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Anti-Assad allies rebuff Syrian presidential election plan

PARIS (Reuters) - International powers who support the Syrian opposition have firmly rebuffed any idea of a presidential election organized by the Syrian government in the midst of a civil war, describing the plans as a "parody of democracy" that would kill peace talks.

West, Middle East powers warn against Syria election

Eleven Western and Middle Eastern powers on Thursday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against holding elections, saying that the vote would have no credibility amid the country's brutal civil war. In a joint statement, the 11 core members of so-called Friends of Syria urged Assad instead to embrace a plan outlined in Geneva talks that includes a transitional government as a way out of the three-year war.

Deadline risk over Syria weapons delay

Syria can still meet a June deadline for getting rid of its chemical weapons, but to do so must resume stalled weapons transfers now, an international coordinator told the UN Security Council Thursday. Syria has suspended the transfers for what it says are security reasons, but on Sunday said it planned to resume them in the "coming days."

Syria paper accuses peace envoy of encouraging 'terror'

A pro-government Syria newspaper accused UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi Thursday of encouraging "terrorism" and plotting the "destruction and dismantling of the Middle East." "Brahimi has not for a single day acted as an honest broker," said an editorial in Al-Watan. "He has consistently been a party and an employee in the plot to destroy and dismantle the Middle East." The newspaper also said he "consistently refuses to comment on (the presence in Syria of) 'foreign fighters,' whom he appears to view as defenders of democracy and freedom of belief."

Syria's Assad says Russia 're-establishing multipolar world'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that key ally Moscow had helped re-establish "a multipolar world", as he met with a high-level Russian delegation in Damascus. The delegation was delivering a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has provided political, military and financial backing to Assad's regime since the outbreak of a revolt in March 2011.

Death toll in Syria's civil war above 150,000: monitor

BEIRUT (Reuters) - At least 150,000 people have been killed in Syria's three-year-old civil war, a third of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday. The UK-based Observatory, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of activists and medical or security sources, said that real toll was likely to be significantly higher at around 220,000 deaths.

Syria army retakes key post in regime bastion Latakia

Syrian army troops recaptured on Monday a key position in coastal Latakia province, a regime bastion, state television said, as rebels press a campaign in the region. "Syrian army units have full control of Observatory 45 in the north of Latakia province and are continuing to pursue terrorist groups," the state broadcaster said, quoting the military. Observatory 45 is a strategic hilltop that overlooks several areas inhabited by residents from the Alawite community, the religious sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

Syrian army retakes key post in regime bastion Latakia

Syrian army troops recaptured on Monday a key position in coastal Latakia province, a regime bastion, state television said, as rebels press a campaign in the region. "Syrian army units have full control of Observatory 45 in the north of Latakia province and are continuing to pursue terrorist groups," the state broadcaster said, citing the military. Observatory 45 is a strategic hilltop that overlooks several areas inhabited by residents from the Alawite community, the religious sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

Syria rebels lick their wounds in Lebanon border town

Young Syrian rebel commander Mohammed limps from an injury suffered in "insane" army shelling of his native Qalamun region as he tells of his perilous evacuation across the border into Lebanon. Mohammed, who gave only one name, is being treated in the small border town of Arsal, which has turned into a refuge for more than 100,000 Syrians fleeing the war in their country and a makeshift rehabilitation centre for scores of wounded fighters.

Syrian forces take two villages near Lebanon

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian forces took control of two villages near the Lebanese border on Saturday after driving out rebels, state media said, helping President Bashar al-Assad secure the route connecting Damascus with Aleppo and the Mediterranean coast. The fall of Flita and Ras Maara, two of the last rebel bastions in the area, is likely to push militants and refugees over the border into Lebanon, risking further destabilizing the Mediterranean country whose own 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
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