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Syrian Rebels, Hezbollah in Deadly Fight in Lebanon

Beirut - Several fighters were killed in an overnight clash between Hezbollah fighters and Syrian rebel forces in Lebanon's eastern border region with Syria, Lebanese security sources said on Sunday. One source said 15 rebels were killed in the fighting east of the Bekaa Valley town of Baalbek, but the exact toll would not be clear until bodies could be retrieved from the remote and rugged border area. One ...

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Fighting in Syria’s Qusair; U.N. Says World Watching

Damascus - Syrian troops and Hezbollah guerrillas besieging the border town of Qusair fought with rebels on Saturday as the United Nations warned all sides they could be held accountable for the suffering of civilians trapped there. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting was taking place inside Qusair and in villages around it, largely controlled by President Bashar al-Assad's f ...

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Russia Faults U.S. Over ‘Odious’ Syria Rights Resolution

Moscow - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced as "odious" a U.S.-backed draft resolution condemning the Syrian government before a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday and said it would undermine peace efforts. Lavrov said U.S. support for the draft resolution, which would condemn "widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights" by Syrian authorities and affiliated mi ...

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Syria Says Will Attend Geneva Talks ‘in Principle’

Damascus - Syria's government will "in principle" attend multilateral talks planned for June in Geneva and believes the conference will be an opportunity to resolve the country's conflict, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Sunday. Russia and the United States are sponsoring a proposed peace conference planned for next month on the war, which has killed 80,000 people and risks spilling over it ...

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Syrian Opposition Resumes Unity Talks Key to Peace Conference

Damascus - Syria's opposition resumed talks on Saturday aimed at creating a coherent front crucial to a proposed international peace conference, struggling under Western and Arab pressure to close their fractious ranks and elect a viable leadership. Failure of the opposition to unite could weaken the hand of conference co-sponsors Russia and the United States in ending Syria's civil war, which has killed 80 ...

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Syria Opposition Calls for Reinforcements in Embattled Qusair

Damascus - Syria's leading opposition group called on Wednesday for rebels across the country to send reinforcements to the strategic border town Qusair, where heavy fighting has drawn in fighters from Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement. Rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad said air strikes and shelling rocked the small town on the Syrian-Lebanese border that has become a fierce battlegrou ...

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Obama: U.S. Preserves Diplomatic, Military Options on Syria

Washington - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he reserved the right to resort to both diplomatic and military options to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but insisted that U.S. action alone would not be enough to resolve the Syrian crisis. Taking a cautious line at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Obama voiced hope that the United States and Russia would su ...

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Kerry Sees Syria Peace Negotiations Taking Place in Early June

Washington - Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he expected a proposed Syria peace conference backed by Washington and Moscow to be held in early June, and he denied reports that the Damascus government did not plan to attend. Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi said earlier in the day that Damascus, fighting an insurgency that threatens to draw in Syria's neighbors, wanted specifics on such ...

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UK’s Cameron on U.S. Trip to Learn Boston Lessons, Discuss Syria

London - British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Boston on Monday to learn more about the bombings there after a meeting with President Barack Obama aimed at helping broker a Syrian peace deal and spurring talks on an EU-U.S. trade pact. Making his first trip to the United States since Obama won a second term, Cameron will receive a detailed briefing from the FBI on the Boston bombings to see if Bri ...

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Turkey Says Syrian Forces Behind Border Town Bombings

Ankara - Turkey believes fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind two car bombings that killed 46 people in a Turkish border town where thousands of Syrian refugees live, officials said on Sunday. Authorities have arrested nine people, all Turkish citizens and including the alleged mastermind, after the bombings in Reyhanli on Saturday, deputy prime minister Besir Atalay told reporters ...

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Russia Criticizes Giving Arab Summit Seat to Syrian Opposition

Moscow - Russia criticized the Arab League on Wednesday for giving a seat formerly held by Syria's government to a representative of the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad at a summit in Doha. Opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib took Syria's vacant seat on Tuesday at the Arab summit, which also lent its support to giving military aid to the rebels fighting to oust Assad. "In Doha, another anti-Syria step w ...

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Syria’s Alkhatib to Address Doha Meeting Despite Quitting

Damascus - Syrian opposition figure Moaz Alkhatib said he would address an Arab League meeting in Qatar this week, a day after he announced his resignation as head of the Syrian National Coalition. The Arab summit takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Arab foreign ministers met in Doha on Sunday to prepare for the meeting. Alkhatib did not say when he would speak. "I have decided to give a speech in the nam ...

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Syrian Opposition Leader Alkhatib Resigns

Damascus – The head of Syria's main opposition group resigned on Sunday, saying he had taken the step so he could work with more freedom. Moaz Alkhatib, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, was picked to head the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in November after leaving Syria due to President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on rebels. "I had promised the great Syria ...

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Syrian Rebels ‘Use Chemical Weapon’

Damascus – Syrian state media says rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad have fired a chemical weapon in the north of the country. "Terrorists launched a missile containing chemical products into the region of Khan al-Assal in the province of Aleppo, killing 15 people, mainly civilians", Sana news agency said. The government routinely refers to rebels as "terrorists". Rebels denied the report, ...

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Syria Crisis: Raqqa Governor Held by Rebels ‘As City Falls’

Damascus - Syrian rebels have captured the governor of the northern province of Raqqa after over-running most its capital city, activists say. Amateur video said to be from Raqqa appeared to show Hassan Jalili and another senior ruling party official seated among jubilant armed fighters. The takeover of Raqqa would mark a major gain for the rebels in their two-year fight against the regime. Reports say clas ...

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Obama plans to “listen,” not present Mideast peace plan: Kerry

Washington - President Barack Obama will not bring a peace plan to Israel and the Palestinian Territories next month, but rather intends to listen, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday. Obama's plan to visit has raised speculation of a new U.S. push to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, stalled since 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. But Kerry, spe ...

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Syria says ready to talk with armed opposition

Damascus - Syria is ready for talks with its armed opponents, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in the clearest offer yet to negotiate with rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. But Moualem said at the same time Syria would pursue its fight "against terrorism," alluding to the conflict in which the United Nations says 70,000 people have been killed. His offer of talks drew a dismissive ...

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Syria conflict: opposition SNC pulls out of talks

Damascus - The opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has pulled out of a series of international meetings in protest at what it said was the "shameful" failure to stop violence. The SNC said it had decided not to attend a meeting of the Friends of Syria Grouping in Rome next month. It was also turning down invitations for talks in Washington and Moscow. A statement singled out Russia for supporting and ...

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Russia, China Oppose Military Intervention in North Korea

Moscow - Russia and China said on Friday they would oppose any foreign military intervention in North Korea over its recent nuclear test. The two countries' foreign ministers condemned last week's test but said any action against North Korea had to be agreed at the United Nations, where Russia and China have the right of veto as permanent members of the Security Council. "We are against the carrying out of ...

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