and we have a growing extremism threat.”

Ford left Syria in February 2012 amid the escalating civil war. He remained ambassador until earlier this year; the embassy has been extremely active on social media.

Syria is holding presidential elections on Tuesday, but ballots are only being cast in areas controlled by President Bashar al-Assad, and his only two opponents were government-approved.

“There really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy except the removal of about ninety-three percent of some of Assad’s chemical materials. But now he’s using chlorine gas against his opponents.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria • U.S. Politics

Is Assad's re-election a done deal?

May 30th, 2014
01:01 PM ET

Syrians around the world are casting their early ballots in a presidential election scheduled for this Tuesday. For months there has been a growing sense that the tide is turning in Bashar al-Assad’s favor.

As Middle East correspondent for National Public Radio, Deborah Amos has reported extensively on Syria from inside and out. She joined CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, for an election preview.

Click above to watch the interview in full. 

Filed under:  From the Show • Syria

Turkey: Deterrence failing, Ukraine crisis partly result of Syria inaction

May 16th, 2014
07:37 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The international community’s decision not to intervene in Syria is directly linked to the crisis in Ukraine, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

“Psychologically and also strategically, let me say, there is a link between the inability of international community to stop this bloodshed in Syria on the situation in Ukraine.”

"The deterrence of international community has been deteriorating in last three years," he said.

“So you think,” Amanpour said, “the deterrence has been deteriorating because of Syria over the last three years.”

“Yeah, of course,” he responded.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria
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