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Violence in Syria rises, aid dries up as civil war begins 14th year

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For years, Syria’s civil war has been a largely frozen conflict, the country effectively carved up into areas controlled by the Damascus government of President Bashar Assad, various opposition groups and Syrian Kurdish forces.

But as the conflict entered its 14th year on Friday, observers say violence has been on the rise again while the world’s attention is mostly focused on other crises, such as Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

In the village of al-Nayrab in the northwestern, opposition-held enclave of Idlib, Ali al-Ahmad burns olive branches in a stove to keep his partially destroyed house warm.

NEARLY 30,000 CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN SYRIA, UN-BACKED COMMISSION SAYS

He has been living in the damaged house, struck in a recent round of shelling by government forces. It’s in better condition than many of the surrounding houses that were reduced to rubble, he says. When a new round of bombing starts, he leaves for a while to stay in one of the nearby displacement camps until the situation calms and he can return and repair the damage.

“We return for a day or two, then they start shelling us,” he said. “We leave for a few days, then return to our village to find our homes destroyed.”

The U.N.-backed body known as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said this week that since October, the country has seen the worst wave of violence since 2020.

This is a locator map for Syria with its capital, Damascus

The Syrian civil war has entered its fourteenth year. The U.N.’s World Food Program estimates that over 12 million Syrians lack regular access to food. In December, the World Food Program announced that it would stop its main assistance program in Syria in 2024. (AP Photo)

The war, which has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million, began as peaceful protests against Assad’s government in March 2011.

The protests — part of the Arab Spring popular uprisings that spread across much of the Middle East that year — were met by a brutal crackdown, and the revolt quickly spiraled into a full-blown civil war, which was further complicated by the intervention of foreign forces on all sides of the conflict, as well as a rising militancy, first by al-Qaida-linked groups and then the Islamic State group until its defeat in 2019.

Russia, along with Iran, became Assad’s biggest ally in the war, Turkey backed an array of Syrian opposition groups while the United States supported Syrian Kurdish forces in the fight against IS. Israel has carried out airstrikes targeting the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iranian forces in Syria.

Over the years, the battlefields became stalemated in the war-ravaged nation.

The recent surge in violence began with a drone strike on a military academy graduation ceremony in government-held city of Homs in October that killed dozens.

Syrian government and allied Russian forces then launched a bombardment of the opposition-held northwest that hit “well-known and visible hospitals, schools, markets and camps for internally displaced persons,” the commission said.

Elsewhere, increasingly frequent Israeli strikes targeted Iran-linked targets in government-held parts of Syria — attacks that sometimes also hit civilians. Turkey stepped up its attacks on U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, while militants from IS sleeper cells have launched sporadic attacks in different parts of the country.

In recent weeks, opposition-held areas have also seen unrest, with protests breaking out in Idlib against the leadership of the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group that governs the area.

With all the multiple and complex layers of the conflict, there is no resolution of the crisis in sight for Syria.

David Carden, the U.N.’s Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria crisis, said during a recent visit to northwest Syria that the U.N.’s humanitarian response plan for 2023, which had appealed for more than $5 billion, only received 38% of the funds sought — the lowest level since the United Nations started issuing the appeals.

“There are 4.2 million people in need in northwest Syria, and 2 million of those are children,” of whom 1 million are not going to school, he said. “This is a lost generation.”

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Compounding Syria’s misery was the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6, 2023, that killed more than 59,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Some 6,000 of them were killed in Syria alone, mainly in the northwest, where most of the 4.5 million people rely on humanitarian aid to survive.

United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations have been struggling to fund programs that provide a lifeline in Syria, blaming donor fatigue, the COVID-19 pandemic, and conflicts elsewhere that have erupted in recent years.

The U.N.’s World Food Program, which estimates that over 12 million Syrians lack regular access to food, announced in December that it would stop its main assistance program in Syria in 2024.



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Barcelona 1-4 Paris St-Germain (Agg: 4-6): Kylian Mbappe scores twice as PSG reach last four

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PSG players celebrate
Paris St-Germain are into their first Champions League semi-final in three years

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris St-Germain thrashed Barcelona to turn around a first-leg deficit and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

PSG had trailed 3-2 after the first leg in France but took advantage of an early Barcelona sending off to secure their place in the last four for the first time since 2021.

Luis Enrique’s side face a semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, who beat Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate in a thrilling encounter in Germany.

The semi-final first leg takes place on 30 April with the second leg on 7 May.

More to follow.

helpHow to play

Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection

Barcelona

  1. Squad number1Player nameter Stegen

  2. Squad number23Player nameKoundé

  3. Squad number4Player nameAraujo

  4. Squad number33Player nameCubarsí

  5. Squad number2Player nameJoão Cancelo

  6. Squad number8Player namePedri

  7. Squad number22Player nameGündogan

  8. Squad number21Player nameF de Jong

  9. Squad number27Player nameYamal

  10. Squad number9Player nameLewandowski

  11. Squad number11Player nameRaphinha

  1. Squad number5Player nameMartínez

  2. Squad number7Player nameF Torres

  3. Squad number14Player nameJoão Félix

  4. Squad number32Player nameLópez

Paris Saint Germain

  1. Squad number99Player nameG Donnarumma

  2. Squad number2Player nameHakimi

  3. Squad number5Player nameMarquinhos

  4. Squad number21Player nameHernández

  5. Squad number25Player nameNuno Mendes

  6. Squad number33Player nameZaïre-Emery

  7. Squad number17Player nameVitinha

  8. Squad number8Player nameRuiz

  9. Squad number10Player nameDembélé

  10. Squad number7Player nameMbappé

  11. Squad number29Player nameBarcola

  1. Squad number4Player nameUgarte

  2. Squad number11Player nameAsensio

  3. Squad number19Player nameLee Kang-in

  4. Squad number23Player nameKolo Muani

Line-ups

Barcelona

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 23Koundé
  • 4AraujoBooked at 29mins
  • 33Cubarsí
  • 2CanceloSubstituted forJoão Félixat 82′minutes
  • 8PedriSubstituted forF Torresat 62′minutes
  • 22GündoganBooked at 64mins
  • 21F de JongSubstituted forLópezat 82′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 27YamalSubstituted forMartínezat 34′minutesBooked at 40mins
  • 9LewandowskiBooked at 50mins
  • 11RaphinhaBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 5Martínez
  • 7F Torres
  • 13Peña Sotorres
  • 14João Félix
  • 17Alonso
  • 18Romeu
  • 19Roque Ferreira
  • 26Astralaga
  • 30Casadó
  • 32López
  • 38Guiu
  • 39Fort

PSG

Formation 4-3-3

  • 99G DonnarummaBooked at 87mins
  • 2Hakimi
  • 5MarquinhosBooked at 62mins
  • 21Hernández
  • 25Nuno Mendes
  • 33Zaïre-EmerySubstituted forUgarteat 80′minutes
  • 17Vitinha
  • 8RuizBooked at 45minsSubstituted forAsensioat 77′minutes
  • 10DembéléSubstituted forKolo Muaniat 88′minutes
  • 7MbappéBooked at 40mins
  • 29BarcolaSubstituted forLee Kang-inat 77′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Navas
  • 4Ugarte
  • 9Gonçalo Ramos
  • 11Asensio
  • 15Danilo
  • 19Lee Kang-in
  • 23Kolo Muani
  • 26Mukiele
  • 28Soler
  • 35Lopes Beraldo
  • 37Skriniar
  • 80Tenas

Referee:
István Kovács

Live Text





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Magnitude 2.8 earthquake reported in View Park-Windsor Hills

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A magnitude 2.8 earthquake was reported Tuesday at 8:19 a.m. Pacific time in Los Angeles’ View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake‘s epicenter was 7.1 miles beneath the intersection of Overland Drive and Northridge Drive, near Windsor Hills Elementary School. .

In the last 10 days, there have been no earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

An average of 59 earthquakes with magnitudes between 2.0 and 3.0 occur per year in the Greater Los Angeles area, according to a recent three-year data sample.

Did you feel this earthquake? Consider reporting what you felt to the USGS.

Are you ready for when the Big One hits? Get ready for the next big earthquake by signing up for our Unshaken newsletter, which breaks down emergency preparedness into bite-sized steps over six weeks. Learn more about earthquake kits, which apps you need, Lucy Jones’ most important advice and more at latimes.com/Unshaken.

This story was automatically generated by Quakebot, a computer application that monitors the latest earthquakes detected by the USGS. A Times editor reviewed the post before it was published. If you’re interested in learning more about the system, visit our list of frequently asked questions.



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Justice Thomas returns to Supreme Court after 1-day absence

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is back on the bench after an unexplained one-day absence.

Thomas, 75, was in his usual seat, to the right of Chief Justice John Roberts as the court met to hear arguments in a case about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Thomas has ignored calls from some progressive groups to step aside from cases involving Jan. 6 because his wife, Ginni, attended then-President Donald Trump‘s rally near the White House before protesters descended on the Capitol. Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist, also texted senior Trump administration officials in the weeks after the election offering support and reiterating her belief that there was widespread fraud in the election.

On Monday, Roberts announced Thomas’ absence, without providing an explanation. Justices sometimes miss court, but participate remotely. Thomas did not take part in Monday’s arguments.

He was hospitalized two years ago with an infection, causing him to miss several court sessions. He took part in the cases then, too.

Thomas is the longest serving of the current justices, joining the Supreme Court in 1991.



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