World Bulletin / News Desk
Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Aleppo said they were preparing a new attack on Friday and residents used a tenuous lull in the fighting to flee in cars crammed with possessions.
The rebels had been pushed back on Thursday by government forces seeking to reestablish control over Syria's largest city and its economic hub - a crucial arena in a struggle which the United Nations said would have no winner.
"I have about 60 men positioned strategically at the frontline and we are preparing a new attack today," said Abu Jamil, a rebel commander in Aleppo, where much of the fighting has raged in Saleheddine, a district on the city's southern approaches.
"One of my men is dead and inside Salaheddine. It's been two days and I haven't been able to get his body out because the sniper fire is so heavy," Abu Jamil said.
Reuters journalists saw residents streaming out of Aleppo, making the most of a calm spell to pack their vehicles with mattresses, fridges and toys and leave. At least two air force planes flew overhead.
Assad is fighting to crush a rebellion that aims to end his family's four decades in charge of Syria. A member of the country's Alawite minority, Assad is engaged in an all-consuming fight with mostly Sunni Muslim foes who Damascus says are backed by Sunni-led states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Though sympathetic to the rebels, neither these countries nor Western powers have intervened militarily. Russia and China have blocked any U.N. Security Council action against Syria.
Iran called for "serious and inclusive" talks between the government and opposition at a meeting in Tehran on Thursday.
"There will be no winner in Syria," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement read by a U.N. representative to the conference.
"Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria's rich tapestry of interwoven communities."
Diplomats said veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi could be named next week to replace the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, who quit in frustration at the deadlock among veto-wielding powers at the United Nations.
Assad's offensive in Aleppo follows a successful drive to expel rebels from parts of Damascus they had seized after a bomb blast killed four of his senior aides on July 18.
His grip on the country has been eroded and his authority was further shaken by his prime minister's defection this week.
Assad on Thursday appointed Wael al-Halki, a Sunni, to replace Riyad Hijab who had spent only two months in the job before making a dramatic escape across the border to Jordan.
But the Syrian leader appears determined to fight on.
Assad's forces have been using heavy artillery and air power to subdue rebel-held areas. Reuters journalists saw a fighter jet diving and firing rockets over Tel Rifaat, 35 km (20 miles) north of Aleppo on Thursday, causing villagers to flee in panic. But large areas of Syria have fallen out of Assad's control.
Aleppo has been pounded by artillery for days. A rebel commander said on Thursday that 250 people had been killed in recent days in the Salaheddine district.
But as yet, there has been no sign of the infantry advance required for Assad to take full control of the city.
Rebel commander Abu Furat al-Garabolsy told Reuters one reason could be faltering morale among Assad's troops, but said the military might also be delaying a full-scale ground assault to tire rebels with bombardment and deplete their ammunition.
Kerry's visit, in which he held talks with two candidates, highlights the stakes for Washington in what is expected to be Nigeria's closest election since its 1999 transition from military rule.
"We decided not to approve this government because it does not represent all the political classes and it breaks with the consensual way we have worked recently," Ennahda leader Sahbi Atig said
The Socialist Party denounced a Houthi attack earlier on a protest in capital Sanaa by a group of party student members.
Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said on Saturday the separatists planned to encircle Debaltseve, which has a population of around 26,000.
Hundreds of families were on Sunday trying to move into safer areas of Maiduguri, the provincial capital of Nigeria's northeastern Borno state
Dutch UN peacekeeping force was stationed six kilometers from Srebrenica during 1995 massacre.
The 14-year-old girl was detained by Israeli forces on December 31 of 2014 on her way back home from school in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The death toll in pro-democracy protests in Egypt on Sunday climbed to 11, security sources said. Tight security in Cairo and other cities failed to contain protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Kidnappings have become frequent in the North African country, where two governments and parliaments, allied to different armed factions, are vying for legitimacy and control
European leaders eye the results fo the elections closely as a Syriza victory may generate a clash with the Troika -- the EU, European Central Bank and the IMF -- which could possibly start a new crisis between the nation and its creditors, with the euro in the balance.
Media images of the top diplomats from old adversaries strolling together in a foreign land provoked an outcry among Iranian hard-liners deeply wary of rapprochement with the "Great Satan".
Islamic Front military commander issues ultimatum to Bashar al-Assad regime calling it to stop attacks on suburb of capital Damascus or else opposition fighters would attack regime positions with rockets
Government spokesman Hossam al-Qawish quoted by the official Middle East News Agency as saying that the emergency extension would come to an end on April 25.
Palestinian National Commission to Break the Siege NGO said that the new port would be "Gaza's window to the world."
Police source tells local newspaper that number of dead may be as high as 36; army troops now in area to assist police forces.