By Laila Bassam and Lisa Barrington ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian army pressed an offensive in Aleppo on Friday with ground fighting and air strikes in an operation to retake all of the city's rebel-held east that would bring victory in the civil war closer for President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian army and its allies had recaptured 32 of east Aleppo's 40 neighborhoods, about 85 percent of the area, he said. There were no reports the Syrian army had made significant gains.
By Warren Strobel, Yara Bayoumy and John Irish WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) - Key U.S. allies in Europe are quietly expressing concern over President-elect Donald Trump's approach to Syria, warning that his pledge to work more closely with Russia, Damascus' main backer, will do little to diminish the terrorist threat emanating from Syria. The diplomatic persuasion campaign has taken on new importance in recent days as the Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran and Shi'ite militias, appears poised to retake all of Aleppo city in a major defeat for Western-backed rebels. Moscow and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are expected to cast Aleppo's fall as the end of a revolt against Assad that began in March 2011, although Western analysts predict the civil war, which has killed more than 300,000 people and made more than half of Syrians homeless, will continue, perhaps for years.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A meeting on Saturday between Moscow and Washington is extremely important because it could avoid "massive destruction" if a plan for evacuating rebel fighters and civilians from war-ravaged Aleppo can be worked out, the U.N.'s special envoy to Syria said.
By William Maclean MANAMA (Reuters) - Britain's exit from the European Union will mean it can forge free trade deals with Gulf Arab allies, foreign minister Boris Johnson said on Friday in a speech also heralding closer defense ties to the conservative monarchies. Johnson was speaking at a conference in Bahrain a day after footage was published of him accusing Saudi Arabia, an important ally for Britain, and Iran of stoking proxy wars across the Middle East. "Any crisis in the Gulf is a crisis for Britain from day one.
Britain "is back" in the Gulf region and stepping up its security commitment, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told regional policymakers on Friday. "Britain is back East of Suez," he told the annual Manama Dialogue security forum, as his country prepares to leave the European Union after a shock referendum vote in June to quit the bloc.