Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was told to ‘step aside’ by US president Barack Obama in 2011. Photograph: EPA

The Syrian crisis might have been resolved in 2011 if US president Barack Obama had not declared on August 18th that year that his Syrian counterpart (...)

UN special envoy  Staffan de Mistura  announcing at a press conference in Geneva on Monday that Syrian peace talks are to begin on Friday. Photograph:  Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups aimed at ending the country’s near five-year-old ci vil war are to begin on Friday, UN speci(...)

Christmas holiday lights hang from trees in the ancient quarter of Bab al-Sharqi in Damascus. Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

Beleaguered Syrian Christians, who belong to the world’s most ancient Christian communities, are set to celebrate a fifth Christmas during a war that (...)

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad during an interview with  Sunday Times journalist Hala Jaber in Damascus on December 2nd. Photograph: EPA/Syrian Arab News Agency

Syrian political and armed opposition figures are set to gather on Tuesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh in an effort to form a united front ahead of ne(...)

Mokhtar Belmokhtar: in June authorities in Libya said he had been killed by a US air strike there, but four days later al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb denied  that he was dead. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images

If Islamist militant group Al-Mourabitoun is confirmed as responsible for Friday’s killings at a hotel in Mali, it will be the latest time it has stag(...)

 Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Western powers want his removal from office as part of a Syrian peace deal. Photograph: EPA/Syrian Arab News Agency

“Assad must go,” is the constant refrain from US president Barack Obama, French president François Hollande, British prime minister David Cameron and (...)

Saudi King Salman with  Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Both condemned the weekend attacks in Paris. Photograph:  Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Middle Eastern leaders condemned Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Saudi King Salman called them “repugnant”, offering condolences to François H(...)

Delicate diplomacy: John Kerry with foreign ministers from Russia, Sergei Lavrov; Saudi Arabia, Adel al-Jubeir; and Turkey, Feridun Sinirlioglu. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/Reuters

The second round of talks on the Syrian crisis taking place in Vienna could be more positive than the initial October 30th session because the politic(...)

Residents queueing for humanitarian aid at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus, in March. Photograph: Reuters

Palestinians displaced from Syria’s largest UN camp, in the flashpoint Yarmouk district south of Damascus, face an outbreak of typhoid that could spre(...)

Members of the Assyrian Gozarto Protection Forces, consisting of Sutoro militia, a pro-Syrian government Syriac Christian movement, and other Assyrian fighters rest and drink tea before heading to  the front line in the battle against  Islamic State in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakeh on July 13th. Photograph: Youssef Karwashan/AFP/Getty Images

Islamic State’s reclusive leader has empowered his inner circle of deputies as well as regional commanders in Syria and Iraq with wide-ranging authori(...)