Bureau Chief Lebanon, Syria, Jordan
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Jan 26, 2014

Syria negotiators discuss relief to Homs, prisoner releases

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.

Jan 25, 2014

Syrian civil war foes meet for first time, focus on aid

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.

Jan 23, 2014

U.N. envoy meets Syria foes to salvage talks after bitter start

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.

Jan 15, 2014

Justice elusive as Lebanon’s Hariri trial opens without accused

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.

Jan 10, 2014

Al Qaeda group fights back against Syria rebel assault

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.

Jan 5, 2014

Syrian rebels launch fierce offensive against al Qaeda fighters

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.

Jan 4, 2014

Syrian rebel alliance battles al Qaeda-linked fighters

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.

Dec 12, 2013

Syrian opposition seeks Islamists’ protection against al Qaeda

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.

Dec 4, 2013

Hezbollah says commander killed in Beirut, blames Israel

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.

Dec 1, 2013

Syrian PM tells ally Iran Assad is winning civil war

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”.

    • 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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