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  • Reuters - Sun 13 Apr, 2014In Assad's coastal heartland, Syria's war creeps closer

    For three years, residents of Syria's Mediterranean provinces have watched from their coastal sanctuary as civil war raging further inland tore the country apart, killing tens of thousands of people and devastating historic cities. But a three-week-old offensive by rebel fighters in the north of Latakia province, a bastion of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority, has brought the battle ever closer and shattered that sense of relative security. Rebels are now fighting in the hills overlooking the sea, bringing the country's main port of Latakia within their range - rocket-fire killed eight people in one barrage on the city a month ago - and Syria's coast feels under real threat. "They can erase us, even those of us who support them," said a young Alawite woman as she drank coffee with her fiance in a Latakia cafe, 50 km (30 miles) south of where have rebels seized their first toehold on Syria's coast, by the Turkish border. More »

  • Reuters - Mon 7 Apr, 2014Syria's Assad secure, will seek re-election - Hezbollah leader

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will stand for re-election this year and no longer faces a threat of being overthrown, the head of his Lebanese Shi'ite ally Hezbollah said in an interview published on Monday. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose fighters have been supporting Assad inside Syria, also said that after three years of conflict the danger of the country fragmenting was receding. Assad has lost control of large swathes of northern and eastern Syria to Syrian Islamist rebels and foreign jihadis. But his forces, backed by Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim fighters and Iranian military commanders, have driven rebels back from around Damascus and secured most of central Syria. More »

  • Reuters - Mon 7 Apr, 2014

    At least 29 Syrian rebels including two field commanders were killed when a vehicle exploded in the central city of Homs on Sunday, a monitoring group said. To the south, the capital Damascus saw heavy fighting as warplanes pounded an eastern suburb and a mortar strike hit the city's heavily defended centre, killing two people at the Damascus Opera House. President Bashar al-Assad's forces are in firm control of the capital's centre, but rebels have been able to launch mortar and rocket attacks into downtown districts, sometimes hitting heavily secured upmarket areas and embassy grounds. The explosion in Homs was at the al-Jaj market near a police base, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the death toll was expected to rise. More »

  • Reuters - Sun 6 Apr, 2014

    Two people were killed and eight wounded when mortar fire hit the grounds of the Damascus Opera House in the Syrian capital, state media said on Sunday. President Bashar al-Assad's forces are in control of central Damascus, but rebels have been able to launch mortar and rocket attacks into the city's centre, sometimes hitting heavily secured upmarket districts and embassy grounds. Elsewhere, at least 13 rebel fighters were killed in a vehicle explosion in the central city of Homs, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise. The Observatory, which monitors violence through a network of sources in Syria, said at least five people including three children had also been killed in the Damascus suburb of Douma during shelling by government forces. More »

  • IANS - Sat 5 Apr, 2014

    Damascus, April 5 (IANS) Residents of a central Syrian town confronted radical militant groups, killing and wounding over 50 of them Saturday, media reported. Residents of the town of Taibet al-Emam in the countryside of the central province of Hama confronted rebels from the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front who were committing acts of kidnapping and burglary, killing and wounding 50 of them, Xinhua reported citing SANA news agency. Rebel mortar shelling continued Saturday, with shells slamming into several districts of the capital Damascus, namely Fahameh, Adawi, Tabbaleh, Jaramana, Malki and the Umayyad Square in central Damascus, where the headquarters of the Syrian state TV, the military command and the opera house are located. The Syrian military said its troops Saturday thwarted the rebels' attacks on several military posts in the southern province of Qunaitera, killing and injuring an undisclosed number of the attackers. More »

  • Reuters - Fri 4 Apr, 2014About half Syria's chemicals packed for removal, violence halts convoys - U.N.

    By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria has packed 40 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal into containers to be taken outside the country and destroyed, and convoy security has been deployed to deal with violence around the port city of Latakia, the head of the mission overseeing the operation said on Thursday. Syria's U.N. envoy warned that the government may be forced to delay its transports due to the security situation and might miss another deadline for moving the ingredients of its poison gas program out of the country. Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told the U.N. Security Council the toxins had been loaded into 72 containers at three different sites, said council diplomats who attended the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity. Once those 72 containers are shipped out of war-torn Syria, some 90 percent of the country's declared chemical weapons stockpile will have been removed for destruction, Kaag told a closed-door council briefing via video link from Damascus. More »

  • Reuters - Fri 4 Apr, 2014About half Syria's chemicals packed for removal, violence halts convoys - UN

    By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria has packed 40 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal into containers to be taken outside the country and destroyed, and convoy security has been deployed to deal with violence around the port city of Latakia, the head of the mission overseeing the operation said on Thursday. Syria's U.N. envoy warned that the government may be forced to delay its transports due to the security situation and might miss another deadline for moving the ingredients of its poison gas program out of the country. Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told the U.N. Security Council the toxins had been loaded into 72 containers at three different sites, said council diplomats who attended the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity. Once those 72 containers are shipped out of war-torn Syria, some 90 percent of the country's declared chemical weapons stockpile will have been removed for destruction, Kaag told a closed-door council briefing via video link from Damascus. More »

  • Reuters - Mon 31 Mar, 2014

    The Turkish military fired back into Syria on Monday in retaliation for mortar shells and a rocket from over the border that hit a mosque in the town of Yayladagi, the provincial governor's office and local media said. Three mortar rounds landed on Turkish soil, fired during fighting between the Islamist rebels in Syria and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for control of the Armenian Christian village of Kasab, Turkey's Dogan News Agency said. More »