Lebanon & Syria

January 19, 2014

Four Hezbollah members went on trial in absentia at a UN-backed tribunal accused of murdering Hariri in a 2005 car bombing, with sectarian tensions running high at home. [AFP]
09:00 GMT

The U.N.-formed Special Tribunal of Lebanon (STL) trial of four men suspected of being behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri continued on Friday, where new evidence telecom identifying Hezbollah suspects was unveiled, UK-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported.

Syrian opposition National Coalition president Ahmad Jarba announced the group's participation in the Swiss peace talks on Saturday (AFP/Syria National Coalition Media Office/Mohammed Ziadeh)
07:17 GMT

The United States and Britain lauded the Syrian opposition's decision to attend the Swiss international peace conference scheduled for this week after heated weeks of debate on whether or not they would participate in the highly-anticipated talks.

Syrians in Yarmouk have gone without aid for over seven months. [eintifada]
05:08 GMT

A convoy which contains 200 parcels of food items has entered Syria's Yarmouk camp after seven months of isolation from aid.

January 17, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement on Syria at the State Department January 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Secretary Kerry urged Syrian opposition to attend the peace talk in Geneva to end the conflict. [AFP]
12:46 GMT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the opposition Syrian National Coalition could veto any names for an interim leadership in the planned Geneva II peace conference.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) greets Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Moscow, on January 17, 2014 during their meeting. [AFP]
11:43 GMT

Syria has handed Russia plans for a ceasefire in Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists with rebel forces on a possible prisoner swap, its foreign minister Walid Muallem told a joint news conference in Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov before a planned peace conference on Syria in Switzerland next week

Four Hezbollah members went on trial in absentia at a UN-backed tribunal accused of murdering Hariri in a 2005 car bombing, with sectarian tensions running high at home. [AFP]
11:38 GMT

Four Hezbollah members were charged on Thursday in The Hague with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in a truck bomb attack nearly nine years ago.

January 16, 2014

A Damascus government official claimed earlier this week that several European intelligence agencies have contacted the Assad regime over security concerns. (AFP/File)
14:14 GMT

The U.S. State Department has denied that Washington has been in talks with Damascus, adding that considering President Bashar al-Assad's record, it is absurd for the U.S. to treat him as "a partner" in the War on Terror.

A car bomb has killed an as-yet unknown number of people in Lebanon's Hezbollah stronghold of Hermel. (AFP/File)
07:46 GMT

A car bomb in Lebanon's eastern region of Hermel - a Hezbollah stronghold - has reportedly killed three people and injured many more on Thursday morning. The number of those killed by the blast is expected to rise.

Former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive explosion in central Beirut on February 14, 2005 [AFP/File]
07:31 GMT

A report by the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Wednesday claimed that two suspects wanted for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri are hiding in Iran, while the rest "have been killed".

Although the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has been heralded as a watershed moment for international justice, many in the country say they have very little faith in the U.N.-backed court. [ijhl]
06:48 GMT

The STL is expected to hear the case against four Hezbollah members accused of killing former Prime Minister Hariri.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah attend the opening ceremony of the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. [AFP]
05:07 GMT

As of January, the UN has secured 70 percent of the $1.5 billion pledged in the 2013 conference, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

January 15, 2014

The tomb of assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri lies in downtown Beirut. (AFP/File)
20:13 GMT

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has arrived in The Hague to partake in the trial of four suspects accused of assassinating late premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.T

Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad would not say which countries' intelligence organizations contacted Syria. (AFP/File)
15:40 GMT

Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad on Wednesday said that Western intelligence services - aka spies - who are opposed to President Bashar Assad have visited Damascus in a bid to discuss security cooperation with the government.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks to the press in Amman before his departure to Damascus.  [AFP]
09:12 GMT

The foreign minister of Iran arrived in Damascus on Wednesday to meet President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian youths gather to receive aid food in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on January 14, 2014. [AFP]
05:13 GMT

In a war torn region that has killed over 100,000 people, Gulf State officials announce that NGO's have pledged a combined $400 million in humanitarian aid funding.