Islamic State (Isis) militants have abducted 300 cement workers and contractors in an area northeast of Damascus, Syrian state TV reported. File photograph: Reuters

Islamic State (Isis) militants have abducted 300 cement workers and contractors in an area northeast of Damascus, Syrian state TV reported as fighting(...)

Palmyra citadel: when  Syrian troops took back Palmyra from Islamic State they found the extremists have caused wide damage and demolished invaluable statues. Photograph: Sana via AP

Syrian government forces backed by Russian air strikes battled Islamic State insurgents around Palmyra on Monday, trying to extend their gains after t(...)

US secretary of state John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria. Photograph: AFP

US secretary of state John Kerry said on Sunday he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessa(...)

Refugees  near the Syrian border in Kilis, Turkey. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

Saudi Arabia is discussing plans to deploy ground troops with regional allies, including Turkey, for a safe zone in Syria, in a last-ditch effort to k(...)

Syrians gather at the site following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Kalasa in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on Thursday. Photograph: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

Opposition forces in northern Syria say they are losing their grip on Aleppo as Russian bombardment and advances by pro-Assad militias come close to(...)

Autumn crocus: the rare – and toxic – Irish wild flower. Illustration: Michael Viney

A conifer tang from the tree in the corner, and the sweet lure of chocolate and tangerines are among the comforting aromas of Christmas, with bracing (...)

The King Abdullah bin Al Hussein Training Centre where a Jordanian officer went on a shooting spree on Monday, killing two Americans one South African.  Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

A Jordanian army officer shot dead two American military personnel and one South African and wounded six other people on Monday at a US-funded securit(...)

Migrants clamber on to a dinghy to sail for the Greek island of Chios from the western Turkish coastal town of Cesme on Wednesday. Greece and Bulgaria complain that Turkey does nothing to halt the flow into their countries of refugees. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

In celebration of the parliamentary election victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ankara arrested three dozen opposition figures and mo(...)

US secretary of state John Kerry. He said Israel gave assurances it had no intention of changing the status quo at the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Photograph: AFP Photo//Brian Snyder

Palestinian officials reacted warily on Sunday to what US secretary of state John Kerry hailed as Jordan’s “excellent suggestion” to calm Israeli-Pale(...)

Ghassan Ahmed Hussein, a Syrian refugee from Homs at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Amman. Ghassan lost both of his legs during shelling in Homs and is now undergoing rehabilitation. Photograph: Ted Nieters

Outside is a calm suburban street. Inside is a scene straight from a war-zone field hospital. Young men with amputated legs or severe bullet wounds sh(...)