Bashar Al-assad
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Turkey Says it Downed 'Syrian Helicopter'

Turkish armed forces on Saturday shot down a Syrian helicopter that violated Turkey's airspace in the south of the country, the Turkish defense minister said.

"A Syrian helicopter was downed that violated the border for a period of five minutes within a seven mile (11 kilometer) limit," Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz was quoted as saying by the Dogan news agency.

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France Says Assad Talks would be 'Scandalous Gift' to IS

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday rejected any role for President Bashar Assad in Syrian peace talks, saying it would be a "scandalous gift" to the Islamic State group.

Fabius' comments came a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that talks with Assad were necessary to bring the bloody conflict in Syria to an end as it enters its fifth year.

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Faisal Urges Anti-IS Ground Fight as Kerry Says 'Military Pressure May be Needed' to Oust Assad

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called Thursday on the U.S.-led coalition conducting air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq to fight the jihadists on the ground, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted that military pressure may be needed to oust Syria's President Bashar Assad.

Saudi Arabia, part of the anti-IS coalition, "stresses the need to provide the military means needed to face this challenge on the ground," Faisal said during a press conference with Kerry.

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Assad Meets Bogdanov, Backs Russia Peace Bid

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday met a top Russian envoy who said Moscow is hoping to relaunch peace talks for the war-torn country and could host a Syria-U.S. meeting.

After meeting Assad, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying, for the first time, that he "was in contact with our American partners."

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STL May Summon Jumblat to Testify as Hamadeh Addresses Syrian Opposition to Taef, Hariri-Lahoud Ties

MP Marwan Hamadeh resumed on Tuesday his testimony before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, focusing on Syria's hegemony over Lebanon under the premiership of slain PM Rafik Hariri and examining his ties with former President Emile Lahoud.

The ties between Hariri and MP Walid Jumblat came into prominence during the debate over the extension of Lahoud's term in 2004, prompting the STL Prosecution to reveal that it is studying the possibility of summoning the lawmaker to make his testimony before the tribunal.

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Assad Urges End to Funding of Armed Groups in Syria, Iraq

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said Tuesday that any campaign against "terrorism" must start with pressure on countries that support armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

"The battle against terrorism starts with pressure on the countries that support and finance terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and pretend that they want to fight against terrorism," state news agency SANA quoted Assad as saying.

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Assad Salutes 'Loyal Heroes of Lebanese Resistance'

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday hailed Hizbullah's fighters who “stood side by side” with the Syrian army, thanking those who considered supporting Damascus equivalent to “defending south Lebanon.”

“I salute the loyal heroes of the Lebanese resistance, who stood side by side with the heroes of our army,” Assad said in a triumphant speech delivered after he took the oath of office for a new seven-year term.

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Franjieh: No President Can be Elected without Assad Consent

Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh on Wednesday announced that any candidate must enjoy Syrian President Bashar Assad's approval to be elected a president in Lebanon, noting that the embattled Syrian leader would be “pleased” if Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun manages to reach the Baabda Palace.

“No president can be elected in Lebanon without Bashar Assad's consent,” Franjieh underlined during an interview with NBN television.

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Turkey Hostages: Ankara's Dangerous Liaisons

The kidnapping in Iraq of dozens of Turks by extremist fighters has revived debate over Ankara's alleged courtship of jihadist groups and prompted calls for an overhaul in its approach to the war in Syria. 

The abduction in Mosul last week of 49 Turkish diplomats, guards and children, as well as 31 truck drivers by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), drew a fierce rebuke from Turkey's government and the opposition, which accused Ankara of siding with extremists fighting in Syria and Iraq. 

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Jumblat: I'll Tell Hariri We Won't Vote for Geagea or Aoun

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat announced Tuesday that he will soon inform al-Mustaqbal movement chief Saad Hariri that his Democratic Gathering bloc will neither vote for Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun nor for Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea in the presidential election.

“We're opposed to the election of Aoun as president and I will tell Saad Hariri if I met him that we will neither vote for Aoun nor for Geagea," Jumblat said in an interview on Al-Arabiya's Al-Hadath TV channel.

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