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Syria peace talks failure spurs U.S.-Russia recriminations

By Arshad Mohammed and Steve Gutterman JAKARTA/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States accused Damascus on Monday of paralyzing Geneva peace negotiations, while Russia denied that and said nations backing Syrian rebels were leaning toward trying to end the civil war on the battlefield rather than in talks. A second round of talks in Geneva broke up on Saturday with chief mediator Lakhdar Brahimi lamenting a failure to advance much beyond agreement on an agenda for a third round later.

Free Syrian Army sacks chief over battleground failings

The Free Syrian Army has sacked its military chief after the Western-backed rebels suffered battlefield setbacks, amid signs the warring parties are escalating the fighting that has already killed more than 140,000 people. Activists warned Monday that regime troops are preparing a ground offensive against the town of Yabrud, the last rebel stronghold in the strategic Qalamoun region near Lebanon's border, after days of aerial bombardments.

Free Syrian Army sacks chief, appoints replacement

AMMAN (Reuters) - The Western- and Arab-backed Syrian Free Army (FSA) has sacked its leader and replaced him with a more experienced field commander as part of a revamp of moderate forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad, opposition sources said on Monday. A statement by the FSA's Supreme Military Council said it replaced General Selim Idriss, who had served in the Corps of Engineers of Assad's army, with Colonel Abdelilah al-Bashir, head of FSA operations in the province of Qunaitera on the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Free Syrian Army fires military chief over leadership 'paralysis'

The rebel 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 Brigadier General Abdel al-Ilah al-Bachir. Colonel Qassem Saadeddine said the decision was taken due to "the paralysis within the military command these past months" and the need to "restructure".

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.

Free Syrian Army fires military chief

The Free Syrian Army announced Sunday it had fired Selim Idriss as its military chief and appointed Abdel al-Ilah al-Bachir to replace him. In a video broadcast on the Internet, the rebel coalition said its military council had decided to replace Idriss because of "the difficulties faced by the Syrian revolution" in its battle with President Bashar al-Assad's regime. ram/cc/jta

World efforts and failures to end Syria war

Several international efforts to end the nearly three-year war in Syria have failed to halt the bloody conflict that has killed more than 140,000 people and forced millions to flee. The second round of peace talks between government and opposition representatives broke off Saturday in Geneva with no progress and no date set for a third round. Here is a timeline of international initiatives and measures since the war erupted in mid-March 2011. 2011

France blames Syrian regime for collapse of Geneva talks

France on Saturday blamed the Syrian regime for the collapse of talks aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria, saying that it had blocked any possibility of progress. "I blame the attitude of the Syrian regime, which blocked any progress on establishing a transition government and stepped up violence and acts of terror against the civilian population," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. cr-ial/ric/gd

Russia must press the Syrian regime on peace talks

Washington called Friday on Russia to push Damascus to seriously engage in peace talks in Geneva, as a second negotiation round appeared to be fizzling out with no sign of progress. "Clearly, the Russians need to push the Syrian regime much more than they have," said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. 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.

Thousands flee Syrian town as 'major assault' looms

By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - Thousands of people have fled a rebel-held town in Syria after it was bombed and shelled in an operation that has prompted fears of a major assault by ground troops, the United Nations said on Friday. The fighting came as peace talks in Geneva neared the end of a second round with the government and opposition sides sticking to their positions and as far from agreement as ever.
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