Syria Blog Live
The Syrian uprising began in March 2011, now fighting has spilled across the country's borders as the battle of key towns and cities continues.
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Kerry discusses ISIL threat with Iranian FM
US Secretary of State John Kerry has raised the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) directly with his Iranian counterpart in rare high-level talks in New York, a US official said.
Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for more than an hour at a hotel, during which they discussed progress in nuclear negotiations and "also discussed the threat posed by ISIL," a senior State Department official said.
Zarif and Kerry met one-on-one first, before being joined by US Deputy Secretary Bill Burns and Under Secretary Wendy Sherman on the US side and Zarif's deputies Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi on the Iranian side, the State Department official said.
Jordan arrests 11 alleged ISIL members over 'terror plan'
Jordan has arrested 11 members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who it said confessed to planning "terrorist operations" in the kingdom, a security official has said.
The 11 ISIL members allegedly "admitted their links to the leadership of the Daesh organisation in Syria and that they were charged with carrying out terrorist operations in Jordan targeting a number of vital interests", the official said, using the IS group's Arabic acronym
ISIL brings Saudi Arabia and Iran closer
The Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers have met in New York, brought together by their opposition to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Iranian government has said.
"This is a new page in relations between the two countries," Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif said, quoted on the government's website.
His Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, referring to ISIL's onslaught in Iraq and Syria, was quoted as saying: "We believe we must avoid the errors of the past to successfully confront the current crisis."
ISIL close in on Syria border town as thousands flee
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has closed in on Syria's third-largest Kurdish town on Sunday as tens of thousands of people fled in terror across the border into Turkey.
ISIL fighters have been advancing on Ain al-Arab since late Tuesday, hoping to cement their control over a large part of Syria's border with Turkey.
On Sunday, they were within some 10km of the town, after capturing more than 60 villages in the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The UN refugee agency said as many as 70,000 Syrian Kurds had streamed into Turkey since Friday.
Fighting near Ain al-Arab town has killed at least 27 Kurdish fighters and 39 Islamic State fighters the Syrian Observatory for human rights said.
19 people were killed in Saraqeb, a rebel held city in Idlib countryside when government warplanes launched two attacks and hit residential buildings.
Atleast six people were also killed in Jabal Al Zawiya in Ehsem village after government aerial attacks.
About 70,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed into Turkey after ISIL fighters take dozens of villages along border, escalating fears of massacre.
Kurdish fighters in Turkey have issued a new call to arms to defend a border town in northern Syria from advancing ISIL fighters, and the Turkish authorities and the UN are preparing for a surge in refugees.
About 70,000 Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey since Friday as ISIL fighters seized dozens of villages close to the border and advanced on the frontier town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish.
A Kurdish commander on the ground said ISIL had advanced to within 15km of Kobani, whose strategic location has been blockingthe group from consolidating their gains across northern Syria.
A Kurdish politician from Turkey who visited Kobani on Saturday said locals had told him that ISIL fighters were beheading people as they went from village to village.
"Rather than a war this is a genocide operation ... They are going into the villages and cutting the heads of one or two people and showing them to the villagers," Ibrahim Binici, a deputy for Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP, told Reuters.
Turkish security forces have fired tear gas, water and paint pellets on dozens of Kurds in a village on the border with Syria, which tens of thousands of refugees have crossed to escape the ISIL group.
The sound of gunfire could be heard from the Syrian side of the frontier where refugees were piling up after authorities temporarily closed the border.
Police on the ground said they were seeking to prevent Kurdish fighters from entering Syria. However, Private NTV television said the Kurds claimed they wanted to take aid into Syria. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported
Kurdish protesters had hurled stones at the security forces.
Mohammed Osman Hamme, a middle-aged Syrian Kurdish refugee who managed to make his way across, told The Associated Press he fled with his wife and small children from the village of Dariya in Raqqa province 10 days ago after hearing that ISIL was headed their way.
The wife of an ISIL hostage in Syria has pleaded for the release of her husband. Read Al Jazeera's story.
Australia to toughen up anti-terror laws after IS threat
Australia's government will introduce legislation in parliament next week to tackle a growing terror threat, the attorney general has said, in the aftermath of the country's biggest crackdown in history.
George Brandis announced the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill would go before the Senate on Wednesday.
"These bills will give our national security agencies and the Australian federal police stronger powers, but there will also be stronger protections," he said.
The orders are designed to counter an imminent threat of attack and can be used to hold people for as long as 14 days.
Police will also be given powers to secretly search the homes of suspects.
Iran has 'role' in fighting IS militants: Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Iran has a role to play in tackling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant who have overrun large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Kerry said that in combating the jihadist threat "there is a role for nearly every country to play, including Iran."
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed this week that he had rejected a request from the United States for cooperation on the battlefield.
US officials have not confirmed or denied making an offer in private, but they do not regard Tehran as part of the coalition they are building to fight the IS militant scourge.
Just last week, the top US diplomat had said it would be inappropriate to invite Iran to meetings seeking to building an international coalition because of Tehran's "engagement in Syria and elsewhere."
Three Hezbollah fighters reportedly killed in attack near village of Khreibeh in Bekaa Valley.
A Hezbollah checkpoint on the Lebanon-Syria border has been attacked by a suicide bomber. You can read Al Jazeera's story here.
An Al-Qaeda-linked Tunisian group has offered backing to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, becoming the third armed group to do so this week, SITE Intelligence Group said late Friday.
On Tuesday, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the international insurgents network's North African branch, and the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) urged fighters in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition assembled to fight ISIL.
"The mujahedeen brothers in the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade from... (Tunisia) are supporting, endorsing, and strongly sustaining the State of the Islamic Caliphate," the group said, quoted by SITE Intelligence Group late Friday. [AFP]
Syrian Kurds feared an impending massacre after ISIL fighters seized their villages [AFP]
About 45,000 Syrian Kurds have fled to Turkey after ISIL fighters took over dozens of villages along border [Reuters]
Government helicopters continue to target rebel held areas using barrel bombs in Aleppo city.
Activists reported that 8 People have been killed this morning in Arad Hamra, Al Haidarieh
And Masakn Hanano districts.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Saturday 45,000 Syrian Kurds had crossed into Turkey over the past day, fleeing an advance by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant militants after Ankara opened a stretch of the border.
"Around 45,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed the border as of now from eight entrance points along a 30 km distance from Akcakale to Mursitpinar since we opened the border yesterday," Kurtulmus told CNN Turk television.
At least 18 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant group were killed in overnight clashes with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria near a strategic border town, a monitoring group said Saturday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 18 militants, reportedly including one of Chinese nationality, were killed in fighting near the town of Ain al-Arab, known to the Kurds as Kobane.
The Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, killed one of the Lebanese soldiers it had been holding in captivity, Lebanese security sources and a Twitter statement said on Friday.
The Sunni militants and other rebels in Syria regularly accuse the Lebanese army of working with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia movement which has sent fighters to help the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Two Lebanese soldiers were also killed by a roadside bomb on Friday near the border town of Arsal, security sources said, the first such attack since iSIL fighters from Syria staged an incursion there last month in the worst spillover to date of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon.
The fighters seized a number of Lebanese soldiers during that incursion.
US Secretary of State says there is role for nearly all countries in the fight against the self-declared jihadist group.
Al-Qaeda-linked group says it has killed one of 10 Lebanese soldiers it is holding in hopes of a prisoner exchange.
Kurdish forces have withdrawn from around 60 villages in the face of an advance by ISIL ,the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. The ISIL fighters were using heavy weapons including artillery and tanks, said Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman.
A Kurdish official contacted by Reuters said he did not know how many villages had fallen to
ISIL but that it had not been that many. He added that a "large number" of villages had turned into war zones and that about 100 villages had been evacuated of civilians for their protection.
Several thousand Syrian Kurds have begun crossing into Turkey.
US not to pre-announce air strikes
The US is ready to launch air strikes on ISIL targets in Syria but does not want to telegraph when these will occur, President Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice said.
"I don't think it would be appropriate or wise for me to telegraph from the podium exactly when that will occur, and what steps may need to be taken before that is to occur," Rice said.
"I'm not going to give you any precision or prediction on when that might occur," she said.
Turkey on Friday opened up its border to thousands of Syrian Kurds fleeing clashes with ISIL in neighbouring Syria, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
"We will take in our brothers fleeing to Anatolia from Syria or any other place without any ethnic or sectarian discrimination," Davutoglu told reporters in Azerbaijan.
"The entries have started now," he said. "We have taken in 4,000 brothers. The number might increase. Their needs will be met. This is a humanitarian mission."
The move came after Ankara, which is sheltering some 1.5 million refugees from the Syrian conflict, refused to take in more fearing it would not be able to cope.
An attack on a military patrol killed two Lebanese soldiers and wounded three others Friday on the outskirts of Arsal, a flashpoint town bordering war-torn Syria, an officer said.
"Two of our soldiers were killed and three others were wounded on the outskirts of Arsal, when their vehicle was hit, likely by a rocket-propelled grenade," the officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Senate follows the House of Representatives in passing President Obama's plan to degrade and destroy the ISIL.
President Hollande rules out ground troops in Iraq and says can't do anything in Syria that might help Bashar al-Assad.
Kurdish call to arms after ISIL seizes town
ISIL has besieged a Kurdish town in northern Syria, prompting a call to arms from Kurds in Turkey who urged followers to go and help resist the group's advance.
Thursday's attack on Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish, came after ISIL fighters, armed with heavy weaponry including tanks, seized a group of villages near Kobani in an offensive which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said started Tuesday night.
"We've lost touch with many of the residents living in the villages that ISIS (ISIL) seized," Ocalan Iso, deputy head of the Kurdish forces in Kobani, told Reuters via Skype.
The Kurds were appealing for military aid from other Kurdish groups in the region including the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), he said. Support from Kurds who crossed from Turkey helped to repel an Islamic State attack on Kobani in July.
Video purports to show journalist John Cantlie saying he will soon reveal "facts" to counter portrayal of ISIL in West.
The UN warns that the food aid it provides to nearly six million Syrians is under imminent threat because of a shortfall in funding.
The World Food Programme said it will be forced to cut the size of food rations it provides to needy families inside Syria and the number of refugees
it supports in neighbouring countries if donor countries do not provide additional funds in the next few days.
The WFP said it requires $352m for its operations inside and outside Syria until the end of the year. Inside Syria, existing funds are sufficient to provide only a reduced food parcel in October, which will then have to be further cut in November. There are no funds at all for December.
French President Francois Hollande ruled out carrying out any military action against Islamic State fighters in Syria on Thursday, but said he had told Iraqi authorities France was ready to carry out air strikes against the group.
Despite threat of a US led air campaign against ISIL in Syria, refugees head home unsure of their safety in Iraq.
Activists say Syrian government helicopter gunships have attacked a northern town held by Muslim militants, killing at least a dozen people and wounding dozens more.
The Local Coordination Committees say a barrel bomb dropped by a helicopter targeted a bakery Thursday morning in the town of Al-Bab, killing 12 and wounding dozens.
Islamic State fighters have seized 16 Kurdish villages in northern Syria in a major advance towards the city of Ayn al-Arab at the border with Turkey, a Kurdish military official and a group that tracks the civil war said on Thursday.
Ocalan Iso, a commander in Kurdish armed group YPG, told Reuters that Islamic State fighters were using heavy weapons including tanks in their attack near the city, known as Kobani in Kurdish.
Rami Abdulrahman, founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the villages had been seized in an Islamic State advance that started on Wednesday. "They have a large number of fighters," he told Reuters by phone.
US lawmakers voted to authorise training and arming of vetted Syrian rebels to combat Islamic State fighters, a crucial step in President Barack Obama's bid to thwart the self-declared jihadist group surging across Iraq and Syria.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 273 to 156 to approve Obama's train-and-equip plan despite misgivings by both Democrats and Republicans.
Some war-weary Democrats say the move could open the door to full-blown American military intervention in the Middle East. Conservative members are concerned that the plan falls short of what is needed to defeat the Islamic State group.