Syria Live Blog Live
An estimated 150,000 people have died since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. More than two million people have left the country, fleeing fighting between government forces and opposition fighters. Follow the latest news from the ground and diplomatic developments here.
Powered by ScribbleLive
Access for foreign aid for millions of Syrians desperately in need has not improved, violating a Security Council resolution passed two months ago, the UN chief said in a report Wednesday.
In February, the Security Council passed the first humanitarian resolution of the three-year civil war, demanding that the government and armed opposition allow aid to reach civilians.
But almost 3.5 million people remain without access to essential goods and services, including life-saving medicines, in a "clear violation" of international law, wrote Ban Ki-moon.
The report sent to the Security Council blamed both sides in the war but singled out the government for particular censure.
said the document.
The security situation is deteriorating and humanitarian access to those most in need is not improving. It remains an extremely challenging environment in which to work
Thousands of people are not getting the medical care that they need, which Ban described as "arbitrary and unjustified" and "a clear violation of international humanitarian law."
"I must again urge the parties, and in particular the government.. to honor their obligations under international humanitarian law and act now," he said in the report.
British police reached out to Muslim women on Thursday in an attempt to prevent young people going to fight in Syria, after a sharp rise in arrests related to the conflict.
Counter-terrorism officials launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the risks of travelling to Syria, especially for those who just want to offer humanitarian aid.
The campaign was prompted by an increase in the number of Britons caught travelling or returning from Syria, from 25 arrests last year to 40 in the first three months of 2014.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded on Wednesday that the Security Council take action in Syria on violations of international law as he reported to the body that none of the warring parties was adhering to UN demands for aid access.
In his second monthly report to the 15-member council on the implementation of a resolution demanding great humanitarian aid access in Syria, Ban said "none of the parties to the conflict have adhered to the demands of the Council."
he wrote in the 21-page report. He did not specify what measures the council should take.
The Security Council must take action to deal with these flagrant violations of the basic principles of international law
Calling urgently on Syrian authorities and the opposition to allow aid access, end siege warfare and halt the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the top United Nations humanitarian officials today also issued a strong challenge to "those with the responsibility, power and influence" to find the courage to re-energize a thus-far failed diplomatic push to end the brutal three-year conflict.
Syrian government forces have attacked rebel-held areas with poisonous chlorine gas in recent weeks and months, leaving men, women and children coughing, choking and gasping for breath, according to Associated Press news agency interviews with more than a dozen activists, medics and residents on the opposition side.
Syria flatly denied the allegations, and they have yet to be confirmed by any foreign country or international organization. But if true, they highlight the limitations of the global effort to rid President Bashar al-Assad's government of its chemical weapons.
Witnesses near Damascus and in a central rebel-held village told the AP of dozens of cases of choking, fainting and other afflictions from inhaling fumes that some said were yellowish and smelled like chlorine cleanser.
Some of those interviewed said they believe the gas was responsible for at least two deaths.
They said the fumes came from hand grenades and helicopter-dropped barrel bombs, which are crude containers packed with explosives and shrapnel.
The UN Security Council called for an investigation Wednesday. Council members expressed "grave concern" over the allegations, said Nigeria's UN Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu, council president.
It's an accusation that carries high stakes, and the Syrian opposition has an interest in pushing such claims in hopes of spurring the world to take stern action against Assad, who has been locked in a civil war for three years and faces a Sunday deadline for handing over all his chemical weapons for destruction.
The aftermath of what activists said was shelling by Syrian army in Al-Maliha town, in the suburbs of Damascus.
The UN Security Council says it is concerned with reports of alleged chlorine gas use in Syrian towns. The use of gas has reportedly caused deaths and injuries. The UN is calling for formal investigations.
Nigeria's UN Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu, the council president has said that the chlorine gas attacks were raised during a meeting after a video briefing by Sigrid Kaag, who heads the mission charged with destroying Syria's chemical weapons.
It has been suggested that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons could play a role in investigating the latest allegations.
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari has said his government "denies categorically the use of chlorine gas by the Syrian army."
The French government says it is cracking down on its citizens who go to Syria to fight in the ongoing civil war. The government said it is introducing new measures like withdrawing passports and putting names of potential fighters in a European database. France estimates that there are currently 700 French fighters in Syria. The greatest number of foreign fighters come from North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, but exact numbers are hard to verify. Al Jazeera speaks with Anne Guidicelli, the founder of Terrorisc.
Syrian state media has reported a member of the People's Assembly has registered as a challenger to Bashar al-Assad in the upcoming presidential election.
The Syrian opposition in exile has criticised the planned election of June 3 as a "farce", while the UN and the Arab League have said it poses a major obstacle to efforts for a negotiated peace.
To read Al Jazeera's full story, click here.
This video allegedly shows government forces bombing the town of Mileha, east Damascus.
Al Jazeera cannot independently confirm the content of this video.
This video allegedly shows fighting in East Ghouta, where regime forces launched an assault a few days ago.
Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the content of this video.
Syrian state media has reported a member of the People's Assembly has registered as a challenger to Bashar al-Assad in the upcoming presidential election.
"The speaker of the Syrian People's Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham announced on Wednesday that the Assembly received from the SupremeConstitutional Court a candidacy application from MP Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar to run for president," SANA reported.
Sources in Syria say that Hajjar, who is Aleppo-born, is member of the internal opposition and a member of Syrian People's Assembly representing Aleppo governorate.
The directors of five United Nations agencies that provide humanitarian aid to Syria have said their appeal for $6.5 bn in emergency funding for 2014 has been mostly ignored.
With only $1.2 bn pledged, the agency heads are renewing their December appeal and emphasizing that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating by the day as the 3-year-old civil war escalates in many areas.
The December appeal "has gone largely unanswered" for a crisis affecting 9.3 million people, said a joint statement Wednesday by U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, UNICEF director Anthony Lake, UN refugee commissioner
António Guterres, World Food Program director Ertharin Cousin and World Health Organization director Dr. Margaret Chan.
They say "the worst days seem yet to come" for civilians remaining in Aleppo, Homs, and other areas with heavy fighting.
According to Syrian Revolution General Commission , several fighter of Hezbollah has died and others injured as result of an attack by Free Syrian Army in Daraya , Damascus countryside.
The SRGC added that a 70m tunnel, was discovered by members of FSA on the north side of the city of Darya, it was used by the fighters of Hezbollah and regime forces soldiers to infiltrate the city and to bring weapons.
The regime forces shelled the northern area of the city with toxic substances, according to the SRGC, which resulted the poisoning of a number of people
France has unveiled steps to stop its citizens from joining the Syrian civil war and prevent young French Muslims from posing a threat to their home country.
Read Al Jazeera's full report here
The chemical weapons watchdog said Tuesday that Syria has handed over 86.5 percent of its arsenal as new claims emerged of an attack on a rebel bastion this month using an industrial chemical.
Under the terms of a US- and Russian-brokered deal which averted the threat of US military action last year, Syria faces a June 30 deadline to destroy its chemical stockpiles.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said a new consignment of chemicals was delivered Tuesday to the Syrian port of Latakia.
It raised "the overall portion of chemicals removed from Syria to 86.5 percent of the total", the Hague-based OPCW said in a statement.
The chemicals were immediately removed from the country in the 17th shipment since the operation began in October.
"This latest consignment (is) encouraging," said OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu.
We hope that the remaining two or three consignments are delivered quickly to permit destruction operations to get under way in time to meet the mid-year deadline for destroying Syria's chemical weapons
The US has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, according to the US State Department. Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson, said there were indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical in the town of Kfar Zeita, a rebel held area in Hama province in Syria. The government has blamed rebels for using the gas in Kfar Zeita, but the rebels deny this and the people of this region say government forces are trying to create fear and panic to depopulate regions. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Antakya in Turkey.
Aid reaches remote Tfail
A Lebanese convoy of soldiers, clerics and Red Cross officials have delivered aid to a remote village near the Syrian border. The border hamlet of Tfail was bombed by Syrian government aircraft and blocked by Lebanese fighters.
The village's population has swelled in recent months after more than 7,000 Syrians, fleeing the fighting in the country's civil war, sought refuge in the area and surrounding hills. [AP]
Red Cross condemns violence in Aleppo
The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it is appalled by the increase of violence in the northern city of Aleppo.
The hundreds of civilian casualties caused by the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas across Aleppo over the last two weeks are unacceptable.
- Boris Michel, head of the ICRC delegation in Syria
We urgently call on all parties to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law and spare not only civilians but also essential infrastructure such as water supply lines, power plants and medical facilities.
The US has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, according to the US State Department.
Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson, said there were indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical in the town of Kfar Zeita, a rebel held area in Hama province in Syria.
To read Al Jazeera's full story, click here.
Activists: Homs could soon fall to government forces
Syrian opposition fighters are making their last stand in Homs, as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launch their harshest assault yet on the city.
Some of the opposition fighters have talked about surrendering, according to opposition activists.
"We expect Homs to fall," said an activist who used the name Thaer Khalidiya in an online interview with the AP news agency. "In the next few days, it could be under the regime's control."
The fight for Homs underscores Assad's determination to weaken the opposition fighters ahead of presidential elections that are set to take place on June 3.
A German former rapper who joined fighting in Syria has been killed in a suicide bombing carried out by rival fighters, rebel sources and a monitor said Tuesday.
Denis Mamadou Cuspert, who rapped under the name Deso Dogg but took on the name Abu Talha al-Almani in Syria, was reported to have been killed in a suicide attack on Sunday in an eastern province.
He was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and was reportedly killed in a double suicide bombing carried out by Al-Nusra Front, a rival group that is Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate.
Messages posted on Internet forums announced his death.
"The Islamic nation is bleeding with the news of the martyrdom of the jihadist fighter, brother Abu Talha al-Almani. May he be accepted by God," one message read.
"His death is the result of a suicide bombing carried out by the traitorous soldiers of (Nusra chief Abu Mohammed al-) Jolani against a house in which a number of ISIL brothers were staying," it added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the suicide attack carried out on Sunday.
"Two members of Al-Nusra Front blew themselves up the day before yesterday, killing 16 ISIL fighters," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Abdel Rahman said a fighter known as Abu Talha was among those killed in the attack in Deir Ezzor province near the boundary with Hasakeh province.
State Department confirms indications of use of toxic industrial chemical in Kfar Zeita town in Hama province.
The United States has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, the US State Department said on Monday.
in the town of Kfar Zeita, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring to a rebel-held area.
We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical
We are examining allegations that the government was responsibleshe told a regular news briefing. "Obviously there needs to be an investigation of what's happened here."
Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on Kfar Zeita on April 11 and 12.
Psaki said chlorine was not one of the priority one or two chemicals Syria declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under a Russian-US agreement for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
Psaki said the United States was still trying to determine the facts.
Assad, whose term ends on July 17, expected to run and win another seven-year term in office despite the conflict.
Syria's parliament speaker has said the country will hold presidential elections on June 3.
This video allegedly shows the aftermath of government barrel bombs targeting rebel held areas of Aleppo districts, which killed 5 in the Al Sakhour area, according to activists.
Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the content of this video.
At least five people have died in the capital, Damascus, after mortar shells hit near the parliament building, according to Syrian state media. [AP]
First pic of a new refugee camp for 130,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan desert, published on Twitter by the UNHCR's representative to Jordan, Andrew Harper.
It has been 60 years since the United Nations refugee convention was signed.
But in Syria, and elsewhere in the world, millions of refugees across the world are struggling for basic essentials.
After three years of war, more than 2.5 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries for safety.
But almost 6.5 million Syrians are now internally displaced in their own country.
Richard Murphy, a former US Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia, discusses the plight of Syrian refugees today.
Activists have claimed that Syrian warplanes have targeted the neighbourhood of al-Fardous in Aleppo city with barrel bombs, killing at least 40 people.
A video posted on Saturday to YouTube showed severe damage on buildings and the street, while firefighters extinguished the fire. The number of casualties remained unclear.
At least 10 people were also killed in another barrel bomb attack in the suburb of Biideen, activists claimed. Videos posted online showed buildings engulfed in fire creating large plumes of smoke rising over the city.
Barrel bombs are imprecise weapons, causing extensive damages and at least 1,000 people have been killed in such attacks since mid-December, activists say.
Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the authenticity of the activist videos.
Two people were injured in southern Turkey on Sunday when a shell fired in Syria landed on the other side of the border, a Turkish news agency reported.
The incident happened in a rural area near the village of Yayladadi, according to a report by the Dogan agency.
The two villagers were injured when the shell fell near a tractor, it said.
Turkey normally responds when shrapnel or shells fired by government forces or rebel groups in Syria land on its soil.
Earlier this month it fired artillery after shrapnel from Syrian shells reached its side of the border.
On March 23 the Turkish airforce shot down a Syrian fighter jet that it said had crossed into its airspace.
Turkey has sided with rebels opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad during the three-year Syrian conflict and is hosting close to 900,000 refugees who have fled the fighting.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Easter Sunday visited the ancient Christian town of Maalula, which his troops recently recaptured from rebels, state television said.
"On the day of the resurrection of Christ, and from the heart of Maalula, President Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter, and for the reestablishment of peace and security throughout Syria," the channel announced in a caption at the bottom of the screen, without showing images of the visit - AFP
In Easter message, Greek Orthodox Patriarch says Syria's Christians won't yield to extremists - AP
Veteran Europe 1 reporter Didier Francois on being released from Syria: "It's a great joy and an immense relief, obviously, to be free. Under the sky, which we haven't seen for a long time, to breathe the fresh air, walk freely."
France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday. "We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," Hollande told journalists after he was asked about reports that Assad was currently using chemical weapons - AFP
French hostages have landed on the military base of Evreux (Elysee). They will travel to Villacoublay by helicopter where an official ceremony will held. President Holland will give a speech.
France has 'information' Assad regime using chemical weapons in Syria: Hollande - AFP
Activists in Syria have claimed that government forces used chlorine gas in an attack on a village near the city of Hama.Amateur footage uploaded by activists on Friday showed dozens of villagers from Kafr Zeta struggling to breathe as a result of a toxic substance. Other footage online showed an unexploded canister suspected to contain chlorine gas. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the images.Rebels and the government blamed each other for what is supposed to be third alleged gas attack in the country in the past week. Chlorine gas - used extensively in the First World War - attacks mucus membranes and can kill in high concentrations.Read the details:
Government forces accused of using chlorine gas in village near Hama, the third alleged gas attack in the past week.
Push by President Bashar al-Assad's troops in the central city comes as bomb explodes outside a mosque, killing 14.
Syrian army forces advanced on Friday around rebel-held areas of the Old City of Homs. Around 1,200 rebel fighters and nearly 200 civilians are believed to be inside the rebel-held parts of the Old City, under army siege for nearly two years.
The army, which began a broad offensive there on Tuesday, "is progressing daily by capturing buildings and tightening the noose around the terrorist groups", a security source said. [AFP]
A bomb went off in front of a mosque and killed 14 people in Homs, Syrian state television said on Friday, with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad looking close to wresting the symbolic central city back from rebels.
"Fourteen people were killed and dozens wounded in a terrorist bomb in front of the Bilal al Habshi mosque ... as people left the mosque," state television said. The mosque is in a government-controlled part of Homs.
Syrian authorities generally refer to attacks by rebels as "terrorist", but there was no way to verify who was responsible for the blast. The Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV station, which has reporters in Syria, said it was a car bomb.
AFP's Mussa Hattar writes that Syrian refugees in Jordan are so miserable that they would rather face "inevitable death" in their war-torn country than live in conditions that have sparked riots.
With Syria's war now in its fourth year, many of the 100,000 refugees in the sprawling desert Zaatari camp in northern Jordan feel the world has forgotten their struggle to survive.
"Syrian refugees would rather go home and face inevitable death than swallow the bitterness of displacement," Abu Isam, 52, told AFP before his cousins and other refugees boarded a bus back to Syria.
S. Secretary of State John Kerry met U.N. Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Switzerland on Thursday, where talks focused on Syria's devastating civil war.
Brahimi said that a deal between trapped fighters and civilians in Homs city and the Syrian authorities had broken down, as government forces appeared close to retaking the besieged opposition area.
Homs, a religiously-mixed city, was the scene of early protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 and has become a symbol of the destructive nature of Syria's civil war, with many of its neighbourhoods leveled by army shells.
A deal agreed at peace talks in Geneva this year allowed some civilians to leave but further negotiations broke down following heavy fighting this week.
Brahimi issued a statement Thursday, apologizing for the break down in talks.
"It is a matter of deep regret that negotiations were brutally stopped and violence is now rife again when a comprehensive agreement seemed close at hand," Brahimi said in a statement.
"It is alarming that Homs, whose people have suffered so much throughout these past three years is again the theater of death and destruction."
Syrian rebels on Thursday attacked one of the largest military barracks in the country, in northern Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Rebels, including fighters from Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic Front, launched an assault today on the barracks in Hanano in Aleppo," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding that the fighting was ongoing.
State media, meanwhile, reported that the army had "foiled an attempt by terrorist groups to infiltrate the barracks" and killed a number of them.
Abdel Rahman said the barracks is one of the largest in Syria.
"It's strategically important because it's on a hill that overlooks parts of northern Aleppo," he added.
Once Syria's economic hub, Aleppo has been divided between regime control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after combat began there in mid-2012.
Abdel Rahman said the attack began when "rebels detonated explosives in tunnels they had dug beneath army positions around the barracks".
State television also reported that the rebels had "detonated explosives in three tunnels around the barracks".
Candidates for Syria's presidential election can begin registering on April 21, when the date for the vote will be announced, a government source told AFP on Thursday.
"On Monday April 21, the Council of the People (parliament) will meet to open registration for presidential candidates and set a date for the election," the source said.
Syria's government has insisted it will go ahead with presidential elections this year before the end of President Bashar al-Assad's term on July 17.
But it is unclear how it will do so during a raging civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people over the past three years, displaced nearly half the population and seen the regime lose control of large swathes of territory.
The vote will be Syria's first multi-candidate elections, after a new constitution did away with the old process of presidential referendums.
Assad has all but said he will stand, and is expected to easily win the vote.
New electoral regulations, including a requirement stating that candidates must have been living in Syria for the last decade, will exclude prominent opposition figures who live in exile.
The government's plan to hold the vote has drawn criticism from much of the international community, with UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warning it could jeopardise further peace talks.
Syria's opposition has insisted that Assad can have no role in the country's future and his departure from office is one of their key demands.
The United Nations envoy to Syria says the besieged central city of Homs has become a "theater of death and destruction," urging both sides in the country's civil war to return to negotiations.
In a statement Thursday, Lakhdar Brahimi called on Syrian government officials and opposition leaders to resume talks that broke off in February.
The central city has seen some of the worst fighting in the 3-year-old conflict.
An agreement on a weeklong cease-fire that allowed more than 1,000 civilians to leave Homs' rebel-held areas was hailed as the only achievement of the recent Geneva peace talks that Brahimi mediated.
The deal did not hold, however, and fighting between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the rebels trying to overthrow him has raged for weeks in Homs.