US open to Syrian rebel talks

President Obama has said he was "encouraged to see the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group" but has warned he was not prepared to recognise the group as a "government in exile."

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Obama 'not yet prepared to recognise Syrian opposition'

President Obama said he was "encouraged to see the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group" but warned he was not prepared to recognise the group as a "government in exile."

I am encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition created a umbrella group that may have more cohesion, than they have had in the past.

We are going to be talking to them....We consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people, we are not yet prepared to recognise them as some sort of government in exile, but we do think it is broad based representative group

Four million Syrians 'will need UN aid by next year'

The worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria will leave more than four million people in need of emergency aid this winter, the UN's refugee agency told The Times.

The increasing level of violence is forcing aid agencies to abandon thousands of desperate families, and the country is becoming a "no-go zone."

Syrian refugees try to cross border fence from northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain to Turkey during an air strike
Syrian refugees try to cross border fence from northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain to Turkey during an air strike Credit: Reuters.

A spokeswoman for the World Food Programme said it was not possible to reach those that need help:

"There are some areas, especially, in the north of the country, that no one can reach no NGOs, no UN agencies, no one. They are sort of lost."

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Syrian National Coalition seeks EU recognition

The leader of Syria's new opposition coalition urged European states to recognise it as the legitimate government, to enable it to buy weapons to try and overthrow President Assad.

Mouaz Alkhatib, the Damascus preacher elected on Sunday to lead the new Syrian National Coalition, asked for diplomatic backing. He told Reuters:

I request European states to grant political recognition to the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and to give it financial support.

When we get political recognition, this will allow the coalition to act as a government and hence acquire weapons and this will solve our problems.

Syrian families flee air bombardment

Dramatic footage uploaded by activists shows panicked families and a number of children attempting to flee the town of Ras al-Ain.

One little girl is seen running down a street alone before being lifted up by a man who attempts to locate her missing family.

Elderly men are seen attempting to take cover in bombed out buildings, whilst the sound of fighter jets is heard overhead.

The Associated Press said the activist footage was "consistent with their own reporting" from the area.

'10,000' new Syrian refugees flee border bombing

Nearly 10,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey since Friday, seeking safety from shelling and bombing from the Syrian army, who are attempting to regain control in the rebel-held region near the border.

Syrian war planes started their assault yesterday, and the two-day death toll in the region has reached 31 people, according to Turkish authorities.

Ambulances from Turkey rushed to the border to ferry wounded Syrians to nearby hospitals.

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Syrian refugees flee renewed bombing on Turkish border

Smokes rises from a building on the Turkish border with Syria
Smokes rises from a building on the Turkish border with Syria Credit: EBU

New refugees from Syria rushed to the Turkish side of the border as Syrian warplanes bombed the two of Ras al-Ain for a second day.

Refugees flee the border as the town of Ras al-Ain endured its second day of bombing
Refugees flee the border as the town of Ras al-Ain endured its second day of bombing Credit: EBU

Residents from both sides of the border scurried for cover as forces loyal to President Assad continue to try and regain control of the town, which fell to rebels last Thursday.

The offensive has caused the biggest refugee movements since the conflict began last year.

Men climb through the wires fence from Syria into Turkey.
Men climb through the wires fence from Syria into Turkey. Credit: EBU

Arafat grave prepared for exhumation for poisoning tests

Yasser Arafat's grave cordoned off
Palestinian security cordoned off Mr Arafat's grave with blue tarpaulin in Ramallah, West Bank. Credit: RTV

The grave site of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat has been cordoned off today to prepare for a possible exhumation as part of an investigation into claims he was poisoned to death in 2004.

Blue tarpaulin fences were erected around the tomb in the West Bank capital of Ramallah to shield the public view.

French and Swiss experts will visit the tomb over the next two weeks after an Al Jazeera documentary in July suggested he was killed by a rare radioactive poison.

Yasser Arafat
Allegations of foul play have long surrounded the death of President Arafat. Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive

Estimated 2.5 million uprooted by Syrian civil war

The conflict has left residents in cities, such as Douma (above), devastated. Credit: Reuters

An estimated 2.5 million people have been uprooted within Syria by the civil war, more than doubling the figure previously projected by aid agencies.

The United Nations refugee agency announced the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's latest estimate, which a spokeswoman said was still "very conservative."

It came as more Syrian residents fled trouble in the rebel-held border town of Ras al-Ain, which has been subjected to two days of bombing raids by planes flown by forces loyal to President Assad.

"The figure they are using is 2.5 million. If anything, they believe it could be more, this is a very conservative estimate," Melissa Fleming of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. "People are moving, really on the run, hiding. They are difficult to count and access."

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