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WORLD
March 28, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
HOMS, Syria - On the ragged fringes of the Old City, aid workers, clerics and government troops stood vigil, awaiting a U.N. convoy evacuating women, children and the aged from the besieged ancient quarter of a town known to many as ground zero in the Syrian civil war. But the buses disgorged a very different class of passengers: scores of young men, haggard and sallow-faced, blankets draped over their shoulders and fear evident in their eyes....
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WORLD
April 24, 2014 | By Nabih Bulos
AMMAN, Jordan -- Video has surfaced that appears to show antitank guided missiles in the hands of a rebel faction operating in southern Syria, the latest indication that sophisticated U.S. weaponry is making its way to antigovernment fighters in Syria. The video, posted April 13 on YouTube, seems to depict a fighter from a group called the Omari Brigades firing a BGM-71 TOW missile at what appears to be a bunkered Syrian army tank. Although other videos circulating on the Internet have shown rebel groups in northern Syria firing TOW missiles, this marks the first time the U.S.-made weapon has appeared publicly in the arsenal of insurgents in southern Syria, a key front close to the Jordanian border.
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NEWS
August 30, 2013 | By Paul Thornton
Remember that "red line" President Obama drew on Syria and chemical weapons? Perhaps it's more of a dotted line. At least twice since the president made the remark in August 2012 that the use of poison gas in the Syrian civil war would be a game-changer in the U.S. decision on whether to intervene militarily, Bashar Assad's forces appear to have crossed that line. So far, no U.S. missiles have been lobbed toward Damascus. Several readers have noticed. Only now it looks as if the Obama administration will follow through on its threat of military action against Assad.
WORLD
April 22, 2014 | By Raja Abdulrahim
The World Food Program gives out most of its food aid to Syria in government-held areas, with only a quarter of the distributions occurring in rebel-controlled territory, according to latest figures from the U.N. agency. The findings underscore the obstacles facing the WFP, which is the major distributor of food aid in Syria, in getting help to rebel-held areas. Many of those zones are under frequent bombardment by Syrian forces, making access dangerous for aid workers and their drivers.
WORLD
January 2, 2013 | By Ned Parker
BEIRUT, Lebanon --An American journalist was reported missing in Syria on Wednesday, six weeks after he was reportedly abducted by armed men. James Foley, 39, was taken by gunmen on Nov. 22 in the northern province of Idlib, his family said. Foley, a freelancer, had reported previously from Syria, Iraq and Libya, where he was held prisoner in 2011 by government forces during that country's civil war. Most recently, he had been shooting videos in Syria for Agence France-Presse.
NEWS
November 27, 2011 | By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Arab efforts to reach a compromise with Syria over its bloody crackdown on dissent appeared  to be all but over Sunday as foreign ministers meeting in Cairo voted overwhelmingly to impose punishing sanctions against the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad. The rare move by the Arab League, an organization often criticized as spineless and ineffective, came after Syria repeatedly ignored deadlines for accepting Arab observers to monitor a peace agreed to earlier this month.
WORLD
April 25, 2013 | By Alexandra Zavis and Emily Alpert
Syria is believed to have a large stockpile of chemical weapons. U.S. intelligence agencies now suspect that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has used small amounts of these chemicals against rebels fighting to unseat him, an assessment shared by Britain, France and, most recently, Israel. So what is known about Syria's chemical weapons? A report citing Turkish, Arab and Western intelligence agencies estimated that Syria has about 1,000 tons of chemical weapons stored at about 50 sites, mostly in the north of the country.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 31, 2013 | By Robin Abcarian
It's hard to know whether Sarah Palin would be so quick to condemn a Republican president for venturing the idea that the U.S. should take military action against Syria in response to what the White House said is a documented chemical weapon attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his own people. But in a Facebook post called “Let Allah Sort it Out,” the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee-turned-Fox News personality let President Obama have it. It was Obama, she said, who painted himself into a corner a year ago when he said that chemical weapons represented a “red line” that Syria's president should not cross.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 4, 2013 | By Hector Tobar
Books can start wars, or shape how they are fought. Abraham Lincoln famously told Harriet Beecher Stowe that her book, “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” started the Civil War. In the 1990s, two books helped inform the policies of President Clinton in the Balkans. Robert D. Kaplan's "Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History" portrayed many centuries of  irreconcilable ethnic enmity and gave the impression of a morass that would swallow up any country that intervened there; David Remnick of the New Yorker called it a “marvelous alibi for inaction.” But later Clinton read Noel Malcolm's "Bosnia: A Short History," which portrayed the conflict in that country as the product of the Machiavellian political calculations of Slobodan Milosevic.
WORLD
March 5, 2014 | By Raja Abdulrahim and Richard Winton
In an expletive-laced online video, two men say they are Los Angeles gang members who are “gangbanging” in Syria and fighting the “enemigos” in the bloody three-year conflict. The men identify themselves as “Wino” from the Westside Armenian Power gang and “Creeper” from the Sun Valley GW-13 gang, which has links to the Mexican mafia. Dressed in camouflage and ammunition vests and holding Kalashnikov rifles in an unknown location, the pair appear more interested in theatrics than ideology.
WORLD
April 21, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - Presidential elections will be held in Syria on June 3, the government announced Monday, even as a mortar barrage on the capital highlighted the relentless violence in the country. President Bashar Assad is expected to run and handily win a third seven-year term, though new laws mean he could face a challenger for the first time. Assad has yet to officially declare his candidacy. The United States and allies calling for Assad to step down denounced the planned balloting as “absurd” and a “parody of democracy,” in the words of a tweet from Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman.
WORLD
April 20, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos
DAMASCUS, Syria - President Bashar Assad made a symbolic Easter visit Sunday to the heavily damaged town of Maaloula, a Christian landmark enclave recaptured from Islamist rebels last week by government forces. The president's visit, broadcast on state television, underscored his efforts to portray himself as a defender of Christians and other minorities as he prepares for an expected reelection bid in the midst of a devastating war now in its fourth year. Maaloula and several of its historic churches sustained significant damage during heavy fighting and bombardment.
WORLD
April 18, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - The thud of mortar shelling alternated with tolling church bells Friday as the Christians of this capital's ancient Bab Touma district marked Good Friday amid extremely tight security. The Easter Week processions that once featured tens of thousands walking the cobblestoned streets of the Old City now are confined to the close vicinity of churches. Soldiers and militiamen checked everyone coming and going on Friday; vehicular traffic was largely closed off as a precaution against car bombs.
WORLD
April 16, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos
MAALOULA, Syria - From the debris-strewn front garden of the Safir Hotel, Syrian military commanders barked orders to troops taking cover in the smoke-shrouded maze of streets below. "If you hear any movement, throw hand grenades immediately!" a general advised on his two-way radio as he peered at the battle unfolding like a distant video game at the bottom of the hill. On Tuesday, Syrian forces were targeting the remnants of a rebel force in this historic town, long a center of Christian worship and pilgrimage.
WORLD
April 14, 2014 | By Sherif Tarek
The United Nations human rights chief condemned widespread torture by all sides in the Syrian conflict, citing examples such as that of a detained 26-year-old woman who was raped, had her teeth pulled out and was beaten with electrical cables. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report released Monday that it had interviewed individuals who spent time in detention facilities in Syria. It did not identify them by name. It said the young woman reported that she had been tortured during repeated nightlong interrogation sessions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014
Patrick Seale Patrick Seale, 83, a veteran British journalist whose books established him as the leading expert on modern Syria, died Friday in London, according to family and friends. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer last year. Seale is best known for his authoritative biography of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad, "Assad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. " Published in 1988, the book is considered the definitive work on Assad, the father of Syria's current leader.
WORLD
May 12, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT -- Syria on Sunday rejected Turkish charges that Damascus was behind a pair of devastating car-bomb attacks in the southern Turkish town of Reyhanli that killed 46 people and left scores injured. The strikes have stunned Turkey and exacerbated already-high tensions between the neighboring nations about the civil war raging inside Syria. Turkish officials have publicly linked the bombings to Syria's intelligence service -- a charge denied Sunday by Omran al-Zoubi, the Syrian information minister.
NEWS
August 29, 2013 | By Michael McGough, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
American journalists of an Anglophilic bent often complain that debates in Britain's House of Commons put those in the U.S. Congress to shame. Actually, the Commons often showcases its own form of superficiality, as in the Kabuki theater of Prime Minister's Question Time. But Thursday's Commons debate over a possible attack on Syria was admirably substantive. Prime Minister David Cameron offered a crisp and nuanced defense of military action, acknowledging that, although there was strong evidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, he couldn't point to a “one smoking piece of intelligence.” Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, who forced Cameron to delay a final vote on military action, was less impressive but drove home the point that a decision should await a report by U.N. weapons inspectors.
NEWS
April 12, 2014 | By Kari Howard
One of the qualities I value most in the writers of the Great Reads are their powers of observation. I'm a big believer in showing, not telling -- in giving those little scenes and details that make readers connect to people whose lives might seem impossibly remote from theirs. The writer of Friday's powerful Great Read, Raja Abdulrahim, is particularly gifted: She finds those moments when she's directly in the line of fire in Syria. In Friday's story, Raja, who has made her way into rebel-held territory many times during the three-year conflict, wrote from Aleppo, where life alternates between terror and a grotesque version of normalcy.
WORLD
April 12, 2014 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - Each side in the Syrian conflict blamed the other Saturday for an alleged poison gas attack that reportedly injured scores of civilians in the central province of Hama. There was no independent confirmation of a chemical strike, which reportedly hit the village of Kfar Zeita, an agricultural center northwest of the provincial capital, Hama. Fierce clashes between rebel and loyalist forces have been reported in the area. Various pro-opposition accounts said a government air raid Friday in Kfar Zeita included bombardment with an unspecified chemical agent, causing choking and suffocation among scores of residents.
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