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Syria

When America’s moderates act radical

THE LEVANT – Yesterday, an Antiochian Orthodox priest was kidnapped by Jabhat Al-Nusra from his monastery outside of the west Idlib city of Jisr Al-Shughour. Sources in the area confirmed the kidnapping of Father Hanna Moussa of Qanaya from the St. Joseph Monastery by members of the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist …

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Turkey And The Kobane Question

The Levant Exclusive – by Samantha North* Istanbul’s protestors are out in force once more. Last night, the streets erupted, with cars blazing, windows smashed, and volleys of the usual tear gas unleashed by Turkish police. But this was not just another anti-government protest. This time, much more is at …

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Assad’s troops seize strategic area outside Damascus

THE LEVANT -Syrian government forces on Monday seized control of a strategic area outside Damascus used by rebels to fire mortar shells at the capital, state media and a monitor said. State television broadcast live images from Dakhaniyeh, southeast of Damascus, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that …

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Twin blasts kill 30 Kurdish fighters in Syria: monitor

THE LEVANT – Twin truck bombings by jihadists killed at least 30 Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters and security officers on Monday in Syria’s northeastern town of Hasakeh, a monitoring group said. “At least 30 members of the YPG and asayesh were killed when two Islamic State suicide bombers …

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“My Syrian brother, you are welcome in Lebanon”: Activists meet discrimination against refugees with solidarity

THE LEVANT – Insults, attacks and curfews have become commonplace experiences for some Syrian war refugees in Lebanon, with rights watchdogs saying the community faces growing discrimination. In many parts of the country, it is no longer unusual to see posters prohibiting “foreigners” – understood to mean Syrians – from …

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Syria troops threaten rebel supply route to Aleppo

THE LEVANT  – Syrian troops have seized a village just north of Aleppo that could allow them to cut off a supply line to rebel-held districts of the country’s second city, a monitoring group said Friday. Soldiers, backed by fighters from Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, took Handarat, four kilometres (2.5 …

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At UN, Syria closes the door on peace talks

THE LEVANT – Syria will not begin talks to end the three-and-a-half-year war while Islamist militants are rampaging through the country, the foreign minister told the United Nations on Monday. “We cannot start any political solution while terrorism is still rampant in Syria,” Foreign Minister Walid Mualem told the UN …

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Syrian Rebel Leader Evades Assassination in Idlib

THE LEVANT – The leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front, Jamal Ma’arouf, suffered minor injuries today, after the Syrian Air Force bombardment of Deir Sanbal in the Idlib Governate. An SRF officer and Jamal Ma’arouf’s lead deputy, Mohammad Faisal Ma’arouf (AKA Abu Ja’afar Al-Malek) were killed during the attack. According to Syrian Opposition activists, Jamal Ma’arouf’s daughter was among the casualties, following …

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Brothers against Brothers

THE LEVANT  -Syrian refugee Ibrahim Abbas Ali and his family awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of gunfire outside their tent in Lebanon, and for a second time they raced off into the fields, fleeing a war that now seems to have followed them across the …

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Obama says ready to strike ISIL in Syria

THE LEVANT – US President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered a “relentless” war against the Islamic State, including air strikes in Syria and expanded operations in Iraq to “destroy” the marauding jihadist army. Obama — who hoped to go down in history for ending wars, not starting an open-ended escalation …

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Historic buildings blown up in Syria’s Aleppo

THE LEVANT – Several historic buildings, including a colonial-era structure, have been blown up in Syria’s second city of Aleppo, where fighting has wrought massive destruction, reports said Wednesday, September 3. Rebel fighters destroyed “several old buildings on Tuesday night by placing explosives in a tunnel leading under the Old …

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72 Hour Ceasefire Announced in Darayya

THE LEVANT – The Syrian Arab Army and representatives of the Islamic Front have agreed to a 72 hour ceasefire in the Darayya District, after heavy clashes  the last two days. The ceasefire was called in order for the two parties to negotiate a reconciliation agreement that would permanently end the violence and restore …

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Rebels attack peacekeepers in Golan Heights

THE LEVANT – Clashes erupted between al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels and U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Saturday after the militants surrounded their encampment, activists and officials said, as the international organization risked being sucked further into the conflict. Other U.N. peacekeepers were able to flee from a different encampment that …

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Syrian refugee crisis reaches all-time high

THE LEVANT – The number of refugees from the conflict in Syria now tops three million, the United Nations said Friday, as US President Barack Obama admitted he still has no strategy to tackle advancing jihadists. UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Syria had become the “biggest humanitarian emergency …

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Breaking News – Heavy clashes in Golan Heights – video

THE LEVANT – Syrian activists say government warplanes are targeting rebels near the country’s frontier with Israel in the Golan Heights, a day after opposition fighters captured a crossing point there. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Syrian airstrikes struck several areas near the border in Quneitra province, …

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Syria’s Christians stand in the line of fire

THE LEVANT – Jabhat Al-Nusra has began their siege of the Christian village of Mhardeh, two days after their capture of Halfaya in the Hama Governate. Mhardeh is an imperative city that is the gateway to the provincial capital of Hama from the north. The summer offensive for Jabhat Al-Nusra began …

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UN worries over Syria

THE LEVANT – The Syrian government has likely used chlorine gas to attack civilians while the Islamic State group has committed crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians in two provinces in the country, an independent U.N. commission said Wednesday. The report from the commission, which has been tasked to investigate …

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Syria retaliates against Israel?

THE LEVANT – “At least five rockets fired from Syria hit different locations across the Golan Heights,” the Israeli army said in a statement on Sunday. An army spokeswoman told AFP that it was not known who launched the rockets and the Israeli military did not return fire. She said there …

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Fighting rages on at Syrian airbase – video

THE LEVANT – Fighters from the Islamic State group have taken over an air base in northeast Syria, capturing it from government forces after fighting that cost more than 500 lives, a monitoring group and state media have said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a London-based monitoring group, said at least 346 Islamic State …

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West poised to join Syria against Islamists

THE LEVANT –  By Patrick Cockburn – Islamist forces are fighting their way into western Syria from bases further east, bringing forward the prospect of US military intervention to stop their advance. If Isis, which styles itself Islamic State, threatens to take all or part of Aleppo, establishing complete dominance over …

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