DAMASCUS/AMMAN (Reuters) – Thirteen Greek Orthodox nuns arrived in Damascus on Monday after al Qaeda fighters who held them for more than three months freed them in a deal providing for the release of women prisoners held by President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
It was not clear how many women prisoners had been released. Activists said at least 15 women were freed from Adra prison north of Damascus, just a fraction of the 153 which some officials had said would be included in the exchange.
AMMAN (Reuters) – A large bloc supported by Qatar that left Syria’s opposition National Coalition has reversed its decision and wants to rejoin, setting the scene for confrontation with the group’s Saudi-backed president, opposition sources said on Sunday.
The 40 members, who withdrew from the 120-member coalition before Syrian peace talks began in Geneva in January, said they had returned to confront what they saw as their unfair exclusion from the decision making process.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Air raids on rebel-held towns in central Syria killed 18 people on Monday, activists said, two days after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding an end to indiscriminate shelling and aerial attacks.
Syria’s almost three-year-old conflict has raged on despite peace talks that began in Geneva last month and the passage of the U.N. resolution, a rare moment of unity between the West and Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest backer.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Akram al-Bunni, a prominent leftist writer and former political prisoner, was abducted by Syrian intelligence agents as he left a wedding reception at a Damascus hotel on Saturday, opposition activists said.
They said Bunni, who had previously spent two decades as a political prisoner, was snatched by agents from an intelligence division run by Hafez Makhlouf, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad.
AMMAN (Reuters) – At least 14 people were killed and 70 wounded in a car bombing on Sunday near a field hospital in a Syrian town on the border with Turkey that serves as a main supply line for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, activists said.
The attack shattered relative calm in a region of far northern Syria that has been a safe haven for thousands of refugees fleeing the three-year civil war.
AMMAN (Reuters) – The Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) has sacked its leader after he fell out with the Saudi-supported head of the moderate opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, opposition sources said on Monday.
General Selim Idriss, whose relations with Saudi Arabia deteriorated after he opened channels with Qatar, was replaced by Brigadier General Abdelilah al-Bashir, head of FSA operations in Qunaitera province bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the sources said.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Syria has added opposition delegates at peace talks in Geneva to a “terrorist list” and seized their assets, including the house of one of them, anti-government negotiators and a diplomat said on Saturday.
The opposition delegation only learnt of the decision when a copy of the Justice Ministry decision was leaked this week to the opposition website www.all4syria.com, the sources said.
GENEVA (Reuters) – The Syrian opposition called on Wednesday for a transitional governing body to oversee a U.N.-monitored ceasefire across Syria and expel foreign fighters, in a paper that avoided any mention of President Bashar al-Assad.
The confidential paper, seen by Reuters, lays out a vision of post-conflict Syria with all ethnic groups participating in a transition process aimed at restoring peace and stability.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition are not making much progress, the international mediator said on Tuesday after a face-to-face meeting of the warring parties in Geneva that both sides called fruitless.
Negotiations intended to end Syria’s three-year-old civil war began with a week-long session last month and have resumed this week in Geneva. There had been hopes for Tuesday’s talks after they began with a minute’s silence for the 130,000 people killed since the conflict began.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition are not making much progress, international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Tuesday after a face-to-face meeting of the warring parties in Geneva.
As negotiations intended to end Syria’s three-year-old war concluded the second day of this week’s session, both sides had no advances to report.