Clinton may testify Jan. 22 on Libya attack

Updated 10 January 2013
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Clinton may testify Jan. 22 on Libya attack

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may make a long-awaited appearance before lawmakers on Jan. 22 to be quizzed about the deadly attack on a US mission in Libya, a senator said Tuesday.
Clinton had initially been due to testify to US lawmakers in late December after a scathing inquiry blamed “grossly inadequate” security at the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi for failing to protect staff there. But she was forced to cancel her testimony and send in her two deputy secretaries instead when she fell ill with a virulent stomach bug, and later suffered a concussion and blood clot.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when a wave of heavily-armed militants overran the compound and a nearby annex on Sept. 11, unleashing a bloody and terrifying eight-hour assault.
The Accountability Review Board set up by Clinton to investigate the attack slammed “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department” responsible for security.
Assistant Secretary Eric Boswell, head of the bureau of diplomatic security, resigned his post after the report was released and was placed on administrative leave along with three other senior staff.
But Republican lawmakers have been itching to grill Clinton before she wraps up her four years in office in a few weeks, after they accused the US administration of some kind of cover-up over the deadly assault.
Senator Bob Corker, ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, told MSNBC television he had been in discussions with Clinton’s top aides about setting a new date for her to testify.
“My sense is her hearing probably will take place the morning of the 22nd,” Corker said.
There was no immediate confirmation of the date from the State Department. Clinton only returned to work on Monday after a month-long absence due to ill-health, and is busy drawing up her schedule for her final weeks in office.


Syria regime strikes kill 6 civilians in south Damascus, war monitor says

Updated 44 min 59 sec ago
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Syria regime strikes kill 6 civilians in south Damascus, war monitor says

BEIRUT: Syrian regime air strikes have killed six civilians in southern Damascus where government forces are fighting the Daesh group, a war monitor said Wednesday.
The six, including two men and their wives, were killed in the strikes on the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk late Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Regime strikes and rocket fire Wednesday morning targeted the neighboring districts of Hajjar Al-Aswad and Qadam, the Britain-based monitor said.
The latest civilian deaths bring to 18 the total of non-fighters killed in regime bombardment on the capital’s southern neighborhoods since Thursday last week.
Yarmuk, which is now Daesh’s last urban redoubt in Syria or Iraq, was once Syria’s biggest Palestinian refugee camp, home to around 160,000 people.
But the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA says most of the 6,000 refugees still living in the camp last week have since fled.
At least 52 pro-regime fighters have been killed in fighting to expel Daesh from the capital’s southern suburbs since April 19, the Observatory says.
Syrian officials do not usually disclose losses within army ranks.
The monitor has said at least 35 militant fighters were also killed during the same period.
There are an estimated 1,000 Daesh fighters left inside Yarmuk and the adjacent districts of Hajjar Al-Aswad and Qadam.
Daesh swept across large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a cross-border “caliphate” in areas the jihadists seized.
At its height their pseudo-state covered an area the size of Italy, but Daesh has since lost most of the land it controlled in both countries.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.