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Scientists gave up Friday trying to contact robot lab Philae, stubbornly silent on the surface of a comet streaking through space -- closing a captivating chapter in an historic quest. Philae's comet host is moving further and further away from the Sun and its battery-boosting rays, and by this point "there is indeed little hope to still get a signal," project manager Stephan Ulamec told AFP. Comet-orbiting mothership Rosetta will continue listening for Philae for a month or two, until it can no longer spare the energy required.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to retake the entire country but warned it could take a "long time," in an exclusive interview with AFP as international pressure grows for a ceasefire. Speaking at his office in Damascus, hours before a new ceasefire plan was announced early Friday by world powers in Munich, Assad said he backed peace talks but that negotiations do "not mean that we stop fighting terrorism". Regime forces backed by Russian air strikes have registered major advances in recent days, particularly in northern Aleppo province, where Assad said the army was seeking to sever the opposition's supply route from Turkey.