King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud: expected to boost the kingdom’s relationship with the Trump administration following its decline under  Barack Obama. Photograph:  Bandar Al-Jaloud/AFP/Getty Images

Appointments and decrees include naming of king’s son Khaled as ambassador to US

Nujeen Mustafa and her sister Nasrine near the Serbia-Croatia border in  September 2015. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The Girl From Aleppo review: Teenager Nujeen Mustafa finds her voice on a heroic journey

A member of the Iraqi security stands guard as Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul, performs at Nabi Yunis shrine in the eastern part of the city. Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Ameen Mukdad was forced into hiding when Islamic State took control of his home city

An unmanned aircraft in  the Middle East. The history of US intervention in the region might have been avoided if in 1919 US president Woodrow Wilson had acted on recommendations of a commission he appointed to survey Arab opinion on governance following the collapse of the Ottoman empire. Photograph: Getty Images

Current effort to oust Assad follows many failed attempts to topple him

Yemeni children waiting to receive food rations: “Unicef reports 460,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.” Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Global indifference making dire situation even worse, International Crisis Group says

This frame grab from  the  Syrian Central Military Media shows Syrian rebels  after they were released as part of an evacuation deal.

Government-rebel agreement may involve transfer of 10,000 people from four towns

John Hourican, chief executive officer of Bank of Cyprus, has been asked to stay on  at the bank until the end of 2018. Photographer: Misha Friedman/Bloomberg

John Hourican became chief executive of the Bank of Cyprus following the country’s economic melt-down in 2013

The Riyadh-sponsored opposition High Negotiations Committee  celebrated the US strikes and reasserted its demand for President Bashar al-Assad’s removal.

Analysis: Attack risks collapse of state into entities run by al-Qaeda, Isis and other jihadis

Syrians bury the bodies of victims of Tuesday’s  suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province, Syria.  Photograph: Fadi Al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: The horrific Khan Sheikhoun bombing is likely to harden attitudes on both sides

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson  with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu   in Ankara. Tillerson said  the Syrian people would decide the future of President Bashar al-Assad. Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

US moves in line with Moscow aim of defeating Isis, rather than removing president

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Jordan on Wednesday. Photograph: AFP/Egyptian presidency

Leaders stress need to find ‘peaceful solution’ to Syria and terminate activities of terrorists

Kirkuk provincial governor Najim al-Din Karim raises the Iraqi flag to fly next to the Kurdish flag over a government building in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk Tuesday. Photograph: Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty Images

Rise in ethnic tensions feared after Kurdish officials in Kirkuk raise flag over citadel

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak looking towards his supporters outside the area where he was hospitalised at Maadi military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo, in October 2016. Photograph:  Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Former dictator (88) returns home from military hospital after court acquittal

UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura  is welcomed by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

Talks to cover governance, a new constitution, elections and ‘terrorism’

Members of the United Nations Development Programme working in a damaged alley of the ancient market in Homs as part of the  renovation project, which has now been halted. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

UN funding pulled from Syrian project to restore Old City and bring residents back

The ancient Aleppo Citadel was only lightly damaged. Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Experts say a third of ancient Syrian city destroyed, but much can be restored

The Baron Hotel, among the first western-style hotels in Aleppo built by the Mazloumian family in the latter half of the 19th century. Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

International Women’s Day marks an opportunity to return to normal life

Children going back to school at Kheireddine Al-Asadi School in eastern Aleppo, Syria. According to Unicef, more children were killed in the Syrian conflict in 2016 than in any previous year of the war since records began. Photograph: Khudr Al-Issa/Unicef/PA Wire

Some citizens return to city but major donations are needed to rebuild infrastructure

Syrians shop for fast-food in the capital Damascus. Photograph:  Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

The people of Damascus try to find pleasure in the small things as war continues in Syria

The body of a man is recovered from the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike in Saada, Yemen, last August. Arms sold to Saudi Arabia have been used in the war waged on Yemeni Houthi rebels. Photograph: Naif Rahma/Reuters

US weapons supply worth $300m to Saudi Arabia to resume despite broad criticism

Iranians arrive at Boston’s Logan International Airport on February 5th, after the courts put a stay on the Trump administration’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. A revised version of the order keeps Iran on the banned list. Photograph: M Scott Brauer/New York Times

Ban confirms suspicions of many that US perceives Islam as inherently violent

United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (fourth from right) and Syrian  government representative Bashar al-Jaafari (second from left) attend a meeting of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva on Thursday. Photograph: Philippe Desmazes EPA

Government and opposition groups to discuss formation of transitional government

Jihad Makdissi: The head  of the opposition Cairo Platform called Russia’s role in ending the Syrian conflict “essential”. Photograph: Martial Trezzini/EPA

Opposition group calls Iran a ‘rogue state’ but says Russia has taken a ‘neutral’ policy

UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura addresses the  Syrian delegations at talks in Geneva yesterday. Photograph: Pierre Albouy/Reuters

‘You know there is no military solution, only a political solution,’ says Staffan de Mistura

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura: said Russia had promised to urge the Syrian government to halt aerial and ground attacks on insurgent-held areas. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Mediator says he expects to create ‘momentum in the political process’

Chief opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush (right) of the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel group speaks with his colleague during Syrian peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on February 16th. Photograph: Stanislav Filippov/AFP/Getty Images

Government in better position to strike deal but Turkey, Saudi Arabia want al-Assad out

 Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu  with US president Donald Trump whose statement that he favoured neither the two-state solution nor the one-state solution has unsettled Palestinians, Israelis,   and the international community. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Trump’s abandonment of policy could put weak pro-Western Arab regimes at risk

Yemenis walk through a market in the old city of Sana’a on February 11th. Some 6,000 combatants and 10,000 civilians have died in the current conflict in Yemen. Photograph: Yahya Arhab

The political vacuum caused by the conflict in Yemen has facilitated the rise of Isis

US national security adviser  Michael Flynn, who has put Iran “on notice” over it test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Michael Flynn’s warning that Tehran is ‘on notice’ risks destabilising the nuclear deal

Noor Hindi and Sham Najjar, who were born in the US of Syrian parents, demonstrate against the immigration ban imposed by Donald Trump, at Los Angeles International Airport, California. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Migrant ban could endanger 5,000 US troops involved in Mosul drive against Islamic State

Syrian families waiting to register at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. Mr Trump’s order puts an indefinite hold on a programme resettling Syrian refugees. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

Sunni radicals claim US president’s ‘blessed ban’ will prompt US Muslims to join jihadis

A man works to prepare the Syria peace talks conference room at the Rixos President Hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Kerry says parties are reaching a state of near exhaustion and end may be in sight

President Mahmoud Abbas: succession  issue has led to infighting. Photograph:  Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

Fundamentalist groups to join PLO and Palestine National Council

Special forces  in Mosul, Iraq, where Sunni  residents fear Iraqi Shia soldiers   might take  revenge for Mosul’s capitulation to Islamic State in 2014. Photograph:   Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Mosul fears Iraq’s government while Raqqa dreads anarchy once Isis is defeated

 United Nations soldiers patrol the UN Buffer Zone in Nicosia which splits Cyprus. Photograph: Katia Christodoulou/ EPA

Hopes are high of settlement plan as Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders meet in Geneva

Syrians fill plastic containers with water at a public fountain in Damascus. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

Opposing sides blame each other for bombing of pumping facility near Syrian capital

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More than 400 people in Turkey have died from terrorist attacks since June 2015. Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters

The Istanbul nightclub shooting is Turkey’s 19th major terrorist attack since June 2015

Armed Syrian fighters evacuated from the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo during the ceasefire arrive at a refugee camp in Rashidin, near Idlib, Syria, before Christmas. Photograph: AP Photo

Three powers, including Iran, prioritise end to hostilities and preserving Syria as a state

Supporters   of the Syrian government celebrate in  Aleppo on Thursday. Photograph: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty

Attitudes to the government’s victory are very different in the city’s east and west

Syrians evacuated from  Shia villages under rebel siege on the  outskirts of Idlib are welcomed by pro-government forces on arrival in Jibrin on the  outskirts of Aleppo on  Monday. Photograph: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty

Buses bound for besieged villages torched by jihadis opposed to evacuation deal

An ancient monument in the city of Palmyra, photographed in April 2016 after the Syrian army had regained control of it from Islamic State, and which is now back under the terror group’s control. File photograph: Youssef Badawi/EPA

Islamic State recapture of ancient city demonstrates that regime military is overstretched

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2015. Photograph: Reuters

Russia, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq help Syrian army resist attacks and reclaim lost territory

Iraqi soldiers hold a captured  Islamic State flag   during an  operation near  Mosul. Sunni citizens fear being branded as collaborators by their Shia liberators, as much as they abhor Isis. Photograph: Hadi Mizban/AP

Civilians pay heavy cost to protect their homes, lands and businesses

Syrian residents flee violence in the eastern rebel-held parts of Aleppo through the Bab al-Hadid district after it was seized by government forces. Photograph: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty

Election of Trump and assault on Mosul have added urgency to bombing campaign

Displaced people in Mosul flee Islamic State on Tuesday. A defeat of the jihadists could trigger conflicts between the forces now attacking it. Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Analysis: Defeat of the terror group could lead to the return of al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq

A member of Iraqi army walks at the remains of wall panels and colossal statues of winged bulls, destroyed by Islamic State militants in the Assyrian city of Nimrud, south of Mosul, Iraq. Photograph: Ari Jalal/Reuters

Unlike Palmyra, the heart of the Assyrian empire has been reduced to rubble

US president Barack Obama: his decision shows “a belated realisation that Nusra has become the most powerful insurgent group in Syria”. Photograph: Ron Sachs/Getty Images

US president’s order to ‘track and slay’ jihadi group’s leaders signals turnabout in policy

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu stands next to US president-elect Donald Trump during their meeting in New York in September. Photograph: Reuters

Republican gets flurry of congratulatory calls, as some worry about his anti-Islam remarks

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon   and Greek Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades at the    Cyprus peace talks in  Switzerland. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty

Warning Turkey could annex north if solution not found before end-of-year deadline

Syrian Democratic Forces  commanders attend a news conference in Ain Issa, Raqqa Governorate. Photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters

Analysis: Turkish intervention complicates two-stage offensive by Kurdish-Arab SDF

Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri takes a selfie with journalists at the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut. Photograph: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

The country’s system creates power-sharing among the main confessional communities

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Trump would provide strong leadership if elected president of the US, but was cool toward Clinton, who  criticised his human rights record. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

Two-thirds of those polled in nine Arab countries said they viewed US negatively

Former general Michel Aoun commanded the country’s armed forces during the waning years of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war. Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Election by parliament will end 2½ years of caretaker government and no head of state

An Iraqi special forces soldier looks inside the entrance of a tunnel used by Islamic State militants in a restaurant in Bazwaya, east of Mosul, on Thursday. Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

Analysis: Scores of villagers used as human shields and oil wells set alight

A girl displaced by the fighting near Mosul at a checkpoint in Qayyara on Wednesday. Humanitarian agencies fear a catastrophic outflow of civilians from Mosul if there is heavy bombardment and urban warfare. Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Iraq’s second largest city has been under the control of Islamic State since June 2014

Displaced Iraqi children, who fled Falluja because of Islamic State violence, at a camp on the outskirts of the city this summer. Amnesty International says some of those fleeing Falluja were subjected to human rights abuses by security forces and Popular Mobilisation Units comprised of mainly Shia militias. Photograph: Reuters

Amnesty report claims displaced Sunni Arabs subjected to human rights violations

Iraq’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi speaks on state TV on Sunday as he announces the start of an offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State. Photoghraph: Office of Iraqi prime minister

The city is Baghdad’s chief strategic, political and economic objective in the struggle for Iraq

The settlement at Harjileh for displaced residents of the Damascus suburb of Daraya. Photograph: Michael Jansen

Some of the displaced population of the now empty town of Daraya have recently moved into newly built UN housing in Harjileh,(...)

Pro-government Syrian soldiers patrol the area of Awijah as they advance into Aleppo’s rebel-held neighbourhoods. Photograph: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images

Damascus and Moscow are concerned about the foreign policy of next US president

Members of the United Nations Development Programme perform restoration work in a damaged alley of the ancient market in the heart of the mostly government-controlled Syrian city of Homs. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

UN programme brings traders back to battle-scarred 4,000 year-old Syrian souk

Syrians  outside the Omayyad Mosque in central Damascus. In many areas of Syria life continues as usual.  Photograph:  Joseph Eid/AFP

In Damascus, Homs, Hama, and coastal cities, Syrians live as normally as they can

Syrian civilians and rescuers gather at site of government forces airstrikes in the rebel-held neighbourhood of Al-Shaar in Aleppo. Photograph: Getty Images

City’s recapture would put 70% of population back under Damascus government control

Syrians carry a body following bombardment on the al-Marja neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Friday. Photograph: Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: US failure to persuade allies to break links to Al-Qaeda-linked group is key issue

Members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivering aid boxes in Douma, a flashpoint near Damascus, last May. Photograph: Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society has lost 54 staff and volunteers in six-year conflict

Pilgrims circle the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca. Photograph: Getty Images

For the first time in nearly 30 years, Iranians are not joining the annual Hajj pilgrimage

Turkish troops   on the road near the Syrian village of Tuwairan, about 2km from the border with Turkey, on Monday. Photograph: Nazeer al-Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Incursion prevents Kurds from uniting and pushes jihadists from border areas

Yemeni explosives experts from the police department examine  an unexploded rocket fired  during  an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition in Tahrir Square, in the centre of the capital Sanaa, on Thursday. Photograph:  Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

Figure nearly double the number previously given by UN and could be much higher

Damaged and collapsed buildings in the Syrian town of Daraya.  Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Damascus suburb significant as one of first areas to protest against Bashar al-Assad

 Turkish Army tanks driving to the Syrian Turkish border town of Jarabulus. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Struggle for power around Turkish-Syrian border is becoming fraught amid Isis rout

A Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber based at Hamedan airbase in Iran releasing its payload while carrying out airstrikes in the Deir ez-Zor province of Syria. Until last week Russia and Iran were the military mainstays of the overstretched and undermanned Syrian army. Photograph: EPA

Country has joined Russia and Iran in supporting the Syrian government in war

Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits with his sister inside an ambulance after they were rescued following an airstrike in the  al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria. Photograph: Mahmoud Rslan/Reuters

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura says no convoys have reached certain cities for 110 days

Iraqi security forces are preparing for an offensive that could be days or weeks away. Photograph: Reuters

Operation to wrest control of Islamic State stronghold marked by careful planning

Civilians evacuated from an Islamic State-controlled neighbourhood of Manbij. Photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters

Turkey blocks efforts of largely Kurdish Democratic Forces to capture border town

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and  Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin: Co-operation between Moscow and Ankara was agreed by  Putin and  Erdogan who is angered over western criticism of his policies and seeking realignment. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Russia is calling the shots in Syria as it works to strengthen its links with Turkey

Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, gather in a street in  Aleppo over the weekend. Photograph: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

If east-west territorial status quo remains neither side gains leverage in Geneva talks

Burning tyres in Aleppo which activists say are used to create smoke cover from warplanes. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

It could see end to conflict or its spread to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and wider Middle East

A man rides a bicycle past burning tyres, which activists said are used to create smoke cover from warplanes, in Aleppo, Syria. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

Insurgents stage largest offensive against government forces since fight for city began

Jabhat al-Nusra fighters march towards the northern Syrian village of al-Aie in Aleppo province. The group is the most powerful fundamentalist faction in the country. Photograph: Al-Nusra Front via AP

Analysis: Fundamentalist faction is less under threat than its rival Islamic State

Graffiti is seen on a wall outside the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus. The graffiti on the wall reads “Peace in Cyprus”. Photograph: Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters

Talks ‘poisoned’ by Turkish prime minister’s statement on Greek Cypriots

Saudi Arabian women at the opposite side of a  hallway from men in a hotel in Riyadh: a Human Rights Watch report finds they are treated from birth to death as “permanent legal minors”. Photograph:  Sergey Ponomarev/New York Times

Human Rights Watch report finds male guardianship one of worst curbs on females

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan: He  could dangerously weaken the armed forces by mounting a purge. Photograph: Kenan Gurbuz /Reuters

The Turkish government is expected to make a clean sweep of dissidents after the failed coup

A file photograph from May 2016 showing Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan between Turkey’s chief of staff General Hulusi Akar  and Greek Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis. Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters

Turkish president has become increasingly autocratic since being elected in 2013

Fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units, supporting Iraqi  government forces, and members of the Iraqi police pose with an Islamic State flag in Falluja on June 28th after Iraqi forces retook the city from the jihadists. File photograph: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Isis targets civilians and tries to stir sectarian strife amid onslaught in Syria and Iraq

A British soldier secures an area near the burning oil export pipeline – from the southern city of Basra, 500km from Baghdad, to the Faw peninsula on the Gulf – in March 2004, in the Maamer zone 100km further south of Basra. Photograph: Joseph Barrak/AFP/Getty Images

Thirteen years after the US-British invasion, we are still reaping a whirlwind of violence

Women mourn on Monday at the site of the bomb attack in Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood at the weekend that killed more than 150 people. Photograph: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Islamic State bombings during holy month goes against the teachings of the Koran

 Iraqi men mourn over a body after they lost five members of their family in a suicide bombing that ripped through Baghdad’s busy shopping district of Karrada. Photograph: Haidar Hamdanihaidar/Getty Images

149 people dead and 192 injured after Islamic State bombers targeted Karrada district

A  child displaced by Islamic State violence  in a tent at a refugee camp in the Makhmour area near Mosul, Iraq. Photograph: Ari Jalal/Reuters

‘A Heavy Price for Children’ report finds serious risk of death, violence and abduction

Displaced Iraqi children, who fled from Falluja because of Islamic State violence, are seen at a camp on the outskirts of Falluja, Iraq: recent arrivals suffer extreme temperatures without shelter in the desert. Photograph: Reuters/Stringer

UNHCR says €15m urgently needed to provide relief supplies to 85,000 in desert camps

Displaced children from the Iraqi minority Yazidi sect, fleeing  Islamic State terrorists in Sinjar in 2014. Photograph: Reuters

Isis ‘has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities’

Saudi deputy crown prince Mohamed bin Salman (left) began his US tour with an iftar  at the home of John Kerry. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

White House keeps Prince Mohamed bin Salman in suspense on Washington visit

UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq Lise Grande visits at a refugee camp in Ameriyat Falluja, south of Falluja, Iraq. Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Thousands in Iraq are risking their lives to reach army lines on a protected corridor

  Iraqi security forces detain dozens of men from  Fallujah  for interrogation on suspicion of belonging to Isis during a military operation  to take back the city. Photograph:  EPA

Al-Qaeda Central leader and Osama bin-Laden’s son call for jihadists to unite

Iraq’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi has to prevent a massacre of residents and the devastation of the city. Photograph: Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters.

Iraq’s post-US occupation army is sectarian with Sunnis excluded as officers and soldiers

Mohammed Alloush who has resigned as chief negotiator for the opposition at the Syrian peace talks. Photograph: Bassam Hatoum/AP

Preoccupation of Damascus, Moscow and Washington withn battle against Islamic State has allowed ceasefire to break down

An Iraqi Shia fighter close to Falluja on Tuesday. Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Analysis: Iraq’s prime minister needs to retake the city to maintain the support of Shias

A blazing car after explosions hit the Syrian city of Tartous. Photograph: Syrian Arab News Agency handout via Reuters

Neither Russian military nor Syria’s coastal enclave is secure from attack

 A Yemeni vendor waits for customers at a market in the old city of Sana’a. Photograph: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

UN has only reached one-third of the 180,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition

US secretary of state John Kerry meeting Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in Jeddah on Sunday for consultation ahead of another week of high-stakes diplomacy on the Syria conflict. Photograph: AFP/US State Department

International Syria Support Group meeting in Vienna, but little hope of political settlement

Fighters from Iraqi pro-government forces hold up an Islamic State flag and flash the V-sign during a military operation against Isis near Amriyat al-Falluja, 30km south of the besieged city of Fallujah. Photograph: Moadh al-Dulaimi/AFP/Getty Images

Extreme inflation and shortages take a toll on cities in Iraq and Syria occupied by Isis

Damaged buildings in the rebel-held area of Old Aleppo in Syria. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

Loss of manufacturing hub would constitute a significant reversal for government forces

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