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At Least 19 Civilians Dead in Syria Raids near Iraq Border

At least 19 civilians and several Islamic State group fighters were killed Thursday in air raids against jihadist positions in the Syrian town of Bukamal, near the border with Iraq, a monitor said. 

"At least 19 civilians, including a woman and two children, as well as jihadists were killed by warplanes" in the town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding it was unclear which country carried out the bombing raids.

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Syria Jihadists Capture Regime Town along Vital Road

Jihadists on Thursday seized a key town along a vital road in Syria's central Hama province, where regime forces are struggling to gain ground despite a month of Russian air strikes.

The setback for Damascus came as France announced it would deploy an aircraft carrier to boost its fight against the Islamic State group, which has seized control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.

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Russia Sent Missile Systems to Syria, Says Air Force Chief

Russia sent anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria to back up its air campaign, the commander of the air force Viktor Bondarev said in an interview published Thursday.

"We sent there not just fighter planes, strike aircraft and helicopters but also anti-aircraft rocket systems," Bondarev told Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid daily.

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Pentagon Welcomes Advance by IS-Fighting Allies in Syria

A coalition including Syrian Arab groups regained a swath of territory in northeastern Syria from Islamic State militants, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday, calling it an encouraging success.

The fighters, who are from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its Syrian Arab Coalition subgroup, regained 87 square miles (255 square kilometers) near the town of al-Hawl, U.S. military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.

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Syrian Minister Rules Out Transition Period

A "transition period" in Syria is out of the question because President Bashar Assad is the legitimate leader, the country's deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"There is no transition period. There exist official institutions that are functioning," Faisal Moqdad said on a visit to Tehran, Syria's state news agency SANA reported.

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British PM Denies Syria Strikes Climbdown

The British government on Tuesday denied it was abandoning plans for a parliamentary vote to join air strikes in Syria as an influential committee of MPs advised against action.

Newspaper reports suggested Prime Minister David Cameron had abandoned plans to seek parliamentary approval to extend missions against the Islamic State jihadist group from Iraq into neighboring Syria.

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Syria Reporter Killed by Rebel Fire, Says State Media

A Syrian reporter for an official radio station and a local television channel was killed on Tuesday by rebel fire outside the capital, state media said.

"Our colleague Batoul Moukhlis Al-Warar, a presenter on Nur al-Sham channel and Damascus radio, has been killed and others wounded in terrorist mortar fire on Dahiyet Al-Assad in Harasta" region, state television said in a breaking news alert.

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Lebanese Arrested for Belonging to IS, Recruiting Youths to Syria, Iraq

The General Security announced on Tuesday the arrest of a Lebanese suspect for belonging to the Islamic State extremist group.

It said that the suspect confessed to recruiting Lebanese youths to send them to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the IS.

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Rights Group Slams Syria Rebels for 'Human Shields'

Human Rights Watch has accused Syrian rebel groups outside Damascus of war crimes after they placed hostages including civilians in cages for use as "human shields" to deter government strikes.

Video posted over the weekend showed dozens of captives, among them soldiers and civilians, in cages being transported to different parts of the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus.

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Ban says Syrian talks 'hostage' to Assad's Future

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said talks on the Syria crisis had unacceptably been taken "hostage" by the question of President Bashar Assad's future, in an interview with Spanish newspapers published Saturday.

"It is totally unfair and unreasonable that the fate of one person takes the whole political negotiation process hostage. It is unacceptable," he said, referring to Assad.

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