Asylum applicants in Europe up 4% in June 2022, largest group are Syrians

Asylum applicants in Europe up 4% in June 2022, largest group are Syrians

In June 2022, 65 645 first-time asylum applicants (non-EU citizens) applied for international protection in the EU Member States, up 66% compared with June 2021 (39 515) and 4% compared with May 2022 (63 105). Data released by Eurostat shows that the increase from May to June 2022 can be mainly attributed to increases in first-time applicants from Tunisia (+990 people; or +82%), Turkey (+850; or +31%) and Pakistan (+645; or +22%). In June 2022, there were also 6 190 subsequent applicants (people who reapplied for asylum after a decision had been taken on a previous application). This was up…
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Syria weakens official exchange rate to U.S. dollar by 7 pct

Syria weakens official exchange rate to U.S. dollar by 7 pct

BEIRUT, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Syria's central bank has weakened its official exchange rate to 3,015 Syrian pounds to the dollar, a central bank statement said on Monday, while black market rates used for most economic activity sat around 4,440. The official rate was previously set at 2,814. Monday's softening of the official rate represents a loss in value of roughly seven percent. Syria's economy, crippled by more than a decade of war, is increasingly dollarised as people try to protect themselves against currency depreciation and inflation. The collapse of the pound has driven up the price of goods and…
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Syria may ‘return to larger-scale fighting,’ U.N. warns in new report

Syria may ‘return to larger-scale fighting,’ U.N. warns in new report

Sept 14 (Reuters) - Syria's bloody conflict is at risk of further escalation after several frontlines across the country flared up in recent months, the United Nations warned on Wednesday in a new report. "Syria cannot afford a return to larger-scale fighting, but that is where it may be heading," said Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chair of the U.N.'s Syria commission. The 50-page report found that despite many active battlefronts quieting in recent years, "grave violations of fundamental human rights and humanitarian law" had increased across the country over the last six months. They included fighting in the country's northeast and…
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Israeli minister says Iran using Syria facilities for weapons production

Israeli minister says Iran using Syria facilities for weapons production

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that Iran has used more than 10 military facilities in Syria to produce advanced missiles and weapons for its proxies. For several years, Israel has been mounting attacks on what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria. There were no immediate comments from Iran and Syria on Monday, but Damascus has declined to comment on such accusations in the past and Tehran has denied it builds production capabilities across the Middle East. Speaking at a conference in New York, Gantz presented a map of what he said were military sites of the Centre…
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U.S. military carries out strike in Syria on Iran-linked targets

U.S. military carries out strike in Syria on Iran-linked targets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said it carried out air strikes on Tuesday in Syria's Deir al-Zor against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The strikes came even as the United States aimed to respond to a draft agreement proposed by the European Union that would bring back the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that former President Donald Trump abandoned and current President Joe Biden has sought to revive. The military's Central Command said in a statement that such strikes were aimed at protecting U.S. forces from attack by Iran-backed groups. It cited…
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At least 14 killed in shelling on north Syria market, rescuers say

At least 14 killed in shelling on north Syria market, rescuers say

(Reuters) -Fourteen people were killed including at least five children in a rocket attack on a market in the northern Syrian city of Al-Bab on Friday, according to emergency responders working in rebel-held areas. The White Helmets rescue group earlier put the death toll at nine. It said that figure might rise further as rescue and search operations continued, adding that children were also among at least 30 people wounded in the attack. The warring factions in Syria's 11-year conflict have carved up the north into a patchwork of zones of control. File Photo - A Wife of an Islamic…
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Israeli strikes hit Iranian targets near Russia’s Mediterranean bases

Israeli strikes hit Iranian targets near Russia’s Mediterranean bases

 (Reuters) - Israel hit Iranian targets in a series of strikes on Sunday near the ancestral home region of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and close to Russia's main Syrian bases on the Mediterranean coast, regional intelligence and Syrian military sources said. The Syrian army earlier said three servicemen were killed and three were wounded in two simultaneous Israeli attacks south of the province of Tartous, and another on the capital of Damascus. It gave no details of the specific locations. The strikes on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus hit outposts run by Lebanon's pro-Iranian Hezbollah group, two Syrian military…
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U.S. military: ISIS leader in Syria killed in drone strike

U.S. military: ISIS leader in Syria killed in drone strike

The leader of Islamic State in Syria, one of the top five leaders of the militant group, has been killed in a U.S. air strike, the U.S. military said on Tuesday. In a statement, U.S. Central Command said Maher al-Agal had been killed in a drone strike in northwesten Syria and a close associate of his was seriously injured. "Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution. An initial review indicates there were no civilian casualties," the statement added. It said al-Agal was responsible for developing ISIS networks outside of Iraq and Syria. Reuters had earlier reported on the killing, citing U.S.…
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Russia vetoes 12-month extension of U.N. aid into Syria from Turkey

Russia vetoes 12-month extension of U.N. aid into Syria from Turkey

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) - Russia vetoed on Friday a bid to extend U.N. Security Council approval for 12 months of U.N. aid deliveries to some 4 million people in opposition-controlled northwest Syria from Turkey. The resolution, drafted by Ireland and Norway, received 13 votes in favor, while China abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France to be adopted. The 15-member council is now due to vote on a proposal by Russia, a Syrian ally, to approve the U.N. operation for six months and also push for broad international…
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Lebanon, Syria, Egypt sign gas import agreement

Lebanon, Syria, Egypt sign gas import agreement

Lebanon, Syria and Egypt on Tuesday signed an agreement to transfer 650 million cubic metres of gas per year from Egypt to Lebanon via Syria at a ceremony at the Lebanese energy ministry in Beirut. The deal would see gas shipped via pipeline to Lebanon's northern Deir Ammar power plant, where it could add some 450 megawatts, equivalent to around four extra hours of power per day to the grid. via Reuters
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Syria says damage to Damascus airport from Israeli strike ‘significant’

Syria says damage to Damascus airport from Israeli strike ‘significant’

An Israeli airstrike that struck Damascus International Airport caused “significant” damage to infrastructure and rendered the main runway unserviceable until further notice, Syria said. The statement by the Transportation Ministry was the first detailing the extent of damage from Friday’s airstrike. Syrian media reported earlier that Syria suspended all flights to and from the airport and the ministry confirmed all flights were suspended because “some technical equipment stopped functioning at the airport.” Israel’s military has declined to comment on the airstrike. A billboard depicting Syrian President Bashar Assad is seen outside the Damascus International Airport, Damascus, Syria. EPA-EFE/YOUSSEF BADAWI The…
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Number of Syrians becoming German citizens tripled in 2021

Number of Syrians becoming German citizens tripled in 2021

BERLIN, June 10 (Reuters) - The number of Syrians who became naturalised German citizens was three times higher in 2021 than the year before, as many of those who fled between 2014 and 2016 fulfilled eligibility criteria, data showed on Friday. The overall number of foreigners who became naturalised Germans grew 20% in 2021, reaching roughly 131,600, the Federal Statistical Office said. Of those, 19,100 were Syrians who became German citizens. Hundreds of thousands of migrants entered Germany after former Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the borders in 2015 to refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.…
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UPDATED: Al Jazeera reporter killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

UPDATED: Al Jazeera reporter killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

JENIN, West Bank, May 11 (Reuters) - An Al Jazeera reporter was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, with Palestinians and the news channel accusing Israel of killing her and Israel's leader saying she was likely hit by Palestinian fire. Shireen Abu Akleh, 51,a Palestinian-American, was wearing a press vest that clearly marked her as a journalist while reporting in the city of Jenin, the Qatar-based outlet said. She was covering the latest arrest operation launched by the Israeli military amid deadly Arab attacks in Israel. The death of a prominent, veteran reporter for the popular…
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Israeli missile strike kills soldiers near Damascus

Israeli missile strike kills soldiers near Damascus

April 27 (Reuters) - Four Syrian soldiers were killed on Wednesday, Syria's defence ministry said, in an Israeli missile attack on positions near Damascus that a war monitor said had hit an arms depot. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported a higher death toll of five Syrian troops and four soldiers of other nationalities, adding that the strike had hit at least five different positions outside the capital. The monitor did not provide more details and Reuters could not immediately confirm its report. An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment. The Syrian ministry, in a posting on Facebook,…
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Syrian and Libyan fighters now appearing in conflict in Ukraine

Syrian and Libyan fighters now appearing in conflict in Ukraine

A top Ukrainian politician has shared photographs with Sky News showing three dead fighters in military-style fatigues, with their faces clearly visible, along with a number of other indistinguishable bodies. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the national security, said they were foreign fighters who had been killed in the Luhansk region. An aide to Mr Danilov said the fighters were from Syria and Libya. "There are a lot of them there and they continue to gather from all over the world," Mr Danilov said. It was not possible independently to verify the claim, but Kremlin officials have previously announced plans to…
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Some Syrian veterans ready for Ukraine fight

Some Syrian veterans ready for Ukraine fight

AMMAN/BEIRUT, March 20 (Reuters) - Some Syrian paramilitary fighters say they are ready to deploy to Ukraine to fight in support of their ally Russia but have not yet received instructions to go, two of their commanders told Reuters. Nabil Abdallah, a commander in the paramilitary National Defence Forces (NDF), said he was ready to use expertise in urban combat gained during the Syrian war to aid Russia, speaking to Reuters by phone from the Syrian town of Suqaylabiyah. "Once we get instructions from the Syrian and Russian leadership, we will fight this righteous war," Abdallah said on March 14,…
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Russia sends hypersonic-armed fighter jets to Syria for naval drills

Russia sends hypersonic-armed fighter jets to Syria for naval drills

Russia has deployed MiG-31K fighter jets with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and long-range Tupolev Tu-22M strategic bombers to its air base in Syria for naval exercises. The aircraft dispatched to Russia's Hmeimim air base will take part in exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, part of a surge of Russian military activity amid a standoff with the West over Ukraine and security in Europe. https://twitter.com/mod_russia/status/1493636221259628553 Moscow announced on Jan. 20 that its navy would stage an array of exercises involving all its fleets from the Pacific to the Atlantic, drawing on 10,000 servicemen, 140 warships and dozens of planes. Syrian President Bashar…
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Israel strikes Syria in response to missile fire

Israel strikes Syria in response to missile fire

JERUSALEM, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The Israeli military said it attacked missile batteries in Syria on Wednesday after an anti-aircraft missile was fired towards Israel during what Syrian state television reported was an earlier strike around Damascus. A military spokesperson declined to comment on the Syrian report of an initial Israeli attack near the Syrian capital which reportedly killed one soldier and injured five. But the military said it carried out a counter-strike in Syria in response to the launching of the anti-aircraft missile. It said the missile triggered sirens in parts of Israel and the occupied West Bank, and…
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Islamic State’s status in Iraq and Syria after the loss of second leader in two years

Islamic State’s status in Iraq and Syria after the loss of second leader in two years

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The death of its second leader in just over two years has dealt another blow to Islamic State, the extremist jihadist group which once ruled large parts of Iraq and Syria. But major attacks in both countries last month show it still poses a threat. The United States said on Thursday that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi died in a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria when he detonated a bomb which killed him and several family members. By the time he succeeded Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in almost identical circumstances in Oct. 2019, Islamic…
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UPDATED: ISIS leader Quraishi killed himself during Syria raid, U.S. says

UPDATED: ISIS leader Quraishi killed himself during Syria raid, U.S. says

AMMAN/WASHINGTON  (Reuters) - The leader of Islamic State died when he blew himself and family members up during a U.S. military raid in Syria, President Joe Biden said on Thursday, dealing a blow to the jihadist group's efforts to reorganize as a guerrilla force after losing large swathes of territory. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, had led Islamic State since the death in 2019 of its founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was also killed when he detonated explosives during a raid by U.S. commandos. https://twitter.com/latimes/status/1489432547461197828 As U.S. forces closed in on Quraishi in northwestern Syria overnight, he triggered a blast that…
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Babies die from cold in storm-hit Idlib camps in Syria

Babies die from cold in storm-hit Idlib camps in Syria

Two babies have died from the cold after heavy snow and freezing temperatures hit camps for displaced people in north-western Syria. A UN official told AFP news agency that the seven-day-old and two-month-old girls had died in Idlib province. Some 2.8 million people have sought shelter in the opposition stronghold after fleeing their homes during the country's decade-long civil war. Many live in worn-out tents without warm clothes and fuel for heating. The UN has warned that the situation is getting worse due to a severe economic downturn in Syria that has seen food prices double in a year, as…
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Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in Iraq, Syria

Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in Iraq, Syria

ISTANBUL, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militants targets, including training camps, shelters and ammunition storage areas in Iraq and northern Syria, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. All the planes taking part in the operation, which it said targeted the areas of Derik, Sincar and Karacak, subsequently returned to their bases. It did not provide any information on casualties resulting from the strikes. "Terrorists' shelters, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and so-called headquarters and training camps were targeted," the ministry statement said, without specifying exactly when the strikes occurred. It said the air operation targeted militants of…
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Islamic State fighters surrender after British and US special forces help reclaim Syrian prison

Islamic State fighters surrender after British and US special forces help reclaim Syrian prison

Hundreds of Islamic State (IS) jihadists have surrendered after British and US special forces helped Kurdish fighters reclaim a Syrian prison complex after a lethal, six-day siege.  Deadly clashes broke out last week when IS staged a sophisticated jailbreak attack, aimed at freeing thousands of the group’s fighters locked up in Gweiran prison in the northeastern city of Hassakeh. It was the extremists’ most violent assault since losing their territory in Syria three years ago. Farhad Shami, a spokesman for the the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said the Western-backed Kurdish militia were in “entire control” of the prison and had…
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Syria, Russia start joint air force patrols over Syrian territory

Syria, Russia start joint air force patrols over Syrian territory

MOSCOW, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Syrian and Russian military jets jointly patrolled the airspace along Syria's borders on Monday and plan to make such flights regular, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia's defence ministry as saying. The path of the group, which includes fighter, fighter-bomber and early warning and control aircraft, included the Golan Heights, the armistice line with Israel that has seen regular Israeli air strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah positions. Russian forces have been present in Syria since 2015 when they helped turn the tide in a civil war in favour of President Bashar al-Assad. This month,…
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Syrian Kurdish forces tighten siege after Islamic State prison break

Syrian Kurdish forces tighten siege after Islamic State prison break

AMMAN, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops aided by U.S. troops tightened their siege of a prison housing Islamic State suspects after inmates took over the facility, residents and officials said on Sunday. At least 70 inmates were killed in the attack on the prison in northeastern Syria, which began on Thursday. Militants detonated a car bomb near the prison gates, helping dozens of inmates and flee to the neighbouring Ghweiran district of al-Hasaka, witnesses and officials said. The SDF initially said it had thwarted the breakout and arrested 89 militants sheltering nearby, but later acknowledged…
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Storm blankets Syrian tented camps in snow, at least one child dead

Storm blankets Syrian tented camps in snow, at least one child dead

ZAITOUN CAMP, Syria, Jan 20 (Reuters) - At least one child was killed in northern Syria this week when a storm blanketed tented camps in snow and brought freezing temperatures, compounding the misery of thousands of people displaced by the Mediterranean country's decade-long war. The child died and its mother was in intensive care after snow caused their tent to collapse in the Qastal Miqdad area, as a result of the storm that struck on Jan. 18, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. Two children were hospitalised due to the cold, it said. "I was scared…
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German court finds main suspect in first Syria torture trial guilty

German court finds main suspect in first Syria torture trial guilty

A court in Germany found a Syrian former colonel guilty on charges of state torture on Thursday, and sentenced him to a life term in prison. Anwar Raslan was found guilty of overseeing the murder of 27 people at the Al-Khatib detention centre in Damascus. The prosecution of Raslan has taken place under the principle of universal jurisdiction, allowing the prosecution of possible war crimes committed by foreigners in other states. The trial in the higher regional court in Koblenz in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is a world first, connecting alleged crimes against humanity with the Syrian state itself. The 58-year-old former colonel had denied…
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UPDATED: Israeli attack in Syria’s central region kills 2 civilians – state media

UPDATED: Israeli attack in Syria’s central region kills 2 civilians – state media

An Israeli air strike in Syria killed two people and wounded seven others including six soldiers on Wednesday, Syrian state media said, in the fourth Israeli attack reported by Syria this month. An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment on the report. Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon's Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's war. Syrian state news agency SANA, citing a military source, said the two people killed were civilians. A third civilian was seriously wounded, it…
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Refugees in the media: how the most commonly used images make viewers dehumanise them

Refugees in the media: how the most commonly used images make viewers dehumanise them

When the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011, the journeys of thousands of people fleeing their home country to cross the Mediterranean were widely documented in the media. But the public response was tepid until 2015, when a photograph of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach was printed in media around the world. The photo prompted international responses, a change of EU policy on refugees, and a surge in donations to charities working with refugees. Images shape our perceptions of the world and have the capacity to become political forces themselves. While more refugees risk their lives…
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Syrian air defences intercept Israeli missiles aimed at Damascus area -state media

Syrian air defences intercept Israeli missiles aimed at Damascus area -state media

Oct 30 (Reuters) - Syrian air defences on Saturday intercepted Israeli missiles targeted at sites in countryside around the capital Damascus and downed some of them, state media said, citing a military statement. Two soldiers were injured and some material losses occurred, the statement added. State TV had earlier reported that explosions were heard in the countryside outside Damascus. Asked about the attack, an Israeli military spokesperson said: "We do not comment on reports in the foreign media." Israel, alarmed by Iran's growing regional influence and military presence in Syria, has said previously that it has carried out hundreds of…
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Senior al Qaeda leader in Syria killed in drone strike

Senior al Qaeda leader in Syria killed in drone strike

The U.S. military killed senior al Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar in a drone strike in Syria on Friday, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said. "The removal of this al Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians," U.S. Army Major John Rigsbee said in a written statement. The strike comes two days after a U.S. outpost in southern Syria was attacked. Rigsbee did not say if the U.S. drone strike was carried out in retaliation. Photo - file photo of an MQ-9…
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UPDATED: Roadside bomb attack kills 13 Syrian military personnel in Damascus

UPDATED: Roadside bomb attack kills 13 Syrian military personnel in Damascus

At least 13 Syrian military personnel were killed in a roadside bomb attack, as their bus crossed a bridge in central Damascus during early morning rush hour on Wednesday, state television reported. Syrian state TV posted on its Telegram account images of the charred cabin of the bus, and rescue workers could be seen removing body parts. The channel reported at least 13 people were killed and three wounded. Two explosive devices went off as the bus was on the Hafez al-Assad bridge, it said, adding a third device was defused by an army engineering unit in what officials said…
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Syrian government, opposition agree on drafting new constitution -envoy

Syrian government, opposition agree on drafting new constitution -envoy

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria said on Sunday the government and opposition co-chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee had agreed to start the process of drafting a new constitution. The committee, comprising 45 representatives of Syria’s government, opposition and civil society, has a mandate to draw up a new basic law leading to U.N.-supervised elections. Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said its Syrian co-chairs, who he met together for the first time ahead of week-long talks, had agreed to "prepare and start drafting constitutional reform." The talks, the sixth round in two years and the first…
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One Syrian soldier killed, three wounded in Israeli air attack

One Syrian soldier killed, three wounded in Israeli air attack

One Syrian soldier was killed and three others wounded in an Israeli air attack on Syria's Palmyra area in the province of Homs on Wednesday evening, the Syrian defense ministry said. The attack took place at 23:34 local time (2034 GMT) and targeted a communications tower and caused some material losses, it added in a short statement on its Facebook page. The incident came days after Syrian state media reported that Syrian air defenses intercepted an Israeli missile attack above the Homs countryside, wounding six Syrian soldiers and causing some material damage. Israel has for several years been mounting attacks…
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Arabs ease Assad’s isolation as U.S. looks elsewhere

Arabs ease Assad’s isolation as U.S. looks elsewhere

BEIRUT, Oct 10 (Reuters) - While Bashar al-Assad is still shunned by the West who blame him for a decade of brutal war in Syria, a shift is under way in the Middle East where Arab allies of the United States are bringing him in from the cold by reviving economic and diplomatic ties. The extension of Assad's two-decade-old presidency in an election in May did little to break his pariah status among Western states, but fellow Arab leaders are coming to terms with the fact that he retains a solid grip on power. The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan…
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U.S. says it won’t normalize or upgrade diplomatic ties with Syria’s Assad

U.S. says it won’t normalize or upgrade diplomatic ties with Syria’s Assad

The United States has no plans to "normalize or upgrade" diplomatic relations with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and also does not encourage others to do so, a State Department spokesperson said. The comments came in response to Reuters questions on whether Washington was encouraging and supporting a rapprochement between Jordan and Syria after Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria on Wednesday. The move was to boost the countries' struggling economies and reinforce a push by Arab states to reintegrate Syria after shunning it during its civil war. "The United States will not normalize or…
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Jordan fully reopens main crossing with Syria

Jordan fully reopens main crossing with Syria

Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria on Wednesday in a boost for their struggling economies following a push by Arab states to reintegrate a country they have shunned during its decade-long civil war. Syria, which blames Western sanctions for its economic woes, hopes wider business links with its southern neighbour will help it recover from a devastating war and attract much-needed foreign currency. "The aim of these understandings is to boost trade exchange between the two countries to achieve the interests of every party," Jordan's minister of industry and trade, Maha Al Ali, told state-owned Al Mamlaka…
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U.N. issues new Syria war death toll, says 350,000 is an ‘undercount’

U.N. issues new Syria war death toll, says 350,000 is an ‘undercount’

At least 350,209 people have been killed in the decade-old war in Syria, the United Nations human rights office said in its first report since 2014 on the death toll, adding that the tally was an "undercount". The figure includes civilians and combatants and is based on strict methodology requiring the full name of the deceased, as well as an established date and location of death. "On this basis, we have compiled a list of 350,209 identified individuals killed in the conflict in Syria between March 2011 to March 2021," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the…
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Syria sees spike in COVID-19 cases as fears grow of new wave

Syria sees spike in COVID-19 cases as fears grow of new wave

Syria is facing a new surge in COVID-19 infections in both government-held areas and territory outside state control that could overwhelm the war-ravaged country's fragile health system, aid workers, officials and medical sources said. Government health authorities said the number of cases reported in the last twenty four hours has hit 235, the highest daily tally since the first case was reported in March last year. NGO's, independent medics and aid workers say official data reflect a small fraction of the real toll. Syria was hard hit by the pandemic last year during two major spikes in infections in August…
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Syria violence worsening, not safe for refugee return, UN investigators say

Syria violence worsening, not safe for refugee return, UN investigators say

Syria is still unsafe for the return of refugees a decade after its conflict began, U.N. war crimes investigators said, documenting worsening violence and rights violations including arbitrary detention by government forces. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria said the overall situation was increasingly bleak, noting hostilities in several areas of the fractured country, its collapsing economy, drying riverbeds and increased attacks by Islamic State militants. "One decade in, the parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians," the Chair of the Commission, Paulo Pinheiro said,…
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Iranian tanker spotted in Syria discharging gasoil for Lebanon

Iranian tanker spotted in Syria discharging gasoil for Lebanon

TankerTrackers.com has visual confirmation that an Iranian tanker is discharging gasoil in Syria's Baniyas port which is destined for neighbouring Lebanon, the online oil shipment tracking service said on Tuesday. "Unable to deliver directly by sea to Lebanon due to sanctions, the vessel went instead to Baniyas, Syria, for land transfer," the firm said on Twitter, referring to U.S. economic sanctions on the government in Tehran. Syria is also under U.S. sanctions, so has nothing to lose from receiving the oil. It will require 1,310 trucks to transport the cargo to Lebanon, it added, estimating the cargo at 33,000 metric tons of gasoil. Sayyed…
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Putin meets al-Assad in Moscow, criticizes foreign forces in Syria

Putin meets al-Assad in Moscow, criticizes foreign forces in Syria

President Vladimir Putin received Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Moscow for the first time since 2015 on Monday and criticised foreign forces that are in Syria without a U.N. mandate, the Kremlin said, in a rebuke of the United States and Turkey. Assad's most powerful ally in the decade-long Syrian conflict, Putin last received the Syrian leader in Russia in 2018 at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Russia's air force played a critical role in turning the tide of the Syrian conflict in Assad's favour after it deployed there in 2015, helping him recover most…
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Two Turkish troops killed in Syria’s Idlib -ministry

Two Turkish troops killed in Syria’s Idlib -ministry

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Two Turkish soldiers were killed and three others injured after an attack in Syrian's northwest Idlib region, Turkey's defence ministry said on Saturday. The troops had been on a "search and scanning operation", it said. Idlib is the last major area of Syria still in rebel hands, and parts of it are jointly patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces. (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; editing by Jason Neely) File Photo Turkish soldiers and a tank at the Ad Dana district of north-east Idlib in Syria. EPA-EFE/STR
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Syrian army enters birthplace of uprising under peace deal

Syrian army enters birthplace of uprising under peace deal

Syrian army troops entered Deraa al Balaad, the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, for the first time since it lost control over the area a decade ago, residents, the army and former rebels said. Army units set up at least nine checkpoints across the city under a Russian-brokered deal between the army and rebels that was finally agreed this week. Previous ones had faltered over disagreements over the extent of army control in the area and disarming rebels. The government said state authority was finally established to restore order and securty in an area where the…
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Lebanese ministers to make highest level visit to Syria in years

Lebanese ministers to make highest level visit to Syria in years

BEIRUT, Sept 3 (Reuters) - A delegation from Lebanon's caretaker government will visit Syria on Saturday in the highest level visit in years, aiming to pave the way for a U.S.-backed plan to ease a power crisis in Lebanon by transmitting electricity via the Syrian grid. Lebanese government officials have mostly avoided Syria since war began there in 2011 as Beirut adopted a policy of staying out of regional conflicts, even as the heavily armed Shi'ite group Hezbollah fought in support of Damascus. Lebanon is suffering energy shortages that have forced even essential services including hospitals to shut down or…
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Syria says Israeli air strikes target areas near Damascus

Syria says Israeli air strikes target areas near Damascus

Israel carried out air strikes on targets near Damascus early on Friday, triggering Syrian air defences but causing no casualties, Syrian state media reported, the second such attack in just over two weeks. The Israeli military declined to comment on the report. A Syrian military source quoted by state media said Syrian air defences shot down most of the Israeli missiles and only material damage was done in the attack launched at 1:26 a.m. Israel has for several years been mounting attacks on what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon's Hezbollah have established…
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Turkey and Cyprus monitor ‘oil sheen’ after Syria leak

Turkey and Cyprus monitor ‘oil sheen’ after Syria leak

Authorities in Turkey and Cyprus are on alert for any potential pollution from a 'sheen' of fuel floating across the Mediterranean from a spill in Syria, officials said. Fuel which seeped into the sea from a thermal station off the coast of Syria on Aug. 23 has been snaking across the Eastern Mediterranean, but any potential impact on Cyprus will depend on currents. The latest satellite images of the region provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency showed the oil sheen east of Cyprus breaking down and dissolving, the Cyprus Fisheries and Marine Research Department said. The eastern Cyprus coastline,…
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Concern as Syrian oil slick spreads across Mediterranean

Concern as Syrian oil slick spreads across Mediterranean

Authorities in Cyprus are monitoring an oil slick that originated from a power plant on Syria's Mediterranean coast and could soon affect the island. Syrian state media said last week there had been a spill from the plant, which is inside the Baniyas oil refinery. Satellite imagery showed that the slick spread north along the Syrian coast before moving westwards towards Cyprus. Syria's government said last Tuesday that there had been an accidental leak from a fuel tank at the Baniyas thermal power station, which is in a part of the war-torn country under its control. The following day, Syria's…
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Russian army patrol rebel enclave in Syria to avert offensive, sources say

Russian army patrol rebel enclave in Syria to avert offensive, sources say

AMMAN (Reuters) - Russian forces moved into an opposition enclave in the Syrian city of Deraa on Tuesday to try to avert an army assault on a stronghold that has defied state authority since it was retaken three years ago, witnesses, residents, and army sources said. Their entry brought a halt to shelling by pro-Iranian army units who have encircled the enclave, where protests first erupted in 2011, and had attempted to storm the area on Monday in the latest drive to force former rebels to surrender. The Syrian army, aided by Russian air power and Iranian militias, in 2018…
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Syrian army steps up offensive in restive southern city

Syrian army steps up offensive in restive southern city

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian troops stepped up shelling of an opposition enclave in the southern city of Deraa in a bid to assert control over an area that has defied state authority since it was retaken three years ago, witnesses, the army and residents said. An army assault on the old quarter of Deraa suffered a blow on Thursday when rebels mounted a counter-offensive across the province, capturing dozens of troops. The army has since sent hundreds of elite troops, dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles to storm the enclave where peaceful protests against Assad family rule began in 2011…
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U.S. troops come under fire in Syria after strikes against Iran-backed militias

U.S. troops come under fire in Syria after strikes against Iran-backed militias

US troops came under rocket fire in Syria on Monday, but escaped injury, in apparent retaliation for weekend U.S. air strikes against Iran-aligned militia in Syria and Iraq. A U.S. military spokesman said U.S. forces were attacked by multiple rockets but did not provide details. "There are no injuries and damage is being assessed. We will provide updates when we have more information," said Colonel Wayne Marotto. Sources in Deir al Zor, in eastern Syria, said that an Iranian-backed militia group had fired a few artillery rounds in the vicinity of al Omar oil field, which is controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The rocket…
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U.S. carries out air strikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria

U.S. carries out air strikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria

The United States said on Sunday it carried out another round of air strikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq andSyria, this time in response to drone attacks by the militia against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. In a statement, the U.S. military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq. It did not disclose whether it believed anyone was killed or injured but officials said assessments were ongoing. The strikes came at the direction of President Joe Biden, the second time he has ordered retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed militia since taking office five months ago. Biden last ordered limited strikes in Syria in February, that time in response to rocket attacks in Iraq. "As demonstrated by this evening's strikes, President…
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Syrian refugee girls face ‘dangerous’ child marriage trend, says charity

Syrian refugee girls face ‘dangerous’ child marriage trend, says charity

Syrian refugee girls are increasingly at risk of child marriage due to a surge in pandemic-linked poverty, legal loopholes and long-term displacement in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, charity Save the Children said. More than 5.5 million Syrians are registered as asylum seekers in the region, 10 years since conflict broke out in their homeland, according to the United Nations. “Refugee communities are reeling from protracted displacement, poverty and the consequences of COVID-19 and we know that economic hardship, protection concerns and lack of access to education are persistent drivers of child marriage,” said Caitlin Smith from…
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Syria’s Assad wins 4th term with 95% of vote

Syria’s Assad wins 4th term with 95% of vote

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won a fourth term in office with 95.1% of the votes in an election that will extend his rule over a country ruined by war but which opponents and the West say was marked by fraud. Assad's government says the election on Wednesday shows Syria is functioning normally despite the decade-old conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven 11 million people - about half the population - from their homes. Head of parliament Hammouda Sabbagh announced the results at a news conference on Thursday, saying voter turnout was around 78%, with more…
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UPDATED: Syrians go to the polls in election that Assad is set to win

UPDATED: Syrians go to the polls in election that Assad is set to win

Polling stations opened on Wednesday across Syria in a presidential election that is set to usher Bashar al-Assad into a fourth term in office. The government says the election shows Syria is functioning normally, despite the decade-old war. But the opposition and Western nations view the exercise as a farce to rubber-stamp Assad's grip on power.  Wednesday’s presidential election in Syria will not be free or fair, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States said in a statement on Tuesday, criticising leader Bashar al-Assad. “We ... wish to make clear that Syria’s May 26 presidential…
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UPDATED: Syria says Israeli raids target Mediterranean port region of Latakia

UPDATED: Syria says Israeli raids target Mediterranean port region of Latakia

Syrian air defences downed several Israeli missiles during pre-dawn raids on the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, the Syrian army said on Wednesday, a rare attack on the ancestral home region of the Syrian leader and close to a Russian air base. A Syrian army statement said aerial strikes soon after 2am hit several areas along the south west coast of Latakia. One civilian was killed and six injured in one of the strikes that the army said hit a civilian plastics factory. "Our aerial defences intercepted the aggressors missiles and downed some of them," the army communique said. State…
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Syria approves Assad, two others to run in presidential election

Syria approves Assad, two others to run in presidential election

Syria’s higher constitutional court on Monday approved President Bashar al-Assad’s application to run in a May 26 presidential election that he is all but certain to win. The court cleared two other candidates, Abdallah Saloum Abdallah and Mahmoud Ahmed Marei though Assad’s run is almost guaranteed to give him a fourth term, extending his tenure well past two decades. Assad has ruled since 2000, succeeding his father who seized power in a 1970 coup. Syria has suffered civil war since 2011, although Assad’s government has re-captured most territory once held by rebels trying to topple him. Candidates must have lived…
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