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Syria’s national museum reopens doors in war-scarred Damascus

DAMASCUS: Syria’s National Museum of Damascus opened its rich trove of antiquities to visitors again on Sunday, seven years after war forced them to close and months after the government recaptured all rebel areas near the capital. Only part of the museum, and its collection drawn from the civilizations that have ruled Syria over the millennia, will be reopened immediately, its deputy director Ahmad Deeb said. “We will exhibit a group of artefacts from all periods from prehistory, the ancient east and the classical and…

Explosions at a Syrian military airport close to Damascus

BEIRUT: Explosions rocked a Syrian military airport near the capital Damascus late Saturday, with an NGO saying it was a "possible Israeli missile" but state media blaming a technical issue at a munitions depot. The military airport of Mazze, in the west suburbs of Damascus, was hit by a "possible Israeli missile, which hit a munitions store setting off successive explosions," the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahmane told AFP. The airport houses Syrian Air Force intelligence, and in early…

Assad supporters rally in Damascus after Western strikes

DAMASCUS: Thousands of Syrians gathered Monday in Damascus in defiance of Western strikes on the country and to celebrate the regime reconquering a former rebel bastion outside the capital. The United States, France and Britain early Saturday targeted what they said were chemical weapon sites after an alleged toxic attack on Eastern Ghouta on April 7. Later Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad's army announced it had retaken the whole of the region east of Damascus from rebels after an almost two-month military assault.…

Dozens reported killed in suspected Syria gas attack, Damascus denies

BEIRUT: A chemical attack on a rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta killed dozens of people, a medical relief organization and rescue workers said, and Washington said it would demand an immediate international response if the reports were confirmed. Medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) said 41 people had been killed, with other reports putting the death toll much higher. The civil defense rescue service put it as high as 150 on one of its Twitter feeds. The Russian-backed Syrian state denied…

Iran says Damascus suburbs assault to continue after UN ceasefire call

BEIRUT: Iran said attacks would continue on rebel-held areas near Damascus, where clashes were reported on Sunday between insurgents and government forces despite a UN resolution demanding a 30-day truce across Syria. Warplanes and artillery hit some towns in the eastern Ghouta enclave, said residents, rescuers, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory, a UK-based war monitoring group, said Sunday’s bombing was less intense than the attacks over the past week. Rebels said they clashed with…

Syria army intercepts Israel missiles near Damascus: media

DAMASCUS: Syrian air defences intercepted at least two Israeli missiles fired at a government "military position" in Damascus province early Saturday but the attack still caused damage, state media reported. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said the missiles, presumably Israeli, targeted "positions of the Syrian regime and its allies" southwest of Damascus. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment. "At half past midnight (2230 GMT Friday), the Israeli enemy fired…

Three car bombs hit Damascus, at least seven people killed

DAMASCUS: Three car bombs exploded in Damascus on Sunday, state media said, killing at least seven people in the first suicide bombings in the Syrian capital since terrorists attacked in March. Security forces stopped the militants from reaching their targets which would have led to more deaths, officials told state TV, saying the bombers had aimed to hit busy areas on the first day back to work after the Eid al-Fitr holiday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Damascus was hit by two separate, multiple…

Nearly half a million displaced Syrians return home: UN

GENEVA: Nearly half a million displaced Syrians have returned to their homes since the beginning of the year, mainly to find family members and check on property, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. The agency said it had seen "a notable trend of spontaneous returns to and within Syria in 2017." Since January, about 440,000 people who had been displaced within the war-ravaged country had returned to their homes, mainly in Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus, Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the agency, known as the UNHCR,…