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Syria removes 80% of chemical weapons

Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of its chemical weapons and is on target to hits its June deadline for full removal, said the United Nations.

Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of its chemical weapons in-country, says the UN's special co-ordinator
Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of its chemical weapons in-country, says the UN's special co-ordinator Credit: REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

Syria has destroyed empty mustard gas containers and "made progress" closing chemical weapons production and storage sites, said the UN.

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, said she expected further meetings with Syrian officials would keep removal efforts moving up to the 30 June target.

Read: Farage says Syria rebels 'more than likely' behind gas attacks

Charity watchdog chief warns over 'aiding extremism'

The Charity Commission has warned that Islamist extremism is the "most deadly" problem it faces, urging the government to introduce laws to prevent convicted terrorists from setting up charitable organisations.

The watchdog's chairman William Shawcross told The Sunday Times (£): “The problem of Islamist extremism and charities . . . is not the most widespread problem we face in terms of abuse of charities, but is potentially the most deadly. And it is, alas, growing.”

Charities working abroad need to be 'particularly vigilant' over Islamist extremism Credit: Reuters

He said the commission was taking tough measures against any charity that was “sending cash to extremist groups in Syria” or “dispatching young Britons for training in Syria by al-Qaeda or other extremist groups”.

The regulator is investigating three charities raising funds for Syria and monitoring seven others.

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Archbishop to highlight suffering from conflicts

The Archbishop of Canterbury will use his Easter sermon to highlight the hardship of people suffering from conflict around the world and in Britain.

Speaking later today from Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Justin Welby will say: "In Syria mothers cry for their children and husbands. In the Ukraine neighbours cry because the future is precarious and dangerous. In Rwanda tears are still shed each day as the horror of genocide is remembered.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby Credit: PA

"In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt. Asylum seekers weep with loneliness and missing far away families. Mary continues to weep across the world", he will say.

Delivering only his second Easter message since becoming head of the Church of England, the Most Rev Justin Welby will also praise the resilience of persecuted Christian minorities around the globe.

Read: Justin Welby speaks of gay marriage struggle

Kidnapped journalist 'really happy to walk freely'

One of the French journalists who was held hostage in Syria said he is "really happy" to be free.

Speaking from Turkey Didier Francois said: "We are very happy to be free. We thank the Turkish authorities because they really help us.

"It's very nice to see the sky, to be able to walk, to be a able to speak freely. I'm really happy."

First pictures emerge of freed French journalists

The first pictures have emerged of the four French journalists kidnapped in Syria last June.

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Photo of the 4 French journalists released from captivity in #Syria. God that must have been a terrible experience http://t.co/voIhc2jeE4

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Jenan Moussa, a reporter based in Dubai, tweeted this picture of the journalists after they were found by Turkish soldiers.

Kidnapped French journalists found on Turkish border

Four French journalists were found by Turkish soldiers on the border with Syria after being kidnapped by the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria last June, Turkish media reported.

Journalists Nicolas Henin, Pierre Torres, Edouard Elias and Didier Francois were found in Sanliurfa province with their hands and eyes bound, Dogan News Agency said.

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Father of teen killed in Syria 'proud' of son

The father of a British teenager who died fighting in Syria has told ITV News he is "proud" that his son "sacrificed his own life for the sake of others".

Speaking from his home in Brighton, Abubaker Deghayes said his son was a "nice person" with many friends, although he was "a bit naughty, like any other teenager".

Read: Father hails British teen killed in Syria as a 'martyr'

Father hails Brit teen killed in Syria as 'martyr'

The father of a British teenager killed in Syria has described him as a "martyr" and tried to convince him not to fight in the war-torn country.

Abdullah Deghayes, 18, from Brighton, whose uncle is a former Guantanamo detainee, is believed to have died in April, after leaving the UK in January.

Mr Deghayes insisted his sons were not "terrorists" but travelled to Syria to defend "those who are weak" after seeing videos of the atrocities online.

His brothers Jafar, 16, and 20-year-old Amer also travelled to Syria. Speaking in Brighton, Mr Deghayes said:

As I far as I know Abdullah went to Syria without my consent, nor his mother's consent, to fight Syrians against the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

– Mr Deghayes

He was killed in a battle. His brother, who is also there, is injured. The third brother who is also there is OK. He is fine.

I never encouraged them, nor anybody, as far as I know. They went of their own free will. I hope he is in peace now.

– Mr Deghayes

Asked whether he believed Abdullah was a martyr, Mr Deghayes replied: "Of course I think, as a Muslim, that my son is a martyr. Anyone who dies for a just cause is a martyr."

Read more: British teen, 18, killed during conflict in Syria

Teen killed in Syria nephew of ex-Guantanamo detainee

The British teenager killed in Syria is the nephew of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

Abdullah Deghayes, 18, from Brighton, East Sussex, was killed in Syria. Credit: ITV Meridian

Abdullah Deghayes, 18, from Brighton, East Sussex, is the nephew of Omar, who was held in the United States as an enemy combatant at the detention centre between 2002 and 2007 after he was arrested in Pakistan.

Read: Family of killed British teen didn't know he was in Syria

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