Syria: Putin renews call for political deal in Assad visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin has renewed his call for a political solution to the war in Syria, during a rare visit by the Syrian leader. Mr Putin told Bashar al-Assad the military campaign was “wrapping up”, but there was still “a long way to go”. A two-year Russian air campaign has given Syria a clear upper hand in the civil war, which began in 2011. The meeting comes ahead of talks between Syria’s allies Russia and Iran, and Turkey, which backs the rebels. The three powers have increasingly co-operated in…

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Syria war: US disappointed at Russia’s Syria stance

The US is “disappointed but not surprised” at Russia’s response to its strikes on a Syrian air base suspected of storing chemical weapons. At least six people are reported to have been killed in the US missile strikes early on Friday. Syria’s ally Russia accused the US of encouraging “terrorists” with its unilateral actions. “I’m disappointed in that response,” said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “It indicates their continued support for the Assad regime and, in particular, their continued support for a regime that carries out these type of…

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UoPeople receives $1m for Syria scholarships

The University of the People, a non-profit, tuition-free online university based in the US, has received a $1m donation from Fondation Hoffmann, a Swiss foundation supporting projects in sustainable development and education, towards scholarships for Syrian refugees. The university delivers full, accredited degrees online. Beckie graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Japanese, during which she lived in Kyoto for a year. She can often be found debating feminism, politics and the media or looking for the best gin cocktails in London. She’s addicted to Spotify and is currently listening to…

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Syria peace talks near collapse as opposition declares pause

Syrian peace talks came close to collapse on Monday, with the mainstream opposition announcing a pause in talks at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, although it agreed to keep its negotiating team in the city. The Western-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said in a letter to rebel fighters that government military advances meant a ceasefire was effectively over and it was calling a postponement in the talks. Rebels, who accuse the government of breaking the ceasefire to try to recapture the northern city of Aleppo, announced an offensive…

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Iran says concerned by cracks in Syria truce

Iran is concerned that an uptick in violations of Syria’s ceasefire could harm planned peace talks this week aimed at ending the five-year-old civil war, a deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the comments, cited in state news agency IRNA, after speaking to United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, who arrived in Tehran after holding meetings with Syria’s foreign minister in Damascus on Monday. “One of our main concerns in Syria is the increasing activities of armed groups in recent days and the increase…

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U.N. alarmed at attacks on Syria hospitals, schools; nearly 50 dead

People gather near what is said to be a hospital damaged by missile attacks in Azaz, Aleppo, Syria, February 15, 2016 in this still image taken from a video on a social media website. REUTERS/SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITE VIA REUTERS United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday voiced alarm at reports of deadly attacks on Syrian schools and hospitals, including a medical center run by the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), a U.N. spokesman said. “The secretary-general is deeply concerned by reports of missile attacks on at least five medical…

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Missile strikes on north Syria schools, hospitals kill 50: UN

Air strikes have hit at least five medical facilities and two schools in northern Syria, killing 50 people, the United Nations said Monday, calling the attacks “blatant violations of international law.” The United States also condemned the attacks on civilian targets, which it said included two hospitals in the Aleppo area — a Medecins Sans Frontieres facility and the Women`s and Children`s Hospital in Aziz city. The upsurge in violence comes just days after international powers, meeting in Munich, proposed a “cessation of hostilities” within a week as a step…

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EU’s Mogherini says no Cold War with Russia as Syria truce agreed

The European Union`s senior diplomat said on Monday there was no Cold War climate between Moscow and the West as they agreed to a pause in the fighting in Syria, although Russia`s prime minister said tension was growing. At a security conference in Munich on Friday, world powers agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” that would let humanitarian aid be delivered in Syria and was envisaged to start this week. But a day later Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the gathering that Moscow and the West had “fallen into…

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