Special Correspondent, Middle East
Alistair's Feed
Mar 1, 2012

Elite forces try to close in on Syria’s Homs

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Elite Syrian forces trying to destroy rebels besieged in Homs pounded the shattered district of Baba Amro on Thursday, despite international alarm at the plight of civilians trapped there.

Snow blanketed the city, slowing down the military assault, but also worsening conditions for civilians, activists said.

Feb 27, 2012

Syria awaits referendum result; Putin warns West

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria is expected to announce a vote of approval for constitutional changes on Monday when it announces the result of a referendum dismissed as a sham by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

At least 59 Syrian civilians and soldiers were killed in the country’s bitter political violence on Sunday, the day of the vote on a new constitution that could keep Assad in power until 2028. The result is viewed as a foregone conclusion.

Feb 27, 2012

Syria referendum goes ahead amid military onslaught

BEIRUT (Reuters) – At least 59 Syrian civilians and soldiers were killed on Sunday in bloodshed that coincided with a vote on a new constitution that could keep President Bashar al-Assad in power until 2028.

Assad says the referendum shows his commitment to democratic reform while Western powers and Syrians involved in an 11-month-old revolt against his rule have described it as a farce.

Feb 26, 2012

Death toll mounts as Syria holds referendum

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Explosions shook several embattled Syrian cities on Sunday before polls opened for a vote on a new constitution that could keep President Bashar al-Assad in power until 2028.

Human rights campaigners reported blasts in Homs, Hama, Deir al-Zor, Deraa and some smaller towns caught up in an almost year-long uprising against four decades of Assad family rule.

Feb 24, 2012

Iran’s Ahmadinejad, reviled abroad, fades at home

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often surprised his foes, but next week’s parliamentary poll may make him a lame duck for the rest of his presidency, a penalty for defying the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader.

Vilified in the West for his barbs against America and Israel, his defiance on Iran’s nuclear work, and questioning of the Holocaust, the blacksmith’s son has long relied on his charismatic appeal to the poor and devout, as well as his links to the elite Revolutionary Guard and Basij religious militia.

Feb 24, 2012

“Friends of Syria” to demand ceasefire

AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Western and Arab nations will demand that Syrian forces implement an immediate ceasefire to allow relief supplies to reach desperate civilians in bombarded cities such as Homs when they meet in Tunis on Friday.

Piling pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, U.N. investigators accused his security apparatus of crimes against humanity as world outrage mounted over violence that has cost thousands of lives during an almost year-long popular revolt against his 11-year rule.

Feb 23, 2012

Syrian tanks attack in Homs, world outrage grows

AMMAN/BEIRUT, Feb 23 (Reuters) – The Syrian military
pounded rebel-held Sunni Muslim districts of Homs city for the
20th day on Thursday, despite international outrage over the
previous day’s death toll of more than 80, including two Western
journalists, activists said.

Tanks pushed into part of the Baba Amro neighbourhood which
has taken the brunt of the bombardment, activist Abu Imad said.

Feb 23, 2012

Assad forces renew barrage on Syria’s Homs

AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian military pounded rebel-held Sunni Muslim districts of Homs city for the 20th day on Thursday, despite international outrage over the previous day’s death toll of more than 80, including two Western journalists, activists said.

Tanks pushed into part of the Baba Amro neighborhood which has taken the brunt of the bombardment, activist Abu Imad said.

Feb 20, 2012

Khamenei’s outlook dims hope for Iran nuclear deal

LONDON (Reuters) – As tensions over Iran’s nuclear program ratchet higher once again, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s aversion for the West remains a formidable barrier to any diplomatic solution.

A visit by U.N. nuclear inspectors to Iran this week, a few days after Tehran wrote to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton promising “new initiatives” in negotiations, suggests the door to diplomacy has not slammed shut.

Jan 28, 2012

“Executed” corpses dumped in restive Syrian city

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The bodies of 17 men previously held by Syrian security forces have been found in the city of Hama, activists said on Saturday, victims of a deadly struggle between President Bashar al-Assad and those determined to topple him.

Turkey was due to meet Gulf Arab states later in the day to reinforce support for an Arab call for Assad to quit. The Arab League and Western countries are pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, resisted by Assad’s ally Russia.

    • About Alistair

      "I cover the Middle East, with an emphasis on political analysis, region-wide stories and in-depth features. I live in Beirut and have been in my current post since June 2006. Outside my main Middle Eastern beat, I have covered Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan."
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