Syria's largest city is contested by various rebel groups, including anti-US jihadists. A UN envoy is trying to broker a temporary cease-fire so that humanitarian aid can reach civilians.
The Sunni militant group, ISIS, has stepped up its attacks on Christians during fierce fighting in Syria's northeast.
Monitoring groups say militants have kidnapped at least 70 people from Assyrian Christian villages that border territory that IS controls in Iraq. Some speculate IS may be seeking a prisoner swap.
Islamic State militants released a video Tuesday showing the burning to death of a captured Jordanian pilot, igniting anger across the Arab region, but also raising doubts among US coalition allies.
The self-styled Islamic State was trying to send a message by burning Lt. Muath al-Kassasbeh alive. It seems Jordanians are listening.
The situation looks grim for a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese journalist who the Islamic State are trying to use to gain the release of a woman who helped murder 58 people in Amman in 2005.
The self-styled Islamic State is losing key battles on the ground in Iraq and Syria and in the propaganda wars as well. A Kurdish victory in Kobane would be a stinging blow.
Its new hostage video calls on Japan, whose prime minister is touring the Middle East, to ends its 'foolish' support of the US-led campaign against Islamic State, and marks the first time the group has demanded cash in a video.