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Syria air raid kills 27, as presidential race gets new candidate

Syria's air force killed 27 civilians Thursday in a raid on a market in an Aleppo provincial village, as a businessman became the second hopeful to register for the country's controversial presidential election. Meanwhile, a team overseeing Syria's chemical weapons handover said Damascus has now surrendered 92.5 percent of its stockpile, even as UN Security Council members called for a fresh probe into alleged gas attacks.

Syria lawmaker becomes first presidential challenger

An independent Syrian lawmaker registered Wednesday as the first challenger in a June presidential election widely expected to return incumbent Bashar al-Assad to power despite a raging civil war. Assad's government hit back at a torrent of international criticism of its decision to call the election despite the violence that has killed more than 150,000 people in three year, insisting it was its sovereign right to do so. Assad has yet to declare his own candidacy but he is widely expected to stand and win a new seven-year term.

First candidate for Syria's presidential election steps forward

By Alexander Dziadosz BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Syrian lawmaker has nominated himself for president, state media said on Wednesday, the first candidate in an election likely to cement President Bashar al-Assad's rule over a country devastated by civil war. Parliament this week set the election for June 3, a move Assad's international opponents said was a "parody of democracy" that would undermine any chance of resolving the conflict through peace talks.

China says probing reports Chinese chlorine used in Syria attack

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that it was investigating reports that a chlorine canister bearing the name of the country's biggest arms maker was shown in footage believed to document a gas attack in Syria this month. Attacks this month in several areas in Syria share characteristics that have led analysts to believe that there is a coordinated chlorine bomb campaign, with growing evidence that it is the government side dropping the weapons.

Syria lawmaker becomes first presidential challenger

A Syrian lawmaker has registered as the first-ever challenger for the presidency in an upcoming election expected to return incumbent Bashar al-Assad to power, the speaker of parliament said Wednesday. "We have received information from the higher constitutional court that member of parliament Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar has filed his candidacy for the post of president of the Syrian Arab Republic," state television quoted Mohammad Lahham as saying. rim-ser/sah/kir

Syria lawmaker becomes first presidential challenger

A communist lawmaker has registered as the first challenger for the Syrian presidency in an upcoming election expected to return incumbent Bashar al-Assad to power, the speaker of parliament said Wednesday. "We have received information from the higher constitutional court that member of parliament Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar has filed his candidacy for the post of president of the Syrian Arab Republic," state television quoted Mohammad Lahham as saying. Hajjar's candidacy was announced two days after Lahham said Syria would hold a presidential election on June 3.

West should work with Russia against radical Islam

Western leaders should set aside their differences with Russia over Ukraine to focus on the growing threat of Islamic extremism, former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday. In a speech in London, the Middle East envoy said the spread of extremist ideology in that region as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan and North Africa "represents the biggest threat to global security of the 21st century". "On this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China," Blair said.

West should work with Russia against radical Islam

Western leaders should set aside their differences with Russia over Ukraine to focus on the growing threat of Islamic extremism, former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday. In a speech in London, the Middle East envoy said the spread of extremist ideology in that region as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan and North Africa "represents the biggest threat to global security of the 21st century". "On this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China," Blair said.

New Syria chemical claims emerge as election announced

New claims have emerged that President Bashar al-Assad's regime may have launched attacks with an industrial chemical earlier this month, despite an international agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical arsenal. The latest evidence, cited by the United States and France, comes as Syria plans to hold a June 3 presidential poll, which the United Nations and the Arab League condemned as a blow to efforts to end the three-year-old civil war.

Arab League criticizes Syrian election plan

CAIRO (Reuters) - Holding an election in Syria while civil war rages will only obstruct international efforts to resolve the conflict, the head of the Arab League said on Tuesday. President Bashar al-Assad's government announced on Monday that a presidential election would take place on June 3 - an event that is certain to extend his grip on power.
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