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Kerry slams Russia for 'enabling' Assad to stay in power

US Secretary of State John Kerry slammed Russia on Monday for "enabling" Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power in the war-torn country, after Geneva peace talks broke off without result at the weekend. The so-called Geneva II process was initiated by the United States, which backs the Syrian opposition coalition, and Moscow, which supports the government in Damascus. But a second round of talks aimed at finding a political settlement to the three-year conflict ended in acrimony on Saturday, throwing the future of the negotiations into doubt.

Free Syrian Army fires military chief

The Free Syrian Army said Sunday it had fired Selim Idriss as its military chief, citing the "difficulties faced by the Syrian revolution" in its battle with the regime. In a video broadcast on the Internet, the rebel coalition said its military council had decided to replace Idriss with Abdel al-Ilah al-Bachir. A source inside the Syrian opposition told AFP Idriss -- who was appointed to the role in December 2012 -- had faced criticism for failings on the battlefield.

Mediator apologizes to Syrians for ineffectual peace talks

By Oliver Holmes and Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized to the Syrian people on Saturday for the lack of progress at peace talks in Geneva after their second round ended with little more than an agreement to meet again. The Algerian-born diplomat said the agreement to evacuate people from the besieged city of Homs had raised hopes that had not been satisfied at the Geneva talks, involving opposition groups and representatives of President Bashar al-Assad.

Mediator apologizes to Syrians for ineffectual peace talks

By Oliver Holmes and Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized to the Syrian people on Saturday for the lack of progress at peace talks in Geneva after their second round ended with little more than an agreement to meet again. The Algerian-born diplomat said the agreement to evacuate people from the besieged city of Homs had raised hopes that had not been satisfied at the Geneva talks, involving opposition groups and representatives of President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama says considering new pressure on Syria's Assad

By Steve Holland RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday he is considering new ways to pressure the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he pledged fresh U.S. assistance to Jordan's King Abdullah, whose country is reeling from the Syrian civil war. Obama and Abdullah held talks at the Sunnylands retreat, the estate of the late philanthropist Walter Annenberg, in a desert region of California.

Russia in talks on Syria aid draft, U.N. aid chief urges action

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos urged the United Nations Security Council on Thursday to act to increase humanitarian access in Syria as the United States, France and Britain tried to find common ground with Russia and China on a draft resolution on the situation.

Syria 'failure' looms, mediator seeks U.S., Russian help

By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - Warning that "failure" was staring him in the face, the Syria peace talks mediator said on Thursday that the United States and Russia had promised renewed support to keep their rival Syrian allies talking.

Russia says its UN draft on Syria aid has no sanctions

Russia said on Thursday that its own draft UN Security Council resolution on bringing aid to desperate Syrian civilians does not include the threat of sanctions on the Damascus regime. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had prepared two documents for UN Security Council discussion comprised of a draft on aid as well as a denunciation of "terror" sweeping the war-torn country. Lavrov said the original draft on humanitarian assistance backed by Western and Arab states "is prepared in the form of an ultimatum. There are threats of sanctions."

Russia says Syria aid draft could open door to military action

By Steve Gutterman and Michelle Nichols MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia denounced on Wednesday a Western-Arab draft U.N. Security Council resolution on humanitarian aid access in Syria as a bid to lay the groundwork for military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

UN 'shocked' at reports of Syria massacre

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "great shock" on Tuesday over reports of a massacre in the Syrian village of Maan. A statement released by Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN leader was disturbed by reports of killings in Maan on February 9. "Dozens of civilians are said to have been brutally killed," the statement said. "The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms all violence against civilians and calls for the perpetrators of this massacre, and all other crimes in Syria, to be brought to justice."
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