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Syrian Foes Meet Face to Face in Geneva

Geneva- the Syrian government and the opposition met face to face on Tuesday and observed a minute of silence for people killed in the three year conflict after a first round of talks last month failed to make significant progress, delegates said. "I hope that the minute of silence will signal an improvement in the atmosphere this time," opposition delegate Ahmed Jakal told Reuters. He said that internation ...

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Syria Evacuates Civilians from Besieged Homs Center

Damascus - Syria evacuated 83 civilians on Friday who had lived under government siege in the devastated city of Homs for a year and a half, the first concrete result of talks launched two weeks ago to try to end the country's civil war. Buses ferried dozens of weary-looking evacuees, accompanied by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, to a meeting point outside Homs where aid workers, soldiers and police were gat ...

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Syria Misses Deadline to Hand over All Critical Chemicals

Damascus - Syria on Wednesday missed a deadline to hand over all the toxic materials it declared to the world's chemical weapons watchdog, putting the program several weeks behind schedule and jeopardizing a final June 30 deadline. Under a deal reached in October between Russia and the United States, which helped avert a U.S.-led missile strike against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, Syria agreed t ...

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Syrian Refugees, Fleeing Barrel Bombs, Stuck at Turkish Border

Ankara - Turkey is turning away Syrian families without passports after a refugee influx caused by intensified "barrel bombing" in Aleppo filled up its refugee camps, the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said on Wednesday. One of the Syrian opposition's most vocal allies, Turkey has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. But resources have been stretched at the Turkish border after P ...

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Al Qaeda Breaks Link with Syrian Militant Group ISIL

Damascus -      Al Qaeda's general command said on Monday it had no links with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in an apparent attempt to reassert its authority over fragmented Islamist fighters in Syria's civil war. After a month of rebel infighting, al Qaeda disavowed the increasingly independent ISIL in a move likely to bolster a rival Islamist group, the Nusra Front, as al Qaeda's offici ...

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UN Says More Than 733 Iraqis Killed in January

Baghdad - The United Nations said Saturday that at least 733 Iraqis were killed during violence in January, even when leaving out casualties from an embattled western province. The figures issued Saturday by the U.N.'s mission to Iraq show 618 civilians and 115 members of the security forces were killed in January. But the UNAMI statement excluded deaths from ongoing fighting in Anbar, due to problems in ve ...

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UN Chief Pushes for Quick Return to Syria Talks

Berlin - The United Nations' secretary-general pressed the U.S. and Russia to help ensure that peace talks aimed at stemming Syria's civil war can soon resume, while Russia's foreign minister said Saturday that it is "very difficult" to push Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to make concessions. A week of peace talks ended in Geneva on Friday with no concrete progress and no immediate commitment fr ...

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Syria Chemical Weapons: Kerry Asks Russia to Hasten Removal

Washington - US Secretary of State John Kerry has asked Russia to press its ally Syria into speeding up the removal of chemical weapons. The US says only about 4% of chemical weapons declared by the Syrian government have so far been removed. Mr Kerry raised the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, officials said. Syria's chemical weapons are ...

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Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia amid Tensions over Iran, Syria: Report

Washington - President Barack Obama plans to travel to Saudi Arabia in March on a mission to smooth tensions with Washington's main Arab ally over U.S. policy on Iran's nuclear program and the civil war in Syria, a newspaper reported. Obama is preparing to meet with King Abdullah for a summit, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing unnamed Arab officials briefed on the meetings. "This is about a ...

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Abbas Proposes Three-Year Israeli Pullout from West Bank

Ghaza- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas proposed on Tuesday that Israel carry out a gradual three-year withdrawal from the occupied West Bank as part of any future peace deal, an offer that fell short of Israeli demands. He gave the timeframe in an interview shown at an international security conference in Tel Aviv, where Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon challenged the effectiveness of the Palestini ...

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Aid Convoy Stalled as Syrian Government Demands Assurances

Demacus- The fate of a U.N. aid convoy for thousands of Syrians besieged in the city of Homs was in the balance on Tuesday as the government said it wanted assurances the supplies would not end up in the hands of "terrorists". Efforts to get food and medical supplies into the city have become a test case on whether peace talks in Switzerland can produce any practical measures on the ground almost three year ...

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Syrian Government under Pressure to Allow Aid Convoy

Damascus- the Syrian government came under pressure on Monday to allow aid trucks into the besieged rebel city of Homs as negotiators sought to keep peace talks on track by focusing on humanitarian gestures. The government said women and children could leave Homs and government and opposition delegates also spoke of releasing prisoners. The U.N. mediator said he hoped talks, which continue on Monday in Gene ...

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Syrian Civil War Foes Meet in Mediator’s Presence: U.N.

Damascus - Syria's civil war foes held their first meeting in the same room in the presence of international mediator LakhdarBrahimi on Saturday after a day's delay and fierce recriminations. The talks in Geneva aimed to launch political negotiations on ending Syria's nearly three-year conflict, which has killed 130,000 people, displaced over third of Syria's 22 million population and destabilized the wider ...

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Report Details ‘Industrial’ Killing of 11,000 in Assad Jails

Damascus- A Syrian military police photographer has supplied "clear evidence" showing the systematic torture and killing of about 11,000 detainees in circumstances that evoked Nazi death camps, former war crimes prosecutors said. Syrian officials could face war crimes charges as a result of the evidence provided by the photographer, who has defected, the three prosecutors said. One of the prosecutors said t ...

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Syria Peace Talks Must Focus on ‘Fighting Terrorism’: Assad

Damascus - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ruled out on Monday making opposition figures ministers and said peace talks in Switzerland should aim to "fight terrorism", striking a defiant tone two days before the talks are due to start. In an interview with news agency AFP, Assad said he would likely seek a new term in presidential elections this year, a statement certain to anger opposition figures who say ...

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Islamist Militants Strengthen Grip on Iraq’s Falluja

Baghdad - Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups have tightened their grip on Falluja, defying the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government's efforts to persuade local tribesmen to expel them from the Sunni Muslim city, residents and officials say. Despite an army siege, fighters and weapons have been flowing into the city, where U.S. troops fought some of their fiercest battles during their 2003-11 occupation of Iraq. In ...

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Syria Proposes Aleppo Cease-Fire, Prisoner Swap

Beirut - Syria's government Friday proposed a cease-fire in the embattled city of Aleppo and a prisoner exchange with the opposition, a move that appeared aimed at presenting President Bashar Assad as a responsible partner less than a week before an international peace conference. Assad's opponents were skeptical about the offer, which was floated by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem during a visit t ...

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U.N. Feeds Record 3.8 Million in Syria But Concerned by Malnutrition

New York - The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) delivered rations to a record 3.8 million people in Syria in December, but civilians in eastern provinces and besieged towns near the capital remain out of reach, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. The agency voiced concern at reports of malnutrition in besieged areas, especially of children caught up in the nearly three-year-old civil war, and called for greater ...

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North Yemen Strife Has Killed at Least 210, Salafis Say

Sana’a - At least 210 people have been killed in two months of fighting between Shi'ite Muslim Houthis and ultra-conservative Sunni Salafis in northern Yemen, a Salafi spokesman said on Monday.  The violence erupted on October 30 when the Houthi rebels who control much of the northern Saada province accused Salafis in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them. T ...

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Syria Crisis: U.S and Russia Discuss Possible Ceasefires

Paris - The US and Russia have discussed the possibility of "localised ceasefires" in Syria ahead of peace talks to be held in Switzerland next week. Russia also said Syria was considering opening humanitarian access to besieged rebel areas. A prisoner exchange is also under consideration, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. The two men are in Paris to discuss a ...

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