Syria Intensifies Crackdown in Daraa, Powerful Storms Kill 7 in Arkansas
Witnesses said that a heavy crackdown by Syrian security forces in the southern city of Daraa has left several dead in the streets, part of increasingly intense raids in which security forces have used tanks and live ammunition against protesters. Dozens of suspected protesters were also captured in morning raids.
Syrian state television said the army was brought into the city to restore security.
Despite concessions, including lifting the country’s decades-old emergency law, protesters are demanding that President Bashar al-Assad leave office. The government has blamed the unrest on extremist elements and has vowed to put a stop to any further demonstrations.
The United States is urging its citizens to leave the country, including non-essential diplomatic personnel.
Storms Kill 7 in Arkansas
Kentucky and Arkansas have both declared states of emergency to cope with the deluge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has considered a plan to breach a levee where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet in order to reduce the flow of water in the river, but the plan has met resistance because it would flood nearby farmland.
The storm was expected to shift to Wisconsin and Illinois on Tuesday, and heavy rains are expected for several more days. The storm system will then move toward the eastern United States.
NATO Says al-Qaida Commander Killed
NATO said Abdul Ghani, a high-level al-Qaida leader, was killed two weeks ago in an air strike in Kunar province. Ghani, a Saudi citizen, was said to be behind attacks on foreign forces and on leaders allied with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“Abdul Ghani commonly instructed subordinate leaders to conduct kidnapping operations against foreigners…and he was responsible for directing suicide bomb attacks targeting U.S. government officials,” according to a statement released by the International Security Assistance Force.
NATO and Saudi Arabia had been tracking Ghani since 2007.
Meanwhile, police in Kandahar continue to search for more than 470 prisoners who escaped from a prison Sunday, after a massive tunnel funneled many supected Taliban fighters out of the facility. Officials say more than 60 have been recaptured.
Former President Jimmy Carter Arrives in North Korea
Former President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by former heads of state from Finland, Norway and Ireland, arrived in North Korea in the hopes of meeting with Kim Jong Il and securing humanitarian concessions.
North Korea has been suffering another severe food shortage. In Beijing, Carter told reporters, “In almost any case when there are sanctions against an entire people, the people suffer the most and the leaders suffer least.”
Carter also hopes to secure the release of an American citizen held in North Korea on charges of proselytizing. Last year, he traveled to North Korea on behalf of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who had been detained for entering the country illegally.
Carter, 86, is part of a contingent of former leaders who call themselves the Elders, founded by former South African President Nelson Mandela.
The visit comes on the heels of an especially tense year on the Korean Peninsula, with the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea in November and the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan last March. There has also been no significant progress in nuclear negotiations within the six-party framework of China, Russia, Japan, the United States and North and South Korea.