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Syrian Opposition Groups Agree Assad Must Go

Syria's two main opposition groups settled longstanding differences Friday to agree that President Bashar Assad must step down in any deal to end the country's bloody conflict.

The issue has dogged efforts to get the exiled but widely recognized Syrian National Coalition and the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC), which is tolerated by the Syrian authorities, to agree a common platform.

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Muallem: Iran Deal Won't Affect Backing for Damascus

An international agreement on Iran's nuclear program will not alter Tehran's staunch support for the Syrian government and may even strengthen Damascus, Syria's foreign minister said Friday.

Speaking at a conference in Damascus on "confronting terrorism", Walid Muallem said those who hoped to persuade Iran to abandon Syria's government would be disappointed.

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Turkey-U.S. Airbase Deal Envisages Syria No-Fly Zone

Turkey's leaders on Friday confirmed a landmark deal with the United States on the use of a key air base near Syria, after Washington said American jets would be able to use the facility to launch raids against jihadists.

Hurriyet daily said the agreement for U.S. planes to use Incirlik base in southern Turkey provided for a 90-kilometer (56 mile) no-fly zone between the Syrian towns of Marea and Jarabulus to the east.

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Turkish Warplanes Bomb IS Targets in Syria, Killing 9 Jihadists

Turkey on Friday vowed to press on with operations against Islamic State (IS) in Syria and other militant groups, after its war planes bombed the jihadists' positions for the first time.

Following the pre-dawn air raids on the IS targets in Syria, Turkish police arrested almost 300 suspected members of IS and pro-Kurdish militant groups nationwide, in one of Turkey's biggest recent crackdowns on extremists. 

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Two Swedes Arrested over 'Terrorist Crimes' in Syria

Swedish prosecutors on Thursday announced the arrest of two Swedes suspected of committing murder in war-torn Syria, in the nation's first such detentions since the conflict erupted in 2011.

Aged 30 and 32, the two men "are Swedish citizens and live in Gothenburg" in the west of the country, said Ronnie Jacobsson, the prosecutor heading the investigation into "terrorist crimes" in Syria.

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Rebels, al-Nusra Launch Assault on Syria's Daraa

Rebels that include al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate announced a fierce offensive on the major southern city of Dara, saying their aim was to "purify" the area.

Operation "Storm of Truth" was announced on Twitter by the Southern Front, an alliance of rebel groups, "to purify the province of Daraa from the filth of the gangs of (President Bashar) Assad." 

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Turkey Retaliates after Soldier Killed by Gunfire from IS-held Syria Area

The Turkish military on Thursday pounded positions held by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria after a Turkish soldier was killed by fire from an area controlled by the jihadists.

The clashes -- the most serious yet between the Turkish army and IS -- came after the killing of 32 people in a suicide bombing Monday, blamed on IS, sparked an upsurge in violence.  A day after the fatal shooting of two police claimed by Kurdish militants as "revenge" for the suicide bombing in the town of Suruc on the Syrian border, a policeman was shot dead in the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

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U.N. Envoy in Damascus for Briefing on Syria Peace Talks

The U.N.'s envoy to Syria met with its foreign minister in Damascus Thursday as part of ongoing efforts to negotiate a solution to the four-year war, state media said.

"Staffan de Mistura presented the latest developments linked to his discussions and meetings in multiple countries" to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, the official SANA news agency reported. 

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Syria Food Crisis Worsening, Say U.N. Agencies

Favorable rains have helped Syria's 2015 wheat harvest but the country's food insecurity is worsening overall because of war, two U.N. agencies said on Thursday.

Food production "remains way below its pre-crisis levels as the ongoing conflict continues to push more people into hunger and poverty," the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) said in a report.

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Reports: Militant Kurds Kill 'IS Fighter' in Istanbul

A militant group allied to Turkey's outlawed Kurdish party has shot dead in Istanbul an alleged member of the Islamic State group who had fought in Syria, media said Thursday.

The reports come amid soaring tensions in Turkey following Monday's suicide bombing in the town of Suruc on the border with Syria that killed 32 and that the authorities blamed on IS.

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