International News Roundup Mar 25..Syrian violence continues

By: AP
By: AP

BEIRUT (AP) -- Battles between Syrian troops and rebels continue in central and northern Syria.
Activists say the military shelled rebellious areas, but were facing fierce resistance from army defectors.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says army defectors damaged a tank and three armored personnel carriers in the central market district of one northeastern town. It says two rebel fighters and nine government troops were killed in the clashes and residents have been fleeing the town.
Government troops also shelled parts of the central city of Homs (hohms) and another nearby town. The Observatory said 10 people were killed in Homs province today while another group put the death toll there at more than twice that.
Syria's government has been on the offensive over the past two months and has pushed rebels from a number of strongholds.
The U.N. says more than 8,000 people have been killed in the year-long uprising against President Bashar Assad's rule, many of them civilian protesters.

PARIS (AP) -- President Nicolas Sarkozy says that he will pull France out of Europe's border-free travel zone next year if it doesn't fight harder against illegal immigration -- and if he's re-elected.
Sarkozy, in a campaign speech Saturday, said members should give the Schengen zone a president and new governing body, and punish member countries that don't respect its rules.
If this doesn't happen within a year, he said, "France will assume its responsibilities and leave Schengen."
Sarkozy has taken a hard-line on immigration throughout his career and especially during his campaign for elections in April and May.
The Schengen zone makes it easier for citizens to travel between its 25 member countries. Some complain that it has also made it easier for illegal immigrants to cross borders.

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani intelligence officials say dozens of French Muslims have been training with the Taliban in northwest Pakistan.
The officials are investigating whether Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent suspected of killing seven people in southern France, had been part of this group.
Merah traveled to Pakistan last year and said he trained with al-Qaida in Waziristan. He was killed in a gunfight with police Thursday in the French city of Toulouse.
The officials said 85 Frenchmen have been training with the Pakistani Taliban in the North Waziristan tribal area for the past three years. Most have dual nationality with France and North African countries.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani intelligence officials say five army soldiers and 12 Taliban militants have been killed in clashes in the country's northwest.
The officials say the fighting took place Saturday near Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area, a Pakistani Taliban stronghold. Four soldiers were wounded.
The army operation targeted Taliban fighters who on Friday dumped in the area the decapitated bodies of two paramilitary soldiers who had been abducted a few days earlier.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
The army carried out a large ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan in 2009, but the fighting has continued.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- A large fishing vessel swept away by the tsunami that devastated Japan last year has been spotted adrift off British Columbia in western Canada.
Jeff Olsson of Victoria's Joint rescue coordination center says an airplane contracted by the government spotted the 50-foot-long (15-meter-long) vessel recently about 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of Haida Gwaii, slowly drifting toward shore.
The vessel has been identified as coming from Hokkaido, Japan. Olsson says no one is believed to be aboard and there's no environmental danger.
A maritime warning has been issued because the vessel could pose a navigational hazard.
About 5 million tons of debris were swept into the ocean in March 2011 when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

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