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Syrian president's mother has died aged 86

President Bashar al-Assad and his mother Anissa Makhlouf al-Assad Credit: Facebook

The mother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has died at the age of 86, state media reported.

The former first lady, Anissa Makhlouf al-Assad, died in a hospital in the capital Damascus, the official SANA news agency reported.

The agency did not give a cause of death, but she has reportedly been in bad health for a number of years.

She was born in Latakia in 1930 and Anissa married Hafez al-Assad in 1957 and they had five children.

EU urges Turkey to take in Syrian refugees on its border

Ms Mogherini said EU support to Turkey was intended to be used on refugees Credit: Reuters

The EU has urged Turkey to open the border to ten thousands of displaced Syrians fleeing from war.

Federica Mogherini, the EU's representative for foreign affairs, said that Turkey had both a moral and legal duty to help genuine asylum seekers.

She added that support provided for Turkey was intended to ensure that the state could give sanctuary to hoist and care for refugees, in comments after a press conference in the Netherlands on Saturday.

It is unquestionable that people coming from inside Syria are Syrians in need of international protection.

– Federica Mogherini

Turkey has said it is caring for some 35,000 refugees massed at its borders, but it has not as yet allowed them to enter.

Today Ms Mogherini said the issue of migrants showed that Europe needed to find “common solutions” or state will find they “don’t find solutions at all.”

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Australian woman kidnapped in Burkina Faso is freed

The couple were kidnapped in northern Burkina Faso Credit: Google maps

An Australian woman who was kidnapped with her husband in Burkina Faso by an al-Qaeda affiliated group last month has been freed, the President of Niger has said.

President Issoufou said "efforts are intensifying" to secure the release of her husband, who is a doctor.

Jocelyn Elliott and her husband were kidnapped on 15 January in northern Burkina Faso.

The couple ran a medical clinic and had lived in the country since 1972.

England win Calcutta Cup with powerful display in Scotland

Winning England captain Dylan Hartley poses with the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield. Credit: PA

England opened the Eddie Jones/Dylan Hartley era by emerging from a tricky RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield with a 15-9 victory founded on a dominant second-half performance.

Jones has had only two weeks to stamp his mark on England. On the evidence of today's match, his team has orders to attack from all areas of the pitch and take quick line-outs whenever viable.

However, after reaching the break 7-6 up, the team took a more conservative - or "pragmatic" in Jones' words - after the interval.

Though they were never able to stretch clear, a second try by Jack Nowell and an increasingly dominant set piece ensured they always had their noses in front.

We wanted to play some positive rugby, the attitude was to try to move the ball, but we were a bit off our game. It became a set-piece, defence game and we excelled in that and in the second half I thought we were commanding.

– Eddie Jones

Team captain Dylan Hartley added: “We stuck at it and when it mattered we got some dividends."

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