accused the Syrian government of blockading a neighborhood in Damascus, and starving its residents. It says about 200 residents died from resulting food shortages. The Al-Nusra front, an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, meanwhile, released 13 nuns and three maids they kidnapped in a Christian village in December in exchange for the release of about 150 women being held in jails across Syria. The nuns say they were treated "well" and given everything they asked for, denying previous reports they were forced to remove their crosses. The nuns were released at the Lebanese border and are returning to Damascus.Latest news on Syria: Amnesty International has
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Saudi Arabia has listed two jihadist groups fighting in Syria, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, as terrorist organizations. It has given Saudi nationals 15 days to return from Syria, and warns Saudi citizen fighting in Syria could face jail time in Saudi Arabia.
Israel says it seized a ship carrying Syrian arms from Iran headed for Palestinian militants in Gaza, while according to Syria Israel lobbed eight rockets into its territory.
On Tuesday, March 4, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reported a new timetable for the removal of Syria's chemical weapons. The deliveries are increasing in speed and they now hope to have the job done by the end of April.
Hostilities in and around Syria continue as part of that country’s two year long civil war. Syrian activists have said 140,000 people were killed in the war so far. While the U.S. has been considering whether to pay rebels salaries in order to motivate them, Iran has increased its military support for the Syrian regime. Earlier this month, Syrian government forces and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have clashed with rebels near the Syrian border.
On February 26, Hezbollah is accusing Israel of bombing one of the group’s bases near the Syrian-Lebanese border, and is threatened to retaliate. Israel is one of many countries, in the region and outside of it, that have become involved in some way in Syria’s civil war. Israel’s actions have so far been limited to air strikes on Syrian government positions, and the editor-in-chief of Haaretz has suggested Assad has a “secret ally” in Israel, which does not want to see the hostile dictator replaced by an even more hostile extremist after Syria’s civil war.
UPDATE, 2/26/14: Syrian state media is reporting that forces loyal to Assad and led by Hezbollah have ambushed and killed 175 rebels in the eastern outskirts of Damascus.
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