Fighting in Syria on Tuesday left at least 120 dead from clashes near Damascus, Homs and Aleppo. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that more preparations for the Syrian peace talks will take place this month, with the actual talks unlikely to take place before October.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that "on-site activities are essential if the United Nations is to be able to establish the facts and clear all the doubts surrounding" the claims about chemical weapons being used in Syria. Separately, UN chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom was in London last week to examine physical evidence.
U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to send an ambassador to Syria, ending a four-year diplomatic hiatus with the nation. After meetings among Damascus, the U.S. State Department and National Security Council officials, special envoy for the Middle East George J. Mitchell met with Syria President Bashar al-Assad to negotiate new diplomatic ties. Elsewhere, North Korea agreed to allow the Swedish ambassador to meet with U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the first visit he has made with them since they were sentenced.
An Arab-language Syrian newspaper reported the capture of the leader of Fatah al Islam, an al-Qaeda linked insurgent organization operating out of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Accused of plotting an assassination in Jordan and arrested in 2002 in Syria, Shaker Abbsi was apparently jailed two months ago in Damascus.