The temple of Baal Shamin in the historical city of Palmyra, which was destroyed by Islamic State.  Photograph: Reuters/Stringer 0:43

Islamic State militants have razed a fifth-5th century Roman Catholic monastery and blown up one of the best-preserved first-1st century temples in Pa(...)

A member of the allied Iraqi forces consisting of the Iraqi army and fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units, fires heavy artillery on the front line during battles with Islamic State (IS) group jihadists on the road leading to Saqlawiya, north of Fallujah. Photograph: Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Islamic State militants have seized a key town in central Syria after clashes with president Bashar Assad’s forces, according to activists. The town o(...)

This photo provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ariha Today, which has been authenticated, shows Syrian civil defence workers standing on the rubble of a destroyed building that was damaged after a government warplane crashed in the centre of the town of Ariha on Monday. Photograph: Ariha Today via AP. 1:55

At least 27 people were killed and dozens injured when a Syrian army fighter jet crashed into a busy marketplace in the rebel-held northwestern town o(...)

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Thursday in their first direct contact in four months as the United States (...)

Russian President Vladimir Putin with US Secretary of State John Kerry:  on his first trip to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began. Photograph: Reuters/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

US Secretary of State John Kerry has met Russian president Vladimir Putin in a bid to ease badly strained relations over the conflicts in Ukraine and (...)

Shia fighters from Hashid Shaabi forces walk with their weapons at the front line at the Shia Turkman village of Bashir, 20km south of Kirkuk on Saturday. Kurdish peshmerga forces, backed by Shia militia fighters, have been attacking Islamic State-held towns and villages south and west of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, peshmerga sources said. Photograph: Reuters

There is evidence that the Islamic State group used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against peshmerga fighters, Kurdish authorities in Iraq said.(...)

‘The New York Times this week reported what it called Obama’s and the West’s “quiet retreat from its demand that Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, step down immediately.”  That’s a euphemism for a very substantial policy U-turn, in effect an embracing of a morally dubious but pragmatic “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. Above, President Obama gives his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. Photograph:  J Scott Applewhite/AP

If Obama is “turning the page” on domestic policy, as he suggested in his state of the union address, there is also a sense in which he is turning an (...)

A shrouded dead body lies on a gurney in a street following a reported air strike by government forces on the Bustan al-Bashar district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday. Photograph: Zein al-Rifai/AFP/Getty

US support for diplomatic initiatives in Syria underscores the shifting views of how to end the civil war there and the West’s quiet retreat from its (...)

Armed security stand outside a Jewish School as the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve meets police officers after a visit to the school in the Jewish quarter of the Marais district in Paris. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 0:57

The common-law wife of one of the perpetrators of last week’s terrorist rampage in France crossed into Syria from Turkey on January 8th, Turkey’s fore(...)

Tribal fighters take part in a security deployment against Islamic State militants in the town of Amriyat al-Falluja, in Anbar province. The jihadists’ momentum in Iraq appears to be stalling. Photograph: Reuters

Islamic State appeared unstoppable after its blitz through Iraq this summer, with its battle-hardened fighters continually raising their black flag ov(...)