‘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(...)

Kurdish refugees from the Syrian town of Kobani in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province today. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

Fierce fighting is said to under way in a Syrian border town where Kurdish militiamen are struggling to repel advances by the Islamic State group.The (...)

Muslims perform a prayer today near the Turkish border with Syria for Kurdish fighters killed in Kobani while fighting against Islamic State. Photograph: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA

Islamic State fighters advanced deeper into the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border today, taking almost complete control of an area where the(...)

Syrian policemen  inspect the damage done to a school after two bombs were detonated in a mainly Alawite neighbourhood of Homs yesterday. Photograph: EPA/Sana

At least 32 people, including 10 children, were killed by twin bombings near an elementary school in Syria yesterday.The second blast went off as pare(...)

US president Barack Obama attending a meeting of leaders from the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in New York last week. Photograph: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times 2:06

US president Barack Obama acknowledged in an interview broadcast yesterday that the United States had underestimated the rise of the Islamic State mil(...)

A Syrian Kurdish refugee woman and her child wait after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province today. Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters

New US-led air strikes against Islamic State fighters failed to stop them from pressing their assault on a strategic Syrian town near the Turkish bord(...)

 British tornado fighter jets prepare for takeoff at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus today. The British ministry of defence has confirmed that Royal Air Force jets have flown from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus following yesterday’s parliamentary approval. Photograph: EPA

Two British fighter jets are flying over Iraq and ready to hit targets today, their first mission since parliament authorised strikes against Islamic (...)