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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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politics lead

September 9th, 2013
07:05 PM ET

Hillary Clinton weighs in: Syria weapons handover would be 'important step'

For the first time Monday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the crisis in Syria, and what could be a new "Plan B."

CNN's Chief Domestic Affairs Correspondent Jessica Yellin reports.

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politics lead

September 9th, 2013
07:01 PM ET

Former Clinton press secretary: Obama has to lead on Syria

As a "private citizen" former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not have to weigh in publicly on the Syria conflict. But she did, two weeks after the U.S. first learned of the alleged chemical weapon attack.

Clinton made the comments Monday because she was at a previously scheduled public event at the White House, and she had to say something, said political analyst and former press secretary to the Clinton administration Dee Dee Myers.

"She can't walk into the White House in the middle of this conversation as former Secretary of State and not say anything. It would have been odd," said Myers.
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national lead

September 9th, 2013
06:06 PM ET

Deputy National Security Advisor: Obama will outline 'compelling' case on Assad Tuesday

When President Barack Obama addresses the nation Tuesday night, he will provide more information linking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the use of chemical weapons.

"He'll be able to lay out in a very compelling way exactly what we know, and he'll be able to give you some idea of how we know it," said Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken.
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world lead

September 9th, 2013
05:58 PM ET

Syrian opposition spokesman: Obama should strike no matter what; U.S. intervention would end war in Syria

Lawmakers and Americans are reluctant to get involved in Syria. One concern, among many, is the uncertainty of what comes after a U.S. strike against Syria.

A representative for the Syrian opposition said President Bashar al-Assad has lost control of more than 60% of Syria, and the country is already in chaos.

"This strike, I think, is going to lead to the end of this war," said Najib Ghadbian, Syrian coalition special representative to the U.S.

Ghadbian outlined the political aftermath of a U.S. intervention, saying there will be a transition plan coordinated between "the core friends of Syria," the Free Syrian Army, and the coalition to ensure "there is no void, there is no vacuum."

The transition may need the help of the international community and peacekeeping forces, "but it's the U.S. intervention that will end this war," Ghadbian said.
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Analysis: Why would the Obama administration think Iran would be offended by Syria using chemical weapons?

national lead

September 9th, 2013
11:34 AM ET

Analysis: Why would the Obama administration think Iran would be offended by Syria using chemical weapons?

By CNN's Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

In her Friday speech laying out the case for military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said something intriguing.

"At a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran — itself a victim of Saddam Hussein's monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 — to cast loose a regime that was gassing its people," Power said.

Why would the Obama administration think Iran would turn against Syria for gassing its own people? On what basis would that expectation/hope be made?

The administration's thinking is described this way:

During the Iraq/Iran war in the 1980s, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, killing tens of thousands of Iranian citizens – including civilians. Iran claims hundreds of thousands were killed or wounded, other accounts commonly cite approximately 50,000.

So Iran is one of the few countries in the world with a recent history of suffering first hand from the use of chemical weapons.

Following the August 21 attack in Syria, to the surprise of many, Iran did not dispute that chemical weapons were used in the attack. The Obama administration believes that this is likely attributed to their own painful history with the horrors of this type of weapon.

Moreover, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made public remarks attributing responsibility for the attack to the Assad regime.

(The Obama administration notes that his remarks were subsequently altered by other elements of the Iranian government, which reflects what many believe to be internal division within the Iranian government in the aftermath of the August 21 attack.)

To sum up, the Obama administration views the response by Iran's leaders this way: They acknowledge Assad is responsible, but appear divided on how to deal with the fact that a client state used weapons that they find to be abhorrent.

As White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State Of The Union” Sunday, “Let's remember that the Iranians have a particular history with chemical weapons - the receiver, by the way, of attacks with chemical weapons, not the sender. So they're very focused on what's happening in Syria. And we have plenty of reason to believe that they're very uncomfortable with what their - what their ally chose to do here.”

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