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WORLD
March 21, 2013 | By Raja Abdulrahim, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
ANTAKYA, Turkey -- A senior pro-government Sunni Muslim cleric was killed in the Syrian capital Thursday night when an explosion struck the mosque where he had been giving a lecture. More than a dozen other people were killed in the blast at the Iman Mosque in Damascus in what appeared to be a targeted assassination of Sheik Muhammad Bouti. [Updated 3:49 p.m. March 21: The state-run news agency said the bombing killed 42 people, including the 84-year-old cleric and his grandson, and injured 84. The official news service said a suicide bomber blew himself up while the cleric was giving a religious lesson.
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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.
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TRAVEL
December 26, 2010
Syria, in the ancient heart of the Middle East, used to be rough, insular, politically extreme and all but off the map for travelers. Now, with a more forward-looking government, tourism increasing by almost 50% a year and opulent new hotels opening by the score, the luster is back on the magic lamp, making Syria one of the world's most compelling destinations for 2011. Recent visitors from the U.S. report that the largely Sunni Muslim population receives non-Islamic Westerners courteously, that tourists are allowed to shop and browse without annoyance from hard-selling touts and merchants, and that culture, cuisine and the arts in the former French colony have developed in strikingly stylish ways.
WORLD
June 6, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
DAMASCUS, Syria - After two years of grinding conflict, they are talking victory in Mazzeh Jabal 86, a gritty urban hillside where narrow alleys are festooned with jury-rigged electrical cables and testimonials to the "martyrs" lost fighting for the government of President Bashar Assad. Televisions were tuned Thursday to images of troops advancing through the rubble of Qusair, which had been a rebel logistics hub for more than a year before being overrun this week by the Syrian army and allies from Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
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
June 6, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
DAMASCUS, Syria - After two years of grinding conflict, they are talking victory in Mazzeh Jabal 86, a gritty urban hillside where narrow alleys are festooned with jury-rigged electrical cables and testimonials to the "martyrs" lost fighting for the government of President Bashar Assad. Televisions were tuned Thursday to images of troops advancing through the rubble of Qusair, which had been a rebel logistics hub for more than a year before being overrun this week by the Syrian army and allies from Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
WORLD
April 16, 2011 | By Meris Lutz and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times
Antigovernment demonstrations sweeping Syria appeared to have crossed a threshold in size and scope, with protesters battling police near the heart of the capital and the protest movement uniting people from different regions, classes and religious backgrounds against the regime. Tens of thousands of people turned out across the country Friday, dismissing minor concessions offered a day earlier by President Bashar Assad. The demonstrators called for freedom, the release of political prisoners and, in some instances, the downfall of the government, echoing demands for change across the Arab world.
WORLD
March 19, 2011 | By Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times
Anti-government protesters took to the streets in Syria on Friday for the third time in a week despite the threat of beatings and arrest. In Damascus, protests erupted after noon prayers at the Umayyad Mosque in the old city. Dozens of protesters were met by police and plainclothes security officers, and several were beaten and arrested. In Dara, a city close to Syria's southern border with Jordan, witnesses said protesters smashed statues and set fires. A video on YouTube showed fire brigades using water cannons to disperse crowds.
WORLD
February 26, 2013 | By Raja Abdulrahim
ANTAKYA, Turkey - Clashes between troops and rebels flared up Tuesday in the heart of Aleppo's old city in northern Syria. The rebels seized the centuries-old Umayyad Mosque, which for months has been used as a military encampment and checkpoint by regime forces, after a day of fighting, Aleppo activists said. The mosque sits near the medieval citadel, the city's signature landmark and a strategic site high above the surrounding neighborhood, which remains in the hands of the military.
TRAVEL
March 9, 2008 | Scott Kraft, Times Staff Writer
Early travelers crossing the desert to Syria got their first view of Damascus from the top of Jebel Qassioun, a gently sloped mountain northwest of town. It was not a sight they soon forgot. The prophet Muhammad refused to descend into the city, declaring that one could enter paradise only once and he would save himself for the one above. A thousand or so years later, Mark Twain loved the view but found the city, on closer inspection, "crooked and cramped and dirty."
WORLD
March 21, 2013 | By Raja Abdulrahim, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
ANTAKYA, Turkey -- A senior pro-government Sunni Muslim cleric was killed in the Syrian capital Thursday night when an explosion struck the mosque where he had been giving a lecture. More than a dozen other people were killed in the blast at the Iman Mosque in Damascus in what appeared to be a targeted assassination of Sheik Muhammad Bouti. [Updated 3:49 p.m. March 21: The state-run news agency said the bombing killed 42 people, including the 84-year-old cleric and his grandson, and injured 84. The official news service said a suicide bomber blew himself up while the cleric was giving a religious lesson.
WORLD
April 16, 2011 | By Meris Lutz and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times
Antigovernment demonstrations sweeping Syria appeared to have crossed a threshold in size and scope, with protesters battling police near the heart of the capital and the protest movement uniting people from different regions, classes and religious backgrounds against the regime. Tens of thousands of people turned out across the country Friday, dismissing minor concessions offered a day earlier by President Bashar Assad. The demonstrators called for freedom, the release of political prisoners and, in some instances, the downfall of the government, echoing demands for change across the Arab world.
TRAVEL
December 26, 2010
Syria, in the ancient heart of the Middle East, used to be rough, insular, politically extreme and all but off the map for travelers. Now, with a more forward-looking government, tourism increasing by almost 50% a year and opulent new hotels opening by the score, the luster is back on the magic lamp, making Syria one of the world's most compelling destinations for 2011. Recent visitors from the U.S. report that the largely Sunni Muslim population receives non-Islamic Westerners courteously, that tourists are allowed to shop and browse without annoyance from hard-selling touts and merchants, and that culture, cuisine and the arts in the former French colony have developed in strikingly stylish ways.
WORLD
May 10, 2013 | By Ramin Mostaghim and Patrick J. McDonnell
TEHRAN -- Iranians took to the streets Friday in the latest protest against the desecration last week by Syrian rebels of an ancient Shiite shrine outside Damascus, the Syrian capital. "We have to show our anger," declared Ebrahim Jalili, 80, a carpet merchant who was among about 150 demonstrators marching near Tehran University after Friday prayers. The destruction May 2 of the mausoleum of Hujr ibn Adi - a close companion of the Muslim prophet Muhammad  - shocked Iran, where the population is mostly Shiite, and spotlighted the sectarian agenda of some Syrian rebel factions.
WORLD
January 30, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT -- Divisions and internal differences continue to plague the fractured Syrian opposition. The latest sign of discord comes in a Facebook post by Moaz Khatib, the Islamic scholar and former petroleum  engineer named in November as the head of the newly minted dissident umbrella group, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. In the  Facebook comment that surfaced Wednesday, Khatib, seemed to cross a kind of Syrian Rubicon by suggesting  he would be willing to negotiate with representatives of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in a bid to end the almost two-year rebellion.
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