Dozens killed in Aleppo battle

BEIRUT Dozens of people were killed in a day-long battle between Syrian rebels and government forces in western Aleppo that was still going on intermittently on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and combatant sources on both sides said.The combatant sources gave conflicting accounts of the outcome of the battle that began early on Tuesday in and around the Jamiyat al-Zahraa area of western Aleppo. A rebel said insurgents had managed to take some ground from the government side, while the army said the attack was repelled.The fighting threatened the army's defensive lines around government-held areas of western Aleppo. Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said dozens had been killed on both sides in what he described as the most intense battle in the area in a year. Government forces were reinforced by allies from Lebanon's Hezbollah, he said.The rebel fighter said about 40 government fighters had been killed, while rebel losses stood at 10 dead. The military source denied heavy casualties in army ranks, but said dozens of civilians and many rebels had been killed. The rebel and a second opposition fighter said insurgents had at one point captured a strategic location known as Family House, but later lost it after the government side brought in reinforcements. (Reporting by Tom Perry/Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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MOVES- Goldman Sachs, Aviva Investors, Marsh

(Adds Goldman Sachs, Aviva Investors, Bank Julius Baer, Marsh, Hamilton Lane)May 3 The following financial services industry appointments were announced on Tuesday. To inform us of other job changes, email moves@thomsonreuters.com.GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INCRichard Breeden, the vice chairman of the bank's investment banking division and chairman of mergers & acquisitions group in Asia Pacific, ex-Japan, will relocate to London from Hong Kong to focus on senior client coverage in Europe, Middle East and Africa region, according to an internal memo.PJT PARTNERS INCJacques Brand, CEO of North America at Deutsche Bank AG , is leaving the German bank after nearly two decades to join boutique investment bank PJT Partners, people familiar with the matter said on Monday. HSBCA senior HSBC Southeast Asia investment banker, who helped advise a Thai firm, backed by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, on its $11 billion acquisition of Fraser and Neave in 2013, is leaving the bank to join a buyside firm, said two sources with direct knowledge of the matter. AVIVA INVESTORSThe asset management business of Aviva Plc named Helen Driver as a fund manager in its global equities team.BANK JULIUS BAER & CO LTD The Swiss banking group appointed Angela Bow as head of emerging Asia with immediate effect.MARSHThe insurance broker, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc , said David Fuhrman was joining the firm to lead its operations in the western region of the United States, effective immediately.HAMILTON LANEThe private markets asset management firm promoted Vesna Sipp and Richard Hope to managing directors. (Compiled by Rosmi Shaji and Kshitiz Goliya in Bengaluru)

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Islamic State boosts attacks in response to territorial losses: IHS

BAGHDAD Islamic State attacks have increased this year, particularly in Iraq and Syria as the group responds to substantial territorial losses, a U.S.-based analysis firm IHS said on Sunday.There were 891 attacks during the first quarter of 2016 in neighbors Iraq and Syria, more than in any three-month period since the militants' sweeping advance in mid-2014, IHS said in a new report.Those attacks killed 2,150 people, a 44 percent rise over the previous three months and the highest quarterly toll in nearly a year."The group is resorting more and more to mass-casualty violence as it comes under heavy pressure from multiple angles," said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center.The U.S. military estimates Islamic State's territory in Iraq has shrunk by about 40 percent from its 2014 peak and 20 percent in Syria. Iraq's military routed the militants from the western city of Ramadi four months ago and then pushed further west towards the Syrian border. The northern offensive has been slower, with army and Sunni Arab tribal forces taking only four villages over the past month south of Mosul.In Syria, government-aligned forces backed by Russian air power have recaptured territory from Islamic State, including the ancient city of Palmyra. The group is also under pressure from a separate U.S.-led air campaign in the north and northeast, where Kurdish fighters have advanced. The IHS report also noted a rise in Islamic State attacks in Libya, where the militants have grown in strength, taking over the central city of Sirte and attacking oilfields. Analysis showed almost as many attacks in the first three months of this year as in the preceding six months.IHS said Islamic State activity has also spiked around the northwestern town of Sabratha it described as a key staging ground for attacks in neighboring Tunisia. "High profile, mass casualty attacks are a tried and tested method of changing the narrative and deflecting attention away from the problems it is facing," said Henman. "This is done for internal consumption just as much as external." (Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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French new car registrations rise 7.1 pct in April - CCFA

PARIS May 1 French new car registrations rose 7.1 percent year-on-year in April, with foreign carmakers' figures up 8.8 percent and domestic ones up 5.7 percent, the CCFA automobile association said in a statement on Sunday. PSA Peugeot Citroen saw new car sales rise 5.3 percent last month, while Renault's rose 6.2 percent. (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Air strikes pound Syria's Aleppo, 'calm' farther southwest

BEIRUT Nearly 30 air strikes hit rebel-held areas of Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, killing more people in a ninth straight day of bombardments by warring sides, and a temporary "calm" declared by Syrian military took hold around Damascus and in the northwest.The violence in Aleppo, which has borne the brunt of an escalation in fighting that has all but destroyed a ceasefire deal brokered in February by Washington and Moscow, has killed nearly 250 people since April 22, a monitoring group said.It has also contributed to the break up of peace talks in Geneva, which the main opposition walked out of last week.A temporary "regime of calm", or lull in fighting, announced by the Syrian army late on Friday, which Damascus said was designed to salvage the wider ceasefire deal, appeared to hold in the capital and areas in its suburbs, as well as parts of northwest coastal province Latakia. Aleppo had not been included in the plan for a lull.At least five people were killed in Aleppo early on Saturday in the latest round of air strikes, which were believed to have been carried out by Syrian government warplanes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.The British-based monitoring group put the civilian death toll in government and rebel bombardments of neighborhoods in Aleppo since April 22 at nearly 250. This figure included around 140 people killed by government-aligned forces in air strikes and shellings of rebel-held areas, including 19 children, it said. Insurgent shelling of government-held areas killed 96 people, including 21 children.Aleppo, Syria's largest city before the war, has been divided for years between rebel and government zones. Full control would be the most important prize for President Bashar al-Assad, who has been fighting to keep hold of his country throughout a five-year civil war. "A BIT QUIETER"Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said government-held areas of Aleppo were "a bit quieter today", but that shells fired by rebels were still intermittently hitting.Farther southwest, "there aren't clashes in Latakia, there aren't clashes in Ghouta (Damascus suburbs)," only some lower-level violence between rival rebel groups outside Damascus, Abdulrahman said, referring to the lull in fighting announced by the army.A resident of Western Ghouta, which is under government siege, said shellings appeared to have ceased around the capital in the hours after the start of the lull at 1 a.m. (2200 GMT on Friday). "There has been no military activity and no sound of bombardments in nearby areas, no sound of shelling or of warplanes," the resident, Maher Abu Jaafar, told Reuters via internet messenger."It's the opposite of last night, when there was a lot of bombing and the sounds of rockets and shells."Syrian helicopters later in the day dropped a number of barrel bombs southwest of Damascus but outside the area where the lull in fighting was meant to take place, the Observatory said.Abu Jaafar said he heard several explosions in the afternoon. A Friday statement from the Syrian army did not explain any detail what military or non-military action the "regime of calm" would entail.It said it would last for 24 hours in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus and for 72 hours in areas of the northern Latakia countryside.The United Nations has called on Moscow and Washington to help restore the ceasefire to prevent the complete collapse of talks aimed at ending a conflict in which more than 250,000 people have been killed and millions displaced.Aid agencies have continued to deliver aid in the west of the country, but say that access is not regular enough and that many Syrians in need still cannot be reached.The International Committee for the Red Cross said on Saturday fresh aid had begun to enter the towns of Zabadani and Madaya, where there were reports of starvation earlier this year due to a siege by government forces and their allies. Trucks simultaneously entered al-Foua and Kefraya in the northwest province of Idlib, which are surrounded by insurgents. (Editing by Ralph Boulton)

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