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News Wrap: Obama Apologizes for Quran Burnings on U.S. Base

February 23, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: There was new violence in Afghanistan today over the burning of Korans at a U.S. base. Riots broke out across the country for a third day, and five people were killed.

Hundreds of demonstrators also tried to storm a U.S. military site. At one protest, a man dressed as an Afghan soldier shot and killed two American soldiers.

Meanwhile, President Obama offered his sincere apologies in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

New images of desperate conditions emerged today from the city of Homs in Syria. Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad kept up a fierce artillery barrage, despite world appeals to stop.

We have a report narrated by Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN MILLER: International revulsion and horror over the shelling of civilians in Homs has done nothing to stop the bombardment, this unverified footage filmed this afternoon. You can hear the shells still raining down, the district of Kamil Zaktun a rubble-strewn ghost town.

Here, a mosque’s being mortared. A panicked voice says, “Look at this. Where are you, you Arabs, you Muslims? God will judge you.”

These boys are at their father’s funeral.

“You took my dad, Bashar,” he says. “God curse you.”
As they hurriedly place the shrouded body in the ground, more shelling.

This is Paul Conroy, the Sunday Times photographer who survived the direct hit on the media center that killed the paper’s renowned foreign correspondent, Marie Colvin. Dr. Mahmoud al-Mahmoud says he’s in reasonable shape, but he needs urgent evacuation.

PAUL CONROY, photographer, The Sunday Times: I’m currently being looked after by the Free Syrian Army medical staff, who are treating me with the best medical treatment available.

JONATHAN MILLER: Syrian state TV has today been advertising this weekend’s referendum on reform, as more unverified pictures from other cities in Syria show it’s not just Homs in trouble. In the town of Al-Rastan, government snipers cause panic, and clashes today in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, too.

Sixty nations under the banner of the friends of Syria meet in Tunis tomorrow. Some want to strangle Bashar al-Assad with sanctions. Some want to arm the rebels. What all seem to agree on is that civilians in Syria need humanitarian help fast.

KWAME HOLMAN: In London, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned, the opposition in Syria will only strengthen, unless the regime gives way.

U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning was arraigned today on charges he leaked more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks. Manning appeared in a military court in Fort Meade, Maryland. He deferred entering a plea, and there was no date set for the start of his court-martial. Manning could face life in prison if convicted.

Seven U.S. Marines were killed in California overnight when two military helicopters collided. It happened during nighttime training exercises in a remote area of the Yuma training range complex near the Arizona border. The area is frequently used to simulate Afghanistan’s landscape. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

The parliament of Greece approved a huge bond deal today to cut its outstanding debt by more than $140 billion. The emergency legislation will write down the value of Greek bonds held by banks, pension funds and other private entities. The move is in conjunction with a new bailout for the Greek government approved this week by the eurozone nations.

In U.S. economic news, the number of first-time claims for jobless benefits was unchanged last week, and the four-week average remained the lowest in four years. The news helped Wall Street to modest gains. The Dow Jones industrial average added 46 points to close above 12,984. The Nasdaq rose more than 23 points to close at nearly 2,957.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.