World News: Syrian Highway Cut; Yemen Ties Weapons to Iran; Militants Killed in Pakistan

By: AP
By: AP
Syrian rebels shut down key Damascus highway... Yemen minister says weapons came from Iran... Malian military battles militants outside Gao... US condemns attack on refugee camp in Iraq... Roadside bomb kills 6 Afghan civilians... Pakistan: Toll from suspected US strike now 9 militants... Russian opposition leader placed on house arrest... At least 6 dead as flooding hits Peru...

FILE - In this undated file photo provided by Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, Malala Yousufzai, the 15-year-old girl who was shot at close range in the head by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan, reads a book as she continues her recovery at the hospital. Malala on Friday Feb 8 2013 has been discharged from a British hospital where she had been receiving treatment for nearly four months.(AP Photo/Queen Elizabeth Hospital, File)

BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian capital of Damascus is again the scene of battles between rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar Assad.
Activists say the two sides clashed today in contested neighborhoods in the northeast, and that the rebels were able to shut down a key highway out of the capital with a row of burning tires.
The latest fighting in Damascus is some of the heaviest to hit the city since July. It began Wednesday with a series of rebel attacks on regime checkpoints along the main road to northern Syria.
The two sides have been fighting in the area since then, and regime troops have shelled a number of rebel-held districts.
The violence has brought the civil war closer to the heart of the capital, which has mostly been spared heavy fighting.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- A top official in Yemen says his country is disappointed to find that a large and diverse cache of weapons seized on a ship last month had been exported from Iran.
Speaking in a news conference Saturday, Yemen's interior minister said an investigation found that the weapons were destined for armed insurgents. He didn't elaborate, saying only that an investigation is ongoing.
He said he had hoped Iran would not "export weapons to Yemen". It was the first acknowledgement by a Yemeni official on the record to hold Iran responsible for the shipment.
The U.S. State Department says the initial findings of the Yemeni investigation show that "Iran continues to defy the international community through its proliferation activities and support for destabilizing action in the region."
Yemen has asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate the cargo of Iranian-made missiles, rockets and other weapons. Yemen's president has warned Iran to "stop meddling" in the affairs of his country.

GAO, Mali (AP) -- Mali's army is fighting jihadists in their desert hideouts just outside northern Mali's largest town.
The fighting in Gao comes a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint on the city's outskirts.
Mali's defense minister is calling on the city's population "not give in to panic" and to cooperate with defense and security forces trying to drive out extremists "trying to infiltrate among civilians."
Tensions rose earlier in the day, after a military spokesman said two men had been arrested with explosives while trying to enter the city. But he later said that information turned out to be false.
Friday's suicide attack killed only the bomber, but it has raised concerns about the future strategy of the militants, who initially appeared to put up little resistance to the French and Malian military advance.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department is condemning the rocket and mortar attack that killed six people and wounded dozens of others at a refugee camp near Baghdad's international airport.
In a statement issued Saturday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland denounced what she called "the vicious and senseless terrorist attack" and offered condolences from the United States to the families of the victims.
Nuland acknowledged that the Iraqi government is investigating the attack and called on the government to take all appropriate measures to enhance security for its people.
More than 3,000 people live at the camp. The government of Iraq has asked the international community to hasten the resettlement of the refugees.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A government official says a roadside bomb has struck a car in southern Afghanistan, killing six civilians.
The spokesman for the governor of southern Helmand province said Saturday two women and four men were killed in the blast in the Nad Ali district.
Spokesman Ahmad Zeerak says those killed were all "innocent civilians and from one family." He says they were driving home from a nearby village in their own car when the explosion occurred at about 7 p.m. Friday.
Helmand province has been the focus of several U.S.-led offensives, but it remains one of the most dangerous areas in the country.

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani officials say the death toll from a suspected U.S. drone strike in a restive tribal region has risen to 9, all of whom were militants.
Two intelligence officials said Saturday that three members of the Pakistani Taliban movement wounded in the Friday strike on a militant compound died overnight. They had originally put the death toll at six.
The officials said their field informants confirmed two members of al-Qaida, Abu Majid Al Iraqi and Sheikh Abu Waqas Al-Yamani, were among the dead. They said the remaining seven were all members of Pakistan's branch of the Taliban. Both officials spoke anonymously as they weren't authorized to speak to the media.
The Taliban did not immediately comment on the strike in the Bobar Ghar area of South Waziristan.

MOSCOW (AP) -- A top Russian opposition figure has been placed under house arrest for two months, a move that also bans him from using most forms of communication, including the Internet, telephone and mail.
A Moscow court imposed the restrictions Saturday on Sergei Udaltsov after prosecutors complained he had violated a previous agreement not to leave Moscow.
Udaltsov, one of the most prominent figures of the wave of protests that arose in late 2011, is facing charges in connection with a protest in May that ended in clashes with police and for allegedly plotting to conduct mass disorder aimed at overthrowing the government.
Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency in May, authorities have cracked down on opposition, and protests have diminished in frequency and size.
A documentary-style program aired by a Kremlin-friendly TV channel claimed that Udaltsov and his associates met with a Georgian lawmaker last autumn to raise money for organizing riots in Moscow and several other Russian cities. Udaltsov rejected the charges and said the footage was a sham.
Opposition and rights activists have denounced the case against Udaltsov and other activists as a throwback to the times of Soviet-era repression.
Since Putin returned to the Kremlin after a four-year sojourn as prime minister due to term limits, the Kremlin-dominated parliament has passed a series of laws cracking down on dissent. One law increases the fine for taking part in unsanctioned protests 150 fold to 300,000 rubles (nearly $9,000), close to the average annual salary.
Authorities also moved harshly against the feminist-provocateur band Pussy Riot, sentencing two of its members to two years in prison for performing a "punk prayer" performance in Moscow's main cathedral in which they entreated the Virgin Mary to save the country from Putin.

LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Record rain in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa has caused serious flooding that authorities say has killed at least six people and inundated hundreds of homes in the South American country's second-largest city.
A regional meteorologist quoted by the Andina state news agency says nearly 5 inches (12.3 centimeters) of rain fell on Arequipa during a seven-hour period that began Friday afternoon.
Police officer Cesar Villegas told The Associated Press by phone Saturday that homes were destroyed and cars flipped over by surging floodwaters in the city of 800,000 residents. Video broadcast on Peruvian television showed muddy torrents tearing apart dirt streets.
Regional Gov. Miguel Guzman said in a TV interview that at least two bridges have collapsed and several outlying towns are cut off.


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