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Assad's cousin killed during battle with rebels in Syria

A cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was killed during a battle with Islamist rebels near the border with Turkey, activists and state media reported.

President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Reuters

Hilal al-Assad, local head of the National Defence Force militia, and seven of his fighters were killed in clashes with the Nusra Front and other Islamist brigades.

The National Defence Force is a militia set up to support the army in its three-year battle with rebels seeking to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Assad adviser accuses the West of believing 'lies'

A senior adviser to President Bashar al-Assad has accused western powers of giving credence to "lies" about the war in Syria.

Referring to around 55,000 images purporting to document the killing and torture of Syrian government prisoners, Bouthaina Shaaban told Sky News: "You can't just take all of these lies that are fabricated."

She also claimed that the Syrian opposition delegation at talks in Montraux "does not represent a fraction of the genuine Syrian opposition".


Assad: 'I see no reason why I shouldn't stand'

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Credit: Reuters

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has said there is a "significant" chance he will stand in the next presidential election, despite opposition and international calls for him to step down.

He told AFP news agency, "I see no reason why I shouldn't stand? (if) there is public short, we can say that the chances for my candidacy are significant."


Assad 'not ready to give up power' in Syria

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said he is not ready to give up power and the issue is not up for discussion at the Geneva peace talks next week, Interfax reports.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Credit: Reuters/SANA

He reportedly told Russian parliamentarians: "If we wanted to give up, we would have done so at the very beginning. We are on guard for our country. This issue is not up for discussion."

William Hague welcomes Syria peace talks progress

William Hague has voiced his support for the Syrian National Coalition's decision to attend peace talks next week aimed at ending the country's bloody civil war.

The foreign secretary said the western-backed group hold a "vision of a democratic and pluralist Syria."

The National Coalition reached this difficult decision against the backdrop of continued brutal regime attacks on Syrian civilians, and the deliberate blocking of humanitarian aid.

The UN Secretary General has made clear that the aim of the talks is to agree a political transition and an end to the conflict. In contrast to the National Coalition, the Syrian regime has still not agreed to this aim.

As I have said many times, any mutually agreed settlement means that Assad can play no role in Syria's future.

– Foreign Secretary William Hague
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