BEIRUT (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s Syria wing said on Friday it had detained members of a Syrian rebel group who had just returned from U.S. training, in a direct challenge to Washington’s plan to train and equip insurgents to combat the hard-line Islamic State group.
In a statement that appeared to contradict comments from the Pentagon, Nusra Front said the men it was holding had entered Syria several days prior and had been trained under the supervision of the Central Intelligence Agency.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Young people from two warring districts in the Lebanese city of Tripoli are taking to the stage in a comedy inspired by their own lives, trying to turn their backs on old rivalries inflamed by Syria’s civil war.
“Love and War on the Rooftops” played to a full house in the capital Beirut on Tuesday, a rollicking play within a play about a Sunni Muslim and an Alawite district in the coastal city of Tripoli.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s foreign minister said on Friday it was too early to hold another United Nations-backed peace conference on Syria, indicating the dim prospects for diplomacy as a U.N. envoy wraps up three months of consultations on the war.
Walid al-Moualem also reiterated his government’s view that Iran’s support for Damascus would continue after its nuclear deal with world powers including the United States, which says President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.
ANKARA/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkish forces returned fire on Islamic State militants in Syria with tank shells on Thursday after a Turkish soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a cross-border firefight, the military said.
The fighting comes days after a suspected suicide bombing by the Islamist radical group in a Turkish border town killed 32 people, many of them students and some of them Kurds, touching off waves of violence in the largely Kurdish southeast.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signaled on Tuesday he expected more support from his top regional ally Iran in the wake of a nuclear deal that includes Western states that have backed the insurgency against him.
Rebels fighting Assad expressed concern that the deal would expand Iranian influence in the region at their expense.
BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon (Reuters) – Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets”.
Malala became a symbol of defiance after she was shot on a school bus in Pakistan 2012 by the Taliban for advocating girls’ rights to education. She continued campaigning and won the Nobel in 2014.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hundreds of supporters of a Lebanese Christian politician protested in Beirut on Thursday against the Sunni prime minister they say is marginalizing Christian influence, stirring tensions in a country already in crisis over war in neighboring Syria.
Michel Aoun accuses Prime Minister Tammam Salam of taking decisions without cross-party consensus and usurping powers reserved for the president – a post set aside for a Christian but vacant since last year due to the wider political turmoil.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a law ratifying a $1 billion credit line from top regional ally Iran, Syria’s state news agency SANA said on Wednesday, funds which will help ease economic strains from the costly war.
The agreement was between two state-owned banks, the Syrian Commercial Bank and Export Development Bank of Iran, it said. Syria signed a previous $3.6 billion credit line with Iran in July 2013 which has been used up mostly for oil imports, bankers have said.
AMMAN (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters stormed the Syrian town of Tel Abyad on the Turkish border on Tuesday and captured a neighborhood from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, but suffered setbacks in the northeastern city of Hasaka, a monitor and the army said.
Islamic State has launched simultaneous attacks against Syrian government and Kurdish militia this past week in the multi-sided Syrian civil war after losing ground to Kurdish-led forces near the capital of its “caliphate”.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian Kurdish fighters said they had fully secured the town of Kobani near the Turkish border on Saturday and killed more than 60 Islamic State militants, two days after the hardline group launched an incursion with suicide bombers.
Further east, Islamic State pressed another assault on government-held areas of Hasaka city, clashing with the Syrian army after blowing up a security building late on Friday and triggering a government appeal for residents to take up arms.