EDITOR'S NOTE: Amanpour's full interview with Brahimi can be seen here.
By Mick Krever, CNN
People on both sides of Syria’s civil war now agree that there is no military solution to the conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. special envoy for Syria, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“Some time ago, both sides were absolutely certain that they are winning,” Brahimi said. Now, “individuals on each side tell me that there is no military solution.”
The U.N. announced on Monday that new Syria peace talks would be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in January, but the full list of attendees is still unknown.
One of the more contentious invitees is Iran, which has said that if invited it would “participate without any preconditions.”
Above is Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy to Syria.
By Mick Krever, CNN
A Syrian-American doctor who spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about the difficulties of providing medical care in that war-torn country and the outbreak of polio, also described what it was like to attend medical school with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – a former classmate.
There’s always a “different side” of dictators, Dr. Zaher Sahloul said on Tuesday.
“When he was in medical school, he was a humble person. He was accessible.”
“I had a couple of meetings with him after he became a president,” Dr. Sahloul said. “He was very humble, and he mentioned one time that he preferred to be a physician.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
Russia warned on Tuesday that the U.S. and international community should not make the mistake of excluding Iran from upcoming Syria peace talks.
“Whether Iran is in the room or not … it’s going to be a player in Syria,” Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “So it’s better to have it in the room.”
The other option, he said, is to “alienate Iran once again.”
“That mistake has been made a number of times before,” he said. “Let’s not repeat it.”
Meanwhile, Iran, the United States, Russia, and four other world powers reached an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program this past weekend. Negotiators hope that the deal will lead to a permanent, comprehensive accord.
The people caught up in Syria’s grinding war are witnessing a frantic new struggle – against disease. A mass vaccination program on all sides of the front lines is trying to control the deadly outbreak of polio.
CNN’s Fred Pleitgen reports from Damascus.
By Mick Krever, CNN
A defected Syrian general told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that Bashar al-Assad will never give up his chemical stockpile.
“The locations of most of the scientific research centers in Syria and the storage facilities are known and under surveillance, thus, he will give up those centers and facilities for sure without lying. That said however, Bashar al-Assad will not give up the chemical stockpile,” Syrian Brigadier General Zaher al-Sakat said.
General al-Sakat says that he defected from the Syrian military after he was ordered to use chemical agents; he says he swapped the chemicals out for something non-toxic to fool his commanders.
The general said that in addition to four secret locations within Syria, the regime is currently transferring chemical weapons to Iraq and Lebanon, an enormous claim that the commander of the opposition Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idriss, recently also made to Amanpour.
Lebanon and Iraq denied the claims at the time, and CNN's Barbara Starr reported that, if true, the allegation would fundamentally shift the assessments of U.S. intelligence officials.
Al-Sakat said that the oppositions’ intelligence monitored “twenty eight large trucks moving from Jdeedet Yabous, toward Lebanon, then to Hezbollah, which were heavily guarded. They also found in the Frouqlus area more than fifty large Mercedes and Volvo trucks, also heavily guarded, moving in the direction of Iraq.”
The head of the World Food Programme says that far from being a side issue, food security is itself security, and is key to a solution to the conflict in Syria.
“When people are hungry, when a mother or father is facing a child that they can't feed, you can't ask that family to lay down their arms,” Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“They won't, because the one thing a family is going to fight for is the ability to save their children. And we know that food is required to save a child's life,” Cousin said. “So providing the food assistance that's necessary is a big part of ensuring that the parties will continue to work towards a sustainable political solution.”
Click above to watch Amanpour’s full interview with Cousin.
By Lucky Gold, CNN
Imagine a world where climate change – and a dwindling water supply – may have helped fuel Syria's civil war.
Five years before Syria was awash in sectarian bloodshed, it was in the midst of a devastating drought – one of the worst in modern times.
The numbers are staggering.
According to the center for climate and security, from 2006 to 2011, the unprecedented drought scorched 60 percent of Syria’s land – killing 80% of the livestock in some regions, putting three quarters of the farmers there out of work, and ultimately displacing 1.5 million people.
And that was before the bloody conflict that has so far scattered four million more inside the country and sent two million refugees streaming across Syria’s borders.
In Syria, the death toll from chemical weapons pales in comparison to that from conventional warfare.
Britain’s Channel 4 has the chilling story of a massacre in Al-Bayda.
Nadim Houry of Human Rights Watch speaks with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, and gives context on the massacre by conventional weapons of at least 248 people in al-Bayda, Syria.
“Overwhelming numbers of victims were not victims of chemical weapons,” Houry told Amanpour, “and that there is a duty for international community to give justice to all these victims, including those who were killed with machine guns.”