BEIRUT – Syrian rebels captured a helicopter base just outside Damascus on Sunday in what an activist called a blow to the morale of the regime near President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.
The takeover claim showed how rebels are advancing in the area of the capital, though they are badly outgunned, making inroads where Assad’s power was once unchallenged. Rebels have also been able to fire mortar rounds into Damascus recently.
Rebels appear to be trying to take over air bases and destroy aircraft in order to prevent the regime from using them in attacks against opposition forces around the country.
Meeting to discuss ‘climate fiscal cliff’
As nearly 200 countries meet in oil-and-gas-rich Qatar for annual talks starting today on slowing global warming, one of the main challenges will be raising climate aid for poor countries at a time when budgets are strained by financial turmoil.
Rich countries have delivered nearly $30 billion in grants and loans promised in 2009, but those commitments expire this year. And a Green Climate Fund designed to channel up to $100 billion annually to poor countries has yet to begin operating.
Borrowing a buzzword from the U.S. budget debate, Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam said developing countries, including island nations for whom rising sea levels pose a threat to their existence, stand before a climate fiscal cliff.
Twin car bombs kill 11 in Nigeria
Twin suicide car bombs exploded Sunday at a church inside one of Nigeria’s top military bases, killing at least 11 people and wounding 30 in an embarrassing attack showing the continued insecurity that haunts Africa’s most populous nation.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but suspicion immediately fell on the radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, whose suicide bombers target Sunday worship services in what has become a weekly routine in Nigeria.
19 bodies discovered near Texas border
The slain bodies of 19 people have been discovered in Mexico’s northern border state of Chihuahua, officials reported Sunday, including 11 apparently long-dead men found in mass graves and eight others who were apparently tortured and killed in recent days.
The state prosecutor’s office for missing people said 11 male bodies were found in Ejido Jesus Carranza, near the U.S. border about 25 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez. Officials say they apparently were buried two years ago at the height of battles between drug gangs.
The area of sand dunes is just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Majority shrinks for Spanish party
Voters in the economically powerful region of Catalonia on Sunday punished the leader who made a referendum over breaking away from Spain a central plank of his campaign, seeing his party’s majority reduced by a dozen seats.
Regional president Artur Mas had called the early election as part of a power struggle with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy regarding the size of Catalonia’s contribution to national coffers. But voters left his Convergence and Union party 18 votes short of an absolute majority in the 135-seat regional legislature.