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Pictures of Assad monastery visit posted on Instagram

Pictures of a rare trip by Syria's president Bashas al-Assad outside Damascus have been posted on social media site Instagram.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare trip outside the capital Damascus
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare trip outside the capital Damascus Credit: Instagram/syrianpresidency

Mr Assad was visiting the Mar Saks Greek Orthodox monastery in the Christian town of Maaloula, according to state media.

Pictures of Bashar al-Assad visiting a 4th century monastery were posted on his Instagram account
Pictures of Bashar al-Assad visiting a 4th century monastery were posted on his Instagram account Credit: Instagram/syrianpresidency

Read: Syria's Assad makes rare trip outside Damascus

Syria's Assad makes rare trip outside Damascus

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare public appearance outside Damascus by visiting the Christian town of Maaloula, according to state media.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking in Damascus March
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking in Damascus in March Credit: REUTERS/SANA

Mr Assad inspected the Mar Saks Greek Orthodox monastery, dating from the 4th century, which state media said was damaged by rebels.

Read: Syria removes 80% of chemical weapons

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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

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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