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Syria army launches assault in besieged Homs

Syrian troops and pro-regime militiamen fought their way into rebel-held neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs on Tuesday after besieging them for nearly two years. Meanwhile, rebels elsewhere in the country have received for the first time at least 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source", a rebel official said. The assault on Homs comes a day after the army recaptured the Christian town of Maalula in the strategic Qalamun region and as state media reported the country would soon move into election mode.

Syria army launches assault in besieged Homs

Syrian troops and pro-regime militiamen fought their way into rebel-held neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs on Tuesday after besieging them for nearly two years. Meanwhile, rebels elsewhere in the country have received for the first time at least 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source", a rebel official said. The assault on Homs comes a day after the army recaptured the Christian town of Maalula in the strategic Qalamun region and as state media reported the country would soon move into election mode.

Syria rebels get US-made missiles

Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad for the first time received at least 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source," a rebel official told AFP Tuesday. "Moderate, well-organised fighters from the Hazm movement have for the first time received more than 20 TOW anti-tank missiles from a Western source," the source said on condition of anonymity, and without specifying who had supplied the rockets.

Syria Qaeda loses ground to jihadist rivals on Iraq border

Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate lost ground to its jihadist rivals around a town on the Iraqi border on Thursday in heavy fighting that left 24 people dead, a monitoring group said. Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a cross-border group which has been disowned by Al-Qaeda's leadership, launched a three-pronged assault on positions held by Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and its allies, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Rebel Free Syrian army confirms new chief

The rebel Free Syrian Army has confirmed the appointment of its new chief, Brigadier General Abdel Ilah al-Bashir, after former head General Selim Idriss had initially refused to step down. The FSA confirmed "the dismissal of Idriss and the appointment of... Bashir as head of the Supreme Military Council," in a statement late on Friday. Bashir, who defected from the government army to join rebels fighting in southern Syria, had originally been appointed to head the FSA in mid-February.

Homs evacuations resume as Syria peace talks falter

The evacuation of civilians and delivery of aid to besieged rebel-held areas of Syria's third city Homs resumed Wednesday, as peace talks in Geneva struggled to make headway. Government and opposition delegations again met face to face on day three of the second round of talks in Switzerland but the government side refused even to discuss a transition plan put forward by the opposition.

Factbox: Syria's rebel groups

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's rebel movement has been a constantly shifting array of groups and alliances since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began nearly three years ago, with opposition formations increasingly overtaken by Islamist groups. As new leaders have emerged within the opposition, infighting reached a new level this month, with several rebel factions declaring war against the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Some 2,300 rebel fighters have died fighting each other this year alone.

Rebels, jihadists in fierce battle at Syria's Saraqeb

A fierce battle broke out Saturday between Syrian rebels and the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) around the northwestern town of Saraqeb, a monitoring group said. "Fierce fighting took place around Saraqeb between ISIL and Islamist rebels vying for control of the town," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The town fell out of President Bashar al-Assad's control in November 2012, and ISIL has been operational there since May last year.

Syria jihadists kill 5 rebels in bombing

Jihadists fighting Syrian rebels killed at least five opposition fighters in a bomb attack in Idlib province on Saturday as clashes between the two sides raged in the country's north, activists said. "Five Islamist rebels were killed in a bomb attack targeting their vehicle... in Saraqeb," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. Activist Manhal Barish said an explosive device had been planted under a pick-up truck used by Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist brigade that has led a week-long battle against the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Jihadists advance on Syria's Raqa

Jihadists have made advances on rebel fighters in the battle for Raqa, in northern Syria, but are on the back foot in parts of Aleppo and Idlib, activists said Friday. "In Idlib and Aleppo provinces, the (rebel) Free Syrian Army is advancing, but in Raqa the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is winning because its supply routes (to Iraq) are open there," said Alaaeddine, an Aleppo-based activist. "In Idlib there are practically no ISIL bases left, as is the case in Aleppo city and the west of the province" on the border with Turkey, he told AFP via the Internet.
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