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The UK will provide a further £30 million ($49 million) to help Syrians caught up in the ongoing crisis cope with the winter storms and plummeting temperatures that are sweeping the region, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today.Inside Syria, this will see 15,000 blankets distributed and will ensure that at least 30,000 families get essential food rations. It will also deliver hygiene kits to 30,000 households and help to ensure that people displaced by the fighting have access to clean water and basic shelter equipment, including plastic sheeting and ropes to keep off the worst of the elements.In particular, this new assistance will focus on hard to reach areas inside Syria, to help people there get through the winter.
Russia has sent 25 armored trucks and 50 other vehicles to Syria to help transport toxins that are to be destroyed under an international agreement to rid the nation of its chemical arsenal, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.
In a report to President Vladimir Putin, Shoigu said Russian aircraft delivered 50 Kamaz trucks and 25 Ural armored trucks to the Syrian port city of Latakia on December 18-20 along with other equipment, state-run news agency RIA reported.
"The Defense Ministry has very swiftly implemented actions to deliver to Syria equipment and materiel to provide for the removal of Syrian chemical weapons and their destruction," Shoigu was quoted as saying.
Syrian aircraft pummeled an opposition neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, killing at least 25 people and extending the government's furious aerial bombardment of the rebel-held half of the divided city into an eighth consecutive day.
Since it began on Dec. 15, the government's unusually heavy air campaign in Aleppo has killed more than 200 people, smashed residential buildings and overwhelmed the city's hospitals with casualties. The timing of the assault — a month ahead of planned peace talks in Switzerland— suggested that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be trying to strengthen his position and expose the opposition's weaknesses before sitting down at the negotiating table.
Syria's civil war, now into its third year, has killed more than 120,000 people, according to activists. Millions have fled their homes because of the fighting.
Activists say that Syrian government airstrikes on a rebel-held neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo have killed at least 25 people.
Sunday marks the eighth consecutive day that the Syrian air force has bombed opposition areas of the divided city.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Sunday's air raids hit the Masaken Hanano district, including a second-hand market in the neighborhood.
Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman says at least 25 people were killed. He says the death toll could rise because 17 of the wounded are in critical condition.
Another activist group, the Aleppo Media Center, put the death toll at 32. It published a list of the names of the dead on its Facebook page.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car near a primary school in a Syrian Shia town, killing at least six people Sunday, activists and state media reported.
The blast occurred outside a compound of schools in the town of Umm al-Amed in the eastern province of Homs, an official from the governor's office said. He said the blast destroyed a series of buildings, and that rescue operations were continuing in the area.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to speak to journalists.
Rami Abdurrahman of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least six people, including children, were killed in the blast. He said he couldn't confirm how many children.
The governor's office official said at least 10 people died in the blast, including five students. It wasn't possible to immediately reconcile the conflicting death tolls. The Observatory obtains its information from a network of activists on the ground.
Asked if his group would abide by an agreement, Hassan Aboud said: "Whatever comes out of it, is binding only on the Syrian National Coalition", referring to the main political opposition bloc."As far as we are concerned, we will continue the revolution until we restore our rights and our dignity."Aboud said the groups that have agreed to attend the Geneva conference have "no leverage on the ground".
A Syrian photographer who took pictures for Reuters on a freelance basis has been killed while covering fighting in Aleppo, activists said.
Molhem Barakat died on Friday as he took photographs of a battle over a hospital between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Rebels had accused government forces of turning the Kindi Hospital into a barracks.
As well as covering the conflict, Barakat took pictures showing the life of ordinary Syrians in the divided city, which used to be Syria's commercial hub.
Barakat had sent Reuters dozens of pictures since May this year. Many of those pictures appeared in publications around the world.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today returned the body of Dr. Abbas Khan to British officials in Lebanon. Mr. Khan died recently while detained in Syria.
An ICRC convoy left Damascus today at 11am and returned the body of Dr. Khan to Beirut, Lebanon, where United Kingdom officials received it. The British Embassy in Lebanon is expected to rapidly fly the body to London, where it will be received by the family.
Mr. Khan's family as well as Syrian and British authorities requested the ICRC to assist with the transportation of the body to ensure its rapid return to the United Kingdom. Two days before the repatriation, Syrian authorities had asked the ICRC to be present during a medical examination of Dr. Khan's body.
The ICRC acted on a strictly humanitarian basis at the family’s request and is not conducting an inquiry into Mr. Khan's death.
The ICRC does not visit detainees in Syria despite repeated requests to Syrian authorities to be granted access to places of detention in the country. It therefore never visited Dr. Khan during his detention in Syria.
Syrian rebels have gained control of a strategic hospital in the city of Aleppo despite days of relentless barrel bombings of opposition-held areas in the northern city, activists said.
The shattered remains of the five-story Kindi hospital is close to Aleppo's besieged central prison, which rebels have been trying to capture for months to free their comrades.
The rebels captured the hospital on Friday, according to two activist groups — the Aleppo Media Center and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Aleppo-based activist Abu al-Hassan Marea said the rebels who overran the ruins of the hospital included both conservative Muslim groups and al-Qaeda linked factions.
At least 35 rebels were killed in the battle for Kindi, the activists said, a relatively high toll for a single day that spoke to the intensity of the fighting even by the brutal standards of Syria's three-year civil war, said the Observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground. It was not clear how many soldiers were killed.
An 18-year-old Syrian photographer was also killed in the fighting, said the activists. Marea said the photographer was shot but that the circumstances of his death were not immediately clear. He said the photographer's brother, a rebel fighter, was also killed in the same battle.
The U.K. will help the international mission to destroy chemicals from Syria's cache that have allegedly been used to build chemical weapons, officials said Friday, joining a complex operation with prominent roles for the U.S., Denmark and Norway.
Britain's Foreign Office said it has agreed to destroy 150 tons of two industrial-grade chemicals from Syria's stockpile at a commercial facility. The chemicals will be shipped to the U.K. before being transferred to a commercial site to be incinerated and destroyed, it said in a statement.
"It is important to stress that these are chemicals, not chemical weapons," the Foreign Office said, explaining that the two chemicals only become highly toxic when mixed together to make a nerve agent.
The commitment adds another layer to the complex and unprecedented operation to destroy Syria's chemical stockpile, which comes after the confirmed use of chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, which the U.S. government says killed 1,400 people.