US planning for 'every contingency' in Syria...Outcome of battle for Syrian Christian town unclear...Wildfire damage assessed

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Updated: Sun, 08 Sep 2013 10:16:02 EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House chief of staff is acknowledging that military action could drag the U.S. into the middle of Syria's civil war and put allies such as Israel in danger of a retaliatory attack. But Denis McDonough (mihk-DUHN'-uh) tells CNN's "State of the Union" that the U.S. is "planning for every contingency in that regard." McDonough says "targeted, limited consequential action" is needed to deter the Syrian regime from carrying out any more chemical attacks. BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran's new foreign minister says military strikes on Syria would be illegal under the United Nations charter. He commented today during a visit to Iraq. Iran is the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime also maintains strong ties to Russia. Assad's troops are battling largely Sunni rebels who receive support from Sunni countries such as Turkey and the Gulf states. AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Syrian activists say rebels, including fighters linked to al-Qaida, have gained control of a Christian village northeast of Damascus that's on a U.N. list of tentative world heritage sites. But Syria's government media are providing a dramatically different account of the battle, suggesting regime forces are winning. The scenic mountain community of Maaloula is known for being one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic. SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Scientists are assessing the damage from a massive wildfire burning around Yosemite National Park in California, as thousands of firefighters continue to battle the four-week-old blaze. Federal officials have amassed a team of 50 scientists to assess wildfire damage and come up with plans to protect habitat and waterways as the fall rainy season approaches. KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Teams of veterans are racing from the Florida Keys to New York City on jet skis to raise money for organizations helping veterans and their families. The Never Quit Challenge began early Friday in Key West. Six teams are using personal watercraft to travel 1,600 miles to the finish line in New York by Sept. 11.

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