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Two-Thirds of Christians Have Left Syria, Says Aleppo Bishop

Two-thirds of Syria's Christians have left the country, an Aleppo bishop said Wednesday, blaming violence and insecurity spread by extremist groups and insisting most Christians still support the Syrian president.

Chaldean Catholic bishop Antoine Audo said there were about 1.5 million Christians in the country before the start of the conflict in March 2011.

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Putin to Decorate Personnel who Fought in Syria

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday will bestow state awards on Russian military personnel who fought in Syria after ordering the withdrawal of armed forces from the war-torn country, the Kremlin said.

More than 700 soldiers and officers from the Russian air forces, ground forces and navy, and other military officials, have been invited to take part in the ceremony, the Kremlin said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Russian Syria Pullout 'Positive' for Geneva Talks, Says Arab League

Russia's withdrawal of forces from Syria is a "positive step" that will help the ongoing Geneva peace talks, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said on Wednesday.

Russian warplanes began leaving Syria on Tuesday after Moscow's surprise decision to withdraw most of its forces from the war-torn country.

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Pro-Russia Opposition Joins Syria Peace Talks

Peace talks to end the war in Syria intensified Wednesday with the inclusion of a pro-Russian opposition group, as the U.N. widened efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.

The entry into the Geneva talks of the so-called Moscow Group followed Russia's decision to withdraw most of its forces from Syria, where they had been fighting in support of President Bashar Assad.

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Syria Rebels' Morale 'Sky High' after Russia Withdrawal

Russia's surprise withdrawal from Syria has boosted the morale of rebels, jihadists and activists living in opposition-held areas who see the move as a major blow for the Damascus regime.

"Our morale is sky high. The regime will not be able to survive alone," said Raed al-Elewi, a commander for the Jaish al-Tahrir (Liberation Army) rebel group in Hama province in central Syria.

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26 Suspects Indicted in Terrorist Bombing Plots in Beirut, North

Military Examining Magistrate Judge Riyad Abou Ghida issued on Tuesday an indictment against 26 suspects linked to various terrorist bombings and attempted attacks throughout Lebanon.

The indictment was made against 26 suspects, some of whom are in custody, while others are at large.

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Syrian Arrested in Sweden for War Crimes

A 45-year-old Syrian man with a Swedish residency permit has been arrested for alleged war crimes in northern Syria, officials said Tuesday.

Haisam Omar Sakhanh, was arrested on Friday and remanded in custody in Orebro, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Stockholm.

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Russian Media Term Syria Pullout a Political Victory

Russian media on Tuesday hailed as a political victory President Vladimir Putin's surprise decision to start withdrawing armed forces from Syria as U.N.-backed peace talks resumed in Geneva.

"Russia is setting an example of a peaceful approach to settling conflict," the pro-Kremlin Izvestia daily said on its front page.

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Syria Strikes on jihadist Bastions Spike during Truce, Says Monitor

Since a ceasefire came into force in Syria, the army and its Russian ally have refocused their air power on targeting jihadist factions, a monitoring group said Monday.

The truce began on February 27 and does not cover the fight against jihadist groups like Islamic State and the Al-Qaida-affiliated Al-Nusra Front.

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Syria Talks Must Include all Opposition Groups, Says Lavrov

Russia called Monday for all opposition factions to be represented at the Syrian peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending the country's five-year conflict.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also hinted that an agreement could be reached to coordinate air strikes between the Russian air force and the US-led coalition to retake key rebel towns.

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