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Syria army launches assault on besieged Homs: state TV

Syria's army launched a major ground assault on the central city of Homs on Tuesday, state television said, with troops entering rebel-held districts under government siege for nearly two years. "The Syrian army and the (pro-regime militia) National Defence Forces have achieved key successes in the Old City of Homs," Syrian state television said, adding that troops were advancing in several besieged neighbourhoods in the area. bur-sah/ser/bpz

Iraq Kurds dig trench on Syria border to block militants

Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region is digging a trench along its border with Syria to prevent the infiltration of militants and smuggling from the war-racked country, officials say. "The trench is designed to prevent the infiltration of members of terrorist groups and stop smugglers," Halkurd Mullah Ali, the spokesman for the Kurdish region's peshmerga security ministry, told AFP. Smugglers "began operating in these areas because the Syrian authorities lost control of them, and these areas became insecure," Ali said.

Mortar fire on Syria schools kills child, hurts 40

Mortar rounds fired on schools in the Syrian capital on Tuesday killed a child and wounded more than 40 people, among them more children, state media said. Rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad hold some territory on the outskirts of Damascus from which they have regularly launched mortar and rocket attacks targeting the downtown area. "A child was killed and 41 others, most of them children, were injured by mortar rounds fired by terrorists at schools in Bab Touma and Al-Duwaila in Damascus," the official SANA news agency reported.

Mortar fire on Damascus kills child, hurts 40: state news

Mortar rounds fired on the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday killed a child and wounded at least 41 people, among them more children, state media said. "A child was killed and 41 others, most of them children, were injured by mortar rounds fired by terrorists at schools in Bab Touma and Al-Duwaila in Damascus," the official SANA news agency reported. State media and the Syrian regime refers to all those seeking President Bashar al-Assad's ouster as "terrorists".

Syrian army seizes ancient Christian town near Lebanon border

By Firas Makdesi MAALOULA, Syria (Reuters) - Syrian soldiers backed by Hezbollah fighters recaptured the town of Maaloula, north of Damascus, on Monday, military sources and state television said, further squeezing rebels' supply routes through the Qalamoun mountains into Lebanon. Islamist fighters, some from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, had taken over part of the ancient Christian town in December and held several nuns captive until releasing them in March in a prisoner-exchange deal.

Neither side holds upper hand in Syria

The United States on Monday took issue with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's analysis that the bitter conflict was turning in his favor, saying it had become a "war of attrition." "Our analysis remains what it has been, that this is a war of attrition and neither side has been able to deliver or hold onto significant gains," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. She told reporters that she was not "going to give ground game updates. Certainly our efforts to engage with the opposition continue."

Syria chemical arms handover nearly two-thirds complete

Syria has surrendered almost two-thirds of its chemical weapons with the resumption of transfers from the war-torn country, the global chemical watchdog said Monday, although it again pressed Damascus to step up efforts. "The Syrian government has completed the delivery of the 13th consignment of chemicals," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said. "The deliveries have raised the overall portion of chemicals removed from Syria to 65.1 percent, including 57.4 percent of priority chemicals," it reported in a statement in The Hague.

Syria army retakes Christian town of Maalula

Syrian regime forces retook the ancient Christian hamlet of Maalula in Damascus province on Monday, four months after mainly Islamist rebels overran it, a security official told AFP. "The army has taken full control of Maalula and restored security and stability. Terrorism has been defeated in Qalamun," the official said, referring to the region in which Maalula is located. rim-rm/sah/dv

Syria army retakes Christian town of Maalula

Syrian regime forces retook the ancient Christian hamlet of Maalula in Damascus province on Monday, four months after mainly Islamist rebels overran it, a security official told AFP. "The army has taken full control of Maalula and restored security and stability. Terrorism has been defeated in Qalamun," the official said, referring to the region in which Maalula is located. The recapture comes after a string of successes of the regime in the strategic Qalamun region, including the seizure of the former rebel bastion of Yabrud last month.

Syrian army seizes ancient Christian town near Lebanese border

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian soldiers backed by Hezbollah fighters recaptured on Monday the town of Maaloula, north of Damascus, military sources and state television said, closing off more of the rebel supply route through the Qalamoun mountains near Lebanon. Islamist fighters, some from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, took over a quarter of the ancient Christian town in December and held several nuns captive. In March, the nuns were released in an exchange deal with Qatari and Lebanese mediation.
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