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There are now fears the country is on the brink of civil war ‘along ethnic lines’

Protesters gather round UN observers during a visit to Douma, a suburb of Damascus, on Monday

Assad tanks punish protesters after UN team drives out

As the UN team drove out of the Damascus suburb of Douma yesterday, regime tanks were said to have rolled in – offering another indication that President Bashar al-Assad is adopting a strategy of brutal mass punishment for those who turn out to show observers their discontent with the regime.

North Korea threatens to reduce South's government 'to ashes'

North Korea's military warned yesterday of imminent "special actions" that would reduce South Korea's government to ashes within minutes, sharply escalating the rhetoric against its southern rival.

African Union mediator, Thabo Mbeki

Mbeki urges UN to step in as Sudan conflict grows

The African Union mediator, Thabo Mbeki, has urged the UN Security Council to act to stop the fighting between Sudan and South Sudan, warning that the sides are locked in a "logic of war" with hardliners increasingly in control.

North Korean students wave their national flags at Kim Il Sung Square to commemorate the late President Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday in Pyongyang

Rockets? Sanctions? Nothing can stop Pyongyang's party

As the orchestrated mass celebrations commemorating the centenary of the birth of its "Eternal Supreme Leader" Kim Il-Sung drew to a close, North Korea's latest abortive rocket launch was met with opprobrium from the UN Security Council and the threat of a new wave of sanctions.

Leading article: Progress in Syria – but not enough

The ceasefire in Syria so far has been patchy, inadequate, and violated by both sides, most egregiously by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, who have broken a pledge to withdraw from all towns and cities and bombarded districts of Homs again yesterday. But the – distinctly relative – calm has shown that a ceasefire, however imperfect, is an improvement on the free-for-all that proceeded it, with the glaring imbalance of power between the regime and the opposition exacting a murderous toll.

Syrian troops resume shelling of residential areas

Syrian troops have resumed their shelling of residential neighbourhoods dominated by rebels in the central city of Homs, activists say.

William Hague welcomes UN resolution over Syria

Foreign Secretary William Hague has welcomed unanimous United Nations Security Council backing for deployment of military observers to monitor the ceasefire in Syria as a "vital step".

In the Damascus suburb of Kafr Batna, videos showed soldiers patrolling the streets after Friday prayers

Syrians take to the streets as UN-brokered ceasefire frays

Activists claim at least five people killed as soldiers use live rounds across the country

North Korean technicians at a control room in Pyongyang watch live images of the rocket Unha-3 as it is fuelled for take-off

North Korea fuels rocket for centenary launch in defiance of US threats

North Korea fuelled up its latest long-range rocket yesterday, in defiance of vague threats from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of "appropriate action" if it is launched.

North Korea ready for controversial rocket launch

North Korean space officials said today that all assembly and preparations for a planned satellite launch have been completed, while denying it is a cover for a missile test.

Troops shell rebels in defiance of UN statement

Syrian troops shelled and raided opposition areas and clashed with rebel fighters around the country yesterday despite UN efforts to stop the bloodshed so aid could reach suffering civilians.

US and Russia clash over Syria at UN

The United States and Russia clashed over Syria at the U.N. today after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the divided Security Council to speak with one voice and help the Middle Eastern nation "pull back from the brink of a deeper catastrophe."

UK 'must stick to Afghanistan plan'

The killing of 16 Afghan civilians by a US soldier was "an absolutely dreadful event", but Britain and its Nato allies must "stick to the plan" they have set out for Afghanistan, Prime Minister David Cameron said today.

Syrian troops kill 80 in village raids

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces rained rockets and bombs down on opposition-held neighbourhoods of the city of Homs, reducing buildings to rubble and killing more than 80 people.

China urges end to Syrian violence

A Chinese envoy visiting Damascus has called on all sides in Syria to stop the violence.

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