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Syrian rebels in the city of Aleppo have banned croissants as symbols of “colonial” oppression.

Syria is a former French colony, so some there apparently associate this culinary symbol of Frenchness with France and with imperialism more generally.

The sharia committee specifically targeted croissants, al-Arabiya reports, because the pastry’s “crescent shape celebrates European victory over Muslims.”

A fatwa against croissants might seem ridiculous, particularly in a time and place where bread shortages can be common. But there’s a serious side to the edict. Rebel-held regions of Aleppo are increasingly dominated by extremist elements, further marginalizing more moderate rebel groups and putting some Syrians at the groups’ mercy. In some areas, hardline Islamist groups have moved off the battlefield and begun setting up administrative councils and other governing and charitable bodies.

Syrian rebels in the city of Aleppo have banned croissants as symbols of “colonial” oppression

Syrian rebels in the city of Aleppo have banned croissants as symbols of “colonial” oppression

Two groups in particular – Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, both affiliated with al-Qaeda – have begun to dominate rebel-held areas of the city, bringing with them a strict interpretation of sharia law. The ISIL, an affiliated group, claimed respnsibility for breaking hundreds of insurgents, including several senior al-Qaeda detainees, out of prison in Iraq.

The extremist element in previously moderate Aleppo threatens to further divide Syria’s rebel factions, which are fractious enough already. And the West is unlikely to send much-needed aid to rebels who mix with al-Qaeda – particularly when those al-Qaeda-affiliated groups are condemning even the most tangentially Western things.

In recent weeks, sharia committees in the area have also banned make-up and tight clothes for women and threatened a year in jail for anyone who fails to fast during Ramadan.

The much-repeated legend that seems to be behind the anti-croissant fatwa – that a baker in Budapest invented the treat after the city repelled an Ottoman invasion – has been debunked by food historians several times over. Most agree the bread migrated to France by way of Austria in the early 1800s. And while France did rule Syria for a period before World War II, Austria obviously never did. Then again, Syrian extremists aren’t exactly known for their nuance.

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Starbucks is set to unveil a new line of baked goods that will include yoghurt muffins, loaf cakes and even spinach croissants.

The coffee giant is hoping to expand its range of food items, which are purchased by one in three customers and generates around $1.5 billion a year in revenue.

Nine stores in San Francisco will trial the products with a view to rolling them out nationally, although there is no time frame for this as yet.

Among the items being tested are a whole wheat spinach croissant, a tomato, cheese and herb croissant, a blueberry yoghurt muffin and a raspberry passion fruit loaf cake.

Many of them will be served warm, unlike its current line-up of baked goods.

The move comes after the Seattle-based company bought small San Francisco bakery chain La Boulange in a $100 million deal in the summer.

At the time, Starbucks said it hoped to use items produced by La Boulange to popularize the French bakery experience in the U.S. like it had done with the Italian espresso.

The deal could also strengthen the firm’s position in a fast-growing segment of the restaurant industry dominated by Panera Bread Co, which offers baked goods in a seated setting.

Its current range of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal will not be affected by the changes, it was reported by The Huffington Post.

Lisa Passe, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said they would be handling the expansion “week by week, figuring it out”.

Other items on trial from La Boulange, which has 19 locations in the Bay Area, include a chocolate chip cookie, an almond cookie and vanilla shortbread cookie.

Starbucks says it plans to expand La Boulange into a national presence in coming years.

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced plans to attract evening trade by offering beer and wine on its menus.

The company said it planned to bring the new items to a few Chicago-area cafes by the end of 2012 and is also testing wine and beer sales in Spain.

But it did not expect to sell alcohol in all of its nearly 11,000 U.S. cafes.

Spinach is a health powerhouse.

It offers twice as much fibre as other greens and is an excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

It also contains lutein, which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Serve raw, spinach is a good source of vitamin C, as well.