GENEVA (Reuters) – Syria’s opposing parties discussed aid and prisoner releases on Sunday in talks aimed at building some kind of trust before tough political negotiations, but there was no sign of the early progress sought by an international mediator.
Russia, one of the talks’ sponsors, said any agreement on easing the humanitarian crisis created by the Syrian civil war would help to improve the atmosphere at the Geneva talks, but acknowledged that positions were polarized, emotions were on edge and the situation remained extremely grave.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Syria’s civil war foes held their first face-to-face meeting on Saturday at the start of talks to end nearly three years of conflict which has killed 130,000 people and destabilized the wider Middle East.
After a day of delay and fierce recrimination, government and opposition delegates faced each other across a negotiating table at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva in the presence of international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.
MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) – A U.N. envoy was to meet delegations from Syria’s government and its foes on Lake Geneva on Thursday, trying to salvage peace talks after an acrimonious start by focusing on local ceasefires and prisoner swaps rather than a political deal.
The first day of the talks on Wednesday was dominated by fierce rhetoric from President Bashar al-Assad’s government and its foes. Brought together for the first time in almost three years of war, each accused the other of atrocities and showed no sign of compromise.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Nine years after the assassination of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri, the trial of four men accused of his killing opens on Thursday. But the defendants are on the run, bombers are back on Beirut streets and a new era of justice which the trial was meant to introduce to Lebanon remains elusive.
Hariri and 21 other people were killed on the Beirut seafront in February 2005, the deadliest of a series of attacks against critics of Syria’s military dominance in Lebanon.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked jihadists struck back against rival rebels in eastern and northern Syria on Friday after a week of internecine fighting among opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in which 500 people have been killed, a monitoring group said.
A coordinated offensive by armed groups had seized several strongholds of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Aleppo, on the border with Turkey, and further east in Raqqa – the only city under control of Assad’s foes.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebel factions battled fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) across north-west Syria on Saturday in the heaviest clashes between President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents in nearly three years of conflict, activists said.
The apparently coordinated strikes against the ISIL come after months of increasing resentment of the powerful al Qaeda-linked group, whose radical foreign jihadis and have alienated many ordinary Syrians in rebel-held territory.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – An alliance of Islamist and other rebel factions battled fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) across north-western Syria on Saturday in apparently coordinated strikes against the powerful al Qaeda-linked group.
Activists said dozens of fighters had been killed in the clashes, which started on Friday and may have been provoked by increasing resentment against the radical ISIL fighters, many of them foreign jihadis.
ISTANBUL/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s Western-backed opposition said on Thursday its military arm had invited Islamist fighters to secure its weapons depots on the Turkish frontier after an attack by al Qaeda militants.
The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after reports that Islamic Front forces had taken buildings belonging to the coalition’s Syrian Military Council (SMC) in Bab al-Hawa on the border with Turkey.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Shi’ite militant Hezbollah group said on Wednesday one of its commanders was killed outside his Beirut home in an overnight attack it blamed on Israel.
Israel denied any role in the killing of Hassan al-Laqqis, which Hezbollah said took place at around midnight in the southern Hadath district of the Lebanese capital.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Prime Minister Wael Halki said on Saturday that Syrian government forces were winning the war with rebels and would not rest while a single enemy fighter remained at large.
Maintaining Syria’s unyielding response to Western calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, Halki said the era of “threats and intimidation has gone, never to return, while the era of victory and pride is being created now on Syrian soil”.