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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…

At destroyed Syria lab, workers deny producing toxic weapons

Plastic gloves and face masks lay scattered in the rubble of a Syrian research lab destroyed by Western strikes on Saturday, where an official denied the centre was developing chemical weapons. US, British and French strikes slammed into a series of targets around Damascus that the Western countries said were linked to the Syrian government's chemical weapons programme. One multi-storey complex, in the capital's northern district of Barzeh, had been completely reduced to rubble, AFP's correspondents saw during a…

Syria’s ruined Ghouta unrecognisable to returnees

ZAMALKA, Syria: Syrians displaced from the bombed-out Eastern Ghouta suburb are eager to return home, but fighting has destroyed so much of their hometowns that they can barely recognise their own neighbourhoods. Eyebrows furrowed, Umm Mohammad examined a row of homes in Zamalka, trying to find a spark of familiarity in the heavily-damaged town. "I haven't found my home yet. The neighbourhood's features have all changed and I lost all the main landmarks," said the 50-year-old, who left Zamalka in 2012 after having…

‘Deal reached’ for Syria rebels to quit last Ghouta holdout

DAMASCUS: The Syrian regime on Sunday drew closer to taking full control of rebel bastion Eastern Ghouta after a deal appeared to be reached for fighters and civilians to leave the enclave's last opposition pocket.  The agreement brokered by government ally Moscow would see fighters with the Jaish al-Islam rebel faction leave Ghouta's main town of Douma for opposition territory in northern Syria, state media and a monitoring group. There was no immediate confirmation from the rebels, but Russia's military said it had…

U.S. warns it may act on Syria as onslaught against Ghouta grinds on

UNITED NATIONS/AMMAN: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Monday that Washington “remains prepared to act if we must,” if the U.N. Security Council fails to act on Syria, as the Syrian army’s onslaught in eastern Ghouta continued unabated. The United States asked the Security Council to demand an immediate 30-day ceasefire in Damascus and rebel-held eastern Ghouta, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, say they are targeting “terrorist” groups which are…

Death toll tops 1,000 in assault on Syria’s Ghouta: monitor

DAMASCUS: More than 1,000 civilians have been killed since Syria's government launched a brutal offensive on the rebel-controlled Eastern Ghouta enclave nearly three weeks ago, a war monitor said on Saturday. "The death toll has gone up to 1,002 civilians, after eight people were killed today in Harasta and Arbin," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Rescue workers on Saturday pulled the bodies of 17 people, including members of three separate families -- from under the rubble of destroyed buildings in Douma.…

Syrians in Ghouta scramble for safety as bombing builds

SYRIA: As cars of fleeing civilians zipped around him, Syrian shepherd Abu Qassem led his flock of shabby-looking sheep out of their battered hometown in Eastern Ghouta. Carrying nothing but a walking stick and pale green handkerchief, Abu Qassem shuffled his sheep north, narrowly escaping the bombing hitting Beit Sawa. Just hours after he escaped, government troops overran the town as part of their blistering assault on the rebel-controlled enclave of Eastern Ghouta. On February 18, Syrian and allied forces…

Aid reaches Ghouta but retreats after shelling; Syria presses assault

BEIRUT/GENEVA: Aid trucks reached Syria’s eastern Ghouta region on Monday for the first time since the start of one of the war’s deadliest assaults, but the government stripped some medical supplies from the convoy and pressed on with its air and ground assault. The convoy of more than 40 trucks pulled out of Douma in darkness after shelling on the town, without fully unloading supplies during a nine-hour stay. All staff were safe and heading back to the capital Damascus, aid officials said. The Russian-backed Syrian…

Macron urges Tehran to ‘pressure’ Syria to halt Ghouta offensive

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron called on his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Sunday to put the "necessary pressure" on the Syrian government to halt "indiscriminate" attacks on civilians in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta. During a telephone call between the two leaders, Macron underscored the "particular responsiblity for Iran, because of its ties to the regime, regarding the implementation of the humanitarian truce" sought by the UN, his office said. Their talks came as a monitoring group said…