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This is a 2013 blog on Syria - for the latest updates from Reuters please go to our current live blog at http://live.reuters.com/Event/The_battle_for_Syria


Syrian refugee children play in Sidon, southern Lebanon March 6, 2013. A 19-year-old mother of two registered on Wednesday as the millionth refugee to flee Syria, part of an accelerating exodus that is piling pressure on neighboring host countries. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho 
by anthony.derosaon Mar 6, 2013 at 5:20 PM
 A Syrian refugee child poses for a picture in Sidon, southern Lebanon March 6, 2013. A 19-year-old mother of two registered on Wednesday as the millionth refugee to flee Syria, part of an accelerating exodus that is piling pressure on neighboring host countries. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho 
by anthony.derosaon Mar 6, 2013 at 5:21 PM
Syrian refugee children stand inside their a tent at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, March 6, 2013. UNHCR said the number of Syrians quitting their country has increased dramatically since the beginning of the year with more than 400,000 - nearly half the total - leaving since January 1. Most have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt and some to North Africa and Europe, arriving traumatised, without possessions and having lost relatives, it said. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 
by anthony.derosaon Mar 6, 2013 at 5:22 PM
 Sawssan Abdelwahab, who fled Idlib in Syria, walks with her children outside the refugees camp near the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern city of Yayladagi February 16, 2012. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
by anthony.derosaon Mar 6, 2013 at 5:24 PM
A Syrian refugee woman waits her turn to get water in Sidon, southern Lebanon March 6, 2013. A 19-year-old mother of two registered on Wednesday as the millionth refugee to flee Syria, part of an accelerating exodus that is piling pressure on neighboring host countries. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho 
by anthony.derosaon Mar 6, 2013 at 5:21 PM
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  • Former Syrian Defence Minister General Hassan Ali Turkmani, Defence Minister Daoud Rajha and Assef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are seen in this combination photo. A suicide bomber killed three of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's top military officials on July 18, 2012, security sources said, the worst blow to Assad's high command in the country's 16-month-old rebellion. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/Sana/Handout/Files

  • Amateur video of smoke rising over north Damascus.

    Source: YouTube/jobarrev

  • Celebrations in the streets of Saraqib (سراقب) in Idlib after a bombing in Damascus killed senior members of the country’s security apparatus.

    Source: YouTube/sarakeb2011

  • A damaged car is seen among debris in Homs July 17, 2012. Picture taken July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Yazen Homsy

  • Al Arabiya reporting 102 people killed by Syrian forces across the country, sourced to local coordination committees (not verified by Reuters)
  • From the White House:

    President Obama called Russian President Putin today to discuss the developing situation in Syria. The two Presidents noted the growing violence in Syria and agreed on the need to support a political transition as soon as possible that achieves our shared goal of ending the violence and avoiding a further deterioration of the situation.

    They noted the differences our governments have had on Syria, but agreed to have their teams continue to work toward a solution. President Obama also took the opportunity to express condolences on the tragic loss of life resulting from flooding in southern Russia earlier this month and reiterated the U.S. readiness to provide assistance if needed.
    by Matthew Keys edited by anthony.derosa 7/18/2012 8:31:09 PM
  • FLASH: Geneva - Peace envoy Kofi Annan condemns latest violence in Syria, says violence only underscores urgency of decisive council action
    by anthony.derosa edited by Matthew Keys 7/19/2012 2:28:33 PM
  • FLASH: Russia and China have vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that threatened Syrian authorities with sanctions.
  • Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution on Thursday that threatened Syrian authorities with sanctions if they did not stop using heavy weapons against an uprising and withdraw troops from towns and cities.

    It was the third time that Russia, a key ally of the Syrian government, and China have used their veto power to block U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and halt the violence in the 16-month conflict that has killed thousands of people.

    (Reporting By Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Brunnstrom)
  • UNSMIS head General Robert Mood discusses Syria at a press conference earlier this morning.

  • Pakistani ambassador at UN Security Council meeting calls suicide attack on Syrian leadership "condemnable," says Pakistan abstained from today's vote on resolution.
  • "We strongly condemn this mindless and cowardly act of terrorism," India ambassador to UNSC says on Wednesday's suicide attack.
  • The White House says they do not support extending the UN mission in Syria after today's failure by the security council to pass a resolution.
    by Matthew Keys edited by anthony.derosa 7/19/2012 4:24:13 PM
  • ANNAN DEPLORES LACK OF UNITY ON SYRIA, HOPED FOR STRONG ACTION

    GENEVA, July 19 (Reuters) - International mediator Kofi Annan voiced disappointment on Thursday at the failure of world powers to reach a common position on Syria after China and Russia vetoed a Western resolution threatening Syrian authorities with sanctions.

    "The Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, is disappointed that at this critical stage the UN Security Council could not unite and take the strong and concerted action he had urged and hoped for. He believes that the voice of the Council is much more powerful when its Members act as one," his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement issued in Geneva.

    (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles)
  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets General Fahad Jassim al-Freij, after he was sworn as Defense Minister (R) in Damascus, in this handout photo distributed by Syrian News Agency (SANA) July 19, 2012. Syria's state TV said on Thursday new Defence Minister General al-Freij took his oath of office in front of President Bashar al-Assad,who has not appeared in public since a bomb attack killed three of his top security officials. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

  • Syrian army shells mosque, killing 7 - activists

    AMMAN, July 19 (Reuters) - At least seven civilians were killed on Thursday when the Syrian army shelled a mosque packed with worshippers in the city of Deir al-Zor, scene of heavy fighting between troops and rebels, activists said.

    "Shells hit the Fardos mosque in al-Jubeileh neighbourhood at evening prayers, the last before Ramadan. The mosque was packed. Around 20 people were pulled from the rubble with missing limbs and bad wounds.
    The number of dead will likely rise," Abu al-Tayeb al-Deiri, one of the activists, told Reuters from the desert city 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Damascus.

    Syrian authorities have banned most independent media from the country, making independent verification of events on the ground difficult.

    (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; editing by Andrew Roche)
  • FLASH: SYRIA'S BORDER CROSSING WITH TURKEY AT TOWN OF JARABLUS FALLS INTO REBEL HANDS AFTER ASSAD'S FORCES ABANDON TOWN - OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS
  • U.N. Security Council approves 30-day extension for Syria monitors

    Russia, which with China vetoed an earlier resolution which would have opened the door to sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, dropped its objections to the British proposal after it was broadened to require both government forces and rebel fighters to take steps to halt the violence.

    The new resolution states that the council would only consider further extensions to the mission "in the event that the Secretary-General reports and the Security Council confirms the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient by all sides" to allow the UNSMIS monitors to implement their mandate.
    Both the United States and Britain described the new resolution as a last chance for the observers.

    "If over the next 30 days there is a change in that dynamic and those conditions are met then of course the Security Council, on a recommendation by the Secretary-General, will look again at the future of UNSMIS," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.
    "But if the situation does not change then obviously UNSMIS will be withdrawn after 30 days," he said.

    AN EXIT PLAN?

    The U.N. Syria mission has up to 300 unarmed military observers whose role has been to monitor a failed April 12 ceasefire in Syria. Most of their monitoring activity was suspended on June 16 due to increased risk from rising violence.

    There are also some 100 civilian staff working toward a political solution and monitoring issues like human rights.

    The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told reporters that Washington had reluctantly acceded to the new resolution, but described it simply as an exit plan for the monitoring teams.

    "Today's vote to extend UNSMIS for a final period of 30 days was not the resolution the United States had hoped to adopt in the first instance. Our strong preference was to adopt the resolution that was regrettably vetoed yesterday," Rice said.

    Rice said the extension would "allow (UNSMIS) to withdraw safely and in an orderly fashion."

    Rice said she was skeptical that the Syrian authorities would stop using heavy weapons and the violence would subside enough for the council to consider a renewal of the mission beyond the 30-day extension.
    The Security Council vote ended several hectic days of U.N. diplomacy where the United States and its allies faced off against Russia and China over the way forward on Syria as violence in the country escalated.
    Syrian government forces fought to recapture border posts and parts of Damascus from rebels on Friday, seeking to take back the initiative following a bomb attack this week which killed four of Assad's top security aides.

    U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has recommended shifting the emphasis of the work of UNSMIS from monitoring the nonexistent ceasefire to pursuing a political solution to the crisis.

    Diplomats said only half of the 300 unarmed observers would be needed for Ban's suggested shift in focus. The others would return to their home countries, but be ready to redeploy again at short notice.

    (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Writing by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Jackie Frank)
  • I think it is a total disgrace what is happening in Syria just now ,they have to come to a deal of sorts as this is not the right way to solve this issue ,America especially should keep their big noses out of it and so should the UK ,who do we think we are ,over 10 years in Afghanistan how many life's ,people will pay for the world carnage that is going on in this region of the middle east ,from the perpetrators of 9/11 and 7/7 and we really do not have to mention names on this they are proud of what they are doing and love the power ,it will a come out soon and these people will be held in contempt,for they shall be punished just like the nuringberg trial ,but if i was going to the Olympics would be very wary as they have 2000,000cask liner which are just coffins but it fit a family of 4 ,what the hell in the world is going on in this once great island ,you can blame the Scots for wanting to leave the union and they will, the nation is gearing up right now for independence but it only business with these people ,it's nothing personal ,aye right you are pal ,and isreal i haven't started with you yet ,arrg they are crazy because they are about to be wiped of the map shortly
  • Syria general Tlas says seeks to unite opposition
    Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, one of the most senior defectors from President Bashar al-Assad's rule, said he would help unite Syria's fragmented opposition inside and outside the country to agree a roadmap for a transfer of power.
  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned world powers on Thursday not to repeat in Syria the mistakes they made in Bosnia, during a landmark visit to Srebrenica where U.N. peacekeepers failed to prevent the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, reports Daria Sito-Sucic

    The United Nations had designated the enclave in eastern Bosnia a "safe haven" for Muslim refugees, but peacekeepers stood by helplessly as Bosnian Serb forces carried out the slaughter in 1995.
  • Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria wait for food for their Iftar (the breaking of fast) meal during the holy month of Ramadan at Bashabsha camp near the Jordanian city of Al Ramtha, at the Syrian border, July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Majed Jaber

  • Demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad quit power are blocking efforts to end the 16-month-old conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Thursday.

    Lavrov said such calls - made by the United States, several European and Arab governments and Turkey - were fanning the flames of violence and reiterated Moscow's claim that support for Syrian rebel groups was tantamount to backing terrorism. www.trust.org
  • U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon: I am seriously concerned about the escalating violence in Aleppo, Syria
  • UK foreign min Hague: The more Syria carries on with assaults, the more we will increase practical support to the Syrian opposition
  • U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon: I am deeply concerned about reports of possible use of chemical weapons in Syria
  • U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon calls on Syria to categorically state it will not use chemical weapons under any circumstances
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross is evacuating some expatriate aid workers from Syria due to the worsening security situation, moving them temporarily to Beirut, a spokesman said on Friday.

    For the full report from Stephanie Nebehay, visit: www.trust.org
  • The Syrian military stepped up its campaign to drive rebel fighters out of Aleppo on Monday, firing artillery and mortars while a fighter jet flew over a district the army said it had retaken the day before.

    However, opposition activists denied government forces had entered Salaheddine, in the southwest of Syria's biggest city.

    Hospitals and makeshift clinics in rebel-held eastern neighbourhoods were filling up with casualties from a week of fighting in Aleppo, an commercial hub that had previously stayed out of a 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. . . . Visit www.trust.org for more...
  • A Syrian refugee arrives at Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq on the Jordanian-Syrian border, northeast of Amman, July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Majed Jaber

  • A sandstorm is seen over Al Zaatri refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Mafraq on the Jordanian-Syrian border, northeast of Amman, July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Majed Jaber

  • A Syrian girl rests on a carpet at a garden in Port Said Square in Algiers July 30, 2012. More than 12,000 Syrians fleeing the violence in their home country have sought refuge in Algeria, a source close to the Interior Ministry said on Sunday. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

  • U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon: Convoy of head of U.N. observer mission in Syria was attacked Sunday, no injuries due to vehicle armour
  • Update: NATO demands immediate cessation of aggressive acts against NATO ally Turkey - statement
  • UN Security Council discusses Turkey, Syria tensions

    UNITED NATIONS, Oct 3 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council discussed on Wednesday rising tensions between Syria and Turkey after a mortar bomb from Syria landed in Turkey, killing at least five people, Britain's U.N. envoy Mark Lyall Grant said.

    "It's very worrying, and it was raised and discussed in the council this afternoon," said Lyall Grant, adding that the council was now awaiting a letter from Turkey on the incident before it considered possible moves.

    The 15-member council was already in a meeting to discuss other issues when Turkey announced it had struck targets in Syria in response to the mortar bombing. It is the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria.
  • Update: NATO says it stands by Turkey, urges Syria to put an end to "flagrant violations of international law" - statement
  • North Atlantic Council statement on developments on the Turkish-Syrian border

    As stated on 26 June 2012, the Alliance continues to closely follow the situation in Syria. In view of the Syrian regime’s recent aggressive acts at NATO’s southeastern border, which are a flagrant breach of international law and a clear and present danger to the security of one of its Allies, the North Atlantic Council met today, within the framework of Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, and discussed the continuous shelling of locations in Turkey adjacent to the Turkish-Syrian border by the Syrian regime forces.

    The most recent shelling on 3 October 20l2, which caused the death of five Turkish citizens and injured many, constitutes a cause of greatest concern for, and is strongly condemned by, all Allies.

    In the spirit of indivisibility of security and solidarity deriving from the Washington Treaty, the Alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an Ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law. (source)
  • SYRIA SAYS INVESTIGATING SOURCE OF SHELL THAT HIT TURKEY, EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO TURKISH PEOPLE
  • Rebel fighters claim they shot down a Syrian army helicopter over Deir Al-Gharbi ( الدير الغربي), a village south of Maarat al-Numan, on October 17. The lead shows a helicopter under fire and exploding mid-flight.

    Credit: سعد الاسعد

  • Syria internet traffic today. via @Brian_Whit

  • Damascus fighting cuts off Internet, airport by Oliver Holmes

    (Reuters) - Syrian rebels battled forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just outside Damascus on Thursday, forcing the closure of the main airport road, and the Dubai-based Emirates airline suspended flights to the Syrian capital.

    Residents also reported Internet connections in the capital were down and mobile and land telephone lines working only sporadically in what appeared to be the worst disruption to communications in Syria since an uprising began 20 months ago.

    Read on
  • REUTERS: VIENNA-TWO AUSTRIAN PEACEKEEPERS WOUNDED NEAR DAMASCUS AIRPORT AS CONVOY COMES UNDER FIRE - MINISTRY
  • EGYPTAIR FLIGHT FROM CAIRO TO DAMASCUS TURNS BACK BECAUSE OF "BAD SECURITY SITUATION" AT AIRPORT-EGYPTAIR OFFICIAL
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Pentagon disinvites China from major U.S. military exercise

WASHINGTON The Pentagon on Wednesday disinvited China from a major U.S.-hosted naval drill in response to what it sees as Beijing's militarization of islands in the South China Sea, a decision China called unconstructive.