By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) – The Syrian army command said on Saturday it had regained most of the towns and villages in eastern Ghouta and was pressing its military operations in the last rebel bastion of Douma. In a televised statement, the Syrian army spokesman said the weeks-long military campaign had now brought security to the Syrian capital, Damascus, and also secured its main links to other parts of the country, stretching north and all the way to the Iraqi border to the east. A last group of fighters and families had earlier left the main towns of Jobar, Zamalka, Arbeen and Ain Tarma after the fall of other towns, leaving only the city of Douma still in rebel hands.
Delegation of Canadian Members of Parliament meets with PA Chairman, Arab MKs. ‘Goal of visit is to push Canadian gov’t to change policies.’
By Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) – Moscow has told Britain it must cut just over 50 more of its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia as a standoff deepened over the poisoning of a Russian former spy and his daughter in England, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. Moscow also demanded an official explanation for the search of a Russian passenger plane in London, saying it reserved the right to act similarly against British airlines in Russia. Britain said the search was routine.
By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Saturday led an Easter vigil service, baptizing eight adults, including a formerly undocumented Nigerian migrant beggar who became a hero when he disarmed an Italian thief wielding a cleaver. The baptism took place during a long Holy Saturday, or Easter eve, Mass for some 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica. This year, among those he baptized was John Ogah, 31, who Italian newspapers last year dubbed the “migrant hero” and held up as an example of bravery and good citizenship.
UN Sec. General Guterres calls for an investigation after Hamas-led riots lead to death of 16 Gazans.
Negotiators in the last rebel-held bastion in Syria’s eastern Ghouta reached a deal on Saturday with the Russian side to evacuate the wounded from Douma to rebel-held northern Syria, local sources familiar with the deal said. The agreement was reached by the negotiating committee that comprises both civic leaders and representatives of Jaish al Islam, the rebel faction in control of Douma, the sources said.
Britain’s defense capabilities must evolve to keep step with the growing threat posed by Russia, Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said, as a standoff between Moscow and the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter deepened. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is using growing hybrid capabilities to subvert, undermine, and influence countries around the world,” Williamson said in a column in Sunday’s edition of Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.
By Bob Strong SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – About 200 people demonstrated in Sacramento on Saturday to protest the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, in the latest of nearly two weeks of mostly peaceful rallies since the unarmed black man was gunned down in his grandmother’s yard. Saturday’s demonstration brought together a multi-racial crowd, many holding signs such as “Stop Police Rage” and “Power to the People.” It was led by retired National Basketball Association player Matt Barnes, who grew up in the area and had two stints with the Sacramento Kings franchise. “We’re here today to raise awareness, to come together peacefully and to have some accountability for the officers, not only in Sacramento but across the country, who have been doing this,” Barnes told the Sacramento Bee newspaper.