BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus on Monday, state media and activists said, as rebels struck in the heart of President Bashar al-Assad’s capital.
The explosion shook the Mezze neighborhood shortly after 9 a.m. (2 a.m. ET), sending a plume of thick black smoke into the sky, Internet footage posted by opposition activists showed.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria accused international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Wednesday of bias and interference after he criticized its response to an opposition offer of talks and suggested Bashar al-Assad should not stand again for president.
Brahimi told a closed-door session of the United Nations Security Council last Friday that Damascus was “surprised and embarrassed” by a January offer of talks from opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib, and its response was “slow and confused”.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Stripped to the waist, his face heavily bruised and a rope around his neck, the grey-haired Syrian man was led by his captors on a humiliating parade through the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
“I am an Alawite shabbiha,” read slogans daubed on the bare chest of the man, referring to militias from a minority sect fighting for President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria. Vigilantes led the man through Tripoli, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city, on Monday.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Two prominent Syrian bishops, who had warned of the threat to religious tolerance and diversity from the two-year conflict in their country, were kidnapped on Monday by armed rebels in the northern province of Aleppo, state media said.
SANA news agency said the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, were seized by “a terrorist group” in the village of Kfar Dael as they were “carrying out humanitarian work”.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad accused the West on Wednesday of supporting al Qaeda militants in Syria’s civil war and warned they would turn against their backers and strike “in the heart of Europe and the United States”.
Assad also launched his strongest criticism yet of neighboring Jordan for allowing thousands of fighters to cross the border to join a conflict he insisted his forces would win and save Syria from destruction.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s political turmoil will not slow its oil and gas exploration plans for now, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said, a week before he is due to announce which companies have pre-qualified in its first licensing round.
Fifty-two firms submitted bids last month to explore Lebanon’s offshore Mediterranean waters, including ExxonMobil, Repsol, China National Offshore Oil Company and Royal Dutch Shell.
BEIRUT/GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations said on Tuesday it will halt food aid to 400,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon next month unless it receives urgent new funding.
The cash shortage is part of a wider financial shortfall that the organization says is threatening its efforts to help nearly 1.3 million Syrian refugees and almost 4 million more people displaced inside Syria by the two-year conflict.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s June election faces a possible delay, prime minister-designate Tammam Salam said, as he prepared to form a government which aims to resolve months of dispute over the vote and shield the country from war in neighboring Syria.
Salam, a moderate who won broad political support to become premier, said he would try to bring all of Lebanon’s rival factions into a government whose main priority was paving the way for the parliamentary election.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – A Syrian government air strike killed 15 people on Saturday, including nine children, in a district of the northern city of Aleppo where Kurdish fighters have been battling forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, a violence monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a warplane had bombarded the western edges of the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, where Assad’s forces have been battling rebels for nine months.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Tammam Salam’s father served six times as prime minister in the turbulent years leading up to Lebanon’s civil war.
With his country threatened once again by sectarian rift and regional conflict, Salam the son was named prime minister on Saturday by Lebanese politicians hoping his soft-spoken calm may help to avert a fresh conflict in their fraught Mediterranean state.