World Digest: Syrian government warns Jordan over aid to rebels

April 4, 2013
SYRIA
Government warns Jordan over rebel aid

Syria’s government warned neighboring Jordan on Thursday that it was “playing with fire” by allowing the United States and other countries to train and arm rebels on its territory.

Jordan, Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world, has long worried that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime could retaliate for support of the rebels. The warning, which was carried on state media, may add to that concern, though Jordanian government officials publicly played it down as “mere speculation by the Syrian media.”

Syrian state television said leaks in U.S. media show that Jordan “has a hand in training terrorists and then facilitating their entry into Syria.” A front-page editorial in the government daily al-Thawra accused Jordan of adopting a policy of “ambiguity” by training the rebels while publicly insisting on a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.

U.S. and other Western and Arab officials have said that Jordan has been facilitating arms shipments and hosting training camps for Syrian rebels since October.

In the latest fighting in Syria, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels seized most of the Karak neighborhood in the southern province of Daraa after several days of clashes. Heavy fighting also was reported in the town of Sheik Maskeen, on the route from the Jordanian capital, Amman, to the Syrian capital, Damascus.

— Associated Press

AFGHANISTAN
Six reported killed in NATO airstrike

A NATO airstrike killed four police officers and two civilians on a rural road in Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province, Afghan officials said Thursday.

Fazel Ahmad Tolwak, governor of Deyak district, said the four police officers had attended a memorial ceremony for a deceased villager Wednesday and, on the way back, gave a ride to several members of the Taliban and two members of Tolwak’s family.

The police officers let the Taliban members off, while the civilians remained in the vehicle, he said. The NATO aircraft had apparently seen the Taliban members riding in the vehicle and assumed that they were still there, Tolwak said. He said he didn’t know why the Taliban members were riding with the police officers.

Tolwak said the airstrike was not called by Afghan security forces, as some had reported, but by a NATO patrol a few miles away that had come under attack from Taliban fighters, leading to the apparent case of mistaken identity.

Fazel Ahmad Sabawon, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province, said, “The police were in civilian clothes and may have been mistaken for Taliban fighters.”

Officials with the U.S.-led NATO coalition said they were investigating the incident.

— Los Angeles Times

55 dead, 20 missing after Argentine flood: Argentine police and soldiers searched house to house, in creeks and culverts, and even in trees for bodies as more than 20 people remained missing from floods that killed at least 55 people in the province and city of Buenos Aires. The torrential rains stopped and the waters mostly receded Thursday, but a public health and safety crisis gripped the provincial capital of nearly 1 million people, where thousands remained without power or safe drinking water.

French president distances government from scandal: French President Francois Hollande said his government was blameless in the case of a former minister’s secret foreign bank account, as he and top ministers faced more pressure to explain themselves. Hollande and his finance minister spent a third day fending off accusations of a coverup after former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac this week admitted lying about a secret foreign bank account containing 600,000 euros (more than $770,000). “The government is not to be blamed, it is a man who erred,” Hollande told reporters in Morocco.

Central African leader approves early vote: The Central African Republic’s self-declared president will hold elections within 18 months despite initially saying that he would rule until 2016, a spokesman said, following recommendations from a regional summit in neighboring Chad. Michel Djotodia’s overthrow of the government last month forced President Francois Bozize into exile and brought fierce criticism from the United States, African Union and others.

Ivory Coast exhumes mass graves: Ivory Coast officials began exhuming dozens of mass graves in the country’s main city, Abidjan, that date to the 2011 post-election violence as a new report accused President Alassane Ouattara of failing to bring his supporters to justice for crimes they are alleged to have committed during the conflict. More than 3,000 people died over five months after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara in the November 2010 presidential vote.

— From news services

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