Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Syrian forces fiercely protect vital supply artery

AL-QASR, LEBANON — Syrian soldiers backed by warplanes battled rebels for control of strategic hilltop villages near the Lebanese border on Friday, as government troops step up counterattacks against opposition forces threatening regime supply lines.

Bomb blasts and shots fired into the air to mourn a fallen Syrian government soldier could be heard on the Lebanese side of the border as fighting raged around Qusair, a contested central Syrian town near a key highway between Damascus and the coast.

The battles there came as government forces launched a second offensive against rebels in the province of Daraa on the Jordanian border, where the opposition has been making steady advances in recent weeks.

While President Bashar Assad's forces are stretched thin and much of the country has been allowed to slip into the hands of the rebels, the government is still fighting hard to keep control of airports, seaports, and roads linking them to Damascus, the capital, that are seen as essential to its survival.

Also on Friday, activists said rebels clashed with troops in the northeastern border city of Qamishli, two miles from the turkish border. Fighting is rare in the predominantly Kurdish and Christian city, where rebels usually maintain a truce with the government.

It was not clear what prompted the clashes.

Syria's rebels have gained momentum and made significant gains in the past weeks, largely due to an influx of arms. Arab officials and Western military experts say Mideast powers opposed to Assad have stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, with Jordan opening up as a new route.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched the stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then ...
Updated: 17 minutes ago

FHP: Overturned vehicle reported on northbound Howard Frankland

ST. PETERSBURG — Drivers should avoid the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge for a while: The Florida Highway Patrol is responding to a report of an overturned vehicle there.The incident was reported at 2:11 p.m. on northbound Interstate 275, near mi...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Traffic grew heavy, and so did contractions, so Plant City mom delivers in car

Traffic grew heavy, and so did contractions, so Plant City mom delivers in car

BRANDON — Christine Stallworth had experienced false labor before so she decided to ignore the contractions she was feeling Thursday as she and her husband Clifford drove their two boys from home in Plant City to school in Tampa.But this time, 10 day...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Pour Taproom, a craft beer bar with 85 taps that customers pour their own brew from, will open at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16. The nearly 2,300-square-foot bar at 225 Second Ave. N has undergone extensive renovations, including a St. Petersburg-themed...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AOL Instant Messenger is no more, and it’s okay your inner 13-year-old is crying

Saying goodbye to an old friend stings.On the morning of Dec. 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger died.Take a moment to allow the 13-year-old inside of you let out a deep sob; think about the bulletin you wish you could post to your MySpace page about ho...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Updated: 1 hour ago