BEIRUT (Reuters) – With Lebanon’s most powerful political parties funded and often directed by regional powers, the country has for decades been affected by events in the Middle East.
But extraordinary chaos is exploding around the tiny Mediterranean state and Lebanon’s leaders have tried to isolate themselves as best they can. The result has been a near complete shutdown of Lebanese political life.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s parliament voted on Wednesday to extend its own mandate until 2017 citing security concerns linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, but critics including the European Union condemned the move as unconstitutional.
Lebanese politics, long dogged by sectarian divisions, has become deeply deadlocked as the Syrian war exacerbates party rivalries. Lebanon has been without a president since May because feuding lawmakers cannot agree on a candidate.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – For decades, aid groups have assumed they know what’s best for refugees and the poor; a growing body of evidence suggests they’re wrong.
Both academic research and practical experience, such as with the mass of Syrians fleeing civil war, shows that simply handing out traditional relief goods may not be the most effective way of helping the dispossessed.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S.-led coalition jets pounded suspected Islamic State targets at least six times in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Saturday after the fiercest shelling in days by the insurgents shook the town’s center and hit border areas within Turkey.
Shelling continued after the strikes hit the center of Kobani. Several mortars fell inside Turkey near the border gate, called Mursitpinar, according to witnesses.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Lebanese government has cut back sharply on the number of Syrian refugees it is allowing into the country, the United Nations representative in Lebanon said on Saturday.
Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, with one in four residents a refugee, many of them living in the poorest areas.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – United Nations aid convoys cannot reach vast areas of Syrian territory under Islamic State control, a senior U.N. official told Reuters, although the Damascus government is allowing better access to besieged areas elsewhere.
To get food and medicine to areas ruled by Islamic State, the U.N. relies on partner humanitarian organizations such as the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and on tribal contacts. This has led to “huge gaps” in delivering aid and assessing needs, said Yacoub El Hillo, the U.N. coordinator in Syria.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani, a monitoring group said on Thursday, as U.S.-led air strikes failed to halt their advance and Turkish forces looked on without intervening.
With Washington ruling out a ground operation in Syria, Turkey said it was unrealistic to expect it to mount a cross-border operation alone to relieve the mainly Kurdish town.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters have seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani despite U.S.-led air strikes targeting them in and around the mainly Kurdish community, a monitoring group said on Thursday.
The commander of Kobani’s heavily outgunned Kurdish defenders said Islamic State controlled a slightly smaller area. However, he acknowledged that the militants had made major gains in the culmination of a three-week battle that has also led to the worst streets clashes in years between police and Kurdish protesters across the frontier in southeast Turkey.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkey’s president said the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani was “about to fall” on Tuesday as Islamic State fighters pressed home a three-week assault that has cost a reported 400 lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.
The prospect that the town could be captured by Islamic State, who are now within city limits, has increased pressure on Turkey to join an international coalition to fight against the jihadists.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters advanced into the south west of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani overnight, a monitoring group said on Tuesday, taking several buildings to gain attacking positions from two sides of the city.
From across the nearby Turkish border two Islamic State flags could be seen flying over the eastern side of Kobani. Two air strikes hit the area and sporadic gunfire could be heard.