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Syrian Observatory: Syria Forces Execute 10 Children of Alleged Rebels

Ten children were among at least 48 people killed in a Syrian village earlier this week as regime forces executed six families of rebel fighters, a monitoring group said Saturday.

The killings took place in the village of Rityan, north of second city Aleppo, which regime forces entered on Tuesday during an offensive aimed at cutting rebel supply lines to the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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UK Police Launch Appeal to Find Syria-Bound Schoolgirls

British anti-terror police on Friday made an unprecedented appeal to find three girls who they believe are traveling to join militants in Syria as part of what officers said was a "growing trend."

Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said he was "extremely concerned" for the wellbeing of the girls.

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U.N. Probe Ready to Release Syria 'War Criminals' List

U.N. investigators said Friday they were prepared to publish secret lists of alleged war criminals in Syria to help stem an "exponential rise" in rights violations in the war-ravaged country.

A commission of inquiry said publishing the list it has been drawing up throughout Syria's nearly four-year civil war would put "alleged perpetrators on notice" and could "serve to maximize the potential deterrent effect" and "help to protect people at risk of abuse."

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Syria Army Fails to Cut Aleppo Rebel Supply Route

Syrian rebels on Friday seized back territory from regime forces north of Aleppo, stymieing government efforts to sever a key opposition supply route into the city, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel forces had taken back the strategic Mallah Farms area outside the city, as well as several villages seized by government troops in an offensive that began Tuesday.

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Distributors Withhold Diesel from Market to Make Gains, Hakim Vows Action

Diesel disappeared from the market in several regions as the fierce winter storm Windy started to lash Lebanon, mainly because of the distributors' preference to smuggle it to Syria, which prompted Economy Minister Alain Hakim to make an inspection tour on Friday and to pledge quick measures to stop what he described as a “crime.”

The scarcity of the vital petroleum product was mainly noticed in the Bekaa region, where residents rely on diesel for heating in extremely cold weather conditions.

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Hizbullah Refutes Claims of Syrian Plot to Assassinate Samaha

Hizbullah rejected on Friday media reports that said Syria was seeking to assassinate detained former minister Michel Samaha.

It said in a statement: “Such claims are baseless accusations that do not rely on facts.”

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U.N. Chief Seeks Action on Syria Sieges, Barrel Bombs

Denouncing a business-as-usual approach to Syria, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for urgent action to lift sieges on civilians and to end barrel bomb attacks. 

The appeal came in a report by the secretary general to the Security Council that also made the case for stepped-up efforts to reach a political solution and end the nearly four-year war.

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U.S. Wants Mosul Offensive on IS in April-May

The U.S. wants Iraq to launch its offensive to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group in April or May, military officials said Thursday.

Mosul is believed to be held by 1,000-2,000 IS fighters and 20,000-25,000 Iraqi troops are needed to carry out the offensive, an official with U.S. Central Command said.

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Turkey, U.S. Sign Deal to Train, Equip Syria Rebels

The United States and Turkey on Thursday signed a deal to train and equip Syrian rebel forces, officials said.

"Turkey and the United States signed a document a short time ago on the train-and-equip (program)," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

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Hariri: Cabinet to Convene Soon, Anti-Terror Strategy Can Only Rely on Army

Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri revealed Thursday that the cabinet will resume its meetings “soon”, stressing that any anti-terror strategy can only be implemented “through the army and legitimate security forces.”

“The government will resume its work soon, in light of the contacts I made with Prime Minister Tammam Salam,” Hariri said during a Center House meeting with Arab ambassadors to Lebanon.

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