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News Wrap: NATO Says Afghanistan Airstrike May Have Mistakenly Killed 8 Boys

February 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Rebels in Syria pushed back against government tanks in a key town today, as the uprising moved more toward open warfare. The fighting in Rastan came as the military continued an assault on the city of Homs and after rebels killed an army general.

We have a report from Bill Neely of Independent Television News.

BILL NEELY: It’s the music they fear, the sound of a revolution gaining ground.

They were burying one of Syria’s top-ranking army officers, assassinated outside his home., the grief of his relatives matched by the anxiety of his comrades. No one is sure who will be next. Seven soldiers were buried here, many killed in Homs, the scene of a brutal assault by Syria’s army on civilian areas.

Under the gaze of President Assad, Syria’s front men are defiant, denying that the army is bombarding Homs.

FAISAL MEKDAD, Syrian deputy foreign minister: The government is dealing very softly with them. We don’t want to harm innocent civilians.

QUESTION: How can you justify using tanks and artillery against civilian areas in Homs?

FAISAL MEKDAD: This is absolutely incorrect.

QUESTION: You have not used tanks?

FAISAL MEKDAD: No, absolutely not.

QUESTION: There are pictures of tanks, both video pictures and satellite images of tanks in Homs.

FAISAL MEKDAD: I think you know how such images are being fabricated.

QUESTION: You are not firing on civilian areas in Homs?

FAISAL MEKDAD: Absolutely not.

BILL NEELY: This is the sound of the revolution, not far from where the minister spoke. It’s a peaceful protest, as most in Syria still are. Tonight, it’s protected from attacks by the rebel Free Syrian Army.

“Assad,” they cry, “your days are numbered.”

The tanks and artillery used by Syria’s army against the uprising clearly has not deterred these people, nor the snipers that regularly fire on protests like this. In fact, they say the dead of this uprising inspire them. And they tell me they simply will not give up.

WOMAN: The world should do something. The world should say something at least. Make him stop. Make it stop. Make the blood stop, please. Even if it cost me my life, I’m — there’s no way on earth we’re going to go back to the way we were before.

BILL NEELY: This conflict is deepening. Defiance and death mark both sides, a clash that can only have one winner.

KWAME HOLMAN: On Sunday, the Arab League called for U.N. peacekeepers in Syria, but there was little immediate prospect of such a mission.

In Afghanistan, NATO acknowledged an airstrike accidentally may have killed eight boys last week. Coalition officials said the incident, in Kapisa Province, happened as air and ground forces were attacking insurgents.

Car bombs targeted Israeli diplomats in India and the Republic of Georgia today. The diplomats were unhurt, but the blast in India wounded four other people after a magnetic bomb was attached to a diplomat’s vehicle. A similar device was found on an Israeli Embassy car in Tbilisi, Georgia, but was defused.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of carrying out the attacks.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister (through translator): Iran, who stands behind these attacks, is the biggest terror exporter in the world.

The Israeli government and security forces will continue to work hand in hand with the local security forces against such acts of terror. We will continue to act forcefully, systematically and calmly against international terror originating from Iran.

KWAME HOLMAN: The attacks mimicked bombings that have killed top Iranian nuclear scientists. Iran has accused Israel of complicity in those assassinations. Iran denied any role in today’s attacks.

The deep freeze over Central and Eastern Europe grew more dire today. A state of emergency was declared in eastern Romania, where 6,000 people have been cut off for days by heavy snow. In nearby Serbia, helicopters delivered much-needed aid to ships trapped in the frozen Danube River.

They also evacuated sailors. Meanwhile, teams in Montenegro rescued some 50 passengers stranded on a train for three days. An avalanche had trapped them inside a tunnel.

Wall Street warmed up today, and stocks started the week by moving higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 72 points to close at 12,874. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to close at 2,931.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.