World briefs: Rebels claim air battery

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BEIRUT -- Syrian rebels clashed with armed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad near Idlib's Taftanaz military airport Saturday after taking control of an air defense battery in the city, an opposition group said.

Battles between the rebel Free Syrian forces and government troops involving the battery killed nine people, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights, Israel said, raising concerns that violence from Syria's civil war could heat up a long-quiet frontier that has not seen such an incursion in nearly 40 years.

Israel complained to U.N. peacekeepers present in the area, a relatively low-key response that suggested it did not see the Syrian armor as an immediate threat. But the entry marks the most serious spillover of Syria's turmoil to date at the frontier, where stray ordnance has exploded on the Israeli side in the past.

Politician assassinated

ISLAMABAD -- A prominent anti-Taliban politician in northwestern Pakistan was killed Saturday in a suicide bombing, underscoring the dangers faced by politicians who stand up to the insurgents.

Police officials said the bomber detonated explosives near a gasoline station while a vehicle carrying the politician, Fateh Khan, passed by in a town in the Buner district, in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Two security guards working for Mr. Khan and three passers-by were also killed in the attack, seen as an act of retribution by the Taliban.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of more assassinations.

Myanmar widens trade

BANGKOK -- Myanmar President Thein Sein has signed a foreign investment bill after lawmakers removed protectionist clauses inserted in earlier drafts, clearing the way for multinationals to spend more in the formerly military-run nation.

Mr. Thein Sein approved the bill Friday, a day after Myanmar's 440-member parliament passed a new version that incorporated all except one of the president's 11 suggestions, Zaw Htay, the director of his office, said by phone. The government will draft bylaws mandated by the statute within 90 days, he said.

Gloomy eurozone outlook

BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that Europe's sovereign debt crisis will last at least five more years.

Speaking at a regional meeting of her Christian Democratic Party, Ms. Merkel said the continent is on the right path to overcome the crisis but "whoever thinks this can be fixed in one or two years is wrong."

Refugee remarks hailed

JERUSALEM -- Israel's president on Saturday welcomed as "courageous" a strong public show of willingness by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make concessions on a core issue in peace talks -- that of Palestinian refugees.

Mr. Abbas told Israeli channel 2 TV on Friday that he does not want to live in his birthplace Safed, a city in northern Israel.

His words drew anger from some Palestinians because they were viewed as relinquishing a long held Palestinian aspiration for the return of those who fled their homes during the fighting between Arab countries and Israel in the wake of the Jewish state's 1948 independence.

-- Compiled from news services



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