Rebels, troops clash at 3 air bases in north

Syrian rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad fought intense battles with his troops Sunday in an attempt to gain control of three military air bases in the country’s north and curtail the regime’s use of its punishing air power, activists said.

Rebels, who have been trying to capture the airfields for months, broke into the sprawling Abu Zuhour base in Idlib province and the Kweiras base in Aleppo province Saturday. Fighting raged inside the facilities Sunday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least seven fighters were killed in the fighting in Abu Zuhour, in addition to an unknown number of soldiers. The group, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said the Syrian air force launched an airstrike on Abu Zuhour village during the fighting to ease pressure on government troops inside the base.

The Aleppo Media Center said rebels also seized 60 percent of the Mannagh helicopter base near the border with Turkey. Rebels from the Islamist al-
Burraq Brigades announced that fighters from multiple factions in northern Aleppo have launched a large-scale offensive to seize full control of the facility.

Government troops regularly shell areas near the Mannagh base, including a rocket attack overnight on the town of Tal Rifaat that killed at least four people, including two women and a child.

— Associated Press

Officials pull licenses of al-Jazeera, 9 others

Iraqi authorities announced Sunday that they had revoked the operating licenses of pan-Arab broadcaster al-Jazeera and nine other satellite TV channels, alleging that they are promoting a sectarian agenda as the country grapples with a wave of violence.

The move, effective immediately, comes as Baghdad tries to quell rising unrest in the country after clashes at a protest camp last week.

More than 180 people have been killed in gun battles with security forces and other attacks since the unrest began Tuesday. The violence follows more than four months of largely peaceful protests by Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority against the Shiite-
dominated government.

Al-Jazeera, based in the small, energy-rich Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, said it was “astonished” by the Iraqi government’s move.

— Associated Press

Collapsed building’s owner arrested

The fugitive owner of an illegally constructed building that collapsed in Bangladesh in a deadly heap last week was captured Sunday at a crossing along the border with India by members of a commando force.

Mohammed Sohel Rana was arrested in Benapole, in western Bangladesh, just as he was about to flee into India’s West Bengal state, said Jahangir Kabir Nanak, junior minister for local government. Rana was brought back by helicopter to the capital, Dhaka, where he faced charges of negligence.

At least 377 people are confirmed to have died in the collapse of the eight-story building on Wednesday. Three of its floors were built illegally.

On Sunday, a fire broke out in the wreckage of the collapsed factory, forcing officials to halt rescue efforts. Officials say the fire was caused by sparks generated as rescuers tried to cut through a steel rod to reach a survivor.

— Associated Press

Pakistani Taliban bombs politicians’ offices, killing 9: The Pakistani Taliban detonated bombs at the campaign offices of two politicians in Pakistan’s northwest, police said, killing at least nine people in an escalation of attacks on secular, left-leaning political parties. In first attack, on the outskirts of Kohat city, a bomb ripped through the office of Syed Noor Akbar, killing six and wounding 10, police official Mujtaba Hussain said. The second bomb targeted a campaign office of another candidate, Nasir Khan Afridi, in the suburbs of Peshawar city. Three people were killed and 12 wounded, police official Saifur Rehman Khan said.

Morsi signals compromise on judges: Egypt’s president indicated Sunday that a compromise has been reached with the judiciary to defuse an uproar over a proposed law that would have forced out thousands of the country’s most senior judges. Three days earlier, the Islamist-led parliament had pushed ahead with the bill, which would have lowered judges’ retirement age from 70 to 60. President Mohamed Morsi met Sunday with five top judges, and his office said later that he will launch a conference this week to work out a compromise. After the meeting, opponents of the proposed law canceled protests set for Monday.

— From news services