BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition accused government forces of gassing hundreds of people on Wednesday by firing rockets that released deadly fumes over rebel-held Damascus suburbs, killing men, women and children as they slept.
With the death toll estimated between 500 and 1,300, what would be the world’s most lethal chemical weapons attack since the 1980s prompted an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.
BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian activists accused President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of launching a nerve gas attack that killed at least 213 people on Wednesday, in what would, if confirmed, be by far the worst reported use of poison gas in the two-year-old civil war.
Reuters was not able to verify the accounts independently and they were denied by Syrian state television, which said they were disseminated deliberately to distract a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts which arrived three days ago.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces attacked rebel positions in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, days after a rebel advance threatened to bring the whole city under the control of anti-Assad forces, opposition activists said.
The provincial capital on the banks of the Euphrates, 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Damascus, anchors a vast, arid oil-producing region bordering Iraq. Half of it fell to rebels a year ago but Assad’s forces have held out in several districts in the west of the Sunni Muslim city and in the airport to the east.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan let a Syrian opposition leader cross into Syria from its territory for the first time on Thursday, signalling greater backing from an Arab ally for the opposition battling against President Bashar al-Assad.
The president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition crossed into Syria to attended Eid al-Fitr holiday prayers at a mosque in the contested border province of Deraa.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian rebels said on Thursday they targeted President Bashar al-Assad’s motorcade heading to a Damascus mosque to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, but state television showed him unharmed and the government denied he had been attacked.
The Tahrir al-Sham rebel brigade, a unit of the Free Syrian Army, said it fired several artillery shells towards Assad’s convoy in the heart of the capital and that at least some hit their target.
AMMAN/DOHA (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has offered Russia economic incentives including a major arms deal and a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales if Moscow scales back support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle East sources and Western diplomats said on Wednesday.
The proposed deal between two of the leading power brokers in Syria’s devastating civil war was set out by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week, they said.
AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian Islamist rebels have killed around 200 people in a three-day offensive in the mountain stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect and driven hundreds of villagers to seek refuge on the Mediterranean coast, activists said on Tuesday.
Since launching the surprise assault at dawn on Sunday, the mainly Islamist rebel brigades led by two al Qaeda-linked groups have captured half a dozen villages on the northern edges of the Alawite mountain range, the activists say.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian rebel fighters armed with anti-tank missiles pushed toward President Bashar al-Assad’s hometown of Qardaha on Monday, the second day of a surprise offensive in the heartland of his minority Alawite sect, opposition activists said.
Forces comprising 10 mainly Islamist brigades, including two al Qaeda-linked groups, advanced south to the outskirts of the Alawite village of Aramo, 20 km (12 miles) from Qardaha, taking advantage of rugged terrain, the activists said.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked fighters in a rebel-held eastern Syrian city on Monday abducted a prominent Italian Jesuit priest who championed the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said.
Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant kidnapped father Paolo Dall’Oglio while he was walking in Raqqa, which fell to militant Islamist brigades in March, the sources in Raqqa province told Reuters.
Al Qaeda-linked fighters in the rebel-held eastern Syrian city of Raqqa on Monday abducted a prominent Italian Jesuit priest who championed the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said.