BEIRUT (Reuters) – His opponents paint him as a butcher, dripping with the blood of thousands killed in a crackdown aimed at maintaining his family’s four-decade rule over Syria.
But President Bashar al-Assad, who has stemmed what many saw as an unstoppable tide of popular protest, says he is fighting to save his country from foreign-backed “terrorists” bent on destroying a proud Arab nation.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria is nearing full-blown sectarian civil war that would be catastrophic for the entire Middle East, Western nations said on Thursday, urging Russia to end its support for President Bashar al-Assad and put pressure on him to stop the bloodshed.
With anti-Assad rebels urging international envoy Kofi Annan to declare his peace plan dead, freeing them from any commitment to the tattered truce, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the prospect of spiraling violence presented “terrible” danger.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels on Wednesday gave President Bashar al-Assad a 48-hour deadline to comply with an international peace plan otherwise they would renew their battle to overthrow him.
The ultimatum was issued after U.N. observers reported the discovery of 13 bodies bound and shot in eastern Syria, adding to the world outcry over the massacre last week of 108 men, women and children.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N. observers said on Wednesday 13 bodies had been discovered bound and shot in eastern Syria, days after a massacre of 108 civilians, nearly half of them children, ignited a world outcry.
Syrian activists said the victims were army defectors killed by Assad’s forces, but it was not possible to verify their accounts.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Gunmen clash in deadly street battles, protesters block roads with burning tires and opposition politicians demand the prime minister’s downfall, denouncing the army as an agent of a foreign power.
Fragile Lebanon’s sectarian tensions, which festered for two decades since the end of its ruinous civil war, have been re-ignited by the turmoil in powerful neighbor Syria and threaten to plunge the country into a sustained period of unrest.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – At least two people were killed in heavy fighting between rival Sunni Muslim gunmen in Beirut on Monday, medical and security sources said, in the latest violence fuelled by tensions over the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The clashes followed the killing of an anti-Assad Sunni cleric and his colleague at an army checkpoint in north Lebanon on Sunday, triggering angry protests in Sunni districts of northern cities and the capital.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian forces foiled an attempted suicide car bombing with 1,200 kg (2,640 pounds) of explosives in the northern city of Aleppo on Friday, state television said, a day after two bombs in the capital Damascus killed at least 55 people.
The would-be bomber was killed in the al Shaar district of Syria’s largest city which, like Damascus, has seen increasing street protests against President Bashar al-Assad and rising levels of bloodshed after months of relative calm.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – A Norwegian general charged with overseeing a shaky U.N.-brokered truce in Syria arrived in Damascus on Sunday, boosting a monitor mission that activists say has helped ease the violence in the city of Homs, hotbed of a 13-month uprising.
In the capital, militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the Central Bank building, causing slight damage, and wounded four police when they attacked their patrol, state television reported. Activists in Damascus reported explosions and gunfire.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – A Norwegian general charged with overseeing a shaky U.N.-brokered truce in Syria arrived in Damascus on Sunday, boosting a monitor mission that activists say has already helped ease the violence in the city of Homs, hotbed of a 13-month uprising.
General Robert Mood acknowledged the huge task awaiting the planned 300-strong unarmed mission, which now has 30 people on the ground, but said he was confident it could make headway.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese authorities seized a large consignment of Libyan weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy caliber ammunition from a ship intercepted in the Mediterranean, the army said on Saturday.
It did not say where the vessel was heading but the ship’s owner told Reuters it was due to unload in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli.