Top of the Morning: Chemical Weapons Used in Syria; French Boots on the Ground in Mali; Cuba Confirms Cholera Outbreak

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

State Department Cable: Chemical Weapons Used in Syria

Foreign Policy has the scoop about a secret cable which confirms dark fears that the Syrian government is prepared to use chemical weapons. “The cable, signed by the U.S. consul general in Istanbul, Scott Frederic Kilner, and sent to State Department headquarters in Washington last week, outlined the results of the consulate’s investigation into reports from inside Syria that chemical weapons had been used in the city of Homs on Dec. 23. The consul general’s report followed a series of interviews with activists, doctors, and defectors, in what the administration official said was one of the most comprehensive efforts the U.S. government has made to investigate claims by internal Syrian sources.” (Foreign Policy

Mali: France Launches Ground Campaign; Militants Kidnap Westerners in Algeria

Boots are on the ground. “French troops launched their first ground operation against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a crucial action to dislodge al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes…After Islamist threats to exact revenge for France’s dramatic intervention, an al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for a raid on a gas field in Algeria in which seven foreigners were kidnapped and a French national killed.” (Reuters

It’s Official: Cuba is in the Midst of a Cholera Outbreak

Haiti’s Cholera epidemic has spread to Cuba. “A new cholera outbreak has sickened 51 people in Havana, Cuba’s second in four months after a 130-year stretch without the disease, the Health Ministry said Tuesday. One man has died, his family said. …It first appeared in a working class district called Cerro situated in the center of Havana, between the Plaza of the Revolution and the city’s main baseball stadium. Rumors of a cholera outbreak spread in recent days after doctors annurses began going door to door in certain neighborhoods to distribute medicines to residents.” (AFP