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Over 40 massacred in Syrian town, rights group says

Beirut, Feb 10 (EFE).- More than 40 people died over the weekend after Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, fighters raided a Syrian town with an Alawite majority, that being the sect to which President Bashar al Assad belongs, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday. Among the victims are 21 civilians, 10 of whom belonged to the same family, and 20 pro-government militia fighters, the London-based group said. The people were killed after ISIL fighters entered Maan, a town in the central province of Hama.

UN says Homs operation extended until Wednesday night

The United Nations said an operation to allow civilians to leave besieged districts of the Syrian city of Homs will be extended until Wednesday night. The announcement on Monday was welcomed by UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, and follows a successful but difficult three-day evacuation mission in Homs, where gunfire and attacks have frustrated progress. "I hope this will allow us to evacuate yet more civilians and deliver much needed additional supplies," said Amos in a statement which reported that more than 800 people have been helped out of Homs since late Friday.

Russia, China snub U.N. talks on draft Syria aid access resolution

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia and China on Monday rebuffed the United States, France and Britain and other states by failing to attend negotiations on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to boost aid access in Syria, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Syria's warring parties kick off new round of talks

Syria's warring sides launched a new round of peace talks Monday, as an agreement from the first round last month was being implemented with aid convoys evacuating the besieged city of Homs. The UN and Arab League mediator, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, began the latest session in Geneva by shuttling between the government and opposition teams. It was not clear when or if the two sides would sit down for the sort of mediated face-to-face negotiations they held for a week in January.

Russia calls new U.N. Syria aid-access draft a "non-starter"

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan have presented to the five permanent U.N. Security Council members a draft resolution demanding full access for humanitarian aid workers across Syria, which was quickly dismissed by Russia as a "non-starter."

UN confirms humanitarian agreement on Homs

The United Nations confirmed Thursday that there would be a "humanitarian pause" in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, allowing civilians to leave. The agreement with Syria's government also clears the way for the delivery of essential lifesaving supplies for about 2,500 civilians, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters, citing comments from Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief. Rebel-held Old City areas of central Homs have come under near-daily shelling ever since the army blockaded them in June 2012.

Russia says Syria to ship more chemicals as opposition presses case

Russia said Tuesday that Syria would ship out another stockpile of chemical weapons this month, as the opposition sought to persuade Moscow to push for a transitional government for the war-scarred nation. Russia, traditionally a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, downplayed concerns that the regime was falling behind in the timetable to remove its chemical weapons -- an agreement reached in September with Moscow and Washington that averted US military strikes.

U.N. report details child abuses by Syria rebels, government troops

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Western-backed opposition groups in Syria are recruiting refugee children in neighboring countries and Syrian government forces are detaining and torturing children with rebel links, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a report on Tuesday.

Syria opposition chief presses Russia on Assad

Syria's opposition leader met Russia's top diplomat on Tuesday in a bid to persuade Moscow to push its ally Damascus to agree to a transitional government for the war-scarred nation. Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmad Jarba met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after an inconclusive 10-day peace conference in Geneva ended on Friday without a commitment from Damascus to attend a new round of negotiations set for February 10.

Russia says Syria to ship more chemical arms, attend talks

By Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia offered assurances on Tuesday that the Syrian government will show up at a new round of peace talks next week and will soon ship more toxic agents abroad for destruction under a deal to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal. The statements appeared intended to ease Western concerns about President Bashar al-Assad's commitment to a peace process that started last month, and to abandoning his chemical arsenal by mid-year under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
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