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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 1:00 am

Accusation is US plot, Syria says

Associated Press

Syria on Tuesday rejected U.S. accusations it carried out mass killings at a prison near Damascus and then burned the victims' bodies in a crematorium, describing the allegations as “lies” and “fabrications.”

The allegations are a “new Hollywood plot” to justify U.S. intervention in Syria, Syria's Foreign Ministry said, noting what it called a U.S. record of using false claims as a pretext for military aggression.

The State Department said Monday it believes that about 50 detainees are hanged each day at the Saydnaya military prison, a 45-minute drive north of Damascus.

Iranian candidate backs incumbent

A reformist candidate dropped out of Iran's presidential election Tuesday and threw his support behind President Hassan Rouhani in a widely expected move that will strengthen the incumbent's campaign against a hard-liner.

Eshaq Jahangiri, senior vice president under Rouhani, dropped out, leaving just four candidates in the race. “I will dedicate all my abilities to support Rouhani” in Friday's election, Jahangiri said in a statement.

Rouhani also has the support of former President Mohammad Khatami, another reformist, who endorsed him Sunday.

Violence grips African nation

A series of attacks in remote areas of Central African Republic have forced more than 15,000 people to flee their homes over the past week while at least 130 are feared dead, authorities said Tuesday.

Among the victims are six U.N. peacekeepers, marking the deadliest month for the mission since it began in 2014.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights said the violence in areas that have been previously spared major sectarian bloodshed was “highly worrying.”