Syrian men rest on the rubble of a shop destroyed form Syrian government forces shelling, while waiting their turn to buy bread from a bakery shop, in the Syrian town of Azaz, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian activists say government warplanes and ground forces are pounding the country's largest city, Aleppo, with bombs and mortar rounds today as soldiers battle rebels in its narrow streets.
Syria troops are still struggling to clear the city of lightly-armed rebel forces nearly five weeks after they stormed their way into it.
Activists say that this is the second day of a rebel push in Aleppo they're calling "Northern Volcano." Rebel fighters are targeting security facilities in the city and the surrounding province, including an artillery training school, a compound of the feared air force intelligence, and a large army checkpoint.
There are also reports of shelling and overnight battles in neighborhoods of Damascus. Syrian government forces have been able to recapture most areas of the capital that rebels seized in a July offensive, but opposition fighters continue to stage hit-and-run attacks there.
Activists also say rebels have captured an air defense facility in the east of the country near the border with Iraq. Opposition forces claim to have made advances in the area over the past days.
Bahrain: Iran translation sidestepped Syria
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) -- Bahrain says it has filed a formal protest with Iran over a broadcast translation that wrongly substituted Bahrain for Syria in a speech by Egypt's president.
A statement by Bahrain's government says Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi referred to the Syrian rebels fighting an "oppressive" regime during a speech at a Tehran conference Thursday.
Instead, Bahrain claims Iranian state TV replaced the word "Syria" with "Bahrain" in its Farsi translation.
Morsi's speech was an embarrassment for Iran, which is a close ally of the Syrian regime. But Shiite power Iran has frequently criticized Bahrain's authorities for crackdowns against mostly Shiite protesters seeking greater political rights.
Bahrain says the formal complaint was filed Saturday with an Iranian diplomat.
UN envoy to Assad: Change is urgently needed
BEIRUT (AP) -- The new U.N. envoy to Syria says President Bashar Assad's regime should realize that the need for change is both "urgent" and "necessary."
In an interview with al-Arabiya television on Saturday, Lakhdar Brahimi also told the Syrian government that it must respond to the "legitimate" demands of the Syrian people.
Brahimi's comments come on his first day as the new U.N. envoy in Syria, replacing Kofi Annan who quit after his six-point plan including an April 12 cease-fire failed to stop the bloodshed. A former Algerian foreign minister, Brahimi spoke in New York.
The Syrian conflict has its roots in mostly peaceful street protests that started in March last year. It has since morphed into a civil war, with at least 20,000 people killed so far, according to rights activists.
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- A Somali pirate boss says that buccaneers who have been holding a hijacked ship for two years killed a hostage and wounded another to protest delayed ransom payment.
Hassan Abdi, a pirate commander in the pirate haven of Harardheere, said Friday that the killing on Wednesday was a message to the owners of the MV Orna, a ship that was hijacked off the Seychelles in 2010.
The MV Orna is a Panama-flagged, bulk cargo vessel owned by a company in the United Arab Emirates.
The pirates operating off the Somali coast of the Indian Ocean were once believed to be disgruntled and financially motivated Somali fishermen who were angry that international trawlers were illegally fishing Somalia's waters. Now it appears that criminal gangs are dominating the piracy trade.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Police say a grenade attack on an army outpost in the southern Philippines has wounded at least 37 people who were watching a nearby circus performance.
Police Senior Inspector Romeo Abler says a man hurled the grenade toward the outpost but it hit a protective net and bounced toward dozens of villagers watching a nearby circus late Saturday in Paquibato district in Davao city's rural outskirts.
Abler told The Associated Press by telephone on Sunday that 37 villagers were wounded by the powerful blast and a stampede that followed. At least three were in serious condition in a hospital.
Communist guerrillas are active in the remote region but an investigation has not yet clearly pinpointed who may have carried out the attack, according to Abler.
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistani police say authorities have arrested an imam who had accused a Christian girl of blasphemy.
An investigating officer in the case says the imam was arrested late Saturday for allegedly planting pages of a Quran in a shopping bag containing burned papers and ash that had been carried by the Christian girl.
The 14-year-old girl was later accused of burning pages of the Quran, a serious offense in Pakistan that can result in life in prison.
The about-face could lead to the girl being released from prison and defuse what has been a religiously charged case in Pakistan.
The case has been especially sensitive because of the girl's young age and questions about her mental capacity.
Fearful Pakistani Christians make home in forest
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- In the middle of a forest in Pakistan's capital, about 100 Christians are sleeping on the ground and building a church out of branches after fleeing their neighborhood when a Christian girl was accused of burning pages from the Quran.
The case has drawn attention to Pakistan's blasphemy laws which can result in life in prison or even death for those accused.
Much of the case is still in question including the girl's age, whether she was mentally impaired and what exactly she was burning. But as word of the blasphemy accusation spread, hundreds of people gathered at her house demanding that something be done to the girl. The police eventually arrested her and are investigating whether she broke any law.
Most Christians in the neighborhood fled fearing retribution from their Muslim neighbors or were evicted by their landlords.
Critics say Pakistan's blasphemy law is often abused to settle vendettas or as retribution.
Settlers begin to evacuate large West Bank outpost
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli police say they have handed out evacuation notices to residents of an unauthorized West Bank settlement outpost, ordering them to leave what Israel's supreme court has ruled is private Palestinian land.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says some families from the Migron settlement, some 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of Jerusalem, left their homes voluntarily early Sunday. The remainder must leave by Tuesday.
Israel's court ordered residents to evacuate earlier this year. The government asked for a three-year delay, but the court rejected that request.
The battle over Migron has been a rallying point for settlers defending their presence in the West Bank. Ultranationalists began settling Migron in 2001. The government says the settlers took over the territory unlawfully.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's state news agency says a 5.2 magnitude earthquake has jolted a sparsely populated district in the country's east.
IRNA says the quake hit a district near the town of Qaen before dawn Sunday and that there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Last month, twin earthquakes struck northwestern Iran and claimed the lives of more than 300 people, injured thousands and left several thousand homeless.
Iran is located on seismic faults and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.
In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake killed some 26,000 after it flattened historic city of Bam in the country's southeast.
BEIJING (AP) -- An initial investigation into China's worst mine accident in nearly three years blames "chaotic" management for sending too many workers underground and disregarding safety measures, state media said Sunday. The blast killed 43 people.
The official Xinhua News Agency said that though the Xiaojiawan coal mine in southwestern Sichuan province was licensed to operate, it had been exceeding its production capacity in violation of safety standards.
Rescuers were still searching for three miners who remained trapped underground after the explosion on Wednesday afternoon in the coal-rich city of Panzhihua, but their chances of survival were slim. State media said the three workers were believed to be located at the center of the blast.
A preliminary probe found that the accident happened because production had not been stopped despite a high density of gas and that safety monitoring equipment was inadequate, Xinhua said.
More miners had been sent to work underground than were allowed to, the report cited the head of the State Administration of Work Safety, Yang Dongliang, as saying.
Police have detained the mine owners, and the Sichuan government has launched a province-wide safety check on all coal mines and pledged to shut down those with safety hazards.
There were 154 miners working at the mine when the explosion occurred, and 108 survivors have been pulled to the surface.
It is China's deadliest mine accident since November 2009 when 108 people were killed in an explosion in a mine in Heilongjiang province.
Xinhua said the rescue work was dangerous because of high temperatures in the mine and dense carbon monoxide that meant only mask-wearing paramedics were able to enter the shaft.
The news agency quoted one miner, Xu Changyong, as saying he heard the explosion and then ash started coming out of his air compressor before he scrambled out of the mine.
Of the miners who made it to the surface, 50 are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and seven are in critical condition, Xinhua said.
The mine is owned by Zhengjin Industry and Trade Co. Ltd. and the owners were in police custody for investigation, the Panzhihua city government said.
Coal mine accidents are common in China, where work safety rules are often ignored. Last year, 1,973 miners were killed in coal mine accidents in the country, but that was down 19 percent from the previous year as authorities continue to beef up safety measures.
The State Administration of Work Safety said recently that it planned to close more than 600 small coal mines -- considered more dangerous than larger mines -- this year to further reduce fatalities.
LIMA, Peru (AP) -- The Peruvian government says that on Monday it will lift a state of emergency imposed in early July for three provinces where violent protests against a gold mine project resulted in five deaths and dozens of injuries.
But the office of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala also says that security forces will remain on alert to guard against disturbances. Hundreds of soldiers have been deployed in the three provinces to quell protests against the proposed $.8 billion Conga gold mine.
Poor farmers in the region fear the mine will hurt their water supplies and have been mounting sometimes violent protests since 2011.
The state of emergency suspended the right of assembly and other civil liberties in the three provinces.
The project's majority owner is U.S.-based Newmont Mining Co.
Ugandan army seizes base of Lord's Resistance Army
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- The Ugandan army destroyed a base of a key general of the Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic.
Ugandan Army Colonel Milton Katarinyebwa said this week that it captured the headquarters of LRA General Dominic Ongwen, one of four Ugandan rebels wanted by the International Criminal Court.
The colonel denied reports that Ongwen was killed and said Ugandan forces will track him down.
The base was seized on August 24 in the Haut Mbomou area of southeastern Central African Republic.
Since December 2011, 300 members of the United States military have advised Ugandan and Central African Republic troops on how to fight Joseph Kony and other LRA members.
Since 2005, Ongwen has been wanted by the international court for three counts of crimes against humanity.
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