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Syria Blog

Updates on the situation in Syria, as attacks on ISIL by the US and its allies add a new dimension to the civil war that began in 2011 and has killed more than 190,000 people.


  • The United States sought on Friday to persuade the Syrian opposition to agree to attend international peace talks in Geneva a day before President Bashar al-Assad's opponents gather to decide on the issue, opposition sources said.

    US envoy Robert Ford met the senior leadership of the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul to push them to approve the talks, which aim to end Syria's two-year-old civil war by creating a transitional governing body, coalition members said.

    But there were strong reservations in the coalition against giving blanket commitments, the opposition members said, and tension between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the main backers of the coalition, was adding to the uncertainty.

    Riyadh has expressed disappointment with US policy toward Syria in the wake of a deal between Moscow and Washington to destroy Assad's chemical weapons arsenal that averted the threat of a Western military strike.

    The 108 member coalition, which has little influence on the most formidable brigades fighting Assad, is due to meet on Saturday in Istanbul, with Geneva as the main item for discussions.

    The meeting, expected to last at least two days, will also vote on admitting 11 new Kurdish members who are seen in favour of Geneva.

    [REUTERS]


  • Syria's opposition is to meet on Saturday in Istanbul for key talks to decide whether or not to attend the Geneva 2 conference.

    UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi angered President Assad's key opposition the Syrian National Coalition this week, when he blamed a divided opposition for new delays to the talks.

    "There should be two delegations from Syria for Geneva 2 - the government and the opposition," Brahimi said on Tuesday. But, he added, "the opposition is divided and not ready... the opposition has problems".

    On Wednesday the SNC urged Brahimi to "adhere to neutrality and not stray from what is acceptable in political discourse."

    [AFP]
  • Syrian rebels have regained control of a strategic base near Aleppo international airport in fierce fighting that left more than 50 people dead, a monitoring group has said.

    Troops backed by fighters from Lebanese group Hezbollah had recaptured large parts of Base 80 outside Syria's main northern city in an assault on Friday morning, before rebel fighters, among them al-Qaeda loyalists, counter-attacked after dark, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    "As a result of the fighting, the rebels and jihadists have retaken the parts of the base that were captured during the day by the army," the watchdog's director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

    He said the fighting had left at least 53 people dead, 33 on the rebel side and 20 on the government side. [AFP]

    Clashes between rebels and government forces erupted near Aleppo on Friday [AFP] 
    by AJE Staff

  • The clashes, which happened when Syrian rebels retook a strategic base in the
    northern Aleppo province on Saturday,  killed at least 53 people -- 33 rebels and 20 loyalists.
    - [AFP]
    REUTERS/Molhem Barakat 
    by Ismaeel Naar


  • According to activists, hundreds of residents from Damascus' southern suburbs flee form their areas to government-held areas through the al-Yarmouk Camp crossing, which is a crossing way between government and rebels areas. 

    Most of these residents, shown in the video below, are form the southern towns of Yalda, al-Hajar al-Aswad, Speneh and al-Hijera where government forces launched a heavy assault.

    توافد أعداد كبيرة من أهالي المناطق المحاصرة في جنوب دمشق للخروج عبر معبر مخيم اليرموك فجر press
    FAJER PRESS

  • At least 30 journalists have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Syria by extremists or taken captive by gangs, The Associated Press has reported.

    The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 30 journalists are being held and 52 have been killed since Syria's civil war began in early 2011. held and 52 have been killed since Syria's civil war began in early 2011. The group also has documented at least 24 other journalists who disappeared earlier this year but are now safe.

    "It is vital that journalists witness and tell the story of the Syrian civil war,'' said John Daniszewski, senior managing editor for international news at The Associated Press. "However, the impunity with which journalists are attacked and kidnapped in this conflict means that we must be doubly cautious. It is not an arena for novices, and extreme care needs to be exercised to obtain the news. At the same time, actors in the civil war must acknowledge and protect the right of journalists to cover it fairly and accurately as a basic human right.''

    [AP]
  • Hello and good morning from Doha. I'll be working the live blog for the next few hours. Please feel free to email me at graeme.baker@aljazeera.com with any questions, additions to information on this blog or updates.

    Carrying on from the last post, the internet list website, Buzzfeed, has produced information about 10 of the journalists missing in Syria. You can view it here: www.buzzfeed.com
  • Syrian rebels claim to have captured a huge arms cache in Mahin, in this video uploaded to Youtube on November 9. Al Jazeera cannot verify the video but it does look like a serious amount of kit.

  • The international news website, Vice news, has what it says is a video interview with British men fighting with al-Qaeda affiliated groups in the north of Syria. While I can't verify this as a legitimate interview, the terrain in the video appears to place them in the area, and indeed you can't walk around many places with the weapons and the flags they are carrying without attracting attention.



    Two English-accented men speak on the video. It was published days after security chiefs in the UK estimated that hundreds of men had travelled to Syria to fight for al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
  • The Jordan Times reports that Lebanon has started vaccinating all children under five against polio, following a confirmed outbreak of the crippling disease last month in Syria. That's apparently 750,000 people. UNICEF's representative in Jordan told the newspaper they would go "house by house, tent by tent". You can read more here: jordantimes.com
  • This according to the AP news agency:

    Syrian activists say government officials and rebels have reached a deal to ease a month-long blockade on the rebel-held town of Qudsaya.

    The Qudsaya Media Team said early on Sunday that the deal was made between local elders and officials for President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been blockading Qudsaya. The British-based Syrian Observatory  for Human Rights said late on Saturday that the deal allowed food to enter.

  • A rebel fighter takes aim in Aleppo [Aleppo Media Centre] 
    by Graeme Baker

    This from Reuters news agency:


    Syria's opposition wants approval from fighters inside the country to agree to international peace talks in Geneva to give the process more legitimacy, sources at talks have said.

    The leadership of the Syrian National Coalition is meeting to agree its stance on the so-called "Geneva 2" talks, which aim to end Syria's two-and-a-half year civil war by creating a transitional governing body.

    A draft resolution reaffirms the coalition's commitment to a political solution to the conflict and echoes a declaration in London last month by the Friends of Syria pro-opposition alliance, ruling out any role for President Bashar al-Assad in a transitional administration, opposition sources said.

    The 108-member coalition is to due vote on the resolution, with 50 percent plus one vote needed for it to pass. But opposition sources said coalition members want to seek the backing of rebel fighting units, community leaders and activists inside Syria for the resolution, to counter criticism that it is out of touch with those battling on the ground.

    Major rebel brigades have declared their opposition to the Geneva process if the conference does not result in Assad's removal and some have said they would charge anyone who attended the planned international talks with treason.

    "We have to share this (draft resolution) with the forces inside, as well as community leaders and activists. We need to confirm this with them," said one member of the Syrian National Council, a grouping within the coalition.

    He said the resolution already contained tough conditions for participation in the conference, but those on the ground might want to tighten them further.


  • Syrian regime troops have regained full control of  a key base in northern Aleppo  province near its Aleppo international airport, state  television said Sunday, after several days of clashes with rebels.

    "Our brave armed forces have complete  control over Base 80," state television said in a breaking news alert.

    [AFP]

  • A Syrian rebel fires a weapon towards Syrian government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian troops loyal to the al-Assad regime have been clashing with rebel groups for several days in the area. [AP Photo/SANA] 
    by Ismaeel Naar


  • In the videos below, activists say footage shows Syrian rebels targeting government forces with rockets.

    لواء التوحيد :: ضرب شاحنة تحمل العشرات من الشبيحة داخل اللواء 80 بصاروخ السهم الاحمر
    by lewaa tawheed via YouTube on 1:50 PM

    أروع مقطع لضرب دبابة و عربة BMB بصاروخ السهم الأحمر في اللواء 80
    by lewaa tawheed via YouTube on 1:50 PM

    Government forces have made a series of recent gains in the Aleppo province as they captured Khanaser, Safira and Al Azyzia and move on to Aleppo city.

    Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the footage.


  • The following from AFP news agency:

    Syria's fractious opposition coalition announced Sunday it will not attend mooted peace
    talks in Geneva unless it received the backing of rebels on the ground.

    Spokesman Khaled Saleh, speaking to reporters in Istanbul on the second day of a coalition meeting there, said the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) "are on the same side and we are fighting a common enemy".

    "If we are going to be in Geneva, they are going to be part of that  delegation. They have as much interest in a successful and free democratic  Syria as we do."

    The opposition coalition's gathering was meant to forge a common position on the
    Geneva talks, which world powers want held to find a negotiated solution to Syria's conflict.

    But rivalries, disagreements and disparate ambitions have splintered the opposition. And rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's troops are split between the FSA and Al-Qaeda linked guerrillas.

    Saleh said the Turkey-based coalition would send two delegations into Syria to discuss with FSA leaders and civilian groups the prospect of participating in the Geneva talks.

    The coalition was also continuing to work on a statement setting out its formal
    position on the talks, he said.

  • Government officials and rebels reached a deal to ease a weeks-long blockade on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital on Sunday, allowing food to reach civilians there for the first time in weeks, activists said.

    The truce is the latest to be struck in recent months between President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebel groups throughout the war-ravaged country.

    It comes as the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group was holding the second of two days of meetings in Istanbul to decide whether to attend a proposed peace conference the US and Russia are trying to convene in Geneva by the end of this year.

    [AP]
  • According to the following Reuters report:

    Syrian forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants recaptured an army base in northern Syria from rebels on Sunday, the third day of heavy fighting for the strategic military target which has changed hands three times since Friday.

    State media and activists said President Bashar al-Assad's forces were in full control of the 80th Brigade base, which lies just a few hundred metres north of Aleppo airport on the eastern edge of the disputed city.

    They also made gains to the south of the airport, advancing in the town of Tel Arn after a succession of victories over the mainly Islamist rebels holding the south-eastern approaches to Syria's former commercial hub.

    Rebels have held roughly half of Aleppo since storming into the city in July last year, holding off a government counter-offensive and consolidating their control over rural areas and the northern border with Turkey.
  • Syrian opposition agrees to participate in Geneva peace talks a statement by the Syrian National Coalition has said.

    [Reuters]
  • The Syrian political opposition has agreed to participate in international peace talks in Geneva, the Syrian National Coalition said in a statement

    The statement, released early on Monday, outlined conditions that must be met before the talks, which aim to end Syria's two-and-a-half year civil war, by creating a transitional governing body.


    More here.

  • Tension between Sunni and Shia Muslims is the biggest threat to world security, Iran's foreign minister has said.

    Mohammad Javad Zarif told the BBC in comments published on Monday, "I think we need to come to understand that a sectarian divide in the Islamic world is a threat to all of us," in reference to the potential spillover of the war in Syria.

    Zarif called for regional powers to come together to try to solve the Syria conflict.

    "This business of fear-mongering has been a prevalent business," he said. "Nobody should try to fan the flames of sectarian violence. We should reign it in, bring it to a close, try to avoid a conflict that would be detrimental to everybody's security." [Reuters]

    Iranian FM Zarif said that sectarian tension is the biggest threat to world security [File: Reuters] 
    by AJE Staff

  • Human Rights Watch has published a report on Monday claiming that the Egyptian government has been detaining Syrian refugees, and forcing them to leave the country. Click here to read the full report.

    Egypt has detained over 1,500 refugees from Syria, including at least 400 Palestinians and 250 children as young as two months old, for weeks and sometimes months. Security officials have acknowledged that the refugees will be held indefinitely until they leave the country.

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the participation of Syria's opposition in mooted peace talks in Geneva would be a "big step".

    "We take note of the fact that yesterday the Syrian opposition voted to go to the Geneva II. This is a big step forward and a significant one," he said. [AFP]
  • Louay Safi, a spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition, spoke to Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught about what has - or has not - been decided on Geneva 2. Part of the interview is copied below:

    Anita McNaught: We’re seeing a statement this morning the Syrian Opposition Coalition has agreed to participate in Geneva. Is this correct? Do we have a final agreement on participation and the form of the participation?

    Louay Safi: Not yet, not yet. We are still revising the drafts of our communiqué and our vision for Geneva 2. There is a ‘Vision Statement’ that will be voted on and released today – after a vote by our General Assembly. But the vote has not taken place. The document has been presented to the General Assembly - they asked for some modifications. The modifications have been done. Today they will see the most recent draft.

    Anita: Is it possible that changes could be made again? Is it possible that when it comes to a final vote, they will not agree on the document we have?

    Safi: We might see that. We might see that people might ask for additional modifications, although most likely based on our previous discussions this might be the final version. But nothing is certain at this point.

    Anita: In general terms, where is the Syrian opposition – if you can speak for a wider group – where do they stand on the issue of how they will deal with the Syrian regime? Will they now sit across the table with the Syrian regime at a Geneva 2 conference, whenever that happens?

    Safi: We will sit with individuals representing that regime. Provided these are not implicated in crimes against humanity. Provided they have not been commanding forces that have killed civilians and targeted population centres. And we would like to negotiate on something that is very clear: That is the Geneva Communiqué [Geneva 1, agreed under Kofi Anan], which talks about setting a transitional government. So we will go there to set up a transitional government and to start a new phase of the history of Syria - more open, more democratic and more respectful of human rights. 
  • Human Rights Watch has called on the international community to condemn the Syrian government for using incendiary weapons.

    Incendiary weapons are classified as conventional and they have caused more deaths in Syria than chemical weapons, which the government is believed to have used on August 21.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr brings us this report from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon.

    HRW condems incendiary weapons use in Syria
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 7:58 AM


  • The following report from AP news agency:

    Dozens of Syrians from Beit Jin, near the Golan Heights, have crossed into Lebanon to escape clashes between armed rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar Assad's government.

    On Monday, Lebanese Red Cross paramedics gave medical assistance to the refugees, who had crossed rough, mountainous terrain to reach the village of Chebaa.

    Their arrival came after a coalition of Syria-based opposition groups warned that a proposed international peace conference to negotiate an end to the three-year conflict might be the "last chance" for a solution.

    The statement by the Coalition of Forces for Peaceful Change is the latest call of support for the talks, which the US and Russia are trying to convene in Geneva by the end of the year.
  • Syria's main opposition group said it will attend peace talks on the condition that President Bashar al-Assad transfers power and is excluded from any transition process.

    In a statement issued after meetings in Istanbul, the key National Coalition said it would attend peace talks in Geneva "on the basis of a full transfer of power."

    Speaking in Abu Dhabi, US Secretary of State John Kerry said any decision by the opposition to take part in talks in Geneva would be a "big step."

    Monday's statement also calls for the establishment of humanitarian aid corridors and for the release of prisoners. "The Coalition also requires that prior to the conference, aid convoys from the Red Cross and Red Crescent and other aid groups be granted continued access
    to besieged areas," the statement said. And it demands "the release of detainees, especially women and children," without providing additional details.

    A final date for the peace conference is yet to be set.

    [AFP]
  • Syrian opposition has picked an interim government.

    The National Coalition unveiled "list of ministers" and set conditions for taking part in Geneva peace talks.

    Syrian opposition picks interim government
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 8:15 AM


  • A girl rides a bicycle amidst damaged buildings and vehicles along a street in the besieged area of Homs November 11, 2013 [Reuters/Thaer Al Khalidiya]
    by Yermi Brenner

  • The UN is starting the largest-ever polio vaccination campaign in the Middle East after an outbreak of the disease was detected in Syria.

    The UN plans to immunise more than 20 million children in seven countries, including Lebanon.

    While no cases of polio have been reported in Lebanon, half of the country's 800,000 Syrian refugees are children, and many have not been vaccinated against polio since they arrived.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Beirut.

    Polio vaccination drive begins in Middle East
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube on 9:45 AM

  • Reuters photographer Saad Abobrahim spent time with an unnamed fighter of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo,  documenting how the young man spent his time in between the battles.

    A Free Syrian Army fighter in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district in a moment of rest between battles with government forces [Reuters/Saad Abobrahim]  
    by Yermi Brenner
    by Yermi Brenner
    by Yermi Brenner
    A Free Syrian Army fighter in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district taking his energy out on a worn down punching bag [Reuters/Saad Abobrahim]  
    by Yermi Brenner
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  • Armed men on a motorcycle have shot and killed a Lebanese Sunni Muslim religious leader who supported the Hezbollah group in the northern city of Tripoli, security sources say.

    Saadeddine Ghiyyeh, an official in the Islamic Action Front, was shot multiple times in his car as he was leaving home on Tuesday.

    A photo on the National News Agency's website appeared to show Ghiyyeh lying face down in his car with a head wound.

    Tripoli has seen on-off clashes between Sunni Muslim fighters who support a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect, which is an offshoot of Shia Islam.

    Ghiyyeh was a Sunni, but supported Hezbollah, and was close to prominent pro-Assad figures in Tripoli. In September, he was wounded when his car exploded moments after he parked it.

    - Reuters

  • Syrian troops clashed with rebels in the southern outskirts of Damascus, activists said, in a flare-up that is part of a weeks-long government push to advance and retake opposition-held areas.

    The latest fighting centered around the suburb of Hejeira, one of a patchwork of sprawling neighbourhoods and towns south of the Syrian capital that have been opposition strongholds for the past year.

    The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activist on the ground, and a spokeswoman for a Damascus-based Syrian rebel council said President Bashar Assad's troops were backed by Shia fighters from Iraq and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

    The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for her safety.

    Emboldened Assad troops have in recent weeks made advances on the battlefield, taking back at least four strongholds in the northern province of Aleppo and south of Damascus.

    This week, government forces recaptured the town of Sbeineh, adjacent to Hejeira.

    [AP]
  • Syria's Al-Watan newspaper, considered close to the regime, criticised the government  for failing to better address the devastation in the country's second city of Aleppo.

    The rare criticism comes as government troops make progress in Aleppo province, retaking the town of Sfeira, southeast of Aleppo city and discussing the possibility of reopening Aleppo's airport after nearly a year of closure.

    The newspaper said the government of Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi had failed to dispatch its economic team to Aleppo city "despite the invitation of the governor and the improvement in the security situation, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian army and resistance of the residents in the face of terrorists."

    The regime and its media outlets use the term "terrorists" for the
    opposition.

    Al-Watan said Electricity Minister Imad Khamis, who visited Aleppo on Monday, "finally returned to the city a year after the last visit by a minister."

    "The people want the government to show more interest in their city. They are waiting for visits from the prime minister and other ministers to examine the situation, which has improved somewhat," it added.

    Once Syria's economic powerhouse, the city of Aleppo in the north of the
    country has been devastated by more than a year of fighting between rebel forces and regime troops.

    Both the opposition and the regime control parts of the city, with neither side able to make much progress despite months of fighting.

    [AFP]
  • Rebel mortar fire on several government-held districts of the Syrian capital wounded at least 16 people, state media reported.

    "Mortar  rounds fired by terrorists struck around Shallal Square in the Mazraa neighbourhood, wounding 10 people and damaging cars," the official SANA news agency said.

    A Palestinian armed group allied to President Bashar al-Assad's
    government said five of its members were among those wounded in Mazraa.

    Mortar fire struck a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General
    Command office near the Central Bank of Syria, PFLP-GC spokesman Anwar Rajah said.

    Elsewhere in the capital, mortar fire wounded six people near a Red
    Crescent hospital and a market, SANA reported.
  • Syrian Kurds in the country's northeast announced the formation of a transitional autonomous administration on Tuesday after making key territorial gains against jihadists in recent weeks.

    But several major Kurdish groups have not signed on to the declaration, which had originally been mooted in July.

    The latest announcement comes amid a general strengthening of Kurdish rights in neighbouring Turkey, and increasing moves towards independence by Iraq's own autonomous Kurdish region.

    "Today is an important day in the history of the Kurdish people," said Shirzad Izidi, a spokesman for the People's Council of Western Kurdistan, a Syrian Kurdish group.

    "What has been announced today is the beginning of implementing an interim administration in the ares of West Kurdistan," he continued, referring to the commonly used name for Syria's Kurdish areas.

    The announcement was made after talks in the mostly Kurdish town of Qamishli days earlier and involves the division of Syria's Kurdish region into three areas, each with its own local assembly, as well as representatives to a regional executive body.

    The administration has been tasked with preparing local and general elections, along with handling an array of political, military, security and economic issues.

    But the fact that the newly formed authority lacks the backing of several key parties has raised questions over whether it will be long-lasting.

    Currently, the transitional authority is formed by the powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and several other smaller groupings, but not the Kurdish National Council, which includes a broad spectrum of parties.

    Kurdish regions of northern Syria have been administered by local Kurdish councils since forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad withdrew in the middle of 2012.

    [AFP]
  • The prospect of Syria's chemical weapons being dismantled in Albania caused protests in the capital Tirana on Tuesday, exposing a rare dent in the NATO member's loyalty to the United States.

    Hundreds protested in front of the US embassy in the Adriatic republic, chanting "Albania is ours" and holding banners that read "Yes, we can say 'No'".

    Albania has been named in several foreign media reports as a potential destination for the weapons, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has pledged to get rid of as he seeks to turn the tide of international opinion in a more than two-year civil war.

    [Reuters]
  • The Syrian opposition's provisional prime minister said that civil order, security and basic human needs are to be the top priorities in zones under rebel control.

    Ahmed Tomeh said his government would be one of "work and not words... and will have as its top priorities establishing security and civil order in the liberated zones of Syria and to respond to vital needs."

    He was speaking in Istanbul following the announcement of a transitional government composed of nine ministers. Insisting that security was "at the top of priorities," he confirmed his team's commitment to the "general policies of the (National) Coalition," the main opposition alliance.

    He said his people would work to "activate the role of local councils to administer cities, towns and villages and respond to the needs of citizens."

    He said they would also set up a special agency to provide aid to Palestinian refugees inside Syria and abroad.

    [AFP]
  • Activists group, Sana Al-Thawra says that several people have been killed in twin car bomb blasts in Al-Tadamon neighbourhood in Damascus. Another blast has targeted a gathering of the regime forces in Al-Tadamoun neighbourhood.

    [Activist group, Sana Al-Thawra]

  • An opposition fighter fires as he holds a position with fellow comrades in the 
    northeastern
    Syrian city of Deir Ezzor [AFP/Ahmad Aboud]
    by Safeeyah Kharsany


    by Safeeyah Kharsany edited by Basma Atassi 11/13/2013 12:04:09 PM
  • The Syrian army advanced on the rebel-held northern village of Tal Hassel, a monitor said, as self-described jihadist rebels in nearby Aleppo called for mass mobilisation to counter the offensive.

    Fighting raged at Tal Hassel, located about 12 kilometres from Aleppo, the country's pre-war commercial hub, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    [AFP]
  • Former Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said the planned international conference on Syria, the so-called Geneva II talks, is the only way to solve the crisis in his country.

    Now leader of the Syrian Popular Front for Change and Liberation, Jamil was speaking at a news conference in Moscow after he had met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, according to Russian media.

    He criticised some opposition leaders for attempting to undermine the conference, and stated that "dialogue has to be developed" so that "Syrians can find the political solution" to the turmoil there, and so that the "level of violence is lowered."

    Jamil also commented on those who have been discussing the participation of President Bashar Assad in any possible Presidential elections, saying they were trying to split the country.

    [AP]
  • Syrian government forces are advancing on rebel positions in the northern city of Aleppo.

    In response, opposition fighters have called for reinforcements to be sent to the frontlines.

    Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports.

  • The main Syrian opposition alliance has dubbed as "hostile" Kurdish forces that control large swathes of the country's north.

    Kurdish armed groups, dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), sister party of veteran Turkish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), have held the Afrin region of northwestern Syria and big chunks of the northeast for more than a year.

    On Monday, they announced that after talks in Qamishli, on the Turkish border, they had decided to declare provisional self-rule in areas under their control, modelling neighbouring Iraq, where the Kurds have had nominal autonomy from Baghdad since 1970.
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