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Rebels, troops battle for control of Damascus

SYRIA

Rebels, troops battle for Damascus

Opposition forces targeted Damascus with mortar shells, a roadside bomb and a suicide attack on Sunday as they pressed ahead in their quest for the seat of President Bashar Assad's power.

Outside the capital, government troops battled rebels for the fifth straight day for control of a key highway. Both sides consider the fight for Damascus the most likely endgame in a nearly two-year-old civil war that has already killed more than 60,000 people.

Sunday's fighting was the heaviest in Damascus since the first rebel push into the capital in July. The rebels then captured several neighborhoods, but were soon bombed out during a punishing government counteroffensive.

Since then, the rebels have threatened the heavily fortified capital from opposition strongholds around the city. Damascus, however, has been spared the kind of violence that has been seen in other major urban centers.

Los Angeles

Copter crash kills 3 on set of reality TV show

Three people were killed Sunday in a predawn helicopter crash in a rural area of northern Los Angeles County while filming for a new reality TV show for the Discovery Channel.

The copter crashed about 3:40 a.m. at the popular filming location of Polsa Rosa Ranch in the city of Acton, Los Angeles County Fire dispatcher Robert Diaz said.

All three people aboard died, Diaz said. Their names weren't immediately released.

The show, listed on a filming permit as an untitled military-theme TV program, had not been aired. The show's production company, Eyeworks USA, is best known for creating NBC's The Biggest Loser.

Spain

5 dead, 3 injured in cruise ship accident

A lifeboat from a British-operated cruise ship fell into the sea at port in Spain's Canary Islands during an emergency drill being carried out by the crew, killing five people and injuring three others Sunday, according to officials and media reports.

Television images showed a small, white two-hulled lifeboat capsized beside the Thomson Majesty. It was not clear whether the ship had passengers on it.

Jordan

King vows to press ahead on democracy

Jordan's king inaugurated the country's newly elected parliament Sunday with a pledge to press ahead with democratization, but said he will help pick the next prime minister even though that job is now officially in the hands of the lawmakers.

Abdullah II touted the Jan. 23 election as a "milestone" in reforms he initiated two years ago to forestall Arab Spring unrest that toppled four of his peers since 2010. He recently suggested that the new legislature will have more powers to run the daily affairs of the state and monitor the Cabinet in the future as the monarchy takes a step back, giving the people a wider say in politics.

Philippines

Town mourns death of giant crocodile

The world's largest saltwater crocodile in captivity died Sunday, sending villagers to tears in the southern Philippine town of Bunawan, which had started to draw tourists, revenue and development because of the reptile.

The crocodile was captured in 2011. Guinness World Records had proclaimed it the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity last year, measuring 20.24 feet.

Associated Press

Rebels, troops battle for control of Damascus 02/10/13 [Last modified: Sunday, February 10, 2013 11:31pm]

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