Bureau Chief Lebanon, Syria, Jordan
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Apr 5, 2013

Hezbollah bloc to back Salam for Lebanon premier

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah and its allies are expected to back Sunni politician Tammam Salam on Friday to be Lebanon’s new prime minister, politicians said, handing him an overwhelming parliamentary endorsement to form a government.

President Michel Suleiman is holding two days of talks to nominate a successor to Najib Mikati, who resigned last month after two fraught years in office during which he sought to contain sectarian tensions, street violence and economic fallout from the civil war raging in neighbouring Syria.

Apr 4, 2013

Lebanon’s Salam emerges as likely new premier

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese politician Tammam Salam, a former minister from a prominent Sunni Muslim political dynasty, emerged as a potential new prime minister on Thursday when he was endorsed by the country’s pro-Western March 14 coalition.

Lebanon faces a parliamentary election in June but was plunged into uncertainty two weeks ago by the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, after a dispute over the electoral law and an extension to the term of a top security official.

Mar 23, 2013

Assad says Syria will wipe out mosque attackers

BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Friday to purge Syria of “extremist forces” he accused of assassinating a leading Sunni Muslim cleric who backed his two-year battle against rebels and protesters.

Assad made the pledge in a message of condolence over the death of Mohammed al-Buti, who was killed along with dozens of worshippers by an explosion in a Damascus mosque on Thursday.

Mar 22, 2013

Assad says Syria will wipe out those behind mosque attack

BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Friday to purge Syria of “extremist forces” he accused of assassinating a leading Sunni Muslim cleric who backed his two-year battle against rebels and protesters.

Assad made the pledge in a message of condolence over the death of Mohammed al-Buti, who was killed along with dozens of worshippers by an explosion in a Damascus mosque on Thursday.

Mar 19, 2013

Syrian government, rebels trade charges on chemical arms

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s government and rebels accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical agents outside the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday, an attack which a cabinet minister said killed 16 people and wounded 86.

President Bashar al-Assad, battling a two-year uprising against his rule, is widely believed to have a chemical arsenal.

Mar 17, 2013

From teenage graffiti to a country in ruins: Syria’s two years of rebellion

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – On a cold winter’s night in early 2011, some Syrian schoolboys drew a few slogans on a wall in a town the world had barely heard of. Two years on, more than 70,000 people have died in the bitter conflict that ensued, and calls for the West to give more help to the Syrian rebels are rising.

It was in the southern town of Deraa that 16-year-old Mohammad and five friends gathered to scrawl graffiti demanding the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family had ruled the country for 40 years. They chose to vent their anger at the pervasive fear and repression in the country at their school in the Hay al-Arbeen district.

Mar 14, 2013

U.N. curbs Golan patrols after peacekeepers seized: diplomats

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N. peacekeepers monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have scaled back patrols after rebels detained 21 Filipino observers for three days last week, diplomats said on Thursday.

The seizure of the unarmed observers highlighted the vulnerability of the 1,000-strong U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), whose mission began in 1974, to the growing violence in Syria.

Mar 9, 2013

U.N. peacekeepers taken to Syrian-Jordan border for handover

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A group of 21 U.N. peacekeepers captured by Syrian rebels three days ago has been taken to the border with Jordan and was being handed over to Jordanian authorities, a rebel source and a violence monitoring group said on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Filipino monitors, who had been held in the village of Jamla since being captured by the rebel Martyrs of Yarmouk brigade on Wednesday, were taken to the border area by the insurgents. A Syrian rebel confirmed the peacekeepers had reached the frontier.

Mar 9, 2013

U.N. convoy to retrieve Golan peacekeepers delayed: rebel

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A U.N. convoy sent to retrieve 21 Filipino peacekeepers captured by rebels in a southern Syrian village three days ago has been held up after one of its vehicles broke down, a Syrian rebel source said on Saturday.

But he said a ceasefire around the village of Jamla appeared to be holding and the convoy of seven U.N. vehicles, held up about 6 km (4 miles) northeast of Jamla, would still be able to collect the peacekeepers once it was mobile again.

Mar 8, 2013

Syrian army shells hold up UN retrieval of peacekeepers

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Intense Syrian army bombardment prevented a convoy of United Nations vehicles on Friday from reaching and retrieving 21 U.N. peacekeepers seized by rebels near the Golan Heights two days ago, a rebel spokesman said.

Abu Essam Taseel said the convoy had reached the village of Nafea, about a kilometer (half a mile) east of Jamla where the Filipino peacekeepers were held on Wednesday, but was unable to venture further because of the bombardment.

    • About Dominic

      "I run Reuters news operations in Beirut, Damascus and Amman. I have reported from across the Middle East since 1992, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Dubai. I have also edited political and general news from Europe/MiddleEast/Africa and was parliamentary correspondent in London."
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