Members of the Druze community on horseback hold a Syrian flag during a rally yesterday marking Syria’s independence day in the Druze village of Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights. Photograph: Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly

Half-observed holiday is day of complications and contradictions

A portrait of President Bashar al-Assad on a street in Homs, Syria. In February, more than 1,400 residents of the old city, including a substantial number of fighters seeking amnesty, were evacuated under UN auspices. Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times

State TV claims strategic gains in offensive that may put at risk truce talks

Inside the damaged church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Maaloula, north of Damascus. Photograph:  Youssef Badawi/EPA

Pointless battle for Maaloula is over as Syrian army takes control of region

Smoke rises after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad in the Armenian Christian town of Kasab on April 4th, 2014.  Photograph: Reuters

‘Great progress’ made on shipments, says deputy foreign minister

People work in a field near Aleppo in Syria. Some 6.5 million Syrians could require emergency rations, the World Food Programme has warned. Photograph: Nour Kelze/Reuters

Food rations cut by 20% as donors fail to honour pledges

Yehya Chaker Charkieh, the millionth Syrian refugee in Lebanon, speaks to a representative at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tripoli, northern Lebanon. Photograph: Omar Ibrahim/Reuters

Total number, including unregistered refugees, form 37% of Lebanon’s population

US president Barack Obama presents the executive director of Saudi Arabia’s national family safety programme, Maha Al Muneef, with the US secretary of state’s international woman of courage award in Riyadh. Photograph: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US president discusses ‘tactical differences’ on Syrian and Iran with King Abdullah

People celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday after Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared his candidacy for the presidential election. Photograph: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

Candidacy welcomed by secular politicians and Salifis, but criticised by Muslim Brotherhood leader

Egyptians celebrate on Tahrir Square in Cairo after the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Those behind that revolution, however, say its goals have never been fulfilled. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Critics say Egypt is more insecure and repressed than it was under Mubarak

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