BEIRUT (Reuters) – A mounting death toll in President Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces is causing alarm among some government loyalists who are worried about Islamic State’s territorial gains and are turning their anger on the authorities in Damascus.
The execution of scores of Syrian soldiers taken captive by Islamic State at an air base in Raqqa province has triggered unusually harsh social media criticism of the Damascus government by people who have taken its side in the civil war.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters executed scores of Syrian soldiers captures when the militants seized an airbase in the province of Raqqa at the weekend, according to a video posted on You Tube on Thursday.
The video, confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter,
showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down wearing nothing but their underwear. They were stretched out in a line that appeared to be dozens of metres long.
ISTANBUL/BEIRUT, Aug 26 (Reuters) – As Islamic State
insurgents threaten the Turkish border from Syria, Turkey is
struggling to staunch the flow of foreign jihadists to the
militant group, having not so long ago allowed free access to
those who would join its neighbour’s civil war.
Thousands of foreign fighters from countries including
Turkey, Britain, parts of Europe and the United States are
believed to have joined the Islamist militants in their
self-proclaimed caliphate, carved out of eastern Syria and
western Iraq, according to diplomats and Turkish officials.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria said on Monday it would cooperate in any international effort to fight Islamic State militants, after Washington signalled it was considering extending the battle against the group into Syrian territory.
Russia, the most prominent foreign backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also urged Western and Arab nations to overcome their distaste of the government in Damascus and engage with it to fight the hardline insurgents.
BEIRUT, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Syria said on Monday it would
cooperate in any international efforts to fight Islamic State
militants in the country, after Washington signalled it was
considering extending the battle against the group into Syrian
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, whose government has been
shunned by the West, presented his country as a vital partner in
the war against Islamic State that has seized wide areas of
Syria and Iraq.
BAGHDAD/BEIRUT Aug 20 (Reuters) – Islamic State’s beheading
of a U.S. journalist and its threat to “destroy the American
cross” suggests it has gained enough confidence seizing large
areas of Iraq and Syria to take aim at American targets despite
On Tuesday night, Islamic State released a video purporting
to show one of its fighters beheading James Foley, who was
kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government forces backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah took control of a town just outside Damascus from Islamist fighters on Thursday, a blow to the rebels who had held it for more than a year.
Syrian state television broadcast showed government soldiers in the streets of Mleiha, which lies on the edge of the eastern Ghouta region near Damascus airport and had been surrounded by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Buildings were damaged or reduced to rubble, and tanks patrolled the streets.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamist militants holding 19 Lebanese soldiers seized during an incursion into Lebanon said on Friday they had demanded the release of Islamist prisoners in exchange for letting their captives go.
Two commanders close to the group holding the soldiers, speaking by telephone, said the demands had been sent to the Lebanese government and army, which drove the gunmen from the border town of Arsal on Thursday after five days of fighting.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Lebanese army tightened its grip on a town seized by hardline Islamists at the weekend as a truce appeared to hold on Thursday, and the military was assessing how many of the gunmen had left to the adjacent border zone.
One of the militants said by telephone that the gunmen had entirely withdrawn from the border town of Arsal. A Syrian witness in the town said the same.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – A 24-hour ceasefire was agreed on Tuesday to halt fighting between the Lebanese army and Islamist militants who seized a border town at the weekend, in the most serious spillover into Lebanon from Syria’s three-year-old civil war.
A security source said the ceasefire, due to come into force at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) (5:00 pm BST), aimed to allow time for a mediator to investigate the fate of 22 soldiers missing since the militants seized the town of Arsal on Saturday. Sunni Muslim clerics have been pursuing peacekeeping efforts.