22 reported killed in government airstrikes

Government airstrikes on opposition-held territory in northwest Syria killed at least 22 people, a monitoring group said Friday, as the U.N. children’s agency warned that a new battle in the war-torn country could affect the lives of 350,000 children.

Government forces unleashed a wave of airstrikes across Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces after days of building up ground forces at the edge of opposition territory, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It said 14 people were killed in Aleppo and eight in Idlib.

Fears have been building for days of a government offensive against the last major bastion for the opposition, centered in Idlib and along the edges of Aleppo and Hama provinces.

U.N. agencies are warning that a campaign to capture Idlib would aggravate an already dire humanitarian situation.

Food, water and medicine are already in short supply in Idlib, which is now home to more than 1 million Syrians displaced by government offensives in other parts of Syria, UNICEF said.

Some 350,000 children, many already living in refugee camps, are at risk of displacement in the event of war, the agency said.

— Associated Press

Rebels back U.N. call for probe of airstrike

Yemen’s Shiite rebels backed a U.N. call Friday for a probe into a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in the country’s north that killed dozens of people the previous day, including many children, in an attack that drew wide international criticism.

Senior Yemeni rebel leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said on Twitter that the rebels — known as Houthis — welcome the call and are willing to cooperate in an investigation of the strike in Saada province that hit a bus carrying civilians, many of them schoolchildren, in a busy market in the Dahyan district.

The coalition said Friday that it would investigate, and a representative for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Fatimah S. Baeshen, said in a statement that the case was referred to the coalition’s investigative body.

The coalition said the attack on Saada was in response to a missile fired by the rebels into Saudi Arabia’s south a day earlier. The coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed the missile but its fragments killed one person and wounded 11 in the southwestern border region of Jizan.

— Associated Press

City rattled by blast at steelmaking plant

An explosion tore through Brazilian steelmaker Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA’s largest plant Friday, injuring 30 people and shaking the nearby city of Ipatinga, according to the company and firefighters.

The company, also known as Usiminas, said that none of the injuries were severe, adding that there were no fatalities.

The blast was centered on a huge barrel-shaped piece of equipment that stores gases released during the steel production process, according to the company. The plant employs about 6,500 people directly.

The blast was loud enough to be heard throughout the city of about 250,000 and sent a plume of smoke into the sky, according to the Usiminas media office and a firefighters spokesman.

— Reuters

11 reported killed in attack near Mali market: Residents say a community militia has killed at least 11 ethnic Fulani people near a market in Mali's volatile central region. Idrissa Bamoye Maiga, a resident in Sofara, said that a number of Fulani people came to the local market to sell their cattle Tuesday and were gunned down by members of the Dozo militia. Other residents confirmed the attack. The violence comes days before Mali's runoff presidential election on Sunday.

Albanian police seek man in slaying of 8 relatives: Police in Albania said a 24-year-old man shot and killed eight relatives for unknown reasons. Police said the suspect, identified as Ridvan Zykaj, fled and remained at large after the slayings in a village south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Officers released a photo of Zykaj, asking for information and warning that he is dangerous.

— From news services