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Iran’s new strategy in Syria

By Ali Hashem for Al-MONITOR — For the past four years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been involved thoroughly in the developments taking place in Syria. The Iranian role reached its peak with the decision to defend the Syrian regime with all possible means, defining the war taking place …

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Syrian army captures area on Lebanon border: Hezbollah

Reuters- – The Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters captured a mountainous area on Syria’s border with Lebanon on Thursday and killed dozens of insurgents including from al Qaeda’s Nusra Front wing, a Hezbollah official told Reuters. The area, Assal al-Ward, is a strategic position that overlooks Lebanese border towns where …

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Qalamoun …The Boundaries of Worry

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE — By Safwan Dawood*- Translated by Hadi Nehme — Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah announced that his party will be in Syria “wherever it ought to be”, and a number of the party’s officials have repeatedly reiterated that Hezbollah militants have taken part in battles in Qalamoun. …

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Syria, A Human Tragedy

  Syria, A Human Tragedy  is a multimedia story on the four years of Syrian civil war. This comprehensive multimedia project done by the leading Slovenian daily Delo analyses the war itself, the humanitarian catastrophe that was sparked by it and the wider geostrategic context of the conflict that is seen by …

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ISIS launches assault on pro-Assad forces in western Syria

    By Kareem Shaheen  for The Guardian — Islamic State(ISIS) militants have killed dozens of pro-Assad regime fighters in a two-pronged offensive in western Syria that threatens the ancestral homes of the Ismailis, a minority Muslim sect, and which opposition activists fear Damascus will exploit to provoke fresh sectarian tensions. The …

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US still considering no-fly zone for Syria

By Barbara Slavin for Al-MONITOR – WASHINGTON — The retired Marine general in charge of mobilizing an international coalition against the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) says that the United States has not ruled out a no-fly zone or protected corridor in Syria to safeguard the thousands …

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ISIS under pressure as Kurds seize Syrian town

BY MARIAM KAROUNY – Source: Reuters – Kurdish forces dealt a blow to Islamic State by capturing an important town on Friday in the latest stage of a powerful offensive in northeast Syria, a Kurdish militia spokesman said. Islamic State has been forced into retreat across parts of the strategic …

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Kurdish fighters advance on ISIS-held Syrian town

Source: Associated Press – Syrian activists and Kurdish representatives say Kurdish fighters have captured dozens of villages following days of clashes with the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria. The Kurdish fighters, known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG, have been making territorial gains since capturing the Syrian border town …

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Syrian troops, Hezbollah launch major offensive near Golan

Source: Associated Press – BEIRUT: Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah fighters swept south of the capital Damascus Wednesday, seizing strategic hills and villages from rebels and a local Al-Qaeda affiliate near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. State media and opposition activists said the surprise counteroffensive aims at forcing back rebels who …

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Cyprus arrests Syrians for people trafficking

Source: Agence France Presse – NICOSIA: Cyprus police said they arrested two Syrians Friday on suspicion of immigrant smuggling and people trafficking during sweeps in the capital Nicosia and the coastal city of Limassol. The arrests come after authorities recently closed a camp that had temporarily housed some 345 Syrian …

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Two rockets from Syria strike Israeli-occupied Golan

Reuters – At least two rockets from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday and Israel returned fire, the military said, nine days after an Israeli air strike in Syria killed an Iranian general and several Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. An Israeli military spokesman said the army “responded with artillery …

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ISIS in fierce new attack on Kobani

Agence France Presse BEIRUT: ISIS launched a fierce new attack against Syrian Kurdish fighters in Kobani Friday, four months into a battle for the flashpoint town on Turkey’s border, an activist group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadis tried to break through the lines of the …

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ISIS kills 17 in Syria to avenge assassinations

Source: Agence France Presse – Jihadis have executed 17 men in recent days in areas they control in eastern and northern Syria to avenge a string of assassinations targeting their fighters, activists said Friday. “The Islamic State [ISIS] group has executed 16 men in Deir Al-Zor and one more in …

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UN envoy vows to press on for Aleppo truce

Agence France Presse – U.N. peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura Thursday vowed to press on with efforts for a truce in Aleppo, adding that wanted a resolution of the devastating conflict this year. De Mistura, a Swedish-Italian diplomat appointed as U.N. envoy on Syria in July, said the …

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Foreign fighters flow to Syria

An estimated 15,000 militants from at least 80 nations are believed to have entered Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad according the CIA and studies by ISCR and The Soufan Group. Many of these fighters are believed to have joined units that are now part of …

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Journey to Jihad

ٍٍSource: The New York Times – KUALA KETIL, Malaysia — A year ago, Mohd Lotfi Ariffin bid his family goodbye and headed for Syria, where he intended to fulfill what he saw as his religious duty fighting President Bashar al-Assad. He left behind his wife, their six children and his …

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ISIS loses ground to Kurds in Kobane

Source: AFP – ISIS militant group has lost ground in the Syrian border town of Kobane, where Kurdish fighters now control more than 60 percent of territory, a monitoring group said Saturday. The strategically located town on the border with Turkey has become a major symbol of resistance against ISIS, …

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Syria air strikes by US allies plunge

Reuters – As U.S. fighter jets pound Islamic State targets in Syria, Washington’s coalition allies appear increasingly absent from the air war. Although President Barack Obama’s administration announced the Syrian air strikes three months ago as a joint campaign by Washington and its Arab allies, nearly 97 percent of the …

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ISIS, Nusra clash near Lebanon border

Source: The Daily Star – Syrian army airstrikes against militant positions across the border from Lebanon’s northeastern town of Arsal killed 11 and wounded 17 Wednesday, a high-ranking Lebanese security source said, as clashes raged between rival jihadi groups in the Qalamoun region. The source said ISIS and Nusra Front …

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Russia to revive the political solution in Syria

The Levant – By Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh – The Russians have lately been dynamic and innovative in their diplomacy towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis. With the regional priorities shifting from political resolution to combating terrorism, the Russians are alone in continuing with this pursuit. Moscow has …

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Lebanon to launch refugee crisis response plan

The Daily Star – United Nations and Lebanese officials are meeting Monday to launch the 2015-16 Lebanon Crisis Response Plan to deal with the more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees the country is hosting. Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas and Ross Mountain, the U.N. resident coordinator in Lebanon, will discuss …

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IS turns against its own – punish deserters

THE LEVANT – Several foreign jihadists who joined the Islamic State in Syria but then tried to desert have faced arrest and execution at the hands of the radical group, activists said Friday. Those who have tried to flee are usually young and mostly non-Arabs who regretted joining the IS once …

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Assad says “real cooperation” needed to crush IS

THE LEVANT – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday that “international cooperation” was necessary to crush the Islamic State group, which is the target of a US-led campaign. “The region is going through decisive times” and the most important factor in determining the outcome is whether there is “real …

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Syrian hero boy video is a hoax

THE LEVANT – A viral video showing a Syrian boy rescuing a girl under gunfire, watched online by millions of viewers, was faked by a Norwegian film crew, according to its director. Posted on YouTube on Monday, the “Syrian hero boy” video was shot on location in Malta last summer …

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US-led air strikes hit Al Qaeda branch in Syria

THE LEVANT – US-led coalition air strikes hit Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch overnight, expanding the raids to jihadists outside the Islamic State group for only the second time, a monitoring group said on Thursday. The strikes against Al-Nusra Front in northwestern Syria killed several jihadists as well as two children, the …

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Some Kurds would have joined Daash

THE LEVANT – Ethnic Kurds are helping members of the Islamic State group in the battle for the key Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, sharing their knowledge of the local terrain and language with the extremists, according to Iraqi and Kurdish officials. It is not clear how many Kurds are …

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Daash systematically abuses Kurdish children

THE LEVANT – Islamic State militants tortured and abused Kurdish children captured earlier this year near the northern Syrian town of Kobani, beating them with hoses and electric cables, an international rights group said Tuesday. Human Rights Watch based its conclusions on interviews with several children who were among more …

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Al Qaida fighters push forth in north Syria

THE LEVANT – Al-Qaida-linked militants pressed an offensive Monday against Western-backed rebels in northern Syria, closing in on a vital border crossing with Turkey and exposing the weakness of mainstream opposition groups that the U.S. hopes to forge into a fighting force to take on Islamic extremists. The Nusra Front’s …

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Assad’ Syria, truncated, battered but defiant

THE LEVANT – Syrian businessmen start from scratch after their shops and factories were destroyed. Families who lost their homes struggle to rent new dwellings and make ends meet. Along highways stretching through government-controlled areas are the bombed ruins of once-rebellious towns, now dotted with checkpoints. Government-controlled Syria is truncated …

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