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News Wrap: Syria Airstrikes Kill at Least 15, Damage Key Civilian Medical Center

November 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
In other news Thursday, rebel fighters in Syria gained momentum with the seizure of a key army base at Mayadeen. Meanwhile, Syrian government warplanes destroyed a building adjacent to an Aleppo hospital. The airstrikes killed at least 15 and damaged the hospital, one of the last remaining sources of medical aid in the city.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: In Syria, rebel fighters gained more momentum in the east today. They seized a key army base at Mayadin and took control of its artillery stockpiles. To the north, Syrian government warplanes flattened a building next to a hospital in Aleppo overnight. At least 15 people were killed. The airstrikes damaged one of the last remaining sources of medical aid for civilians there.

A Taliban suicide bomber killed 23 people in a procession of Shiite Muslims in Pakistan. The attack happened near midnight when the bomber tried to join a religious gathering in Rawalpindi. At least 62 people were wounded, including six policemen. This is the latest in a string of bombings targeting Shiites during their holiest month of the year.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. defended her first account of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Susan Rice has come under fire by critics who say she gave misleading information about the nature of the attack and the motive behind it.

But at the U.N. in New York last night, she said that wasn’t the case.

SUSAN RICE, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Benghazi attack killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Britain announced today it is rethinking aid distribution to Rwanda after a report from the U.N. showed the African nation is backing a brutal rebel movement in neighboring Congo.

We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: As refugees rush out, the rebels rush in.

M23 fighters hurtled into Sake today to fight Congolese government forces which had taken back control of the town. People flee, as they have fled so many times before; 25 different rebel groups operate in the area. All of them and the regular army abuse civilians. Terror is never far away. It’s become a way of life.

STEVEN VAN DAMME, Oxfam: Congo is a place where you kind of negotiate how much you want to be abused. And what people fear mostly is when control keeps on shifting. That is why this year is such a dramatic low in the protection of civilians, because there’s a constant shift of armed groups in control by the army.

LINDSEY HILSUM: In Uganda yesterday, three regional leaders met to discuss the crisis, including president Paul Kagame of Rwanda. A U.N. report details evidence of Rwandan backing for the M23, something he’s denied.

Aid agencies say 120,000 people are now on the run. Under pressure, the British government has changed policy towards one of its closest allies and biggest aid recipients in Africa. Today, they said the U.N. evidence of Rwandan involvement with the rebels was “credible and compelling” and would be “a key factor in future aid decisions to the government of Rwanda.”

Today, M23 rebels were on patrol in the regional capital, Goma. The people watched and waited. The rebels have been gathering weapons left by fleeing government soldiers. Rwanda has security concerns and economic interests in this part of Congo. By taking Goma, their proxies have ensured that the Rwandans will negotiate from a position of strength, the withdrawal of British support a price they may feel worth paying.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.N. children’s Agency says the violence in Eastern Congo has already forced 100,000 people to flee, more than half of whom are children.

Americans at home and abroad celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday today. President Obama in his weekly address urged the country to put aside partisan differences and unite. In New York, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wound its way through the streets of Manhattan, as the area still copes from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Elsewhere, volunteers served Thanksgiving meals to needy families at homeless shelters across the country, like this one in Washington, D.C.

Turkey and all the trimmings were also served to U.S. troops overseas at bases in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

The British Broadcasting Corporation appointed a new director-general in the wake of its worst crisis in years. Tony Hall, a former BBC news executive and currently the head of the Royal Opera House, will replace George Entwistle. Entwistle resigned from the post earlier this month amid a controversy stemming from the BBC’s coverage of child sex abuse.