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Assad defies United States, presses assault in southwest Syria

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BEIRUT Syrian government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on opposition areas of the country's southwest on Friday for the first time in a year, a war monitor and rebel officials said, in defiance of U.S. demands that President Bashar al-Assad halt the assault.

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Germany's Merkel - Syria must be more secure before refugees return 22 Jun 2018

BEIRUT German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday on a visit to Lebanon that conditions in Syria are not yet right for refugees to return, an issue which has led to a dispute between Lebanon's foreign minister and the U.N. refugee agency.

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Turkey's Erdogan, presidential rival both vow to send Syrians home 22 Jun 2018

ISTANBUL President Tayyip Erdogan and his main rival in Sunday's presidential election have both pledged to send millions of Syrian refugees home, responding to growing unease among voters about the number of migrants in Turkey.

U.S. bombs Syrian army position near Tanf - pro-Assad commander 22 Jun 2018

AMMAN A Syrian army officer was killed in a U.S strike on a Syrian army outpost near a U.S. base close to the Iraqi-Syrian border, a commander in the regional alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters.

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Assad presses assault in southwest Syria, civilians flee 21 Jun 2018

BEIRUT Syrian government forces pounded rebel-held areas of the southwest with artillery on Thursday, in a steady escalation by President Bashar al-Assad who has vowed to win back the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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Syria's Assad gets food lifeline from Crimea 21 Jun 2018

LONDON/MOSCOW Crimea has stepped up grain exports to Syria over the past year in an arrangement that gives the Black Sea peninsula an outlet for its surplus crops and ensures President Bashar al-Assad has a reliable source of wheat.

Suspect in German ricin case was in touch with radical Islamists - prosecutor 20 Jun 2018

BERLIN A 29-year-old Tunisian arrested last week on suspicion of producing the lethal toxic ricin was in contact with radical Islamists, and twice tried unsuccessfully to reach Islamic State in Syria, Germany's top federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.

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Syrian army steps up attacks in southwest, Jordan concerned 20 Jun 2018

AMMAN The Syrian army stepped up shelling of opposition-held parts of the southwest as it mobilises for a campaign to regain the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, opposition sources said.

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Few Islamic State fighters return but home-grown attacks rise, Europol says 20 Jun 2018

THE HAGUE Europeans who went off to fight on behalf of Islamic State have not flooded back in large numbers since losing strongholds in Syria and Iraq, Europe's police agency said on Wednesday, but they have inspired a growing number of home-grown attacks.

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In Damascus, World Cup loyalties muddled by war 20 Jun 2018

DAMASCUS In a Damascus cafe, some of the Syrians watching Russia play Egypt in the World Cup faced a dilemma: whether to support a fellow Arab nation or their government's most powerful ally.

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UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visits Mosul

Angelina Jolie met with displaced families during a visit to the city of Mosul, in Iraq and spoke of the devastation she witnessed on her tour of the city. Rough cut (no reporter narration).