MUSCAT, Oman – Iran has sent soldiers to Syria to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
An unknown number of Iranians are fighting inside Syria, the official said, citing accounts from opposition forces supported by Western and Arab governments. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview a strategy session that Secretary of State John Kerry will hold today with key opposition supporters.
Also Tuesday, a Senate panel voted to provide weapons to rebels, the first time lawmakers have endorsed the aggressive U.S. military step of arming the opposition in the 2-year-old civil war.
The Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 for a bill that would provide lethal assistance and military training to vetted rebel groups, and would slap sanctions on anyone who sells oil or transfers arms to the Assad regime such as Iran and Russia.
Deal reached on bin Laden evidence
Lawyers in the court-martial of an Army private who sent more than 700,000 classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks said Tuesday they have reached a deal that may eliminate the need for testimony from a member of the military team that killed Osama bin Laden. Prosecutors also agreed to accept Pfc. Bradley Mannings guilty plea to a lesser version of one of the 22 counts he faces.
Under the agreement, both the prosecution and defense teams would acknowledge at Mannings trial next month that there is digital evidence indicating bin Laden saw some of the material Manning released. The raid team member, presumably a Navy SEAL, was expected to testify that the evidence was recovered during a May 2011 raid on the al-Qaida leaders compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Mexican soldiers set to protect towns
Mexicos top security officials promised Tuesday that a new federal offensive to rescue towns besieged by the Knights Templar drug cartel in western Michoacan state would stay until there is security and peace for all state residents.
Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong and his national security team met with local officials in the state capital of Morelia at a time of escalating tensions in Michoacan, where communities mistrustful of state authorities have been creating their own vigilante forces for protection against the cartels.
Gunmen in vehicles marked only with the Knights Templar symbol, a red cross, roam the countryside, burning businesses and homes of anyone who refuses to pay them protection money.
Maine man charged with killing girl, 15
Police charged a 20-year-old Maine man with murder Tuesday in the death of a 15-year-old girl who disappeared more than a week ago.
Kyle Dube, of Orono, was charged in Nichole Cables death after a body presumed to be hers was found in a wooded area Monday night, Maine State Police Lt. Christopher Coleman said at a news conference.
Nicholes family said she vanished after she went to meet a Facebook friend for the first time.
Tyler-Ann Harris, a 16-year-old who described herself as Nicholes best friend, said Dube and Nichole had met a couple of months earlier and planned to see each other the weekend she vanished, before he had to report to jail.
Harris said she had never met Dube and wasnt sure of his relationship with her friend.
She said Nichole didnt fear him.