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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.”


Tens of thousands 'still on their way' to Turkey-Syria border

A Syrian woman carries her belongings on her head at a refugee camp near the Bab al-Al Salam crossing. Credit: Reuters

Around 35,000 Syrian refugees have arrived at the Turkish border near Kilis in the last 48 hours, a Turkish official has said amid warnings that tens of thousands more people may still be on their way to the frontier between the two countries.

Kilis governor Suleyman Tapsiz said the recent arrivals were being provided with food and blankets while accommodated in camps at the Syrian side of the border, adding that another 70,000 could be expected if Russian airstrikes and advances by the Syrian regime continued.

He told reporters that while the border was not closed, "at the moment there is no need to host such people inside our borders".

Speaking at around the same time, Turkey's foreign minister said the border between his country and Syria was still open, claiming that people needed to flee because Russian airstrikes were hitting "schools, hospitals and civilians".

He added that a further 55,000 people could be expected to arrive at the border in the coming days.

Syrian minister: Foreign fighters will 'go home in coffins'

Syria's foreign minister warned against any 'aggression' from foreign troops. Credit: Reuters

Syria's foreign minister has warned that any foreign ground troops who enter Syria without approval will "return home in coffins" - an apparent warning to Saudi Arabia which announced days ago it was ready to send forces into country.

Speaking amid talks intended to broker a ceasefire in the country, Walid al-Moualem said no such deal would be possible until the country's borders with Turkey and Jordan are closed.

It comes as thousands fled to the border of Turkey amid a fresh wave of fighting in Aleppo.

Thousands flee to Turkey border amid fresh fighting in Aleppo

Thousands of Syrians have fled to the Turkish border as the city of Aleppo came under fresh attack from a Russian assault.

The exodus came after Syrian troops backed by allied militias and intense Russian air strikes launched an offensive in northern Syria, apparently aimed at eventually encircling the contested city of Aleppo.

International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reports:

Kerry: Syria ceasefire still being discussed

Syria peace talks are continuing, according to John Kerry Credit: REUTERS/Nicholas Kamm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that discussions for a Syria ceasefire are underway but whether or not a resolution can be found may not be clear for a few days.

Speaking on the same day that it was revealed some 15,000 Syrians has gathered at the Turkish border in an effort to flee fresh violence in Aleppo, Kerry said it would soon become clear if Russia were serious about agreeing to a ceasefire.

He said: "The modalities of a ceasefire itself are also being discussed and the Russians have made some constructive ideas about how a ceasefire in fact could be implemented.

"But if it's just talks for the sake of talks in order to continue the bombing, nobody is going to accept that, and we will know that in the course of the next days."


Aid agencies urge Turkey to let fleeing Syrians cross border

Aid agencies have been urging Turkey to let the thousands of Syrian's fleeing fresh violence in Aleppo cross the border to safety, after reports that the border has been closed.

It comes as video emerged of crowds of Syrians walking towards a key crossing point between the two countries in an attempt to reach safety:

Rights group Amnesty International called on the nation to let people in and U.S. aid agency Mercy Corps warned the situation could escalate.

David Evans, Mercy Corps' Middle East program director, told Reuters: "It feels like a siege of Aleppo is about to begin".

Thousands flee to border amid fresh fighting in Aleppo

Tens of thousands amassed at the Turkish border on Friday Credit: RTV

Thousands of Syrians have fled to the Turkish border as the city of Aleppo came under fresh attack from a Russian assault.

As many as 15,000 people have gathered at the Bab al-Salam border crossing, carrying their belongings on their backs, as they sought refuge from the fighting.

Aleppo's mass exodus came as the UK's mission to the UN claimed Russia had completed at least 320 strikes north-west of the city while international Syrian peace talks were taking place.

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