World briefs (9/23/12)

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Rebels shift HQ back to Syria

BEIRUT -- The leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army said Saturday they moved their command center from Turkey to Syria with the aim of uniting rebels and speeding up the fall of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, who heads the FSA's Military Council, said the group made the move a week ago. He would not say where the new headquarters is located or give other details.

The FSA is the most prominent of the rebel groups trying to topple Mr. Assad, though its authority over networks of fighters in Syria is limited.

Despite the announcement of the command move, rebels still have to rely on Turkey as a rear base for supplies and reinforcements.

Bounty on filmmaker

ISLAMABAD -- A Cabinet minister on Saturday offered a $100,000 reward for the death of the person behind the anti-Islam video made in the United States that has roiled Muslims around the world, drawing fresh criticism of the Pakistan government's handling of the crisis.

A day after violent protests paralyzed Pakistan's largest cities, leaving 23 people dead and more than 200 injured, Railways Minister Ahmed Ghulam Bilour said he would personally finance a bounty aimed at the maker of the crude, low-budget video at the core of the controversy.

Furthermore, Mr. Bilour told reporters in his home city, Peshawar, he would approve of al-Qaida or Taliban militants carrying out the assassination.

Airline resumes routes

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Nigeria's largest airline will resume flying its domestic routes Sunday, the company's managing director said, after publicly announcing it would stop flying because of government corruption.

Arik Air Ltd. managing director Chris Ndulue offered a brief statement to journalists Saturday, only saying the company met with government officials in the nation's capital and had resolved "all issues" it had. Mr. Ndulue didn't discuss the air carrier's previous claim that Aviation Minister Stella Oduah had a personal and financial interest in seeing the airline destroyed.

High treason broadened

MOSCOW -- Russia's lower house of Parliament on Friday unanimously approved amendments substantially broadening the legal definition of high treason, so it applies not only to acts that jeopardize state security but also to those that undermine "constitutional order, sovereignty, and territorial and state integrity."

Another proposed change would allow the charge to be applied to Russian citizens providing assistance to foreign states or international organizations.

U.S. aid agency dispute

SOCHI, Russia -- The United States is asking Russia to permit a "dignified" end to activities by aid agency USAID next year, U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul said Friday after the Russian authorities reiterated an Oct. 1 closing deadline.

"We are in negotiations with the Russian government about the timing," Mr. McFaul said in an interview at an investment forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

President Vladimir Putin, who is cracking down on the opposition and nongovernmental groups after facing the biggest protests since he came to power in 2000, has repeatedly accused the U.S. of seeking to interfere in his country's politics. Russia ordered USAID to cease all activities by Oct. 1, criticizing it for sponsoring civil-society groups and seeking to influence elections.

-- Compiled from news services

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