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Syria War Rages Hours Before Deal to Halt Fighting

BEIRUT, Feb 26 – Heavy air strikes were reported to have hit rebel-held areas to the east of Damascus as fighting continued across much of western Syria on Friday, hours before a U.S.-Russian plan aimed at halting the fighting is due to take effect. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring organisation reported at least

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Assad Tells Putin His Government Will Help with Syria Ceasefire

MOSCOW, Feb 24 – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that his government was ready to assist in implementing a ceasefire in Syria, the Kremlin and the Syrian presidency said. The United States and Russia announced plans on Monday for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, excluding Daesh and Nusra Front

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Middle East: Blurred Lines

The Middle East and the never-ending game of partition BY Nour Samaha One hundred years ago in May, Sir Mark Sykes of Great Britain and Francois Georges-Picot of France sat down together and penned their signatures to a document that would come to define the face of the Middle East for the next century. In

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Syrian Rebels See Flaws in U.S.-Russian Truce Plan

By Arshad Mohammed and Tom Perry WASHINGTON/BEIRUT, Feb 23 – The United States and Russia announced plans for a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria that would take effect on Saturday but exclude groups such as Daesh and al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, a loophole Syrian rebels immediately highlighted as a problem. Monday’s agreement, described by a U.N. spokesman as “a first

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Iran Holds Talks with Russia over Missile Defence Upgrade

DUBAI, Feb 22 – Iran negotiated with Russia over buying an upgraded version of the S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system, which it requires to meet its military needs, a foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran was quoted as saying. Iran was blocked from obtaining the S-300 before it reached a deal with world powers last July

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U.S., Russia Hold Talks on Syria Ceasefire Ahead of U.N. Meeting

GENEVA, Feb 19 – U.S. and Russian military officials have held talks in Geneva ahead of a wider meeting on Friday aimed at trying to secure a cessation of hostilities in Syria, diplomats said. The unannounced bilateral meeting was aimed at narrowing positions before the two powers jointly chair a United Nations meeting on the

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Syrian Terrorist List Produces 163 Names and No Agreement

By Tom Miles and John Irish GENEVA/PARIS, Feb 18 – Major powers trying to forge a Syrian peace plan have made almost no progress on overcoming one of the main obstacles to ending the war: deciding who is a terrorist – and therefore a legitimate target—and who is not. Everyone involved in the diplomatic process

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Iran Could Decide Fate of First Global Oil Deal For 15 Years

By Rania El Gamal DOHA/LONDON, Feb 17 – The fate of the first global oil deal in 15 years could be decided on Wednesday when OPEC members travel to Iran to persuade the country to participate in a deal to freeze output levels, possibly by offering Tehran special terms. Dominant OPEC power Saudi Arabia and

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Turkey Seeks Allies’ Support for Ground Operation in Syria

By Humeyra Pamuk and Tulay Karadeniz ISTANBUL/ANKARA, Feb 16 – Turkey is asking allies including the United States to take part in a joint ground operation in Syria, as a Moscow-backed government advance nears its borders, raising the possibility of direct confrontation between the NATO member and Russia. A large-scale joint ground operation is still

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Saudis, Russia Agree Oil Output Freeze, Iran Still Obstacle

By Rania El Gamal and Tom Finn DOHA, Feb 16  – Top oil exporters Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed on Tuesday to freeze output levels but said the deal was contingent on other producers joining in—a major sticking point with Iran absent from the talks and determined to raise production. The Saudi, Russian, Qatari and

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