Syria
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Canada Worried as Growing Number of Youths Join Jihad

Concerned about a growing number of Canadian youths traveling overseas to join jihadists, and lacking an immediate alternative, political leaders have asked parents to keep a more watchful eye on their children for signs of extremism.

"These situations are disastrous," Quebec premier Philippe Couillard said Friday, a day after Canadians learned that six of their own, aged 18 and 19, including two young women, had left for Syria via Turkey mid-January.

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Syria to Expel Three U.N. Aid Workers

Syria has decided to expel three U.N. aid workers, in a new setback for international agencies struggling to bring desperately-needed relief to civilians in the war-torn country.

Two of the workers are from the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the third is an employee of the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday.

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Syria Domestic, Exiled Opposition Agree Crisis Roadmap

Syria's main domestic and exiled opposition groups said Friday they had agreed a joint draft roadmap for the first time, calling for a transitional governing body and an end to the brutal conflict.

The draft document comes after representatives from the exiled Syrian National Coalition and the domestic National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC) met in Paris.

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French Lawmaker: Assad Decries 'Isolation' in Face of Extremism

Syrian leader Bashar Assad no longer wants to "remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat", one of the French lawmakers who met him in Damascus on a much-decried private trip said Friday.

Senator Francois Zocchetto was one of several lawmakers who travelled to the Syrian capital and met with high-ranking officials including Assad on Wednesday.

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Turkey, U.S. to Begin Training Syria Rebels from Sunday

The United States and Turkey will begin training and equipping thousands of moderate Syrian rebel forces on Sunday as part of a deal the two NATO allies signed last week, an official said.

"I can say that the train-and-equip (program) will begin as of March 1," Tanju Bilgic, spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry, was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolia news agency.

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Lebanon-born Syrian Refugees Risk Stateless Legal Limbo

Syrian refugee Yasmine Khalaf lies next to her day-old daughter Israa in a Lebanese hospital, worrying that her tiny newborn risks life without a legal identity.

Israa, sleeping swaddled in a fluffy pink blanket, is one of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees born in Lebanon who are threatened with statelessness because of the hurdles to registering their births.

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Kurdish Forces 'Capture Strategic IS Syria Bastion'

Kurdish fighters seized a strategic Islamic State stronghold in Syria Friday in a move that could impede jihadist movements near the border with Iraq, where they also control large swathes of territory.

Meanwhile, the United States and Turkey are to begin training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels for the fight against President Bashar Assad and IS.

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Assad Has No Role in Syria's Future, Say Britain, France

Syrian leader Bashar Assad cannot "credibly" be part of any future government combating the threat from the Islamic State (IS) group in the country, Britain and France said Friday.

Assad is "stoking injustice, disorder and extremism" in Syria, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius wrote in a joint editorial published by newspapers Le Monde and Al-Hayat.

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Japan Police Arrest Teens for 'IS-Inspired' Killing

Japanese police on Friday arrested three teenagers on suspicion of killing a 13-year-old schoolboy, in a chilling murder some local media suggested was inspired by Islamist extremist executions.

The brutalised and naked body of Ryota Uemura was found in undergrowth near a river last Friday. His neck had been repeatedly hacked at, apparently with a blood-soaked knife that was discovered nearby.

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Cameron Defends Security Services after Media Unmask 'Jihadi John'

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday defended Britain's security services and vowed to defeat Islamic extremists after media reports named Islamic State executioner "Jihadi John" as London graduate Mohammed Emwazi.

"We will do everything we can with the police, the security services, with all that we have at our disposal, to find these people and put them out of action," Cameron said at news conference in Wales.

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