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News Wrap: Forces Loyal to Gadhafi Seize Key City in Libya

January 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have seized control of a key city in Libya, three months after the dictator’s death. They retook the former Gadhafi stronghold of Bani Walid today, after clashing for hours with revolutionary forces. It is the most serious challenge yet in a growing list of problems for Libya’s transitional government.

A string of car bombings rocked Baghdad today, killing at least 14 Iraqis. The explosions went off in mainly Shiite areas of the capital. More than 70 people were wounded. The first bombing hit a group of day laborers gathering for jobs. Shortly thereafter, another bomb exploded near a pastry shop in a busy commercial district. Violence has surged in Iraq in recent weeks, as a Sunni vs. Shiite political crisis grips the government.

Six Gulf Arab nations withdrew their peace monitors from Syria today to protest the regime’s continued violence against its people. It was a major blow to the Arab League mission, but the league said the effort would continue.

Meanwhile, in Damascus, the Syrian foreign minister insisted his country will solve its own problems.

WALID AL-MOALLEM, Syrian foreign minister (through translator): The solution is a Syrian one. It’s based on the interests of the Syrian people and the completion of the reform program proposed by President Bashar al-Assad. It is also based on national dialogue, for which President al-Assad announced he’s prepared to begin tomorrow.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite that statement, the Syrian government agreed to extending the Arab League monitors’ presence for another month.

The government of Turkey is warning France over a new law aimed at mass killings during World War I. On Monday, the French Parliament made it a crime to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide by slaughtering more than a million Armenians in 1915. Turkey has long denied there was any systematic killing campaign.

And in Ankara today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the French to think again.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish prime minister (through translator): Here, I call on the members of the French Parliament in their right minds. I call on French intellectuals, French people. The bill that was passed with votes from both the Parliament and the Senate is open discrimination, racism. It is a clear violation of freedom of thought.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Turkey had already suspended military, economic, and political ties with France as the genocide bill progressed.

The largest solar storm in more than six years began bombarding the Earth with radiation overnight. The solar bursts erupted on Sunday, and the effects are expected to last through tomorrow. The radiation can disrupt communications for satellites, astronauts and airplanes. Today, Delta Air Lines said it’s diverting some flights on polar routes between Detroit and Asia to avoid the problem.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 33 points to close at 12,675. The Nasdaq rose two points to close at 2,786.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.