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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.

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  • At least 60 soldiers and pro-regime fighters were among the 270 killed in a bloody attack on a gas field in central Syria.

    With the Syrian counter-attack to try to recapture the Shaar field in Homs province in its third day, Al-Watan newspaper, citing a military source, gave a toll of "60 martyrs" among regime forces.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had earlier reported it had  documented "the deaths of 270 people killed in fighting or executed" by Islamic State (IS) fighters.

    "A large majority of the men killed were executed at gunpoint after being taken prisoner" in the seizure of the field, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

    "Eleven of the dead were civilian employees, while the rest were security guards and National Defence Forces members," he added.

    The UK-based Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and  medics on the ground, said at least 40 IS fighters and 11 soldiers have been killed in the counter-attack, which was backed by aircraft.

    [AFP]
  • At least 10 people have been killed and dozens injured after a car bomb exploded in the rebel stronghold of Douma, a Damascus suburb, according to activists.

    The bomb went off in a central market and damaged a hospital along with residential buildings.

    The narrator in the video, purporting to show the aftermath, blames the Islamic State group for the attack.

  • Syrian government forces have launched a counter-attack to recapture a gas field seized by the Islamic State group, as the death toll from three days of fighting rose to more than 200, activists say.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said special forces launched an attack late Friday on the Shaer field in the central province of Homs and regained parts of it.

    A Homs-based activist who goes by the name of Beibares Tellawi confirmed that troops were attacking fighters from the Islamic State group.

    "The fighting today is mostly hit and run attacks," Tellawi said via Skype. "Large numbers of Assad's forces are attacking the field."

    [AP]
  • Islamic fighters have killed more than 100 Syrian troops, guards and workers as they captured a gas field in central Syria following daylong clashes, activists say.

    Amateur video released by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights showed fighters walking among a large number of dead bodies that activists said were guards and workers in the gas field in the desert region of Palmyra.

    The attack was the deadliest fighting so far between fighters of the Islamic State group and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

    The assault began on Thursday with a suicide bombing and an attack on army checkpoints near the gas field, according to an activist in the central province of Homs, who goes by the name Beibares Tellawi.

    The fighters seized the field after fierce clashes with government forces, Tellawi said.

    The Observatory said 115 people were killed. 

    [AP]

  • Activists say 40 people in the rebel-controlled town of Kafr Zita have sustained breathing difficulties after government forces hit the town with barrel bombs carrying chlorine gas at midnight. The video below purports to be filmed in a local hospital following the attack.



    Kafr Zita, in Hama province, has been targeted with chlorine gas several times in recent months, according to activists.
  • The UN chief says the new UN special envoy to Syria will be travelling to the country, regional countries and other relevant countries "in the near future".

    Ban Ki-moon introduced Staffan de Mistura and his deputy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, on Thursday.

    The Swedish-Italian diplomat is the third special envoy tasked with helping to end the years-long conflict in Syria that has killed at least 170,000 people and displaced some 9 million.

    [AP]

  • The United Nations chief says the new UN special envoy to Syria will be traveling to the country, regional countries and other relevant countries "in the near future.''

    Ban Ki-moon introduced Staffan de Mistura and his deputy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, on Thursday.

    De Mistura is now the third special envoy tasked with helping to end the conflict in Syria that has killed at least 170,000 people and displaced some 9 million, a third of the country's pre-war population.

    The Swedish-Italian diplomat was named to the post a week ago.

    [AP]

  • Syria's Kurds have imposed compulsory military service for their men to ward off a push by self-declared jihadists in the predominantly Kurdish areas in northern Syria, Kurdish officials said.

    The move reflects fears among Syrian Kurds that the ongoing offensive by the Islamic State group in their region may potentially reverse gains made by their ethnic minority in the past three years.

    Click here to read more: www.aljazeera.com
  • Fighters from the self-declared jihadist group, the Islamic State, have seized a gas field in the desert region of Palmyra, in the Syrian central province of Homs, a monitoring group and the governor of Homs said.

    Read more here: www.aljazeera.com


  • لحظة تأدية الرئيس الأسد لليمين الدستورية.
    16 تموز 2014 #الأسد #victory
    #leader #syrianpresidency #history #together #photooftheday
    #bestoftheday #Syria #proud
    by syrianpresidency via Instagram


    Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third term as Syria's president in a ceremony in Damascus, after an election his opponents said was a "farce".

    What we are seeing today in Iraq and Lebanon, and all countries struck by this 'fake spring' disease ... proves our warnings were right: Soon we will see Arab, regional and Western countries paying a high price for supporting terrorism.

  • Turkey will take "drastic measures" to deal with the influx of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into its biggest city Istanbul, including forcibly sending them to camps in the southeast, the city's top official said on Wednesday.

    Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said there were now 67,000 Syrian refugees in the city and legislation would now be adopted that could see them effectively expelled from the city of 15 million to refugee camps closer to Syria.

    Mutlu said authorities would take "drastic measures" to contain the negative consequences of Syrian refugees in Istanbul, including sending those begging in the streets back to the refugee camps "without their consent".

    His comments came amid signs of growing tensions over the increasingly visible presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey as well as protests in several southeastern cities.

    [AFP]
  • Syrian activists reported that rebel fighters have taken control of Al-Sheikh Saad town in Deraa’s western countryside after days of fierce fighting around the town.

    The town was the last base for regime forces in the 61st Brigade.

    It is also strategically important, given its close proximity to al-Sanamayn and Izraa, two districts in Deraa seen as the first defence line for the capital Damascus.
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 743 civilians including 197 children and 108 women have been killed in government air raids alone since Assad was re-elected on June 3.

    Some 2,400 others were wounded in the raids on rebel-held areas, the Britain-based group added.
  • Four people were killed and another 22 wounded by rebel mortars fired into central Damascus Wednesday, just as President Bashar al-Assad was sworn in for a third term, state news agency SANA said.

    The mortars came minutes after Assad's inauguration speech ended. "Four people were killed and 22 others wounded by mortars launched by terrorists against the business district of Shaalan," in the heart of Damascus, said SANA, using the regime's term for rebels seeking Assad's ouster.
  • Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third term as Syria's president in a ceremony in Damascus, after an election his opponents said was a "farce".

    Assad on Wednesday swore by the Quran, Muslim's holy book, before parliamentarians in an extraordinary session, 40 months into a conflict estimated to have killed more than 160,000 people.

    Read more here:

    Syria's Assad sworn in for third term

    President Bashar al-Assad accepts seven-year term after winning poll dismissed as sham by critics.
  • New UN peace envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura will meet members of the Security Council on Friday as he sets out to revive efforts to end the devastating conflict.

    Diplomatic sources said it will be a first opportunity to discuss the way forward with De Mistura, an Italian-Swedish diplomat with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The 67-year-old former Italian deputy foreign minister was appointed last week, replacing Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned in May after two rounds of peace talks ended in failure.

    The UN is hoping to get the peace process back on track but it remains unclear if the roadmap agreed during talks in Geneva six months ago can be salvaged.

    The new push comes as Assad was sworn in on Wednesday for a new seven-year term. More than 170,000 people have died in the conflict since 2011.

    [AFP]
  • A 200-ton shipment of Syrian chemicals once stockpiled to make weapons has arrived in Britain where it will be destroyed, AP reports.

    A Ministry of Defense spokesman on Tuesday described the materials as no more dangerous than industrial chemicals and said they were in Britain after a long operation to disable Syria's chemical weapons capability.

    Britain's Royal Navy played a role in escorting the shipments, part of an operation overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

  • At least five people have been killing in heavy bombardment by government troops in the town of al-Yadouda in the suburbs of Deraa, south of Syria, according to activists. Shelling using barrel bombs was also reported in the towns of Nawa and Deraa al-Balad.

    Meanwhile, rebel fighters in al-Sheikh Saad town in Deraa’s western countryside launched an attack against regime troops in the 61st Brigade, the last base of Assad forces in the area.

  • Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has rejected the declaration of an Islamist Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, saying it had "defects" that jihadist leaders should rectify, SITE Intelligence said Tuesday.

    The group, in a message dated July 4, also reiterated allegiance to overall Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al- Zawahiri, whose leadership appears to have been challenged by the recently declared Islamic State, according to the US-based monitoring group.

    It said there was still time "to rectify the defect in this announcement".

    The Islamic State (IS) has been fighting in Syria and Iraq and on June 29 proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling both countries and headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who now calls himself Caliph Ibrahim.

    IS fighters spearheaded a devastating military offensive by a coalition of Sunni armed groups that swept through large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

    "Why today... do they make such an announcement without the advice of the leaders of the mujahedeen... (whose) efforts to establish the rightly guided Caliphate were proven?" the statement asked.

    AQIM urged consultations among the leaders of various Al-Qaeda factions, including Zawahiri and Baghdadi, to "fix the defects inside the one house, away from the media".

    "We confirm that we still adhere to our pledge of allegiance to our sheikh and emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, since it is a sharia- (Islamic law) accorded pledge of allegiance," it said.

    Zawahiri in the past ordered Baghdadi to confine the work of his group to Iraq only, and designated its rival Al-Nusra Front as Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

    But Baghdadi has refused to budge.

    [AFP]
  • #Syria must not be forgotten. READ the latest report on our emergency response here: bit.ly/1nqVFhg
  • Syrian refugees in Europe: This has been home for these two & their mum for the last 6mnths http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BsQyx9SCMAAqH4U.jpg rfg.ee/zajY4

  • 'Islamic State' expels rivals from Syria city

    Islamic State group takes control of rebel-held portion of eastern Deir Ezzor city, according to activists.
  • Redur Khalil, Spokesman of PYD armed forces of YPG, said today that Islamic State (IS) has used chemical weapons and thermal bombs against YPG fighters in the recent fighting in Kaboneh region of Aleppo countryside.

     Naasan Ahmed, Minister of Health in ''PYD govt'' said that the medical check and tests on several bodies of YPG fighters who were killed in the recent clashes, prove the use of chemical weapons containing bacterial material. 

    Nassan added that they could not, depending on their own possibilities, specify the type of the materials accurately.

    Clashes have been intensified in Kobaneh region after IS got reinforcements of ammunitions and heavy military vehicles from Iraq.

     Last week, YPG called for support to repel IS assaults on Kobaneh and break the siege, and according to pro PYD media, dozens of Turkish Kurds have crossed the border illegally and joined YPG forces.



     

  • Activists are reporting ongoing tension between Turkish and Syrian residents in Kahramanmaras city in southern Turkey.

    Angry Turkish residents staged a protest on Sunday calling on Syrians to leave the country. They burnt Syrian-owned shops and cars.

    Activists say the tension soared following clashes ignited by a personal feud between Turkish and Syrian residents.

  • The UN Security Council has authorised humanitarian access without Syrian government consent at four border crossings into rebel-held areas from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, although Syria has warned it deems such deliveries an attack.

    Monday's unanimously adopted resolution establishes for 180 days a monitoring mechanism for the loading of aid convoys in neighbouring countries, which will notify Syrian authorities of the "humanitarian nature of these relief consignments."

    The shipments will travel through four different border crossings - two in Turkey (Bab a-Salam and Bab al-Hawa), one in Iraq (Al-Yarubiyah) and another in Jordan (Al-Ramtha).

    All of these border crossings fall outside the control of the Syrian government.

    "Aid access has to be authorised by the country receiving it," Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from New York, said.

    "This is a special measure by the UN, amid the growing humanitarian crisis," she said.

    Because of the restrictions and ongoing insecurity, 10.8 million Syrians need help, of which 4.7 million live in hard-to-reach areas trapped by the fighting or under siege by government troops or rebels.

    The United Nations accuses the Syrian regime of imposing bureaucratic and arbitrary obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    The Syrian government views aid entering the country without its approval as an "attack" on its sovereignty.

    Two of the 15 Security Council members that approved the resolution were Damascus's allies Russia and China, which have in the past used their veto on four Syria-related resolutions since the conflict began in March 2011,

    "These countries have always spoken about the need to keep Syria’s sovereignty", Saloomey said. "But it seems that there is now an agreement that the humanitarian crisis has gotten out of control, and that the UN would know best how to address it."
  • The UN Security Council authorises humanitarian aid access into rebel-held areas of Syria at four crossings from turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
  • Lebanon is at risk of crumbling as a state under the burden of 1.1 million Syrian refugees and foreign donors must make good on pledges of support to help it survive the crisis, the top UN official in the small coastal country warned on Monday.

    Political and religious leaders in Lebanon, both Sunni and Shia Muslim, so far have kept a lid on growing tensions but donor nations have not honoured aid commitments, said Ross Mountain, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator.

    "This is no longer just a humanitarian emergency," said Mountain. "It is what the former president (Michel Suleiman) described as an existential crisis for Lebanon. It's about the security of the country, the stability of the country and I would suggest what happens in Lebanon will affect the region."

    Over 1.12 million refugees from Syria's civil war next door have registered in Lebanon, accounting for one-quarter of its population and exacerbating a severe water shortage, Mountain said. The influx is expected to reach 1.5 million by year-end.

    "We fear (tensions) will expand even further and not only result in Syrian-Lebanese interactions but also unfortunately raise the spectre of Lebanese-Lebanese inter-sectarian problems," Mountain told a news briefing in Geneva.

    Syria's Sunni-Shia sectarian divisions are largely mirrored in Lebanon, where civil war raged from 1975 to 1990. Lebanese authorities have acknowledged the crisis, with the social affairs minister saying last week that the country faced political and economic collapse as the number of refugees threaten to exceed a third of the population.

    [Reuters]
  • Syrian Red Crescent trucks loaded with 1,000 food parcels crossed into a rebel-held Damascus suburb that has been besieged by government troops for more than two years as heavy clashes broke out between Syrian rebels and Hezbollah fighters near the Syria-Lebanon border.

    The border area has long been a flashpoint in the Syrian civil war.

    Since November, Syrian government troops, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, have been on the offensive in Syria's mountainous Qalamoun region, trying to clear it of opposition fighters.

    The government side has so far captured most towns and villages there but hundreds of rebels are still active in the rugged region.

    The latest clashes broke out on Sunday after Syrian rebels tried to infiltrate into Lebanon and clashed with Hezbollah fighters, said officials in eastern Lebanon, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

    They said the fighting, which took place near the Lebanese village of Youneen, ended at dawn on Monday after Hezbollah took control of the nearby hills.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting left seven Hezbollah fighters dead and 31 wounded. The activist group said 17 rebels were killed and 23 wounded, and that Hezbollah fighters captured 14 rebels.

    The Lebanese officials confirmed that a number of Hezbollah fighters were killed in the battles, without giving a figure.

    [AP]
  • The self-declared jihadist group, the Islamic State, took control of the rebel-held half of the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor Monday, buoyed by advances in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring group said.

    Rival rebel groups fighting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad either changed sides or fled from the strategic Euphrates valley city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

    Assad forces remain in control of the other half of the city, a provincial capital and pre-war hub of the country's oil industry.

    [AFP]
  • Jabhat Nusra and Islamic Front fighters are carrying out a campaign against several groups they accuse of smuggling and looting in the northern Aleppo countryside, activists reported.

    Jabhat Nusra is also carrying out a similar crackdown in Idlib province in border towns next toTurkey.

    The group says it is targeting "corrupted" factions and Islamic State group sleeper cells.
  • Activists are reporting heavy fighting between fighters from the Islamic State group and Kurdish militias in northern Syria, saying fighters have captured a dozen militiamen.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Turkey-based Kurdish activist Mustafa Osso say the clashes concentrated Sunday in the region of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab.

    The Observatory says 12 Kurdish fighters have been missing since Saturday during battles with the Islamic State group. 



  • Europe has taken in only a "minuscule" number of refugees from Syria and must do more to help the war-torn country's neighbours shoulder the burden, the UN's refugee agency said Friday.

    "We're calling on European countries to strengthen their response to the Syrian crisis," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    "We're urging states to ensure access to their territory, we're urging states to ensure fair and efficient asylum procedures," she told reporters.

    Since the conflict began in March 2011, around 123,600 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe, crossing land borders or making risky trips across the Mediterranean.

    Over half of the claims have been in Germany and Sweden, which were already among the most generous providers of a haven for refugees from around the globe, and are home to large Syrian communities.

    Under a UN programme, 17 countries have also offered almost 32,000 resettlement places for the most vulnerable refugees, but the UNHCR wants the number to be raised to 100,000 by 2016.

    [AFP]
  • A Syrian rebel commander has been shot dead in the Jordanian capital in the first such incident on the kingdom's territory since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, a police source said on Saturday.

    Maher Rahal, 27, who headed the Liwa al-Mujahideen Brigade, one of dozens of rebel formations battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces in southern Syria, was shot five times in a residential area of the capital late on Friday.

    He had entered Jordan only last week on a family visit. The police source said there was no evidence that his death was politically motivated, while relatives of Rahal linked the killing to an old tribal blood feud in his village of Inkhil, in southern Syria.

    [REUTERS]
  • The mother of a two-month-old Syrian baby rescued from the rubble of a bombed Aleppo building appealed on Saturday for help to raise her son.

    Mahmud Idlibi's dramatic rescue in the flashpoint northern city, a constant target of regime air raids, was shown in a video tweeted Friday by the team that saved him.

    The 30-second clip was posted by a group calling itself the "Aleppo civil defence", volunteers who operate in rebel-held areas of the city.
    It was also posted on YouTube. Initially the team mistakenly identified the child as a girl but an AFP
    correspondent met the mother and child on Saturday.

    The mother, Umm Mahmud, said her husband and daughter had been killed in an air raid in the southern Aleppo district of Al-Ansari that trapped the baby.

    "It was June 18. We were asleep when suddenly I heard a loud explosion. I passed out and woke up in hospital," she said.

    "My husband and daughter were killed," added the black-clad woman who has now been taken in by her brother in Aleppo's Al-Mashad district.

    "We desperately need help," she said, her infant son next to her. "We have nobody left."

    [AFP]
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